Radiance in February

If you can picture it, think of the most beautiful bubble of light that could surround you and your family. Think of everyone in your family as being happy, healthy, and smiling. This, to me, is the essence of February. It’s a month that is often in the Northern Hemisphere is dark and cold, but if we can imagine a brillance and radiance into it, it can become a beautiful glimmering light. After all, we begin the month with Candlemas, a celebration of light. We think of the first beginnings of light, and a beautiful candle festival helps mark this occasion.  There are so many ways to make candles, including rolling beeswax sheets, dipping candles, pouring beeswax into half of a walnut shell (and you can push in a little candle in order to have little floating lights, which are always fun for children), and you can make earth candles where you pour a candle and place a wick directly into a hole into the earth.

More than the visible signs of light, where is the light in your heart and home? Where are your connections with the people you love? Sometimes on the weekends, we have one or two people over just to have a glass of wine and play games. It’s a good way to mark the days in winter. Some of our friends have needed help this year, and we try to be good stewards of our time and resources and help out. It’s just part of being part of community. If you are searching for community, I would love to hear about your journey! Please leave me a comment in the comment box below.

This is a wonderful time to change over your nature table if you have one to mark the seasons.  Flower fairies, branches in water that are budding,  a single candle, perhaps leading up to the markings of St. Valentine’s Day and then a little Lenten dish Garden to begin the beginning of March, as Lent begins on March 2 this year,  are all appropriate. All winter greenery is taken down.

This month in 2022 we are celebrating:

Black History Month – Of course Black History IS World history and American history and should be in every subject we teach EVERY month, but it’s also wonderful to take a renewed look at wonderful books and biographies this month.  

February 1 – Lunar New Year for those celebrating and also the Festival of St. Brigid

February – Mardi Gras! (until Lent, of course) Fat Tuesday is on March 1 this year with Lent beginning on March 2.

February 2 – Candlemas and also Groundhog Day.

February 14 – St. Valentine’s Day (you can see this post about Celebrating Valentine’s Day in the Waldorf Home

February 21- Presidents Day

Lovely things to do with children this month:

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, grow sprouts in the kitchen or a little microgarden.

Homeschooling –

If you are looking for a little re-boot to your rhythm, please do try the above back post! There are so many wonderful posts about rhythm to look at. So, whilst February is a month in which many homeschoolers can feel in a rut and ready to just give up, try instead to think what would be the perfect reset and recharge for you and your family? Maybe it is a great month for a book study, a project that the whole family can be involved in or something else!

Our homeschooling this month: We are still in Rome and moving slowly! We have used this year to intensively practice on skills including multiplication and division, decimals and fractions, spelling, writing, grammar and more. It’s been a year of progress and improvement in many areas, which is exciting, although I feel like some of our creative endeavors have taken a bit of a backseat in this process . Our sixth grader has learned a lot! So far this year we have covered Ancient Greece and Greek History, Rome, physics, geometry in our blocks.

Our high school junior is at a four day a week high school and we are planning to visit a few colleges this last half of the school year. She made her own list and is driving that process. Our college sophomore is doing well at university and has made the Dean’s or President’s List every semester of college so far, and is still having fun.

I am already thinking about next year and homeschooling seventh grade and I am making a plan. It’s my favorite grade to teach, so more about that in future posts.

Farm Life: Farm life is about mud management of the pastures, thinking of spring seed sowing for the pastures, getting through the winter and keeping weight on the horses, gathering equipment for more bees in the spring, and some seeds. We will be re-doing the outside of our barn in the spring and hopefully some more fencing. There are many projects still to be done in our house, but the outside takes the priority right now for the horses.

Work Life: It’s been a busy season and I have been busy working 3-4 days a week so we have been doing homeschooling on the weekends and during the week. It’s been busy! I have made some lists as for continuing education this year and am projecting abundance. My colleague and I moved into a new office space today and we are excited about that.

#Abundant2022 – it’s real, and I am working with my word of the year. Did you decide on a word this year? How is that going?

I would love to hear from you! If you need any help with parenting or planning, I do consults via phone or Zoom- you can email me at admin@theparentingpassageway.com for your spot!

Many blessings and peace,

Carrie

Launching Adults

Many parents tell me the hardest part of parenting is watching their young adults ages 19-25 launch out into the world.

You can’t really talk about what’s going on because they are adults and it is not yours to tell. This is also true of younger children that there comes a point to stop sharing as well, and becomes our work to turn inward and garner support there.

