I’ve Got This Parenting Thing Down!

I don’t think anyone in the history of mankind has ever said this.

From being a parent of a colicky baby up all day and all night screaming…

To being a parent of the toddler who is running around the house naked, crayon in hand from cheerfully writing on the walls, exiting the bathroom from stuffing a shirt down the toilet…

To being the parent of an  elementary-aged child who is convinced  that all their friends are “mean” or that they are “not smart” or “everyone is better at things than I am”

To being  the parent of a pre-teen who is bored and more bored

To being the parent of a teenager who has slammed their door for the hundreth time and told you how much they hate life …

No parent has probably  ever said they had it together! (If you do have it all together, awesome! But most of us don’t!)

I don’t know about you, but my children are awesome, and they also have all the feelings, all the dreams, all the ideas.  Somehow we have been led to believe all the “bigness” is somehow wrong – instead it should all be figured out in little checked off boxes. I don’t find parenting to be like that.

I think we should talk about being “normal”  in family life more often.  Being “normal” doesn’t mean the “perfect” children were everything goes absolutely right!  It isn’t us, as parents, bending over backward to create a perfect world for them!  So what is it then?

It is showing them how to be calm in the face of chaos, courageous in the face of adversity, and to see humor in the things life throws at us.

It is showing them that life is getting back up again and again, and it’s pulling ourselves together after we have fallen apart.

It is standing together hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder and being ready for whatever needs to be done to get ahead, because a family is the very first team your child will ever play on!

It is teaching our children to stand up for what is absolutely right and true, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.

It is living life in the most vibrant, beautiful, and sometimes messiest way possible!

So, give yourself a hug.  None of us have this figured out; we all have different experiences that are tragic, beautiful, funny, absurd, thoughtful, meaningful, shallow, serene in parenting and family life.  Life is about that entire spectrum of being human!

Go and love it and own it.  That’s how you get this parenting thing down!

Lots of love,
carrie

Beautiful Month of May

It’s the beautiful month of May out there and despite #covid19 and #socialdistancing (#shelterinplace has been lifted in my state with the exception of the medically fragile), the weather is gorgeous, the sunshine is bright, temperatures are in the 60’s-70’s (Fahrenheit), and we are verging on being ready to swim.  It will be very sad for us if the pools don’t open this summer, but hopeful the large lake near us will still be an option!

We are celebrating this month:

Eastertide

May 1- May Day

May 10 – U.S. Mother’s Day

May 14 – High School Graduation for our oldest!  Homeschooling is done!

May 18, 19, 20 – Rogation Days

May 21- The Feast of Ascension

May 25 – U.S. Memorial Day

May 31 – The Feast of Pentecost – you can see some beautiful cross-cultural images for inspiration

Ways to Celebrate:

These are a few of my favorite things for small children:

  • Hiking on The Feast of Ascension, watching clouds
  • Making Pentecost crafts
  • Gathering for May Day and dancing around a May Pole!
  • Making crafts for Memorial Day, this year decorating our own front porch and walking in the neighborhood since I doubt there will be parades of any kind!
  • Pedal toys – trikes and bikes!

These are a few of my favorite things for grades-aged children:

  • Seting up playing in the water and sand – we ordered a slip n slide for the backyard and are awaiting its arrival and a pool for our dogs
  • Observing all the dragonflies, bees, and butterflies
  • Calming rituals for rest times and the end of the day.  I strongly believe that children ages 8-13 still need earlier bedtimes and I work very hard to make that happen. Calming rituals and rhythm are soothing for sleep!

These are a few of my favorite things for teens:

  • Spring cleaning and spring decorating of the home, gardening tasks
  • Spring cooking, making special treats for The Feast of Ascension and Memorial Day
  • Planning surprise May Day baskets for neighbors, and doing things to serve others.
  • Picnics at the lake or park with #socialdistancing
  • Later night walks in the warm air – great time to talk after the smaller children have gone to bed

These are a few of my favorite things for myself:

  • Celebrating our family with family meetings and family game night.
  • Celebrating our marriage with a night out on our anniversary – this year it might just be a drive together to celebrate our 28 years!
  • Vigorously moving 5 to 6 days a week, whether that is through yoga, hiking, at the gym, or whatever I choose.
  • Drinking lots of water and herbal teas.
  • Daily Compline from The Book of Common Prayer
  • I made notes for who I am praying for in my phone with One Note and it has helped me immensely to stay on track and not forget!

