The Amazing Birthday

Above my head the stars do shine

Each star is like a flame,

And one is mine, that o’er me shone

When to this earth I came.

Upon this Earth my step is firm,

The stones are ‘neath my feet

I see the birds and beasts and flowers,

And loving people greet.

And every year the day returns

When my star shineth bright,

And I receive within my heart

The glory of its light.

-from “Waldorf Education:  A Family Guide”, page 130

Birthdays  in the Waldorf tradition for small children often involve a cape and a crown, lovely homemade cupcakes that are not too sugary, wishes from others for the development of character traits or the simple things in life, simple gifts of unusual stones, shells, flower petals.  It may involve a story of the child’s birth.  As the years go by, the cape and crown and simple gifts may recede, but the sentiments remain the same.

Today is my birthday, and I find it is an amazing day full of gratitude.  I am so grateful for all the things I learned in the last year, even the hard things!  I am grateful to be here for yet another birthday (47 today!), and grateful my husband has celebrated 29 birthdays with me.

Being in the late 40’s is empowering.  The crisis of 35-42 is gone, and I find these late 40s  on the cusp of a new cycle to be one of imagination, newness, warmth, and confidence.  I am so looking forward to this year and to 49 next year – the beginning of a new seven year cycle of 49-56 which I hope will bring more fun, more adaptability and humor.  My husband expressed to me this morning that life is a journey and how we enjoy the ride together.  This may sound like a cliche, but not at our age.  There are so many new possibilities to be open to, and the ability to grow and change together.  I have ideas just flowing into my head lately, and hope to be able to make at least a small part of them reality!

I hope when you have your birthday, you remind yourself of your own special energy, your own special thing that you bring to this short walk on earth, the wonderful gifts that you bring, and all the possibilities that life has for you.  It should be no less special to have  birthday when we are fifty  than when we are four.  Let us not forget!

Many blessings to you, my friends, and thank you for reading here.

Carrie

Advertisements

Creating A Waldorf Home

Today I submitted our Declaration of Intent to our state to homeschool for another year.  Tenth, seventh, and second grade here we come!  Eleven years of homeschooling! Eleven years of Waldorf at home!

What really makes a Waldorf home or a Waldorf homeschooling experience? Many families who are interested in Waldorf homeschooling and in creating a Waldorf home post on Facebook groups and in forums about creating a Waldorf environment in the home and seem much more interested in adding wooden toys and silks and such to their homes in an effort to make a Waldorf environment.  I have written about this numerous times before on this blog, and I call this the “hands stage” of Waldorf homeschooling.  It is the making of things, and the toys,  that attract many without understanding much depth about Waldorf Education in general.  This is not a bad thing, as this can morph into a greater feeling and thoughtfulness in understand the “why’s” of Waldorf Education in the future.

However, I believe that whilst wooden toys and silks are wonderful and good, it doesn’t take a lot of money to have a Waldorf home focused on simplicity and love.  This is especially true as children age and the days of wooden toys and silks, (although still loved, because who doesn’t love beauty?), are gone.  The basis of rhythm and some of the fundamentals of the Waldorf home still remain.

Some of the favorite things that I identify with a Waldorf home include:

Connection.  If the heart of Waldorf Education in a school is about the social organism that the class becomes, Waldorf homeschooling is about the connection between family members and between family members and the community in which we live. It means developing compassion and kindness for all people; this extends throughout all ages and is a constant source of inner work for adults.

Rhythm.  If one plans rhythm from your family values and according to the needs of all family members, rhythm is something that sustains you throughout all the years. Many of us still have baking day with teens in the house that we held when our children were tiny.  The rhythm doesn’t have to change too much throughout the years, so long as you keep to…

Simplicity.   In terms of time, this means making time for what matters.  Simplicity is a key of Waldorf homemaking, so we can say no to things, even good things, and have time for the things that mean the most to us as a family.  With the  issue of things, it means valuing re-using, recycling, upcycling, and hand making things.

Boundaries. Rhythm and simplicity is also about boundaries, which is an important part of Waldorf Education that many parents overlook. Boundaries help our tiny children grow into self-assured young men and women who are differentiated from us and who can live life purposefully.  Boundaries are not arbitrary, but based upon the understanding of the human being.

Low to no media, and I would add for older teens (high school), being able to see a computer or other tech for what it is – a tool.   Again, this doesn’t have to change a lot with teens in the house.  Tech can still be used and loved but also limited for time or content for the sake of balance, because even adults can have a hard time getting their footing with tech and phones.  Again, working with these things requires a knowledge of the development of the human being.

Nature.  Whilst many children become more sedentary the older they become, it doesn’t have to be that way.  Providing opportunities to be outside many hours a day, working hard and playing hard, is something totally adaptable from tinies up through teenagers.