This is a hard time to be launching into the world, but other times in history were also hard. Challenges also exist, and we do our best to prepare our children as they head into adulthood. We can guide them, but only to the extent the young adult wants to hear and act on what would be helpful – and sometimes we honestly don’t have the right answer, because the parent and the now young adult are two different people in situations we never had to deal with!

You worry about them. Many parents tell me they worry for their children’s safety, whether from gun violence or because they are different than other young adults. Bullying can occur even in college, which is disheartening and sad. Parents worry their child won’t be able to find stable employment or a stable healthy relationship.

One mother told me, “And if you even want to complain or worry aloud about how your children are doing – don’t – because then someone will inevitably tell you that you obviously did “it” wrong and how great their children are doing!” Ha. Competition amongst parents can still exist, even at this age. Who is finishing university? Who has a great job? Who is in a solid relationship with someone wonderful? These may be conventional standards, but perhaps asked amongst the elders and extended family and general community. They may be the wrong questions, but ones people think will lead to a happy life.

So, today I say set those worries or niggling fears aside for a moment. There is no worrying that can change the outcome in someone else’s life. They are their own person on their own journey. There will be good and bad along the way and they will make the choices. We did too! We must always remember that our now young adult has their own path to walk and fulfill. We have prepared them the best that we could and we can send them the power of our love and support. We can be in their corner, always and forever.

If you have to help your child longer and more intensely than others because things aren’t so typical, then so be that as well. I know parents who have done things above and beyond for their adult children who have struggled with neurologic, physical, or mental health challenges and it helped the parents sleep better at night and worry less. So be it. Everyone’s path is not the same and we do what we need to do to help with their stability and to help the health of our children sometimes. These situations can be complex, and easy for others to try to judge from the outside, but honestly, don’t we all wish we had people like that in our corner!

So…..

To those of you with young adults that you are worried about, I see you. Please know there are so many paths and ways to become independent adults and the early 20s can be a time of trying to pull all those pieces together. It really doesn’t matter what you were doing at that age; this is their journey. Support them in love.

To those of you with children that are seen as “atypical” in some way and you are worried about their safety and things that others may judge and deem very basic, I see that and hold that in my heart. We all want our children to be safe and accepted and loved.

To those of you whose children are in college and dealing with things you didn’t think they would have to deal with or discovering that this path is not what they thought, I see you.

To those of you with children on paths seen as not as standard as heading off to university, I see you.

For those of you dealing with judgment surrounding your young adults in some way, I see you. Life and maturing, in the 19-25 age bracket is not often linear.

Parenting is hard and launching young adults is hard, but it can also be a pleasure. The moments of joy and success can radiate, and the parenting at this age, like all ages, can be fun and wonderful. It is exciting to create a relationship with your young adult that is different than it was when they were younger. It can be a bittersweet time to watch them grow, stretch, fail, learn but such a wonderful time to extend our love and support even more as we see them for who they are and who they will become.

The days of parenting may seem long and the years may seem short, but I am telling you that you will never, ever regret the time and everything you have invested in having good communication and an open relationship with your child. This helps immensely. It is especially a good reminder for those of us that still have younger children at home while we watch our other children who have launched and are navigating the world. It gives clarity to parenting path, decisions, ideals.

Thinking of all of you with young adults today with love,

Carrie

Working With Your Word of the Year

I mentioned on social media yesterday that when I feel overwhelmed or like life is just one big to do list, I like to go back to my word of the year or vision board and re-align my priorities. The other things I like to think about in general besides going back to the very essentials include planning ahead, requesting help and delegating to other people in the household, and using rest and relaxation as a foundation (life is too short! We don’t have to be productive every minute!)

The word of the year is very helpful to me. This year my word is #abundant so I have a document in my phone that I can review daily. I took my word and found some teachings from my religious tradition, so that is there for me to remind myself what this word means to me. Then I made a list of the areas in which I want abundance this year, which includes abdundant peace, abundant parenting, abundant finances, abundant health, abundant faith, abdundant professional life, etc. So you could brainstorm categories under your word, or you could make a vision board representing categories under your word. What would your life look like in different areas if your word was your reality for the year?

Then I went and brainstormed under each of those categories – how would I have abduncant peace? what would it look like to have abundant finances? What would abundant health be like? I wrote down a number of ideas, strategies, or just the things that are keeping me from abundant peace or abundant health, etc. This is the document on my phone so I can pull it up.

