The Second Week of Advent

The first Light of Advent; it is the Light of stones:
The Light that shines in seashells, in crystals and our bones.

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

The third Light of Advent; it is the light of beasts:
The Light of faith that we may see in greatest and in least.

The fourth Light of Advent;  it is the Light of humankind:
The Light of hope, of thoughts and deeds, the Light of hand, heart and mind.

-Traditional Advent Waldorf Verse

This is the second week of Advent, and one of the most wonderful things about this week is the celebration of the plant kingdom.  If you are looking for some ideas for this second week of Advent, try this back post.

Santa Lucia Day is also this week,  on December 13. I love this festival of light, the baking of buns, and the gesture of generosity and love on this day.

Master Waldorf Early Years teacher Christine Natale has generously shared some wonderful original stories about St. Lucy:

Saint Lucy in Sweden with the help of Saint Stephen

A Little Story for Saint Lucy’s Day

There is also this lovely little story that Tiziana Boccaletti  shared here many years ago on The Parenting Passageway:  A Gentle Santa Lucia Story

Here are few back posts about Santa Lucia Day if you are looking for more:

Happy Santa Lucia Day

Santa Lucia Day in the Waldorf Home (2009)

I would love to hear your plans for the week; please share in the comment box or on The Parenting Passageway Facebook page.

Blessings and love,
Carrie

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Great Gifts for Waldorf Homeschooling Mothers

Waldorf homeschooling mothers work so hard!  In a homeschooling world of workbooks and textbooks, Waldorf mothers are often penetrating artistic and academic activities centered around developmental themes for multiple grades.  It is absolutely no easy task, and it takes a lot to bring it every day!

So, with that in mind, I wanted to highlight a few things perhaps you or another Waldorf homeschooling friend would love for the holidays:

For Self-Care

Tea and honey

Beeswax candles

Bath Bombs

Essential Oils

Gift certificate for a massage

Gift certificate for yoga classes

Brush for Dry Skin Brushing

Great lotions or soap

Inner work resources:  Towards the Deepening of Waldorf Education might be a good choice or And Who Shall Teach the Teachers?

 

Books For Thoughtful Family Life

For all mothers:  Adventures in ParentingAnthroposophic Medicine for all the Family: Recognizing and Treating Common Disorders

For mothers with small children: How To Create The Star of Your Family Culture WorkbookWell I Wonder

For mothers with older children  Managing Screen Time: Raising Balanced Children in the Digital Age

 

 

For School: 

Chalk:  These  are on my list to try!

Watercolor Paints

Plant-dyed yarn

Waldorf Education in Practice

I would love to hear what is on your holiday list for yourself this year!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

Making the Holidays Enjoyable!

I have met so many mothers over the years who have a big let-down and feel depressed with birthdays and holidays.  If you have been parenting for any length of time, you may have had some experience with any or all of the following:

  • You cook all day for a meal eaten in a short period of time
  • You spend weeks making homemade gifts for your children, (who may or may not appreciate them).
  • You spend weeks or months planning a birthday party or holiday, and your child melts into a puddle or the gathering doesn’t go well.
  • You spend so much time celebrating all the festivals of winter you feel depleted and exhausted.
  • You say “yes” to everything you are invited to, thinking it will be nice for the children, but they are overloaded on sugar, out of their usual rhythm, overexcited, and their behavior is hard for you to manage.

This absolutely doesn’t happen to everyone. Some people really have simplicity for the holidays down pat or they have expectations that these things will surely happen along the way.  I often think about my friends who have four to ten children or more – something is always happening, and I think mothers who have one to four  children should also understand there is no such thing as perfect  with holiday celebrations either!

Perhaps it is just the build up to holidays (and the subsequent let down) seems to happen much more now than it did when I was growing up.  I think a lot of it has to do with Pinterest and Instagram and such. There is this notion that the mother should be working extra hard for everyone to have a nice holiday and it should be just so special that the likes of it have never been seen before!

I think there there are some simple things you can do to make the holidays enjoyable. If you can use this use this week, the week before Advent even begins, to see what you can do with the calender, the budget, and everything else, the holidays may be more enjoyable than ever before!

In Waldorf homeschooling families, this can be especially important for those celebrating many winter festivals – St. Nicholas Day, Santa Lucia, Winter Solstice, Christmas, the 12 days of Christmas, etc.  This can be many days of preparation, even if you try to keep it simple!  The goal is sustainability and fun!

