Vitality 5: Slow Sunday

Since my word of the year is “vitality,” every Sunday I hope to share something with you all that makes me feel vital, sparkly, happy, and alive from different aspects of my life.  It isn’t about having a perfect life. It is about growing in wholeness and authenticity and living in joy, no matter what crosses our paths.

It has been awhile since I have been on here. I was busy getting ready for yesterday’s workshop regarding first grade homeschool planning!  Yesterday I  had the great fortune to be part of a great group of women during the workshop.  One thing that came up was the plethora of  blogs and  Instagram accounts that show perfect homeschooling families doing perfect things.  We all know intellectually a photograph or even a video represents only one moment in time and that people put the best of their family life on the Internet.  We like to think other families have it all together, and somehow we don’t.

I talked about how I have resisted putting many photographs on this blog.  I know this is hard on the visual learners, but I NEVER want anyone to feel pressured or like they should be re-creating something that represents only one moment in time.  I think there is a lot of pressure for being handling every facet of personal, professional, and family life perfectly  for American women in particular, and I don’t want to see that here in this space.  In fact,  I feel like that would be almost untruthful to my more messy and imperfect life since I am just a normal wife and mother like so many of you!   No perfect over here!  I really don’t think perfect families exist.  Great families are NOT perfect families, and every family has the potential to be great!   I want mothers to walk away feeling as if they are enough, their family is enough, and that family and parenting is an amazing adventure.

What makes a family great is so much more than just a photo of a toy in the sunshine or a the back of a child as they run outside.    I am sure different people define it different ways, but I think a “great” or “strong” family might do at least  a few of the following things:

  • Own their mistakes and learn from them
  • Be loyal to each other; help each other
  • Love each other and take the other family member’s needs into account
  • Respect each other and each other’s quirks
  • Communicate their needs directly
  • Spend time together; enjoy being together and having fun; laughter!

I have heard it said that imperfect human beings are just “messy”.  I love being a messy human being, because my quirks make me who I am!  And, I feel like empowering other messy human adult beings to parent authentically and have children who  grow up and  not  be perfect might just be my secret superpower. Wink.

Hope you are having a terrific slow Sunday with your family!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

Celebrating February

February brings to my mind hearts, flowers, reds and pinks, love and the respect that goes with loving someone or something fully, the beginnings and musings of spring coming.  It can also be a hard month. February is the month in which nearly every family I know wants to quit homeschooling, and it often is the month where I feel like we must just keep going.

Having festivals to celebrate and be positive about can often be a lovely break to the somewhat dreary weather. I often find the rhythms of the day and the week to be grounding, but the calendar of festivals throughout the year is what brings diversity and love.

So, this month, in our family,  we are celebrating:

Candlemas – February 2

Valentine’s Day – February 14

And really not much else.  I always feel a little depleted this time of year, so I have decided to focus on self-care this month and not so many outside things to prepare for!

In school and circle time with our littlest guy, we are looking at candles and light and love, gnomes,  and snowdrops (the flowers).

 

Things to love this month:

Hospitality

Love For Your Partner

 

Fun things to do with children:

Make Valentine’s Day cards; plan little treats and crafts for Valentine’s Day; make window transparencies; dip candles; roll candles; play board games or card games with your children;  draw, paint, model; whittle wood; make popcorn together; bake together; play in the snow – build snow forts; have snowball fights; snowshoe; downhill or cross country ski;  ice skate on a pond; read and tell stories; build forts inside; take a walk outside in the cold – look for animal tracks or berries or birds or all of the above; knit, crochet, cross stitch, finger knit, spin, sew; sing and make music together – learn some new songs; clean, scrub, dust, work around the house – rearrange furniture; go bowling or find an indoor swimming pool to swim in; write letters to family and friends; write stories together; snuggle on the coach with hot chocolate and marshmellows; cook for a neighbor; find a place of worship to attend and get involved; throw a party; clicker train your dog, cat, or other animal; take care of plants; start seeds indoors when it it is time

Get Your Homeschooling Together:

The February Homeschool Rhythm Re-Check

Find out information about Waldorf homeschooling

After I  present at a first grade workshop on the 18th, I will be full of homeschool planning for my own children.  Hard to believe they will be in 10th, 7th, and 2nd next year!

Get Your Self-Care Together:

My self-care this past month included spending time with friends whom I love (and tea; tea is lovely).  This month will include some couple dates out with my husband and friends, more friend dates, bubble baths, exercising, saying no to things that are draining my thoughts or energy, and clean eating.  And probably more tea.

I hope you are having a cozy February full of love and possibilities,

Carrie

Vitality 4: Slow Sunday

Since my word of the year is “vitality,” every Sunday I hope to share something with you all that makes me feel vital, sparkly, happy, and alive from different aspects of my life.  It isn’t about having a perfect life. It is about growing in wholeness and authenticity and living in joy, no matter what crosses our paths.

During these tumultuous political times, I have felt lately that my energy is dissipating in directions far and wide from my home and my family.   In order to balance this,  I have needed a serious dose of self-care.

