Posts Tagged ‘family’

More Than 100 New Arrivals!

Friday, September 4th, 2009
Welcome to Chinaberry, home of outstanding children’s books, quality toys, fun family games and puzzles, kids’ arts and crafts, and many other gifts and treasures to support mindful parenting. We search high and low for only the very best in kids’ literature, the most fun and engaging educational games and children’s crafts, and meaningful toys that stimulate imaginations and are truly built to last.

Chinaberry offers items to support families in raising their children with love, honesty and joy to be reverent, loving caretakers of each other and the earth.

While you’re waiting for your fall paper catalog to arrive, take a peek at all our new items by visiting the Chinaberry website at: http://www.chinaberry.com/new.cfm.

Interview with Susan Magasamen

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Interview with Susan Magasamen, author of The 10 Best of Everything

When I read Susan Magasamen’s book The 10 Best of Everything, I found myself lusting after her job a little. Just as we at Chinaberry scour the nation for books and other treasures to enrich people’s lives, this woman has made it her mission to find destinations for families. While we’re searching for life-changing stuff, Susan’s out and about “testing” ice cream shops and campgrounds! (Sigh . . .) We just had to find out more about this woman and her amazing job, so we’d like to introduce to you Susan Magasamen!

Janet: What words of advice would you like to share with our readers for having the best family vacation of their lives?

Susan: Incorporate everyone into the planning!  This will make the trip something adults and kids are interested in and are looking forward to!  If you can start the planning early enough, it is great to introduce films, books, art, music and other aspects of the culture prior to the visit.  We also find that after the trip there is always a heightened interest in a new topic. For example, we just came back from a trip to Vienna and discovered our kids had a real interest in opera.  We are now renting operas!

Another tip is to allow for the unexpected and change your plans! No matter how much reading and research you do on a place, it is never the same as being there and experiencing it firsthand.  That is really the wonder of travel…the unexpected and the expected exceeding your expectations.

Janet: As I read your book, I wanted to dog-ear every page because all of your incredible “finds.” I especially loved reading about the “best road trips.” If you could only go on ONE of these road trips this summer, which one would you choose and why?

Susan: As you know, this book is a compilation of other people’s experiences!!! We have families sharing their favorite places in California, another exploring Boston, or a folklorist talking about Philadelphia. The “best road trips” are amazing and I would like to do all of them.  Hmmm, right now I think I would like to take my family to The Ultimate Florida Keys Vacation. This is the trip from Deb Kirkland and her two boys.  They planned an adventure-packed, nature-filled week, from hand-feeding the rays to an alligator show.

Janet: Out of all your experiences, from checking out wilderness hikes to resorts in the Key West, which was the most memorable for you personally?

Susan: Throughout the book we share travel stories of famous folks — from scientists and artists to poets and explorers.  I loved hearing about the places and experiences that helped shape their lives. This was very inspiring to me and reminded me that as a parent you have an opportunity to expose your children to what they might become in their lives. Elizabeth Spires’ visits to authors’ homes was very moving to me. As a writer, I relate to the way she got to understand the writers by seeing where they wrote. Often we don’t get the biography or background of things. When you have the opportunity to see where someone wrote something, what inspired them, what their life circumstances were, it helps to understand yourself, the world and perhaps even your place in it a little bit more.

Janet: During the course of putting together this book, what surprised you the most?

Susan: How much people love ice cream! And also how important time spent together is for families. As we travel, visit and see new things together, we create memories that last a lifetime.  I come from a family of five girls. Whenever we get together we still talk about some of the crazy trips we have taken.  I remember once my sister and I took our young children to Colorado to what we thought was a dude ranch.  It ended up being a disaster of a place.  So our husbands and kids all banded together and we went on a road trip all the way to New Mexico.  We had the time of our lives!  Again, expect the unexpected.

Janet: What’s the biggest mistake you feel parents make when planning family vacations?

Susan: Overbooking and pushing kids to “learn.” When your kids are engaged, interested and active, they will have a great time.

Janet: What is #1 on your Wish List right now for your next vacation?

Susan: We want to see the Northern Lights!  We’re thinking about going to Norway to do that.  Interestingly, this has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. At supper one night I said I really wanted to do this, not thinking anyone else would be interested. As it turned out everyone was! We’ve all done our homework now and have found a really cool website that reports on the Lights like a weather report!

Janet: Is there anything else that you’d like to share with our readers?

Susan: The biggest and best piece of advice I can give is to take naps!  Usually when kids are bored they are tired.  If you can take a rest, eat a great snack, and get something to drink, you can get back in the groove.

