Talking to Children About Healthy Sexuality and Sex

One often hears the horror stories about parents trying to give “the talk” to their children, complete with mumbling, inaccurate terminology and a look of relief when their child has no questions for them and both parties can flee from the room.

In the United States, 13 percent of teens have had sexual intercourse before the age of 15.  Seventy percent have had sexual intercourse by age 19.  We live in a country founded by people who thought sex was rather evil, and we as a nation are obsessed with sexuality and sex in our media.   It is an odd paradox to say the least.  Our children are bombarded with messages about body image daily.  The freedom of the Internet and media in many families has led the average age of children to see their first pornographic act on the Internet at age 11.

These are serious facts, and the discussions about healthy sexuality and healthy relationships to counteract the messages our children receive every day can only begin with YOU by layering in talks about these subjects from an early age in a healthy, developmentally appropriate way.

First of all, like all things in parenting. these discussion have to start with YOU.  How do you feel about Continue reading

Finding Peace in the Resentment

Oh, February, you got me again, I think.  I went into winter thinking all would be fine and all I know is for about three weeks I have felt….

Resentful.

Tired.

Without reserves.

Irritated.

A little lost with how to continue to juggle all of it in homeschooling and my own need for self-care and self-nourishment….Even frustrated….

Juggling children of three wildly different ages within the Waldorf curriculum is often difficult.  Going from nursery rhymes and baking and fingerplays  to geometry and algebra  and historical events back to drawings and working on basic early grades skills through mythology to fielding housework, outside activities, the unexpected is a tall order……Oh, February, really, it is too much for one mother at times.

And for everyone, the things that will drive one to darkness will be different.  For me, it is not the cooking or cleaning on top of homeschooling that trips me up.  Those things are fine.  The harder part is the mental exhaustion from the juggling of three very different ages, stages and attitudes.   I am so very tired by the end of teaching time for three separate people that I really can’t combine due to large age gaps…   The harder  and darker part for me is often juggling the “should” for each age and how the “should” would look if  the entire school day was devoted to each child’s  grade or developmental level…. and maybe there would be some hours for me…instead of an all day, all hours being “on” from 5:30 in the morning until 8 at night….Have you ever felt that way? Continue reading

Finding Peace in Lent

Several years ago I heard the bishop of Massachusetts, M. Thomas Shaw, speak at the cathedral in Boston of his experience of being in the Holy Land for Lent that year.  There it is summertime during the weeks before Easter, with the desert in full bloom, the trees laden with olives and figs, the hazy smell of ripe fruit and sound of buzzing insects filling the air.  As he moved through the days of prayer and reflection before Easter in the midst of such abundance and beauty he came to understand Lent as a time of being refreshed by a loving God instead of a time of arduous effort to improve.”  – page 52 from “Welcome to the Church Year:  An Introduction to the Seasons of the Episcopal Church” by Vicki K. Black

I think of Lent as both a time to be restored and renewed, and also a time of taking stock.  It is a time to strengthen the spiritual life.  It is a spiritual “check-in” and can be a time of healing in the most profound of ways.  It is time for a re-awakening of our spiritual life,  and for Christians this leads up to the renewal of our own baptismal vows on Easter as catechumens are baptized into Christianity.

These weeks of Lent are simpler, quieter and more harmonious than other weeks of the year if we let them be.   Continue reading

Monthly Anchor Points: February

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.

February and I have a love-hate relationship.  On the one hand, this is the month of LOVE and LIGHT.  It is a month about thinking about our own inner light and how do we let this light shine in service to others; how do we show our love for others?  We have no greater calling than to love our fellow human beings, beginning with those we live with right in our own homes.  On the other hand, February seems to be the month I least want to serve anyone.  It seems to be a rather cranky month for me at times, much like my July Doldrums….Many homeschooling mothers I speak with seem to feel the same way.

This month really does have an often quiet beauty about it. Continue reading

The Peaceful Family You Want……

Is within your reach.  Is not only possible and plausible, but waiting for you.   It begins with you.

Peace begins with feeling physically, emotionally and spiritually strong.  I see so many beautiful mothers who really neglect their health until something happens, and they know they HAVE to start making home cooking, menu planning, sleep, exercise, health appointments and other things necessary for them to enjoy good health because within it, their family cannot thrive!  If you are homeschooling or have stay at home children, putting these things as part of the rhythm is so important , along with the “how” – who will watch the children whilst you cook 20 freezer meals?  Who will watch your children if you go for a walk or do yoga, etc?  The “how” is as important as the “when”. Continue reading

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