I’ve Got This Parenting Thing Down!

I don’t think anyone in the history of mankind has ever said this.

From being a parent of a colicky baby up all day and all night screaming…

To being a parent of the toddler who is running around the house naked, crayon in hand from cheerfully writing on the walls, exiting the bathroom from stuffing a shirt down the toilet…

To being the parent of an  elementary-aged child who is convinced  that all their friends are “mean” or that they are “not smart” or “everyone is better at things than I am”

To being  the parent of a pre-teen who is bored and more bored

To being the parent of a teenager who has slammed their door for the hundreth time and told you how much they hate life …

No parent has probably  ever said they had it together! (If you do have it all together, awesome! But most of us don’t!)

I don’t know about you, but my children are awesome, and they also have all the feelings, all the dreams, all the ideas.  Somehow we have been led to believe all the “bigness” is somehow wrong – instead it should all be figured out in little checked off boxes. I don’t find parenting to be like that.

I think we should talk about being “normal”  in family life more often.  Being “normal” doesn’t mean the “perfect” children were everything goes absolutely right!  It isn’t us, as parents, bending over backward to create a perfect world for them!  So what is it then?

It is showing them how to be calm in the face of chaos, courageous in the face of adversity, and to see humor in the things life throws at us.

It is showing them that life is getting back up again and again, and it’s pulling ourselves together after we have fallen apart.

It is standing together hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder and being ready for whatever needs to be done to get ahead, because a family is the very first team your child will ever play on!

It is teaching our children to stand up for what is absolutely right and true, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.

It is living life in the most vibrant, beautiful, and sometimes messiest way possible!

So, give yourself a hug.  None of us have this figured out; we all have different experiences that are tragic, beautiful, funny, absurd, thoughtful, meaningful, shallow, serene in parenting and family life.  Life is about that entire spectrum of being human!

Go and love it and own it.  That’s how you get this parenting thing down!

Lots of love,
carrie

Beautiful Month of May

It’s the beautiful month of May out there and despite #covid19 and #socialdistancing (#shelterinplace has been lifted in my state with the exception of the medically fragile), the weather is gorgeous, the sunshine is bright, temperatures are in the 60’s-70’s (Fahrenheit), and we are verging on being ready to swim.  It will be very sad for us if the pools don’t open this summer, but hopeful the large lake near us will still be an option!

We are celebrating this month:

Eastertide

May 1- May Day

May 10 – U.S. Mother’s Day

May 14 – High School Graduation for our oldest!  Homeschooling is done!

May 18, 19, 20 – Rogation Days

May 21- The Feast of Ascension

May 25 – U.S. Memorial Day

May 31 – The Feast of Pentecost – you can see some beautiful cross-cultural images for inspiration

Ways to Celebrate:

These are a few of my favorite things for small children:

  • Hiking on The Feast of Ascension, watching clouds
  • Making Pentecost crafts
  • Gathering for May Day and dancing around a May Pole!
  • Making crafts for Memorial Day, this year decorating our own front porch and walking in the neighborhood since I doubt there will be parades of any kind!
  • Pedal toys – trikes and bikes!

These are a few of my favorite things for grades-aged children:

  • Seting up playing in the water and sand – we ordered a slip n slide for the backyard and are awaiting its arrival and a pool for our dogs
  • Observing all the dragonflies, bees, and butterflies
  • Calming rituals for rest times and the end of the day.  I strongly believe that children ages 8-13 still need earlier bedtimes and I work very hard to make that happen. Calming rituals and rhythm are soothing for sleep!

These are a few of my favorite things for teens:

  • Spring cleaning and spring decorating of the home, gardening tasks
  • Spring cooking, making special treats for The Feast of Ascension and Memorial Day
  • Planning surprise May Day baskets for neighbors, and doing things to serve others.
  • Picnics at the lake or park with #socialdistancing
  • Later night walks in the warm air – great time to talk after the smaller children have gone to bed

These are a few of my favorite things for myself:

  • Celebrating our family with family meetings and family game night.
  • Celebrating our marriage with a night out on our anniversary – this year it might just be a drive together to celebrate our 28 years!
  • Vigorously moving 5 to 6 days a week, whether that is through yoga, hiking, at the gym, or whatever I choose.
  • Drinking lots of water and herbal teas.
  • Daily Compline from The Book of Common Prayer
  • I made notes for who I am praying for in my phone with One Note and it has helped me immensely to stay on track and not forget!

