Making Memories in June

June is a beautiful month here in the Deep South. School has been out for a few weeks, the lake is ready and waiting, it’s hot but not too terrible. We are knee deep in renovations at the farm – I can’t even list it all here but we have had to do things like run water lines, put in heat on the second floor, fix the A/C, replace garage door panels and fix the mechanics, renovate bathrooms, renovate a barn, put up fencing….with more to come. Our bees are coming in next week, and we have chickens coming as soon as we get the chicken coop done. Hopefully our horses will be here in August or September.

But in the midst of scurrying around, and work, there are memories to be made this June. Some of the things we are looking forward to:

Boating on the lake

Going to the beach on the lake

Kayaking and camping

Berry picking and making jam

This month we will be celebrating:

The Slow Summer – think lakes and pools, tubing, horseback riding, camping, spending time with family and friends. All of my favorite things in one month!  Here is a wonderful guest post by Christine Natale, Master Waldorf Teacher and author about creating the magical summer

14- Flag Day

20 – Father’s Day AND – Summer Solstice

24 – The Nativity of St. John the Baptist/ St. John’s Tide (see this back post for festival help!)

29- The Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul

Summer Homeschooling and Development:

I am in the midst of beginning planning for our sixth grade blocks to begin in August! I cannot believe our third and last child is old enough to go to sixth grade. Sixth grade is one of my favorites and I have a few thoughts regarding fifth grade that we just finished as well, so stay tuned for those posts.

We also will have a junior in high school who will be doing online school because she will be working in horse training and needs the flexibility, and our oldest will be a sophomore at an out of state university. She had a fantastic freshman year, so don’t let anyone tell you that kids who were homeschooled cannot enter any arena where they want to go. The sky is the limit!

I am running back to basics this summer – it’s been a crazy time with getting our old house ready to sell, finding a new house, moving, renovating. So I need the basics in my life back, beginning with Gratitude: Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture | The Parenting Passageway and Finding Rhythm With Grades-Aged Children | The Parenting Passageway. If you have littles under the age of 7, you might like this back post: Finding Rhythm With Littles | The Parenting Passageway

I would love to hear what you are up to and how you are re-charging!

Blessings,

Carrie

Planning for Sixth Grade

Our last child will be in sixth grade in the fall. This will be my third time teaching sixth grade, and I really enjoy the content of this grade that is so well suited to the twelve year old! We were in the process of moving and renovating a farmhouse the past few months and at varying points life took over fifth grade as we were trying to stay afloat and fix the major things like water and heating. We are still renovating, but things seem a bit more stable now as the school year here in the South is over (of course that’s how the timing worked out). I am a firm believer in summer downtime, so I doubt we will get much catch up this summer. So I am planning sixth grade with an eye towards some of the things we didn’t finish. We also have the added challenge of outside classes several days a week for math and outdoor school when I work, so limited time.

So these are my ideas for my current plan. We will be doing math daily and doing extra writing practice weekly.

August – Greek History (Most likely will base on Live Ed’s booklet), Nature Study in the afternoon.

September – Mineralogy

October – Roman History to include European geography

November – Physics

December – Geometry

January – Medieval History

February – Business Math

March – Medieval Africa and African Heroes, African Geography

April – Zoology

May- Botany

It’s going to be a fun year! I have a few field trips planned to the coast of our state and to a large canyon in our state for mineralogy and to our local museum that specializes in minerals and gems. We will also be busy getting our bees, chickens, horses and gardens settled, so that will be fun and busy as well.

Our other children right now are at an out of state university after being homeschooled through 11th grade at home and senior year was all outside classes, and our 16 year old has chosen an online school for her last two years of high school as she will be working and wants to start her own business.

If you are homeschool planning, I would love to hear what you are up to!

Blessings,

Carrie

The Wonder of Development

Thinking about stages of development is a little like thinking of a wave within a spiral. The waves are like the ebb and flow of each year and half year, and the spiral represents development as children ascend into adulthood. Despite differences in culture, personality of the child, familial environment, there is something very predictable about the course of development.

