Our Advent Activities

Advent begins on Sunday, and there are many mindful things to do during this season as we prepare for light, love, and blessings as we move into Christmastide.

First of all, I love Advent calendars.  You can make beautiful ones with scenes, like the one from the book, “All Year Round,” that The Quince Tree 65 did so beautifully here.  You could also order a lovely Advent Calendar; we have had this spiral one from Bella Luna Toys for years.   This year, we will also be following the Advent calendar  “Journeying The Way of Love,” from The Episcopal Church, our religious denomination,  that can be found here

Next, I like to think about mapping out a few things for our Advent simply because there are amazing things to do!  We used to always attend or host an Advent Spiral but we haven’t done that in quite some time due to our older children becoming teenagers and having a rather dwindled community of Waldorf friends.  But, the spiral walks are always beautiful and reverent!

This is sort of my outline for Advent/Advent activities:

(We already went to see holiday lights at our local botanical gardens right after Thanksgiving because I wanted to do it before anyone got sick during Advent – lesson learned from previous years! The tickets are a little pricey and cannot be wasted!)

We ordered some ideas from The Imagination Tree regarding the Kindness Elves.  I don’t know when they will arrive, but I know our little third grader is going to love this idea!

December 1 and 2 – Horse shows (is that an Advent activity? LOL); the little one and I will make beeswax ornaments to give out as gifts; set up our Advent wreath that we made the weekend after Thanksgiving in accordance with the mineral kingdom; attend church

December 3  and 4 – Will make Advent window transparency. My oldest daughter, myself, and my sister-in-law are attending an AMAZING art exhibit on the 4th, so check out IG for photos. ❤

December 5 and 6 – get ready for and celebrate St. Nicholas Day!

December 8 and 9 – Get our Christmas tree and decorate; Second Sunday in Advent ; set up our wreath by adding things to represent the plant kingdom; attend church; attend the Lifeways December Visioning Free Online Mini Retreat; the night of the 9th see The Nutcracker!

December 10 and 11 -Make some beautiful Mistletoe Luminaries for our home – see this Pinterest board; make applesauce/cinnamon ornaments

December 12-14 – prepare for  and celebrate Santa Lucia Day and a family birthday. Also a choir recital.  School ends on the 14th.

December 15-16- Horse show weekend; third week in Advent; prepare our Advent wreath with things representing the animal kingdom; attend church and lessons and carols

(The Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday following the Third Sunday in Advent are special times of fasting and prayer, mainly for our priests and the church,  called the  Advent Ember Days in the Anglican Communion).

December 17 and 18 -Christmas Baking- I have some special ninjabread man cookie cutters for our littlest; drive around at night and look at lights; hot chocolate

December 19 and 20 – Christmas wrapping; Ice Skating; make any last minute gifts

December 21- Winter Solstice Celebration; Make Sun Bread, make treats for the birds

December 22-23 – the fourth week in Advent;  set up our Advent Wreath with things that represent the unity of humanity; attend church; prepare food for Christmas Eve and make treats for the horses and dogs

December 24 – Deliver treats to horses in the morning; Prepare food for Christmas Eve, children sing at Christmas Eve Mass

December 25- Celebrate the first day of Christmas with family

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

 

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Planning Fourth Grade

So, fall of 2019 will be my third time teaching fourth grade, and it is a fun grade!  This is my tentative block plan –

August-  Man and Animal 1 which will flow into….

September/October – Local Geography and Man and Animal 2 – we will be looking at the regions of our state through habitats and our local animals/camping

November – Math/Introduce fractions

December- Geometry/ Form Drawing – most likely will draw from Viking Hero Tales by Isabel Wyatt

January – Norse Mythology

February – Birds of Prey (special interest of my student)- each morning I am going to try to work in fraction problems related to birds!  That should be interesting!

March – Weland the Smith – rather dark tale, but I think our son will love it.

April – African Tales/African Hero Tales/camping trips

May – Math in the Garden (leading into Botany for Fifth Grade)/ camping trips

We will be doing math daily and extra reading and spelling practice as my little guy is behind in  academic skills. We will also be working on survival skills in conjunction with his ninth grade sister, and in handwork we will be working on cross-stitch throughout the year.

It’s going to be a fun school year in the fall!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

Planning Ninth Grade

This is the second time I will be teaching ninth grade.  This time is a little different, as I have a child with more specialized academic needs who wants to go to a four-year college.  So, I am thinking less in terms of blocks and more of underlying themes for our year.  Some of the things I think our student really needs and will want for her chosen future field (equine studies or animal science) will match traditional Waldorf school subjects for ninth grade and some will not. The homeschooling environment, as I found out the first time through ninth grade, is incredibly different than a classroom high school setting or even a Waldorf high school setting, and  I think deserves to be treated as such.