These are a few of my favorite things for homeschool planning:

I am starting to work on Botany as our first block for fifth grade in the fall!  Stay tuned, as I may put it out to be able to be purchased when I am done since it’s my third time going through fifth grade.

I would love to hear what you all are up to!

Many blessings and deep peace to you, stay safe,

Carrie

Things I Am Keeping From Quarantine

We are still here in #shelterinplace. My state has been lifted  for certain businesses with regulations (except for the medically compromised who are supposed to #shelterinplace until June 12), but we are still choosing to be home, and #socialdistancing is still in place.  So, I guess our life isn’t changing too much right now.

Interestingly, it  really didn’t change a ton from before #shelterinplace.  We  were used to being home all together when my spouse wasn’t traveling, we were used to all the kids schooling here for the most part, and we were all used to taking care of the house and cooking all the meals because we really didn’t go out to eat a lot as a family (expensive for 5 people, right?) with all of us being home.  We did homeschool before, although our high schoolers were in outside classes that moved to online,  so with this the major changes were that we had less places to go, and my spouse stopped traveling for awhile.

The hardest part was not being able to see family and friends, and also the lines of school and work not having really set times as well as we normally do, especially in the beginning. It all just kind of blended in together, but putting in school and work limits are important for sanity and to not feel glued to the computer all the time.

However, what I did notice that was positive:  since there were less places to be we exercised more, we walked daily, we did more puzzles and things like that together, we baked more (good thing we offset it with exercise), and I actually de-compressed after about six weeks and watched three nights of movies in a row (unheard of) and took a few naps, which I don’t normally do!  We all also read a lot, which we normally did, but now I don’t feel like we were trying to squish the reading in amongst other things. I think we were also more intentional with our home spiritual life, since we were used to being at a place of worship each week and couldn’t go.

So, the things I want to keep from quarantine life:

  1.  Less places to run around to! I know we will be driving to outside classes again in the fall assuming everything opens up completely, but I hope to really keep all the automated deliveries of groceries and household items, to call and/or use telehealth for various medical things, to call and have shipped things like the supplements I take or contact lenses or whatever.  This will help  limit the places I go.
  2. To continue walking daily and to keep exercising at home.  I love the gym and will be back there, but I hope that will be on top of a great home routine!
  3. To put limits on the hours I work (self-employed) so I can have a good balance.
  4. To make Friday nights a crockpot  or grill dinner night and time for our family to gather – kids’ friends welcome, of course.
  5. To make Saturday a day to spend out in nature.  We usually do this, but just to keep it on my radar.  We are lucky to have a yard and our neighborhood connects to trails that we have been able to use  daily during this.
  6. To really keep connecting with the people that I have had Zoom calls with and friends that I have kept close contact with during this time.  Their checking in made a world of difference.
  7. To not put off taking vacations – this has proved we don’t know what will come, so take the vacation!   We had a vacation planned for the first time in two years when this happened, but I hope we get to go somewhere again!
  8. My newfound spiritual traditions – for my religion, using The Book of Common Prayer daily, which in the past I have gone through great spurts of diligence and not, and reading our sacred texts.

What will YOU be keeping from #shelterinplace? What are you excited to get back to?

Blessings and love, stay healthy,
Carrie

11 Lessons From the Midst of A Pandemic

I have been thinking a lot about -“what’s the lesson in all of this? (is there a lesson? Does there always need to be a lesson?)  What will the outcome be in all of this?”  as people talk about what might come out of living in pandemic conditions – will it lead to revolutionary changes in business travel, healthcare, education, the ability for rural areas in the United States to be able to access the Internet better, etc?  Will it cause people to re-evaluate their lifestyles, their level of consuming, their level of using home as a launching pad to other areas of their life – or will they just rush back to how it was before?  And, since a pandemic typically lasts 12-18 months with fewer number of cases and then spikes, what can we do  to make life seamless as things may teeter between open and closed several more times?