If this is new to you, this is a general course of development from age two until 17/18:

Two: Usually easier to live with than an 18 month old, likes to watch the household and participate in little errands or jobs around the house

Two and a half: Often an insecure age – often seen as bossy, rigid, demanding – but really feeling insecure. An age of “I want”, “Me do” and our favorite, “No!” Great vocabulary development at this age and much better motor skills.

Three to three and a half: A big age! Some parents say this age is actually the hardest, not two. Some things three year olds can do:
**Can distinguish between a bowel movement and urination; around three and a half may or may not go to the bathroom at regular intervals
**Can turn off water in bathroom when you ask; may be able to put toothpaste on toothbrush and wet the toothbrush; can put comb or brush in hair; can pull pants up; can get clothing out and put it on by around three and a half, although the average age for complete dressing is age 5. Can pull off shoes and unzip and unsnap clothing.
**May be able to play a game with another person, such as rolling a ball back and forth; they can usually talk about a game that just finished and start a new game; can take turns in a game at least 25 percent of the time
**Can sit quietly for at least one minute; this moves up to five minutes at three and a half

Four: Can be joyous and exuberant and ready for anything, but also can have extreme emotions; very speedy – does things and moves on to the next thing!

Four and a half: Usually a bit more self-motivated, better able to stand frustration, may be less easily shifted with distraction, some four and a half year olds can be very demanding and impatient

Five: Typically enjoys life and looks on the sunny side, typically loves his house, his street, his neighborhood, often doesn’t care to have something different, is often an age of childhood development where the child is in a state of harmony

Five and a half: Typically will have a readiness to go Usually has a great readiness to go against what is asked or expected of him, can often be combative or hesitant, dawdling, indecisive or at the opposite extreme, demanding and explosive. May be sick quite a bit, have a lot of tensional outlets like biting nails, fidgeting, etc.

Six: Six year olds can be ambivalent, stubborn and hard to make up his or her mind, but once his or her mind is made up it is difficult to get child to change his mind, the child is now the center of their own universe, they often want to win and want many things. Can be violent, loud demanding, insecure. High emotional needs!

Seven: Seven-year-olds are more contained, quiet, and tend to cry easily “at any, every, or even no provocation.”  Be careful becoming irritable or critical of the people a seven-year-old says is picking on them or hates them….Sevens rather like being gloomy and complaining.  Try not to take it too seriously, unless you really do think it is a bullying issue at school or something else more serious. 

Eight: Eight year olds are often expansive, high energy, speedy; may completely overestimate their own abilities. They try to measure themselves against adult standards rather than his own demands, and often are interested in fairness.

Nine: Nine year olds tend toward worrying, complaining, a bit tender (but not as complaining and moody as age seven!) , often have increased maturity. Many nine year olds generally like to do a lot and don’t want to give up any activities! Individual characteristics come to the forefront.  Friends are very, very important.

Ten: Ten year olds really love their family and family life.  They love to play in their neighborhood, if they live in a neighborhood, and sometimes even get along with their siblings (sometimes not!). They tend to respect their teacher and work hard in school. They tend to be more happy than they were at nine, and ten is typically an age of harmony.

Eleven: An energetic age, but also a year for a high number of colds, flu, ear infections, pneumonia. Moods can come and go rapidly, and eleven year olds can be rather egocentric and not cooperative with family life but away from home can be full of good manners and quite delightful!

Twelve: Solely based in neuroscience, the brain changes the most between the ages of 13 and 17.  Neuronal sprouting and pruning of neurons does begin around age 11 in girls and age 12 in boys, but the majority of changes are still ahead.  Twelve can be a fun age in that the child may now set goals, especially in learning, and may work at activities to really conquer something in the outside world that they are interested in intently.  The social element awakens;  there can be a  grouping off, especially after grade six. Girls may start banding together socially, and the boys can be brimming with activity!

Thirteen: Thirteen year olds are often withdrawn physically and emotionally, can be standoffish, tends to be critical – they are protecting their budding separate thoughts and personality!

