Finding Center

I am busy reading “A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing The Universe:  The Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, And Science” by Michael S. Schneider.  This is a fabulous read, especially for those of you homeschooling fifth graders and up in the Waldorf tradition, where the child moves from movement and form drawing to freehand geometry into geometry with tools.

I was re-reading the first section of the book, on the circle and the number one, and came across this passage:

“Nothing exists without a center around which it revolves, whether the nucleus of an atom, the heart of our body, hearth of the home, capital of a nation, sun in the solar system, or black hole at the core of a galaxy.  When the center does not hold, the entire affair collapses.  An idea or conversation is considered “pointless” not because it leads nowhere but because it has no center holding it together.”

I think parenting is learning how to revolve around our center, and how to find our center again if we loose it.  If our center is kindness, gentleness and self-control, then we have a center to return to in the moment (http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/01/23/a-guest-post-take-pause-with-the-10-x-7-rule/).  We also then have a center to set our long-term vision around in terms of what drives the decisions in our family.

However, there is another very real and important reason to find our center:   If what we do and say becomes the inner voice of our children as adults, why not practice now?

Say these critical things to your child:

You are so strong.

You are so helpful.

I love you.

Thank you.

I know you can do this.

I am proud of you.

More importantly, show your child that they belong in your family.  That they make you laugh.  That they make you happy and make you  feel joyous.  Give them a smile, a hug, a kiss.  Tell them they are a precious treasure.  Because they are.

And you are too. If you are feeling dragged down, and lower than low about your parenting, your mothering, your life, please fight against those thoughts.  Some of the Early Church fathers had an idea about thoughts such as these; they called them logismi in Greek.  Thoughts that are not beautiful or joyous , helpful or kind are not from the Divine Source.  Don’t let them take you over.  Don’t wallow in them.

Find your center, find your joy again.  Work is a huge help in this.  Meaningful work for ourselves, our children.   A huge part of the Waldorf curriculum, outside of the art and the movement, is work.  Within Waldorf homeschooling, we learn practical skills,  we learn how to do things with our hands to help our family and to help our neighbor.

Find your center of kindness.  Your children can help you work and nurture your home, they can work and help make something for a member of your community who needs it.

You are so strong.

You are so kind.

You are such a good mother.

You make great decisions for your family.

You bring joy to those around you.

Peace,

Carrie

Linky Love

Here are some links to love today:

From the Lifeways newsletter about gardening with small children throughout the year and different activities for children  from the garden: http://lifewaysnorthamerica.org/about/newsletters-and-articles/how-does-your-garden-grow

From the Lifeways blog regarding focusing on the present and being in the moment, even when going through difficult or challenging times within the life of the family:  http://lifewaysnorthamerica.org/about/newsletters-and-articles/saying-yes-motherhood

enjoyed this post of Melisa Nielsen’s here regarding outside activities and the Waldorf home, and balancing the needs of younger and older children in the family:  http://waldorfessentials.com/blog/2012/06/outsidestuff/

I liked this post about Donna Ashton’s view of color and classrooms in a Waldorf school setting and how that might translate to home:  http://thewaldorfconnection.com/waldorf-homeschool/the-color-of-grades/

I am enjoying the Simplicity Parenting Blog here: http://www.simplicityparenting.com/2012/03/ah-no-thats-our-shopping-errandscleaningvisiting-day/  and a great post for those of thinking about rhythm and schedules for school:  http://www.simplicityparenting.com/2012/01/schedule-unschedule/

Lots of love,
Carrie

Let’s Talk About Raising Boys

 

Okay, so here it is:  there are many, many wonderful fathers out there.  I am married to a man who is a wonderful father.  I see many other wonderful fathers, and I am always so glad and so pleased to see them in action.

 

But I also see many men who do not lead their families in the financial or spiritual sense, who are not involved fathers, and those who, in all honesty, seem to contribute very little to the life of their families.  They also seem to be poor boundary setters for their children, and don’t seem to back their spouse up or talk to their children about having respect for their mother.

 

I am sorry, it sounds so harsh and judgmental laid out in black and white like that.

