Hello, Gorgeous August!

August is one of my favorites!  It’s hot and sultry, it’s my birthday month, and there are lakes and pools and flowers and fireflies.  The harvest is coming in, and there are so many wonderful ways to celebrate that from picking blackberries to apples in our area starting to ripen to helping harvest hay!

Here are a few things we are celebrating this month:

This month we celebrate:

August 6th – The Transfiguration

August  9th  – The Feast of  St. Herman of Alaska  – for this feast, we plan on reading this lovely book.

August 13th – Our first day back at school with 11th, 8th, and 3rd grade!  Looking forward to a beautiful year!

August 15th –  The Dormition of St. Mary –  August 15th  – on this day, we tell the story of the Dormition of St. Mary and read this little book.

August 31st  – The Feast of St. Aidan  — we plan to tell the story of St. Aidan and the horse he was given by King Oswim

Ideas for Celebration:

  • Making beautiful triptych to celebrate the life of St. Mary.  There are many wonderful ideas regarding this on the Internet.
  • We have about another month of tubing, swimming and water park availability to us, so we hope to take advantage!
  • Camping
  • Gazing at the stars
  • Walking in the mornings
  • Celebrating the back to school with little things to use during the school year

What We Are Working On At Home:

  • Making some supplies for the upcoming fall/cold/flu season – mainly elderberry syrup
  • Still working on a four week rotating menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to streamline things in the kitchen!
  • Medical appointments – I try to schedule all of my medical appointments in August
  • New habits!  Getting ready for  school and busier schedules and finding and sustaining a home-centered life  in the midst!
  • Changing out the nature table

Our homeschooling life is starting on August 13th.  So close!

Our 11th grader has a number of outside classes this year, including Pre-Calculus and Advanced Placement Psychology.  I will be teaching Chemistry , Health,and World Literature.  We are going to have a ball!  Our eighth grader will be starting with a physics and meteorology block and our third grader is starting with a harvest/farming kind of block.

Share with me what you are up to in the beautiful month of August!

Blessings and love,

Carrie

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What To Do When Life Is A Mess

Are you in a dark place?  Divorce, death of a parent or spouse, lack of employment or other financial woes, older teens into things that are just plain challenging, something else?

Yes.  I have been there.    It can be tough.  It can be dark. It can be lonely, especially if people really haven’t been through what you are going through.

And it will be okay.  Life is beautiful and life is messy.  They just go hand in hand.

Lean into it.  Sometimes there are no quick fixes.  It just takes time.  It just takes healing.

Shelter your younger children as you see fit, but certainly teens deserve to know that life is messy, people struggle, and yes, you can come out on the other side.  This is called resilience.  Life is not the the perfect spot in the home that people post on social media.  It is more like the picture of all the dirty dishes piled in the sink that were never posted.

Lean into each other.  When darkness and depression fall, lean into family and the friends you can who are understanding and compassionate.

Take care of yourself in whatever capacity that means to you.  For some, that means drawing the wagons in and becoming insulated with just immediate family and the closest of friends.  For others, that means reaching out and getting help with the children, getting counseling, or getting a physical workup to help support the stress that they are experiencing. I don’t know what it looks like for you, but take care of yourself. If you feel like you are having thoughts of taking  your own life, or that people would be better off without you and that you are a burden, or if you just need to talk to someone about what is going on in your life, text TALK to 741741.

Keep things simple.  You may only be able to get one thing done a day.  And that’s okay.  This phase will not last forever and forever.

It will pass.  It will be better.  Sometimes life is just about hanging in and hanging on.

Blessings and love,
Carrie

Top 5 Tips For When Homeschooling Is Busy

I feel sometimes feel badly  posting about my busier life when obviously the Waldorf community prizes slow and simple and being unbusy.  I prize that as well, and really enjoy being home!  But then I remember:  when my older two children were 13 and under, life wasn’t busy!  We didn’t have a lot going on.

However, now with having an almost 17 year old with outside classes, a large age gap down to our 13 and 8 year olds, and with plans to treat a few patients (I am a pediatric physical therapist) this fall, plus homeschooling, plus our time-consuming horse care/riding and music stuff….well, life is a little more juggling. It is not overwhelming, but it is busier.  And I am at peace with that.  I think that is normal for having an older teenager in the house with other children!