Fourteen: A fourteen year old may be very energetic and want life to be full, but this can also be a period for some fourteen year olds of waiting, almost like a cocoon. Can be a time where fourteen year olds can be critical of their family.

Fifteen: Is actually an early stage of adolescence! Separation is often occurs – the adolescent may fantasize having a new family, a new school, having adventures, they may not distinguish  fantasy from reality too well (believe it or not!), they express growing independence in clothing, gestures, attitude, behavior…Through thinking they can begin to awaken to this new consciousness. They have very little tolerance for hypocrisy or  inconsistency and are often hypersensitive to how they are treated, but often do not treat others well. They have to learn how to consciously relate to others.

Sixteen: Usually there is  reduction in mood swings, irritability, and greater ability to manage anger. They often no longer feel as connected to their classmates, teachers, parents and feel a bit vulnerable or lonely. Often expanding out into the world but may feel a bit unsure.

Seventeen and Eighteen: After The Fifteen/Sixteen Change | The Parenting Passageway

I often found a good way to look at development for myself, and maybe this will help you, was to think in seven year stages that go throughout the lifetime, including adulthood all the way until death. This is very standard for Waldorf Education, but I just found it a useful and satisfying developmental framework. So, in that mode,

Birth – Age 7: The idea of using our hands, our will to work, movement more than lecturing or expecting a child to sit still. Using rhythm to anchor the days and to show that life around the home and within work is a place of ordinary but sacred wonder and goodness. Using our imagination to help in family life with discipline – speaking in pictures.

Age 7-14: The idea of using beauty, showing inspiration. Not snuffing the wonder out of things! I still think in American education this idea of “middle school” takes the wonder out of things far too quickly for children under the age of 14. Why are we in such a rush to have middle schoolers grow up?

Ages 14-21: The time for intellect, analyzing, finding the essential truths in life and being able to handle those lessons without becoming completely jaded and bitter.

There are over TEN YEARS worth of developmental posts on this blog! Try them out if you feel stuck at a particular age/habit with your child – I probably have a back post on it!

Much love and many blessings,

Carrie

Glorious March!

Spring is in the air where I live – I see little daffodils beginning to show, some days are warmer, and it is staying lighter longer each day. The mercurial weather is matching my changing moods, but mainly I am feeling joyful with spring and the new beginnings this season brings!

This month, we are celebrating:

Lent (Try this back post Observing Lent | The Parenting Passageway that has many links in it to even more back posts!)

March 1- Feast of St. David (here is a wet on wet painting idea: First Grade Wet On Wet Painting For Saint David’s Day | The Parenting Passageway)

March 20- Spring Equinox (Try this back post: Celebrations of Spring in the Waldorf Home | The Parenting Passageway)

March 25- Feast of The Annunciation

March 28- Palm Sunday

I am hunting ideas for Ideas for Easter Baskets | The Parenting Passageway – Easter is Sunday, April 4th this year! I will be sending my oldest her Easter basket at university!

The Ever Shifting Homeschool Round Up-

Child #1 – is at an out of state university. No more homeschooling!

Child #2 – is technically and legally a homeschool student but is enrolled at a four day a week hybrid program for this 10th grade year, so I don’t feel like I am doing much there.

Child #3 – homeschooled fifth grader! We are in our North American Geography Block, and still have a Greek Myths block and Botany to go. We hope to end our school year in May! It has been a nice year together at home.

One thing I often think about is that original idea of Waldorf Education – goodness, beauty, truth (and yes, I put it that way because it corresponds to ages 0-7, 7-14, and 14-21) or to think about hands, heart, and head (yes, put in that order on purpose). Ralph Waldo Emerson is probably the best American representative for this model with his ideas of imagination, inspiration, and intellect. These simple, aligned ideas can help guide so much of the way we educate and parent our children. There are times and seasons for all things.