These are a few of my favorite things for homeschool planning:

I am starting to work on Botany as our first block for fifth grade in the fall!  Stay tuned, as I may put it out to be able to be purchased when I am done since it’s my third time going through fifth grade.

I would love to hear what you all are up to!

Many blessings and deep peace to you, stay safe,

Carrie

Things I Am Keeping From Quarantine

We are still here in #shelterinplace. My state has been lifted  for certain businesses with regulations (except for the medically compromised who are supposed to #shelterinplace until June 12), but we are still choosing to be home, and #socialdistancing is still in place.  So, I guess our life isn’t changing too much right now.

Interestingly, it  really didn’t change a ton from before #shelterinplace.  We  were used to being home all together when my spouse wasn’t traveling, we were used to all the kids schooling here for the most part, and we were all used to taking care of the house and cooking all the meals because we really didn’t go out to eat a lot as a family (expensive for 5 people, right?) with all of us being home.  We did homeschool before, although our high schoolers were in outside classes that moved to online,  so with this the major changes were that we had less places to go, and my spouse stopped traveling for awhile.

The hardest part was not being able to see family and friends, and also the lines of school and work not having really set times as well as we normally do, especially in the beginning. It all just kind of blended in together, but putting in school and work limits are important for sanity and to not feel glued to the computer all the time.

However, what I did notice that was positive:  since there were less places to be we exercised more, we walked daily, we did more puzzles and things like that together, we baked more (good thing we offset it with exercise), and I actually de-compressed after about six weeks and watched three nights of movies in a row (unheard of) and took a few naps, which I don’t normally do!  We all also read a lot, which we normally did, but now I don’t feel like we were trying to squish the reading in amongst other things. I think we were also more intentional with our home spiritual life, since we were used to being at a place of worship each week and couldn’t go.

So, the things I want to keep from quarantine life:

  1.  Less places to run around to! I know we will be driving to outside classes again in the fall assuming everything opens up completely, but I hope to really keep all the automated deliveries of groceries and household items, to call and/or use telehealth for various medical things, to call and have shipped things like the supplements I take or contact lenses or whatever.  This will help  limit the places I go.
  2. To continue walking daily and to keep exercising at home.  I love the gym and will be back there, but I hope that will be on top of a great home routine!
  3. To put limits on the hours I work (self-employed) so I can have a good balance.
  4. To make Friday nights a crockpot  or grill dinner night and time for our family to gather – kids’ friends welcome, of course.
  5. To make Saturday a day to spend out in nature.  We usually do this, but just to keep it on my radar.  We are lucky to have a yard and our neighborhood connects to trails that we have been able to use  daily during this.
  6. To really keep connecting with the people that I have had Zoom calls with and friends that I have kept close contact with during this time.  Their checking in made a world of difference.
  7. To not put off taking vacations – this has proved we don’t know what will come, so take the vacation!   We had a vacation planned for the first time in two years when this happened, but I hope we get to go somewhere again!
  8. My newfound spiritual traditions – for my religion, using The Book of Common Prayer daily, which in the past I have gone through great spurts of diligence and not, and reading our sacred texts.

What will YOU be keeping from #shelterinplace? What are you excited to get back to?

Blessings and love, stay healthy,
Carrie

The Christian Corner: Episcopalian Homeschooling

SInce I have readers from nearly every country, from Australia to India and Nepal to many  Middle Eastern countries, (thank you readers!) who all represent many different religious, I don’t write a lot about the spiritual component to our homeschooling.  This site is about child development, healthy families, and healthy education other than to say that spirituality is an essential part of our humanity not to be ignored or cast aside.  However, every now and then I put a post out about what we doing with our religious studies, so today is an offshoot off the 2018 post about the Episcopalian/Anglican homeschooling according to developmental stages.

