Getting Ready for Winter!

The temperature has finally dropped here in the Deep South. It feels much colder than it acutally is, because we have been living with temperatures above 85 degrees F for so many months.

This is a great time to take stock of what one needs for winter.  This is my checklist, and I would love to share it with you:

Do I have the supplies to make elderberry syrup?  (so, for me, that is essentially stinging nettle, yarrow, lemon balm, echinacea, elder berries and elder flowers along with spices and local honey)

Do I have the herbs to add to bone broth? (so, for me, that includes burdock and dandelion root and astragulus)

Do I need any other herbal tonics to get me through the winter?  I like the Urban Moonshine blend mentioned in Aviva Romm’s article here

Do I have our cabinet stocked with things for colds and flu?  Silver throat spray,  Theives Oil or a variation, other essential oils, homeopathic remedies, etc.

How (and where) is our outerwear ?  To me, this includes mittens or gloves, hats, warm socks, jacks, snow pants, and boots.  For kids, I still love LL Bean Boots, but I know everyone has their favorites.

Who needs woolens? I like to get mine from Green Mountain Organics.   If you are wondering about warmth in children, I recommend this article about “Warmth, Strength, and Freedom.”

Who needs long shirts or sweaters?

Do I have flannel sheets? Sleep is super important, and I think the winter months are a prime season to take advantage of sleeping longer.

Am I prepared to slow the rhythm of our week down? I think this is natural seasonal adjustment.  August, September, and October can be super busy here with marching band for our oldest and horse shows, but I find things in November and December can be calmer if we block it out that way, and then January and February tend to be fairly calm on their own.

Do I have crafting supplies and other inside fun at the ready?  One thing I ordered this week is three months of Happy Hedgehog Post. It was a gift to myself and especially our second grader to have some indoor fun.  Other ideas include having baking supplies on hand, wool, yarn, craft kits, art supplies, snuggly blankets for fort building.

Where are our beeswax candles and lanterns from past Martinmas festival celebrations?  These can make the school area especially lovely during the darker winter months.

When will I see people?  I feel tired and  am ready to withdraw after our busy three months starting school, but I would like to still see people.  I am thinking of hosting a hygge morning during January and February as mentioned in this article..

We have animals, so I also check what the animals might need. Our horses need sheets and blankets, our dog has little booties for icey conditions.  I try to make sure I have ordered enough horse feed and that we have toys on hand for our dog.

Please share with me the ways you get ready for winter!  I would love to hear all of your ideas!

Blessings,
Carrie

 

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Homeschooling From Rest: The Sunday Prep

I have written a few other posts in this series about homeschooling from rest, including the morning routine and building your homeschooling around rest.  Today, we are going to address the importance of the weekend prep.

I call this a Sunday prep, but if you are busy on Sundays like my family is, it absolutely could be a Saturday prep as well.  In my head, I divide this into things a family could do to prep for the week, and things a Waldorf homeschooling family really needs to do.

The Family Prep:

Physical Level:  

  • Clean the house, even if it is the just the quick clean for surfaces, the kitchen counters, and the bathrooms. Quick clean is better than no clean.  Pick things up.
  • Have the laundry done, clean, and folded and put away.  Do you need to lay out clothes for your children?
  • Prep FOOD.  This is the most important part, I believe to getting the week off to a good start!  In today’s world  many parents are so busy and are getting home very late wtih no time to cook.  At the last continuing education course I attended two weeks ago, the  current percentage of overweight Americans (I believe these statistics were adults only) was at EIGHTY-FIVE percent.  We are overweight as a society, I believe due to confounding factors including stress, lack of true hydration, convenient processed foods that are easy to grab but not healthy, lack of time to cook, and a sedentary lifestyle.  As the saying goes, we cannot outrun a bad diet.  If we want to start turning the health of our children, this upcoming generation,  around and send them into adulthood with good patterns, we must start cooking healthy food and eating meals together.  Prep whatever you can and plan your meals.  Have your ingredients.   If your child is in school, do you need to make lunches?
  • What will you need for tomorrow?  Get it out and ready now.
  • Look at the calendar.