I am not sure of any of those answers at this point.  Some people have the privilege to “re-invent” their lives or lifestyles, and some people don’t.  That’s the unfortunate reality.  But, I think to a certain extent I hope we all come away with ideas that could at least enhance our lives wherever we are.  Here are a few ideas-

  1.  Live below our means as much as possible and have savings so when things happen and work is disrupted, we have cushion and the ability to pivot if we need to.
  2. Food storage is a real necessity, and it is important to  build it up slowly and over time.  Just adding one or two extra things into your shopping cart each time you shop can be an easy way to build up stores and not cause too much financial stress or descend into hoarding.
  3. Automate the high demand items.  I automate (have delivered) panty and cleaning items, toilet paper, etc.
  4. Learn how to garden and can food.  Nearly everyone can have some containers if you can’t plant in the ground or grow sprouts and microgreens in the kitchen
  5. Get to know your farmers that are in your area and buy direct from them.   This really saved us during this.  Drive through pick up of an order placed through the Internet!
  6.  Get outside and get in physical shape.  The sunshine and Vitamin D and higher levels of fitness help everyone’s stress levels and immune functioning.  Use all the free workouts available through You Tube.
  7. Shore up your immune system in whatever way that looks like for you.  Most of what I have been reading suggests at least Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc.  Read up on what could help you during times of illness for support as well.
  8. If you are ready, think about your lifesyle.  If you lived more simply, could you work less?  Can you work from home?  Could you have something that makes you money while you sleep?  This book is an oldie but a goodie: “Your Money Or Your Life”  available on Kindle or Audible, updated 2018 –  https://www.amazon.com/Your-Money-Life-Transforming-Relationship-ebook/dp/B0052MD8VO/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_
  9. Lifestyle can extend to school.  I don’t think everyone should homeschool, but I do hope that people can see from this pandemic experience that  learning can be more broad than just going to a school building (and that some families don’t have the tools they need to be successful at home and we need better solutions for that as a society). I would love to see more equity in school funding and more diversity toward if some children do better in a smaller setting.
  10. Understanding that family and our children are the most precious things and that time really isn’t replacable.  The simple things like walks, board games, cooking together are all so valuable.  I hope people come away from this remembering how to be together again – how to eat dinner all together again, how to just be together.
  11. The outpouring of help i have seen toward others needing food, needing help, checking in on one another and encouraging one another, the connection of friends old and new through technology and amazing and interesting  socially distant but creative ways in neighborhoods has been unparalled.  I hope that continues.

Blessings,
Carrie

Eastertide Joy In The Home

Despite #shelteringinplace with #covid19, life continues on.  Where we live in the Deep South, spring is here!  Flowers are blooming, everything is green and beautiful, people are starting their vegetable gardens.  It gives one hope just to look out and see the sun shining and the greenery!

I find this time of year, the 50 days between Easter and Pentecost, to be one of my favorite times of year.  It is hopeful and encouraging and feels like new beginnings.  Being home has provided time and space for thought, and that has been helpful.  It is a great time for new commitments, new ideas and thoughts, and for really discerning the essential.

If you are looking for joyous outward ways to celebrate Eastertide, here are some of my ideas rounded up, great for life with children:  50 Ways to Celebrate Eastertide.  We usually celebrate this by hiking a lot and even camping during Eastertide, which won’t be happening this year. We have all been exercising inside daily and walking, which has helped stave off some feelings of confinement.  We are fortunate as I know some countries you need an essential worker’s pass to be out of the house and an assigned shopping day.

Schoolwork is online for our  high school senior for her outside classes; our freshman is in a four day a week program that went smoothly to completely live online classes, and our little fourth grader is still homeschooling with me.  We started a writing/grammar block, and I will be posting some pictures on The Parenting Passageway’s Facebook page and Instagram account so you can follow along!

Other than that, work continues online for my husband and we are so very grateful,  my school begins again on April 22nd online, and hopefully I will be able to see some patients via telehealth in May.  We have been busy cooking and baking, growing microgreens in the kitchen, doing puzzles, playing board and card games, studying,  painting, reading, taking walks, and checking on our horses (considered an essential activity because we own them and have to provide food).  There have been  little neighborhood activities like a “bear hunt” for the smaller children to find on walks, drives for food for our local food bank and for healthcare workers to provide meals at the hospital, a cute Easter bunny who went around to houses so children could have a visit from 10 feet away, and I hear a Kona ice truck will swing through here in the next few weeks.  Lots to be thankful for!

