Hello, Gorgeous August!

August is one of my favorites!  It’s hot and sultry, it’s my birthday month, and there are lakes and pools and flowers and fireflies.  The harvest is coming in, and there are so many wonderful ways to celebrate that from picking blackberries to apples in our area starting to ripen to helping harvest hay!

Here are a few things we are celebrating this month:

This month we celebrate:

August 6th – The Transfiguration

August  9th  – The Feast of  St. Herman of Alaska  – for this feast, we plan on reading this lovely book.

August 13th – Our first day back at school with 11th, 8th, and 3rd grade!  Looking forward to a beautiful year!

August 15th –  The Dormition of St. Mary –  August 15th  – on this day, we tell the story of the Dormition of St. Mary and read this little book.

August 31st  – The Feast of St. Aidan  — we plan to tell the story of St. Aidan and the horse he was given by King Oswim

Ideas for Celebration:

  • Making beautiful triptych to celebrate the life of St. Mary.  There are many wonderful ideas regarding this on the Internet.
  • We have about another month of tubing, swimming and water park availability to us, so we hope to take advantage!
  • Camping
  • Gazing at the stars
  • Walking in the mornings
  • Celebrating the back to school with little things to use during the school year

What We Are Working On At Home:

  • Making some supplies for the upcoming fall/cold/flu season – mainly elderberry syrup
  • Still working on a four week rotating menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to streamline things in the kitchen!
  • Medical appointments – I try to schedule all of my medical appointments in August
  • New habits!  Getting ready for  school and busier schedules and finding and sustaining a home-centered life  in the midst!
  • Changing out the nature table

Our homeschooling life is starting on August 13th.  So close!

Our 11th grader has a number of outside classes this year, including Pre-Calculus and Advanced Placement Psychology.  I will be teaching Chemistry , Health,and World Literature.  We are going to have a ball!  Our eighth grader will be starting with a physics and meteorology block and our third grader is starting with a harvest/farming kind of block.

Share with me what you are up to in the beautiful month of August!

Blessings and love,

Carrie

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What To Do When Life Is A Mess

Are you in a dark place?  Divorce, death of a parent or spouse, lack of employment or other financial woes, older teens into things that are just plain challenging, something else?

Yes.  I have been there.    It can be tough.  It can be dark. It can be lonely, especially if people really haven’t been through what you are going through.

And it will be okay.  Life is beautiful and life is messy.  They just go hand in hand.

Lean into it.  Sometimes there are no quick fixes.  It just takes time.  It just takes healing.

Shelter your younger children as you see fit, but certainly teens deserve to know that life is messy, people struggle, and yes, you can come out on the other side.  This is called resilience.  Life is not the the perfect spot in the home that people post on social media.  It is more like the picture of all the dirty dishes piled in the sink that were never posted.

Lean into each other.  When darkness and depression fall, lean into family and the friends you can who are understanding and compassionate.

Take care of yourself in whatever capacity that means to you.  For some, that means drawing the wagons in and becoming insulated with just immediate family and the closest of friends.  For others, that means reaching out and getting help with the children, getting counseling, or getting a physical workup to help support the stress that they are experiencing. I don’t know what it looks like for you, but take care of yourself. If you feel like you are having thoughts of taking  your own life, or that people would be better off without you and that you are a burden, or if you just need to talk to someone about what is going on in your life, text TALK to 741741.

Keep things simple.  You may only be able to get one thing done a day.  And that’s okay.  This phase will not last forever and forever.

It will pass.  It will be better.  Sometimes life is just about hanging in and hanging on.

Blessings and love,
Carrie

A Plea For Summer Neighborhood Play

It can be a lonely summer for children in neighborhoods these days.

In our neighborhood, I see children at the pool but usually after 3 or 4.  Some parents are working all summer, and I totally understand.  But even with the parents who are not working, the children are often in summer camps that cost hundreds of dollars, probably a thousand dollars,  by the end of the summer.

