Sarah Sawinski- Home Mama
“She’s more better at cooking pancakes. She’s a delicious pancake-maker.”
Kiera Rae Sawinski, age 3-1/2, will be the first to toot her mom’s horn. And she’s got her sparkly blue eyes fixed on the stuff that counts– like breakfast-making skills.
Kiera’s 7-month-old brother, Sully, is sitting on the floor, grinning as though he doesn’t know how to stop doing so. You can’t really blame him. He’s got one heck of a fun, loving mama.
Sarah is the kind of gal it’s almost impossible to be uncomfortable around. She has a laid-back demeanor, and she’s open, friendly, cheerful and sincere. She’s also crazy-busy raising a family while having her fingers in “a hodgepodge of community involvement activities.”
The label of “housewife” could hardly be more insufficient. This self-proclaimed “home mama” cares for her family– her husband Martin and their two children– while serving as a La Leche League Leader, doula, and volunteer for the Explore Program.
“The [Explore] program is through Lutheran Social Services… it’s sort of newly-morphed. It fosters parent-child interaction through parenting classes and fun group activities"”
She’s also your go-to gal if you’re looking to rent a birthing tub.
Sarah is a transplant, a Twin Cities native. She came to the area for the same reason many young people do– to attend school. After soaking up some education and then taking a bit of time off, she graduated from UMD in 2006, majoring in criminology and minoring in psychology. In the meantime, Sarah had also become a wife and mother. The “mother” part was a particularly transformative experience for Sarah, and correspondingly, her focus changed.
“What’s important to me is for my kids to have the freedom to be themselves in any capacity. We’re okay with making sacrifices, financially, for me to be home.
” Living in Duluth, as it turned out, made that decision a more viable one for Sarah and her family.
“Here, it’s easier to do it. We trade and barter items with friends. The price of a lot of things is lower. There’s not much traffic or commuting; life is just at a simpler pace. There’s less keeping up with the Joneses, and people take the time to cherish more simple pleasures.”
Sarah can rattle off a laundry list of reasons her chosen community is a great place to raise a family, and she’s happy to do so. Individually, she’s chosen to make healthy parenting a pursuit that extends beyond the four walls of her recently- purchased Lincoln Park home. As a doula, she makes herself available to “help people make the transition to becoming a family”.
“I think that [locally], there’s a large market for doulas. There’s a new birth center in the works. It’s been a long time in the making– it’s a great way to open up people’s eyes to other birthing options.”
The community’s growing receptivity to new ideas and ways of doing things is one of the foremost selling points Sawinski notes of the area. She seems excited by the prospect of sharing Duluth with others and believes that someone considering moving to the area shouldn’t hesitate to so do.
“Go for it! Absolutely. There are so many resources here for community involvement. There are all these activities, and so much opportunity to be able to raise your children [surrounded by] nature… Duluth is so low-key, [and] the energy from the Lake is absolutely incredible.”
Sarah’s personal aspirations for the future include taking advantage of some of the community’s many opportunities for learning. “
I think higher education is in my future; I’d like to get a masters in family counseling, focusing on the post-partum time.”
Between returning to college, being involved with a home school cooperative with her kids, and potentially traveling, her long-term agenda is ambitious and exciting.
“I’ve traveled from Mexico to Panama and back, taught English in Guatemala, and worked on a coffee farm in Honduras.”
After all that, she chose to settle in Duluth. Seems like quite a ringing endorsement from this worldly mama and consummate pancake artisan.
Family: Husband Martin, 28; children Kiera, 3-1/2; and Sully, 7 mos.
Boomerang, Transplant, or Lifer: Transplant
Hometown: Plymouth, MN
Education: BA in Criminology, minor in Psychology, UMD
Her Definition of “Success”: “[Success is] being able to savor life with the simplest means. Getting the most out of life with the least amount of stuff…simplicity. If you can do that, you can always be happy.”
Favorite Place to Eat: At home, from her crock pot! “I do like the gluten-free lasagna at Duluth Grill, and the Athena pizza at Luce.”
How she Recreates: Coffee dates with friends, walks in the park, and “collecting pieces of nature”. Also, lots of play dates with kids, “We’re involved in a home school cooperative with Kiera. Fridays are our field trip days– last week we went to an organic farm– and Mondays are ‘adventure’ days– last time we went searching for fairies and dragons in the woods.”
Favorite Nightlife Spot/Activity: “I have a group of girls with the same kind of life story. Anywhere I go with my special crew in the Summer and Fall, we end the night with a ‘dip’ in the Lake.”
Favorite Secret Honey Hole: Wisconsin Point. “You can have bonfires there.”
Shovel or Snowblower? “Shovel– or really great neighbors!"
Long-Winter Survival Tip: “Oh my gosh!” she exclaims, “I wouldn’t have it [the winter] any other way!” Sarah stocks up on vegetables from friends and makes loads of “awesome chilis and smoothies. My freezer is chalk-full!” She and her husband also keep the heat set low and wear “great sweaters and slippers”. They snowshoe, fish, and camp with their family, well into the cooler seasons.