So, here are some of the things I have mulled over and done in the past regarding holidays and fun:

Decide what the overall focus is….for our family, Advent and Christmastide are part of our religion and spiritual path of the year, so attending our place of worship is a priority, as is spending time together doing cozy things like crafting, baking, being in nature, kindness and service to others.

If you have small children under the age of 9, you are probably still establishing traditions.  This doesn’t have to be done in one year; you can layer it over many years.  Some traditions will change as your children become teenagers (and many traditions will stay and the teenagers will secretly love the traditions, even if they complain!)

Keep decorating super simple unless you absolutely love to decorate.

Keep food preparation simple for holiday meals and for the entire month of December. The crockpot or instapot is your friend.  There are many healthy recipes out there!

If the holidays are about being together, how about doing it at home?  Decide how many days you really  want to commit to be out of the home. Factor in end of school performances, recitals, banquets and more.  If there are many of these, then the rest of the time you may just want to be home.

What is your budget?  If you override your budget and bring in the New Year financially poor, that is no fun.  Keep gift-giving simple!  What are the expectations for gift-giving in your family?

On the flip side, for Waldorf families who like to make everything and have a homemade Christmas – will it all be done?  Is it feasible to do all of that on top of school in December (if you do school in December; many homeschooling families do not) and on top of all the other commitments?

Where is the time to just bake cookies, or just go outside for  a walk in the crisp air or sit with a great book?

What can you do to keep bedtimes and mealtimes as rhythmic as possible despite travel, parties, or outside activities?

If you are traveling, do you have to?  Would you like to just have a holiday at home?  How far is the travel?  Would it be easier to have family come to your house?

Make self-care a priority. I like Jamie Martin’s self care calendar for the introvert for Advent here.  You can download it for free!  I think everyone, not just introverts, need to protect themselves during the holidays.

Share with me your ideas for keeping the holiday season simple, manageable, and meaningful!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

Getting Ready for Advent!

We are so fortunate that Advent begins this year on December 3rd!  I always feel a little behind the ball when Advent starts the weekend directly after Thanksgiving.  So, these few days after Thanksgiving are finding me gathering some of the things we need for our first week of Advent, which will cover December 3rd – December 10th.

For me, there are a few main things I love about this week, including gathering the greens for our Advent wreath and setting that up, (along with gathering the minerals, rocks, bones, and other representations of the mineral kingdom we will use in our wreath this first week); finding our Advent calendar and setting it up; and gathering stories and recipes and things to do for this first week that have to do with Saint Nicholas Day, which is December 6th.

If you would like to learn a little more about Saint Nicholas Day, I suggest these two back posts:

Saint Nicholas Day in the Waldorf Home

Musings on Saint Nicholas and Starting New Holiday Traditions by Christine Natale

I also suggest looking at the wonderful St. Nicholas Center.  There are incredible stories there, including ones by Parenting Passageway contributor Christine Natale!

If you are on the hunt for great books to build your Advent library (or some families will wrap 24 books, one to be unwrapped and read for every day of December until Christmas Day), I suggest the Advent book lists by Elizabeth Foss:

Advent and Christmas with Tomie dePaola

Read Aloud books for Advent

And here is a back post with a book list specifically for Saint Nicholas Day:

Favorite Stories for Saint Nicholas Day

Happy Planning!  I will be posting pictures of some of our activities on The Parenting Passageway Facebook page!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

Preparing for Advent 2017

Advent is a time of anticipation and waiting in the Christian tradition.  In the tradition of the Waldorf schools, however, Advent is accessible to all faiths as a season of hope and waiting; a season of lightness in the dark.

One thing I love to do around Thanksgiving is to start to gather greens that we will use to build an Advent wreath. Many families find an Advent wreath with a verse to be a comforting daily or weekly ritual.  The verse that many Waldorf families use with their Advent wreath is this one:

The first Light of Advent It is the Light of stones:
The Light that shines in seashells In crystals and our bones.

The second Light of Advent It is the Light of plants:
Plants that reach up to the sun And in the breezes dance.

The third Light of Advent, It is the light of beasts:
The Light of faith that we may see In greatest and in least.

The fourth Light of Advent It is the Light of humankind:
The Light of hope, of thoughts and deeds,
The Light of hand, heart and mind.

Each week, one can choose to add the things mentioned in the verse – seashells and crystals; plants; wooden animals or other representations of the animal kingdom and then lastly representations of the human realm.

There are so many wonderful Advent ideas and books out there.  Some of the favorites I have had from over the years include the ebooks from Little Acorn Learning and from Annette over at Seasons of Joy.  You can also see my Nativity Fast/Advent Pinterest board and my General Advent board.