I certainly am not superwoman, but I do think being organized a bit helps.  When the busier seasons hit with the school year, I will be ready. Here are my top 5 tips for making things work.

  1.  Meal plan and meal prep ahead. One thing I have never let lapse is our home-cooked meals, even in our busiest times.  We don’t eat out, and everything I make is fresh and from scratch.  Meal planning and meal prepping on Sundays really helps! I just use our library to get all the keto and paleo cookbooks I want, and also search out links for my Pinterest boards.  Real Simple has some nice ideas for quick prep or prep ahead meals (here is a sample for easy breakfast recipes ).   Everyone in the house can help meal prep, cook, and clean up!
  2. Work out and have a solid rhythm of prayer, meditation, and intentions.  Energy begets energy, so it is important to me to work out in the morning so I have energy for the whole day!  Now that my youngest will be 9 in a few months, I finally feel as if I have enough energy to do this, so for those of you with younger children who are feeling exhausted and like mornings are just not a good time, hang on – it’s coming!
  3. Get enough rest. I can’t do anything if I am exhausted and barely hanging on to consciousness from lack of sleep, so I usually am ready for bed by 10 and asleep between 10 and 11 P.M.  If I am really tired, I will go to bed at 9:30.
  4. Love your home (everyone all together now) !  I can’t clean up after everyone as it is overwhelming so everyone has a part in taking care of our home!  I will share some pics on Instagram as to our morning routines and rotations, so if you follow @theparentingpassageway, you will see them!
  5. Use master lists and a calendar.  I always keep a calendar running up to six months out and a to-do list of anything and everything that needs to be done.  Some of the items are higher priority than others, so if it doesn’t happen in one week, I just transfer it to the next week!  I try to do one to two things a day off our list if I have a long list, but if I have a shorter list I might try to knock  things out in one afternoon.  It is also important to divide things such as making medical appointments, transportation to and from children’s activities or events, amongst any adults (or older teen drivers) in the family!
  6. Bonus Tip:  As far as homeschooling, I do try to plan quite a bit in the summer.  I simply don’t have time to do research for an entire block during the school year, so I try to go into the school year with at least a flow of  ideas for every block and academic skill development, if not planned down to the artistic work.  I find the artistic work easier to gather inspiration closer to the time we are doing that lesson.  This is especially important for fifth grade and up.   I also try to look ahead on Saturday or Sunday to my lesson plans for the week and gather supplies, do chalkboard drawings, and generally make sure I have things in order.
  7. Bonus Tip:  Work hard, play hard.  Time in nature, time as a family, having a day to just be together as family or go out as a couple is so important.  We use family time to really balance out the time we are doing other things and stay connected through meals and this time.  Vacations are another way we stay balanced, even if they are just stay-cations!  Having fun makes life and hard work worth it and creates happy family memories.

Please share with me your best tips for getting organized!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

How to Talk To Your Teen About Teen Mental Health and Suicide

This past weekend, I was at the Secular Eclectic Academic Homeschool Conference.  One of the most important sessions I attended was about teens and mental health, and I wanted to pass along some of the wonderful work the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is doing for teen mental health and suicide prevention.

One of the big take-aways from this session is that we should be having layered conversations not only about mental health with our children and teens, especially by age 13 and onward, but also specifically we should be talking about suicide.  The suicide rate for American teens (2016 statistics) was 6,159 reported deaths by suicide for youth ages 10-24.

It is the SECOND leading cause of death for teens!

If the second leading cause of death was due to lack of seat belt use or eating tomatoes or whatever, we would be talking about it.

But because it is suicide, we don’t talk about it.

There is a very steep incline in terms of suicide death between the ages of 10 to ages 14-16 (meaning it is very rare to have a death from suicide at age 10, but then the curve of number of deaths by suicide by age goes up very sharply).  Suicide cuts across all ethnic groups.  No one is immune.  Every person in my session had been touched by suicide in some way.