Planning ahead for homeschooling: In the fall, we will have an 11th grader and a 6th grader. I am not certain what this will look like for sure yet, but I have some ideas percolating for sixth grade.

Fun Around the Home

Well, packing, packing and more packing. More to come on that in April! Something beautiful is coming.

Spring is the time of letting go of the material objects in our home that don’t serve us any longer, and for spring cleaner and eating in accordance with that impulse of spring with lighter and brighter foods.

Springtime Renewal –

Some ideas for Renewal, looking back when my children were younger. If you have young children, you will enjoy this series!

Renewal: Staying Home | The Parenting Passageway

Renewal: Mission Statements | The Parenting Passageway

Renewal: Personal Development | The Parenting Passageway (as a parent)

Renewal: Relationship With Your Spouse | The Parenting Passageway

Renewal: Computer Time | The Parenting Passageway

Renewal: Commit Yourself to Gentle Discipline | The Parenting Passageway

Renewal: Rhythm | The Parenting Passageway

I hope you find those as fun to re-read as I did. It’s so fun to look back and see that snapshot of where life was, and to commit myself to renewal in these areas again.

How is March going for you?

Much love and many blessings,

Carrie

Celebrating Lent As A Family

Lent will be starting next week. It feels more important to me than ever to celebrate this as our church is still mainly online with a few outdoor services, and because this past year has just been a combination of {{hard-do new things- different}}. It feels good that something can be the same!

Lent can be a time for true change, and it can be a time to strengthen our faith. It’s an annual spiritual check in – who am I? What have I done? What needs to happen moving forward? Am I stagnant? Do I need to give up something or do I need to take something on? I set forth a vision of “Build” for myself in January, and I am now looking into ways to make this vision come true, with very specific goals.

I think the simple focus of Lent can work so well in the home as a theme – simplicity. Work around the home is the most basic and therapeutic thing we can do with small children, and also can be so beneficial for older children and teens (and us as adults!). The arts that we include – painting, drawing, modeling, choral and instrumental music, drama, dance, speech recitation, handwork – all lead to renewed strength in facing life. Combining these two areas leads to good health for the family and provides a mirror of the awakening that occurs during Lent as we come out of the winter slumber. There is a children’s verse in the Wynstones Spring book I am reminded of that echoes this:

Little by little, the acorn said,
As it slowly sank in its mossy bed,

I am improving every day,

Hidden deep in the earth away. Little by little, each day it grew,

Little by little, it sipped the dew,

Downward it send out a tiny root,

Up in the air sprang a tiny shoot,

Day after day and year after year,

Little by little the leaves appear.

The slender branches spread far and wide,

Till the mighty oak is the forest’s pride.

So, this Lenten season, I encourage you to fast or grow or give up as you need to and with the advisement of your spiritual director. It is going to be a great season of growth! I would love to hear what you will be doing to celebrate Lent in your family, and if you have any personal goals for fasting, denial, or adding and growth.

Many blessings during this sacred season,

Carrie

Fantastic February!

Today is one of my favorite times of the year – the night before Candlemas. Traditionally, Candlemas is a day to celebrate the very beginning stirrings of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. It is Groundhog Day, also the day of the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord for some of us. Old is yielding to new! In some countries, the first snowdrops, a beautiful little white flower, are emerging from beneath snow.

We think of the first beginnings of light, and a beautiful candle festival helps mark the 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.

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 Garden (dish garden)  are all appropriate. All winter greenery is taken down.

This month 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.  Watch @theparentingpassageway IG and The Parenting Passageway Facebook page for our library hauls this month!

February – Mardi Gras! (until Lent, of course)

February 2 – Candlemas

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

February 17- Presidents Day AND Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent  (try this post about Lent with lots of links and ideas:  Lent – Pilgrimage of the Soul ) I am also planning on reading the Archbishop of Canterbury’s 2021 Lenten book pick: Living His Story: Revealing the extraordinary love of God in ordinary ways: The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book 2021 – Kindle edition by STEELE, HANNAH. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com. And the Join the Journey through Lent Gift Item – Jay Sidebotham : Forward Movement – A coloring calendar for Lent.

