Tender Sapling

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Sneak Peek of the Virtues Tree (Tender Sapling’s newest product-in-development)

SAMPLE-The Virtues Tree-blog fileHere it is! A sneak peek of a labor-of-love product we’ve been working on over the last year – The Virtues Tree!

Back when our first son struggled to help us clean up toys and to smile at strangers (or we struggled with his efforts to do so), I searched far and wide for any concrete and fun tools to help us. After finding a suggestion for a felt board one in The Virtues Guide, my son and I set out to create our own Virtues Tree with paints and poster board. We hung it in our dining room/kitchen area, integrated some activities, and started on a fun path of growing character, one Virtues Fruit at a time!

Inspired by our family’s eight-year journey creating and using a homemade painted Virtues Tree, we at Tender Sapling recently commissioned an artist (Scott’s amazing aunt, Marg Bucher) to paint what we think is a gorgeous and whimsical tree that will capture the hearts and imaginations of children! It comes with beautiful full-color and black-and-white versions of 12 Virtues Fruits that a family (or class) can attach to the tree as part of learning about and practicing each virtue. Plus, we’re working on an e-book that will be chock full of creative and concrete ways to help children of all ages explore each virtue!

We’re excited to share this low-resolution image with you and to get your input as we prepare to launch it via Kickstarter! If you’re familiar with crowdsourcing sites like Kickstarter, then you know it’s a great way to share your dream with others and join together as a community to make it a reality. But before we get to that stage, we want your thoughts on the Virtues Tree via this survey. You can see previews of the fruits there too. Respond by October 1 and submit your information to enter a chance to win a $25 Tender Sapling Gift Card as a thank you for participating in the survey!

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

 

oceans of gratitude,

emily & scott

(the team at tender sapling)

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Acorn Wisdom Revisted

In honor of Father’s Day, here’s a repost of Acorn Wisdom – my own father’s magical way of sharing insight into life with his children and grandchildren. Wishing all the dads and granddads a Happy Father’s Day! Thanks for all you do to bring light to the lives of your children and grandchildren!

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 Acorn Wisdom: A Gem Worth Passing Down the Generations


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Gratitude Challenge: Words + Actions

Piglet & Pooh sketch      “Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”

– A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

With Thankgiving around the corner, tendersaplingdada and I have been reflecting on the many blessings in our lives, foremost among them — our children. As any parent with sleeping children has experienced, it’s in those precious moments of peacefulness that we pause and can most easily see the incredible gift in our hands.

We’ve also been feeling incredibly thankful to have a wee business and blog that is gradually growing and developing (psst – we’re so excited to have lots of new products coming out this week!). While we don’t post quite as often as we might like, we appreciate this cozy space where we can meet you and hopefully support you in your path as a parent, educator, grandparent, or friend of children. And we are thankful for the opportunities to learn from you along the way.

Here is a favorite post from last year about gratitude. It shares a simple but powerful learning we had as a family last year. In math terms, it might be expressed: giving thanks = words + actions 🙂 As a mother, I’ve found it incredibly helpful this last year to guide my little ones not just to say words of thanks, but to show thankfulness through their actions.

I also love this post because it presents a Gratitude Challenge:

1)   Words – Strive to feel the gratitude in your heart when you voice your thanks to someone. Make sure the soul is truly speaking.

2)   Deeds – Try to express your gratitude with an act of service of some sort. When a direct action related to your thought of thankfulness is not easily attainable or obvious, you can always start with a smile and a prayer in your heart to be directed to act in a way that shows your gratitude.

I’m glad to have reread it as it reminds me to practice this regularly with my children. I invite you to try it too!

But let’s go back to the beginning of the post, so you can read a bit more and find a fun and simple activity to do with the kids – collect leaves on a nature walk and then create Gratitude Leaves for a Thankfulness Tree:

Thankfulness Leaves

Thankfulness Leaves

“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 –> Read more here!

What ways do you like to cultivate gratefulness in your little ones? You might like this list of ten ideas my friend Chelsea created at Moments a Day.

Happy Thanksgiving to your and yours!


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Celebrating Peace Day with Tender Sapling

Origami Peace Crane

Origami Peace Crane

We are so excited to be headed momentarily to the Green Festival in Washington, DC, where we will be hosting a Peace Day Celebration tomorrow! We will also have a booth with a small shop set up all weekend featuring our products already available online, as well as many new offerings. Come visit!

The Green Festival DC blog shared this about tomorrow’s Peace Day Celebration – which we hope all your DC area people can attend:

   “Green Festival attendees are invited to celebrate International Peace Day this Saturday at 12 noon in the Green Kids Zone. Participants will join in a worldwide Peace Wave at the start of this fun program by Tender Sapling that includes a little yoga, a little storytelling, a little origami, and a lot of fun.

   “Kids and the young at heart will engage their minds, hearts, and bodies to practice peace and create a symbol of peace to take with them. Kids will like that the origami craft will be led by a 10-year-old boy who will walk peacemakers through the steps to transform a square sheet of paper into an elegant crane – a Peace Crane. A simpler craft will be available for smaller hands. Messages will then be written on the peace symbols, to send wishes for peace out into the world. Plus, attendees will be offered complimentary “Love all the World” temporary tattoos and stickers, which feature Tender Sapling’s original take on the continents as interconnected hearts.

   “Enthusiastic origamists of all ages are invited to fold and donate additional Peace Cranes throughout the weekend-long Green Festival as a contribution to the Children’s Peace Monument in Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, where some 10 million cranes are offered each year by people the world over. Tender Sapling will collect these cranes at their booth (#743) next to the Green Kids Zone.

   “This interactive peace program was designed especially for the 2013 Green Festival DC by Tender Sapling – Charlottesville, Va, creators of fun, inspired, eco-friendly products and resources for kids and the young at heart. The peace program captures Tender Sapling’s motto “Have Fun. Grow Noble.” What does it mean to grow noble?…”

–> Read more here.


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The Art of Bending

There’s a wonderful and little-discussed parenting skill I’ve learned to admire that I call Bending. Tendersaplingmama is like a jedi master at bending. I’m still learning.

foyer ironing

To use a well-worn analogy (which incidentally is how we all think about pretty much everything. Here’s a fascinating article on the brain as an analogy machine.), a mighty tree must bend with the wind; if it is too rigid, the wind may uproot or break it.

I’ve come to recognize that kids, or more precisely, kids’ behavior and all the things they do that cause frequency in a parent’s mind and life, are like the wind and we parents, or at least our rules, are the trees. Some level of rigidity is important. Children must learn self-discipline gradually over time, and there must be certain baseline expectations for safety and sanity, not to mention respect, courtesy, etc.

But I’ve come to realize that some of the behavioral expectations we place on young children are simply not developmentally appropriate for many kids. For example, there may be some two-year-olds who can be counted on to not touch breakables on a low shelf, but most would find them irresistible. Often restrictions we give kids are for the parent’s convenience or whim and don’t really have much to do with health and welfare or developing virtues. Those are the areas where we parents tend to get into the biggest power struggles with our kids (can you tell I speak from experience?). Continue reading


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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