This Eastertide may be like no other, the future may be uncertain for many of us economically and otherwise, but I am finding the gratitude in this time before the world opens up again.

A little note from my corner of the world,

Carrie

 

 

 

New Normal

I am not sure I have “embraced” this new normal yet.  Have you?  How is the juggling going of school and working going?  There are times this new normal can feel overwhelming and anxiety-provoking.  There are times this new normal feels okay and comforting with my family and outside in my yard (and yes, I feel blessed to have a yard right now).  There are times this new normal is aggravating.  There are times this new normal feels quiet and peaceful.  All the feels!

I have seen a lot of posts asking  what one will “keep” out of this new normal.

I hope the increased empathy and kindness I have seen people give to each other in this time will stay.  I hope the outpouring of  love I have seen for all the teachers, first responders, medical personnel, environmental service workers, grocery store workers, military, farmers, and small business owner stays.

I hope the idea that being with your family (again, I understand not everyone has a loving family situation) can be better than so many of the outside activities that cause you to lose dinner together every night.  That is is okay to be home all together.

I hope the neighborliness of doing things to entertain the children stays (in my neighborhood we have had everything from talent shows on Zoom to collecting money for food for our local hospital to putting bears in the windows for a bear hunt for children).

On a materialistic note, I hope the uptick in being able to order and pick up, or the ability to use telehealth or attend religious services with on line streaming or  any of those things that brings more accessiblity also stays.  On line technology has felt increasingly important to me during this Holy Week in my religion.

So, tell me, is there anything lovely you will keep from this and be your new normal?

Blessings,
Carrie

 

A Simple Plan to Celebrate Holy Week At Home

These are anxious times, and trying to plan an entire week of meaningful activities for Holy Week because church is closed doesn’t sound appealing to many of us right now.  I have been thinking about this for a week or so now – how to pull my family into Holy Week in a way that is thoughtful and yet not overwhelming.  This would normally be a busy time for us outside of our homes as all three of our children sing for our church’s choir and there are many liturgies this week.

For me, I think it comes down to knowing that church isn’t a building, but a community of love and grace that exists outside any walls.  It exists inside my heart.  So  outside of our own individual spiritual work and livestreaming our liturgies, our Holy Week will include the following –

Today, beautiful Palm Sunday – We will hang palms snipped from our inside palm on our front door.  We will livestream liturgy from church and enjoy the beauty of creation in our neighborhood.  A possibility for those of you with small children would be to create a beautiful Easter garden with fast-growing wheatgrass – it should be sprouted by Easter to show new life.

Holy Monday –  Show gratitude.  Make an Easter candle that you can leave on your table unlit until Easter Sunday.  If I had walnuts in the shell, I would make the little walnut boats with melted beeswax and a birthday candle in it and let my children play with this as a contemplative exercise outside on the patio.

Holy Tuesday – Listen to the birds sing.  Have a special gratitude jar for this week and remember the wonderful things of light in our life and in the world.

Holy Wednesday – Dye Easter eggs because it’s a family tradition.  Do a Stations of the Cross service at home. I have pictures I can use, and this is my favorite Stations of the Cross for Global Justice and Reconciliation

Maundy Thursday – This is usually the time of foot washing and the stripping of the altar. It is one of my favorite liturgies outside of Easter Vigil, so I will be livestreaming it.  I have seen suggestions to wash one another’s feet at home and to strip down a table in the home, etc.  These suggestions for some reason do not resonate with me for home.  I am going to keep thinking on this one.  We will have a simple meal, probably soup.  My parish always keeps watch through the night with the entire church body taking shifts at the church to pray, and that could be done at home by setting an alarm and waking up to pray.

Good Friday -We will be reading The Passion and the solemn collects found in our Book of Common Prayer.  This is a day of fasting.

Holy Saturday – At the Easter Vigil at home we will lit our Easter Candle and renew our baptismal vows.

Those are just a few of my ideas – I would love to hear what others are doing!

Many blessings and stay safe,
Carrie