Whitsunday: The Wild Goose

When we had Leonbergers, we frequently took them to our closest large lake to swim.  We swam on days in the late summer and early autumn when the leaves were changing and no one was really around.  One day I pulled up to the lake, ready for our preschooler and baby and dog to swim, only to find our car literally surrounded by so many geese I couldn’t open the door.  Our dog was lying peacefully on the floor, but once I made the decision to open the door, she sprang into action and chased the geese not only away from the car, but jumped into the lake, furiously paddling with that spent up energy from chasing the unpredictable birds.

As an Episcopalian, our strongest roots may be in the Celtic Church.  On Sunday, our priest mentioned that for the Feast of Pentecost (Whitsunday), Celtic Christians associated this festival not with a dove, but with a wild goose. The account of Pentecost – bewildering, astonishing – was seen as symbolized not as much with peace but as with perhaps fiery new beginnings, a sense of wonder and astonishment, a sense of  the untamed and wild.  What would happen next in the big story of the lives of these people, the world?

As we come into the season of Summer (and in the church calendar “Ordinary Time”), I often see the expansiveness and new beginnings of this time of year.  Children grow so much physically over the summer, and go back to school ready to begin new material, new growth.  Summer can be a time for casting off the old, and making room for the new. This can be a time of unparalled strength and creativity.  Here are some beautiful cross-cultural images to help you get started.  If you create something, please post it here or on the FB thread on The Parenting Passageway FB page.  I would love to honor you and your creation!

So, in that vein, I wish you time to create every day – whether that creation is in art, in music, in writing, in care of your home, in care of your neighbors.  Enjoy this beautiful season.

Blessings and love,
Carrie

the winning family: increasing self-esteem in your children and yourself

Today we are delving into Chapters 19 and 20 in this wonderful book by author Dr. Louise Hart.  We are moving through this book, and will be starting our new book entitled  “Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka and it comes in audiobook and Kindle editions, along with the traditional paperback and hardcover versions, so grab a copy to be ready for  later summer!  Here is the Amazon link (no affiliation)

Chapter 19 is titled, “Obsession with Perfection.”  This chapter opens with a description of the author trying to be a perfect hostess but not enjoying herself or her guests.  She writes: “When I realized how much my perfectionist expectations were inhibiting my lifestyle and cramping my self-expression, I decided to make some major changes.  I gave myself permission to attempt things I never thought I could do and enjoy myself more.  In doing so, I have taken more risks, made more mistakes, and gained more wisdom.  From the vice of perfectionism, life is much more fun and a lot easier – page 179

I love this, and I think many of us can relate as recovering perfectionists. Being a perfectionist essentially means we are looking for what is wrong, for meeting unrealistic or impossible expectations.  Perfectiontists see the world as black and white – it is good or it is bad.  One thing wrong, one mistake, means things are bad.  Perfectionists often cannot accept themselves or others. Making decisions turns into anxiety – because what if it is the wrong decision?  It also turns into the perfectionist overworking, because no one else can do the work correctly. Children who are perfectionists often have all of this ahead of them.  Help tame your own perfectionism, and that of your children’s with the tips beginning on page 183.  In addition to these tips, I urge you to look at all the work and resources around growth mindset.

Chapter 20 is about “Cultural Barriers to Self-Esteem,” and begins with a description of codependency.  Major symptoms of codependency include low self-esteem; being a people pleaser; feeling like a martyr;  having poor boundaries; seeking outside distraction from feelings such as food, work, sex, alcohol; feeling addicted to and trapped in damaging relationships; feeling powerless the change relationships; being unable to express true love andintimacy.

Perhaps the very first step toward overcoming these things is our own self-talk.  Then we can listen to how we talk to our children. We should not speak negatively of ourselves or others, and we need to look at the good things about ourselves and others.  If indeed we must “love our neighbors as ourselves,” which is tenet of nearly every major religious and spiritual core, we must begin with loving ourselves.  We must learn to take good care of ourselves, and in this way we can take good care of our children too.

There are great sections in this chapter on always pleasing others (do you have a permanent smile because you are happy or because you want everyone to like you and you don’t think your feelings count?); assuming you are responsible for everyone else’s lives (news flash, people are responsible for themselves and you can’t control what other people do); that our bodies are okay the way they are; avoidance strategies and dualistic thinking; comparison traps and more. This is a great chapter full of practical advice!

We have five chapters left and then on to our new book!  I have gotten a lot of email that so many of you have really enjoyed this thought-provoking book!  Let me know what you think!

