Tender Sapling

the blog


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


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

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Presenting Liam Talks: Global Warming

Our 9-year-old son Liam is jazzed about stopping global warming since learning more about it at the Green Festival in DC. You can read more about our Green Fest experience here (Scott’s post) and here (Emily’s post). Hope your kids enjoy hearing a fellow kid’s perspective and catch some of Liam’s excitement to make a difference! (btw, see if you can keep a straight face around the 2:20 mark. 🙂

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Green Fest: Fun for Kids

We were nervous about our weekend plan to spend two days trapped inside an enormous box of a building (DC Convention Center) at Green Fest DC 2012. Not because we suffer from claustrophobia, but because we would have three kids in tow. Boys. All boys. Inside for hours on end. Not outside. Inside. With strangers, polite folk.

Like any wizened, torture-avoiding mama, I planned to take the kids solo to other DC sites, so Scott could attend the work-sponsored event. Scott insisted I take the first spin around the exhibit hall before taking over with the kids. They shadowed me, but I relished the time to take in the vast array of exhibitors without counting kids every minute. Before I had covered even a fifth of the gigantic hall, the boys were in love. They patiently took turns grinding wheat berries at a Waldorf booth before finding the green-wheels exhibitors. Zooming around on three-wheeled trikes and balance bikes, our three boys were in heaven.


The hours flew, while we visited hundreds of exhibitors, educated ourselves on green initiatives, listened to speakers share green successes, discovered old and new green products, and explored the kids’ section.

Highlights for kiddos (and mama) included: Continue reading


Tender Sapling Family Occupies DC Green Festival

Okay, we didn’t actually camp out at the Washington, DC Green Festival (Sep 29-30, 2012), but after two long days immersed (with our three boys) in a fabulous array of green presentations, vendors, films, DIY demonstrations, and discussions, we felt like fixtures. In fact, I was so recognizable carrying our two-year-old on in the Ergo on my back for hours on end that as we were leaving on Sunday evening, one of the Green Festival staff offered the three boys these great organic cotton shirts, joking that they were rewards for my fathering work. We all had a blast while learning a lot, especially our oldest son, who came away inspired to vanquish global warming. This video captures a taste of his enthusiasm.


Billed as “the nation’s premiere sustainability event” the Green Festival is held annually in multiple cities across the U.S. and has been around for ten years. Continue reading


Kids Need Farm-time

One reason we love living in Charlottesville, Virginia, is the wonderful local food movement in this region. Many readers will recognize our neighbor over the mountain, Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms, the most famous farmer in America. Michael Pollan featured him in his splendid The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and he has since been chronicled in the feature documentary Food, Inc. Not many localities can boast that the local Chipotle serves pork straight from Polyface (though I recently read that Mr. Salatin is in the process of adding a second Chipotle location in the DC area).

But Charlottesville is a locavore’s town, and the local food movement in this area is much bigger than Polyface. The Charlottesville Farmer’s market is a Saturday morning standby for many, and has given birth to I believe three additional farmer’s markets in the area throughout the week. There are lots of local producers, many of which are organic or biodynamic or similar, and many of which offer CSA’s (community-supported agriculture, an arrangement in which the consumer purchases a share of the CSA in the early spring in exchange for a weekly delivery or pick-up of vegetables, and sometimes eggs, meat, or even flowers). Many restaurants here feature local food, and there is even a local food hub, to help connect farmers, restaurants, and consumers.

Probably my favorite local food perk is an annual event called Meet Yer Eats, organized by Market Central, the same non-profit organization that organizes the farmer’s market. On Labor Day each year, about 20 area farms open their doors for tours and farm activities, all for the price of one very reasonably-priced ticket. My family tried it last year for the first time. We had such a great time, we intend to make it an annual event as long as we are in this area.

My father grew up on a farm in the Midwest, and I have very fond memories of visiting my grandparents’ farm as a child. Continue reading

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The blog is born!

What a fabulous day for Tender Sapling’s blog to be born! Beautiful spring weather on a summer day, Scott enjoying a break from Tender Sapling design work to swing our two youngest sons in the hammock, the oldest son’s nose happily planted in a book, a toad we found in our garden keeping me company on the patio, gumbo bubbling on the stove, plans for an evening hike, and a lovely new blog design template just 5 days off the press thanks to the folks at WordPress. What do you think?

If you are new to the Tender Sapling blog, visit About for a brief introduction, including our hopes for this blog. Simply put, we want to share:

* ideas and musings related to helping the next generation have fun growing noble by cultivating their virtues, world citizenship, and environmental stewardship;

* glimpses of the inspiration behind our products; and

* opportunities to support and learn from you on the path to parenting our precious children.

Thanks for visiting!

Introducing our littlest tender sapling to a visiting toad.