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 –

This is usually a hard month for most homeschoolers. The gray weather in many parts of the country can seem endless! This is actually a great month to get outside if you can – hike, ski, snowshoe, skate. I find this really helps take the edge off!

Plan some awesome things to look forward to for the rest of the year. I will be doing some planning this weekend. Like many homeschoolers around this time of year, I realize we probably won’t get to everything I planned so it’s important to go with what is feasible and not so stressful Children and teenagers are learning all the time and it really does all work out!

February is such a great time to re-assess what is working and what is not.  I have had conversations these past few weeks with several different homeschooling families about when to “do school” during the day.  I don’t think there is a “right” answer; every family is different.  And, because we are also (usually) the chef, driver, housekeeper, keeper of the tone of the home, and hopefully taking care of ourselves (and many of us also hold down an  outside or from  the home job while homeschooling!), we have a lot to consider when crafting a rhythm that works for the family.  Because, really, the homeschooling rhythm cannot be separate from the home rhythm.  

Right now our days look like Wednesday/Friday – homeschooling farm program and me at work outside the home; Monday/Tuesday/Thursday – Homeschooling, horseback riding lessons, 4H on Zoom, sometimes more outside the home work for me. It’s sort of fluid, but it works out okay. But the basic structure on the home days is the same, and I think that is a big help. We haven’t been busy on the weekends, so that also helps to have time to regroup and prepare.

What will you all be doing in February?

Blessings,
Carrie

Making Winter Memories

Winter is a wonderful time to be together as a family and enjoy each other’s company and the great outdoors. With small children, sometimes it can seem difficult to get everyone bundled up and out the door (only to have someone need to use the bathroom), but I assure you the beauty of winter is gorgeous and well worth getting everyone out of the house.

If you are looking for other activities, here are a few ideas for you and your family that cover most ages:

  • Cut out paper snowflakes, including really cool 3-D snowflakes
  • Dip or roll candles
  • Play board games or card games with your children
  • Draw, paint, or model
  • Whittle wood
  • Make popcorn together
  • Bake together
  • Play in the snow – build snow forts; have snowball fights
  • More outside fun: snowshoe; downhill or cross country ski, ice skate
  • Go outside and look at the night sky and see what you can identify
  • Set up bird feeders and watch the birds that come
  • Take a walk outside and look for animal tracks
  • Nature journal
  • Read and tell stories
  • Build forts inside
  • Knit, crochet, cross stitch, finger knit, spin, sew
  • Sing and make music together – learn some new songs
  • Clean, scrub, dust, and work around the house – rearrange furniture
  • Go bowling or find an indoor swimming pool to swim in (when we are not in a pandemic)
  • Write letters to family and friends
  • Write stories together; read fantastic books like The Hobbit, Heidi, or any other classic
  • Snuggle on the coach with hot chocolate and marshmallows
  • Cook for a neighbor
  • Clicker train your dog, cat, or other animal
  • Take care of plants; start seeds indoors when it it is time

Many blessings creating warmth and fun with your children,

Carrie

Peaceful Advent

This is the last week of Advent, the week in which we look with anticipation towards the renewal and hope brought to us through Christmas, and through the ideals that we carry peace and goodwill within our own hearts to share with all of mankind.

Tomorrow is also the Winter Solstice, the time celebrated for being the shortest day and the longest night. It marks the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, but I like to think of it instead of marking the darkest and longest days of acknowledging that each day from here on the daylight is lengthening and the darkness is shortening. In this year of 2020, a year of tumult and sadness for many, may we see the sunlight coming. If you are planning on marking solstice this year, I have some ideas for you Winter Solstice | The Parenting Passageway and Celebrating the Winter Solstice | The Parenting Passageway. We will be cutting up some oranges to dry out and make a garland, and make some Sun Bread as found in the book of the same title.

