Preparing for Advent 2017

Advent is a time of anticipation and waiting in the Christian tradition.  In the tradition of the Waldorf schools, however, Advent is accessible to all faiths as a season of hope and waiting; a season of lightness in the dark.

One thing I love to do around Thanksgiving is to start to gather greens that we will use to build an Advent wreath. Many families find an Advent wreath with a verse to be a comforting daily or weekly ritual.  The verse that many Waldorf families use with their Advent wreath is this one:

The first Light of Advent It is the Light of stones:
The Light that shines in seashells In crystals and our bones.

The second Light of Advent It is the Light of plants:
Plants that reach up to the sun And in the breezes dance.

The third Light of Advent, It is the light of beasts:
The Light of faith that we may see In greatest and in least.

The fourth Light of Advent It is the Light of humankind:
The Light of hope, of thoughts and deeds,
The Light of hand, heart and mind.

Each week, one can choose to add the things mentioned in the verse – seashells and crystals; plants; wooden animals or other representations of the animal kingdom and then lastly representations of the human realm.

There are so many wonderful Advent ideas and books out there.  Some of the favorites I have had from over the years include the ebooks from Little Acorn Learning and from Annette over at Seasons of Joy.  You can also see my Nativity Fast/Advent Pinterest board and my General Advent board.

Here are some back posts about Advent, Winter Celebrations, and the first week of Advent:

Advent For All Ages

The Mystery of Advent

The Inner Work of Advent

Advent and Winter Celebrations

The First Week of Advent 2009

The First Week of Advent 2010

The First Week of Advent 2011

The First Week of Advent 2012

The First Week of Advent 2015

The First Week of Advent 2016

 

Please share your Advent traditions!

Blessings,
Carrie

 

Advertisements

Thanksgiving Fun

I have to be totally honest. Thanksgiving is not really one of my favorite holidays.  I mean, I enjoy the attitude of gratitude, but I really don’t enjoy the whole sit around and eat. First of all, I don’t love sitting that much.  And I don’t enjoy that Thanksgiving in the United States has become really no more than a prelude to the crazy commercial holiday season of December, and that makes me sad.

So, this year, I would love to see people making Thanksgiving about connections and gratitude (not just food). I would love to see more people boycott Black Friday in favor of getting outside with their family.  I would love to see some meaningful traditions that involve more than copious amounts of food.

How about any of the following:

  • Volunteer to help others.  
  • Invite someone who would otherwise be alone to be a part of your Thanksgiving feast.
  • Pick out a charity to support until next Thanksgiving.  Share your favorites in the comment box!
  • Go to your place of worship
  • Make a gratitude jar, or have a gratitude tree where things one is grateful for are written down and read at dinner
  • Take a walk and get outside.  My ultimate dream is actually to camp on Thanksgiving.  Maybe one year!

If you have small children, really do think ahead. Sometimes Thanksgiving can feel rather “adult” with the adults just sitting around and talking.  Not much fun for children!  Bring crafts for the children to do, get a copy of the book “Cranberry Thanksgiving” and make cranberry bread (you can see the recipe here), help the children be involved in cooking and setting the table, learn some Thanksgiving music (you can see suggestions in this back post, “A Waldorf View of Thanksgiving.”) that you all can sing and play after dinner.

Please share with me your favorite family traditions!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

Getting Ready for Winter!

The temperature has finally dropped here in the Deep South. It feels much colder than it acutally is, because we have been living with temperatures above 85 degrees F for so many months.

This is a great time to take stock of what one needs for winter.  This is my checklist, and I would love to share it with you:

Do I have the supplies to make elderberry syrup?  (so, for me, that is essentially stinging nettle, yarrow, lemon balm, echinacea, elder berries and elder flowers along with spices and local honey)

Do I have the herbs to add to bone broth? (so, for me, that includes burdock and dandelion root and astragulus)

Do I need any other herbal tonics to get me through the winter?  I like the Urban Moonshine blend mentioned in Aviva Romm’s article here

Do I have our cabinet stocked with things for colds and flu?  Silver throat spray,  Theives Oil or a variation, other essential oils, homeopathic remedies, etc.

How (and where) is our outerwear ?  To me, this includes mittens or gloves, hats, warm socks, jacks, snow pants, and boots.  For kids, I still love LL Bean Boots, but I know everyone has their favorites.

Who needs woolens? I like to get mine from Green Mountain Organics.   If you are wondering about warmth in children, I recommend this article about “Warmth, Strength, and Freedom.”

Who needs long shirts or sweaters?

Do I have flannel sheets? Sleep is super important, and I think the winter months are a prime season to take advantage of sleeping longer.

Am I prepared to slow the rhythm of our week down? I think this is natural seasonal adjustment.  August, September, and October can be super busy here with marching band for our oldest and horse shows, but I find things in November and December can be calmer if we block it out that way, and then January and February tend to be fairly calm on their own.

Do I have crafting supplies and other inside fun at the ready?  One thing I ordered this week is three months of Happy Hedgehog Post. It was a gift to myself and especially our second grader to have some indoor fun.  Other ideas include having baking supplies on hand, wool, yarn, craft kits, art supplies, snuggly blankets for fort building.

Where are our beeswax candles and lanterns from past Martinmas festival celebrations?  These can make the school area especially lovely during the darker winter months.

When will I see people?  I feel tired and  am ready to withdraw after our busy three months starting school, but I would like to still see people.  I am thinking of hosting a hygge morning during January and February as mentioned in this article..

We have animals, so I also check what the animals might need. Our horses need sheets and blankets, our dog has little booties for icey conditions.  I try to make sure I have ordered enough horse feed and that we have toys on hand for our dog.

Please share with me the ways you get ready for winter!  I would love to hear all of your ideas!

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

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

 

Joyous Summers With Children!

The outbreath of summer with its golden days, sultry heat, blue skies, dragonflies and bumblebees, and festivals is one of my favorite seasons of the year.  However, sometimes summer with children can have a bit of a bumpy entry (adjustment) or a bit of fatigue in the middle (lack of balance, sibling bickering!)

One of the things I think summer really needs is time and space, but also a skeletal structure to provide a little inbreath and outbreath; a little balance.  Children often run full tilt outside all summer long, and sometimes even just having a little grounding in the morning with chores and a small circle (for younger children) or artistic activity (for older children), and a pause in the middle of the day  for physical rest can be helpful and nourishing.

I like to plan some anchor points with crafts for festivals over the summer.  You can see some of my ideas here on my Summer Pinterest board, along with ideas specifically for June, July, and   .  These are months for creating a magical summer!   This back post by guest poster Christine Natale has many wonderful ideas for creating great summer memories.  I also wrote a post about celebrating summer with small children  if you are looking for something specific to the Early Years.

One thing to plan for includes summertime bickering.  I find bickering  between siblings can be at its height during the summer, and it is good to have a plan to deal with this so you are not caught off guard!

Lastly, consider summer stories and your summer nature table.  These can add a stabilizing, calming influence to your summer plans.

Off to enjoy a day of fun in the sun myself,

Carrie