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Wednesday
Nov262014

‘Tis Better to Give Than Receive

While opening presents on Christmas morning is definitely a highlight of childhood (and parenthood — I mean, just look at my oldest squeezing that bear!), one of the best gifts I can give my sons is a sense of selflessness and the desire to help others. But teaching little kids about giving back can feel daunting because it’s sometimes hard for them to understand community needs in the abstract. So, the holidays are a great time to plant the seed for lifelong giving — they can learn by doing.

For the past three years, my son has enjoyed participating in his school’s toy drive for deserving children. It’s become our annual tradition to head to Target, where he’s empowered to select all the presents he wants to give to another little boy and girl. And I get excited to see him so excited about picking the perfect present to brighten someone’s day.

This year he handpicked the notebooks from the TOMS for Target collection. Just like the company’s famous one-for-one model, Target and TOMS are giving blankets, meals, and shoes to Americans in need for every purchase made. He chose the trio of books for another budding artist (and its attention grabbing arrow motif — what can I say, he’s a boy at heart), as well as scooped up a snuggly blanket and knit mittens.  In addition to the other toys and goodies he picked out that day, I loved how easy TOMS for Target made it for him to understand the impact of his gifts! The sweet illustrated tags showed him that three other people would also get a blanket from the Red Cross, kicking off a great conversation between us about the spirit of giving during Christmas.

Our fun continued after the car ride home. Like most five year olds, my son has very particular ideas about everything – including wrapping the presents for his toy drive. So, he painted his own decorative paper and gift bags by drawing his holiday landscape and using watercolors from Yoobi (another great brand found at Target that provides school items to classrooms in need). I think his personalization really adds a special touch to the care packages he’s going to deliver.

Thinking about more ways we can celebrate this holiday cheer, I thought it would be a great idea to host a give back party instead of a gift exchange with family friends. To do this, I’d ask our family friends to bring a few items off a suggested donation list. Here, you could contact a local charity or community organization to find out exactly what they need. Or you could follow the approach we took when shopping for gift items at Target, where my son gathers goodies according to the rule “something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.”

When guests arrive, they can place their gifts that give back in designated bins and make their way to a hot cocoa bar. I suggest one for adults (wink, wink) and one for the kiddos. Together, kids and parents can sip and nibble on their treats while they decorate wrapping paper and bags at an art station. Once the bags are prepped, guests can gather and craft care packages by taking one item from each designated bin.  As the host, I’d then deliver all the gift bags to our charity of choice. It would be a merry afternoon with a caring mission.

I think friend, writer, and blogger Katie Hurley recently said it best on her Facebook page, “Family to family, person to person...open your hearts and spread kindness. Little by little, we can all make a difference in this world. All we have to do is try.”

How do you teach your children about giving back during the season?

Thanks to Target, a store we shop at (all the time!) and adore, for sponsoring this post and supporthing the work of Salt & Nectar. The Toms for Target Collection is currently in stores and can be enjoyed by all. Of course, all opinions are 100% are own. Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and beyond.

- The Other Sarah

Monday
Jul282014

Parenting Free & In the Moment With Two Kids

Moms are inherently good jugglers. But I assumed keeping things in the air would become a smidge (or a lot!) more challenging with the addition of a new baby. It had been four years since we balanced car seats, strollers, diaper bags, shopping bags, and purses…. And this time around, we’d have to throw an almost five-year-old’s snacks, toys, backpack, T-ball gear, and whatever else he “needed” into the mix.

Yikes.

I envisioned myself a Sherpa schlepping our entire nursery and playroom around town, pushing one and pulling another. This thought made climbing Mt. Everest sound more appealing. I’m not kidding. I get stressed when I’m burdened with too much stuff. It feels distracting (I’ll call it mobile + mental clutter), and I want to be light and free so I’m focusing on what matters in the moment.

This feeling of presence is even more important to me as I carve out time with both my boys. With their age difference, I want them to feel equally connected to an experience, each other, and me.  A stroller system and all that extra baby paraphernalia would make this hard. My oldest son might be edged out by the buggy. My baby might miss opportunities to see new things when in constant recline. And crowded places would simply be off limits for us.

The Ergobaby Carrier allows me to be close to both boys, while giving us mobility and flexibility to enjoy our everyday adventures. I can hold my toddler’s hand, chat with each of them about what we’re doing, and share a sweet ice pop between us. I love that it makes bonding easy and comfortable — the ergonomic design is a must for the baby and me. He isn’t dangling by the crotch and instead gets to enjoy the ride from a comfortable seated position (better for his hips and growth, of course). And his weight is evenly distributed across my body, so I’m not saddled with achy shoulders or lower back pains (better for my energy and well being, of course). 

Because Ergobaby has been part of our family since 2009, it’s exciting to see how the line has grown. We started with the Original in black, but now it comes in array of colors to suit your style and climate. I chose a natural-colored cotton for our hot LA summer, so the baby and I feel cooler when we’re out and about. Thankfully, though, it exhibits the same great versatility and can be worn in three positions. Or you can opt for the newest Ergobaby Four Position 360, which allows your little dude or dudette to enjoy a forward-facing seat as soon as they’re stable enough around 6 months of age. 

I don’t know what I’d do without our Ergobaby because the carrier makes it easy to parent freely with my attention focused on my babies, and their attention focused on the people and world around them. So, we're excited help you live and love life with your wee one by offering one reader the chance to win an Orginal Carrier.

To enter to this #lovecarrieson Giveaway, simply leave a comment by using the Rafflecopter entry form below telling us why you love babywearing. You also have the option (although not required) to earn four bonus entries by liking our Facebook page and Twitter, tweeting, and/or subscribing to our blog. No purchase is necessary to enter to win. This giveaway is only open to U.S. residents 18 years and older. The giveaway will run until 12:00 am CST Sunday, August 9, 2014.  One winner will be chosen at random

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to Ergobaby for sponsoring this post and supporting the work of Salt & Nectar (and babywearing parents everywhere). We appreciate Ergobaby for giving one lucky reader an Original Carrier, like the one worn here, to enjoy with their family.While we were compensated for this opportunity, all opinions are 100% our own. 

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Friday
Jul252014

The Everyday

~ Sarah Stewart Holland

Friday
Jul182014

Sarah's Favorite Things

Wednesday
Jul162014

She Let Go

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of the fear.

She let go of the judgments.

She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.

She let go of the committee of indecision within her.

She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.

Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice.

She didn’t read a book on how to let go.

She didn’t search the scriptures.

She just let go.

She let go of all of the memories that held her back.

She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.

She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go.

She didn’t journal about it.

She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.

She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.

She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.

She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.

She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.

She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.

She didn’t call the prayer line.

She didn’t utter one word.

She just let go.

No one was around when it happened.

There was no applause or congratulations.

No one thanked her or praised her.

No one noticed a thing.

Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort.

There was no struggle.

It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.

It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be.

A small smile came over her face.

A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore…

~ Rev. Safire Rose