Winter Solstice

Today is the shortest day of the year, and to me, one of the beginning of a season of community, storytelling and gathering, but also one of introspection and rest.

I always felt like the introspection and rest  of the entire winter season was an interesting contrast to the feasting of Christmastide (that begins on Tuesday) in the Christian calendar, but the older I become I see Christmastide as both feasting and introspection.   Solistice, to me, begins the time when I think about how I am going to spend the Twelve Days of Christmas, which begin on Christmas Day (this year it is on Tuesday!  Not that many days away), and ends with the feast of Epiphany/Three Kings Day.   If you are interested in planning a bit ahead for the twelve days of Christmas and some inner work, here is a back post linking some ideas.  Here is an introspective approach I took one year through biography.

For today, though,  here are a few thoughts for celebrating:

  • Watch the sunrise or the sunset
  • Have yellow, round warming foods
  • Create live music!
  • Hike, backpack, picnic
  • Use only candlelight today or have a candlelit dinner
  • Make Sun Bread (do you have the little book?  This is the link to “Sun Bread” on Amazon
  • Tell stories about the animals
  • Make yellow window stars, star lanterns, window transparencies
  • Ski or snowshoe if you live in a climate for that. All we are getting where I live is cold, gray rain.
  • Go out and see the full moon and the meteor shower.  There was a recent article about this here.
  • Try some of the ideas from the Danish concept of hygge.  I personally like the book, “Making Winter: A Hygge-inspired Guide For Surviving the Winter Months”
  • Be inspired by viewing some beautiful winter art, like Henry Farrer’s “Winter Scene In Moonlight” and others.

Hope you have a wonderful day marking this transition into winter.  I would love to hear your plans!  Comment below!

Blessings and love,

Carrie

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

 

 

 

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

 

Setting Intentions For The Holidays

Americans will be celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow; a time of gratitude and wonder at the gifts we have in our lives.  For many, this seems like the big kick-off (excuse the football analogy; many Americans spend time watching football on Thanksgiving as well) to a rather hectic wind-down of school, tests, performances and recitals, awards banquets, holiday making and crafting and baking, gift buying, figuring out where to celebrate what, and more….It really can be exhausting!

So, what if for this year, we all set beautiful intentions around the holidays?  Intentions to keep ourselves running at a perhaps steady but not crazy pace?

There, are of course, the “don’t”‘s….

You don’t have to volunteer to run everything for your children unless you enjoy that! You can be a participant, a helper – you don’t have to be the main person running everything.

You don’t have to celebrate the holidays three times with different sections of the family unless you enjoy that!

You don’t have to go to every awards banquet or holiday party.

You don’t have to break your budget for the holidays and go into the New Year feeling broke.  It is not about the presents!

There are, instead the “do”‘s….

I will enjoy the holidays and the level of being busy that I commit to.

I will enjoy making a few things that won’t keep me up all night for nights on end trying to finish it all.

I will enjoy the holiday baking and cooking and if not,I will buy something and not feel badly at all about it.

I will enjoy making gifts and picking out thoughtful and meaningful gifts for my children and family members without feeling the need for “more”.

I will take care of myself throughout the holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends,

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

Glorious November

Alone in the night
On a dark hill
With pines around me
Spicy and still,

And a heaven full of stars
Over my head
White and topaz
And misty red;

Myriads with beating
Hearts of fire
That aeons
Cannot vex or tire;

Up the dome of heaven
Like a great hill,
I watch them marching
Stately and still,

And I know that I
Am honored to be
Witness
Of so much majesty

-“Stars” by Sara Teasdale

I love November in all its crisp leaved, golden sunset, chill temperatures.  The leaves are FINALLY turning here where I live, and it feels like the beauty and coziness of fall is upon us at last.

This is a wonderful month of celebrations for our family:

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.
  • Try the book Cranberry Thanksgiving and make cranberry bread!
  • 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.
  • Order some woolens for your family members; my favorite place to get them is Green Mountain Organics

For littles especially:

For the older children:

  • Get them involved in your autumn traditions – baking, cooking, cleaning, taking care of the birds outside, hiking, star watching, volunteering.
  • Think of traditions of gratitude and light.  Some teens may no longer love a lantern walk (although I still love it and I am an adult), but some teens might go for a big bonfire with friends on Martinmas.
  • Some thoughts:  Cultivating Gratitude in Children

Inner Work:

The Homeschooling Corner: (where we are!)

Let’s see… our third grader is moving quite slowly.  We are still working on basic reading and math skills, and moving from gardening and grains of the world now into math based upon the book “Farmer Boy” and then into the Old Testament.  He is busy with lots of music – percussion, piano, voice- and soccer, karate, and church.  Our eighth grader has two outside classes and has found it hard to balance everything, but we are finishing up a literature block that was short stories and the novel “The Old Man and the Sea” and moving into Revolutions.  She is busy with music – violin and voice- and horses and church.  Our eleventh grader is taking classes mainly outside the home, and we are moving through chemistry at home this year.   She is also busy with music – voice- and horses and some exploring into careers at our local children’s hospital and church.   It hasn’t been a bad year, perhaps a slow but steady pace, which is fine with me.  I am feeling grateful. Come follow me on IG @theparentingpassageway where I post many of the resources we are using, pictures of main lesson work, and more.

The Episcopalian Corner

Blessings upon you this wonderful month,

Carrie

 

Mothering Love

Today is Mother’s Day in the United States.  I find it interesting to reflect that as parents, we all come with our own stories of how we were mothered and by whom.

We also have our own journeys into parenting, the births of our children, the developing and deepening of the parenting arts.

We have our own ideas about what it means to be an incredible parent, and how we make our choices to support that.

We have our own strengths and weaknesses, our own failings and foibles.

However, whatever all this might mean,  at the end of the day, parenting is all about relationships and guiding.  It is also about the relationship with ourselves that we develop through our experiences of mothering, and how we so hope and work toward having strong family bonds to carry us through the ups and downs and storms of life.

Today, I honor all my readers in their parenting journey.  You are amazing in the trenches of parenting, and I see you.

My grandmother wrote this toast for a mother-daughter luncheon long before I was born, but its words still ring true today:

Here’s to mothers who waken and watch while others sleep, who toil while others rest, who remember when others forget, who are always close at hand when we rise with the pride that comes before a fall and who are ever making our tumbles easier and our bumps less painful.. Our mothers, whom we shall always follow with blind confidence in their wisdom and strength to guide us in the right direction.
Here’s to our mothers, in memory of our cradle days, in memory of our after years of success, in memory of laughter, of labor and love. The bigger we get, the better we love them. The higher we go, the farther we venture from security and contentment, the surer and more close will be our hold upon our mothers.
If I could mark it on the sands of time, or write it on the sky of every clime, this would I write and write in boldest hand that all the world might see and understand, that far and wide, there could not be another,so fine, so sweet, so wonderful as Mother. 

May you all have a wonderful day!

Blessings,

Carrie