Blessings,

Carrie

on a totally practical note…what do i do with my kids this summer?

Sometimes summer time can be  hard instead of magical!   If you are like me, my summers growing up were basically being kicked outside, hanging out out with the neighborhood kids, biking to a pool where my parents didn’t have to come with me.  However, not many of us have that anymore.  You might be wondering what to do with no one for your children to play with.  If you are working parent, you  know the struggle of having to divide the time off that you receive from your job and work with camps and babysitters to fill in the time.  If you are a stay at home, maybe your children are normally in school a good portion of the day and now you are wondering how to fill in time.  If you have teenagers, summers may feel different to you then when your children were small and you could just turn on a sprinkler and bring out popsicles and everyone was relatively happy.  So many different scenarios, but all looking for ideas!

One thing I realized early on is that summer for us, especially when my children were younger, was that summer required a bit of planning!  In order for things to flow, then I had to have at least a skeleton outline of what would happen, and I needed some ideas.

My first idea was always meaningful work.  This is really important for all children, from toddlers to teens.  Teens may be getting paid for work outside the home, but meaningful care and nurturing of the home is always important and should be a major foundation of the day and week.

Depending upon where you live, you can make being outside your number one priority after meaningful work.   Our days were often as simple as chores, park or a small hike in the morning, verses and songs or fingerplays, lunch and quiet time, a read aloud for the older children, pool or lake in the afternoon, dinner, bed.  Small children don’t need much more than that!  We often did some camping as well, and things like tubing on the lake or a nearby river (always a hit).

Sometimes if the weather was oppressive, our rhythm would become more elaborate with a  baking , painting, gardening, etc on certain days of the week – more like a rhythm we kept during the school year.  At the beginning of the summer I usually would invest in creating a box of goodies.  Maybe it was a few new puzzles, books, games, art kits – some new things that I would have to pull out on rainy days or times when things were getting dicey at home.  If you don’t have money to do this, don’t despair!  There are many lists of summer science and art activities, summer math activities, and other fun things to do with chalk and bubbles on Pinterest.

For children that were nine and up, we often  would tie in field trips to whatever grade we had just studied or were going to study in the fall.  We made trips to museums, aquariums, berry picking, living history museums, local attractions, or day or overnight trips to things just outside our immediate area.   Here is a list of summer activites that includes field trips:  Screen-Free Summer Activities.

Tell me how you are juggling your summer!

Blessings,
Carrie

be in it for yourself

Any sort of real, lasting, meaningful, and effective change has to come from within yourself.  If you want something badly enough, you will own it and you will feel empowered to take the next steps and to find a way.

This applies to anything from health to better parenting to homeschooling.  Instead of seeing all the obstacles and challenges, you can start to see solutions and steps.  This is the most powerful part of the whole process of being in it for real.

My favorite tools for doing this include:

Affirmations – I keep affirmations on my desk and say them daily. Affirmations, to me, are a verbal picture of what I envision happening in my life.

Vision Board – I keep a vision board up that targets different sections of my life, but I am about to make a vision board specific to my ideas for business and starting my own little mother-sized practice when I am through with physical therapy.

Prayer – Prayer is an essential part of me listening to the small, still voice of God and Spirit, and discerning the best path for myself.

The Mastermind – Every one needs a mastermind of people who empathize with where you are and spur you on to do better and to improve.  The connection and love is invaluable.  This goes along with having wonderful mentors.  I know so many wonderful people who have never hesitated if I said would you love to get a cup of coffee with me – I would love your input on something?  I would love to hear your story and how you got where you are, and see if you have any input on my ideas.  It’s amazing!

The steps – having steps broken down daily and weekly helps things to actually get down.  It isn’t enough to just have a general goal, you have to have a plan and take action.

Gratitude – Gratitude is such a big player in life.  How we look at things, how we frame things, how we get out of our own way all stems from getting rid of negative self-talk and focusing on gratitude.  I like to write down gratitude before bed, and also say words of gratitude to myself in the morning.  So grateful for each and every day that I am here to make an impact.

Getting your self-esteem under control – sometimes people have big egos, but most people I meet actually struggle with feeling like they don’t know enough, they don’t have it together, they don’t have all the answers.  This keeps us in the shadows and keeps us from contributing to the world.  Everyone has something to give.  You do know enough, you do have it together, you do have the answers you need for you and for the people that come into your life.