Emotional Prep:

  • What are your stress reduction strategies for the week?  You have some great choices in deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, biofeedback, massage therapy, aromatherapy, yoga.
  • Unplug.
  • Go out in nature with your family.
  • If you have a significant other, check in with that person.  How are the adults of the house feeling?  Where is the time for the adults in the week?  Adult connection is important. Children are wonderful, and parents give their all for their children, but life is not just about children.
  • Are you feeling positive?  Check in with yourself.  Some folks love to journal morning pages or set up a little board and watercolor paint each morning or sketch.  All artistic activity is connected to the emotional and spiritual life.

Spiritual Prep:

  • Everyone is going to have their own path here, but connecting to what you believe is a higher source in whatever way is meaningful for you is important in beginning the week.
  • I find visualization for the week to be important. What does the week look like in my head?  How will each day flow?  I also like to do this at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day, I like to review the day backwards.
  • Do some reading on your spiritual path at some point this weekend and each day during the week.  As many of you know, I am Episcopalian, which is part of Anglican Communion world-wide.  The book on my list to start reading this list is this one by former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams

 

Waldorf Homeschooling Prep:

  • Rhythm of the Week tools – If you are going to have a bread-making day, soup -making day, a way for your child to help you with your work of the day then you need the ingredients and tools!  Make sure you have the things you need on hand before you start the week!
  • Review your circle time, stories, and music.  I was always sleep-deprived and generally have the worst memory ever, so memorizing things was never great for me, but if I reviewed things nights in a row, I certainly could remember a lot and feel good about that!
  • Review your review!  By that I mean, review is usually the first thing up for grades-students after warming up and it gets the absolute least attention from most homeschoolers.  How will you review?  What do you need to make this happen in terms of supplies?
  • Look at your lesson plans for the week.  Be sure to include any festivals!
  • Chalkboard drawings.  Nothing says a brand new week, month, or block  like a new drawing!

I would love to hear your #Sundayprep!  On The Parenting Passageway Facebook page, folks are sharing their pictures of their Sunday prep.  Come on over and join us and get some great ideas from fellow Parenting Passageway fans!

Blessings on today,

Carrie

October Beauty

I love October.  Autumn is my favorite season, and in the Deep South, October feels like one of the first true fall months with colder nights, the leaves turning colors, the warming foods of fall, pumpkin picking, bonfires, and more.

This month we will be celebrating:

October 4-The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi

October 9 – Our little second grader’s birthday. Hello 8!

Mid-October Camping trip

October 31 – Halloween, which really is low key in our house, but All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day are big!  You can see a back post about Halloween In The Waldorf Home, and this one about preparing for All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day

Some ideas for celebrating:

Besides, the above post, I always think about

Warmth

Warming Foods – this back post is from January, but it might give you some ideas for warming foods

Autumn Circles and Autumn tales for little ones

Make lanterns

Re-instating tea time – so warming and lovely

If you have small children, you might really enjoy this post from Liza Fox about meaningful work for toddlers

We are going to:

Plant fall bulbs

Make bone broths and infuse it with herbs – dandelion root, burdock, astragalus, and echinacea.

Change bed linens to flannel sheets and adding blankets and thicker comforters

Stock up on birdseed

Make sure we all have hats, gloves, snow gear  and boots for winter

I am thinking about:

Our out-of-the-home activities for the Winter and Spring.

Physical and emotional clutter and having an ordered outer world for a peaceful family

The benefits of rhythm in the home

As we head into the darker days of  autumn and winter, I would love to hear what you would like to see on this blog!  One thing I am considering compiling for my homeschoolers is a list of block rotations for first through eighth grade.  If you read this blog for homemaking and parenting ideas, I would love to hear from you what you would like to read about!