This year with our fourth grader, we are in the stage of Belonging/Heroes that I feel goes with the ages 7-14.  As a refresher, this is originally what I laid out for this age:

From Ages 7-14, Episcopalian homeschooling is about BELONGING and HEROES.

  • We are still modeling BELONGING by the way we act toward others in daily life.  In this stage, we not only expect our children to model our behaviors that include and help people, but we hope to start to be able to see this action on their own.
  • We still are going to church and celebrating the church seasons, the Eucharist, the feast and fast days, and we see now the stories in the Bible as a deeper level of encouragement in our own walk for loving ourselves, each other, and the Earth.
  • As older children question things, we talk about how we use our intellect and experience as part of our experience with God.  Faith, tradition, reasoning, and experience are all part of being an Episcopalian.
  • We get our older children to participate – older children can acolyte, participate in Children’s Choir and the Royal School of Church Music Program, help with the nursery, attend Sunday School and Vacation Bible School and summer camps.  We help and encourage relationships with the other children in the parish. My parish is pretty large, about 800 families, and I think there are probably close to 20 schools or more represented, so school attendance isn’t the deciding factor for friendship in our parish.
  • We still use the Book of Common Prayer in daily and weekly life.
  • We still spend lots of time in nature. Some at this stage will chosee to look for Episcopal summer camps – they are all over and provide incredible immersive experiences into nature and closeness to God.
  • We develop more faith by participating in the life of the church.  We get involved with causes, with the classes and offering of the church, and if what we want is not there, we step up as parents and get involved.
  • We start learning the stories of the heroes of our faith – the people who made the Anglican faith what it is
  • My little mini-rant about Heroes of the Faith:  King Henry doesn’t count.  I shudder actually when people talk about that as if they don’t know any of the real ways and real heroes that made this strand of Western Christianity different than anything else.  Anglicanism was different than anything else because of where it happened –  The church was aligned with many Celtic beliefs and moved toward the customs and beliefs of the Western church with the Synod of Whitby, but in many ways still retains a good deal in common with its Celtic beginnings and with the church before the split of the Reformation.  So in a way, it was and still is its own thing!  If you want to debate me about King Henry, I will just delete your comment because it is a source of contention to me that people don’t know more about either their own denomination or others can’t be bothered to find out and just comment on things they haven’t researched.  #sorrynotsorry
  • Heroes from the Holy Bible, and yes, the Feast Days of Saints that we celebrate (and the idea that we can all be Saints!  A little different concept in the Anglican Communion)
  • Toward the end of this period, I like to talk plainly about the 5 Marks of Mission of the Episcopal Church of the U.S., which are:
  • To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  • To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
  • To respond to human need by loving service
  • To seek to transform unjust structures of society
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth
  • We can start to talk to older children (7th and 8th grade) about the history of the church as involved in the Social Gospel period of history, our role in the Civil Rights Movement, our role in equality for LBGTQ people, and our positions on civil rights,  the environment,  and more.

So, for this year for fourth grade we have used these as our main resources (outside of attending church, singing in our children’s choir and volunteering):

  • The Holy Bible
  • Book of Common Prayer
  • General Missionary Stories that correspond to our liturgical calendar
  • “Plants Grown Up”  which is more a Reformed Protestant source, so I modify it to suit our needs
  • “How The Bible Came To Us” by Meryl Doney that talks about the structure of the Bible, and how translating the Bible came to be – would be good for fifth graders as well.
  • We are finishing the year studying the first part of the book of Daniel from the Old Testament and using Kay Arthur’s book, “You’re A Brave Man, Daniel!”.

For next year, fifth grade, I have plans to continue down the same vein by using the first four resources mentioned and am still researching our other plans!  We will probably be working with the last of the 5 Marks of Mission by working with the environment, which also fits in well with our plans to study botany in fifth grade.

