On the Eve of St. John’s Tide

“John the Baptist represents man at the center of history, devoted to what is beyond himself, to the revelation of the spirit brought by Christ.  His summons was to turn inward, to search within toward a confrontation with oneself.”

-from “Waldorf Education:  A Family Guide, ” page 175

St. John’s Tide is a wonderful time to ask ourselves….

are we being helpful to humanity?  As a mother, I feel the very best place to begin with this endeavor is in our own homes and with our own children.  Don’t give in to fear and insecurity in leading and guiding your children; search for the fearlessness in the heart of your parenting.  This generation of children needs that in order to develop heart, word, and deed devoted to humanity.

are we honest?

are we peaceful?

where is our balance?

How do we work on these endeavors and more in our lives? I find inner work to be a resounding key for this because our model is more important in these times than our words.  Our model is making a way and a path for our children and what the world will need when it is this generation’s turn to be  leaders and architects of solutions to problems.

Some of my favorite ways to do inner work is very simple indeed:

Praying- I am Episcopalian, so following The Book of Common Prayer is what unites the people of the Anglican Communion; a way of prayer.  When we ask for help from the spiritual world and listen in our hearts for the answer, we find the model we need.

Attending mass and receiving the sacraments

Listening to people; listening to what is becoming in the world.  This requires an interest in the outside world, and using imagination and intuition.

Trying to picture my spouse and children as clearly as possible and taking these pictures into my sleep.  Don’t we all often do our best thinking in our sleep?

Wishing you a magnificent St. John’s Tide;  perhaps you will spend the day outside with cooking over open fires or creating a bonfire that you can leap over; finding edible flowers; creating platters of fruits; gathering sunflowers and leaving a light on the porch burning all night long.  However you choose to celebrate, may renewal and transformation be yours.

Blessings,
Carrie

 

 

The Beauty of Summer Solstice

King Sun he climbs the summer sky

Ascending ever higher.

He mounts his gay midsummer throne,

all made of golden fire.

His flowing mantle, flowing free,

His shining gifts he showers

All golden on the earth and sea,

On men and beasts and flowers.

-From “Summer” by Wynstones Press

Beautiful sunny summer is here!  Images of beaches, the ocean, radiating sun, heat and warmth, dragonflies, bees, butterflies, and sunflowers are filling my head right now in my happiness that summer has arrived!

I have been collecting verses and songs for summer.  My favorites can be found in “Summer” by Wynstones Press and “The Singing Year” by Candy Verney.  At this time of year, I like to change the nature table to  just a little cloth and  a small vase of flowers although pebbles, seaglass and shells often make their way to our table.   I have a little branch hanging in my school room, and I would like to make some little sylphs, those little elements of air and warmth the way gnomes are seen in Waldorf education as elementals of the earth, to hang from this branch.  This is also the time of year I love to re-read Steiner’s lectures about bees and butterflies.    Have you read those?  They are very inspiring!

For work with small children, one could consider many little projects as an adjunct to outside play, such as sand painting, making terrariums, and making grass dolls.  I like to save shooting streamer ball kinds of projects for Michaelmas, but some make these types of toys now as well.

One project I want to make with our rising second grader next week is a large moving picture of a boat and fish.  There is an example of this in the book, “Earthways” by Carol Petrash and you can see an example of a very large moving picture I made for Vacation Bible School in this back post  (and yes,  that is me and our now almost eight- year- old back when he was still able to be with me in a sling when I taught!).  I put together that giant-sized mural in one afternoon by soaking the pieces of paper in the bathtub as they were rather large, but it was not a difficult project.  Perhaps you would enjoy creating something like this with your children!

Other fun things include all the summer gardening – bean teepees and sunflower houses-, and all the wonderful baking with berries available this time of year.  Many of you are no doubt collecting and drying herbs for your family’s use as well!

We are still keeping to our rhythms of mealtimes and bedtimes.  I was recently re-reading the article, “Rhythm During the Summer” by Karen Rivers in the book, “Waldorf Education:  A Family Guide” in which the author writes that “the daily and weekly rhythm of the school year have a deep significance for children especially up to the age of fourteen…Therefore, we invite you to bring as much form and regularity into your child’s summer life as you possibly can.”  This is a wonderful time to bring in more work, more chores, and some activities to be alternated with free time.

I hope you are having a wonderful summer; look for some upcoming posts about celebrating June and St. John’s Tide; planning for homeschooling; gentle discipline and communicating with our children and more.

Many blessings in this fruitful period,

Carrie

 

Joyous Summers With Children!

The outbreath of summer with its golden days, sultry heat, blue skies, dragonflies and bumblebees, and festivals is one of my favorite seasons of the year.  However, sometimes summer with children can have a bit of a bumpy entry (adjustment) or a bit of fatigue in the middle (lack of balance, sibling bickering!)