Blessings,
Carrie

 

Hearts of Courage: Michaelmas

From – Rudolf Steiner’s January 15, 1915 lecture The Great Virtues:

Another virtue can be called — though it is difficult to describe it exactly — the virtue of Courage. It contains the mood which does not remain passive towards life, but is ready to use its strength and activity. It can be said that this virtue comes from the heart. Of one who has this virtue in ordinary life it can be said: he has his heart in the right place. This is a good expression for our condition when we do not withdraw in a timid way from things which life asks from us, but when we are prepared to take ourselves in hand and know how to intervene where it is necessary. When we are inclined to get moving, confidently and bravely, we have this virtue. It is connected with a healthy life of feeling, which develops bravery at the right moment, while its absence brings about cowardice.

We are living in a time and place in which we must call upon our courage and quell our passivity towards life, and we must teach our children how to become active.   I was thinking about this article about how teenagers are growing up more slowly and in fact in their twenties are now acting like teenagers of the past (based upon studies of  8 MILLION teenagers!)  There needs to be leaders in this generation, and it is up to us to prepare them.  Therefore, I  think there is no better theme to meditate upon this Michaelmas season as the Northern Hemisphere looks inward with a self-consciousness toward contemplation of the things that will make health and healing flow into our children and the world and how we can equip our children and our teenagers, our young adults, to meet this world.   The things going on in the world requires us not to check out, but to help.

The outer trappings of the festival of Michaelmas are quite lovely for  small children, and especially fun in a large group with many different ages playing parts in a Michaelmas display of a dragon with knights and St. Michael.  There are many ways we can celebrate at home as homeschoolers as well; this is a great post for beginners or those with younger children called “Michaelmas Is Coming!”

If you want even more suggestions for celebrating, or need suggestions for older children, even high schoolers, try this back post: “A Month of Michaelmas”

But most of all, this is the time for serious adult inner work.  We turn inward from the consciousness of nature that we have been drawn to, this outward expression that marks the summer, and work inward to discover the dragons within us that need subduing;  how to bring our dreams and light to our family and the world.  One medititation that many associated with Waldorf Education use is the Foundation Stone Meditation.  You may find this link through the Anthroposophical Society, Portland Branch to be helpful as it includes a PDF chart of working with this meditation in conjunction in a 7-fold rhythm for days and seasons of the year.

The conflict between the dragon and St. Michael lives within us; how can we activate our own consciousness in order to find the deeds to help our children and the world?

Blessings,

Carrie

 

Chore Wars No More!

Not too long ago, I posted a picture on The Parenting Passageway Facebook page about how I taught our seven-year-old (eight years old soon) how to do his own laundry and tossed a picture of our (rather ugly) chore chart up there as well.  One of the major questions was how to get children to do chores without whining, complaining, bickering, fighting back, needing a million reminders.

I don’t think I have yet discovered that secret, but I do have a few things to share that have helped us over the years….

CHORES ARE JUST PART OF LIFE.  For a long time, I didn’t even refer to doing household work as “chores.”  That just sounds so negative to many of us!  I referred to it as “taking care of our home” (or our pet, or each other).  We do it out of love and gratitude that we are all living together and have a roof over our heads and enough to eat, and it isn’t a negotiable thing.  We just do it. We are a team, and we take care of each other because that is what living in a family is all about.

So in that vein, I had to discover…

REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS FOR THE CHILD.  For children under 7, I don’t expect much but weaving in and out of most adult work, being able to assist me with things as part of our daily rhythm (so maybe there is a wood polishing/dusting day, and all the supplies are out and ready.  And we do it together!  Maybe it is soup day and I have the veggies ready to cut, a cutting board out, etc,  and we do it together!).

Self-care is part of “chores” at this age.  The average age of a child being able to dress independently is five.  So in allowing leeway for deviations above and below the mean, you can see how even this little bit of self-care might not be super realistic for some children.  But, I would break things up that I wanted  to see a child work toward into baby steps.  Maybe it was helping lay clothes out at night. Maybe it was the child can get the shirt on, but needs help with the pants or shoes, etc.   and just keep working slowly toward complete success.

