Four Steps Toward Parenting Together

I have heard it said that parenting involves not just thinking alike, but thinking together.  Parenting in a relationship means that the needs and thoughts of both parties have to be considered and communicated and compromised upon.  It is hard work, but I encourage you to do the work.  If I have parents reading this who are in their 20s and early 30s, I really want to encourage you to do this work now.   I am in my 40s, and unfortunately there are many divorces going on amongst beautiful couples that we know – but most of the divorces had roots from when these couples were in their late twenties or early thirties.  So, I would like to share five tips for those working toward parenting (and unifying other aspects of their life as well!) together.

  1.  Parenting is just one aspect of how a couple communicates, respects and appreciates each other. I think “parenting” comes up as this hot button – whether it is breastfeeding, c0-sleeping, educational choices, discipline – but it really is a facet of: how do we communicate as a couple; does my spouse or partner respect me by listening to me and respecting my ideas and opinions as well; do we appreciate what each one of us brings to the table in this process?  What do we both really value most for our family life?
  2. If communication skills and compromise are difficult and you both feel as if you are just going over the same thing in a circular fashion with no compromise or resolution, get help from a third party (earlier rather than later!).  Many counselors work on a sliding scale, and many places of religious worship offer counseling as well. This chapter (https://theparentingpassageway.com/2012/08/26/overcome-gridlock-the-seven-principles-for-making-marriage-work/)  in Dr. Gottman’s book about overcoming gridlock could also be helpful to you as a process at home.
  3. Have a set time to address challenges that are coming up in family life.  When is actually a good time to talk through things that are important, where you can focus together without being interrupted?
  4. Cultivate some patience.  Not every issue in attempting to co-parent or be unified always works out in compromise; sometimes the differences are still there but they are livable differences.  Sometimes opinions change as one partner models things and shares with the other partner.

Many blessings,
Carrie

Meal Planning for January

I love these cold January days.  We have been hiking numerous days in a row, the sun shining through the bare trees, the hawks flying around us, the rivers running fast and high.

We have also been home, basking in candlelight, salt lamps, cozy woolen warmth and fires.  Books and board games and creating things.  It makes my heart so happy.  We have had places to get to, but not so much that one feels rushed or overwhelmed.  I love this time of year.  One thing I deeply enjoy this time of year is the warmth and love of the kitchen. I have a pot of bone broth going right now.  I love to cook and I cook frequently.  Warming foods seems so important.  I am no cooking expert at all, but I would love for my readers to  share some ideas for your favorite foods for this month and ideas for meal planning, and I will share a few of mine.

For warming drinks for little people, I like warm apple cider and raspberry tea.  For older children, I like hot chocolate.  Bone broths can also be a satisfying hot drink.

Smoothies feel a little out of place to me in January when it is cold, but I have to admit that sometimes a smoothie is my breakfast or lunch when everyone else wants something that is higher in carbohydrates that I don’t feel like eating.  I like ice with water, chocolate protein powder, a banana, and a little bit of chocolate coconut almond butter.  You could also add greens to it, and whatever powdered adaptogenic herbs you like.

For breakfasts, we have been having spinach scrambled eggs in tortillas with salsa, waffles on special festival days, buttermilk pancakes, and oatmeal done in a rice cooker with cinnamon and chopped apple.  Also, we have been juicing.  For my husband especially I have been making a combination of beet, apple, pear, carrot and lemon.  It is yummy, and our six year old really likes it too!

Lunch has always been the hardest meal for me to figure out.  I recently took Beauty That Moves Freezer Cooking Class.  I love Heather’s recipes, and I have been trying out many of her recipes from this class for lunch.  So, right now on our rotation we have some legume dishes, soups, and rice bakes and I usually cook fish for one lunch a week.

For dinner, we usually do some sort of crockpot meal.  This can include pastured chicken or pork from our local farmer or some sort of bison, along with some vegetarian meals.  I am not huge on wheat, but we do like barley or millet mixed with lentils or split peas or roasted potatoes and lots of vegetables.

I have been trying to cut desserts down after the holidays, which is hard with the sweet tooth of all the children, so if we have to have something baked apples are so warm and lovely.