Girls attempt suicide more than boys, but boys are more successful in succeeding and killing themselves, and for every death by suicide 100-200 teens make an attempt.  Up to 17 percent of teens have reported attempting suicide in the last year and 8.6 percent attempted suicide more than once.  It is not “attention seeking,” as some onlookers ask – it is often a feeling of wanting to disappear and not be a burden.  It is complete hopelessness.

Risk factors include:

  • Health factors:  undiagnosed or underdiagnosed mental health disease
  • Pyschological risk factor such as perfectionism/very black and white thinking (which is normal but should move past black and white thinking in upper adolescence)/perfectionism
  • Past history of abuse/brain injury/Suicide in family.
  •  Life events can be a trigger but not the only thing.

Warning signs include changes in behavior for your teen, withdrawing, isolating, agitation or being easily angered, increased anxiety, changes in sleep or appetite, expression of suicidal thoughts, giving possessions away. Usually the person feels hopeless with no reason to live, feels as if they are a burden to others, feels trapped and in unbearable pain.  Hopelessness is a major feature.  Humiliation can be another risk factor/warning sign for suicide in teens, when teens often feel as if everything they do is in a fishbowl of everyone looking at them.

Protective factors against death by suicide include feeling connected, regular health care and mental health care, learning and using coping strategies, and being willing to seek help.

You can acknowledge your teen’s changed behavior, and you can say you have noticed that they seem to be dealing with a lot and that sometimes people who are dealing with a lot may think about killing themselves.  It does NOT increase suicide if you talk about it, or directly ask about it. It may provide some relief to the teenager, and you can also then know the teen’s ideas or possible intentions and reassure them that they are not alone and that help is available and GET THEM  HELP.

At this point, not only is immediate mental health contact needed along with the immediate reduction of what is stressing the teen, but also TAKE the step to secure any item that could be used lethally – unload and dissassemble firearms that might be in the home and LOCK them away, take any old prescription medicine hanging around and get rid of it, etc.  You can call 1-800-273-TALK or text TALK to 741-741  in the United States for help.  Do NOT leave your child alone!

Here are some of the free resources mentioned in this session so  you can keep having these conversations  with your teens.  There is an Ad Council campaign and series of You Tube videos called #seizetheawkward.  It was done by a number of actors/You Tube stars and while the  ad campaign may seem edgy to you,  in group testing these were the only ads that got the teens’ attention to watch.  It is aimed for 16-24 year olds.  Here is one of the Ad Council videos to get you started, but there are number of them you can watch with your teens and get those conversations rolling. #seizetheawkward

Resources:

1-800-273-TALK or text TALK to 741 741

The American Foundation For Suicide Prevention  (there are chapters in all 50 states in the United States)

More Than Sad is the program developed by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Just like talking about healthy relationships, about sex, about drugs and drinking, let’s keep talking to our teens about mental health, suicide risk, and coping strategies.

Blessings,

Carrie

 

 

 

 

A Plea For Summer Neighborhood Play

It can be a lonely summer for children in neighborhoods these days.

In our neighborhood, I see children at the pool but usually after 3 or 4.  Some parents are working all summer, and I totally understand.  But even with the parents who are not working, the children are often in summer camps that cost hundreds of dollars, probably a thousand dollars,  by the end of the summer.

It is sort of a vicious cycle.  Children who are staying home in the summer have no friends to play with; no one is outside; no one is at a neighborhood pool until later and then the parents probably feel as if they must put their child in something so the children will have something to do. And the cycle keeps going round and round.

Summer has somehow become this merry-go-round of more and trying to fit in more before school starts again.  If we, as parents,  don’t start reclaiming some of the slowness of our children’s childhoods,  I think upcoming generations will have an even faster and more hurried life.

What strikes me most is the loss of neighborhood play in mixed-age groups( without parents hovering).  In a neighborhood group, or even in groups of kids on the farm, children figure out the play, the rules, and how one wins.  One stomps off and gets mad and comes back – learning emotional regulation.  One is totally irritated with a commanding older child in the group, but there is a group to buffer this, and children learn how to get along with those who are different than themselves – without an adult telling them how to do it.

