Tender Sapling

the blog


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Homemade Yogurt Grows Good Cultures + Character too!

Want a fun food project to enjoy with the kids that’s healthy, green, globally-loved, and cultivates some wonderful qualities of the heart too? Look no further: Yogurt!

How can all these lessons be packed into one food? Here’s a quick run down:

* Healthy: Yogurt is considered a health food. We’re talking ideally homemade, no sugar added, real yogurt. Historically, yogurt is credited with curing at least one king from an incurable case of diarrhea. Yogurt is a great pro-biotic with awesome bacteria for your body, which I recently learned that 90% made up by microbes according to this fascinating article by Michael Pollan. (While our yogurt-making experience is solely with cow’s milk, there are non-dairy options and recipes out there, if you prefer that route.) Continue reading


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Mama – Magic in the World

A magical mama-baby moment.

A magical mama-baby moment.

Forget Harry Potter for a moment. There is real magic in the world. And it’s sprinkled everywhere. It’s in you, mama!

This day (Mother’s Day in the United States) always reinforces for me just how magical mama really is. Just watch a babe in utero kick and mama caress her belly. Or remember the first moment you held your baby, radiating love-beyond-compare to this new being. Pure magic!

But Mama can get worn down and tired and sometimes needs to know how much she is loved, how special she is, even if dinner is just peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and the kids haven’t bathed in days.

Mama tends to be her own worst critic, and while I’m all for self-improvement, an important part of doing our best is forgiving and loving ourselves. When we do that, we model some mighty awesome virtues for our own tender saplings too!

So, in the spirit of helping support you in loving yourself as a mama, here is a simple little poem I just composed as an ode to celebrate YOU! Continue reading


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5 DIY Ways to Pamper Mama this Mother’s Day

What will you do this Mother’s Day for the sweet mama in your life? As a parent working on mindfulness and striving to raise mindful tender saplings, I find this American holiday a great way to teach our little ones about honoring their mother. And I love the idea of trying to make our gestures more mindful and meaningful.

It’s traditional and appreciated for dad and the little ones to come through with flowers, homemade cards, and/or chocolates (like these fair trade bars from our Global Kids Gift Guide) for Mother’s Day. While these are all wonderful, how about adding one or more of these fun, thoughtful do-it-yourself ways to show you care? Continue reading


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Migrate to Mongolia: A Tender Sapling Travelers Cultural Adventure – Part 2 (Prayer Wheels)

This post is part of the Tender Sapling Travelers Series and Part 2 of a 3-part installment on Mongolia. See Part 1 here.

After a wonderful introduction to Mongolia, covered in our Part 1 post, our oldest son was ready to focus on an area of interest to present on at our monthly Culture Club homeschool cooperative. In past years’ learning about Mongolia, his interests veered toward the incredible dinosaur discoveries of Roy Andrew Chapman and team (see book recommendation in the Part 1 post). But this year, he chose to focus on the Mongolian Prayer Wheel.

What’s that? Read on to learn about this fascinating prayer tool, if you will. Plus, use objects around the house to create your own! The step-by-step craft instructions follow the prayer wheel intro:

MONGOLIAN PRAYER WHEEL

Mongolian hand prayer wheel

Our oldest tender sapling found the Mongolian prayer wheel interesting from several perspectives: its design, its spiritual significance, its history, and its recent rebirth as a sign of the revival of Mongolian culture following decades of repression. Here are some of the points he enjoyed learning and sharing with the thirty other children who had each been studying Mongolia on their own: Continue reading


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May Day Fun: Dandelion Soup Recipe

Picking dandelions.

Picking dandelions.

You know the saying, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade?

Well, we decided to apply that to dandelions last week!

It all started when we walked outside to see a sea of dandelion blooms dotting our grass with happy, yellow splotches. It brought to mind my friend Heather’s brilliant easier-than-weeding plan to arrest the spread of the dandelions in her yard. She hired her four boys to pick them, paying them per flower.

I offered a deal that couldn’t be turned down to my two oldest boys: 1 cent per flower. They paused and I feared they would scoff at my low-ball offer. But, seeing as they have precious few opportunities to make money around these parts (something we’ve been meaning to remedy), they got busy. Pails in hand, they fanned out across the yard, hunched over in determination to rid the yard of the splashes of sunshine. (Can you tell I have mixed feelings about losing out on their beauty? Plus childhood seems so much sweeter with plenty of dandelions to make wishes on and blow their seeds into a carefree dance on a spring breeze.)

