Tender Sapling

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Acorn Wisdom: A Gem Worth Passing Down the Generations

Baba holds out two acorns.

Baba holds out two acorns.

Every childhood hike with my father inevitably led to the pivotal acorn moment. Baba, as we call him, would hold out his fist and ask us kids if we knew could guess what he was holding. He’d gently open it to reveal the little treasure and we’d shout with glee (or years into this, roll our eyes and mumble):

“An acorn!”

“No,” he’d wisely respond. “This is a tree. A great big oak tree.”

“No way!” “Come on!” We protested. He was obviously holding just a wee little acorn.

Then he’d remind us Continue reading


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Five Tips to Finding Balance After Tragedy Strikes

Days after the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, parents and children across the country and the world are still reeling from the horrific loss of life. You have sought details in the news coverage to try to unlock the mystery of why it happened. Perhaps you have read numerous excellent articles advising you how to talk with your children about what happened and then had some heart-breaking discussions with them. Maybe you’ve taken the compassionate route of supporting institutions in their work to assist the Newtown community as it grapples with and rebuilds itself emotionally from the wreckage that was left behind.

Most parents seem to have gone through the same emotions, so eloquently posted by a friend on Facebook:

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😦

&$*#?/!

And most parents have held their own children a little tighter, a little longer the last several days.

Now what? Does your heart still pain for the parents whose children never came home on December 14, 2012? Does your mind still churn, seeking to make sense of the senseless?

While all of this is normal, there comes a time in the grieving process to deal with your emotions and heal from the pain. If you are still affected, chances are your kids are too. It’s hard to expect our children to restore their sense of security and faith in the world if we are still struggling with it.

So, here are five tips to help get you and your kids back on track: Continue reading


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12 Facts about 12 (and a Flash Sale!) for 12-12-12

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Twelve is just way cool. In honor of the Gregorian calendar arriving at the 12th day of the 12th month of the 12th year of the current century (or 12-12-12), here are 12 fun facts about the number 12 or the date 12-12-12. We felt so inspired by all of this, we thought it deserved a Flash Sale to celebrate. Details at the bottom of the post.

1. Twelve has religious significance for many world religions, including Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and the Baha’i Faith.

2. Twelve is the basis of the American units of measurement for volume, weight, length, area, and cooking measures, much to the chagrin of the rest of the world.

3. Twelve is central to the international standard unit of time – there are 12 hours in a half-day, etc.

4. Both Chinese and Western zodiacs are based on the number twelve.

5. Twelve zeros following a 1 is a trillion. That’s 1012 or 1,000,000,000,000. Pretty cool, huh? Gets the math geek inside ya excited, right?

6. In the King Arthur Legend, Arthur is said to have subdued 12 rebel princes and to have won 12 great battles against Saxon invaders. Continue reading


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Global Kids Gift Guide: 50 Ideas for Wee to Teen World Citizens

TSGlobalKidsGiftGuide2012

Whatever you celebrate this season, give the children in your life gifts that grow their love of their world! These global gifts are sure to please the kids in your life, as well as their parents. The list is organized in five groups by age, which are rough suggestions. Many kids will enjoy gifts from the other age groups.

The Global Kids Gift Guide draws from items my family has loved, some finds similar to items we once had and loved, and those recommended by friends & fellow bloggers. I tried to capture a range of prices and include options that are sure to appeal to boys, girls, builders, artists, readers, athletes – everyone! Where possible, gifts are eco-friendly and/or fair trade.

I included a lot of links to Amazon for folks outside the US who would like to order these items. But if you live in the US and prefer to shop with smaller businesses, please do a quick search. The product descriptions, including prices, are not guarantees. The summaries are often mine, but quotes represent product descriptions or words of others, as noted.

This is a completely voluntary list, with no paid sponsors, unless you include our business: Tender Sapling. Hope you find some great gifts here! Continue reading


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When Cross-Cultural Exploration Bombs: A Wampanoag Thanksgiving

Ok. I never thought I’d start a post with this title. Not me. A lover of all things global. A world citizen junkie. Someone who spent fifteen years working in various forms of international education on three different continents. Nah.

But this is real life, and I want this blog to be authentic, capturing both the highs and the lows, so I’m sharing our recent cross-cultural experience that fell flat. First, let me qualify that what I’m about to share is not just another story of American kids who think that Africa is a country and can’t find the United States on a map. My kids so love diving into other cultures that all three of them (ages 9, 5, and 2) recently begged every time we got in the car to listen to the biography of the Ghanaian King Peggy until we had completed all 11 cds! Now, some background:

We’d just wrapped up learning about the first European settlements along the Atlantic coast of North America. After studying about Roanoke Island, Jamestown, and the French expeditions and settlements in Eastern Canada (we’d already covered Greenland’s early history last year), we dove into the Pilgrims.

Our two oldest sons soak up everything Powhatan while at Jamestown.

