The Good, The Beautiful, The True

On this third Sunday in Advent, I was contemplating the thought that may our homes be places of the good, the beautiful, the true.  There is plenty of gritty reality and ugly in the world.  There is plenty of gray.  What the world needs is more good, more beautiful, more true.

Goodness can come in many forms:

Smiles and hugs

Warm words

Gratitude

Wonderful role models

A warm stable relationship between the adults in the household

Helping others

Watching nature and being in nature

The beautiful:

Watching nature and being in nature

Having an ordered home with points of beauty that stimulate all the senses

Wonderful literature

Creating art and appreciating art and handmade items

A rhythm that provides warmth and strength

A spiritual practice that brings beauty

Loving others and ourselves

The true:

The essential things that make us human – our emotions, and how to handle those emotions

Loving others and ourselves

Acceptance

Kindness

Hard work

Responsibility

Integrity

 

I would love to hear your good, beautiful, and true.  If you are looking for ideas for this third week of Advent, try this back post.  This is a wonderful week to observe our animal friends, tell stories about animals, and make treats for birds, cats and dogs, and our farm friends.

Many blessings this week; I hope your holiday season is peaceful.

Carrie

 

 

 

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9 Ideas To Help You Keep A Rhythm During The Holidays

Finding rhythm during the holiday season can be difficult!  From disturbed naps to sweet food that our children don’t normally eat to general overstimulation (but lots of fun!), it can be a time of year that is unlike any other.  How do you keep a rhythm during the holiday?

Sometimes it seems near impossible, but I have a few suggestions to help you enjoy both the season but also to keep the edge of insanity at bay:

  1.  Loosen up and enjoy the fun and energy of this season.  I don’t have any immediate family on my side of the family who are alive, so while your family may drive you crazy, if you still are talking to them and generally like them, do try to relax a bit and enjoy it as much as you can.  Yes, your children might be overstimulated.  Yes, the TV might be on and driving you crazy.  See if you can find ways to cope and still enjoy yourself at all.
  2. Be prepared with some of the things (toys, crafts, ideas for getting outside) in order to occupy your children. It really helps to keep things more even-keeled, and you will feel better knowing some things are still in your control.
  3. Earlier bedtimes and nap time is often difficult in a noisy house for toddlers and preschoolers. Consider taking them for a little car ride and having them fall asleep or laying down with them.  It gets you out of the over -stimulation of everything as well!
  4. You can’t do it all, especially with preschoolers and toddlers in tow!  Things HAVE to be mother-sized.  The wrapping, cooking, baking, decorating, what have you, has to be mother-sized.  Delegate, simplify, pare way down on your expectations.  Ask for help!  Come up with new traditions that don’t tax you!
  5. Prepare one day a week  during the holiday season as your rest day if that is possible.  This can be a  day to be home and get things done; a day that the children will go to bed early and you will have a little time to get something done that you need to without littles around.  Or trade off child care with a friend or enlist an adult in your family to help entertain children.
  6. Simplify your meals so they can be warming and  nourishing but not exhausting.( If there was a ever a call for the simplicity of crockpots, instapots, and compostable plates, December might be it! LOL).
  7. See if you can take a break for outside time each day, even if it is cold or blustery outside.  The children will enjoy it, and they will rest better.  And you can de-stress!
  8. Self-care can be hard this month; so deecide what self-care means to you this month and what that would look like. Does it mean getting up earlier than normal to get your workout at the gym in?  Does it mean eating right so you feel good in the midst of everything?  Does it mean a hot bath several nights during the week?
  9. Keep your schedule a little clear.  In planning December and even through New Year’s, it is easy to pencil something in most days and then have no room left for the last-minute things that come up.  Keep some time and space unmarked.

I would love to hear how you de-stress your holidays with tinies or with teenagers!  Let’s share ideas!

Blessings and love,

Carrie

 

Celebrating The Second Week of Advent

The second Light of Advent; it is the Light of plants:
Plants that reach up to the sun and in the breezes dance.

-The second part of a traditional Waldorf School Advent verse

Advent is here, and many of us are left scrambling trying to catch up from the first week of Advent.  Not to worry, the second week brings promise of a beautiful, nourishing week.  It’s a wonderful week to refresh  your Advent Wreath (or make one or bring one out if you haven’t done that yet!), and to get a Christmas tree if that is part of your tradition in celebrating Advent.   It also could be a wonderful week to celebrate a Winter Spiral with some friends or a wonderful walk in the woods.

