Five Simple Ways to Provide Warmth for Winter

I have been writing this blog for ten years, and if you look back at this time of year for those ten years, there is probably at least one or more posts about warmth.  This is the time of year temperatures finally tend to drop in our area, and when you hang out in the 90s for summer and early fall, dropping into the 30s does seem like a big drop!

I first became interested in warmth when my children were very small (and my oldest is seventeen, so this was quite some time ago) as I learned about the importance of warmth (physical warmth and otherwise) in the Early Years of Waldorf homeschooling and Waldorf parenting.  The development of the senses, of which warmth is one of the human senses, supports the way we relate to each other and the development of the child.  This is why you see so many small children wrapped up warmly in woolens and other natural fibers during the winter. But if one digs deeper into the background of this sense, there is more.

An interesting point about warmth comes from the book “Our Twelve Senses: How Healthy Senses Refresh the Soul” by Albert Soesman. He posits that as we, and children, meet the world, the world responds to us in two ways.  Either we receieve something when our attention, interest is answered and we feel a sense of belonging or we feel left out.  This is true warmth.  Steiner equated warmth as being the first sense of man.  In a way, Steiner saw all senses as being created from the sense of warmth – a process of differentiation teased out all the other senses from this one.

In parenting and in teaching, I think it can be easy to give off more coldness than we intend.  Being with children 24/7 , answering questions 24/7, functioning on very little sleep, can make us feel distant. I don’t think we have to be perfect parents to raise children well.  In fact, I think good and real and authentic parenting demands imperfection, but also observation.

One of the things I have been pondering lately is the role of temperaments in teaching and parenting.  We have four temperaments – phlegmatic, choleric, melancholic, and sanguine.  As an adult, these should all be integrated and balanced.  In the book, “Lighting Fires:  Deepening Educaiton Through Meditation,” by Jorgen Smit, he talks about how unbalanced and unassimilated temperaments affect children.  Choleric parents/teachers affect the digestive systems of the child, and provide nervousness.  Melancholic parents/teachers can lead to heart conditions later in life for the children in their care. The sanguine teacher can ironically diminsh joy in children and lead to a lack of vitality.  The phlegmatic teacher almost can suffocate a child and also lead to nervous adulthood. But remember, this is for those with unbalanced temperaments!

So, how do we provide warmth to our children (outside of physical warmth, which can easily be taken care of with woolens and warming food and drinks)?

  1. Know yourself, and see that your temperament is something to be assimilated, observed, and worked with in your inner work.  We all have patterns, and this type of teaching and parenting requires us to find ours and work with it in a spiritual sense to balance it.  This is the gift we can give ourselves and our children. The phlegmatic can provide wonderful insights into spiritual development; the choleric can become a person of initiative and the portrayer of true events in history; the sanguine can use their imagination and enter the world (I think as a great synthesizer of many pieces if the work is done); the melancholic can use the thoroughness and sense of responsibility to find truth in the world.  This work is a way towards warmth for ourselves, our children, and the world.
  2. Affirm our children through hope, through empowering words, and through one on one time.
  3. Find our smiles.  Sometimes our smiles go a long ways even if we are so tired to make conversation.
  4.  Let’s feed our children’s senses through warming meals.  This is a part of Waldrof education, but it works well for all parenting.  Order and beauty in the home and especially surrounding mealtimes is warming.
  5. Let’s create some fun. Next week, when it is supposed to be very cold here, my oldest daughter and I are planning a warm, snuggly night for her younger siblings.  We are not completely sure what that will entail yet, but maybe a hot chocolate bar and snuggly blankets and board games will be part of it.

Hugs and love,

Carrie

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Glorious November

Alone in the night
On a dark hill
With pines around me
Spicy and still,

And a heaven full of stars
Over my head
White and topaz
And misty red;

Myriads with beating
Hearts of fire
That aeons
Cannot vex or tire;

Up the dome of heaven
Like a great hill,
I watch them marching
Stately and still,

And I know that I
Am honored to be
Witness
Of so much majesty

-“Stars” by Sara Teasdale

I love November in all its crisp leaved, golden sunset, chill temperatures.  The leaves are FINALLY turning here where I live, and it feels like the beauty and coziness of fall is upon us at last.

This is a wonderful month of celebrations for our family:

Learning and celebrating:

  • Learn songs for a Martinmas Lantern Walk
  • Use transparency paper to make window silhouettes and transparency cut-outs and lanterns.
  • Bake bread on the cold days
  • Look for bird’s  nests as the trees lose their leaves; make feeders start to be filled all the time, make treats for the birds
  • Dip leaves in glycerin or beeswax and preserve them
  • Cook things with cranberries, corn, and pumpkin.
  • Try the book Cranberry Thanksgiving and make cranberry bread!
  • Learn some Thanksgiving songs and practice so you can play them after Thanksgiving Dinner!
  • Find a place to volunteer to serve Thanksgiving dinner
  • Make Thanksgiving Baskets and leaving them on your neighbor’s doorstep!
  • Gather greens and natural items to use for an Advent Wreath.  We do this at church from the areas surrounding the church and it is quite lovely!
  • Find books, cozy blankets and pillows, and mark off half days for just reading and lounging around. Pull out candles, homemade Martinmas lanterns, salt lamps  and scatter them around.  Cuddle up and read with some fabulous tea or hot chocolate.
  • Find handwork projects that you will love and get started.
  • Order some woolens for your family members; my favorite place to get them is Green Mountain Organics

For littles especially:

For the older children:

  • Get them involved in your autumn traditions – baking, cooking, cleaning, taking care of the birds outside, hiking, star watching, volunteering.
  • Think of traditions of gratitude and light.  Some teens may no longer love a lantern walk (although I still love it and I am an adult), but some teens might go for a big bonfire with friends on Martinmas.
  • Some thoughts:  Cultivating Gratitude in Children

Inner Work:

The Homeschooling Corner: (where we are!)

