Thriving In The Midst of It All

Life can be downright busy, no matter how simple we want it to be. No matter how simple we try to make it, the more people one has in a household, the more pets one has, the more community and obligations one has, the busier it can become.

And you can still love every minute of it and thrive in it.

My life, as many of you who personally know me, can get rather busy.  Sometimes it is my life that needs to be de-cluttered, not my things!  I fully admit to having a hard time saying no to things at church, or to friends who need something, or to my neighbors.  But the older I get, the more I realize how much I love community, how much I enjoy gathering those I love together and connecting those who I think really ought to meet each other for this reason or that.  And, the older I get, I get better at setting limits and seeing how things balance out.

It all can’t be perfect.  One cannot homeschool well, have the house be spotless, cook every single thing perfectly, have all the errands done, have a social life, have the children do things, and all the other things on the list. It just can’t happen, and I think we could all end up having nervous breakdowns trying to do it all…

So, I try to remind myself about seasons, in both the literal and more symbolic sense.  Continue reading

Guest Post: Creating A Magical Summer

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This gallery contains 26 photos.

I would like to thank Waldorf teacher Christine Natale for this guest post chock-full of magical summer ideas.  You can find Christine’s book of fairy tales here:  http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/fairy-tales/12093029 and her blog here:  http://threefoldwaldorf.blogspot.com/.  She also recently wrote an article about … Continue reading

Summer Stories and Summer Nature Table

Sometimes it is hard to know what to do with summer and the small child under the age of 7:  is it better to keep the Circle Time/Story Time intact and going or to take a complete break?  Some mothers decide to stick to one or two seasonal songs and fingerplays and not do a full Circle Time, and to still tell a story a few days a week.  They leave the other days open for outings in berry pickings, lake swimming, creek exploring or beach fun.

There is one festival coming up to prepare for, and that is St. John’s Tide.  You can read more about  summer and  that particular festival here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/07/01/celebrating-summer-with-small-children-a-waldorf-perspective/  and here:   http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/06/09/midsummers-day-st-johns-tide-day/

To me, this is a very important festival.  It is the day in which the sunlight hours begin to actually decrease, and exactly a half year later we celebrate Christmas.  The book “Festivals With Children” by Brigitte Barz has many interesting suggestions regarding how to celebrate this special day and its significance.  She recommends a festival table set with a picture of St. John with a white lily to the left of the picture and a rose to the right of the picture to represent the beginning , the innocence of man versus the earth, the transformation of man into the future.

This book makes a beautiful comment about the Feast of St. John on page 74-75:

John the Baptist was the one who prepared the way for Christ.  He serves this function still today…”The way in which the inner soul of man is to be prepared is indicated by Luke’s invocation of the prophet Isaiah:  Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.  Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth.” (Luke 3:4f)  Mountains and valleys are not only external objects of nature, they are also images of conditions within the soul.  We experience them in the life of feelings, as we swing between the heights of jubilant ecstasy to the depths of depression and despair.  The task of John is to hold the balance between these two extremes…..Of course, we cannot present the powerful words of John to children, at least not their content.  However, we can provide an image for them of the path of  inner development, in the form of the lily and the rose.”

Here are some suggestions for stories and songs.  Please add your favorites in the comment box!

Summer Stories:

  • For the five and a half and six year old:  “Goldener”  and “The Three Oranges” found in “Plays For Puppets” by Bronja Zahlingen.
  • “The Castle Under The Sea” for ages 6 and up – see Main Lesson
  • A simple “Midsummer’s Eve” story of half a page can be found in the Wynstones Summer book.  It may work for ages four and up depending upon your child.
  • “Holidays” – a story in the back of “All Year Round” for the pre-school child
  • Suzanne Down had a lovely story about a fish that was in a back issue of Living Crafts…Does anyone out there remember the exact title or issue?