I think everyone’s self-care list may look a little different since different things nurture different people.  However, I made myself a list and am happy to share it with you in hope that you will create your own list of things that are nurturing to you!

My weekly list includes:

  • Exercise (which is a daily task, but I strive toward a weekly goal)
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Walking/Hiking
  • Going out for tea with friends without children
  • Spending time with my husband alone
  • Doing things I enjoy including drawing and painting, looking at art

My daily lists include:

  • Sitting with a good cup of tea
  • Writing
  • Praying, reading Scripture
  • Being in nature
  • Spending fun time with my family members – playing games, reading together, laughing
  • Reading  fiction (not just things around development or Waldorf Education!)
  • Getting support when I need it from my spouse and from friends
  • If I have screen time for myself – to watch things that are funny and light-hearted
  • Getting enough sleep and rest

The other things that  I have done that have helped enormously is to pare down my personal Facebook page to limit political conversations; to pick the three things that I feel are most urgently politically for our family’s values and focus on those issues, and to limit computer time in general.

It is hard to be a sensitive person in these times, and self-care makes all the difference in the world.  I would love to hear what your favorite self-care tricks are.

Blessings and love, and may you have a wonderful week ahead,
Carrie

 

 

 

 

Calm Candlemas

“If Candlemas Day be fair and bright

Winter will take another flight.

If Candlemas Day be cloud and rain,

Winter is gone and will not come again.”

-Traditional Verse

Candlemas takes its name from the blessing of candles that will be used throughout the  year.  It is the Feast of the Presentation of Christ to Anna and Simeon, where Christ is seen as the Light.  The light of spring with its new dawning is awakening, and the new meets the old on both physical and spiritual planes.  This is a calming reassurance of the continuity of life and of the potential we have to be a light ourselves.

This day is also marked in the United States as “Groundhog Day.”  The  old belief was that all the hibernating animals would wake up on this day and come out to see if it was still winter or not.  Interestingly, if it is cloudy and the groundhog sees no shadow, there will be an early spring.  However, sunny weather causes a shadow, and the groundhog will predict 40 more days of winter.

The way to mark this day, is to of course, eat the traditional foods of Candlemas, which usually include crepes and pancakes. It is a day for agricultural sowing of the fields, or at least making a furrow, and it could be a day for spring cleaning and beginning new projects.  What new things have you wanted to do and need courage to begin?

And, this is of course a day of candle making. Old candles can be melted down into new dipped or walnut shell candle boats.  Other types of floating candles can be made from  wax poured into little cookie cutters that have been oiled and allowed to set with a wick.  Candles for tiny hands can be rolled; and candles can be dipped.  I keep separate pots for candle making endeavors on a shelf in my laundry room.  There are instructions for “sand candles” in the book “All Year Round”; you will need  a tennis ball to press into the sand and then to poke three holes into this shape so the finished candle will have three legs upon which to stand.  Earth candles are also lovely and can be dug into the yard to welcome all the little flowering bulbs just beginning to make an appearance.

Inside, a traditional nature table for this time of year may include little spring flowers from bulbs, and a pale green cloth.

I hope you found a calming, bright peace on this Candlemas Day.  May our inner light glow out into the world to shine for all to see.

Many blessings,

Carrie

A Special Day: The Feast of St. Brigid

 

A hiatus at this time can throw me back on myself – to ask “Where is my new growth?”  On the other hand, I may be overwhelmed by a sudden hustle of seasonal development and wonder “Am I ready for this?”  I realise I am no longer carried by Nature as I was when a child; I have to find my own way back to life.  For the adult, transitions can be lonely times, and to find our way from the dead of winter to new life in the year ahead we may need to tap much deeper sources of hope and inner confidence.  In this, the sequence of the Festivals can be a support.” – page 26, “All Year Round” by Druitt, Fynes-Clinton, Rowling

Today kicks off two days of festival wonder!  Today is the Feast of St. Brigid, and tomorrow is Candlemas, one of my favorite holidays.  Today, February 1st, is seen as the first day of spring.  I know this seems very odd indeed when in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere people are dealing with ice and cold, but within the agricultural realm, this day  marks the days becoming a bit longer.  This is a traditional time to prepare for lambing, and usually spring sowing begins.

St. Brigid became revered as a Saint within the advent of Christianity in Ireland.  There are stories about Brigid as the daughter of  the innkeeper that gave the holy family shelter in the stable, that she helped Mary escape with an infant Jesus by distracting guards who searched on King Herod’s orders.  She is also associated with having a cloak of miracles.  In some stories, Brigid requested to have land given to her by the King of Leinster, and when the King said she could have whatever her cloak covered, she laid it down and the cloak covered a large parcel of land!