 

But my thought is this: how are we raising our boys to become men?  How are we helping them to gain responsibility, to learn how to be men?  Will they grow up and be able to provide for a family if they decide to have a one-income family due to choices when they have children?  Will they respect their wives and back their wives up and help their children treat their mothers like the precious women that they are?  Will they be able to lead their families? Will they help lead in their place of worship?  Will they help lead society?

 

I think beyond the individual family, we are facing a real crisis on a societal level.  It has almost gotten to the point where having sons seems to be viewed as some sort of strange and odd liability.  “Oh boys….all that boy energy.”  “Oh, boys, you know, they are so behind developmentally.”  “Oh, boys, you know, they can’t sit still.”  (And yes!  Not all boys are like the picture people seem to paint, although there can be true physiologic differences between the way boys and girls and men and women are wired).

 

But just let me put this out there in terms of parenting: if you expect nothing out of your boys and don’t  ever expect them to rise up and be boys of valor…well, then that could possibly be the kind of man he ends up being.

 

I think the fastest way to help boys in our society is to have them spend time with good role models (whether that is within their own family or outside of their family), and  to teach them responsibility starting from an early age. Capitalize on the industriousness of your son through work for the family. What a wonderful thing, to be able to contribute to the welfare of the family through cooking, fixing things and building things. Have your son learn these very practical skills and see the family as a place to learn to be part of a team.

 

Let’s teach our boys the manners they will need when they will become men.  Let’s set boundaries on their behavior in kind ways that do not take the consequences of one’s actions away. Let’s listen to our boys, but let’s also be crystal clear that our boys know what is right and what is absolutely wrong. 

 

Finally, let’s help our sons obtain a vision for how a man should function in our society and within the family.  That vision may be different for each family to a certain extent, but I would hope that vision would include treating his family with respect, helping to lead the family, helping to provide for his family and being loyal to his wife and his family.  Some of these qualities women don’t seem to have from their own husbands or their own fathers, but we can still hold these up for our sons and change the next generation…  Yes, the old-fashioned stuff.

 

Many blessings,
Carrie

I HATE The Mother That I Am

Every so often, I get emails that break my heart.  This has been one of those weeks.  There are many mothers out there just hating what their mothering is, what they themselves are right now.  And that breaks my heart.

Sometimes I don’t know all the details, all the circumstances.  Is this a chronic feeling and struggle or is it something right here in the moment?  Is it part of or tied to the July doldrums (if any of you have read this blog for awhile, you know how I feel about July here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/07/05/the-july-doldrums-again/   )

We ALL have moments we feel like this.  We may even be having more than just moments, we may be having rough patches with our children where we honestly feel like this for an extended period of time.  Some seasons of parenting are so difficult, so challenging.  Some children have behavior that is challenging and it just challenges us.

And we don’t always handle it well.  We don’t always handle it with grace.  We don’t  always handle it with love.  Sometimes it is hard to see how to best react when it is your own child and we don’t have that outside view looking at someone else’s child doing the same behavior.

Sometimes we feel our children would be better off with anyone else but ourselves.  I have been there too.  I get to those points too, and all I can say is that for me, it is a sign that there is too much going on.  Too much outside pressure, too harried to respond to things in an even-keeled way,  too many things to tend to, and a clear sign my spiritual footing has been neglected, and most likely a sign that my physical body is not being taken care of.

I often think of the village raising a child – how different than all the shaping of a child being done by mainly one or two parents!  Or I think of my own childhood – at school most of the day, coming home and going outside to play until dark, going to bed.  I wasn’t always around a whole lot.  No one had to “arrange” play dates and things to do back then, and the parents were not involved in every dramatic friendship disagreement or thing at school.

For better or for worse, things have changed on a societal level and we put an awful lot of pressure on ourselves.  We talk about not wanting to push our children, but yet we push the hell out of ourselves.  We talk about our children being wonderful, never taking credit for that at all, but when they don’t “act well”, then somehow it is all our fault.

Just musings….So, anyway, once you have a good cry, see if any of this resonates: Continue reading

“Coping With Typical Solvable Problems”–The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work

This chapter begins by citing the hot buttons of marital discord: “Work stress, in-laws, money, sex, housework, a new baby..Even in very happy and stable marriages, these issues are perennials…Although every relationship is different, there’s a reason why these particular conflicts are so common:  They touch upon some of the marriage’s most important work.

