January Love

Outside of the current situation of grey and rainy weather with flooding, I love January.  First of all, the bright and shiny New Year beckons to me with goals, lists, my word of the year (#radiant) and dreaming fun.  Second of all, I love the more introverted vibe of this season – nesting with blankets and hot drinks and inside fun, but still being able to go outside for a walk in the rain or bright sunshine with colder temperatures!    I am always delighted with the possibility and prospect of snow as well.

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

  • Daily walks rain or shine
  • Puzzles and board games
  • Green smoothies
  • Exercising a lot
  • Going out as a couple – hope to get away for a few overnights alone this year ❤ and getting ready to celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary in May
  • Opting outside daily
  • Playing with our horses and dreaming of the show season to start again
  • Baking
  • Indoor microgardening!  So fun – and having bulbs blooming in the house

Decluttering the entire house – we have done closets and drawers and the garage.  It’s so freeing to let things go!

These are the things we are celebrating:

  • January 1 – New Year’s Day
  • January 6– The Feast of Epiphany and Epiphanytide that stretches until Lent begins on February 26 this year.
  • January 21 – Martin Luther King, Jr Day –Martin Luther King is also celebrated January 15 and April 4 in The Episcopal Church
  • Janaury 18– The Feast Day of St. Peter
  • Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
  • January 25 – The Feast Day of St. Paul

Some fast ideas 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 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

On the homeschooling front, I ordered a cap and gown for our senior this weekend.  She is graduating on May 16.  We are super proud of her and are excited about what the future holds for her at college (we don’t have a decision yet as some college don’t send out acceptances until February, but she has gotten back all acceptances so far from the ones that send out earlier).  Our high school freshman is still at her hybrid school (four days a week) and is re-enrolling for her sophomore year.  And our little fourth grader is still at home homeschooling – we have Norse Myths coming up in January, Birds of Prey in February, Math in March, Earth, Air, Wind, and Fire in April (soul food tales from The Golden Stag by I. Wyatt) and finishing with African Tales (tales from the San, tales from the Bantu people, Yoruba myths) in May.  So excited about planning fifth grade! I already have a skeleton framework in my head and will be doing it differently than I have ever done it before.  🙂

I am starting up my business in January as well – home health pelvic floor physical therapy and lactation!  So that is new and exciting, and of course I still have the rest of my clinical doctorate to finish by December 2020.

Most of all, I am excited to have fun – 2019 was busy and fun with many new wonderful friends, and I am hopeful 2020 will be more of that! We started a #gratitudejar where we put a little note in for anything that brings you joy or feeling thankful and we already have so many things to be grateful for.

I would love to hear your January plans!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

Bright and Shiny New Year

I love the prospect of a New Year, of new beginnings and bright shiny pages in my planner, the feeling of being able to begin again, fresh and new.  I hope this New Year feels like a welcome new beginning to you and your family.

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.

With love to all, thank you for over ten years of marvelous readership and I hope to have much to offer you in 2020.

Carrie

Word of the Year

I so hope you are enjoying your holiday season.  I posted a Christmas message on FB and IG, so you can check for a beautiful prayer from A Black Rock Prayer Book. I love these Holy Nights of Christmastide and delving deep into inner work each day.

One thing I think about is taking stock of the past year and looking ahead to the New Year.  Like most people, I am not very good at keeping resolutions.  So I normally choose a word of the year to help keep me focused and centered on my priority. I first heard of this practice from Sheila over at Sure As The World, which is an incredible blog to read and follow. So many treasures over there!

This year, my word is RADIANT.  Each year I have done artistic representations of my word with sort of corresponding focus areas represented. One year I did concentric circles with the word of the year in the middle.  I have done trees with the word as the root and some of the focal areas as branches and I have done vision boards. This year, I am not sure what my artistic rendering will be, but I know my focal areas will be around:

Radiant Work

Radiant Family Life and Homeschooling

Radiant Health

Radiant Kids

I will be dreaming and drawing and painting throughout Christmastide to see what comes to me in these areas for 2020.  I would love to hear your word of the year if that is your practice!