Other techniques I have used in the past include visualization and journaling.  I would love to hear what you use to encourage yourself, break through barriers, and commit to walking the steps you know you really need to!

Many blessings and love,
Carrie

 

june abloom

I love June – beaches, lakes, and pools.  Puffy and fluffly clouds sitting on blue skies. Glowing fireflies, campfires, and friends.  June is a wonderful month.

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

9- St. Columba – there is a little story here and we will make a little moving watercolor picture with a boat and dove

11 – Feast of St. Barnabas – St. Barnabas was an encourager, so I am thinking along the lines of having a family night with games and fun and encouraging each other and really celebrating us as a family. I have a number of photographs of our family we never framed and hung, so that could be another project!

14- Flag Day

17- Father’s Day

21 – 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

Minor feasts we will celebrate mainly through stories:

12- St. Enmegahbowh – first Native American priest in the Episcopal Church of The United States

19- Sahu Sundar Singh of India- I found a book here

22- St. Alban – an interesting You Tube video filled with giant puppets to celebrate St. Albans Day in England!

(here is the aside note about these feast days: – I have had a few folks ask me about the Calendar of Saints in the Episcopal Church…The Episcopal Church USA is part of the Anglican Communion, which is an international association of churches composed of the Church of England and national (such as Canada, Japan, Uganda, for example) and regional (collections of nations) Anglican churches.  Each province, as it is called, is autonomous and independent with its own primate and governing structure.  So, different feast calendars within the Anglican Communion share the Feast Days and Fast Days listed in the Book of Common Prayer, but there may be “lesser feasts and fasts” as well.  The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York are our “primus inter parus” (first among equals) but hold no direct authority outside of the England, but is instead a force of unity, vision, persuasion,  for the entire Communion.  We don’t really govern off of creeds, for example such as the Westminster Catechism in Presbyterianism, but find “the law of praying is the law of believing” and therefore The Book of Common Prayer is our way.  The Anglican Communion has in it elements of the Reformation and Anglo-Catholicism, depending upon the individual parish, but it is not “Catholic Lite”.  It has a distinctive Celtic way to it as that was what was established long before alignment with the West.  We pray for the unity of the Church (the whole of Christendom) and therefore “Anglicans have preferred to look for guidance to the undivided church, the church before it was divided by the Reformation and especially to the first centuries of the church’s life….to “tradition”, the worship, teaching and life of the church in its early days.” (page 65, Welcome to the Episcopal Church by Christopher Webber. Hope that helps!! ))

How to Celebrate:

  • I am enjoying decluttering many homeschool books.  I am on my last child to homeschool and he will be in fourth grade, so I feel like it is time to let some resources go.
  • Blueberry Picking
  • Kayaking, boating, going to the beach (at the lake, no chance to drive to our nearest beach)
  • Enjoying time on the farm with horses
  • Being together – game nights; movie nights with our older teens
  • Chalk and bubbles for our rising fourth grader, who is enjoying just playing.

The teaching fun:

  • Yup, it is time to gather up the high school transcripts for our oldest who will be a senior in the fall.  She has visited all the colleges she wanted to visit, and now we need to get the transcripts and applications together.
  • I am teaching a group of teachers at a local Waldorf homeschooling enrichment program this month.  That brings me energy and should be fun.
  • I start my own journey as a student again in July for a certification in physical therapy for the pelvic floor.  Lots to do there!
  • And, I have homeschool planning to do.  I have been posting about that on FB and IG, and go in spurts, so I need to jump back in this week with more doing.
  • We are still homeschooling until  at least the end of June and possibly into the second week of July as we have some things to finish up.  That’s just the way that worked out this year.  It isn’t my ideal, because I like the break for myself, but sometimes it happens. 🙂

Inner Work:

I have been super focused on having gratitude.  This includes affirmations, writing down things I am grateful for large and small, and reaching out to people to whom I am grateful and who had an impact upon my life.  It’s a lovely month to do this.

I would love to hear what you are up to!

Blessings,
carrie

planning the first two blocks of fourth grade

So, now we are up to the nitty gritty of planning.  Details on that in just a moment!