Ninth grade is an interesting year as some Waldorf Schools put things like the Revolutions block in eighth grade and some in ninth grade; most do the blocks that highlight the polarities contained within this age such as Comedy and Tragedy and Thermodynamics, but other blocks seem to be  not as standard.

So, in a way, all of this is freeing.  I have a student who dislikes main lesson book work at this point (as did my first ninth grader); and a student who needs more practice and overlaying of knowledge than a block format due to difficulties with working memory.  So, our high school may look more like extended subjects than four to six week blocks. And I think for high school that is perfectly okay, so long as we continue to use sleep as an aid for memory.

My main plan is to center our year around a theme of wonder within the themes of Earth Science/Prehistory of the Earth; much of this is reflected in the book lists of Build Your Library Grade 9, which isn’t Waldorf at all but has a good list of titles. We will be using the Christopherus Earth Science as a jumping off point for our year.   We will be working on poetry and short essays along with literature that will go with our Prehistory theme.  Our nod to traditional Waldorf ninth grade will be finding the polarities within these topics.

Electives will include survival skills, choir, and orchestra.  Our foreign language will either be Spanish I using Living Language Spanish and the many resources we have around the house. Most of all, we want to parlay our student’s love of animals, equines, and animal science and behavior into working one day a week shadowing or volunteering with a professional – and we know lots of those.

I will let you all know how this plays out!  Putting together plans now.

Blessings and love, can’t wait to hear if you are ordering resources yet,
Carrie

Self-Care Sunday: Getting Real

So, one of the books I have been reading lately is “Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing The Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Are Meant To Be”  by Rachel Hollis.  In Chapter Two, entitled, “The Lie: I’ll Start Tomorrow,”  the author writes that when we care about commitments, we do it when we said we would do it.  She takes this scenario and talks about if you had a friend that constantly flaked ou on you, and never showed up when you made plans, or this friend started something new constantly but never followed through…well, you probably wouldn’t respect this person very much.

And yet, how often do we do this to ourselves?  How often are we the first one to break our own promises to ourselves?

Yes, I promised myself I would go run today but the day is nuts and everyone needs me.

Yes, I promised myself I wouldn’t eat crazy around the holidays but there is so much good food and I am kind of stressed.

Yes, I promised myself I would get together with that friend just for adult-only coffee but now everything is so busy.

Yes, I promised myself I would start inner work and would meditate and pray but I just can’t get up early and do that and then there is no time.

Yes, I started exercising but I did it three days in a row and I can’t just continue.

This also applies to homeschooling.  How many times have you said:

I don’t have time to plan.

I don’t have time to learn how to do that art stuff.

I don’t have time to be home and do all these little cooking and craft things for my Early Years children.

I can’t teach high school subjects.

I can’t teach mulitple children.

Accountability is a hard thing.  Get a friend or your partner to be your accountability partner.  Put your goals into writing. Set those simple subgoals and do them each day without fail.  If it gets rough and you want to bail on yourself, call your accountability partner.

Show your children that you have discipline too.  How can we expect our children to follow through and not be lazy when we never show them one personal goal that we have set and met?  Older children love nothing more than cheering on their parents to accomplish great things!

But most of all, learn how to go through your roadblocks and keep going.  Nearly everyone can start something, (or say they are going to start something!)  but very few can finish it.  In order to do this, you will need to SLOW DOWN on your outside commitments.  Your own inner commitments come first, your family life at home comes next, and then whatever outside crazy there is.

And you might be saying, but Carrie, you don’t know my life.

Maybe not, but I sure know mine.  Having teenagers in the house is the busiest season of all.  Busier than the tiny stage.  More emotionally draining.  Planning on all levels is a MUST.  If I don’t plan, I won’t make it.  If I don’t set realistic goals and  write it down, block out the time daily, talk to my accountability partner, and get going, it will never happen for me.

If you want to share what you are working on for you, please comment in the box below. Let’s all support each other! I will be cheering you on, and can’t wait to see you meet your goal!

Blessings and love,

Carrie

 

Making The Holidays Bright!

There are many wonderful celebrations of light, love, and gratitude during this holiday season.  December 2nd begins the season of Advent this year, and with it many of the activities for winding down the school year for the first semester.  It can turn quickly from a time of cherishing family, home cooking, and love to recitals, end of year banquets and parties for sports teams, multiple family and friend gatherings and a chaotic feeling of trying to get everything done.

So, this holiday, I hope we can all keep the holidays BRIGHT instead of feeling lost in the chaos.  I love the idea of choosing meaningful things to do throughout the season, and really keeping Advent as Advent and the twelve days of Christmas as Christmas!