Blessings,
Carrie

 

Winter Solstice and The Fourth Week of Advent

The Winter Solstice descends us into darkness and asks us to rise again, to find what gives us light, and to find what light we can give into the world.  Many of us are looking at Christmastide with renewed anticipation of generosity, light, kindness, love, compassion and bringing this into the world, beginning with ourselves and our own families.

What brings you light?  

How can you give light (compassion, kindness, love, generosity) to yourself?

How can you give light (compassion, kindness, love, generosity) to your family and others?

This is the fourth week of Advent – Christmastide begins soon.  This is the week that focuses on the light of mankind.  This could include creating/placing people on the Nativity Scene (some place the shepherds out this week if St. Mary and St. Joseph are already out); baking gingerbread people,  doing beautiful acts of kindness for those who need it most, thanking the workers of your community – postal people, fire people, police, garbage collectors, teachers, mentors, instructors, and honoring the people who are bringing light to the world and striving for all of humanity.

Christmastide is  a wonderful season that begins on Christmas Day and continues until the eve of Epiphany.  Freya Jaffke, in her wonderful book, “Celebrating the Festivals With Children”, writes:

“During the twelve or thirteen Holy Nights that follow Christmas, the events of Christmas continue to resonate; and it is a lovely custom for children if candles are lit each day, with singing, music making and perhaps a reading.  This period is set apart from the rest of the year, and can be a time when we gather our strength for the year ahead.  Nothing urgent needs to be done, and we can really take time for things.  Children are deeply satisfied if mother or father sits down beside them with some craftwork, or perhaps join in a game now and then.  In contrast to the summer when we like going outdoors, we feel very comfortable at home in the warmth – apart from winter walks and the fun of snow when it comes.”

We can celebrate the twelve days of Christmastide with children by using candles or a ring with twelve hearts or a simple Advent type calendar adapted to the twelve days of Christmas.  This becomes a nice way to bring children down gently from Christmas and to continue the joy and wonder society too often associates with just a single day.  Instructions to make a Christmas ring can be found in both “All Year Round” and “Celebrating Irish Festivals”.    There are instructions to make a “postcard” calendar for the twelve days of Christmastide, each window representing a month of the year, ie, the first card would represent January and be opened on the first day of Christmastide, the second card would represent February and be opened on the second day of Christmas.

Many blessings to you,

Carrie

The Third Week of Advent

A verse for this week:

The third light of Advent is the light of beasts-

All Await the Birth, from greatest to the least

OR

The third light of Advent is the light of beasts,

The light of hope we see in the greatest and the least

I hope you are all enjoying this third week of Advent.  This is the week I find if I am  not careful, all the busy creeps up and makes the holiday season less enjoyable,  so I like to try to be as conscious as I can about that.

This week I am celebrating “Ember Days” on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.  This is traditional, the Farmer’s Almanac mentions it as days to give thanks for the olive crop.  In the Episcopal Tradition, this is often a time of thanks for those in ministry, being ordained into ministry, and all Christian vocations.  These are traditional days of fasting and abstinence, and sometimes just what I need to pull myself back into the quiet and centered place that Advent calls us to be.

This is the week that the third candle in the Advent Wreath is lit and it usually is a pink candle, seen as a symbolism of joy and hope.  What I love about this week is that to me it strikes at the heart of simplicity and minimalism.  We don’t need a lot to be happy.  This is the week to hike, play board games, light candles for dinner and be grateful and full of love for all that we have in each other, not in the material things.  This can be a great week for adults to evaluate if the materialism of the season has gotten out of control.  If it has, my solution would be to tuck away some of the gifts for the time of Christmastide (you can get gifts throughout Christmastide! 12 days!), tuck some away for a future birthday or holiday, and to replace some of those material gifts with coupons for the gifts of time or service.