Let’s see… our third grader is moving quite slowly.  We are still working on basic reading and math skills, and moving from gardening and grains of the world now into math based upon the book “Farmer Boy” and then into the Old Testament.  He is busy with lots of music – percussion, piano, voice- and soccer, karate, and church.  Our eighth grader has two outside classes and has found it hard to balance everything, but we are finishing up a literature block that was short stories and the novel “The Old Man and the Sea” and moving into Revolutions.  She is busy with music – violin and voice- and horses and church.  Our eleventh grader is taking classes mainly outside the home, and we are moving through chemistry at home this year.   She is also busy with music – voice- and horses and some exploring into careers at our local children’s hospital and church.   It hasn’t been a bad year, perhaps a slow but steady pace, which is fine with me.  I am feeling grateful. Come follow me on IG @theparentingpassageway where I post many of the resources we are using, pictures of main lesson work, and more.

The Episcopalian Corner

Blessings upon you this wonderful month,

Carrie

 

Using the 168

There are 168 hours in the week.  Once we take out hours for sleeping and eating, my goal this school year has been to use the remaining hours well. So what does this look like?

I think for our family, it means making good use of rhythm.  Rhythm is an important part of strength for individuals and in the family at all times, but I have found it even more important this year as I am working toward regaining my health and with having three children in very different levels to work with in homeschooling.

The main parts to rhythm for our family are-

  • Rest and sleep – we don’t skimp here and will cancel things in order to rest!
  • Warming meals –  I usually prep food by roasting large pans of veggies, making salad that will last several days, batch cooking any meat. We connect over our meals together and eat three times a day together most days of the week.
  • Movement, play  and FUN- movement and play is super important, so that is a priority. Play and movement most often happens outside for us, so we can lap up the Vitamin D and being in nature.
  • Work in nurturing our home (aka, chores) but also creating beautiful things to make our home lovely. Many of the chores I work around school times, bath times (ie, clean the bathroom while one child is showering, pick up downstairs before dinner whilst things are cooking)
  • School is important as well, but overall health is the greatest priority.
  • Outside activities

Something that really has shifted for me over the past  few years was a realization that I was essentially spending only one to two hours a week on me in a conscious way.  Sure, there was the downtime after everyone went to bed but there was very little conscious thought about things for myself and if there were things for myself, inevitably something else needed my attention and what I planned to do for myself was tossed to the wayside and cancelled.

So, deciding to spend up to 10 percent of the 168 hours on ME was quite a perception-changing event. That’s 16 -17 hours a week?!!   I could focus on my own health for 16-17 hours a week?  What would that look like?  Where would those hours come from?  Would it only happen at midnight (Hahaha)?  What would I do with those gift of hours? Right now I am mainly spending those hours in medical appointments and in physical activity, but I can see things expanding in the future!

Prepping is VITAL to making the best use  of our 168 hours. You can see below for what it looks like for us.  I am actually reluctant to put it out there.  Some will be aghast and say it is too much out of the home.  Remember, when all my children were under 14/15 years old, we homeschooled most mornings and went out only in the afternoons.  Now it is much more chaotic with the addition of outside classes for our high school junior that are all over the place in addition to having two horses to help care for, but this is real life, and I want to be transparent as to how homeschooling evolves the older children get!  We also have three out of five of us  in our family who are extroverts, and need time to connect with community and other people!

So, this is how we do it, and what it looks like for us!  Take what works for you and your family and leave the rest behind!

Mondays – (Crockpot meal) (Laundry)

  • Homeschool third grader at barn whilst older two are in lessons
  • Come home and finish third grader and homeschool eighth grader
  • Eleventh grader has outside class/third grader and mommy at park in sunshine/eighth grader homework
  • Music lesson for third grader with Dad; Rest for everyone else
  • Yoga at night for the mommy

Tuesdays – (Fast grilled meal/roasted veggies/salad)(Laundry)(Vaccum)

  • Waldorf homeschool enrichment program for eighth and third graders
  • Homeschool during this time with eleventh grader
  • Grocery shopping/Medical appointments as needed after 3:15
  • Rest
  • Gym for me at night

Wednesdays-(Meat/roasted veggies/salad)(Laundry)(Dusting)

  • Homeschool all children
  • Eleventh grade outside class (park time for third grader or gym time for me or meet a friend out)
  • Rest
  • Barn time
  • Exercise if didn’t happen earlier or Coffee with friends as able

Thursdays (Crockpot) (Laundry) (Vaccum)(Kitchen)

  • Homeschool third grader
  • Check in with eighth grader
  • Outside class for eleventh and eighth grader
  • Rest
  • Music for all/ music plus karate third grader (all in same place) (grocery store/errands for me)
  • Barn with Dad as able for eleventh and eighth graders
  • Yoga as able

Fridays- (Homemade pizza or breakfast for dinner)(Bathrooms)(produce and egg delivery)

  • Homeschool all children
  • Medical appointments late morning to early afternoon as needed (chiropractor)
  • Barn
  • Rest
  • Possible date night with husband
  • Some Fridays are days off with friends or field trip day

Saturdays (Clean house)(Laundry)(Fast cook chicken meal)

  • Yoga or gym early morning/ Rest/Barn or something fun with family

Sundays

  • Church/Sunday School
  • Rest/Prep for week ahead
  • Soccer for third grader
  • Eleventh and Eighth Grader Music Rehearsal/Youth Group

Tell me what you do with your 168!  Make it count, and most of all, have fun!

Lots of love to you all,

Carrie

 

 

 

 

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

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