Paring Down

This is the time of year where I always start to just withdraw a bit…the colder air, the darkness, the holidays coming and needing time to prepare….it always causes this shift in me.  Does it in you?

I think about…

Clothing for myself and the children:  what do we really need, what do we really wear?  How much is enough?  If I have just a few outfits, I especially like skirts, and some tops, I am fairly happy.  I find the more clothes my children have, the more overwhelmed they are.  I love paring down clothes.

Clutter.  This is such a good time of year to really go through closets, drawers, and really get things to be neater and simpler before the holidays.

The garden.  What needs pruning, what needs fertilizing, what needs mulching?

The kitchen.   What can I pare down and give away and what will I really need for holiday baking and cooking?

Our schedules.  We often are much better at cleaning up our homes than we are to say no to things in our schedule.  (At least I am!)  But, almost every winter we take breaks from things and honor our need to be home and together, to celebrate that inward journey of Advent.  This year I am making my way through this little book for Advent:  http://www.amazon.com/Monastery-Journey-Christmas-Victor-Antoine-DAvila-Latourrette/dp/0764820818/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1320292679&sr=8-1  and want to have the space and time to just be.

It feels good to let go of things, to pare down, to relax and slow down.  Where are you these days?  How are you feeling?

Many blessings,

Carrie

Links To Give You Courage This Michaelmas Day!

I hope everyone is celebrating a wonderful Michaelmas today!  May all of our dragons be slayed, may our courage and clarity carry us forth!

There are so many of you whom I turn to for inspiration and with such gratitude, and today I wanted to mention a few posts that really give me courage.  These posts are authentic and real!  I love that!

Homeschooling and parenting is NOT for the faint of heart, not if you are involved and immersed in it.  Sometimes mothers will tell me they feel so much better knowing I have my days where I cry or get angry or have a rotten day.  Not because they want that for me, but because I think we all feel better knowing we are not alone and that we are all striving!  Me too!

So here are some inspiring reads for you!  Continue reading

Musings On The Feast Of Pentecost: Whitsunday

One Anglican resource that is made for children, The Sunday Papers, always has a little note for parents on the back to help families garner a deeper understanding of the festivals of the year.

I especially loved this quote:

We do not have clear and emotionally affecting mental images of the Spirit, because the Spirit is the very power working within us that enable us to image and love the Father and the Son.  The Spirit is the voice of prayer, prayer through us when we turn with love and longing to our Creator and beg to be made new in the image of Jesus…..the Spirit is what connects us to each other and to God, so that a movement of atoms in my brain becomes living speech, understandable to you.  The Pentecostal images of fire, wind, and speech are all forces that move, invisibly, to animate and set in motion.

I love Pentecost. My favorite part in the whole Mass is the simultaneous speaking of The Gospel in many languages.  It is astonishing, confusing perhaps even, a most surprising liturgy.

Continue reading

A Summer Story By Christine Natale

(Christine remarked to me that this Summer story would be appropriate for those over age three; if I was telling this to my own family I probably would mark it for my five and a half/ six year olds if they were the oldest in the family). 

Magic Pennies by Christine Natale

Once upon a time, when a penny was worth a dollar and a dollar was worth a great fortune, there were three poor friends.

Being poor back in those times was very common. There were very rich people, like kings and dukes, a few wealthy merchants and landowners and almost everyone else was poor. Being poor back in those times meant that a person had to work hard to have a small house or cottage, some furniture and a few clothes and their daily bread. There was never very much left over for anything else. Even so, people managed to have fun playing music, dancing and playing games.

Continue reading

On This Mother’s Day

To those of you who feel you were made to be a mother, and for those of you who feel challenged daily,

To those of you who have struggled or are struggling with infertility,

To those of you who have and who have had infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit,

To those of you whose children were born premature,

To those of you who have children with special needs and challenges,

To those of you trying to heal yourself from your own life, your own start,

To those of you who are striving every day,

To those of you who have a vision for your family and how you would like it to be,

It is all possible.

Healing is always possible.

Thank you for walking this path with me and Happy Mother’s Day!

Much love and many blessings,

Carrie

Easter in The Waldorf Home

These were words written by Mrs. Marsha Johnson, a Master Waldorf Teacher, last year about Easter but they are so worth hearing again.  To Join Mrs. Johnson’s list, and hear more of her wisdom regarding parenting and home education, please see waldorfhomeeducators@yahoogroups.com

Here is what Mrs. Johnson wrote (and look for a special message from me at the bottom of this post)

Easter is approaching and in Waldorf schools we recognize this very important festival with a week before and a week after….on a break from school.
 