I would love to hear what you have been cooking!

Blessings,
Carrie

The Impulse of Martin Luther King Jr.

Only three  American federal holidays are named after specific people:  George Washington’s birthday, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  The impulse of Dr. King has been on my mind as of late, in this month of celebration of his life and legacy.  I have long written about bringing the American impulse into Waldorf homeschooling  and American festivals into the cycle of the year, and this is the first chance we have to do this in a formal way in 2016.

We are lucky to live in the Deep South and within driving distance of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic site.  It was a beautiful day as we explored the site, which included  the Ebenezer Baptist Church Heritage Sanctuary, The King Center (which includes biographical exhibits on Dr. King and Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, and Mahatma Gandhi), Historic Fire Station No. 6,  the King Birth Home, the Historic Residential Area and the National Park Visitor Center.  Dr. King is widely celebrated for his oratory prowess, his work in the American Civil Rights Movement as a strategist and his tireless purpose of peace.  He was the youngest person to ever receive the Nobel Peace Prize at the time.

The federal holiday of Dr. King has turned most frequently into a day of service, so I encourage you to use this day as a day of community service and giving  with your family.

If you are searching for resources for songs and stories for the day, I recommend the following:

For stories, try the story “Impressions” over at  Sparkle Stories.  This story should be up on Monday.  I believe telling stories from your own heart are the best and in keeping with Dr. King’s amazing oration, but there are amazing  picture books regarding Dr. King.   For picture books, I like the book “The Cart That Carried Martin” (pre-read, it is about his funeral) and  the book “I Have A Dream”.  I also have been looking at the book, “Love Will See You Through” (for older children).

For music, I love the spirituals:  Yonder Come Day; Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, Go Down Moses; Hold On; Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around.

If you are searching for more regarding the impulse of Martin Luther King Jr in light of Waldorf Education and the work of Rudolf Steiner, I recommend AnthroMama’s  post from 2009.

I would love to hear your family’s traditions for this holiday.

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

 

 

 

The January Book Box

These are the books we are diving into this month.  I hope to hear what you are reading to your children, too!

(For those of you home educating with Waldorf Education, please do remember that small winter verses are sufficient up to four years of age or longer and then simple little told stories.  You can look up back posts to see the progression of verses and nursery rhymes to repetitive stories to longer stories to eventually longer stories, simple books and chapter books.  There is a progression, so know this list is intended for those searching, but not necessarily for all of these to be read at one time to a child  no matter what age! You are the expert on your family!)

Seasonal Festivals/ Spiritual:

  • The Christmas Story Book, published by Floris Books – stories up to Epiphany divided by age.
  • St. Seraphim’s Beatitudes:  Blessings for Our Path to Heaven by Priest Daniel Marshall
  • The Theophany of Our Lord by Sister Elayne
  • In our house, the Anglican Communion has many wonderful Saints to recognize this month, so I keep many books on hand about these Holy Men and Women.
  • For Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I like “The Cart that Carried Martin” (look at the Amazon review and leave out the inaccurate line); “Love Will See You Through” (I would put it for older children myself than the reviews indicate); and many more wonderful books.  Go to your local library and browse and see what resonates with you and your family.

Seasonal/Winter:

  • Grandmother Winter by Phyllis Root
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  • Snow by Roy McKie and P.D. Eastman
  • The Biggest, Best Snowman by Margery Cuyler
  • Winter by Gerda Muller
  • Snow by Uri Shulevitz
  • Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton
  • Snow Princess by Susan Paradis
  • Sun Bread by Elisa Kleven (and bake some bread!)
  • The Story of the Snow Children by Sibylle von Offers
  • Red Sled by Patricia Thomas
  • Winter is the Warmest Season by Lauren Stringer (I really like this book).
  • The Mitten by Jan Brett
  • The Hat by Jan Brett
  • Winter Eyes: Poems and Paintings by Florian

Seasonal/Nature:

  • Winter on the Farm (My First Little House Books)
  • The Big Snow by Berta and Elmer Hader
  • Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
  • Cub’s Big World by Sarah Thompson

Winter Tales, for older children:

  • The Polar Bear Son:  An Inuit Tale by Lydia Dabcovitch
  • A Promise Is A Promise by Robert Munsch and Michael Kusugak
  • The Eskimo Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins
  • A Day On Skates by Hilda van Stockum

I would love to hear what you are reading!

