Monthly Anchor Points: January

Anchor:  a person or thing that can be relied on for support, stability, or security; mainstay: Hope was his only anchor.

When we work to become the author of own family life, we take on the authority to provide our spouse and children and ourselves stability.  An effective way to do this is through the use of rhythm.  If you have small children, it takes time to build a family rhythm that encompasses the year.  If you are homeschooling older children and also have younger children not ready for formal learning, the cycle of the year through the seasons and through your religious year becomes the number one tool you have for family unity, for family identity, for stability.

January, how I love you with your still and silent ways.  I am reminded of the hibernating animals, the crunch of snow under my feet as a child growing up in the Northeastern United States, the glow of beautiful beeswax candles, the twelve festive days of Christmastide and the twelve Holy of Nights, new beginnings and new starts with a blank year before us.  Seed catalogues start to arrive with the promise of a garden to grow, organizing about the home is to be done, and I think about snowflakes, paper stars, and candles all month long.  You can read more of my joy about January  here.  It also has some wonderful ideas for working with children’s energy during the colder months.  Maybe now is time to rotate the toy collection, move things around so they are fresh and new and inviting for small hands and little hearts. Older children might appreciate a re-vamped crafting, art or woodworking space.

I urge you to use your January to slow down, plan ahead for the next part of this year, to enjoy being outside and allow yourself the luxury of a vigorous walk.  One of my friends sent me an article about the beauty of walking outside in a safe area under a dark sky and it made me think of walking in cold wintry skies.

My month will be anchored by  these festivals:

January 1st through January 6th – The twelve festive days of Christmastide and the twelve Holiest of Nights.    One of my favorite days of this cycle is today, the Feast of Saint Seraphim of Sarov.  There is a lovely book about this saint, and I plan to make a picture of this saint and a bear friend for the children today.  http://www.amazon.com/St-Seraphims-Beatitudes-Blessings-Wonderworker/dp/0978654307/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1420235365&sr=8-1&keywords=st.+seraphim+of+sarov+children

January 6th – Epiphany.  You can see back posts regarding Epiphany and how to celebrate here and   here.   This is a festive day complete with a King’s cake or pudding and gift giving in our house.  The Christmas season ends for us here and we usually do take our tree down and then we tend to clean and rearrange and enjoy the freshness of things.

January 13 – Feast Day of St. Mungo, the Patron Saint of Glasgow.  The book “A Royal Ring of Gold” could be good for older children (middle school) – please always preread.

January 18-24 – Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

There are a few other Saints I am celebrating this month by reading some of their writings as well. 

Ideas for Celebration:

Making music – what a wonderful time to make music in our homes.  Jodie Mesler has a true passion for making music at home and tries very hard to make music do-able for those with no musical background at all.  For those of you who can read music , there are many wonderful music in the Wynstones books and other musical books sold at Waldorf booksellers.

Making crafts – I love things to do with stars and snowflakes for this time of year and there are many examples on Pinterest. I would be pleased to have you follow any of my Pinterest boards as I gather ideas for my own family.

Making time for outside fun – down here we can still hike and paddle; other areas of the country you may be able to still surf and swim and still others you may be cross country skiing, skating, or downhill sledding and skiing.  You could try indoor roller skating and bowling as well.  Stay active and enjoy movement together as a family!

Plan a garden as family

Feed the birds and observe them and draw them

Walk and observe what plants are growing and what the animals are doing

What could you do as a family to help others?  This could be a lovely time to gather supplies for a food pantry or donate clothing or something for your local animal shelter

What about an adult time for you, the person you are besides the mother, with friends or another female adult in your family? I have tickets with my sister-in-law to see the Russian Ballet perform Swam Lake this month and am looking so forward to it.

The Domestic Life:

Making bone broths

I am in the midst of re-organizing all of our “medical” supplies – organizing the essential oils by what we frequently use them for, organizing the homeopathic medicines and stocking up on the ones we are low on, gathering things of nature for illness

Revamping rooms, framing pictures, dreaming of what else we would like to make for our home

Crafting a few things for Candlemas!

I would love to hear what you are up to in these January days.  Shine your light out into the world.

Blessings and peace to you,

Carrie

Creating An Advent Spiral For The Waldorf Home

I recently participated in my eighth year of preparing an Advent Spiral with community.  Walking an Advent Spiral is often traditional for children in the older kindergarten and  early grades within the Waldorf School.   The spiral is not a religious ritual  and it is also not explained to the children.  Instead, walking the spiral is an experiential spiritual act to commemorate the lighting of our own inner light to carry us through the dark months of winter, and letting this let shine out through the darkness of humanity as well.

Within the Waldorf School environment, the Advent Spiral is set up already and magically appears before the children. Sometimes there is an Angel Guide to guide the children through the spiral to the center candle.  The children usually hold an apple that has a beeswax candle in it, and then after their candle is lit they set it down on a spot within the spiral as they walk out.

In the home environment, there is a bit more to it since the spiral often needs to be assembled on the spot whilst families are present, especially because often families inspired by this type of festival are spread out throughout a geographic area and coming together from far distances. There are many ways to construct a festival for community; below follows just one way I have seen work well  in the past.