Featured Chinaberry Employee - Tammy Nelson

Friday, June 26th, 2009

You never know what in the world you’re going to find employee Tammy Nelson doing in our warehouse – from driving around in a forklift to schlepping 40-lb. boxes that I can’t even begin to budge! As our Receiving Department Lead, she’s responsible for “receiving” every single item that arrives in our building. When asked about her job, Tammy replies, “One of the best parts of my job is being able to see every new item when it arrives. It’s like Christmas every day!” A stickler for detail, Tammy doesn’t merely open boxes, glance at the new merchandise, and approve them for inventory. She and her team go over EVERY single item with the care and attention of a mother bear with her cubs. Of course, this is good news for our customers. Unless something gets damaged en route, Tammy guarantees the books and products are in pristine condition.

I love hearing Tammy’s warehouse stories. My personal favorite is the one about a pallet of soaking wet boxes that arrived one day. When Tammy opened the boxes, she found them filled with burned books. Evidently, after the boxes caught on fire, they had been hosed down, but by golly, nobody can say they weren’t delivered on schedule! Such is a day in the life of Tammy Nelson.

Tammy herself arrived at Chinaberry in 1994. Her first job was in the shipping department during our busy holiday season. She loved it so much she decided to stay on. Tammy’s one of those people whose attitude is contagious, so first her sister joined her in working here in 1996, and then Tammy’s twin daughters started in 2000. Tammy’s nieces and nephews have worked here during various seasons as well, so when Tammy says, “We are more like family than fellow workers,” maybe that’s because so many are?!

It’s never a dull moment in Tammy’s life – from enjoying long-distance motorcycle rides with her wonderful husband of 29 years to camping in the desert and spending quality time with her beloved grandchildren and family. Tammy says, “I have never worked for a better company,” and I’m here to tell you we’re a great fan of hers as well!

National Geographic’s Mothers & Children

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Review from Tina at Chinaberry:

In this stunning photographic gift book, National Geographic has once again compiled pictures that tell a story more eloquently than words could ever do, in this case capturing the essence of a mother’s love. No matter the place or the language, the universal truth of the connection between mother and child is the same: “I am here for you, you are safe and you are loved.” In southern Indiana, a young mother nurses her child while driving a tractor. In India, a beautiful young bride tearfully clasps her mother’s hand to her lips before driving off to her new life as a wife. In the People’s Republic of China, a mother and daughter share a gleeful moment of pure joy, and in Iceland, a mother braves the frigid air as she skates across the ice, her child warm and safe in a covered carriage.

The beautiful photographs, interspersed with quotes honoring mothers and musings from Craig Wilson combine to make a lovely gift for Mother’s Day or at any time. You will want to share this treasure with all the mothers in your life.

TV-Turnoff Week: Take the Challenge!

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Take the challenge—keep your TVs turned off this week. After you go through that initial media-withdrawal, you just might see a glimpse of the possible rewards of a TV-free lifestyle, most notably having more time to really connect as a family.

Continue in the spirit of TV-Turnoff Week by scheduling one unplugged day or evening a week when the only things you’re tuned into are each other. Chinaberry can help you to unplug from electronics and tune into family and community. Check out our wide selection of games, crafts, activity books, puzzles, and outdoor/active play toys and free yourself from TV for at least one day a week.

Power Struggles

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

If we keep our eyes open, we find inspiration in the small moments of our life with children, even on the worst of days. Sometimes we must slow down, take a few breaths and regroup to find it, but the wisdom is always there, hidden in the shadows of every moment if we take the time to see it. One of my all-time-hardest parenting lessons—and the eventual wisdom that came with it—involved power struggles.

I used to feel so completely helpless in power struggles. How could this small child, whom I loved so dearly, produce such extraordinary levels of frustration and even rage in me? There were such strong feelings over whether or not she could have another cookie. Weren’t two cookies enough? Why couldn’t she see the reason in the situation? Why couldn’t I? The intensity of my feelings (not to mention my child’s feelings) astounded me at times. Why won’t she bend her will to mine and just make this easier? Doesn’t she know I’m the parent!? Does this really have to be so hard? (There is nothing like arguing with a two-year-old in public to humble a person.)

I used to struggle with these questions until one day I had the revelation that the very thing I was battling against in my child was a trait that I honor greatly in adults. I love adults who persevere against all odds to manifest their dreams. I love adults who have the strength of will to stand up and speak their truth. (They know they want that third cookie and aren’t going to let anyone stop them from having it!) Nevertheless, here I was arguing with my child when she was directing these identical traits toward me. Like a bolt of lightning, insight dawned in my heart. I realized that I didn’t want to squelch these traits in my child, but merely to help her channel them toward more appropriate situations. Suddenly, it became my job to teach when to use willpower and when to be flexible. This enormous will that I had battled so mightily against had many important uses. Why would I ever want to subdue it?