I have posted a few updates on Facebook at The Parenting Passageway page and on Instagram @theparentingpassageway, but here is an official updated planning post for fourth grade and where I am now…

  • I have laid out our school year and matched each week of our school year to a main lesson block topic
  • I looked at our “big picture rhythm” and thought ahead about festivals and birthdays
  • I have laid out a general rhythm for the school week – Mondays are journal writing and movement (and on selected Mondays, writing a rough draft of a letter in place of a journal entry); Tuesdays are yoga and journal writing; Wednesdays are  movement and the day for our fourth grader to cook dinner; Thursdays are mindfulness games, cleaning day, painting day, and instead of main lesson we will have nature studies or STEM kinds of activities or both.  Fridays we take off.
  • I made a quick list of each block by week on a legal pad and jotted down some brainstorming notes for practice ideas and projects.
  • I gathered many of my resources and grouped them into piles  by block or topic.
  • My block list for fourth grade, with one block still undecided and now I am leaning towards inventors because my son is really interested in birds and engineering.
    • August – Math Review of Measurement/Fractions (will introduce fractions over the summer) – I think with birds (American folk tales, which I switched – originally it was in November)
    • September – Cherokee and African-American tales leading into local geography
    • September – Man and Animal 1 (2 weeks) (tales from Lawrence Yep’s The Rainbow People, added)
    • October – Man and Animal 2  (tied into animals of our state, keystone species of our state, review of geography) (tales of the beginning of The Dwellers of Asgard in Padraic Colum’s book, “Children of Odin”)
    • November – Math – Geometry, review of fraction skills – adding and subtracting fractions (soul food tales of Odin from “The Children of Odin” by Padraic Colum)
    • December – Tales of Thor (changed, tales from  D’Aularies’ Book of Norse Myths),The Dream of King Alfdan from Isabel Wyatt in “Legends of the Norse Kings” , knots and forms
    • January – Math, Fractions – Norse Myths as “soul food” and we will draw or paint off of those (tales of Loki, Loki’s punishment, the Twilight of the Gods)
    • February –  Birds of Prey, report writing
    • March – Weland the Smith (undecided and at the moment I can’t seem to locate either book in my house since I am in the midst of cleaning out our school room.  End of year woes).  Or Inventors. My little guy would love a block on constructing bridges or something like that.  Totally not Waldorf, but I am looking at my child.
    • April – Earth, Air, Wind, and Fire (soul food tales from The Golden Stag by I. Wyatt); Camping
    • May – African Tales (tales from the San, tales from the Bantu people, Yoruba myths)

So, now we put the nitty-gritty together for each block, using the daily rhythm I have already created to know our rhythm, and knowing the parts of a main lesson block.

First, I read the resources for each block and jot down ideas on a form I made up.   I read my resources with ideas for the GOALS I want to see accomplished each block.  I don’t think you can effectively TEACH a block just by picking out story content.  Telling stories isn’t the same as teaching, so there is an idea of “soul food” – these are the stories that are needed for the development of the archtypal human being, and then there is the idea of what goals (skills, foundations, capacities) that need to be developed during the block.

So, for our first block I pulled from  “Math Wizardry for Kids” (Barron’s); “Making Math Meaningful:  Fun With Puzzles, Games, and More!”, “Math Games and Activities” by Claudia Zaslavsky; “Introducing Fractions” by Marilyn Burns.  I usually check in with Pearson’s “Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics” and York’s “Making Math Meaningful” for general progression and ideas as well.   I don’t tend to use a lot of stories in math for fourth grade, but instead use hands on activites.  I will tie in some of our math hands-on work to our bird of the week since our fourth grader loves birds!

I pulled forms from “Creative Form Drawing Workbook 1” by Angela Lord.

Our stories came from “With A Wig, With A Wag,”edited by Jean Cothran.  These we will model, paint, draw from each week during our extra art lessons.  I do this because for me, unless it is geometry, I find it difficult to really work on art with a fractions block. Just me.

I decided what birds we are going to study (one kind each week) for our bird loving little student and what other nature we will be looking at for our Thursday Nature Day.

I pulled together ideas for music, art, cooking, movement, yoga, mindfulness.

It’s a little jumbled on the form I created, but I can follow it.  You can see a picture of a few sample weeks on FB and IG.

For our second block, local geography, I pulled from the same form drawing book and math games books.  I used “The Mapmaker’s Daughter” by MC Helldorfer for for the idea of maps;  and then my own notes from going through this grade two previous times regarding local geography.

Second, I plugged in ideas for our opening verses, practice work,  review of our main lesson/practice, main lesson work, closing verse, lunch verses,  our art/crafting/music/cooking slot after lunch and our Thursday birds/nature/survival skills.  I think I will be writing out ideas for movement separately.

