Tender Sapling

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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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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:

?

😦

&$*#?/!

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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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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Mindful Tender Saplings

On the spectrum of active to calm, our three boys have all been somewhere between very active and off-the-chart active. It varies for each one at different chapters in their growth and development. They have all sat beautifully for reading time, and there are moments of peace when they will sit reverently for a short prayer or lay in child’s pose or find a quiet corner for a few minutes rest, but there are times when it seems that sitting still is for them (especially at the toddler stage) a physical impossibility.

toddler climbs fridge

Scaling the fridge

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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


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Where There Is Love: Learning Mindfulness on the (Parenting) Job

I’ve studied mindfulness* just enough to know that I’ve been anything but mindful most of my life. It seems I’ve always been focused on some goal, some imagined future, or – truth be told – some distraction in everyday life. Okay, the ability to delay reward (future focus) has value; we don’t want to become lethargic loafs. And there is certainly value in having fun in one’s daily life; we know what all work and no play did for Jack. My issue, and I think this is fairly common in Western industrialized societies, is being worried or preoccupied with those things to the detriment of one’s happiness and ability to be present in the moment.

Which is why mindfulness is such a powerful tool.

For example, the simple act of focusing, even for a few moments, on one’s own breath — how the air feels inside one’s lungs, how it nourishes the body – has the power to re-center one’s mind just beautifully. It becomes so much easier to let go of my worry about the global economic crisis or climate change or what to eat for dinner. Not that I shouldn’t take actions to help stop climate change, for example, but that I should do it without undue stress and worry. Only concern myself with the things I can effect and not carry the burden of worry about everything else.

Two-year-old “cooking”

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Parent Like a Gardener

Who doesn’t love Autumn? With leaves morphing through the full spectrum of warm colors, a refreshing crispness in the air, harvest foods to enjoy – what’s not to love?

Grass. Yes, grass. This morning grass had taken the charm out of Fall for me (and that’s saying a lot, given that Fall was formerly my favorite season, tied with Spring and Summer, with Winter not far behind).

As yard-owning Americans (who try to green it with native plantings, a vegetable garden, etc.) and parents of three sons who trample it endlessly, ripping it to shreds with their bikes and constant romping, my husband and I have re-entered the realm of Trying to Grow Grass.

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