It is sort of a vicious cycle.  Children who are staying home in the summer have no friends to play with; no one is outside; no one is at a neighborhood pool until later and then the parents probably feel as if they must put their child in something so the children will have something to do. And the cycle keeps going round and round.

Summer has somehow become this merry-go-round of more and trying to fit in more before school starts again.  If we, as parents,  don’t start reclaiming some of the slowness of our children’s childhoods,  I think upcoming generations will have an even faster and more hurried life.

What strikes me most is the loss of neighborhood play in mixed-age groups( without parents hovering).  In a neighborhood group, or even in groups of kids on the farm, children figure out the play, the rules, and how one wins.  One stomps off and gets mad and comes back – learning emotional regulation.  One is totally irritated with a commanding older child in the group, but there is a group to buffer this, and children learn how to get along with those who are different than themselves – without an adult telling them how to do it.

The children playing in the neighborhood get to develop decision-making skills. They get to develop their bodies as they bike all over, swim all day, and generally avoid going inside.  They get off of any screens and they get off their bottoms.

So, this summer, even if camps are on your list for your children, I am begging you to consider getting the children in your neighborhood outside.  If it takes a parent to get the ball rolling at this point because it seems kind of foreign, then so be it.  Invite everyone to bring a bike, a scooter, a water gun – and then back off.  Let the children play.  Maybe something wonderful will happen.

Blessings,
Carrie

 

A Belated Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Belated American Fourth of July to you, my dear readers. We just came back in from out of the country, so my posts are running a bit behind.  I hope you are still in a celebetory mood!

The Fourth of July has been noted as a day of celebration since the  adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress in 1776.  It became a federal holiday only in 1870 but has always been associated with parades, festivities, speeches,  bonfires, and more. It is a chance every year to celebrate what is right in our country, and yes, what needs attention.  This is extremely important especially in times of crisis and difficulty and division.

I was thinking about this in light of my morning routines recently.  After going through a rather tumultuous school year where every day was just sort of survival mode and get-through-the-day mode and take -care- of -whatever -crisis was brewing that day, things finally seem to be better.  I have a lot more energy. I am exercising again.  And, I am conscious about getting the day off to a great start and starting each day anew and afresh in order to be the best for my family and whomever my Creator places in my path that day.

We can do this in our homes as well.  One of the things I have enjoyed doing is using the techniques from Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.  I combine this routine with my religious leanings.  You may enjoy doing this with your family and a modified version with your children. The main thought of this book is that a morning ritual of  self-investment is a way to elevate the entire consciousness of humanity.  Imagine if the whole of the United States, and the whole of the world would be full of love for each other and would be able to extend kindness and generosity all over the world.

Let us use the Fourth of July as a time for new beginnings for all of us at all levels- individual, family, community, nation, and world. Moving forward toward the highest ideals that we hold and value.

Blessings and love,
Carrie

Screen Free Summer Activities

I have noticed that summers are different for kids than they used to be.  Younger kids have their days filled up with camps and other strucutured activities whilst their parents are working, so there aren’t a lot of kids at the pool or  out in the neighborhood during the day.  Many younger teens are not outside either, and many older teens are not getting jobs, so I am wondering what children and teens are doing all day in their homes.  I thought maybe parents would like a list of some activities to do to help their children through the summer!

  • Chores and work- Summer can be a great time to clean things out, donate things, deep clean, paint a teen’s bedroom and change the decor
  • Thrift store shopping – can be fun with changing decor or finding motors and small appliances to take apart
  • Pool, lake, beach swimming (some teens may go through a phase where they don’t want to go to the pool or lake because it’s “boring”; some teens go through a phase where don’t want to be in a bathing suit)
  • Sewing, knitting, and other projects – keep a stash of yarn, fabric remnants, buttons, and more around
  • Painting, drawing, modeling
  • Encourage your children to write and put on a play
  • Backyard water fun – sprinklers, basins of water, the hose
  • Baking
  • Building projects – could be large scale outside building or Lego’s or building blocks or boxes!
  • Making tents from old blankets/sheets/blankets indoors or outside
  • Backyward camping
  • Create music together; sing together
  • Gardening
  • Create collages or other multi-media art together
  • Board games and puzzles
  • Stacks of books from the library
  • Model airplanes, model building
  • Older teens can work for money – babysitting, pet sitting
  • Volunteer work
  • Observing nature; nature journaling; catching and releasing frogs, toads, salamanders, lizards, insects
  • Train your dog, your horse, your hamster, your chicken!