This week also has two traditionally celebrated feasts in it – both the Feast Day for Our Lady of Gaudalupe, the Patroness of the Americas, celebrated on December 12 and Santa Lucia Day celebrated on December 13.  Here are some suggestions for this week:

A general story to fit in with the plant theme:  

The Legend of the Christmas Rose

For Our Lady of Guadalupe:

Play from Catholic Family Celebrations

Link with pictures of this celebration  (full disclosure, I am Episcopalian)

There are also several books, including this one, by Tomie dePaola and this one by Serrano

For Santa Lucia Day:

From Tiziana Boccaletti:  A Gentle Santa Lucia Story

From Christine Natale, A Little Story for St. Lucy’s Day

From Christine Natale, Saint Lucy in Sweden with the help of Saint Stephen

Here are two craft suggestions:

Little Felt Christmas Tree Ornaments

Snowy Pine Tree Garland

Food:

For years, we have made the recipe here (and this page has a link to a Santa Lucia song on it as well) listed here as our Santa Lucia bun.  This year I think I am going to modify this reciple for orange sweet rolls to include a little less sugar/glaze and add some saffron to make it more yellow. I will let you know you how it turns out!

I would love to hear your plans for the week!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

Empowering Your Child

I think sometimes we as parents can really confuse what we are supposed to be doing as parents.  Our children need to be able to do things that will help them learn how to make great decisions, that will foster their skills in communication, that will help them become functional adults.   There will be mistakes along the way; protection from mistakes and therefore protection from a child developing resilience is not the goal.

So, in that vein, these are the messages that I wish more parents would say to their children when things get hard for the child:

You can do this.

You can do hard things.

I believe in you and I believe you can handle this.

I love you no matter what, but I do expect you to make good choices.

You don’t need avoid the things in life that are difficult.

You can deal with the things that come your way.

It is okay to make mistakes.

It is okay to ask for help.

Taking responsibility is important.

You are going to make great decisions now and as an adult. I trust you.

You are amazing, and  you’ve got this.  I am here to help, but you really can do this.

 

Are there any other empowering phrases you wish people would say to their children?  Leave me a comment in the comment box!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

Our Advent Activities

Advent begins on Sunday, and there are many mindful things to do during this season as we prepare for light, love, and blessings as we move into Christmastide.

First of all, I love Advent calendars.  You can make beautiful ones with scenes, like the one from the book, “All Year Round,” that The Quince Tree 65 did so beautifully here.  You could also order a lovely Advent Calendar; we have had this spiral one from Bella Luna Toys for years.   This year, we will also be following the Advent calendar  “Journeying The Way of Love,” from The Episcopal Church, our religious denomination,  that can be found here

Next, I like to think about mapping out a few things for our Advent simply because there are amazing things to do!  We used to always attend or host an Advent Spiral but we haven’t done that in quite some time due to our older children becoming teenagers and having a rather dwindled community of Waldorf friends.  But, the spiral walks are always beautiful and reverent!

This is sort of my outline for Advent/Advent activities:

(We already went to see holiday lights at our local botanical gardens right after Thanksgiving because I wanted to do it before anyone got sick during Advent – lesson learned from previous years! The tickets are a little pricey and cannot be wasted!)

We ordered some ideas from The Imagination Tree regarding the Kindness Elves.  I don’t know when they will arrive, but I know our little third grader is going to love this idea!

December 1 and 2 – Horse shows (is that an Advent activity? LOL); the little one and I will make beeswax ornaments to give out as gifts; set up our Advent wreath that we made the weekend after Thanksgiving in accordance with the mineral kingdom; attend church

December 3  and 4 – Will make Advent window transparency. My oldest daughter, myself, and my sister-in-law are attending an AMAZING art exhibit on the 4th, so check out IG for photos. ❤

December 5 and 6 – get ready for and celebrate St. Nicholas Day!

December 8 and 9 – Get our Christmas tree and decorate; Second Sunday in Advent ; set up our wreath by adding things to represent the plant kingdom; attend church; attend the Lifeways December Visioning Free Online Mini Retreat; the night of the 9th see The Nutcracker!

December 10 and 11 -Make some beautiful Mistletoe Luminaries for our home – see this Pinterest board; make applesauce/cinnamon ornaments

December 12-14 – prepare for  and celebrate Santa Lucia Day and a family birthday. Also a choir recital.  School ends on the 14th.

December 15-16- Horse show weekend; third week in Advent; prepare our Advent wreath with things representing the animal kingdom; attend church and lessons and carols

(The Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday following the Third Sunday in Advent are special times of fasting and prayer, mainly for our priests and the church,  called the  Advent Ember Days in the Anglican Communion).

