the steady year: may

One thing that the changing of the months and years brings us is this steadiness.  In an ever changing life and an ever changing world, the months, seasons, and festivals will always be turning round and round.  It can bring us and our families peace and stability if we choose to embrace it.

What we are celebrating this month:

May Day – May 1

50 Days of Eastertide

Mother’s Day – May 12

Rogation Days  – May 27-29

Memorial Day – May 28 ( a great time to look at summer plans)

Ascension Day – May 30

 

The main thing I am doing this month is taking my own advice about minimalism in my life, where I don’t have the opportunity super downsize and roadschool.  We live a pretty typically American suburban life in many ways!  You can read the advice I am going to take to heart here.  Sometimes we really are our wiser selves and then lose track of that!

homeschooling/education:

Our older two children (freshman and senior in high school) will both be attending hybrid high school programs in the fall.  Our senior will have classes two days a week, and our freshman four days a week – both with modified shorter days.  So whilst we technically will still be homeschooling, I will not be doing the teaching.  I feel okay with this, as things are shifting for  myself as I near age 49 and things are shifting for our family.  As many of you know, I am going back to school myself beginning in July with a pelvic floor health certification and clinical doctorate in physical therapy and eventually hope to open a mother-sized practice for women’s health.

We will still be totally homeschooling our youngest child, who will be in fourth grade.  He won’t have the opportunity to be in the one day a week program we were doing last year due to the long drive and my need to be on this side of town for teens.  Instead, he will be banking on our local cub scout troup to get some time with friends and projects.

This will be the third time I have been through fourth grade, but first time with a ten year old boy, so I have many fun ideas and some things a little outside the box.  If you want to follow along, try following @theparentingpassageway on Instagram.  I will try to post homeschool plans both on there and on the Facebook page, but Instagram is the safest place to be to not miss anything!

where is the blog these days?

Well, unfortunately no one really reads blogs anymore.  Compared to its heyday, readership here and in blogs in general,  is super low.  I write mainly for myself at this point, I think, and still hope to compile all these posts into ebooks at some point in the future.

For the most part, you can find me on IG (I am on Facebook as well, but I don’t always like the negativity and divisiveness of FB and therefore think about getting off Facebook daily, so IG may be your best bet to follow me).  I will continue to write here as well, but I do wonder if it will drop off to be just IG in the next few years.

The other place you can find me is on the  wonderful forum that The Child Is The Curriculum.  It is an amazing place, and has all your curriculum shopping needs, discussion groups, book studies, and everything all in one place!  I love it, and hope you do as well.

Lastly, you can always email me admin@theparentingpassageway.com to set up a consult by phone – I have half hour and full hour paid slots. 

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

Blessings,

Carrie

ideas for the first week of eastertide

The season of Eastertide lasts from Easter Sunday until Pentecost on June 9th this year, which of course also corresponds with traditional and pre-existing Jewish feasts.  These 50 days, no matter what your spiritual or religious traditions,  seems to be a wonderful time for renewal and new beginnings.

Easter Monday is often a religious holiday in many countries, but it isn’t in the United States. (I was so tired yesterday and wishing it was a holiday!) If you have leeway or such, you might consider using a vacation day for this day and enjoy it being outside with your family.  You could even eat your meals outside after the long period of Lent.  Gather the family on this special day!

Other ideas for the first week of Eastertide:

  • Dye eggs!
  • This is a good time for egg races!  Take your dyed eggs and find a hill and see who can get to the bottom first.
  • This week is a great time to set up a little gratitude jar to keep track of all the wonderful in the ordinary for these 50 days if that is not something you ordinarily do
  • How about setting up a little Easter tree?  There are a number of ways to make egg ornaments just by searching on Pinterest.
  • Spend time outside in nature; consider getting up early for sunrises.
  • Make prayer and meditation a priority; I like religious themes but also the ideas of new beginnings.  What does the idea of new beginnings look like to you?
  • Make Easter bread – it is a perfect time, even if it is past Easter Day.