For smaller children:

  • Chalk
  • Jump rope, hopscotch, bubbles, sandbox, swing
  • Tea parties
  • Doll play
  • Dress-up clothes
  • Use something like a sit n’ spin or a mini trampoline
  • Play kitchen – you can create one
  • Play dough
  • Face painting
  • Balloon play – volleyball or baseball with balloons
  • Cover a table with a blanket – instant fort
  • Lacing and beading

Field Trips for the Family:

  • Hiking
  • Trip to beach or lake or river
  • Theaters
  • Puppet shows
  • Fire stations and police stations
  • Zoos or aquariums or animal rehabilitation centers
  • Historical Sites
  • Mini-golf
  • Bakery trip
  • State and National Parks
  • Horseback Riding on trails
  • Berry Picking

Joyful June

May was kind of an end of the year whirlwind for us, and so I am so happy to have June arrive.  The world is bursting with green, the lakes and streams are overflowing, the days are humid and hot, there is sunshine and rain.   The days are long and full of sunshine, and everyone is happy to be out in the hot sun and in the water.

Our goals this lazy month include being outside and in the lake and pool as much as possible; to have picnic dinners; to finish up some medical appointments for the children, and to generally have as much fun as a family as possible.  The adults are hoping for some wonderful child-free time this month and some dates; we are all  hoping to move and  exercise a lot this month and just enjoy that feeling of being alive and the sense of growth and throwing off the stagnation of winter. In other words,  celebrating the slow summer.

This month we are celebrating:

Major feasts/holidays:

9- St. Columba – there is a little story here and we will make a little moving watercolor picture with a boat and dove

11 – Feast of St. Barnabas – St. Barnabas was an encourager, so I am thinking along the lines of having a family night with games and fun and encouraging each other and really celebrating us as a family. I have a number of photographs of our family we never framed and hung, so that could be another project!

14- Flag Day

17- Father’s Day

21 – Summer Solstice

24 – The Nativity of St. John the Baptist/ St. John’s Tide (see this back post for festival help!)

29- The Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul

Minor feasts we will celebrate mainly through stories:

12- St. Enmegahbowh – first Native American priest in the Episcopal Church of The United States

19- Sahu Sundar Singh of India- I found a book here

22- St. Alban – an interesting You Tube video filled with giant puppets to celebrate St. Albans Day in England!

(here is the aside note about these feast days: – I have had a few folks ask me about the Calendar of Saints in the Episcopal Church…The Episcopal Church USA is part of the Anglican Communion, which is an international association of churches composed of the Church of England and national (such as Canada, Japan, Uganda, for example) and regional (collections of nations) Anglican churches.  Each province, as it is called, is autonomous and independent with its own primate and governing structure.  So, different feast calendars within the Anglican Communion share the Feast Days and Fast Days listed in the Book of Common Prayer, but there may be “lesser feasts and fasts” as well.  The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York are our “primus inter parus” (first among equals) but hold no direct authority outside of the England, but is instead a force of unity, vision, persuasion,  for the entire Communion.  We don’t really govern off of creeds, for example such as the Westminster Catechism in Presbyterianism, but find “the law of praying is the law of believing” and therefore The Book of Common Prayer is our way.  The Anglican Communion has in it elements of the Reformation and Anglo-Catholicism, depending upon the individual parish, but it is not “Catholic Lite”.  It has a distinctive Celtic way to it as that was what was established long before alignment with the West.  We pray for the unity of the Church (the whole of Christendom) and therefore “Anglicans have preferred to look for guidance to the undivided church, the church before it was divided by the Reformation and especially to the first centuries of the church’s life….to “tradition”, the worship, teaching and life of the church in its early days.” (page 65, Welcome to the Episcopal Church by Christopher Webber. Hope that helps!! ))

