on a totally practical note…what do i do with my kids this summer?

Sometimes summer time can be  hard instead of magical!   If you are like me, my summers growing up were basically being kicked outside, hanging out out with the neighborhood kids, biking to a pool where my parents didn’t have to come with me.  However, not many of us have that anymore.  You might be wondering what to do with no one for your children to play with.  If you are working parent, you  know the struggle of having to divide the time off that you receive from your job and work with camps and babysitters to fill in the time.  If you are a stay at home, maybe your children are normally in school a good portion of the day and now you are wondering how to fill in time.  If you have teenagers, summers may feel different to you then when your children were small and you could just turn on a sprinkler and bring out popsicles and everyone was relatively happy.  So many different scenarios, but all looking for ideas!

One thing I realized early on is that summer for us, especially when my children were younger, was that summer required a bit of planning!  In order for things to flow, then I had to have at least a skeleton outline of what would happen, and I needed some ideas.

My first idea was always meaningful work.  This is really important for all children, from toddlers to teens.  Teens may be getting paid for work outside the home, but meaningful care and nurturing of the home is always important and should be a major foundation of the day and week.

Depending upon where you live, you can make being outside your number one priority after meaningful work.   Our days were often as simple as chores, park or a small hike in the morning, verses and songs or fingerplays, lunch and quiet time, a read aloud for the older children, pool or lake in the afternoon, dinner, bed.  Small children don’t need much more than that!  We often did some camping as well, and things like tubing on the lake or a nearby river (always a hit).

Sometimes if the weather was oppressive, our rhythm would become more elaborate with a  baking , painting, gardening, etc on certain days of the week – more like a rhythm we kept during the school year.  At the beginning of the summer I usually would invest in creating a box of goodies.  Maybe it was a few new puzzles, books, games, art kits – some new things that I would have to pull out on rainy days or times when things were getting dicey at home.  If you don’t have money to do this, don’t despair!  There are many lists of summer science and art activities, summer math activities, and other fun things to do with chalk and bubbles on Pinterest.

For children that were nine and up, we often  would tie in field trips to whatever grade we had just studied or were going to study in the fall.  We made trips to museums, aquariums, berry picking, living history museums, local attractions, or day or overnight trips to things just outside our immediate area.   Here is a list of summer activites that includes field trips:  Screen-Free Summer Activities.

Tell me how you are juggling your summer!

Blessings,
Carrie

june abloom

I love June – beaches, lakes, and pools.  Puffy and fluffly clouds sitting on blue skies. Glowing fireflies, campfires, and friends.  June is a wonderful month.

This month we will be celebrating:

The Slow Summer – think lakes and pools, tubing, horseback riding, camping, spending time with family and friends. All of my favorite things in one month!  Here is a wonderful guest post by Christine Natale, Master Waldorf Teacher and author about creating the magical summer

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!! ))

How to Celebrate:

  • I am enjoying decluttering many homeschool books.  I am on my last child to homeschool and he will be in fourth grade, so I feel like it is time to let some resources go.
  • Blueberry Picking
  • Kayaking, boating, going to the beach (at the lake, no chance to drive to our nearest beach)
  • Enjoying time on the farm with horses
  • Being together – game nights; movie nights with our older teens
  • Chalk and bubbles for our rising fourth grader, who is enjoying just playing.

The teaching fun:

  • Yup, it is time to gather up the high school transcripts for our oldest who will be a senior in the fall.  She has visited all the colleges she wanted to visit, and now we need to get the transcripts and applications together.
  • I am teaching a group of teachers at a local Waldorf homeschooling enrichment program this month.  That brings me energy and should be fun.
  • I start my own journey as a student again in July for a certification in physical therapy for the pelvic floor.  Lots to do there!
  • And, I have homeschool planning to do.  I have been posting about that on FB and IG, and go in spurts, so I need to jump back in this week with more doing.
  • We are still homeschooling until  at least the end of June and possibly into the second week of July as we have some things to finish up.  That’s just the way that worked out this year.  It isn’t my ideal, because I like the break for myself, but sometimes it happens. 🙂

Inner Work:

I have been super focused on having gratitude.  This includes affirmations, writing down things I am grateful for large and small, and reaching out to people to whom I am grateful and who had an impact upon my life.  It’s a lovely month to do this.

I would love to hear what you are up to!

Blessings,
carrie

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