“No Meal Left Behind” appeared in Childview magazine.

I called it—not very creatively—leftover pizza.

The dough was from the freezer, rolled up into a ball from a previous pizza night. I remembered it was there, lurking behind bags of frozen veggies and bananas condemned to my freezer’s frigid wasteland. The sauce was left over from spaghetti. The topping was shaved roast beef from two nights before. Yes, the cheese that topped my creation was making its premiere appearance, but the meal still felt like a victory in my war against wasting leftovers…

“Saying Grace” appeared in Childview magazine.

When I was a kid, we only said grace on Sundays. My father did the solemn task. We were mostly thanking God, it seemed to me, for extremely dry roast beef.

With our own three kids, we wanted to pray every night and offer them the opportunity to lead. The prayers ranged from the ridiculously detailed—thanking God for the salt, pepper, mustard, butter, chairs and napkins—to as short as possible: “Thanks! Amen!”…

“How to Holiday With a Heart” appeared in Childview.

Straddled and squished on a moped built for one, my husband and I putt-putted across a little corner of Cuba. The resort world far behind, we knew it was one of our smartest/dumbest moments. Getting outside the gated walls of our all-you-can-drink-margarita-style hotel and interacting with the locals was the absolute highlight of the trip. We weren’t naïve enough to think that our brief journey into the nearest city would show us the “real” Cuba, but it got us a lot closer than anywhere else we’d been so far.

Hundreds of millions of tourists travel the world each year, and more and more of them are committing to a new kind of travel that has as many names as some hotels have stars: volunteer tourism; community-based tourism; pro-poor tourism; and fair-trade tourism. Regardless of the moniker, these emerging types of travel put the well-being of local communities first and help visitors learn all they can about the people and the land they’re visiting.

A handful of highly specialized agencies focus on ethical travel, and they are easily found with a quick online Google search. But even if you don’t go the officially “responsible” route, you can do simple things to transform ordinary trips into holidays with a heart…

“When Grown Parents Move Back Home” published in The United Church Observer

The other day, under the guise of research for this story, I asked my daughter a question: “Holly, when I am an old woman, would you want me to live with you and your family?” Things got kind of awkward when she replied, “A little bit of yes and a little bit of no.” Holly is nine. Although taken aback because I had been expecting a resounding “Yes!” and maybe a big weepy hug, I realized that even at her tender age she sensed this was a complicated issue…

“Your Boomerang Children” published in The United Church Observer

Leaving home doesn’t mean what it used to mean. And neither does the word “boomerang.” Boomerang, the name of the traditional projectile weapon used mostly by Australian Aborigines to hunt birds, now describes human offspring that, once launched into the great blue yonder, come circling back toward home…

“Second Hand Savvy” in The United Church Observer

The day I found the purple T-shirt that said “Talk Nerdy to me” with an image of thick, sturdy glasses so like my own, I experienced that sweet treasure-hunt feeling of victory familiar to people who shop for used clothing. In a household led by a freelance writer and a minister — with three children who desire to be fully clothed each and every day — shopping second-hand has been an economic choice, but one with a positive environmental impact.

Lindsay Coulter, “Queen of Green” for the David Suzuki Foundation, says that our wardrobe choices “can make an impact that is often overlooked….”