Expectation, Anticipation and The Holy Mystery of Advent

 

Advent in the Western Church is almost upon us as it begins on Sunday, December 1 this year.  A beautiful time of power and mystery awaits if only as a culture we can live with expectation, anticipation, and abiding.

 

Advent is not to be rushed nor to be confused with Christmas. We have twelve glorious days to celebrate Christmastide, with many important feasts within that season.  No, this is the season for learning to live in the darkness before the light truly comes. 

 

There are beautiful Saints within the season of Advent to journey with.  The Anglican Communion  included St. Martin (yes, of Martinmas!) and “St. Martin’s Lent”, the beginning of a forty day fast, the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple and Our Lady of the Sign on November 27th, Saint Andrew, Blessed Nicholas Ferrar, Saint Barbara, Saint Nicholas (oh, the back posts on St. Nicholas on this blog!), Our Lady of Guadalupe, Santa Lucia, Saint Thomas.  These days hold such beautiful places, spaces and saints to draw from to make Advent a season of its own within your family life.

 

As for celebrating Advent, popular things to do include making an Advent wreath, using an Advent calendar of some sort, and for those of you with religious leanings, perhaps making a Jesse tree. 

 

Families within the tradition of Waldorf Education often follow a path of Advent that builds up to all of Earth welcoming the Christ, first with the mineral kingdom of shells, stones and bones, then with the plants, animals in the third week and all of humanity in the fourth week, waiting and abiding in expectation and promise.

 

There are many, many back posts regarding Advent on this blog, and I will keep writing during this Advent season about this time of anticipation.

 

Many blessings,
Carrie

Simplicity Monday

Have you ever been a boss?  Have you ever been an employee?

If you were a boss, how did you get your employees to do good work?  I bet if you were a good boss, your employees liked you because you were encouraging.  Sure, you would point out what needed fixing, but you would also point out the good and wonderful things your employees were doing.

If you were ever an employee, what made you want to do a good job?  Was it a boss who was demeaning,  was it a boss whom you could never please no matter what you did, was it when you felt small and stupid and like you couldn’t do anything right?  Chances are if you had a job like that you eventually left the company, and if you had a day like that you just wanted to go home and hide in your bed with the sheet pulled up!

So how is parenting any different?

Will you see the very best side of your children if you constantly are finding flaws, expecting them to be a person they are not, and never telling them the things they do are enough, that they are enough, that they are loved and you wouldn’t ever be without them?

If parenting is about being an authentic leader, what kind of leader are you?  Are you  kind, encouraging,  and holding up realistic standards for your children as you guide them and teach them and help them unfold into the beautiful adult they will become?

In this Thanksgiving week, let us have gratitude for our children and who they are.

Blessings,
Carrie

Sunday Books: The No-Cry Discipline Solution

We are continuing our look chapter-by-chapter through Elizabeth Pantley’s wonderful book about gentle discipline entitled, “The No-Cry Discipline Solution:  Gentle Ways to Encourage Good Behavior Without Whining, Tantrums and Tears.”

On page 49, Elizabeth writes, “Children are joy.  We love them with every cell of our being, and we can’t imagine what our world would be like without them.  Yet, everyday life with our children can be challenging, frustrating, and exhausting……You may want to focus your decisions on creating joy, achieving your goals, and seeing the big picture of your child’s future, but you can’t even begin to see that big picture because there are so many little pictures in the way.  Who would have ever thought that simple tasks, such as putting on shoes, brushing teeth, or giving a bath would require so much preparation, negotiation, and emotion? And who would have thought that raising one tiny child could bring so many frustrating everyday challenges?”

She goes on to write that many behaviors are immediately improved when we, as parents,improve the way we interact and communicate with our children.  I don’t know how many of you remember this post, but it was one that resonated with many parents on this topic:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/05/23/changing-our-parenting-language/

Our communication methods have to be as varied as our children – children grow and Continue reading

Sixth Grade Ancient Rome

This is the first three weeks of studying Ancient Rome in sixth grade.  We actually starting preparing for this block about a week before our Mineralogy block ended by reading aloud the Aenid as chronicled in Penelope Lively’s book,  “In Search of A Homeland: The Story of The Aenid.”  We started by drawing a picture from this book on our first day, along with reading the synopsis of the Aenid by Dorothy Harrer in her book, “Roman Lives.”