This week is a wonderful time to think about the Twelve Days (and Holy Nights) of Christmas that begin on Christmas Day. This is one of my favorite introspective times of the year. We all come to this Earth with gifts, with hopes, with our own thoughts and ideals and the ability to do good deeds for all of humankind and for the least among us. It is our gift to help and encourage and to provide the goodness and beauty we wish to see in this world.  We are here to love and serve others. This week is a perfect week to think about how to bring peace and light into all aspects of your life. What is serving you right now and what is not? Are you helping others in your life? Can you help encourage and bring peace to others? In the realm of homeschooling, is what you are doing serving you? How could you change things to live and learn even more deeply? That, to me, is the purest and truest form of homeschooling.

I usually pick a word for the upcoming year during this time. This year, my word for 2021 came early. And it’s the word “BUILD.” I have some exciting projects planned and ways to build up myself. my family, and those around me. My word last year was “RADIANT” and I felt like despite the events of 2020, we had a pretty radiant year – two new jobs and an advanced degree and specialty certification for me, a new sport for our older two children, one child starting at an out of state university and loving it – so blessed and yes, a radiant life despite the turbulence of the year. If you want to hear more about that word and how I work with the word of the year during Christmastide, please look Word of the Year | The Parenting Passageway.

Peaceful blessings for this week, may your light continue to shine,

Carrie

Making Advent Memories

The time leading up to the holidays, particularly if you celebrate Solstice, Hanukkah, or Christmas as your major feast for this season, can feel like a whirlwind of decorating, baking, wrapping, giving, end of semester recitals and plays and finals (maybe not this year with Covid-19, but every state and school seems to be different!) …leading up to the major holiday and it can feel exhausting! Maybe if you are like my family, you celebrate several smaller festivals in this month such as St. Nicholas Day, Santa Lucia, an Advent Spiral (which is a walk around a spiral of evergreens) or more, which can sometimes feel like too much if all of it is elaborate!

In this time, slowing down and being together is the thing that really matters the most. Take time to read together, to make window stars and straw stars, to dry orange slices for a garland for the tree, to string popcorn and dip candles, and to otherwise bring the pace as a spiral inward and inward and inward. We can do this by being gentle in our actions towards ourselves and others and setting time aside for our own self care and to relax and enjoy this season of light, love, and generosity. Relaxing during this month should be a given, yet how many mothers actually relax in the midst of all the whirlwind of things to be done? Take heart, you don’t need that many “things” to create family memories for Advent.

This week we are working on a few small projects that I will be highlighting on FB/IG, including making window stars and dipping candles. These are very doable projects with children. Window stars are a simple folding of a square of kite paper (held up like a diamond shape), fold in half and unfold, and then bring the sides of the paper to that crease. Glue the corners down and do this for enough points to make your star! Candles are also easy with melted beeswax (a garage sale crockpot works well for this), and a simple wick and a nearby pitcher of cold water. Dipping takes time, but children are often fascinated watching their candle be built up, flattening the bottom as they go along, and doing that over and over. You can flatten the bottom when it is still warm onto a little round of wood for the holder. Simple and satisfying.

St. Nicholas Day is on Sunday, and we can bring to this day a gentle, easy, and nourishing time with tea, special foods, and perhaps a little gift (or not) if this is not your main time of gift giving (for some families it is the major time of gift giving). When our children were younger, St. Nicholas Day was perhaps bigger than we celebrate it now. We never did a lot with the idea of Santa Claus (one unwrapped smaller gift was from “Santa”). However, perhaps more importantly than “getting” is children learning how to give and how to have the spirit of St. Nicholas in them at all times. Have you been getting into “good trouble” as John Lewis would say, helping others without them knowing, with a twinkle in your eye? Are you generous and kind all year round? This is the spirit of Advent and Christmas. What can your children give? What can they do to be generous and helpful and kind? Is there someone your family can help in a tangible, secret way? Those are the amazing opportunities that this month opens up into our hearts and souls.