Blessings,
Carrie

 

2016

The most beautiful day is today, and the most beautiful moment is now.  What I love most about New Year’s Day is this promise, this idea, that every ordinary moment is special and worthy of appreciation and gratitude as we revel in the beginnings, the newness, the now.  Whether you are where you want to be or not, whether there is chaos in your life now or not, or if you feel you are on the verge of some new endeavor or change, I want you to know I am extending my thoughts of contentment and thankfulness for right where you are and the journey you are on.

We were out hiking this afternoon, but this morning I spent a little time drawing  three concentric circles on a small piece of paper and just thinking.  The first circle I drew was small and had words in it that represented the values and things that really inspire my deepest self, such as my husband and my children, and my “word of the year”.   The next circle that I drew around this inner circle had all the aspects of self-care that I really want to focus on in order to stay connected with this truth for myself.

The third circle outside of this second circle had all the communities that I am involved in, all the things that I care so deeply about, and reminds me  that I can take better care of  things when I remember and connect with my own values and inspiration and when I take care of myself.  And lastly, outside all three circles, were the “big” things that I hope to impact across the whole country and world – bringing development into parenting, bringing development into education through Waldorf methodology and current neuroscience.

Who will you impact this year?  How will you shine in your corner of the world?  I can’t wait to hear!

Blessings and love,

Carrie

 

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things: January

I love January with its beautiful and cozy inner light.  The lights of Christmas, the candles and outside lights are still up and we begin this month still within the Twelve Days of Christmas and the Holy Nights.  We find ourselves following the golden star to Epiphany and beyond in a cozy, quiet, stillness where dark skies, snowflakes (I am hoping!  It has been unseasonably warm here in the Deep South), tea by the fire predominates.  We can curl up with meal planning and garden planning and enjoy this time of rejuvenation under the mantle of peaceful family times.

Here are some of my favorite things for this month for the family:

  • Beautiful festival celebrations. I have several back posts about celebrating Christmastide, three or four about Three Kings Day/Epiphany, and several about the Holy Nights.
  • Creating music together, reading together wonderful read-alouds with popcorn, creating window stars and rose windows.
  • Taking long walks outside or hiking and looking at the lovely bare branches of the trees.
  • Taking the time to look at meal planning, organizing the home, along with a hard look at rhythm.  What is working, what is not working, what needs to be tweaked or changed?

Here are some of my favorite things for small children:

  • Fostering creative play.    I have detailed this in back posts, but suffice it to say that I think the   major components include paring down toys (not increasing the clutter as it might be tempting to do!  Keep throwing toys at them until one sticks is not a way to foster deep creative play, even though it is completely tempting in our desperate moments! :)), creating an inviting play environment, and having a steady rhythm of work in the home that the child can see, weave in and out of and imitate.
  • Warming rituals and warmth in clothing; in toys of natural materials; in an emotional warmth toward the small child; warming foods with bone broths and teas, hot water bottles.

Here are some of my favorite things for older children:

  • Vigorous outdoor exercise if at all possible.
  • Quiet moments of reverence before meals, before bed.  Finding ways that the older child can start to penetrate into the festivals of the month, whether this is in religious or spiritual ways or both.
  • Finding ways the older child can be helpful in the life of the family and in the community.
  • Warming rituals and foods.

Here are some of my favorite things for teens: 

  • Finding time to spend with your teen one on one so that child can talk about whatever is on their mind.  Combine that with something to do  physically,  or a special date out, and you have  intimate moments that are anything but ordinary.
  • Creating more complex crafts – straw stars, rose windows, more complex window stars, knitting and sewing, woodworking.  Basketry can feel meditative as well.
  • Fun and intriguing board games. There are so many wonderful ones out there right now to play!