Blessings and love,

Carrie

celebrating earth day (every day)

Earth Day is tomorrow, the day after Easter Sunday.  This feels very profound to me this year as there was a large push within The Episcopal Church, my church, toward reconciliation in matters of race, social justice and the care of creation.  In fact, our entire Lenten season was dedicated to Creation Care and matters of eco-justice.   So it seems wildly wonderful to me that Earth Day falls on the day after Easter.   That is my own personal intersection with our faith and family, but obviously this work in  celebrating and conservation has been being  done by parents, Waldorf Schools, wildschoolers, and environmentally-conscious homeschoolers for a long time.  Every day is Earth Day!  If you would like to see more about that perspective from the Waldorf School movement, I suggest this brief article about this history of Earth Day in the Waldorf Schools.

I think as parents we are at the forefront of the environmental movement as we train the next generation of leaders through our example.  Here are some of my favorite ways to celebrate Earth Day every day:

  • Storytelling stories of good creation, of the wisdom of the plants and animals
  • Making useful products from herbs and plants – tinctures to natural dyes and more
  • Gardening and composting
  • Planting trees
  • Spending time in nature without agenda
  • Camping, hiking, kayaking, rock climbing
  • Conserving our own resources – reduce, recycle, reuse
  • Buying locally and sustainably
  • Handmaking things as much as possible
  • Living simply
  • Eating organically and using organic household items for laundry and hygiene
  • Looking for companies with sustainable packaging or better yet, stores and companies that are going zero waste
  • Letting children get dirty outside
  • Introducing children to naturalists, biologists, and environmental innovators through biography
  • For homeschooling parents and classroom teachers, making nature studies a vast and wide part of the educational experience

Tell me your favorite ways to celebrate Earth Day every day!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

Celebrating Holy Week As A Family

For those of us who celebrate Easter, the entire Lenten season is now boiled down into this Holy Week that began with Palm Sunday and will continue this week until Easter Sunday.

There are many wonderful ways to celebrate Holy Week as a family, in addition to attending your local place of worship. Here are a few of our favorite family traditions:

  1.  Create an Easter Garden with small figurines.  Small children usually love this.
  2. Dye eggs with natural dyes, which is enjoyable for all ages.  Eggs were a symbol of creation, spring, and fertility long before Christianity. The Persians exchanged eggs at the new year; the Romans gave red painted eggs as a gift at new year.  Christianity adopted eggs as a symbol of the resurrection, and there are many wonderful stories about the resurrection and red eggs.  If you know any Orthodox Christians, ask if they have an icon of Mary Magdalene that they would be willing to show you -some icons have her depicted holding a red egg, so you can find out the story behind that!
  3. In the Anglican tradition (of which my family is a part of),  we keep vigil and pray during the time from the Last Supper to the time of the Crucifixion on Good Friday.  If you can find an Episcopalian parish in your area, prayer vigils are  often held all night there after Maundy Thursday Mass and times are rotated amongst members of the parish all night long.
  4. On Good Friday, you can bury a cross in a white shroud and uncover it on Easter. In our religious tradition, we decorate the cross on Easter with a multitude of beautiful fresh flowers.  This flowering cross on Easter Sunday is especially beautiful, and would be doable to do at home as well as in a community of worship.
  5. Spend time in nature and silence on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter.
  6. Create an Easter Candle, and bring home fire from the Paschal Candle at church to light your family Easter Candle.
  7. Bake Easter Bread to be eaten on Easter Sunday.
  8. You can make hot cross buns in order to break the fast on Good Friday (after sundown).  This tradition may have started with a 12th century monk in England who distributed buns to the needy on Good Friday, and it continues to be a tradition to this day.

I would love to hear your Holy Week traditions!