Here are some back posts about Advent, Winter Celebrations, and the first week of Advent:

Advent For All Ages

The Mystery of Advent

The Inner Work of Advent

Advent and Winter Celebrations

The First Week of Advent 2009

The First Week of Advent 2010

The First Week of Advent 2011

The First Week of Advent 2012

The First Week of Advent 2015

The First Week of Advent 2016

 

Please share your Advent traditions!

Blessings,
Carrie

 

Thanksgiving Fun

I have to be totally honest. Thanksgiving is not really one of my favorite holidays.  I mean, I enjoy the attitude of gratitude, but I really don’t enjoy the whole sit around and eat. First of all, I don’t love sitting that much.  And I don’t enjoy that Thanksgiving in the United States has become really no more than a prelude to the crazy commercial holiday season of December, and that makes me sad.

So, this year, I would love to see people making Thanksgiving about connections and gratitude (not just food). I would love to see more people boycott Black Friday in favor of getting outside with their family.  I would love to see some meaningful traditions that involve more than copious amounts of food.

How about any of the following:

  • Volunteer to help others.  
  • Invite someone who would otherwise be alone to be a part of your Thanksgiving feast.
  • Pick out a charity to support until next Thanksgiving.  Share your favorites in the comment box!
  • Go to your place of worship
  • Make a gratitude jar, or have a gratitude tree where things one is grateful for are written down and read at dinner
  • Take a walk and get outside.  My ultimate dream is actually to camp on Thanksgiving.  Maybe one year!

If you have small children, really do think ahead. Sometimes Thanksgiving can feel rather “adult” with the adults just sitting around and talking.  Not much fun for children!  Bring crafts for the children to do, get a copy of the book “Cranberry Thanksgiving” and make cranberry bread (you can see the recipe here), help the children be involved in cooking and setting the table, learn some Thanksgiving music (you can see suggestions in this back post, “A Waldorf View of Thanksgiving.”) that you all can sing and play after dinner.

Please share with me your favorite family traditions!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

November Beauty

I shall not sing a May song.

A May song should be gay.

I’ll wait until November

And sing a song of gray.

I’ll wait until November

That is the time for me.

I’ll go out in the frosty dark

And sing most terribly.
And all the little people

Will stare at me and say, “That is the Crazy Woman Who would not sing in May.”
-“The Crazy Woman” by Gwendolyn Brooks

 

I know for some people the days in November get too dark and too gray, but  I always try to remember that November is a lovely month in so many ways.  It is a month full of gratitude for the season and it has that snuggly,cozy feeling as the days become longer and darker.

This month we are celebrating:

  • November 1 All Saints Day
  • November 2 All Souls Day
  • November 10/11  Martinmas and Veterans Day (technically both on the 11th but our town had a community celebration for Veterans Day on the 10th)
  • November 19 St. Elizabeth
  • November 23 Thanksgiving
  • November 27  I have it in my calendar to make Advent Wreaths in preparation for the first Sunday in Advent, December 3rd.  (Hard to believe Advent is almost upon us!  If you want a little peek ahead, try my Advent Pinterest Board)

Learning and celebrating:

  • Learn songs for a Martinmas Lantern Walk
  • Use transparency paper to make window silhouettes and transparency cut-outs and lanterns.
  • Bake bread on the cold days
  • Look for bird’s  nests as the trees lose their leaves; make feeders start to be filled all the time, make treats for the birds
  • Dip leaves in glycerin or beeswax and preserve them
  • Cook things with cranberries, corn, and pumpkin.
  • Learn some Thanksgiving songs and practice so you can play them after Thanksgiving Dinner!
  • Find a place to volunteer to serve Thanksgiving dinner
  • Make Thanksgiving Baskets and leaving them on your neighbor’s doorstep!
  • Gather greens and natural items to use for an Advent Wreath.  We do this at church from the areas surrounding the church and it is quite lovely!
  • Find books, cozy blankets and pillows, and mark off half days for just reading and lounging around. Pull out candles, homemade Martinmas lanterns, salt lamps  and scatter them around.  Cuddle up and read with some fabulous tea or hot chocolate.
  • Find handwork projects that you will love and get started.

Other Ideas for this month:

  • Get a small jump on gifts for the holidays. Here is my Pinterest Board of holiday gifts to make
  • Make sure you are still getting your Vitamin N and get out in nature!
  • Dream a little about the next school year in homeschooling ❤

Blessings and love,
Carrie