Third, I have to write some things out for main lesson.  Some things are like refer to page X in a certain book, but sometimes I have to write out a story or a narrative about something.  For example, I have narratives written out for the different types geographic provinces of our state, the first settlers in our state, and the first staple crops of our state.  You can do this ahead of time or the week before.  Just know what you need a narrative about and which sections really need that!  When you get into upper level grades, pretty much everything needs a narrative.  For something like math, which I approach more hands on and less story like in fourth grade, I might not need the narrative, but I will need an idea of how to progress math within each lesson.

Then the fun part of putting things in my own main lesson book begins!  More on that later.

Blessings,
carrie

the winning family book study: increasing your self-esteem in your children and yourself

Today we are up to Chapters 16, 17, and 18 in this wonderful book by author Dr. Louise Hart.  We are moving through this book, and will be starting our new book entitled  “Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka and it comes in audiobook and Kindle editions, along with the traditional paperback and hardcover versions, so grab a copy to be ready for  later summer!  Here is the Amazon link (no affiliation)

So, off to Chapter 16- “Touch.”  The chapter opens with “the recommended daily requirement for hugs is: four per day for survival, eight per day for maintenance, and twelve per day for growth.  Touch is vital for life.”  We have all heard stories of babies who were deprived of touch and died, and have seen the importance of parents, caregivers, and volunteers who cuddle infants born prematurely who have to stay in the hospital.  Touch disorders – neglect, abuse, incest – are all trauma that needs to be healed.  Touch is not just sexual; it can be warm, affectionate, nonsexual.  This can be a hard thing for people to learn. There is an exercise in this book on page 153 modeled from a program in New Zealand; try it out!  There is an entire section of this book devoted to child abuse.  Sexual, physical, emotional, and verbal abuse needs to be discussed and healed in order for us to parent effectively.  Behavioral patterns are handed down from one generation to the next, so sometimes we have the first opportunity in our family to choose to break the cycle.

Abuse may have some common background traits: a history of battering the belief that beating is the “right way to discipline”; a view of the child as inherently bad and deserving of punishment; unrealistic views of childhood development; exepctation that children will fulfill the parent’s needs; lack of warmth; a negative focus; poor communication skills; abuse of power (the child “must be taught who is boss”); overpunishment for small things; isolation.  The author gives suggestions and examples from parents who have overcome this cycle.

Chapter 17 is about “Beliefs.”  Most of our beliefs are not conscious, and were handed down to us from our parents. We create this belief pattern and system and use it in our lives, even if the pattern becomes outdated.  On page 164, the author offers up some questions to look more closely at belief systems – what do you believe about life? what do you believe about children?  what do you believe about parenting and family dynamics with a partner?  We also carry expectations, attitudes, judgment, and self-talk, and then we behave as if our map of beliefs is true.  Therefore, in order to change our own behavior, we must change our beliefs.  And, we must be careful what belief system we are instilling in our children – this, to me, is the true power of inner work for the family. We must constantly weed and prune out the beliefs that are not good for our lives.

Chapter 18 is about “Self-Talk.”  Our internal dialogue (self-talk) becomes our beliefs, which creates our feelings, and our feelings become the basis of behavior and our behavior becomes our concept of self.  Self-concept is how we view ourselves at any given moment, and self-image is how we imagine ourselves to be.

Affirmations can help us flip our self-talk, that internal dialogue.  I rountinely use affirmations and visualization. Dr. Hart writes on page 172, “We tend to act out feelings – with words or behavior.  If we feel like winners, we act like winners – working hard, thinking clearly, an ddoing what we need to do to win….Over time, we tend to become what we think about the most.”

Our worst thinking may be polarized (black or white, either or, no middle ground); taking everything personally; projecting what is going on in our own self-talk to others; catastrophizing (imaging and expecting the worst); blaming; overgeneralizing.  Affirmations that you can repeat 20-30 times a day can help.  One affirmation story noted in the book is,”I am a loving and effective mother.”  I think more mothers I know need to hear that, internalize that, and believe it!

Change your mind, change your life.   As an aside, if you skip ahead to the appendixes, there are many valuable tools there, including “100 + ways to praise and encourage a child,” my very favorite “New Rules for Kids,” leadership styles chart, locus of control charts, more resources for parents.  The appendixes are great!

I would LOVE to hear from you.  Do you use affirmations? Have you had an abusive past and how did you overcome it?  As always you can also email me at admin@theparentingpassageway.com if you need help getting your family life together via phone consultation!

Blessings and love,
Carrie