Wow.  Think about that for a moment.  These are issues that cover almost everything in life, and gives true credence to that idea that having a good marriage takes work.  However, what the author adds to this oft-repeated phrase and conversation about work in marriage is that it takes a “rich understanding” between the husband and the wife.  Both people need and should feel secure in the marriage.  Dr. Gottman cites that marriage should be a port in the storm , a place of peace.

I love this chapter because Dr. Gottman provides some real solutions to the six basic areas of stress. What I like about the sections devoted to each area is that he breaks it down to an essential task for the marriage to accomplish.  He starts with the stress of the work day, and then spends a particular amount of time on the stress that in-laws can provide to a marriage (including an exercise based around this for you to work on in your family).

He also provides a multi-step solution to  the dilemmas about money Continue reading

Homeschooling Fifth and Sixth Grade

Due to a variety of reasons, my planning started much later and is coming along much slower than in previous years.  I am up to planning into March of our school year now, but keep plugging away in fifteen to half hour increments each day during quiet time and take an hour to two hours on the weekend to plan as well.  I think I will be where I want to be in no time!

I thought I would share that I went ahead, and even though I am planning fifth grade, I decided to take a peek at sixth grade just to get an idea of where I might want to shift things around…After all, our second geography block that we were going to try to do in fourth grade, got shifted into fifth, and I already know many folks who put the Greek history from fifth grade into sixth…so I thought I would peek.

Of course, I don’t know exactly what I am going to do yet, until we are in it and I see how things are going,  but it is intriguing to be sure.

My preliminary thoughts are along these lines: Continue reading

A Plumb Line

I listened to a truly fantastic homily this past Sunday that was based upon the plumb line described in the Holy Book of Amos.

Do you know what a plumb line truly is?  Sure, we have all heard of a plumb line but here is the dictionary definition:

line with weight attached: a line to which a weight is attached to find the depth of water or to verify a true vertical alignment

 

 

The homily went on to discuss the life of Maria Montessori, which in and of itself was fascinating.  You can read more about her life here:  http://www.webster.edu/~woolflm/montessori2.html and here: http://montessori.org.au/montessori/biography.htm . Her private life, not generally spoken of, must certainly have been painful to her  and yet  in the deepening of her Roman Catholic faith (http://www.pathsoflearning.net/articles_Montessori.php), via monastic retreats, she found her plumb line.

 

So, this got me thinking: what is our plumb line as parents?  As a homeschooling family? Continue reading

The Simple Homeschool

I have been talking to more and more mothers regarding planning for the upcoming school year, and one theme has been recurring:  they want simple.

  • They want curriculums that take into account that most mothers are time-constrained, either by activities or by having multiple children.
  • They want to know that when they spend a lot of money on a curriculum, that the curriculum is planned out.  Most mothers seem to want a day by day plan.
  • They want ideas for the magical parts of homeschooling – movement, drawing, music, painting, modeling, and how to bring the academic ideas to life through these vehicles.
  • They do want academic progression
  • They want to know how to take their spiritual and religious life and help their children absorb that in an age- appropriate way in the home environment
  • But most of all, they want simple.

In some respects, many people homeschool, not because they want to make life harder or to stress themselves out with having more complex days, but because they wanted a slower pace of life that allowed for more time and more connection with their children.

I think simplicity can actually start in planning. Planning helps ensure that you are not doing too much, but yet that some of your bases, especially for those past the age of ten, are covered.  For example: Continue reading

A Truly Scrumptious Give-away!

Ah, what a relief and delight for the soul in a busy season of packing and showing a house to come home to a wonderful box in the mail.  Yes, that’s right!  A gluten-free delicious sampler pack of yummy goodness from Mama Mead & Co herself (www.mamamead’s.wordpress.com).  Joy in a box!

The sampler traveled perfectly (and those of you who have had a hand at gluten-free baking may have results that are sometimes crumbly.  This traveled across the country – the Northwest to the Deep South – and all the treats were still lovely!).

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The sampler had many different goodies inside, which I gladly shared with our children and my best friend and her children: Continue reading