Many of us also celebrate this wonderful week with a focus on the animal kingdom and leading up to the beauty of the Winter Solstice.  This can be a beautiful day with ideas of light – lanterns, winter spirals, make winter suncatchers, dip candles and make candles- all would be lovely!  You can get up early and watch the sunrise, but many families I know celebrate the eve of the Winter Solstice.  This can be a day to bake sun bread (see the children’s book by the same title), to have tea, to make gingerbread houses!  So many wonderful ideas, and I would love to hear what you are doing.

In the back of my mind, I know the fourth week of Advent will be a little short, so I am getting some ideas ready for our celebration (you can see some ideas here), and then we will jump right into Christmastide…I love to pick a centering “word of the year” every year and have already chosen my 2020 word:  RADIANT. More about that later!

Many blessings,
Carrie

The Wonder of Nature: Advent Week 2

Beginning on Sunday, we are heading into the second week of Advent.  Advent is just long enough for us to prepare for Christmas and establish some new spiritual rhythms.  The first week of Advent can often sneak up on us right after Thanksgiving, but the second week feels like this momentary pause where we can make things really matter.

One thing I am very committed to this week is getting out in nature every day. The second week of Advent is typically associated with the plant kingdom in the tradition of the Waldorf School, so getting outside and noticing the bare tree limbs and the evergreens seems to fit into that so well.   It also seems fitting to wonder at the beauty of nature this week as we come up to Santa Lucia Day on Friday the 13th, as this day used to be the Winter Solstice under the old Gregorian calendar.    The day typically did start before dawn with the oldest girl in the family rising and preparing buns for the family.  The bun recipe we used for years is in this post, along with a link to the traditional Santa Lucia song.   If you are looking for a story to share with your children, look no further than this wonderful guest post: A Gentle Santa Lucia Story.  There is also a story by Waldorf teacher Christine Natale about Saint Lucy and Saint Stephen in Sweden here  that I have used over the years.

Depending upon where you live, this could be a wonderful week to make ice lanterns or lanterns in general for winter walks when the sun is setting early and that beautiful winter sky is up and ready.  We have plans to get a Christmas tree and make garland from oranges and popcorn for the tree and some orange pomanders, which smell so good!

My spiritual practice this week, outside of lighting our Advent Wreath daily and saying the prayers and readings of our religion, is to think about letting go.  What can I let go?  How can I simplify?  What needs to be cut out of my life so new growth can occur?  I am thinking and contemplating right now, so I can come up to Christmastide with some new intentions in mind.

Looking forward to week two of Advent!

Many blessings,

Carrie

 

 

A Few Simple Steps For A Beautiful St. Nicholas Day

Some families in the United States are celebrating St. Nicholas today, some will be celebrating tomorrow.    This is a fun holiday and really shows kindness, good deeds, generosity and good humor if a little poem/riddle is left amongst the gifts!

If you would like to celebrate tomorrow, your children can leave out a boot (a wooden shoe is traditional, but a boot will do!) and a cookie for St. Nicholas and some carrots for his horse. When your children wake up in the morning, they can find their boot filled with little gifts.  Some sources say the traditional gifts are often considered either the apple (knowledge), nut (strength), and gingerbread (warmth), but can also include citrus (oranges is the fruit I hear most about, not apples), chocolate coins, gifts, little riddles, or even notes of all the kind and generous things the child did this year since St. Nicholas’ last visit!

Some of our favorite activities for past years have included making gingerbread houses and decorating them together, making gingerbread loaves or cookies,  making St. Nicholas baskets and leave them on neighbor’s doorsteps with goodies and the legend of St. Nicholas inside, and making little bishop hats to wear or in an ornament style for a holiday tree.

This post is from 2012, but has some of our favorite stories about St. Nicholas and ideas for celebrating.  And don’t forget this wonderful post about  how to play St. Nicholas and start new traditions in your family! (thank you, Christine Natale, for the guest post that I have treasured for years!).

I am off to get things ready for our boots, and to think about how we will decorate gingerbread houses tomorrow!

Lots of love to you all!

Blessings,
Carrie