The children playing in the neighborhood get to develop decision-making skills. They get to develop their bodies as they bike all over, swim all day, and generally avoid going inside.  They get off of any screens and they get off their bottoms.

So, this summer, even if camps are on your list for your children, I am begging you to consider getting the children in your neighborhood outside.  If it takes a parent to get the ball rolling at this point because it seems kind of foreign, then so be it.  Invite everyone to bring a bike, a scooter, a water gun – and then back off.  Let the children play.  Maybe something wonderful will happen.

Blessings,
Carrie

 

A Belated Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Belated American Fourth of July to you, my dear readers. We just came back in from out of the country, so my posts are running a bit behind.  I hope you are still in a celebetory mood!

The Fourth of July has been noted as a day of celebration since the  adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress in 1776.  It became a federal holiday only in 1870 but has always been associated with parades, festivities, speeches,  bonfires, and more. It is a chance every year to celebrate what is right in our country, and yes, what needs attention.  This is extremely important especially in times of crisis and difficulty and division.

I was thinking about this in light of my morning routines recently.  After going through a rather tumultuous school year where every day was just sort of survival mode and get-through-the-day mode and take -care- of -whatever -crisis was brewing that day, things finally seem to be better.  I have a lot more energy. I am exercising again.  And, I am conscious about getting the day off to a great start and starting each day anew and afresh in order to be the best for my family and whomever my Creator places in my path that day.

We can do this in our homes as well.  One of the things I have enjoyed doing is using the techniques from Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.  I combine this routine with my religious leanings.  You may enjoy doing this with your family and a modified version with your children. The main thought of this book is that a morning ritual of  self-investment is a way to elevate the entire consciousness of humanity.  Imagine if the whole of the United States, and the whole of the world would be full of love for each other and would be able to extend kindness and generosity all over the world.

Let us use the Fourth of July as a time for new beginnings for all of us at all levels- individual, family, community, nation, and world. Moving forward toward the highest ideals that we hold and value.

Blessings and love,
Carrie

Jubuliant July!

Are you all excited that July is almost here?  We are having an amazing summer, although I do have a secret fear that July is just going to fly by and then it will be August (and in the Deep South, August = school beginning again!)

What are you doing to celebrate summer in the Northern Hemisphere?  How are my Down Under family doing?  Love seeing everyone’s celebrations on Instagram – don’t forget that The Parenting Passageway is over there now!  Come find me!

So, this July, here are the things we are celebrating:

4- Independence Day

22- Feast Day of St. Mary Magdalene

25- Feast Day of St. James the Apostle

26- Feast Day of St. Anne and St. Joachim, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

 

Are you thinking about summer menu planning?  I have a back post on July Menu Planning to grab!

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!
  • Go to Independence Day parades!
  • 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

Homeschooling Fun!:

First of all, a HUGE thank you to all the readers I had consultations with this June!  It was incredible to talk to people from all over North America!  I love you all and it was my pleasure to talk to everyone!  I hope everyone is pulling together their planning!  If you still would like some help, I will be over at Wonder of Childhood and Get Organized: Sketch It Out! e-course with Lisa Boisvert McKenzie!  Also offering consultation slots for those participants!  This will be fun and exciting!  If you want a consultation, I can fit a few more into July so email me at admin@theparentingpassageway.com and let me know your needs!

So, as for my own planning…..My personal goal always  includes having 75 percent of my planning done by the end of July.   I am about 60 percent done planning third grade.  I have two of our high schooler’s courses in the planning works (11th grade, and these two courses are essentially things we are adding on to Oak Meadow’s World History and Chemistry courses), and I haven’t really started on 8th grade yet but it’s all in my head!  So, by the end of July, hopefully the vast majority will be done!  I can only plan an hour or so a day, usually first thing in the morning, so I have to be happy with what I get. ❤

We are taking several trips in July, and I am starting to see a few pediatric physical therapy patients again after a break from formal patient work for quite some time.  It is going to be a busy and full school year to come, but I am planning on jumping on it like riding a bull this year!  Hang on and finish! LOL.

Would love to hear how you are doing!

Blessings and love,
Carrie