Ideas for Celebrating June:

  • Here we are going to the lake and pool, gardening, camping, going to water and splash parks, kayaking, and mini golf!
  • Blueberry Picking – Strawberries are about done where we are, but blueberries are coming soon
  • Try out different popsicle and cold drink recipes
  • Gardening – especially with an eye to our friend the bee
  • Hunt fireflies at night
  • Stay up and gaze at the stars
  • Have bonfires and camp fires and make s’mores
  • Go camping or camp in your backyard
  • Summer  puppet theater outside! Shadow puppets!
  • Lavender!  We are making soap with lavender!
  • Celebrating nature!

Back posts about summer that you might enjoy:

Celebrating Summer With Small Children: A Waldorf Perspective

Joyous Summers With Children

Summer stories and the summer nature table

Summer reading with “Set Free Childhood”

Keeping The Slow Summer With Younger Teens

A Summer Parenting Project For You (2010)

For Homeschool Planning:

Re-reading “Discussions With Teachers”

Building Your Homeschooling Around Rest

Can’t wait to hear what you are up to!

Blessings,
Carrie

 

 

 

 

 

10 Ways to Reset This Summer

Who in the Northern Hemisphere is excited about summer?  I sure am!  We made it through a school year full of challenges that we had no control over, and I am so glad summer is here.  I can’t wait to reset, and here are my top ten ways for “Summer Reset”!

  1. Pledge to have a slow and simple summer.  Summer, to me, is a time of incredible physical growth for most children and even teens.  They are so busy growing and being in their bodies really helps provide balance for a school year!  Don’t worry about them “being bored”.  Did you know that psychologists say that it is healthy for children to have boring summers?  So don’t worry about scheduling things; feel free to say no!
  2. But do keep a skeleton rhythm going on – all the sun, at least in my area, without a lot of respite, can lead to this huge daily out-breath for children (and adults!).  So, having those meal times, rest times after lunch, and bedtimes are still important.
  3. Plan some meals so you don’t have to worry about cooking. I love simple salads, fish tacos, and crockpot meals during the summer!  So much fresh produce to love.  While you are at it, streamline your cleaning for summer.
  4. Keep lots of open time to sit and ponder and read and dream.  I think this is important for homeschooling mamas as a balance to a busy year of teaching!
  5. Find your time in nature.  Even if you did nothing all summer but get outside and threw a weekend or two of camping in, it would be an incredible summer for your kids.  If you want a little inspiration, try the 1000 hours outside Facebook page.  Here were a few ideas for a summer of nature for parents who are working all summer  in this back post from 2014.  Here are a few favorite pictures of my children when they were small, doing summer things.  I don’t post pictures often (maybe twice in ten years?), so enjoy!
  6. Have some things tucked away for the inevitable rainy day.  I love to have little craft kits, or for older children sometimes science kits or things I don’t normally buy  for just such days.  Mainstream homeschool supplier Rainbow Resource often has great deals on any sort of science kit, older child toy like K-Nex, even wooden toys, and lots of great deals on books.
  7. Make appointments for yourself- go to the dentist, doctor, GYN, alternative health care provider.  Most homeschooling mothers I know never have time to do these sorts of appointments during the school year, and it is hard to physically re-set if your hormones or thyroid levels are off or you are suffering from adrenal exhaustion.
  8.  Take time ALONE to rejunvenate. Some mothers actually take a few nights and homeschool plan somewhere alone.  If that isn’t possible, could you garner a few afternoons without your children in order to just think, plan, or do nothing?
  9. Read some classic children’s literature to your children.  There are some great suggestions here in Christine Natale’s gorgeous 2011 guest back post  about creating a magical summer.  Reading great literature is refreshing for everyone!
  10. Spend lots of time each day just relaxing in whatever form that means to you!

Looking forward to a sunshine summer,

Carrie