December 17 and 18 -Christmas Baking- I have some special ninjabread man cookie cutters for our littlest; drive around at night and look at lights; hot chocolate

December 19 and 20 – Christmas wrapping; Ice Skating; make any last minute gifts

December 21- Winter Solstice Celebration; Make Sun Bread, make treats for the birds

December 22-23 – the fourth week in Advent;  set up our Advent Wreath with things that represent the unity of humanity; attend church; prepare food for Christmas Eve and make treats for the horses and dogs

December 24 – Deliver treats to horses in the morning; Prepare food for Christmas Eve, children sing at Christmas Eve Mass

December 25- Celebrate the first day of Christmas with family

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

 

Self-Care Sunday: Getting Real

So, one of the books I have been reading lately is “Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing The Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Are Meant To Be”  by Rachel Hollis.  In Chapter Two, entitled, “The Lie: I’ll Start Tomorrow,”  the author writes that when we care about commitments, we do it when we said we would do it.  She takes this scenario and talks about if you had a friend that constantly flaked ou on you, and never showed up when you made plans, or this friend started something new constantly but never followed through…well, you probably wouldn’t respect this person very much.

And yet, how often do we do this to ourselves?  How often are we the first one to break our own promises to ourselves?

Yes, I promised myself I would go run today but the day is nuts and everyone needs me.

Yes, I promised myself I wouldn’t eat crazy around the holidays but there is so much good food and I am kind of stressed.

Yes, I promised myself I would get together with that friend just for adult-only coffee but now everything is so busy.

Yes, I promised myself I would start inner work and would meditate and pray but I just can’t get up early and do that and then there is no time.

Yes, I started exercising but I did it three days in a row and I can’t just continue.

This also applies to homeschooling.  How many times have you said:

I don’t have time to plan.

I don’t have time to learn how to do that art stuff.

I don’t have time to be home and do all these little cooking and craft things for my Early Years children.

I can’t teach high school subjects.

I can’t teach mulitple children.

Accountability is a hard thing.  Get a friend or your partner to be your accountability partner.  Put your goals into writing. Set those simple subgoals and do them each day without fail.  If it gets rough and you want to bail on yourself, call your accountability partner.

Show your children that you have discipline too.  How can we expect our children to follow through and not be lazy when we never show them one personal goal that we have set and met?  Older children love nothing more than cheering on their parents to accomplish great things!

But most of all, learn how to go through your roadblocks and keep going.  Nearly everyone can start something, (or say they are going to start something!)  but very few can finish it.  In order to do this, you will need to SLOW DOWN on your outside commitments.  Your own inner commitments come first, your family life at home comes next, and then whatever outside crazy there is.

And you might be saying, but Carrie, you don’t know my life.

Maybe not, but I sure know mine.  Having teenagers in the house is the busiest season of all.  Busier than the tiny stage.  More emotionally draining.  Planning on all levels is a MUST.  If I don’t plan, I won’t make it.  If I don’t set realistic goals and  write it down, block out the time daily, talk to my accountability partner, and get going, it will never happen for me.

If you want to share what you are working on for you, please comment in the box below. Let’s all support each other! I will be cheering you on, and can’t wait to see you meet your goal!

Blessings and love,

Carrie

 

Making The Holidays Bright!

There are many wonderful celebrations of light, love, and gratitude during this holiday season.  December 2nd begins the season of Advent this year, and with it many of the activities for winding down the school year for the first semester.  It can turn quickly from a time of cherishing family, home cooking, and love to recitals, end of year banquets and parties for sports teams, multiple family and friend gatherings and a chaotic feeling of trying to get everything done.

So, this holiday, I hope we can all keep the holidays BRIGHT instead of feeling lost in the chaos.  I love the idea of choosing meaningful things to do throughout the season, and really keeping Advent as Advent and the twelve days of Christmas as Christmas!

It is never too late to begin anew!  Here is a wonderful guest post by Christine Natale“Musings on Saint Nicholas Day and Starting New Holiday Traditions”

So, in honor of this idea of everything having its own time and place, here are the things we will be celebrating during this season:

Our main plans include seeing holiday lights at the botanical garden (which we already did); making an Advent wreath; baking gingerbread;  ice skating on the  outdoor skating rink; going to see a production of The Nutcracker as a family; driving around to see holiday lights; having a family night with a hot chocolate bar and games; and I am seeing about planning an outdoor winter scavenger hunt for the kids.  Some of you may be interested in hosting a Winter Spiral at your home; we did this for many years.

Here are some thoughts about favorite gifts and holiday gifts for children. There was a series I did in 2009 about the inner work of Advent and it begins here if you are interested in tracking those posts down.  One of my favorite ways to do inner work is while walking outside; I find it is very important for me to get outside this time of year.  I also start thinking about the word for 2019; a word that symbolizes and helps me envision the entire year ahead.

Here is to a merry and bright (but not overwhelming) holiday season!

Blessings and love,
Carrie