Blessings,

Carrie

Glorious First Week of Advent

Advent is a time of doing. We experience the wonderous light of Advent with all of our senses. I love this quote by Joan Almon, master teacher of Waldorf Early Years, from “An Overview of the Waldorf Kindergarten”: “Within the Waldorf Kindergarten the festivals are  not meant to be “taught” but are offered in a light manner, much like telling a fairy tale, which allows the children great freedom to come to the festival as they will.  When offered in a spirit of gratitude and with a sense of wonder and awe, something of the essence of the festival can speak to the children.” I think this is something to consider for all family members, from the early years all the way through to the teenager who is unsure of participating in family or community festivals. We offer, we model, we have gratitude and wonder ourselves.

I think the approach that the Waldorf Schools have can work for a variety of families during this sacred time, but only you and your family can discern what festivals you want to celebrate and what resonates with you. In a Waldorf School, Advent is not to be made into church, but rather a time of preparation for the Christ Child which is a singular event that will never come again. Every week, each kingdom on earth is preparing (mineral kingdom, plants, animals, mankind). If you would like to learn more, please refer to this back post Advent and Other Winter Celebrations Within The Waldorf Home | The Parenting Passageway which includes the Advent Spiral and the many smaller festivals often seen in a Steiner tradition, including St. Nicholas Day, Santa Lucia, Solstice, and more. If you want a new approach to your holidays that is less materialistic, try this wonderful back guest post: Christine Natale’s Musings On Saint Nicholas Day and Starting New Holiday Traditions | The Parenting Passageway

This is our plan for this week and how we celebrate. Please keep in mind that as a practicing Christian, I am looking forward with anticipation to celebrate the coming of Christ in His incarnation, and looking even further into the future when Christ resides over death, Heaven, Hell, judgment. The prayer for our family during this time is “Our Lord, Come.” You may find things to take here that work for your family. We are part of the Episcopalian denomination and use Episcopalian/Anglican resources, including the Advent Word of the Day (#AdventWord – A Global Advent Calendar) for the adults and older teens and They Way of Love Advent Calendar (Journeying the Way of Love Advent Calendar | Episcopal Church) for the family.

Today, Sunday the 29th- Happy New Year to the Church and the First Sunday in Advent. Today we set up our Advent wreath. This is very simple with four small candles in holders that have been covered with pink and blue tissue paper and painted on with glue and glitter sitting inside a small grapevine wreath that we weave fresh fir boughs into. It isn’t fancy but the fun part comes in making it! We have hung up our outside lights, and have our Nativity set up (without the baby Jesus, who comes on Christmas morning). In many Waldorf classrooms there are lovely handmade ways of representing Spirit to Earth for this time.

Monday the 30th – Today we are setting out our representations of the mineral kingdom and all of our St. Nicholas decorations, and reading our St. Nicholas Day books (you will find a picture this week on FB/IG of these titles). We also have many poems and songs about St. Nicholas, which I will share on FB/IG as well.

Tuesdays December 1 – Today we will be gathering our things to dip candles, which is lovely at any point in Advent. We also will make beeswax ornaments, which always smell so heavenly on the tree.

Wednesday December 2 through December 5 – Prepare for St. Nicholas Day on the 6th! Baking, crafts, getting our Christmas Tree!

Sunday, December 6 – St Nicholas Day is here! Children leave out their wooden clogs, shoes, a boot or even a sack on the Eve  of Saint Nicholas.  Saint Nicholas comes to earth on his snowy white steed, and leaves behind apples, tangerines, clementines, walnuts, hazelnuts and sometimes a little toy or book.   In many stories, Saint Nicholas is the forerunner that reminds children the Child of Light is coming.  Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children, is loved in many countries, including Russia, where there are many churches dedicated to Saint Nicholas.   It is a major day for my friends in the Netherlands (the 5th) and in Germany (the 6th).  Saint Nicholas music, crafts, cookie cutters and recipes and more can be found at the wonderful website www.stnicholascenter.org.  There are also some wonderful handouts regarding the relationship between St. Nicholas and Santa Claus.

I am looking forward to hearing about all of your plans!

Blessings,

Carrie