Here are some ways to celebrate:

  • Make St. Brigid Crosses as protection from evil, fire,  lightening, disease.  There are many instructions for this one the web. Here is what they look like if you are not familiar:  http://janegmeyer.wordpress.com/2010/01/25/fifth-century-weaving-a-saint-brigids-cross/
  • Leave out a cloak for St. Brigid to bless as she comes by that will give the wearer protection.
  • Leave out a bowl of milk, butter,  and salt, for Brigid to bless as she comes by.  Leave out a bowl of oats or blessed food.  If you leave out seeds, these will be blessed for Spring Sowing.
  • Food may include freshly churned butter and braided bread. (St. Brigid was known as a cowherd and also a beekeeper).  Making some sort of bread with honey may also be appropriate.  I love the idea of making a cultured butter and Irish Soda Bread today!
  • Snowdrops and dandelions, white and yellow, might be festive for your table with white or green candles and your St.  Brigid’s crosses.
  • There is a lovely prayer for this day:

    Saint Brigid Hearth Keeper Prayer
    Courtesy of SaintBrigids.org

    Brigid of the Mantle, encompass us,
    Lady of the Lambs, protect us,
    Keeper of the Hearth, kindle us.
    Beneath your mantle, gather us,
    And restore us to memory.
    Mothers of our mother, Foremothers strong.
    Guide our hands in yours,
    Remind us how to kindle the hearth.
    To keep it bright, to preserve the flame.
    Your hands upon ours, Our hands within yours,
    To kindle the light, Both day and night.
    The Mantle of Brigid about us,
    The Memory of Brigid within us,
    The Protection of Brigid keeping us
    From harm, from ignorance, from heartlessness.
    This day and night,
    From dawn till dark, From dark till dawn.

    Spring comes fast in the south where I live; I am feeling in the mood to change our nature table to some of the very simplest spring treasures of pussy willows, or budding branches.  This will turn into a simple Lenten table soon enough.

    Many blessings in your celebrations this week,

    Carrie

The Parenting Passageway First Grade Workshop

The Parenting Passageway will be in Decatur, Georgia on February 18th for an entire day devoted to first grade homeschooling with indications from Rudolf Steiner and from the traditions of the Waldorf Schools.  Our topics will include:

  • The Five Pointed Star of Planning First Grade -including notes on observation, temperment, wamth and love, inner work and more
  • The goals and progression of capabilities to meet those goals for blocks including Form Drawing, Math, and Language Arts
  • Practice in drawing with block and stick crayons
  • Numerous ideas for movement and the development of the 12 Senses
  • Planning the Seasonal Year, including verses,  festivals, seasonal crafts and nature crafts,  wet on wet watercolor painting
  • Modeling sequences for first grade
  • How to Balance the Week and multiple children
  • Work and Play for Daily Rhythm with multiple children

I would love to see YOU there.  Please contact jkernstine1@gmail.com in order to attend!

Many blessings and looking forward to this workshop!

Love,

Carrie

The Light In The Middle of the Homeschooling Year

Sometimes I am searching for  the light in the middle of the homeschool year. Did you ever feel that way?  There is a saying that every homeschooling family is ready to quit in February, so maybe this feeling that homeschooling is a hard juggle is just starting early. What usually  happens is that  by the end of the year I will be saying, “Oh well, it wasn’t really SO bad!”.  I told a friend that other day that maybe homeschooling is a little like childbirth, and we forget the painful parts, which is why we come back for the next year! Hahahaha!

So, at this time of year, at least for me, we just have to  press on.  I have to keep myself going because the end of the year is not that far away, and I realize particularly for our high schooler, we may have to extend a little past the date where we normally end even with pressing on.

So,  in order to conquer the midyear feels, I have been busy bringing in light into our homeschool in various forms.  I have done this with physical forms of  light in our home – candles and salt lamps; through crafts that make our space feel cheery.  I have done this with emotional things that give us light.  For example, this month we have focused on courtesy and kind speech and loyalty through a variety of stories and biographies and our Christian faith.  That feels nice. We try to get out to walk everyday for a very physical dose of light as well.   We have been at the horse farm and the children have been playing outside with our puppy.  I have streamlined errands as much as possible and made rest, exercise, rhythm, and cleanliness a priority.

For those of you Waldorf  homeschooling and wondering where we are these days, our first grader is on his second math block of the year. He is going over all four math processes, and starting to work on math facts involving the numbers 1-20, the multiplication tables, patterns and estimating and more.  Math is easy for him.  He is also working on all his letter sounds (for those of you not Waldorf homeschooling, we introduce academics in first grade, not kindergarten, for a variety of reasons), short vowels and consonant-vowel-consonant words and we are doing a lot of modeling in this block.

Our sixth grader has completed Astronomy, Mineralogy, European Geography, and we are finishing up Rome this week and moving into a math block next week.  She has daily practice in math, grammar, spelling, and is working on Latin a few times a week.  She is working a lot on black and white drawing also during this block.

Our oldest child is a ninth grader.  Biology is the one subject that has been consistently hard for her, and we switched tactics partway through the first semester so we are still catching up.  She has recently been studying and writing about, “The House of the Scorpion, ” and the poetry of Mary Oliver ( from Oak Meadow’s freshman year literature and composition suggestions), along with Biology, Spanish II, and Algebra I.  She has been creating her own business making horse-related products to sell.

So, it isn’t perfect, but it is moving!  Throw some of your light over here and tell me how your homeschooling is going!

Love,
Carrie