Rhythm Is Peace

Rhythm can sound like that elusive thing.  Sure, other families can have a rhythm and routine to their day, but it seems so unattainable, some parents say.  Yet most parents I know desperately WANT a rhythm and routine in their household.  They want things to run peaceably and they know rhythm is a key to that; it is indeed a key to the functioning of the human body!  Just imagine if our heart decided to beat irregularly or our lungs just decided to not breath for a few minutes. Rhythm is the well spring of life, for the body and the soul.

The top five reasons some mothers have told me they just cannot get a rhythm for their family going, even though they want to:

  1. “I hate rigidity” – A rhythm can be flexible; it can have a flow to it without times attached to it. Rhythm actually helps you be MORE flexible because what is essential to getting done will get done and you will have more time for sponaneous helping of neighbors and for having fun!
  2. “I am unorganized” – All the more reason to have a rhythm; rhythm is a great collector of the soul. A rhythm will help you and your family feel safe, secure, and grounded.
  3. “I am so stressed out” – Rhythm helps take away much of your stress because it acts as an aid to rest and sleep, an aid to gentle discipline, an aid to getting the essential things done, and an aid to helping you take care of yourself.
  4. “I can’t get a rhythm until X, Y,Z changes” – Rhythm is for where you are right here and right now!  Things may not be perfect in your life or in your home environment, but having a rhythm come first can be a big help in taking baby steps toward other goals because you can build time toward these goals in your rhythm.
  5. “I am always behind and can’t get ahead”- Rhythm is a great help in order to break things up into small bits and pieces that feel mother-sized, rather than overwhelming.

I find an easy place to start is often with rising times and going to bed times, and then build rhythm from there.  Some families find it easier to start with meal times.  Whatever the case, you can start small and tailor it to your own family.  Baby steps!

May this be the season of rhythm and renewal for you!

Blessings,
Carrie

July Menu Planning

Menu planning can feel so slack in the summer heat.  Not many feel like standing over a hot stove in the heat and here it is hot and humid.  I sure didn’t feel like cooking either, and felt like we were grilling a lot or having breakfast for dinner toward the end of June.

So, for July, I did a different way of menu planning than I ever have done before.  I took a piece of watercolor paper and divided it into four sections: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks/desserts.  From there I just filled in recipes, and will choose from these dishes each week when I menu plan and grocery shop.

For breakfast, I have dishes to choose from such as:  tropical overnight oats, overnight oatmeal power bowl, black bean rancheros, veggie frittata, berry quinoa, or yogurt pancakes.

For lunch, I have mainly salad choices and bowls:  burrito bowl, bacon/egg/rice bowl, chicken and cucumber -tomato salad, kale caesar salad, slow cooker baked potatoes, or lime shrimp and avocado salad.

For dinner, I have grilled chicken and tomatillos, roasted tomatillo salmon, Cuban bison flank steak, slow cooker bean burritos, mojito pork,  and chili-spiced fish with roasted cabbage.

For desserts and snacks I have hard boiled eggs and raw veggies, zucchini banana flaxseed muffins, grilled bananas or crockpot chocolate molten cake.

Share with me what you are eating or planning to try in July!

Blessings,
Carrie

Celebrating July

July is here!  Many summer it is so hot in the Deep South I feel as if we have lived in a pool since May and am tired of the wide open sun and heat, but this year has been quite rainy (after two years or so of drought!), so this year feels much less fatiguing.

July is the month of barbeques, picnics, camping, lakes and pools and river tubing.  It is a month of festive American celebrations and slowing down.  Here is what we will be celebrating this month:

July 4th – Independence Day!  The birth our nation!

July 22 – Feast Day of St. Mary Magdalene

July 25 – Feast Day of St. James the Apostle

July 26 – The Feast Day of St. Anne and St. Joachim

I am looking forward to sunflower festivals, catching fireflies, being in the pool and lake and at the beach.

Things to Do With Children:

  • Fourth of July decorating; patriotic crafts
  • Find traditional patriotic American music to listen to!
  • Sunflower crafts
  • Drying herbs and making things from herbs
  • Picking produce; canning and preserving
  • Earth looms and weaving could be lovely; see my summer Pinterest board for even more craft ideas

Things for the Home:

  • Going through the school room or school area and cleaning out
  • Ordering art supplies and new resources for the next school year
  • Making new seasonal things for the home
  • Changing out toys if you are on a toy rotation for smaller children

Homeschool Planning:

I am so happy to hear about so many homeschooling mothers attending in -person conferences!  There are currently conferences by held by Live Education, Christopherus, and Waldorf Essentials in-person (plus summers at places like Sunbridge and Rudolf Steiner College)  and an on-line conference focusing on Waldorf math by Jamie York of Making Math Meaningful.

My personal goals include having 75 percent of my planning done by the end of July. I have most of second grade planned out, but there were a lot of bits and pieces – math for the year, blocks, weekly activities like painting and crafts, and daily things for our older girls to do with our second grader. I still have circle time to plan, and music.  I have about half of seventh grade planned, and only about thirty percent of tenth grade.  The things we are doing in combination, including writing, project-based math, health/physiology, a monthly themed “block” that mainly is overlap between tenth and seventh grade are also pretty well mapped out at least.  Coming back with a roar for the fall! Hope you are getting some planning done as well.

I would love to hear your summer plans and what you are up to in July!

Many blessings,
Carrie

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