So, before the spiral: Continue reading

Tips For Parenting and Homeschooling When A Spouse Travels

I meet many homeschooling parents whose spouses travel extensively for a job.  We have been in that position in our family as well.  Every family and every travel schedule is different, but our situation was that for three years my husband traveled every week Monday through late Thursday night and then worked in town on Fridays.  This schedule has lessened over the last two years, so I am glad, but over the way it certainly shaped the way I parented and homeschooled to an extent.  I wanted to share some things that helped me survive the travel beat. Continue reading

Monthly Anchor Points: December

Anchor:  a person or thing that can be relied on for support, stability, or security; mainstay: Hope was his only anchor.

When we work to become the author of own family life, we take on the authority to provide our spouse and children and ourselves stability.  An effective way to do this is through the use of rhythm.  If you have small children, it takes time to build a family rhythm that encompasses the year.  If you are homeschooling older children and also have younger children not ready for formal learning, the cycle of the year through the seasons and through your religious year becomes the number one tool you have for family unity, for family identity, for stability.

Somehow I completely missed doing a monthly anchor post for the month of November!  You can, however, glance back at this post about the silence and stillness of November the silence and stillness of November and also this post I just wrote about  Thanksgiving.

Gratitude is a major theme in the month of November, and here is a February 2012 post about  gratitude and a   Thanksgiving 2011 post about gratitude.

We are coming into the month of December, a month of anticipation and preparation in the Christian Calendar. This post talks  Advent from a Waldorf perspective.  If you are from another faith tradition and are blogging about this month, please leave a link to your blog below so my readers can find you!   I am Christian and therefore can only write from the perspective of our authentic Christian life, but so appreciate other perspectives.

One thing I am thinking strongly about is how we as a family make a very conscious effort to slow down, not speed up, this holiday season.  You can see my contemplation about that in this post about the  simple holiday season.  and this post which holds  answers to parents’ holiday questions.

My Orthodox friends have already begun their Nativity Fast.  We begin here with the first Sunday in Advent on November 30th.  The monthly points that are our anchor this month include: Continue reading

A Waldorf View of Thanksgiving

“For most American households the Thanksgiving celebration has lost much of its original significance.  We can remediate the consumer holiday it has become by creating a Thanksgiving gathering and feast in kindergarten for the children and their families, where we give a living example of gratitude and joy for what we have and what we can share together.” – “Celebrating Festivals With Children” by Freya Jaffke

We begin sowing the seeds for Thanksgiving celebration by the observation of all the reverent moments that make up our very ordinary days throughout the entire year.  Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the harvest being in, and this has been done in different varying festivals since ancient times.  The American Thanksgiving is just one festival of many that exemplifies the manifestation of the harvest as a culmination of the gratitude and reverence we share throughout the year with our children.

Thanksgiving is one of America’s oldest festivals, and one of ten federal holidays declared by the United States Congress.  Although schoolchildren often trace it back to the Pilgrims and a harvest gathering, the first national observation of Thanksgiving was actually proclaimed by President George Washington in 1789.  Thanksgiving was celebrated  erratically after this date by individual states and at different times, and Sarah Hale, editor of the Boston Ladies Magazine and Godey’s Lady’s Book, championed the idea of having a national day of Thanksgiving for nearly 15 years before Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving to be the last Thursday in the month of November in 1863.   You can read Lincoln’s proclamation here.   It actually took until 1941, when Thanksgiving was proclaimed a national holiday by the United States Congress, to arrive at its current date of the fourth Thursday of each November.

Simple tasks that we can undertake for this festival with small children  include Continue reading

Time of Lanterns

 

This time of Halloween/All Saints Day/All Souls Day and leading into Martinmas leads me to think about light and lanterns.  There is a passage from the book “Celebrating Festivals With Children” by Freya Jaffke that I like regarding “Lantern Time”:

“Two lantern festivals mark this time.  From the Celtic tradition there is Halloween on October 31, and from Continental Europe we have Martinmas on November 11.  Halloween is connected with the earth, and its turnip or pumpkin lanterns are made of fruits from the ground.  Martinmas commemorates a human deed of sharing, and its paper lanterns are entirely made by human hand.  As the outer light of day diminishes, there is first a kind of afterglow of e earth – the turnip or pumpkin lanterns.  Then there is the human spark of kindness we see in the paper lanterns of Martinmas.  The light is gradually transformed from the outer light of the sun in summer to the internal spirit light of Advent and Christmas.”

This is a wonderful time of year to think about any changes in rhythm that you want to make as the days grow shorter, the nights longer and colder.  It is also a wonderful time to think about bringing light into your home.  I know Waldorf teachers who light lanterns whilst the children play and keep lanterns up in the school room until the light of Advent comes. Continue reading

Holiday Gifts To Make

 

Someone told me today that there are nine weekends left until Christmas Day.  Uh, no stress there at all!

That thought made me think about children and gifts and this article written by Pam Leo, author of Connection Parenting, and available over at Waldorf In The Home  here.  It speaks eloquently about slowing down the season, really choosing how we use our time, and how children love the preparation of the holidays….

Which led me to think about gifts that children love to make and give.  I have some tried and true favorites, including: Continue reading