Stories For the Feast of St. John:

  • The Six Swans by Brothers Grimm (ages 7 and up)
  • The Goose Girl by Brothers Grimm  (ages 7 and up)
  • Faithful John (ages 9 and up)
  • The Journey To The Sun, a Slovak folktale (ages 7 and up)

(These recommendations come from the book, “The Easter Story Book” by Ineke Verschuren)

  • St. John’s Gift in the Wynstones Summer book – ages six and half and up

Songs for Summer:

Song of the Midsummer Sun found in “All Year Round” – page 106

“Over In The Meadow”

Activities:

  • A St. John’s Tide walk
  • Inner work for the adult around raising our children with reverence and gratitude
  • Making Herbal bath bags, collecting and drying herbs
  • Making rose petal jam and rose petal sandwiches  – see “All Year Round”
  • Making a gold spiral or suns to hang up – see “All Year Round”

The Nature Table:

Beehive with bees and Summer Fairies for St. John’s Tide

For a more regular summer nature display, shells, a sand castle made from starch and wet sand, little boats of bark and twigs, little birds or swans with a pond are all suggested in the book, “The Nature Corner” on page 51, older edition.

Hope that helps you get planning.  For those of you wanting to read more, there is a little book entitled simply, “St John’s:  An Introductory Reader” by Rudolf Steiner where Matthew Barton has added commentary that may be valuable to you.  An important thing for Christians to do would be to attend church and celebrate this wonderful day!

Please take what resonates with you -

Many blessings,

Carrie

In These Dark Days

January can be such a difficult month in parenting.  The days can be dark and long.  Much of the U.S. has been under sub-zero temperatures, and that can make days with small children rather long indeed.  This can be the kind of month where mothers are feeling tired, cranky, even depressed or overwhelmed.

This is a good month to focus on the importance of warmth: warm thoughts, warm deeds, warm and gentle hands, quiet voices, warm clothing, warm foods. 

This is a good month to make sure you, Mama, are at  your peak physical and mental health.  Get those Vitamin D and thyroid levels checked; get screened for depression if you think that may be a possibility; menu plan for nourishing food.

This is a good month to tweak your rhythm or change it entirely.  What will your older child do whilst your younger one is trying to go to sleep?  What will you do to get out physical energy if you are stuck in the house because it is literally that cold? 

This is a good month to revisit singing and music to warm the atmosphere of the home.  Some of you have emailed and asked about music resources.  Here are a few of my favorites (if a book, also includes CD’s because I know some of you may not be able to read music!):

This is a good month to do some story-telling.  Try Suzanne Down’s Juniper Tree Puppetry website and sign up for her email newsletter:  http://junipertreepuppets.com/blog/

For inspiration in story-telling, how about this book by Nancy Mellon called “Body Eloquence”?  http://www.amazon.com/Body-Eloquence-Power-Awaken-Energies/dp/1604150289/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1296213082&sr=8-1

This is a good month to do some some art with your children.   Pink and Green Mama reads this blog and has 400 projects on her website here:  http://pinkandgreenmama.blogspot.com

This is a good month to get ready for February festivals!  How about getting ready for Candlemas (http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/01/29/the-magic-of-candlemas/),  Chinese New Year (http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/02/09/chinese-new-year-in-the-waldorf-home/) or Valentine’s Day? 

Many blessings,

Carrie

What To Do With Homeschooling In December

Homeschooling in December can be challenging!  I find most mothers who do not plan to take most of December lighter or off completely feel burned out and then end up taking some or most of the month off anyway.

Many veteran homeschoolers will tell you that they plan in advance for December to be a great month of cooking, crafting, perhaps doing a lighter rhythm of school with math only or with activities revolving around the holidays.

I think this is a smart idea.  So many homeschoolers feel completely burned out by this time of year, and attempting to homeschool on top of all the cleaning, cooking, baking, crafting that goes with the holidays seems to put so many mothers on edge.  This is the time of year many mothers start posting on the Waldorf boards that maybe their children really need to go into Unschooling more or that Waldorf homeschooling is not working for them.  I doubt that is really what is needed, it just feels like it this time of year!  I wrote a series of posts last January about Waldorf and Unschooling, so if you are really curious you can look there, but sometimes I think what we all really need is a break.  Our bodies naturally are connected to the inner grace of this time period in the cycle of the year.