Two whole weeks. The first week is often a transition week, settling in, often traveling, kind of debriefing, doing all the house chores we have been putting off for months. 

Then the 2nd week, we really do finally relax for at least part of the week and then of course like good teachers, we spend the last few days getting ready for the back to school time.
 
Easter represents a true division in the time of the human on earth, it is a critical juxtaposition of the spirit world and the earthly world, when the being of Christ transformed the boundary of death into a living real experience. He transcended the boundaries of the finality of death. 

Steiner has many interesting things to say about the time of Easter and the Christ Being and many groups do schedule a time of 3-4 social study groups to read aloud some of the Easter texts and marvel at the new insights (always new) on this event in history.
 
In the olden days, the Easter time was the start of the new year, putting away the past history and moving into a new epoch. Families still can sense this great moment and often traditional celebrations of Easter are carried forward into the present day, with ancient symbols of rabbits, chicks, eggs, and certain cultural foods….often spring vegetables like asparagus and fresh green peas.
 
I hope you will find time in the next few days to create traditions with your own family that will enhance your Easter experience, sacred shrine creations, nature table additions, dyeing of eggs, and setting of the Easter Table, the Easter procession, the quiet sober Maundy Thursday night, with Passover traditions too, we can find our own sorrow over the human state of being and then the fantastic realization that the end is not….the end! 

Favorite recipes, home made eggs and treats, sweets like delicious fruit and nut studded Hot Cross Buns….what a wonderful way to greet the new season and celebrate our own victory as communal beings…

KID FAVORITE HOT CROSS BUNS

1 cup soy or animal milk, heated to blood warm
1 T. dried yeast, stirred in
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar, organic
1 egg

Add yeast to warm milk, stir well and add syrup and sugar. Let sit until bubbly and foamy. Beat in 1 egg.
 
Add:
 
1 1/2 cups wheat flour
1/2 cup spelt flour
1 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
handful of dried cranberries, another of diced chopped nuts, and another of organic chocolate chips

Stir well and then turn out onto floured board and add more flour as needed until the dough is well kneaded and smooth, stretchy and not too sticky.

Roll into an oiled bowl and cover in a warm place and let rise until doubled. Punch down and form into 9 rolls and place into an oiled baking pan. Let rise again, about 20 minutes.
 
Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes until well browned.

Cool. Mix 1/2 cream cheese in a little baggie with a dollop of honey until blended. Use a zip lock baggie. Snip the corner of the baggie to make a small hole and then use the cream cheese to make x’s on top of each bun. Serve with scrambled or hard boiled eggs…..makes a great Easter Breakfast or Easter Tea treat!

Carrie here:  Always such inspiring words of wisdom.  For more Easter inspiration, please do see these back posts:

More From Mrs. Johnson regarding Easter: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/04/03/more-about-easter-in-the-waldorf-home/

For balancing the forty days of Lent with forty days after Easter: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/03/24/easter-and-its-forty-days-in-the-waldorf-home/ 

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/03/09/holy-week-and-easter-in-the-waldorf-home/

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/04/26/may-festivals-in-the-waldorf-home-may-day-ascension-and-whitsun/

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/03/03/celebrations-of-spring-in-the-waldorf-home/

If you are looking specifically ahead to Ascension:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/05/12/ascension-day-in-the-waldorf-home/

Today is Holy Saturday and we are preparing for Easter Vigil tonight, a most holy and beautiful time.  For the week of Easter, I will be providing meditations on parenting based on the collects found in The Book Of Common Prayer.  I hope you can join me for this special one-week series!  We will also be covering more chapter in our book, “Love And Anger:  The Parental Dilemma”.

Happy and Holy Easter to you, and Happy Passover to my Jewish friends,

Carrie

Lenten Ideas

Let’s back up a moment and start with what I wrote last year.  Here is part of last year’s “Lent in the Waldorf Home” post in case you have not seen it before.  I think the words and spirit of it still ring true: 

“I love this quote from “Waldorf Education:  A Family Guide” as edited by Pamela Johnson Fenner and Karen L. Rivers:

“As Steiner writes in “Spiritual Bells of Easter, I”:

Festivals are meant to link the human soul with all that lives and weaves in the great universe.  We feel our souls expanding in a new way during these days at the beginning of spring…It is at this time of year, the time of Passover and Easter, that human souls can find that there lives…in the innermost core of their being, a fount of eternal, divine existence.

