Early Spring 2007

Dear Friends

Recently, I asked the 7-year-old daughter of an acquaintance if she'd like to try one of our art kits. (Nothing goes in our catalog unless it's adored by plenty of young testers!) Her response was more than a little disconcerting: ''Is it messy? My mom doesn't like me to make messes.'' Consequently, I ended up giving the kit to one of my co-workers. This mom didn't say anything about the mess, but instead mentioned how excited her boys were as they created their individual ''masterpieces.'' These two different perspectives got me thinking about the richness we add to our children's lives by providing them with the freedom to be ''messy.''

When my daughter was a preschooler, I always felt good about her spending time at one particular friend's house specifically because she did come home messy. To me, her rosy cheeks, grass-stained pants, and outdoorsy-smelling hair were all evidence of a day well spent. I relished knowing that underneath each of my daughter's dirty little fingernails were enthusiastic tales of building forts, making mud pies, and searching for ''wild animals'' waiting to be told.

I'm always mystified when I see parents on the beach here admonishing their children, ''Don't get wet!'' Don't get wet when the playground is the extraordinary Pacific Ocean? Why??? I know the mother of that 7-year-old probably means well, just as these parents at the beach do. Most likely, they just don't have the energy to deal with the hassle that is inherent whenever children are in the presence of paint -- and large bodies of water. Realistically, though, so much of the good in life is messy: cookie dough, gardening, puppies, parenting. When we allow our children to experiment and explore (hassles and all!), they learn invaluable lessons about the natural world and their own abilities, not to mention the ability to deal with messes (which are a part of life in many different guises!).

Springtime is all about messes: preparing the soil for a family vegetable garden, splashing through mud puddles, walking in the rain, or whipping up a batch of Valentine cookies. By allowing our children to fully engage in the process, we truly do provide them the best education there is, and when the tuition is in the form of perhaps a few pairs of ruined sneakers and torn jeans, you've got yourself quite a bargain.

Other Issues:
From our archives -- Offering Wisdom to New Moms

From our archives -- The Best Good Deed

From our archives -- Embracing the Wonder of Children

From our archives -- Encouraging children to live their bliss

From our archives

Holiday 2013 -- Embracing the World of Wonder

Winter 2013 -- Recipe for a Happy Thanksgiving

Fall 2013 -- Finding Beauty in the Everyday Tasks

Late Summer 2013 - Taking Our Own Advice

Midsummer 2013 -- Appreciating Nature's Bounty

Early Summer 2013 -- Being Prepared

Late Spring 2013 -- Having Realistic Expectations

Spring 2013 -- Offering Mothering Wisdom

Early Spring 2013 -- Being True to Our Nature

Holiday 2012 -- Appreciate the Goodness

Winter 2012 -- Enjoying the Anticipation

Early Fall 2012 -- Looking Back to Appreciate Now

Summer 2012 -- Chinaberry's History & Future

Early Summer 2012 -- My Dad

Late Spring 2012 -- My Satisfying Yet Untraditional Upbringing

Spring 2012 - The Consequences of Our Actions

Early Spring 2012 - Learning From Experience

Winter 2011 - The Small Moments

Holiday 2011 - The Good Deed

Fall 2011 - Gratitude

Late Summer 2011 - Overwhelmed? You're Not Alone.

Midsummer 2011 - Louise's Gallery

Early Summer 2011 - Flying 101: Giving Them Wings

Late Spring 2011 - Letting Them Fail

Spring 2011

Early Spring 2011 - Encouraging Your Kids to Live Their Bliss

Fall 2010 - The Chinaberry Commitment

Late Summer 2010 - In the Blink of an Eye

Midsummer 2010 - It's Her Story

Early Summer 2010 - Weathering the Storm

Gifts From My Mother

Spring 2010 - Enjoy the Ride

Early Spring 2010 - Enter the Land of Dirt and Bugs

Winter 2009 - Less Cleaning, More Meaning

Holiday 2009 - Finding Gratitude Every Day

Fall 2009 - Teaching Children Through Our Actions

Late Summer 2009 - A Spoonful of Sugar

Midsummer 2009 - Give Your Kids the Gift of Boredom this Summer

Early Summer 2009 - Who's the Kid and Who's the Parent?

Late Spring 2009 - Making Connections

Spring 2009 - Fully Engaging With Our Children

Early Spring 2009 - Building Character While Playing Characters

Winter 2008 - Never Underestimate the Value of a Good Hello

Holiday 2008

Fall 2008

Late Summer 2008

Midsummer 2008

Early Summer 2008

Late Spring 2008

Spring 2008

Early Spring 2008

Winter 2007

Holiday 2007

Fall 2007

Late Summer 2007

Midsummer 2007

Early Summer 2007

Late Spring 2007

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Winter 2006

Holiday 2006

Fall 2006

Late Summer 2006

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