It is never too late to begin anew!  Here is a wonderful guest post by Christine Natale“Musings on Saint Nicholas Day and Starting New Holiday Traditions”

So, in honor of this idea of everything having its own time and place, here are the things we will be celebrating during this season:

Our main plans include seeing holiday lights at the botanical garden (which we already did); making an Advent wreath; baking gingerbread;  ice skating on the  outdoor skating rink; going to see a production of The Nutcracker as a family; driving around to see holiday lights; having a family night with a hot chocolate bar and games; and I am seeing about planning an outdoor winter scavenger hunt for the kids.  Some of you may be interested in hosting a Winter Spiral at your home; we did this for many years.

Here are some thoughts about favorite gifts and holiday gifts for children. There was a series I did in 2009 about the inner work of Advent and it begins here if you are interested in tracking those posts down.  One of my favorite ways to do inner work is while walking outside; I find it is very important for me to get outside this time of year.  I also start thinking about the word for 2019; a word that symbolizes and helps me envision the entire year ahead.

Here is to a merry and bright (but not overwhelming) holiday season!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

23 Ideas for #OptOutside

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you celebrating today!  Many Americans will continue spending time with family the day after Thanksgiving with this phenomenon called Black Friday.  They will shop the day after Thanksgiving for Christmas gifts, and many stores open extremely early and promise deep discounts.

With the decline of shopping malls, I think this is waning a bit, although many people are shopping on-line on Friday as well and on “Cyber-Monday”.  However, some Americans are taking a different tack to the day after Thanksgiving and opting to get outside.

Ironically, #optoutside was started by a retailer (REI, an outdoor outfitter company) in 2015 as a paid day off for their employees (with no on-line sales being processed either).  Don’t you just love this?  From there, #optoutside expanded to over 200 organizations in 2016 and now is up to partnering with something like 700 organizations. I love this so much, because it shows how the market can drive change that is better and healthier for all of us.

So, in honor of #optoutside, here are some ideas for getting outside on Friday, the day after American Thanksgiving.  You can hashtag your pictures on Instagram if you are on there and join thousands of others getting outside!

  1. Ice skating.  Even here in the Deep South, there are outdoor ice skating rinks that open on Thanksgiving Day.
  2. Skiing
  3. Winter Camping
  4. Fishing or ice fishing
  5. Hiking or snowshoeing
  6. Bird Watching
  7. Go sledding if you have snow.  We have fake snow down here, not the same, but if you have a child dying to sled….
  8. Walk your dog
  9. Have a fire outside and toast s’mores
  10. Make snow paint or drizzle maple syrup into snow to make a snow candy
  11. Teens who are into photography might enjoy taking pictures of winter trees
  12. Winter picnic
  13. Build snow forts or regular forts if there is no snow
  14. Explore the holiday lights in your area on foot
  15. Make snow angels, catch snowflakes on your tongue or if there is no snow just lay on your back and look up at the tree canopy for a few minutes.
  16. If you are somewhere warm, you can probably still swim and surf and do all the fun things you normally do outside!
  17. Stand and watch the snow fall or just go outside and breathe the crisper air.  Be in compassion for those affected by the wildfires in California and other places where the air quality is poor right now.
  18. Listen to the wind.  Let your hair fly around in the breeze
  19. If you still have fall leaves on the ground and no snow, listen to them crunch under your feet.
  20. Run or walk!  Teens may enjoy running in weather that is colder – it is invigorating.
  21. Have a star gazing night.
  22. Play hockey outside on a pond (we generally can’t do this in the Deep South, but I know you can in other places!)
  23. Set up an outside hot chocolate bar with all the fixings!

I can’t wait to hear how you will spend your #optoutside day!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

Setting Intentions For The Holidays

Americans will be celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow; a time of gratitude and wonder at the gifts we have in our lives.  For many, this seems like the big kick-off (excuse the football analogy; many Americans spend time watching football on Thanksgiving as well) to a rather hectic wind-down of school, tests, performances and recitals, awards banquets, holiday making and crafting and baking, gift buying, figuring out where to celebrate what, and more….It really can be exhausting!

So, what if for this year, we all set beautiful intentions around the holidays?  Intentions to keep ourselves running at a perhaps steady but not crazy pace?

There, are of course, the “don’t”‘s….

You don’t have to volunteer to run everything for your children unless you enjoy that! You can be a participant, a helper – you don’t have to be the main person running everything.

You don’t have to celebrate the holidays three times with different sections of the family unless you enjoy that!

You don’t have to go to every awards banquet or holiday party.

You don’t have to break your budget for the holidays and go into the New Year feeling broke.  It is not about the presents!

There are, instead the “do”‘s….

I will enjoy the holidays and the level of being busy that I commit to.

I will enjoy making a few things that won’t keep me up all night for nights on end trying to finish it all.

I will enjoy the holiday baking and cooking and if not,I will buy something and not feel badly at all about it.

I will enjoy making gifts and picking out thoughtful and meaningful gifts for my children and family members without feeling the need for “more”.

I will take care of myself throughout the holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends,

Blessings and love,
Carrie