The Twelve Holy Nights between Christmas and Epiphany are a welcome time for me to read and dream and plan more than usual.  It helps me recharge for the next part of the school year. I hope you will plan to get some time for reading and relaxing yourself!

If you are searching for ideas for December Homeschooling, I suggest the following:

Marsha Johnson has a December block on her Yahoo!Group that encompasses a week of Hannukah studies and activities, a week of the Three Wise Men and a week around the Winter Solstice.  You can get this block for free by joining her Waldorf group:  waldorfhomeeducators@yahoogroups.com

Many homeschooling families also seem to use these two units from Elizabeth Foss over at Serendipity:

Christmas and Advent Around the World: http://www.elizabethfoss.com/serendipity/2010/11/christmas-and-advent-around-the-world.html

Tomie de Paola Christmas:  http://ebeth.typepad.com/reallearning/advent-and-christmas-with.html

What do you all like to do during December in your homeschool?

Many blessings,

Carrie

September Linky Love!

I just wanted to send some love to my top ten referrers…thank you all so very much.  You all inspire me!

Here is the TOP TEN:

  • aresohappy.squarespace.com
  • thewaldorfconnection.com
  • untroddenpaths.blogspot.com
  • simplicityparenting.com
  • ancienthearth2.blogspot.com
  • catherine-et-les-fees.blogspot.com
  • ourdayourjourney.blogspot.com
  • eileenspace.blogspot.com
  • chelseab.typepad.com
  • blumieboys.blogspot.com

 

I have been reading those, and here is a spot I have been enjoying as well:  http://www.anthromed.org/  I have also been enjoying re-reading “Kingdom of Childhood” for the Christopherus study.  Is anyone else over there?

And, I am soliciting ideas for what you would like to read in this space.  It is always a bit of a challenge, because some people read this blog for homeschooling, some parents don’t homeschool at all and read it for parenting inspiration….some people read this blog for information regarding Waldorf parenting/homeschooling and some people just skip that…You all keep me on my toes!  I just consider this a parenting blog that melds all my interests, passions and areas where I have some knowledge and I hope some of it helps someone…pretty simple.  :)  Anyway, please do let me know what you would like to read more about.  There are now over 640 posts on this blog, if you can believe that!

Love to you all,

Carrie

The Days of Summer

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Hope your days of Summer are going well!  Here are a few pictures of our favorite Summer activity – thank you to my dear friend Samantha Fogg of Work +Play Dog Training (http://workplaydogs.com/) for taking these shots. 

What you probably cannot tell  is that in the second picture our dog is towing the children back to shore.  Our dog just finished an introductory carting class and will soon be starting water rescue classes.  She is a good dog.  And no one is wearing sun hats in these pictures because no one would keep them on.  Such is the challenge of Summer!

Much love and many blessings,

Carrie

Some Quick Autumn Ideas For Waldorf Homeschool Kindergarten

I wrote a post some time back regarding tales for Autumn for Kindergarten here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/09/03/favorite-fall-tales-for-waldorf-kindergarten/

I was thinking about that post, and thinking about things I personally associate with Autumn.  It seems as if almost every Waldorf-y resource includes squirrels, chipmunks, leaves and acorns.  But here are a few other ideas:

  • How about a mouse and an apple house?  My homeschool group is getting ready to do some wet/dry felting to make a little apple house with two mice.  I also like the verse in Suzanne Down’s “Autumn Tales” book about  a mouse and  a spider who live in a little snug pumpkin house.  How cute is that for October!  You could turn that into a whole story – practice those storytelling skills!
  • How about something to do with deer in the forest?
  • For those of you at the beach, what is changing with the color of the water or the animals you are seeing?  Perhaps you could reflect that in your homeschool tales or nature tables.
  • I love geese and turkey for November, and notions of bears getting ready for a long Winter’s nap.
  • How about a groundhog (woodchuck) eating apples from the orchard and getting ready for Autumn and Winter?  I saw this idea in this sweet little book:  http://www.amazon.com/BLEST-CELEBRATION-Mary-Beth-Owens/dp/0689805462/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1282352427&sr=8-1   There is essentially just a short poem to go with each month of the year.  I think you could easily turn this into a sweet little story. 