When stressors, challenges, or decisions come up, I can pull up this document and brainstorm about it with my word and the ideas I had in different areas. Will this decision bring me abdundant peace? Can I change this stressor in some way or mitigate it so I can have abundant health, etc?

So, just to give you examples of some of my very personal things under different categories..

Abundant Parenting – strategies to connect with each child and to connect as a family; meditations and prayers for each child, listing the big things each child needs my help with or big things that need to happen this year (ie, high schoolers and deadlines for things)

Abundant Finances – strategies of how to increase our income and decrease output including ideas for no spend weeks and months

Abundant Peace – setting boundaries with specific situations/people written down, setting time for rest and relaxation including scheduling naps and Friday nights where I just go to bed early, scheduling time with my husband and the close friends that I love who I always know have my back and best interests at heart (small circle friends!)

Abundant Faith – finally getting to join something during the week at my church because it is on Zoom! So grateful! But also ideas about how to share our faith with our children better.

Abundant Professional Life – so ideas for courses I want to take, but also ideas for minimizing burnout as I absorb people’s energy and circumstances, setting boundaries.

Abundant Health – about a million thoughts under this one! But mainly to schedule those thoughts or they won’t happen in reality!

I would love to hear how you work with your word of the year.

Blessings and peace,
Carrie

The Art of the Inner Work of Homeschooling

Homeschooling is a fine and balanced art of being a teacher, being a parent, being the caretaker of the family, often being the holder of the family emotional life; the family climate so to speak. We often begin homeschooling for our children and for the successes we know homeschooling will bring them as we strive to meet a child’s physical, academic, or emotional level, but yet it is often us who end up stretched in varying ways that we never guessed or knew was possible.

We learn to be strong within our own convictions of why we are doing what we are doing. I think too many people spend an awful lot of time on the “how” of homeschooling, perhaps rightfully so, but perhaps we need to be in connection with our why’s in order to carry us through. And since there is often more than one way in which to accomplish a goal, vision, or task, we need to be really connected into this why. Why is homeschooling the right answer for our family, for this child, for us as a unit? What will we gain? What will be challenging? Then we can worry about the how.

We are often stretched with the juxtaposition of the mundane – the daily meals, going over spelling for the twentieth time or that math concept for the millionth time, the soothing of emotions day after day- and the challenging. How do I teach subjects that I didn’t learn about? How do I make an inner life for myself within this? After years of homeschooling, who AM I?

We learn to build our families in ways that take into account everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and to really see our children for who they are – and help them become who they will be in life. Building is an important task of the inner work of homeschooling.

Inner work varies person to person. If you follow Waldorf homeschooling, you may find ideas amongst Rudolf Steiner’s regarding inner work. If you follow a specific religious path, you will find ideas there. Many people create their own path. Your path itself may look different depending upon if you are focused upon your children, you yourself as the teacher or you yourself as the human being. Perhaps we cannot separate ourselves as teacher and self so easily, but I often find what often needs to be nurtured in times of homeschooling burnout is not more ideas for me as a teacher, but ideas for me as a human being who is separate and distinct from the children and the family.

I would love to hear your thought,

Carrie

January, The Happiest of Months

I love January. Although it may be colder where I live with an occasion of ice and snow (and now tornado threats sometimes!), it is that idea of an entire year laid out before us with shiny new possibilities and opportunities. A time to create and shape things anew. Since I am building my year of abundance on rest and relaxation and balance, the introverted vibe of this season feels just right.

I made a calendar the other day the way I have for so many years of homeschooling – take a larger piece of paper and divide it by folding into six squares on the front and six squares on the back. This provides one month for each box and in each box I write down days we celebrate, ideas for the month, and when the children were small and under aged 7 I included what tale I would tell for the entirety of the month. Repetition and daily, weekly, and yearly rhythms are soul nourishing for all of us, but especially for the life of small children. Even without small children in the house, I felt a need to return to these roots. For January I wrote down the days we are celebrating, and then a few catch phrases of things I associate with this month: water, birds, soup, snowflakes, outside, hiking, organizing, rest, date nights (on the farm at this point), reading, creating.