If we can begin to penetrate the cosmic significance of the mystery of this season, the rebirth of nature, the freeing of the Israelites, and the death and resurrection of Christ, we begin to understand that Easter is as A.P. Shepherd writes.”…the Festival of the spiritual future of humanity, the Festival of Hope and the Festival of Warning.”

Shrove Tuesday was this week.  This day grew from the practice of obtaining absolution –to be “shriven” or “shrove” before the forty-day fasting of Lent.  Years ago, this was a very strict dietary fast and meat and eggs and milk were used up before Lent started.  Pancake-making and tossing was often tradition on this special day, and I am sure many of you are familiar with the custom of Carnival (Karneval in Germany) leading up to Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. 

Ash Wednesday began with the practice of wearing a sackcloth for Lent and covering one’s head with ashes. 

“All Year Round” has this to say:”Lent has been kept as a time of penance, of strict self-denial, and for contemplating the sufferings and temptations of Jesus Christ as he fasted forty days in the wilderness.  Nowadays, the imposed strictness of Lent has been largely relaxed, and more emphasis placed on using the time to strengthen the inner life through spiritual education or appropriate self-discipline.  The long fasts of Lent and Advent were once used to make pilgrimages or “progresses” to holy places.  The word “progress implies not only the outer journey, but also the inner journey of the pilgrim – his progress in self-development.”

So, without further ado, here are some traditional ways to celebrate Lent:

  • Fasting and eating cleansing foods such as dandelion, nettles, leeks, chevril.  In anthroposophic terms, we talk about doing this as an example for children for this season.
  • Spring Cleaning!
  • Spending time away from outer stimulation and more time with an inward focus.
  • For a young child, “All Year Round” recommends spending time with your child each day doing one small thing to develop a Lenten mood.  This could include sitting together and listening to the birds sing in the morning in silence, taking time to look for the moon each night.
  • Decor:   a small unlit candle, bare twigs on the Nature Table, a bowl of dry earth or ashes on the Nature Table (you could plant seeds there on Palm Sunday so something grows during Holy Week).
  • Celebrate “Mothering Sunday” –the fourth Sunday in Lent was traditionally  when young people working away from home were given the day off to visit their mothers.  Traditional gifts include Sinnel Cake (like a fruit cake) and violets.

Some of the traditions we have include eating pancakes on Fat Tuesday (Shrove Tuesday), setting up our Nature Table as above, eating cleansing food and reducing certain components of our diet, participating in a Bible study for Lent (this year I am studying a part of the book of Psalms), reducing computer time and spending more time together as a family.

One craft to consider for yourself this time of year is wet- on- wet watercolor painting.  I painted the other night for an hour or so, making purple from red and blue.  It is very meditative and calming to do this, and the pictures you paint can then be cut into crosses for your Nature Table, or you can make a transparent part in your paintings with tissue paper of different colors.”

Here are some resources I am using this year:

The Anglican response for a carbon fast during Lent:  http://www.tearfund.org/Campaigning/Carbon+Fast.htm  and the day-by-day carbon fast calendar here:  http://www.tearfund.org/webdocs/website/Campaigning/CarbonFast09/Carbon%20Fast%20Flyer%202011.pdf

Collecting alms for the Episcopal Relief and Development “Basics For Life”:  http://www.er-d.org/GiftsForLife/4/65/

Readings from the Church Fathers:  http://www.monachos.net/content/lent

I am going to make this calendar with the children today:  http://thesefortydays.blogspot.com/2008/02/project-lenten-calendar.html

We will also bury the alleluia:  http://fullhomelydivinity.org/Lenten%20customs.htm

A Round-Up of Lenten Resources:  http://www.worship.ca/easter.html  and here:  http://anglicansonline.org/special/lent.html

We will make an Easter Garden as well.

One of the main things I have done this year is to make my calendar as empty as I can so I have time to pray, time to study the Bible, time to do my readings of the Church Fathers, time to be present in the small things, time to thank God for his blessings.  This has been my main resource this year: creating that time to be present in Lent.

Many blessings,

Carrie

A Lenten “Rule of Life”and A Parenting Plan for Renewal

Lent begins this week, a time of spiritual journeying.  Where are you going in your spiritual life and your parenting life right now?  I have some ideas and suggestions for you in this post to ponder and meditate on.

I have been thinking about Lent as this spiritual journey.  In the Episcopal tradition, we think of preparing for Lent and Lent as this spiritual journey in preparing for Easter.  On any journey, one would pack bags and prepare for travel. Lent is much the same way; we use something called “a rule of life” to prepare for Lent and Easter.   There is a lovely article about what this entails here: http://fullhomelydivinity.org/articles/Preparing%20for%20Lent.htm   but the main components for Lent include:

**Self-examination and repentance and specifically attempting to reconcile with those we have hurt or alienated throughout this year  (also the use of sacramental confession to a priest)
**Prayer, fasting, and self-denial
**Reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.