Here are a few of my favorite things for my own health:

  • Making the time for health care appointments.  Get all those annual appointments out of the way and set up any appointments you need weekly or bi-monthly.
  • Creating a small desk space or crafting work space or updating the one you have!  Adding small quotes and things you find inspiring!
  • Making time to exercise in whatever capacity this means to you  – whether this is a vigorous hike, time at the gym, a yoga video.  Make time every day. Mark the time on the calendar because it IS an appointment worthy of your attention.  It has to be a priority in order for you to take care of everyone else and have balance.  Some of us are lucky enough to live on farms or other places where we have a good amount of physical exercise in everyday life, but most of us do not move nearly enough.
  • Menu planning and preparing freezer or crock pot meals.  Saturdays or Sundays could be a lovely time to do this, or pick your own afternoon during the week.
  • Inner work.  Now is a great time to renew your focus on sacred and holy reading, prayer and meditation, or just keeping silence.

Here are a few of my favorite things for homeschooling:

  • Check and see what supplies you have run out of mid-year and re-order.
  • See what you have really gotten through this fall, and adjust your schedule for the year accordingly.  Full confession – we are going to have to lengthen our school year by two weeks and probably knock out or condense down a block.  It happens, so don’t beat yourself up!  Life is still lovely.
  • Start planning for the upcoming school year.  So far I  have my start and end dates laid out,  block plans for what blocks I am doing when laid out for three grades, I have an idea for my high schooler’s year long courses what the flow will be, I have started digging into a few blocks that I have  the resources for,   and made a list of new resources I need to order or get through the library.  With three grades to put together from scratch, I am trying to be diligent so I don’t have to spend my entire summer planning!
  • For those of you who Waldorf homeschool, you might consider reading some of Steiner’s lectures.  Many of them are free on-line.

Please share with me your a few of your favorite things for January.

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

 

 

More Christmastide: Field, Farm, Forest, and Stream

These twelve days of Christmas are such a beautiful and reverent time of year.  I hope you all are enjoying being outside and experiencing all that Nature has to offer through all your senses.  This is so important for children.  In our culture, screens and technology have taken over so much of the childhood of our children.  If you need more research-based data regarding this, please Common Sense Media’s report about Children’s Media Use in America. (latest statistics I see on this site are 2013).  Here is a report about brain changes with screen time from Psychology Today.   This abstract  is a review of the negative effects of screen time for children under the age of 3 and is a quick review.  This article on Facing the Screen Dilemma is one of my favorites.  This abstract details the association between greater than 2 hours of screen time a day with severe school absenteeism.   Here is an article by the American Academy of Pediatrics that discusses the positive and negative of social media for children and teens, including the hazards of “Facebook depression”, sexting and cyberbulling, and why the minimum age for participating with sites such as Facebook is age 13.  Interesting reading….

Which brings me back to field, farm, forest and stream.  There are so many positives to getting our families outside.  Here are just a few from my perspective as a pediatric physical therapist and from other resources from the forest kindergarten movement:

  • Family teamwork can be developed, along with family identity
  • Development of physical capabilities  in the realms of  gross motor, fine motor, and sensory system capacities.  This is especially important in this day and age in which the number of children with sensory system regulation challenges is increased, and in a place and time where the gross motor skills of many kindergarten-aged children are underdeveloped.
  • Development of core body strength, which is necessary for later academic success.
  • Development of language skills
  • Development of depth perception
  • Improves mental health (also very important for children of today); decreases stress
  • Promotes stronger executive functioning skill development
  • Helps develop self-esteem and self-reliance, self-confidence
  • Develops abilities to assess risk
  • Improves concentration and attention
  • Contributes to respect for and understanding of nature
  • “Timeless” moments:  extended unstructured time in nature and with animals

If you are looking for more information about the benefits of “farmschooling”, which has received  relatively less press than the forest kindergarten movement, I suggest these two resources.  This one is about the benefits of farm for teenagers from a Montessori perspective:   http://liveandlearnfarm.com/farmschooling-montessori-middle-school-part-2/  and here is an entire website for Farm-Based Educators Inspired by Anthroposophy  https://biodynamics.com/fbeiba.  There are also many websites that lay out the mental and physical benefits of gardening, which could be applied to farming as well.

Please continue to post your comments or pictures of your excursions into forest, farm, field and stream here or on Twitter @ParentingHearth

Many blessings,
Carrie