One of the things I think summer really needs is time and space, but also a skeletal structure to provide a little inbreath and outbreath; a little balance.  Children often run full tilt outside all summer long, and sometimes even just having a little grounding in the morning with chores and a small circle (for younger children) or artistic activity (for older children), and a pause in the middle of the day  for physical rest can be helpful and nourishing.

I like to plan some anchor points with crafts for festivals over the summer.  You can see some of my ideas here on my Summer Pinterest board, along with ideas specifically for June, July, and   .  These are months for creating a magical summer!   This back post by guest poster Christine Natale has many wonderful ideas for creating great summer memories.  I also wrote a post about celebrating summer with small children  if you are looking for something specific to the Early Years.

One thing to plan for includes summertime bickering.  I find bickering  between siblings can be at its height during the summer, and it is good to have a plan to deal with this so you are not caught off guard!

Lastly, consider summer stories and your summer nature table.  These can add a stabilizing, calming influence to your summer plans.

Off to enjoy a day of fun in the sun myself,

Carrie

Shame, Guilt, and Fear Are Not Parenting Strategies

Hello Friends!

I just returned from an empowering workshop in Orlando, FL (Waldorf Homeschooling Conference).  About 60 of us gathered to hear talks about Waldorf homeschooling.  I gave talks regarding the development of the 12-14 year old and planning grades 6-8; teaching math in grades 1-5, and the yearly rhythm of festivals. It was wonderful to see and work with Jean Miller of Waldorf-Inspired Learning, Kristie Burns of Earthschooling, Jodie Mesler of Home Music Making, and Donna Ashton of The Waldorf Connection.   I encourage you to go ahead and mark your calendars for next May (2018) as this conference will be back again!  There are also conferences coming up in Myrtle Beach, SC in August with Melisa Nielsen of Waldorf Essentials. and in Orlando in October with Donna Simmons of Christopherus.

One of the best things about traveling alone is getting to deeply think about things. One thing that came to my mind  is that going to in-person conferences can be so uplifting and fulfilling.  And this got me thinking about the times we don’t feel fulfilled; the times when depletion, burnout, and exhaustion are absolutely real.  One thing that parents sometimes talk to me about is wanting to be a different or “better” mother than what they are now during those times of complete depletion.

They know that  shame, guilt, and fear are not parenting strategies, but they can come out in those moments when we are so depleted and run down and really handling way too much for one human being.   We just desperately need SOMETHING to go smoothly instead of everything being a struggle!  Many women my age are not only handling businesses or jobs full time or part time, possibly homeschooling many children and many different grades and subjects, parenting older children who need to be driven lots of places (I think the year before teens start to drive themselves can be the busiest year!) and who may have medical needs, and also handling the house, cooking, and sometimes parents who are growing older and who need assistance from things ranging from little to large.  No wonder we are exhausted and depleted!

So the shame, guilt, and fear come out in our own frustration.  It isn’t really a “strategy” that anyone chooses.  But what to do about it in a sleep-deprived, anxious haze can be truly difficult because it may be that in that moment, even something so very small can just cause a flood of tears or a torrent of anger and verbage.  Something just has to give in order for us to be the relaxed and peaceful parent we want to be.

Sometimes getting to the root of things takes bigger changes than we want to admit to and take.  It takes courage to really acknowledge how something is not working, and how things really need to change to benefit what many mothers see as a “selfish” answer because they feel any major changes might benefit themselves but won’t everyone else be unhappy?  But, your changes and your happiness can only have a ripple effect upon your family!

Drastic changes might include taking on or getting rid of a job; homeschooling versus school; getting help with an elderly parent; moving; getting help in cleaning your house.  (And yes, I understand finances are often a major stress for homeschooling families and most of us can’t afford things like this.  I clean my own house too! LOL).  Small changes might include taking time off of homeschooling during periods of high stress; changing a schooling schedule to have a shorter summer break; changing the way you homeschool or using outside help or garnering MORE help from your children and family members.  In the home and for personal health, changes might include getting up earlier to exercise or prepare healthy food; it might include going to bed much earlier so the morning can start off on a better note.  It might include getting a health checkup to make sure there are no physical causes to being exhausted.  It might mean enlisting a family therapist, a parenting coach or learning mindfulness techniques. I don’t know what it would mean to you.  But I do know that changes to help yourself only can help your children.

Instead of parenting from shame, guilt, or fear, we can then parent from a place of openness and communication and a dialogue.  We then have the time to listen and we are not so depleted that we can respond from a calm place that reflects our true values.

Thinking deeply today about this.  I would love to hear your thoughts! Please no blaming, shaming, or scolding mothers in the comment section.  We are all here to help each other!  What would you say in person, in a supportive way,  to the completely exhausted and depleted mothers I have been meeting?

Blessings,
Carrie

Spring Menu Planning

May feels like a lovely time to plan a Spring menu.  Of course, down here where I live it is 86 degress Fahrenheit today and we have been swimming in the community pool, but spring eating nontheless!

Here are some thoughts and links I have been perusing:

Breakfast:

Spring breakfasts from the Food Network

Smoothies, of course.

