Tender Sapling

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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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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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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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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