This month, we are celebrating:

1- New Year’s Day

6- Epiphany/Three Kings Day

17- Martin Luther King Jr. Day

These are a few of the things we are enjoying this month:

  • Daily walks, hikes, or horseback rides rain or shine
  • Puzzles and board games. We have been playing a lot of Scrabble and got the board game Azure for Christmas.
  • Green smoothies and juicing
  • Opting outside daily
  • Playing with our horses and dreaming of the show season to start again
  • Indoor microgardening!  So fun!
  • Decluttering the entire house. This somehow feels like it must be done this year.

For those of you trying to figure out what to do with children in inclement weather (besides dressing well and going outside!), I always say that a good rhythm of work is the foundation of everything else. So meaningful work is the most important thing you can do. Slow things down, and involve your children. Children need long-simmering doses of time. Chop vegetables for soup, bake something, teach your older children to cook, let your littles help you with laundry, deep clean. Meaningful work is a strong key to family life. Those of us with land, animals, etc may take it up a notch with the amount of daily care required, but even in the city you have work to do and your children need to see that and be a part of that work. Even toddlers can participate.

If you are looking for fun things to do with children:  Cut out paper snowflakes, including really cool 3-D snowflakes; 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 marshmallows; 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.

We are beginning Week 18 of sixth grade homeschooling this week! Our sixth grader and I will be looking at Roman History, along with a good amount of math, spelling, handwriting, and drawing. Our oldest is off snowboarding in Colorado, (and our middle child who is a junior in a four day a week high school) will be starting back this week. They truly do grow up and make their own lives. Sometimes parents bemoan when things change as their children become young adults, but I think instead watching it all unfold is rather exciting and precious in its own way and gives us as parents a chance to re-create ourselves in new ways as well as we answer the question of who we are at this juncture in our own biography.

January blows in with a plea for balance and re-evaluation. I am currently taking phone consults for parenting and homeschooling should you want to sort some things out. Please send me an email at admin@theparentingpassageway.com if you are interested.

I would love to hear how your January is unfolding! Drop me a comment or reach out on social media.

Cheers,

Carrie

365 New Opportunities

May this be a very happy and wonderful year for you, dear reader! May this year be one of love, of peaceful parenting and family life, of helping others, and of seeing your dreams big and small come true.

Every year I choose a word that I think will help me embody my goals, dreams, and plans for the year. Resolutions are so often made to be broken, but a single word often provides me a meditative point to start and end my day, which in turn helps me create my reality. I have been writing this blog since 2006, so you can look back and see all the different words I have chosen since then, but last year my word was “build.” I had no idea that we were going to end up buying a farm and having horses and bees at the time I chose that word! Build was an amazing word for the year as I built my career further, we built the farm (and are still building it up!), we built connections with our teenaged and adult children, and we built homeschooling in new and different ways to fit into our lives!

This year, I chose the word “Abundant” and am envisioning all the different ways this word is going to impact our lives. Abundant relationships. abundant personal and family health, abundant farm life, abdundant finances, abdundant peace, abundant care for my patients. I have decided the best way to begin this is with a foundation of rest, relaxation, and relationships. It’s been a busy two years with finishing a doctorate and specialty certification and moving while treating patients and homeschooling, and while this year promises to be busy, I have also promised myself to balance this out with rest, relaxation, and spending time with those I love so much. My husband and I will be celebrating 30 years of marriage in May and I am excited about this milestone more than I ever have been at previous anniversaries. Maybe this is because now I can look back and see that we have held a lot of different incarnations of each other throughout the years and loved each other through all the changes. I am also so enjoying watching our two oldest children tackle their own lives and their own adventures. And, I am enjoying what I consider these twilight years of homeschooling. Our son is in sixth grade, and while he most likely will be doing some form of non-traditional high school, I will be enjoying these middle school years together creating an abundance of time together in a more traditional homeschool setting.

I cannot wait to hear what you have in store for 2022. Please feel free to reach out on social media, through email, or yes, happy to talk on a phone consult.

In closing, this is the beautiful blessing I often share on the New Year:

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours.

-From an Old Irish Blessing, author unknown

May this year be the one in which you are ENOUGH just the way you are.

May this year be the one in which you are content.

May this year be the one where you are loved as richly as you deserve.

May this year be one of bountiful and deep friendships, beautiful family memories, and love.

May this year be the year that you help someone else, the year of your generous spirit blossoming.

May this year be the one that is perfect for you and where you are in life and may you enjoy it abundantly.

Many blessings for a peaceful New Year with new beginnings of nourishment and love. In this year, may you hold steadfast to love, beauty, truth, and goodness.

Looking forward to 2022,

Carrie