Hi! I'm Sam Haas (she/her/hers), and my family and I live in Madison, Wisconsin (which occupies the ancestral lands of the Ho-Chunk Nation). I created Playful Acorns in early 2023 to encourage meaningful connections and learning opportunities between caregivers, children, and nature.
That's me (Sam) in the first photo with my mom in the early 1990s, and then with my daughter in 2023.
The concept behind Playful Acorns wouldn't exist without the generations of caregivers who came before me. My mom nurtured a love of the outdoors in me around our family's farm near Watertown, just as her mom did in her at their summer cabin up north. And I intend to do the same with my daughter. Maybe she won't be a bird nerd like me or a nature nut like her grandma. But, if her fascination for finding pinecones, stones, leaves, walnuts, and -- you guessed it -- acorns is any indication, she is already picking up some valuable life lessons: slow down, be present, and enjoy the simple things.
Experiencing the world from someone else's viewpoint is a remarkable gift. I thought I understood this well as a writer and photographer, but it wasn't until I became an auntie and then a mama that I understood the true joy of witnessing kids explore their surroundings, play, and learn new things each day. While I still hope to see the aurora borealis in my lifetime, watching pure wonder dance across my daughter's face lights me up more than anything else I could imagine.
These playful moments -- often when we're outdoors together -- help keep me going when the days get long and the nights get longer. I'm convinced this is why coffee shops are often located inside grocery stores. Taking care of kids is hard work. It's not all rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes it can feel incredibly isolating, overwhelming, and as though you're losing parts of yourself along the way. You are not alone. Together, we can grow side by side as we learn from each other, our kids, and nature.
Together, we can grow side by side as we learn from each other, our kids, and nature.
If you've been wanting to gather with those who "get it" in a place that fosters your child(ren)'s curiosity, you're in good company. I've also been craving connection with more caregivers and the healthy benefits of being immersed in the natural world, and I am excited to create a business that supports this vision. Playful Acorns will be here through the changing seasons of our lives.
If you're not a caregiver, an easy way you can support other families is just by checking in with them. Ask how they are doing (not just their kiddos) and really listen; encourage them to drink some water/get some fresh air/go for a walk/schedule that massage or counseling appointment they've been postponing; and remind them that they are doing great and that they are not alone. My sincere hope is that Playful Acorns can become part of their village, too.
My dear friend took this photo without me knowing it when she came for a socially distanced visit at our home in the summer of 2022. As is often still the case, I was wearing my gray sweats and bathrobe, hair in a bun, and emotions on my sleeve. A trio of postpartum mood disorders, sleep deprivation, and heightened anxiety from the pandemic had been bubbling to the surface, and I desperately needed connection and a breath of fresh air. I am eternally grateful for friends, family, coworkers, and therapist for checking in on me and Z, especially in those early days, weeks, and months.
Playful Acorns: Where kids and caregivers gather and grow.