We develop good daily habits by using our daily rhythm as mentioned above for things that are nourishing to our home and family, and in picking up the toys before dinner (unless it is a great building project or something!), putting our clothes in the hamper, picking up our room before or after dinner, etc.  At this point, it is all routine and habit we are doing together for the more “personal” chores – self-care, taking care of our room.

If you have multiple children under the age of 7, I would divide them into teams so you are dealing with two at one time and not more than two.  However, that is just me.  I would make sure we were doing things together, and that the expectations were very clear as to what needed to happen – steps before bedtime, cleaning things up, where the supplies are,  how to do it, and how to put the supplies away.  If there was pushback, I tend to try either imaginative, pictorial talk (put that pumpkin in the wheelbarrow might be an example for putting a shirt into the hamper), or if I am exhausted, it may be more just standing there with me looking at them until they decide to do what they know they are supposed to, or we keep on  doing  it together if it really is to hard to do it alone.  And I really evaluate that.  Usually before bed is a generally terrible time to have a lot of expectations, so looking at what time you are expecting things to happen also helps.

Some little boys in particular as not really motivated unless you mention times, or a race, and then they race around to do things in order to beat the clock or what have you.

In First Grade, age 7, I have children do chores but often I am in the same room either doing it with them or sending them off with me watching them and available to help.  Maybe I am folding laundry and they are off watering plants in that room or the surrounding rooms.  I have shown them the expectations, how to do it, how to clean up the tools needed, and I am available for questions. Hopefully our daily rhythm and doing self-care for so many years has helped develop skills in taking care of self and self-space. I still expect a first grader to need help brushing teeth and bathing and all of that – some need help all the way into being 10! Every child is different, so look at your child, and decide how you can empower them to be capable.

In Second Grade, age 8, I expect more of an ability to get out the tools they need for family cleaning and care on their own and do the chore, but I am still around. A chore chart is a good reminder of what needs to be done.  At this point, I do not include things such as dressing, or self-care or even making a bed or picking up a room as part of chores. These are things that happen because it is the right thing to do and the chore chart has things that help the whole family.  I usually do include on the chore chart bringing sheets down to be washed, doing laundry, and cleaning of a room on the chart.  You could do this any way that you wanted that made sense to you!

For Third Grade, age 9 to age 14, I know that children of this age are highly distractable. If you send them off to do a chore, chances are they will forget what you asked them to do before they even get there.  So, my solution to that is to  use a chore chart (less ability to argue when it is just what is on the board), pick certain times of the day when chores are done and I am around to help, assist, direct, or remind. I usually pick before lunch and after dinner, because it is easy to remind a child before they sit down to eat and ask if their chores are done and to check those chores out!  Did they do it the way I wanted?

For those ages 15-18, I assume the reason chores do not happen is that these teenagers are so busy doing other things.  They are engrossed in school work or doing something!  So, my fix to this is to use a chore chart, and to make it so I check the chores before they are heading out somewhere else. If the chores aren’t done, then they need to take the 15-30 minutes to do the chores and then they can go.

I would love to hear your chore dilemma and how you do things in your house! We all do it differently, and there is no one right way.  You will find the best way for your family and your particular children!  Chores and caring for our surroundings is our first experience with team work that we need the rest of our lives, so I think it is super important and worth persisting and making the time to teach our children how to do it all.

Blessings,
Carrie

Glorious Golden September

September is such a glorious time of leaves turning colors, seed pods, harvesting the last fruits of the season, and yes, preparing for winter in many parts of the United States. Despite the fact we in the south are still going to the beach and the lake, we too feel the passing of the season of summer.

In the book “All Year Round,” the authors write,”The equinoctial point is soon passed and the earth begins to inhale on long, mighty breath towards winter, drawing the sun’s fire downward to set the leaves aflame and cook the fruit to perfection.”  It is a time of drawing strength, and the meteor showers and the season of Michaelmas comes upon us to remind us we have the power to slay and subdue dragons.  The season  of Michaelmas has always been one of my favorites.