Work.  Waldorf education not only values practicality and hand-making, but an experiential, working approach to life.  Instead of just sitting and watching, the Waldorf home is about doing.  We all take care of our home, each other, and our animals and plants because we are all connected.

Flexibility and problem-solving, being able to do positive, purposeful things for ourselves and others, clear thinking, creativity, kindness, compassion and connectedness are just a few things that become the foundation of character of children raised in Waldorf homes. This, to me, is the heart of the Waldorf home.

Much love to you all,

Carrie

 

 

 

Rhythm Is Peace

Rhythm can sound like that elusive thing.  Sure, other families can have a rhythm and routine to their day, but it seems so unattainable, some parents say.  Yet most parents I know desperately WANT a rhythm and routine in their household.  They want things to run peaceably and they know rhythm is a key to that; it is indeed a key to the functioning of the human body!  Just imagine if our heart decided to beat irregularly or our lungs just decided to not breath for a few minutes. Rhythm is the well spring of life, for the body and the soul.

The top five reasons some mothers have told me they just cannot get a rhythm for their family going, even though they want to:

  1. “I hate rigidity” – A rhythm can be flexible; it can have a flow to it without times attached to it. Rhythm actually helps you be MORE flexible because what is essential to getting done will get done and you will have more time for sponaneous helping of neighbors and for having fun!
  2. “I am unorganized” – All the more reason to have a rhythm; rhythm is a great collector of the soul. A rhythm will help you and your family feel safe, secure, and grounded.
  3. “I am so stressed out” – Rhythm helps take away much of your stress because it acts as an aid to rest and sleep, an aid to gentle discipline, an aid to getting the essential things done, and an aid to helping you take care of yourself.
  4. “I can’t get a rhythm until X, Y,Z changes” – Rhythm is for where you are right here and right now!  Things may not be perfect in your life or in your home environment, but having a rhythm come first can be a big help in taking baby steps toward other goals because you can build time toward these goals in your rhythm.
  5. “I am always behind and can’t get ahead”- Rhythm is a great help in order to break things up into small bits and pieces that feel mother-sized, rather than overwhelming.

I find an easy place to start is often with rising times and going to bed times, and then build rhythm from there.  Some families find it easier to start with meal times.  Whatever the case, you can start small and tailor it to your own family.  Baby steps!

May this be the season of rhythm and renewal for you!

Blessings,
Carrie

July Menu Planning

Menu planning can feel so slack in the summer heat.  Not many feel like standing over a hot stove in the heat and here it is hot and humid.  I sure didn’t feel like cooking either, and felt like we were grilling a lot or having breakfast for dinner toward the end of June.

So, for July, I did a different way of menu planning than I ever have done before.  I took a piece of watercolor paper and divided it into four sections: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks/desserts.  From there I just filled in recipes, and will choose from these dishes each week when I menu plan and grocery shop.

For breakfast, I have dishes to choose from such as:  tropical overnight oats, overnight oatmeal power bowl, black bean rancheros, veggie frittata, berry quinoa, or yogurt pancakes.

For lunch, I have mainly salad choices and bowls:  burrito bowl, bacon/egg/rice bowl, chicken and cucumber -tomato salad, kale caesar salad, slow cooker baked potatoes, or lime shrimp and avocado salad.

For dinner, I have grilled chicken and tomatillos, roasted tomatillo salmon, Cuban bison flank steak, slow cooker bean burritos, mojito pork,  and chili-spiced fish with roasted cabbage.

For desserts and snacks I have hard boiled eggs and raw veggies, zucchini banana flaxseed muffins, grilled bananas or crockpot chocolate molten cake.

Share with me what you are eating or planning to try in July!

Blessings,
Carrie

Celebrating July

July is here!  Many summer it is so hot in the Deep South I feel as if we have lived in a pool since May and am tired of the wide open sun and heat, but this year has been quite rainy (after two years or so of drought!), so this year feels much less fatiguing.

July is the month of barbeques, picnics, camping, lakes and pools and river tubing.  It is a month of festive American celebrations and slowing down.  Here is what we will be celebrating this month:

July 4th – Independence Day!  The birth our nation!

July 22 – Feast Day of St. Mary Magdalene

July 25 – Feast Day of St. James the Apostle

July 26 – The Feast Day of St. Anne and St. Joachim

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!
  • 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

Homeschool Planning:

I am so happy to hear about so many homeschooling mothers attending in -person conferences!  There are currently conferences by held by Live Education, Christopherus, and Waldorf Essentials in-person (plus summers at places like Sunbridge and Rudolf Steiner College)  and an on-line conference focusing on Waldorf math by Jamie York of Making Math Meaningful.

My personal goals include having 75 percent of my planning done by the end of July. I have most of second grade planned out, but there were a lot of bits and pieces – math for the year, blocks, weekly activities like painting and crafts, and daily things for our older girls to do with our second grader. I still have circle time to plan, and music.  I have about half of seventh grade planned, and only about thirty percent of tenth grade.  The things we are doing in combination, including writing, project-based math, health/physiology, a monthly themed “block” that mainly is overlap between tenth and seventh grade are also pretty well mapped out at least.  Coming back with a roar for the fall! Hope you are getting some planning done as well.