Lunches:

I am going to try making this:   Pepper -Rubbed Salmon with Melon Salsa

Tuna Salad, any variation

I also love any kind of fajita veggies wrapped in a lettuce leaf

I also want to try these: Poppy Seed Chicken Pitas

Dinners:

I have lately been making pork chops from our local farmer with cumin and other spices;  mango chicken; roasted asparagus and a lot of salad.

Sweet stuff:

My oldest has quite the sweet tooth.   I am currently searching for some delicious organic lemon-lime type desserts to make for her.

Please share with me what delicious spring dishes you have been making (or fall dishes, for my Down Under friends!)

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

 

Celebrating May!

There are so many glorious things to celebrate about May:  flowers and greenery, bees buzzing, spring time alive, and the activity of children everywhere perking up.  The world is ready to be outside in May in the Northern Hemisphere, and we feel the liveliness and promise of Spring.

This month we are celebrating:

1st- May Day – you can see back posts here  and here

14th -Mother’s Day

19th- The Feast of St. Dunstan

20th- The Feast of St. Alcuin

22nd-24th- Rogation Days – you can see this back post, “A Rogation Heart”

25th- Ascension Day – here is a post about celebrating this feast with children

29th- Memorial Day

31st- The Feast of the  Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

We will be strawberry picking.  Normally we also go camping in this month, but we camped in April instead and will be using May to finish up school.  I will be speaking at the Waldorf Homeschool Conference in Orlando, FL on Saturday, May 13, so preparing for that has been part of my month of May!  I hope to see some of you there!

Other things on my mind:

  • De-cluttering and deep cleaning with natural cleansers
  • Skin care (yes, skin care).  Time for radiant, dewy skin in May!
  • Spring tales for children and puppetry for small children
  • Gardening
  • The lake and the pool. Our pool is opening for summer this week, and the lake is beckoning
  • Spring menu planning!
  • Exercising. April we were gone a lot and it was hard to get a schedule, so here is to a balanced May that involves spending an amount of self-care (receiving) closer to the amount of time I spend caring for others (giving).
  • Screen Free Week starts today!   Here are some real-life strategies for reducing children’s screen time.

I would love to know what is on your mind for this month of May.

Many blessings,

Carrie

 

 

Now We Go Round The Maypole High

Now we go round the Maypole high, Maypole high, Maypole high

Now we go round the Maypole high,

Let colored ribbons fly.

See lasses and lads go tripping by,

Tripping by, tripping by,

See lasses and lads go tripping by

Let colored ribbons fly

Tonight we are celebrating the third Sunday in Eastertide, and the delight of  May Day is upon us tomorrow!

There are so many beautiful traditions associated with May Day, and it is sure to be a festival your family will enjoy.  Festivals involve the outer doing for children.  In this case, we could:

  • Have a  real Maypole and a Maypole dance.  Some traditional songs include “Now We Go Round the Maypole High” and “May Song”  (Which begins:  “Here’s a branch of snowy may, a branch the fairies gave me/Who would like to dance today with the branch the fairies gave me?”)
  • Make simple ribbon and bell anklets for the girls to wear in dancing the Maypole, and flower crowns
  • Make Mayday baskets of little paper cones with flowers in them for your neighbors or community helpers.  Alternatively, you could press flowers and make little May Day  cards.
  • Tell stories!  Possibilities include, “The Piper Who Knew But One Tune,” found in the book, “Celebrating Irish Festivals,” by Ruth Marshall or “Little Grey Rabbit’s May Day” by Alison Uttley
  • Play ring games such as “Nuts in May,” ball games, and sack races
  • Pick medicinal herbs and dry them.
  • Sing songs and do fingerplays about the cuckoo bird
  • Have a picnic lunch outside!
  • Make tissue paper flowers
  • Decorate your home with wreaths, garlands, and ribbons.  This is a tradition from England.
  • Serve a May Day cake after dinner.
  • There are directions for a Mayday decoration on page 88 of the book, “All Year Round.”

The inner work of the adult:

May Day was celebrated as freedom and exuberance of summer, and in the book, “All Year Round,” the authors state it is  a time of promise for the farmer, the young people weaving around the May Pole, the young girl washing her face in the morning dew.  Authors Druitt, Fynes, and Rowling write in “All Year Round,” (page 85):  “In most years, May 1st falls between Easter and Ascension.  In the forty days after Easter, the teaching of the Risen Christ gave the disciples glimpses of the Divine Pattern woven by the events of Holy Week.  By Ascension, these glimpses were only a memory, but the promise to His followers remained as their consolation – the promise, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20).   

Perhaps the inner work of the adult is to find the promise and hope within ourselves.

Have a beautiful May Day!  A final lovely thought:

In many lands the children bring

May Baskets for the first of spring,

And hang them on a neighbor’s door

To say that spring is here once more.

-A. Wynne

Many blessings in your celebrations,
Carrie