This month, we are celebrating:

  • September 5 – Labor Day
  • September 8 – The Nativity of St. Mary, the Theotokos
  • September 21 Autumn Equinox and the Feast of St. Matthew
  • September 29 Feast of St. Michael and All Angels

There are also many other Anglican and Orthodox Saints that I hope to celebrate this month, at least by reading something to the children!

The Home

  • The seasonal table is transitioning to yellows with dried flowers, seed pods, bunches of oats or wheat or corn that are dried, cornucopias, nuts, acorns, leaves and little “helicopters.”
  • I am going through and taking stock of fall and winter clothes and purging what we do not need.
  • Fall menu planning – a time of chili, soup, stew, warming dishes
  • Crafting – I have been making a doll for our second grader’s Christmas present, and I have some new window stars made during last month’s solar eclipse. I have some autumn crafting ideas on my Pinterest board, but I think I am going to start with Michaelmas crafts  and autumn lanterns as I feel very pulled toward that this year.
  • On a more somber note, there are large storms brewing out  in the Atlantic as I write this, and my region of the country is feeling compressed between storms and the flooding of Houston, TX.  Many people there have lost their homes and everything they had.  I am thinking of my Texas readers and holding them in my heart.   For the region in which I live our major threats are also hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding.  So,  gathering up emergency supplies and having things readily available in case of a need to evacuate is always a good thing, and I am getting ready to go through our supplies again.

Self-Care

  • I planned all of my annual check-ups/preventative care in August prior to starting school again. However, if you haven’t done these check-ups yet, September, the month of new beginnings and school starting in many parts of the United States, could be a good time to do this simply because it is easy to remember!
  • I am working on skin care.  Sometimes the older I get, my skin becomes less glowing in the fall after days at the lake in summer.
  • Exercise!  With the falling of the sun and the lessening of daylight hours, it is even more important to get exercise in.

Homeschooling

Well, tenth, seventh , and second grade are zooming along.  We are ending our second week of school.  Our tenth grader has three classes outside the home plus Waldorf blocks and other subjects with me.  We began with math review for seventh and tenth grade, and a mini-block on the life of Buddha, a look at The Silk Road (seventh grade), the Tibetan Diaspora (tenth grade) and a reading of Hesse’s “Siddhartha.”  We will be heading into separated blocks soon that will be the Renaissance for our seventh grader, and our tenth grader will be studing U.S. Government and Civics.  Our little second grader has been reviewing math, and doing form drawing and some writing through the Jataka Tales. Our next block with be a math block, including geometric shapes and all four processes and place value.

I would love to hear what you are up to!

Blessings,
Carrie

My Favorite Natural Products For Your Healthy Family

One thing that many Waldorf families have in common is a love of things that support  total health. Many families choose Waldorf Education and Waldorf homeschooling because they feel this supports the development of the whole child in an appropriate way. Many families who choose Waldorf Education are also interested in a healthy, organic lifestyle and products that support family health, self-care, cleaning, and more.

I have been buying and eating organic food for the past 25 years. In this time, I have also embraced the use of herbs and the making of herbal infusions, essential oils, alternative health care systems, organic personal care products and cleaning products and more. Many, many people are futher along on this path than I am, but today I wanted to share some of my favorite family care, personal care, and cleaning products. I know many of these kinds of products could be easily made by hand, especially things such as laundry detergent and deodorant, and sometimes I have, but I also wanted to share my favorite brands with you (no affiliation, just happy using the product) so if you are short on time or just getting started on this path, you will have some tested recommendations!  Please do feel free to add your own recommendations in the comment box, share your favorite product lines, and more.

I have asthma, and we are headed into flu/cold season here in North America as well, which is always cause for concern for my lungs.  Therefore I  use the Environmental Working Group guides for products to often help discern which products have a higher risk of respiratory effects.