We then started reading in Charles Kovacs’ “Ancient Rome”  the story of Romulus and Remus.  We painted the Seven Hills of Rome and talked about Horatius Keeps the Bridge (the historical event and the poem, “Horatius At The Bridge”  by Lord Macaulay and also got the book with the complete poem in it to read), and also painted that scene as well.  I found the Christopherus Roman History guide to be helpful with some of the summaries and map drawings at this point.  Our daughter worked hard on a mosaic stepping stone for our garden during this week as well.

During the beginning of the second week of Rome, we drew a Continue reading

Simplicity Monday: The Silent Still November

I have memories of November from growing up in Upstate New York; cool, crisp leaves crunching underfoot, frosty mornings, snow on the ground, dim sunlight through clouds and a gray that hung in the air.  There were animals out, but there was a hush and a chill that let one know autumn was winding down and winter was on its way.   I think for partially that reason, I really enjoyed this post by Elizabeth Foss (I just adore her and her writing!):  http://www.elizabethfoss.com/reallearning/2013/11/november-silence.html

November always seemed like a still and silent time to me; a time to think and ponder and prepare.  And so, heading into the holidays, I am pondering and preparing: Continue reading

A Lovely, Beautiful Martinmas

I love Martinmas, this time of taking the beautiful spark of light within each of us, carefully carried from the height of summer expansiveness by the courage and bravery as seen in St. Michael,  that can now light up the darkness of the earth and the human journey.

Lantern walks are a most popular way to work with the festival for all.  A Lantern Walk does not even have to be a coordinated community effort; it can even be as simple and sure as walking around your own house or yard together with your lanterns.  For small children, this can be just as wonderful as a community event.

There are beautiful things to file here for your next Martinmas celebration.

Here is Lily’s beautiful St. Martin (I just loved her Santa Lucia and I love her St. Martin as well!  This is on my list to make for next year!):  http://blockaday.com/stitching-for-martinmas/

I liked this post from Charming The Birds From The Trees:  http://charmingthebirdsfromthetrees.blogspot.com/2013/11/saint-martin.html

The little story and sweets found here could also be kept in your files until next year:  http://www.celebratetherhythmoflife.com/2010/11/martinmas.html

The geometric lanterns found here could be lovely for older students:  http://waldorfmama.blogspot.com/2008/11/martinmas.html

This little lantern bunting is so very sweet:  http://rhythmofthehome.com/2011/08/martinmas-lantern-bunting-waldorf-felt-seasonal-craft/

Finally, this post from The Magic Onions has a beautiful needle felted tapestry embedded in it, along with verses, songs and other lovely goodies:  http://www.themagiconions.com/2012/11/a-thanksgiving-blessing-and-the-waldorf-tradition-of-lantern-walk.html

Many blessings,

Carrie

The Rant: Development of the Whole Child, Part Three

In part two in this series, I made some observations about movement being the foundation for attention and focus; about movement being the foundation of learning and about movement leading to being comfortable in the body and therefore giving the child the ability to be comfortable in the world.  Every movement is one that involves not only the motor system, but all  of the sensory systems (mainstream sources consider five senses, Waldorf Education considers twelve senses and neurologic research considers hundreds).  Rolling, for example, is a motor experience that can involve a high degree of pelvic movement and weight shifting on a motor level,  but also a sensory one where the visual, vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile systems are highly engaged.  Obviously cognition and motivation play a part as well.

We always wonder about children who skip developmental stages that are considered normal or “neurotypical”.  I did mention before, and it deserves mention again,  that each child has a unique footprint to his or her own  movement patterns, and asked readers to consider just the simple act of getting from laying on your stomach to sitting on the edge of your bed; it can be done in many different ways!

However, what if whole stages are skipped? One of my readers brought up her child who never really rolled well from being on the back to another position, and other readers have brought up children who skipped crawling.

These are questions with answers that must be observed carefully from within the child with the background question in one’s mind of “what does this developmental stage or action offer to the child?” and by observing what the child is doing in a holistic way and with love and interest.

Part of a way to look at this means asking ourselves, “What does the child gain by rolling (or by crawling on all fours or whatever the activity is)?  What is the child gaining by the way the child is doing this now?”  Again, I have mentioned in previous posts that some children come with special gifts and will not progress through these typical stages and whatever they experience out of a developmental sequence can be beneficial for them where they are functioning upon this earth.

I would like to address a few points particularly  about rolling and crawling.  Rolling is one of the motor skills that is Continue reading