My father arrived soon after and, learning of the kids’ mission, mentioned that we should use the dandelion flowers to make soup! He had tried a dandelion soup while living in China and liked it. We had used dandelion greens in salads before, but I had a long list of to-dos that day and making dandelion soup was not high on it. Yes, I know, my father’s words can be well worth listening to, but I tried not to this time. Continue reading


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Migrate to Mongolia: A Tender Sapling Travelers Cultural Adventure – Part 1

This post is part of the Tender Sapling Travelers Series.

Mongolia-Vanishing CulturesOn to Mongolia, Tender Sapling Travelers! While our family had studied Mongolia in prior years, this year brought us new discoveries. We were immediately transported by the vibrant images of nomadic life in Mongolia, another Vanishing Cultures book like the one we read for Norway about the Sami peoples, also written by Jan Reynolds.

I wish I could express adequately how entranced my kids – ages 2 to 9 – are with the Vanishing Cultures books. We’re talking immediately-stop-bickering-with-your-sib-and-pile-onto-the-couch-with-smiles attraction as soon as I pulled the book out! The visuals draw the reader in to another world, making it theirs for a brief while. Life told through the eyes of a child their age helps bridge the cultural gap, filling their minds and hearts with the universal experiences of other children, in this case expressed in a Mongolian setting.

Wild Horese of MongoliaSpeaking of visuals that transport you to another place, my tender saplings also enjoyed watching Wild Horses of Mongolia. This PBS production features Julia Roberts’ journey to the steppes of Central Asia to get to know a nomadic Mongolian family and their wild horses. One of our favorite parts is Continue reading


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Show Love to Mother Earth this Earth Day

What will you do to show some love to Mother Earth this Monday? That’s right, Monday, April 22, 2013, marks the 43rd Earth Day – a day that has inspired people across the globe to engage in more than a billion acts of environmental goodness in the last two years alone!

This year’s theme is The Face of Climate Change. What’s the big deal about climate change? Check out this video by our oldest tender sapling for his summary of the issues.

Everyone can do something to spread green love on our planet this Monday or this weekend if that’s easier! You can keep it simple and stay home to: Continue reading


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Take-off to Norway: Explore the Land of the Midnight Sun

This post is part of the Tender Sapling Travelers Series.

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Chowing down on some yummy Norwegian Pannekaken!

Human nature craves warmer climates in the midst of winter, the tail end of which most of the world’s population is currently experiencing. I guess that’s why Norway’s nickname isn’t Land of the Noontime Moon (its winter personality).

As March transforms from a lion to a lamb weather-wise and as the northern hemisphere welcomes longer days of sunlight (or any at all in the case of the northern reaches of Norway), please join us in “visiting” Norway – the Land of the Midnight Sun.

This is the first stop in our new Tender Sapling Travelers Series. Each month we aim to focus on a part of our wonderful planet and its peoples. This installment will explore the original peoples of Norway, a gripping true story of bravery and love, and lots of food, with links to ethereal music and a couple of meal blessings sprinkled in. Continue reading


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Introducing Tender Sapling Travelers

Grab your passport and go!

Grab your passport and go!

It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.

      – Maya Angelou

I love how Maya Angelou speaks from the heart and calls on us parents to lead our children to embrace our rich heritage as members of one human race. Findings from a recent research study support her sage advice. The University of Toronto study showed that early elementary age children are very influenced by what adults teach them about other groups of people.

The study showed that first graders who had been told that another group is mean will believe it – even when real life experience differs. So we can fill up our kids with an us-them attitude that can subtly or overtly train our tender saplings to view the other as not to be trusted or loved. Or we can teach them acceptance, compassion, and the interconnectedness that is our reality.

As parents, we have a wonderful opportunity to help shape our little one’s view of the world. When we raise our children to be world citizens, we’re not only preparing them to compete in the global marketplace, be better problem solvers, managers, and more. We are giving them the gift of knowing their human family and being a part of it. As global citizens, our children can shape the world in positive ways for all their human family members. 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