Family Care

I have used both homeopathics from  Boiron and  many of the herbal tincture products from Herb Pharm for both adults and children. My favorite general things to have on hand include arnica gel, collodial silver, and oregano essential oil.  I also like to have a selection of something similar to a Thieves Oil  as we head into flu/cold season.  You can find recipes on-line as to how to make a version of Thieves Oil out of basic essential oils.

My favorite supplements and probiotics so far are from the Jarrow line.

To make herbal infusions, I typically order directly  from either  Frontier Co-op or Mountain Rose Herbs.

Water Filters – I am currently looking for both in-house filters and shower filters.   If you have a recommendation, please leave it in the comment box!

(We also use allopathic preventative medicine and chiropractic medicine for general health as well, but this post is mainly about products!)

Personal Self-Care

For deodorant,I like Purelygreat and the Bergamot and Lime Schmidt’s. I have tried Primal Pit Paste without good success due to senstitive skin, but that seems to be what most people I know use.  I have also heard good things about Piperwai deodorant from several people now. Deodorant is fairly easy to make as well.

For lotion, I tend to use just straight oils instead or a combination of oils mixed with a facial lotion or body cream.

Facial cleanser/anti-aging products.  My dermatologist remarked to me that she felt cleanser in general wasn’t as important because it is on your face such a short amount of time compared to creams, serums, eye cream, etc.  so to invest in better quality brands for those things.  Derma E has some products that are rated highly in the Environmental Working Group SkinDeep Database (and some are not).  I don’t really have any tried and true favorites in this category yet.  I keep trying new things!  Please leave me your recommendations!

For shampoo and conditioner, I have not found ANY natural shampoo that I have liked for my hair type and texture. I have on my list to try Carina Organics Shampoo and Conditioner and see if I like those.

Soaps/body wash –  I like shea butter soaps and those generally score well on the EWG database. I find olive oil based soaps drying for my skin.  This one is a little hard for me since I was raised on Dove soap, LOL.

ToothpasteDavid’s Natural Whitening Toothpaste in peppermint is supposed to be good; does anyone use it?  It is flouride-free.  For  small children, we used flouride-free toothpaste and Kiss My Face toothpaste for the older children.  Our teens now prefer a regular brand of whitening toothpaste (yup, I know).

Hand soap – I like to try to find things at Amazon’s Subscribe and Save for products such as these, but Amazon doesn’t seem to carry any of the products marked with the green gold standard or a “1” , the next level down,  in the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Cosmetic Database.  Miessence and Beautycounter both get high marks in this category; perhaps you can find a person who sells those products, or order from the ATTITUDE line directly from their  website.  ATTITUDE is one brand that seems to get consistently high marks in the EWG Database for both personal care products and cleaning products.

For sunscreen, (which I don’t wear a lot except on my face/neck and the backs of my hands due to the blocking of Vitamin D, probably much to the horror of some medical professionals),  I try to choose from the EWG Best Sunscreen list.

For all of the above items, I try to check the Environmental Working Group database several times a year since recommendations change due to manufacturer’s changes in formulation.

Cleaning Products

Laundry Detergent – is super easy to make; however, if you are in a pinch and want laundry detergent you can try BioKleen powder; Seventh Generation Free and Clear, or ATTITUDE laundry detergent.  Or, many folks use soap nuts.

All purpose cleanser is also easy to make and you can add essential oils to make everything smell lovely.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner – many natural substitutions here, but  Green Shield or Seventh Generation scores high on the EWG list for a premade one.

Dishwasher Detergent/Powder and Detergent for Hand-Washing Liquids – I like ATTITUDE for both the dishwasher and hand washing of dishes.    I have also used Seventh Generation and Ecover in the past; I think Seventh Generation scores higher in the EWG database though.

Share with me your favorite tried and true natural and organic products! I always love to hear people’s recommendations!

Blessings and love,

Carrie