Blessings and love,

Carrie

lent: pilgrimage of the soul

Lent is an amazing time of renewal, self-discipline, inner work, fasting, self-education. Christians contemplate the sufferings and temptations of Jesus Christ as he fasted forty days in the wilderness, but nearly every culture and religion in the world has some kind of renewal period of fasting, or eating cleansing foods that celebrates spring.

We lead this time period with thought for what we are modeling for our children, and what daily vital practices we can show our children.  If you feel like the past few years haven’t been a great time for your family, or if you feel like 2019 is off to a rocky start, I think Lent can be a great time to get things back together for your family and yourself and really commit to it for forty days (in the Western Church this begins next Wednesday, on Ash Wednesday, and leading until Easter – the forty days excludes the six Sundays leading up to Lent).

Ideas for Lenten Renewal Practices that include children:

  • Eating cleansing foods; stricter fasting could or could not include children dependent upon your religious or spiritual tradition
  • Spending a few minutes each day at the same time silently in nature – maybe at sunrise or sunset
  • Having an unlit candle on the dining room candle that doesn’t get lit until Easter (some families use a small bowl of dirt that changes into a little Lenten Garden during Holy Week)
  • Having budding branches as a centerpiece on your nature table or table but replacing them before they flower (they can flower in a different part of the house)
  • Having a Lenten calendar of a caterpillar counting down the days to Easter, when the caterpillar is transformed into a butterfly.
  • If you are not already screen-free with your children, consider going screen-free during Lent.

Ideas for Lenten Practices for Yourself:

  • Find a spiritual guide in person – this is a time of repentance, fasting, confession
  • Choose fasting and what that means to you in conjunction with speaking with your spiritual advisor
  • Start taking care of yourself – exercising, preparing your food for the week ahead of time so you can eat healthy
  • Use Lent to practice setting boundaries.  I talk to more and more people who want to set better boundaries to improve their health and family life and realize the way they are living and parenting aren’t leading to healthy for themselves or their family members.

If you want to learn more about Lent or the idea of Lenten practices, please see these back posts:

With Children:  

What I Want My Children to Learn During Lent

Quiet Lent

Lent in the Waldorf Home

Lenten Ideas With Children

Favorite Books For Lent

For Adults:

Re-Commiting To Our Children

A Lenten Rule of Life

On Instagram @theparentingpassageway, I posted some of the Lenten resources I will be using myself, including these:

Fasting As A Family

Reconciliation (the Archbishop of Canterbury’s 2019 Lenten Book Choice)

Less Plastic For Lent from Green Anglicans

Blessings and love,

Carrie

Celebrating Epiphany

Today is the very last day of Christmastide, Twelfth Night,  and tomorrow begins the season of Epiphany.  This is also one of my favorite seasons of the year!  Many families make a cake for Twelfth Night, with a bean or pea tucked inside it for a little Queen or King to find! In England, Twelfth Night is a festive time for merriment and good cheer! (Wassail is a beverage associated with this night as well). In Germany, children dress up as the Three Kings and go from house to house to collect money for a charity (and usually get a sweet or two for themselves and their fine singing!)  In Scandinavian countries, there may be a procession of singers led by “Star Singers” that move from house to house.  Russian children wait for Mama Babouschka to fill their shoes with gifts, as children in Spain wait for gifts from the Three Magi.  Italian children wait for Old Befana to bring gifts as well.  French families typically share a Kings’ Cake.

The day after Twelfth Night is Epiphany.  Epiphany is actually one of the very oldest Christian festivals. If you are wondering what Epiphany/Three Kings Day/Theophany is all about, Christians in the Western Church  celebrate that the 12th night after the birth of Jesus that the Three Kings/Three Wise Men were led by a star to find Him in Bethlehem.  They brought gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh.  It is traditionally the time to take down the Christmas tree and all decorations (although some traditions do leave the Christmas greenery up until Candlemas on February second). If you have had the Three Kings traveling around your room to reach the now upright Jesus and St. Mary, that scene can also stay up until Candlemas (February 2).