Blessings and peace,
Carrie

“Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles”

This post finishes up our chapter- by- chapter look at “Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles:  Winning for A Lifetime” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka.  Chapter 15, entitled, “You’re Not My Boss!” talks about learning to be assertive rather than aggressive.  The author writes, “Learning how to get and use power is a critical stage of emotional development for all chidren.  The window for this stage opens sometime around your child’s fourth birthday and continues for years.” “You’re not the boss of me” might be followed by how we are “mean” parents or how much our child hates us.  This can be very difficult  for parents to hear this and it feels very disrespectful. However, this is often a very preliminary and immature way towards trying to learn to be assertive with the confidence and poise that comes with maturity.

Learning how to be assertive is a skill for a child to develop and learn how to use in life.  It will serve them well in their relationships and in their careers.  The best way to deal with when children are testing out power is to not get too emotionally sucked into this and remain calm.  Enforce respect for all family members calmly and standards that are clear and concise, and most of all know your own trigger points and how those phrases that come out of immature children’s mouths make you feel and act. It is a lot easier to remain neutral and calm and enforce a standard if you know what your trigger is!  Figuring in your child’s temperament, stress levels at the time, etc can also be helpful.

Great phrases you can use to help meet your child include:

  • “Try again please.” (not in a threatening way)
  • “Re-do that one, please” (mine)
  • “Stop. That’s bulldozing.”  That’s a pretty clear picture to a child instead of threatening to wash their mouth out with soap or to tell them to stop being sassy. Many times a child will say they don’t even know they are being disrespectful.  Bulldozing is a pretty clear picture of running someone else over with their words.
  • Teach your child words that persuade others to listen to them – try the list of phrases on page 273 and 274.

Chapter 16 is called, “Can We Talk About This?” and it’s about learning to get along with others.  The family is undoubtedly one of the first places for this! This can involve us letting go (bring the coat with you and put it on if you get cold), managing intensity levels in the house, emotional coaching through situations, and helping our children problem solve.

Teaching our children to solve their own problems leads towards a successful life.  If they can describe a problem, how they feel, and explore, evaluate, and carry  out a solution, they are well on their towards having a very functional adult life!

This can also work well with sibling fighting by first insisting that each sibling listen to the other. In my experience, this wouldn’t work well with the child under 10, but it’s worth a try.   I found the example on page 291 of this book to be a very typical scenario – an introverted child asking an extroverted child to stop and then being triggered when the child doesn’t stop and gets into his space.  Not being heard leads to physical altercations amongst children!

In conclusion, the author writes,  “It’s true that emotion coaching will not eliminate all of the power struggles in your life.  I wish I could say that it would.  But I do know that when that emotional bond is strong, you and your child will find yourselves in a new place…”

May we all grow to love and respect each other,

Blessings,

Carrie

 

11 Lessons From the Midst of A Pandemic

I have been thinking a lot about -“what’s the lesson in all of this? (is there a lesson? Does there always need to be a lesson?)  What will the outcome be in all of this?”  as people talk about what might come out of living in pandemic conditions – will it lead to revolutionary changes in business travel, healthcare, education, the ability for rural areas in the United States to be able to access the Internet better, etc?  Will it cause people to re-evaluate their lifestyles, their level of consuming, their level of using home as a launching pad to other areas of their life – or will they just rush back to how it was before?  And, since a pandemic typically lasts 12-18 months with fewer number of cases and then spikes, what can we do  to make life seamless as things may teeter between open and closed several more times?