I would love to hear your summer plans and what you are up to in July!

Many blessings,
Carrie

On the Eve of St. John’s Tide

“John the Baptist represents man at the center of history, devoted to what is beyond himself, to the revelation of the spirit brought by Christ.  His summons was to turn inward, to search within toward a confrontation with oneself.”

-from “Waldorf Education:  A Family Guide, ” page 175

St. John’s Tide is a wonderful time to ask ourselves….

are we being helpful to humanity?  As a mother, I feel the very best place to begin with this endeavor is in our own homes and with our own children.  Don’t give in to fear and insecurity in leading and guiding your children; search for the fearlessness in the heart of your parenting.  This generation of children needs that in order to develop heart, word, and deed devoted to humanity.

are we honest?

are we peaceful?

where is our balance?

How do we work on these endeavors and more in our lives? I find inner work to be a resounding key for this because our model is more important in these times than our words.  Our model is making a way and a path for our children and what the world will need when it is this generation’s turn to be  leaders and architects of solutions to problems.

Some of my favorite ways to do inner work is very simple indeed:

Praying- I am Episcopalian, so following The Book of Common Prayer is what unites the people of the Anglican Communion; a way of prayer.  When we ask for help from the spiritual world and listen in our hearts for the answer, we find the model we need.

Attending mass and receiving the sacraments

Listening to people; listening to what is becoming in the world.  This requires an interest in the outside world, and using imagination and intuition.

Trying to picture my spouse and children as clearly as possible and taking these pictures into my sleep.  Don’t we all often do our best thinking in our sleep?

Wishing you a magnificent St. John’s Tide;  perhaps you will spend the day outside with cooking over open fires or creating a bonfire that you can leap over; finding edible flowers; creating platters of fruits; gathering sunflowers and leaving a light on the porch burning all night long.  However you choose to celebrate, may renewal and transformation be yours.

Blessings,
Carrie

 

 

The Beauty of Summer Solstice

King Sun he climbs the summer sky

Ascending ever higher.

He mounts his gay midsummer throne,

all made of golden fire.

His flowing mantle, flowing free,

His shining gifts he showers

All golden on the earth and sea,

On men and beasts and flowers.

-From “Summer” by Wynstones Press

Beautiful sunny summer is here!  Images of beaches, the ocean, radiating sun, heat and warmth, dragonflies, bees, butterflies, and sunflowers are filling my head right now in my happiness that summer has arrived!

I have been collecting verses and songs for summer.  My favorites can be found in “Summer” by Wynstones Press and “The Singing Year” by Candy Verney.  At this time of year, I like to change the nature table to  just a little cloth and  a small vase of flowers although pebbles, seaglass and shells often make their way to our table.   I have a little branch hanging in my school room, and I would like to make some little sylphs, those little elements of air and warmth the way gnomes are seen in Waldorf education as elementals of the earth, to hang from this branch.  This is also the time of year I love to re-read Steiner’s lectures about bees and butterflies.    Have you read those?  They are very inspiring!

For work with small children, one could consider many little projects as an adjunct to outside play, such as sand painting, making terrariums, and making grass dolls.  I like to save shooting streamer ball kinds of projects for Michaelmas, but some make these types of toys now as well.

One project I want to make with our rising second grader next week is a large moving picture of a boat and fish.  There is an example of this in the book, “Earthways” by Carol Petrash and you can see an example of a very large moving picture I made for Vacation Bible School in this back post  (and yes,  that is me and our now almost eight- year- old back when he was still able to be with me in a sling when I taught!).  I put together that giant-sized mural in one afternoon by soaking the pieces of paper in the bathtub as they were rather large, but it was not a difficult project.  Perhaps you would enjoy creating something like this with your children!

Other fun things include all the summer gardening – bean teepees and sunflower houses-, and all the wonderful baking with berries available this time of year.  Many of you are no doubt collecting and drying herbs for your family’s use as well!

We are still keeping to our rhythms of mealtimes and bedtimes.  I was recently re-reading the article, “Rhythm During the Summer” by Karen Rivers in the book, “Waldorf Education:  A Family Guide” in which the author writes that “the daily and weekly rhythm of the school year have a deep significance for children especially up to the age of fourteen…Therefore, we invite you to bring as much form and regularity into your child’s summer life as you possibly can.”  This is a wonderful time to bring in more work, more chores, and some activities to be alternated with free time.

I hope you are having a wonderful summer; look for some upcoming posts about celebrating June and St. John’s Tide; planning for homeschooling; gentle discipline and communicating with our children and more.

Many blessings in this fruitful period,

Carrie