The library was a treasure trove. We dragged heavy bags of books home and read a lot about the Pilgrims, their journey across the Atlantic, the founding and survival challenges of Plymouth Colony, the original inhabitants of Southern Massachusetts – the Wampanoags, Squanto and how his farming knowledge aided the Pilgrims, the First Thanksgiving, and more. Since Thanksgiving was approaching, when questions of menu for the big American holiday came up, a light went off in my head. Continue reading


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Small Biz Saturday: Behind the Scenes of our Mom & Pop Shop

Want to support small businesses this holiday shopping season? Today marks the third-ever Small Business Saturday, founded in the United States in 2010 as a shopping day to encourage patronage of smaller businesses in counter to the big-box frenzy that is Black Friday. (Ironically, it was started by a big business, American Express, months after Twitter users started promoting any and all Saturdays as Small Business Saturdays using the #SmallBusinessSaturday hashtag.)

To celebrate the small business that Tender Sapling is, we wanted to share a few pictures from behind the scenes of our mom & pop shop. We literally run our shop out of our home and support local businesses (Charlottesville, Virginia) in the production of our goods whenever we can!

Screen Printing Tender Sapling Logo on Organic Cotton Shirts

Screen Printing Tender Sapling Logo on Organic Cotton Shirts

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Learning to Show Thankfulness Through Actions

This time of year my soul feels as if it’s sipping a mug of delicious hot apple cider – there is so much heart-warming thankfulness floating in the air from everyone around me. For all our readers around the world, this Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, so we’re neck high in turkeys, Pilgrims, and, most wonderfully, lots of giving of thanks. It’s one of my favorite American holidays as I always find joy in the communal act of pausing to give thanks for the simple things, past and present.

This year I’ve tried something new with the children. We directed our thankfulness thoughts to the future as well. Nah, we don’t have a crystal ball. I wasn’t suggesting that the kids be thankful for an unknown future – though there’s value being thankful for the promise of tomorrow, a brighter future ahead.

Instead, I shared with them something I’d been reflecting on lately. That thankfulness is of two kinds – words and deeds. There is giving thanks through one’s words by saying “Thank You” and the like. And then there is showing gratitude through one’s actions.

This became the theme of an activity we did Continue reading


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You Are What You Wear: Wisdom from an African King

Can an inspiring, uplifting shirt help shape a child’s character? We think so. Call it our You Are What You Wear philosophy. Here is some wisdom from across the globe and ages that supports this idea. Plus a fun story that shows it in action and links to shirts that sport spiritual strength.

The Spiritual Strength of Kente

Our family recently discovered a fascinating biography of a Ghanaian-born American woman who became an African King in 2008. As we listened to the fantastic audio recording by J. Karen Thomas of King Peggy: An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny, and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African Village, a whole new culture – and its take on clothing – unfurled before our inner eyes.

We traveled to another world on the wings of vivid descriptions of Ghanaian culture that enriched the dramatic story in which Peggy was selected to serve as the King of her ancestral home and undertook this daunting responsibility against many odds. We learned that in her role as King, Peggy would be expected to wear traditional kente cloth for various ceremonies. Kente designs date back to the 17th century and the cloths are finely crafted and quite expensive. Continue reading


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LOVEfest 2012 $50 Tender Sapling Gift Certificate Giveaway

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NOTE: This Giveaway has ended. The winner of Tender Sapling’s $50 Gift Certificate Giveaway is…Laura V., who has received details via an email from us. Congrats, Laura V! Many thanks to all who entered and shared! The number of Likes on Tender Sapling’s Facebook page quadrupled over the last 10 days during LOVEfest 2012! Another giveaway to be announced later this week! Stay tuned…

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Sandy’s Gift: A Chance to Explore Sustainability, Soul-growin’ and Fun with Your Kids

If you are reading this before Hurricane Sandy has cleared your path and you have power and a safe, dry roof over your head, let me wish you smooth sailing through the storm and its aftermath. If you are not so lucky, please know that millions of people across the world are praying for your safety. Regardless of whether you live in the affected area or have power, this post is for you.

However you slice this storm’s prediction, it’s serious. Sunday evening’s news not only included announcements for local schools closings, but the incredibly rare pre-storm cancellation of classes at the University of Virginia (my husband’s employer and the site of our first meeting some twenty years ago). I went to bed thinking how severe the storm’s punch would be if the National Weather Service’s 11 p.m. statement warned anyone not all ready for a prolonged power outage to haul your tushy out to the store to complete any last storm prep a.s.a.p. And all this in an area predicted to get only 1-3 inches of rain (update: now 2-6, and possibly snow too) – a ton less than the 8-10 inches expected in the storm center’s path. (Of course, the wind factor here is supposed to be close to the highest speeds for this storm.)

The last thing I thought I’d do this morning is write a blog post. But I woke before the kids and heard the swirl of questions rise up from the still of my subconscious. Do we have enough water and batteries? Is this storm really the largest in a quarter century to hit the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions of the United States? How long might we all be without power?

My personal questions shifted into the multitude of anticipated questions from my little ones’ young minds. Why can’t we play with the flashlight in our fort? Why can’t I go biking right now? Why can I see my breath inside? Why can’t I feel my toes? Why does this dinner look like canned dog food?

Storm-time fun, kid-style: Biking in the a foot of snow! (Jan 2010)

And that’s when I realized what a huge opportunity Sandy is for teaching a range of life lessons to our little ones (and ourselves, right?). While no one knows for sure the impact that Sandy will have on an estimated 50-60 million human lives – people from all corners of the earth in America’s great melting pot of the I-95 corridor and hundreds of miles around, by all accounts it’s going to be historically significant. Continue reading