I am not sure of any of those answers at this point.  Some people have the privilege to “re-invent” their lives or lifestyles, and some people don’t.  That’s the unfortunate reality.  But, I think to a certain extent I hope we all come away with ideas that could at least enhance our lives wherever we are.  Here are a few ideas-

  1.  Live below our means as much as possible and have savings so when things happen and work is disrupted, we have cushion and the ability to pivot if we need to.
  2. Food storage is a real necessity, and it is important to  build it up slowly and over time.  Just adding one or two extra things into your shopping cart each time you shop can be an easy way to build up stores and not cause too much financial stress or descend into hoarding.
  3. Automate the high demand items.  I automate (have delivered) panty and cleaning items, toilet paper, etc.
  4. Learn how to garden and can food.  Nearly everyone can have some containers if you can’t plant in the ground or grow sprouts and microgreens in the kitchen
  5. Get to know your farmers that are in your area and buy direct from them.   This really saved us during this.  Drive through pick up of an order placed through the Internet!
  6.  Get outside and get in physical shape.  The sunshine and Vitamin D and higher levels of fitness help everyone’s stress levels and immune functioning.  Use all the free workouts available through You Tube.
  7. Shore up your immune system in whatever way that looks like for you.  Most of what I have been reading suggests at least Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc.  Read up on what could help you during times of illness for support as well.
  8. If you are ready, think about your lifesyle.  If you lived more simply, could you work less?  Can you work from home?  Could you have something that makes you money while you sleep?  This book is an oldie but a goodie: “Your Money Or Your Life”  available on Kindle or Audible, updated 2018 –  https://www.amazon.com/Your-Money-Life-Transforming-Relationship-ebook/dp/B0052MD8VO/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_
  9. Lifestyle can extend to school.  I don’t think everyone should homeschool, but I do hope that people can see from this pandemic experience that  learning can be more broad than just going to a school building (and that some families don’t have the tools they need to be successful at home and we need better solutions for that as a society). I would love to see more equity in school funding and more diversity toward if some children do better in a smaller setting.
  10. Understanding that family and our children are the most precious things and that time really isn’t replacable.  The simple things like walks, board games, cooking together are all so valuable.  I hope people come away from this remembering how to be together again – how to eat dinner all together again, how to just be together.
  11. The outpouring of help i have seen toward others needing food, needing help, checking in on one another and encouraging one another, the connection of friends old and new through technology and amazing and interesting  socially distant but creative ways in neighborhoods has been unparalled.  I hope that continues.

Blessings,
Carrie

Fourth Grade Grammar

The best way to learn grammer is to hear proper grammar being spoken, to write (and revise and write again) nwith good grammar, and to read good works of literature. If you have a reluctant writer, I  think you can let the study of grammar ride for a little bit in the homeschooling environment and just perhaps try to write without pressure.  However, for some children, the study of grammar can be helpful in reaching new heights in writing. For other children, many  write well without much in the way of formal grammar.  We do, however, want  enthusiasm for writing for the future because there is quite a bit of it in middle school and certainly high school.

This is my third time through fourth grade, and this particular student has been a very reluctant writer, so this block is a good exposure towards writing more and the mechanics of writing.  My tack in this block was to do a preassessment – Dorothy Harrer has a little list of third grade free writing assignments in her  little book An English Manual for the Elementary School available for free at Online Waldorf Library. In this way, I could look at his overall writing – his flow of thoughts, how he writes, the quality of the sentence structure, capitalization, spelling, grammar – just within free writing.

We went through the second and third grade lessons from the above book rather quickly, focusing on the different parts of speech first with different colors in sentences on the board, and naming them BOTH with the “little person” version (naming words) and the “bigger people version” (nouns).  I pulled poems out of  books by Caribbean poets and reinforced with examples from those poems.  Then we moved into the fourth grade lessons and are moving through types of sentences, parts of speech, adverbs, prepostions, tenses, adjectives, linking and helping verbs.  For some children, understanding grammar helps them understand how to write.  Our fourth grader is very much like that.

I anticipate this block to take about six weeks or so.  For the first three weeks, I will take things relatively slow and have free writing, correcting writing I put on the board, looking for parts of speech in poems and such plus some of the specific things I listed above and free write something once or twice a week.  For the last three weeks, we will delve into writing three smaller pieces a week, using our work to tie stories, paintings, and writings with the stories from the book , Myths of the Sacred Tree, which I think is a wonderful bridge between fourth and fifth grade.  Excited as we head towards fifth grade!

Would love to hear what you are up to!

Blessings,
Carrie