What do you associate with Autumn in your part of the world and how will your homeschool reflect that?

Many blessings,

Carrie

The July Doldrums- AGAIN?

Ah, it is that time of year!  The time of year when I want to flee out of the Deep South and go somewhere else!  (And since we just returned from vacation, I guess that won’t be happening, sniff).  Last year I wrote out some simple steps to help mothers deal with the July Doldrums (yes, this an official name now, LOL).  Here is that back post:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/07/31/down-and-out-the-july-doldrums/  and here are a few more ideas, suggestions and thoughts:

  • How has everyone done with establishing a Summer Rhythm?  If you have small children, they really cannot be left to just wander the house in the Summer and “find something to do” – essentially because this leads to the “Summer Bickering and Fighting”.  Summer can be a more expansive time, but please do be sure to plan some daily rest times and predictable bedtimes as well!
  • This is a great time of year to connect your children to nature with catching fireflies, swimming in lakes and oceans, hiking and camping.  For some more inspiration, please do catch this back post:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/07/01/celebrating-summer-with-small-children-a-waldorf-perspective/

On the home front, perhaps these posts will give you all some inspiration.  Here are a few oldies but goodies that perhaps you have not read if you are new to this blog:

  • How about focusing on your home?  One thing I do every Summer is go through my WHOLE house, the closets, the garage, the drawers, that storage upstairs and try to get everything in order for the upcoming school year.  Perhaps this post will serve as inspiration:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/09/12/is-your-home-a-sanctuary/
  • Need some parenting inspiration?  How about these posts?

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/06/16/mindful-parenting-practices-that-every-parent-should-know/

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/09/08/embracing-and-uplifting/

Need some more inspiration?  Out in blog land, I am  enjoying some of Melisa Nielsen’s posts – this one on patience is worth a look: http://waldorfjourney.typepad.com/a_journey_through_waldorf/2010/07/are-you-patient.html

How about some Arts and Crafts?  The other blog I am really enjoying for all the wonderful arts and crafts ideas is from one of my readers!  Please see here for some great art projects:  http://pinkandgreenmama.blogspot.com/

Enjoy your Summer! (or Winter as it may be Down Under! :))

Many blessings,

Carrie

A Summer Parenting Project For You

Some adults say they are not religious, but that they are spiritual.  So, my question for all of us to ponder today is how we make our religion and/or our spirituality evident to our children through  ACTIVITY?  A child is about DOING.  How does your child see you express your religious and spiritual views?  Do you even know what these are?  And, if not, can you figure them out?

I like what Donna Simmons has to say in her Third Grade Syllabus regarding festivals:  “It seems right to me that as a child develops a new relationship to authority and to his sense of self and place in the world, hallmarks of the Nine Year Change, he needs opportunities  to deepen his relationship to the spiritual worlds.  And what is most important is that this take place via you, your family and your community.  Your child needs to see his parents and significant adults standing strongly in their beliefs.  It might be that some day your child’s path takes her quite some distance from your beliefs, but her first steps need to start from standing firmly beside you.”

I urge you to make one of your projects this summer to explore your own religious and/or spiritual beliefs – really figure out what resonates with you!  Then, can you use the summer to explore places of worship or other venues where you can be with people who have the same spiritual beliefs you do?  But the catch is this:   that place, that venue should  also  be a community  in which your children can participate.  Yes, this has to be something the family participates in, the child participates in, and something the child can see and do. 

The other catch is that you cannot bring your adult perfectionism to the table or your past experiences.  Pick what resonates with you from a clean slate and leave your baggage behind!  Try it! 

Children need this place of religious and spiritual orientation to start from.  Give them that boat to start in and show them which way to paddle.  If in the future, if they decide to throw away the oars and jump off the boat, that is okay – but you at least are giving them a place to start. 

A great meditative summer project!  Would love to hear what happens!

Many blessings,

Carrie