Once I could step aside and see my child’s will for the powerful, remarkable trait that it was, it lost its power over me. My anger magically dissipated with this new understanding. Suddenly, it wasn’t about winning anymore. It was about honoring this magnificent trait in my child and helping her learn to use her will wisely in the world. In honoring my child’s tremendous will, I mustn’t let it rule her life and yet, without the strength of her will intact, she might never reach her soul’s destination. In the end, it’s all about the intention in our heart and the words we choose to use as we reinforce our message. “Yes, sweetie, I know you really hate that you can only have two cookies, but two cookies are a reasonable amount. Asking again isn’t going to change my answer. Let’s read a story instead.”

Respecting the power of our children’s will allows us to transform our feelings about it. We no longer have to conquer it. Like a tai chi master, we simply redirect the flow. Respecting the power of my children’s will didn’t make those times when I knocked heads with my children go away forever, it just transformed how I felt about them and how I responded to them.

Tips for Having Enough Energy to Survive Daily Life with Small Children

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

• Be sure to get enough rest. It is so easy to stay up late after the
children are in bed to have a few precious hours of solitude. But if
this time comes at the expense of your sleep, you and your family
will eventually pay a high price for these few hours.

• If mornings are hard for you, make sure you get up before your
children. Allow yourself a few minutes to adjust to the day before
you are inundated by your children’s needs. Have time to take your
shower, or drink your morning cup of coffee. Do whatever you need
to do to say “Good morning” to yourself. Once you’ve greeted the day, it is much easier to face the unbounded enthusiasm of a cheery toddler first thing in the morning.

• If your children nap, take that time purely for yourself. Parents need
downtime, too. Read a book, take a nap, do something creative—
anything to nourish yourself. Don’t feel as if you have to make that
the most productive hour of the day. Think of this time as your time
to renew your batteries, not as the hour to get everything done
that hasn’t been done all day.

• Eat regular meals. It is so easy to ignore your own needs. When
things get hectic or children become overwrought, it can be a challenge
to remember to feed yourself. Even if it is just a five-minute
break to eat a peanut butter sandwich and drink a glass of milk, sit
down. Show your children how to take care of themselves by taking
care of yourself.

• Remember to drink plenty of water (not Coke, not coffee—but
water). It’s amazing how much energy proper hydration provides.
To figure out how much water you require, divide your weight in
pounds by two and drink that number in ounces of water. So if you
weigh 140 pounds, you need 70 ounces of water, or just about nine
eight-ounce glasses. If that sounds like a lot, you probably aren’t
drinking enough. Try it for a couple of weeks and see how you feel.
You might be surprised. (more…)

Words of Wisdom - Yes We Can! (Obama Victory Speech)

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

President-Elect Obama with his Family on Election Night - Photo by Time

President-Elect Obama with his Family on Election Night - Photo by Time

Remarks of President-Elect Barack Obama-as prepared for delivery
Election Night
Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
Chicago, Illinois

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It’s the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America. (more…)

Out of the Mouths of Babes - Just Like Dear OLD Dad

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

This quote was sent to me by Patti, Customer Service Manager at Chinaberry:

My husband took our son Ryan (who was about 3 1/2 years old at the time) to the barbershop for a haircut.  The barber put him on his booster seat in the barber’s chair and then asked Ryan how he’d like his hair cut.  Ryan replied by saying, “I want my hair cut just like my dad’s, except–pointing to his temples–without these bald spots there.”

Share your kid quotes!

Containers of Connection & Love

Friday, November 7th, 2008

One could say that everything we do for the holidays is an effort to create ‘containers of connection’ — ways to ensure Light and Love are present in the cold and wintry darkness of the year.

My family’s special ‘container of connection’ is a cluster of old log cabins in the backwoods of Alabama — our homestead for over thirty years. Our entire wild and wooly clan descends on Papa every December — children, spouses, grandchildren, dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and a cockatiel named Tuck. Mama found the land long ago and convinced her high-powered attorney husband to live intimately with the natural world. She died awhile back, and nowadays Papa is gardener, farmer, and beekeeper. Mostly he spends his time figuring out how to co-inhabit with the wild creatures who really own the place.

As the longest night approaches, our land grows still and expectant, serenely waiting for the return of Light. But inside the cabins, chaos reigns. Inflatable mattresses have new holes to patch; children find the candy stash and fly around in sugared frenzies; tempers flare over non-stop eating and mounds of dirty dishes. Unresolved issues from childhood pour out over dinner; doors slam; people pout and yell, and we are left wondering why in the world, once again, we agreed to participate in such madness. (more…)