In parenting, I wonder what creating a ‘rule of life” for Lenten parenting would look like for you?

Would your self-examination of yourself led you to reconcile with yourself?  Would it lead you to forgive yourself for not being perfect?  Would it lead you to forgive your partner for not being perfect?  Would it lead you to a Family Mission Statement or a parenting plan to do things better?  Anglicans have a strong belief in responsible freedom.  How will you be responsible in making yourself better in setting the tone for your family? 

If you fast and deny yourself, can you deny yourself negative self-talk?  Complaining?  Too much explanation to small children?  Can you take up a journey of prayer and meditation?  Can you focus on finding a spiritual path even if you do not have one currently?

In reading and meditating, can you read something spiritual that is uplifting to you?  Can you read something positive that will help you in your parenting?  How can you renew and refresh yourself after the long dark days of Winter?

More about Lenten parenting and Lent traditions tomorrow.

Many blessings,

Carrie

The Quiet Beauty of Candlemas

Every year I am growing to like Candlemas as a holiday more and more.  Our preparations begin the night before Candlemas with prayers celebrating the arrival of Candlemas, that meeting of the New and the Old.

I love what “All Year Round” says in regards to Candlemas (and I know I quote this annually for those of you who have been reading this blog for some years, but I love this quote!).  Authors Ann Druitt, Christine Fynes-Clinton and Marije Rowling write:  “At the beginning of February, when the infant light of spring is greeted thankfully by the hoary winter earth, it seems fitting that we should celebrate a candle Festival to remember that moment when the Light of the World was received into the Temple, when the old yielded to the new.”

 

The above picture is the Presentation of Jesus, the new light of the world, to the old world gone before Him.  I believe Eastern churches sometimes call this day “The Meeting”.  Is that correct, my Orthodox friends?  How lovely.

One way we are celebrating in our home today is with traditional foods.    In the morning, I made apple crepes and for dinner we will have a sunny lentil soup with  tumeric- colored rolls.  We will dip candles this afternoon.  If candle-dipping is new to you, there are instructions in “All Year Round” and my friend Lisa has instructions with pictures on her blog for the preparation.  You can see here:   http://celebratetherhythmoflife.blogspot.com/2011/01/beeswax-candle-dipping-preparation.html

We set up the melted wax at one end of a table and a tall container of cool water at the other.  Once the child dips their wick  in the wax and walks around the table to dip the candle in the cool water, then it is time to dip again.  Over a period  a beautiful candle is born!  We work to keep the candle straight as we go and also to make the base bigger than the top so they can stand freely without falling over.

Here are some back posts I have written about Candlemas with many more ideas:

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/01/29/the-magic-of-candlemas/  and here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/01/10/candlemas-is-coming/

Hope you have a wonderful day celebrating in your home and with your family.

Many blessings,

Carrie

Celebrating Three Kings’ Day

Merry Christmas to my Russian readers!  Many blessings on the Feast of The Theophany to my Orthodox readers!  And Happy Three Kings’ Day to those of you celebrating!

I wrote a post last year about Three Kings Day for your reading pleasure:

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/01/12/the-magic-of-three-kings-day/ 

We celebrated today by leaving our shoes out on Twelfth Night and awakening to wondrous gifts left by the Three Wise Men this morning; we changed out our Nature Table to reflect The Three Wise Men as our theme for beginning to mid-January; we made a rice pudding and put three beans in it representing the Three Wise Men for those to find for good luck for the year.  We made stars for each of the three children with their names on them in glitter and have some beautiful origami stars hanging in our school room that my dearest friend made me for Christmas.  The one thing I did not get to do yet was to bless our home or take down our Christmas tree, so I am  running a bit behind there.  Smile  That is okay with me though  as my time right now is being devoted to chasing a toddler and homeschooling. 

I also was pleased to see a new “Three Kings and Epiphany E-Book”  from Eileen Straiton from Little Acorn Learning, Jennifer Tan from Syrendell and Jodie Mesler from Home Music Making over at Little Acorn Learning:  http://littleacornlearning.com/index.html  The beautiful star on the front cover of this e-book is like the strands I currently have hanging in my school room!  I am looking forward to reading it and planning out ideas for next year!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season, and I am looking forward to a wonderful 2011 with all of you wonderful mindful mothers!

Many blessings,

Carrie