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

5 Ways to Have A Peaceful Family Life in 2015

The idea to use one word to embody the direction, vision and scope of a year has been in use for some time now.  This year, I chose a word for my personal use but also a word for The Parenting Passageway. Our word for the year is “peace”, so you will be seeing quite a bit of that this year on this space – how to really craft peace into your family life.  To move us forward, I was thinking today of five ways to have a peaceful family life.

Know who you are and make apologies for it as you live your life and be the parent you want to be.  When you know yourself and really know your strengths and your weaknesses and work with that for the benefit of your family, it becomes an unshakable foundation.  Love who you are and  what you bring to the table. This confidence and quiet strength allows the family to shine!

Go for balance.  Look for balance throughout the cycle of the entire year.  For example, I am feeling a real need to keep January simple with time to be outside in the morning every day.  So I am working with that pull.  It may change in Spring and I will put together something different.  Look for  the balance with activities outside the home – are they all for one person, one child?  Are there too many?  We need balance to be both parent and person – is that there or is that always on a backburner?  Make this the year for balance for all members of the family!

Boundaries.  Part of having a happy family life is boundaries. Continue reading

Peaceful New Year’s Wishes

This week between Christmas and New Year’s did not start out as I had planned.  I wanted a very quiet and calm place of nurturing and steady rhythm with a lot of time outside to hike and play.  I wanted time to dream and plan and unplug, which is what I normally do during these twelve days of Christmas and the twelve Holy Nights.  Somehow, instead we ended up with commitments almost every day (yes, I forgot to use my “X”’s on my calendar to “X” off days, I guess!)

Then I guess  our oldest daughter and I got sick with some sort of flu-like virus where we pretty much laid in bed for over 24 hours, too sick to do anything else…. And now the littlest one is down and out as well…..So that took care of our commitments, but not in the way that I had planned!

My wish for you  this New Year is the gift of steadiness – of not jumping into the highs and lows, but the sure knowledge of when to take a risk to do something new and when to know when routine is just right.  It is so important to remember Continue reading

Looking Forward

It is Christmas Eve Day, and in the midst of the last minute baking and preparations for tonight and tomorrow, there is a certain feeling of contentment that goes with this time of year.  I love looking ahead and thinking about the wonderful and beautiful twelve days of Christmas and the Holy Nights.

These can be days of silence and wonder, days of cutting out media and spending time with the people you love most in person, days of connecting to nature and to the light within ourselves.

Within the Christian calendar, these days mark twelve days of Christmastide after fasting and preparing ourselves spiritually for this season.   They are festive days, but also requiring a certain amount of thought.   Where is the light within us and how do we reflect that light?   There is a threefoldedness that occurs in the three days after Christmas with the feasts of St. Stephen, the first martyr; the feast of St. John the Evangelist and the feast day of The Holy Innocents that begs us to ask the questions how do we show generosity (especially to those different from us in spirit and also how do we materially show generosity to the poor?); how do we show light and wisdom in the words we speak like St. John; how do we advocate and help the innocents in our world – how do we protect them, seek justice for their tribulations and trials and renew our own faith in the Divine Creator and all of humanity?

This is a time to start with ourselves, but  also a time for us to look within our own families.  Continue reading

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