If you are wondering about the Three Kings, the authors of “All Year Round” write, “In the Gospel story we hear about Wise Men guided by a star; they are never referred to as kings, nor is it said that there are three of them.  An unknown but powerful tradition has transformed these sages (the “Magoi” were Persian priests of the Zarathustrian religion) into three kings, representing them as young, middle-aged and old, and sometimes of three different races:  the African, the Caucasian, and the Asiatic.  They have also been given names:  Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar.”

Besides the Three Kings, also celebrated is  the Baptism of  Jesus and The  Divine Manifestation of the Holy Trinity and the Revelation of Jesus to Man.  There were some great pictures of people celebrating The Feast of Theophany (as the Orthodox church calls it), where waters are blessed and some people around the world plunge into cold waters in remembrance of this special day.  See here for the pictures for this special blessing of the waters:    http://sttheophanacademy.blogspot.com/2010/01/theophany.html

In some parts of Europe, it is customary to incense your house and cleanse it for this time.  One then writes above the front door in chalk C+M+B flanked by the year (so for this year it would look like this:  20+C+M+B+19).  The C,M,B may stand for the Three Kings themselves:   Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar, although many of German friends say the C,M,B stands for “Christ Bless This Home” or a variant of that.

Some other fun ways to celebrate Twelfth Night and Epiphany tomorrow: Continue reading

The Number One Thing You Must Do To Have A Successful Year

Today is the Feast of St. Stephen in the Christian year (tomorrow is the Feast for my Orthodox Christian readers), and I think it holds great significance for those of us looking ahead to 2019.  Even if you are not Christian, stop and hear me out for a minute.

St. Stephen was one of the first of seven deacons the original apostles ordained to take care of the poor in Jerusalem. His life was one of service to others. He was the first one to be martyred for his work, and we know his face was “like the face of an angel” as he stood before his accusers and the people.

So, you might be asking, what does this have to do with me and 2019?

Well, because the simple truth is YOU are an influencer.  This term is thrown around a lot, you see it on You Tube Videos and Instragram account descrpitions – “I am an influencer!”  And rightfully so, as  far as social media goes.  But as a human being, and especially as a parent, we are all influencers!

St. Stephen was an influencer above all as the first archdeacon to help the poor.  However, we can all be influencers.  We all can work to influence, support, nourish, and help the people we come into contact with. If we listen hard enough,  we  can discern what work we need to accomplish for the service of humanity.

I have some BIGGER dreams for this year, now that I am feeling healthier finally.  I want to influence 50,000 people in supporting vibrant, compassionate, developmental parenting and education.  I want to think about refreshing my skills in medicine and healing now that my children are 17,14,and 9, which will definitely require a lot of work on my part since I have been out of the game.  I want to be the healthiest I have ever been. We are going to have an epic year with family and friends making connections and having fun and adventures.  It is going to be a great year in parenting and homeschooling our children toward also being influencers that help others. And in order to do this all of this, one thing has to happen first.

We have to believe that we are more than our past mistakes, or the past we think was foisted upon us that was debilitating and wrong. We have to FORGIVE. Forgive ourselves, forgive our parents and whatever they did or didn’t do, forgive the people that we think wronged us, and move forward.  Forgiving doesn’t mean we condone what that person did or even what we did, but we move forward knowing that now is the time to do better, to let go of bitterness, to overcome layers of shame and anger, and to become what we are called to be and called to be doing. Time by itself doesn’t fix things; as I get older I see people holding on to things that happened in their teens and early 20s and are now in their 50s. This has to be an active process!

There is a confession we make in the Episcopal Church that makes me think of this process:

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.

On this second day of Christmas, I  know I have the BEST readers ever!  I really  want to hear from you and how you forgave!   How did you free yourself from “what you have done and what you have left undone?”  Tell me how you threw off layers of despair, depression, anxiety, anger, and rage.  Tell me how you are an influencer in your family or outside your family!

This is going to be a fantastic year!

Many blessings,

Carrie