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

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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

Spring Menu Planning

May feels like a lovely time to plan a Spring menu.  Of course, down here where I live it is 86 degress Fahrenheit today and we have been swimming in the community pool, but spring eating nontheless!

Here are some thoughts and links I have been perusing:

Breakfast:

Spring breakfasts from the Food Network

Smoothies, of course.

Lunches:

I am going to try making this:   Pepper -Rubbed Salmon with Melon Salsa

Tuna Salad, any variation

I also love any kind of fajita veggies wrapped in a lettuce leaf

I also want to try these: Poppy Seed Chicken Pitas

Dinners:

I have lately been making pork chops from our local farmer with cumin and other spices;  mango chicken; roasted asparagus and a lot of salad.

Sweet stuff:

My oldest has quite the sweet tooth.   I am currently searching for some delicious organic lemon-lime type desserts to make for her.

Please share with me what delicious spring dishes you have been making (or fall dishes, for my Down Under friends!)

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

 

Celebrating May!

There are so many glorious things to celebrate about May:  flowers and greenery, bees buzzing, spring time alive, and the activity of children everywhere perking up.  The world is ready to be outside in May in the Northern Hemisphere, and we feel the liveliness and promise of Spring.

This month we are celebrating:

1st- May Day – you can see back posts here  and here

14th -Mother’s Day

19th- The Feast of St. Dunstan

20th- The Feast of St. Alcuin

22nd-24th- Rogation Days – you can see this back post, “A Rogation Heart”

25th- Ascension Day – here is a post about celebrating this feast with children

29th- Memorial Day

31st- The Feast of the  Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

We will be strawberry picking.  Normally we also go camping in this month, but we camped in April instead and will be using May to finish up school.  I will be speaking at the Waldorf Homeschool Conference in Orlando, FL on Saturday, May 13, so preparing for that has been part of my month of May!  I hope to see some of you there!

Other things on my mind:

  • De-cluttering and deep cleaning with natural cleansers
  • Skin care (yes, skin care).  Time for radiant, dewy skin in May!
  • Spring tales for children and puppetry for small children
  • Gardening
  • The lake and the pool. Our pool is opening for summer this week, and the lake is beckoning
  • Spring menu planning!
  • Exercising. April we were gone a lot and it was hard to get a schedule, so here is to a balanced May that involves spending an amount of self-care (receiving) closer to the amount of time I spend caring for others (giving).
  • Screen Free Week starts today!   Here are some real-life strategies for reducing children’s screen time.

I would love to know what is on your mind for this month of May.

Many blessings,

Carrie

 

 

Eastertide: 50 Days of Beauty and Joy

Happy Eastertide!  I love the season of Eastertide, which began on Easter Sunday and will last until  Pentecost Sunday (which is on June 4th this year).

I find it comforting that the spiritual journey of Lent, often hard and arduous, gives way to an even longer period of joy and yes, even fun.  There are forty days in Lent, and fifty in Eastertide, which to me signifies and marks the very adult needs of beauty, fun, and play.

Oh yes, to play.  Adults need to play.  Play is not only the realm of children.  Play is often the creative wellspring of adults as well.  I am also convinced it a the key to adult  mental wellness.   We often seem to forget this in our drudgery of work, traffic, children’s activities, cooking meals and changing diapers and cleaning the house over and over, but  our need to play (and rest and relax) is every bit as real as our need to work and help each other.  The child inside of us is never far down if only we reach for him or her.

We recently began Eastertide by spending a few days camping on a remote barrier island that was accessible by ferry.  It was full of palmettos, sand dunes, beach,  live oak trees to climb,  and places to swim and walk.  There were wild horses grazing in the sand dunes, armadillos crossing our path (and raccoons trying valiantly to get into our food and water jugs).  It was five hours away from our home, but still in our state, and yet was so far away from the large and busy metropolitan area in which we live now.  We used to live in this area when we first were married, and moved for job opportunities, but I often miss the quiet, slower pace of that beautiful area of sun and sea.

In this fifty days of Eastertide, I challenge you to play, to rest and relax and notice beauty, and to find and take your joy in the ordinary moments.  They are there, even amongst the chores of housekeeping or holding tiny children.  They are there, even in the times of your teenager dealing with end of semester tests and finals.  They are there, even with your children who are feeling the call of spring and nature to be wild and untamed.   They are there, even in traffic and whizzing cars.  Find those moments and hold onto them for what they are; the seeds of creativity and relaxing love.

Happy Eastertide, my friends.

Blessings,
Carrie

April Beauty

We were away for the first week of April and came home to green grass, blooming ornamental trees, and cold nights but warm temperatures during the day. Spring is here!

This month, we will be journeying through the heart and soul of Holy Week and celebrating Eastertide in its fullest glory, despite the often horrifying and somber events of the world as of late.   The calendar of the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church include an amazing array of Saints this month; so much wonder in the midst of darkness to remember.   Our main family  festival dates  this month include:

9- Palm Sunday

10-15- Holy Week

16- Easter

Eastertide!

25- St. Mark

29- St. Catherine of Siena

I am looking ahead to Ascension Day in May and the Rogation Days that precede Ascension Day ( the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday prior to Ascension Day).  There is also a Novena of 9 days that begins on Ascension Day and ends on the Eve of Pentecost.  So I am really thinking about how to mark that.

These are a few of my favorite things this month for my family:

  • Since we will be in Eastertide in just a short week,  I am thinking of all the creative and wonderful ways to dye eggs,  thinking of the Paschal candle and light in our home, indoor dish Easter gardens, Easter carols (yes, they are real!) and attending church
  • Gardens outside as well – especially leading up to Rogation Days which is a wonderful time to have seeds, gardening tools and homesteads blessed.
  • Spring cleaning and decluttering
  • Spring menu planning!
  • OUTSIDE PLAY!  How often do we, as adults, forget to play?  Play has really been on my mind lately as a depression and anxiety buster, as a health enhancer, as a way to create family memories and fun!  Look for some ideas about PLAY coming this month to this space.
  • Camping.  It is a nice month to camp where we live, and we will be taking advantage of that by camping at an uninhabited barrier island mid-month.  Wild horses and beach fun!

These are a few of my favorite things for small children:

  • Ramping up all kinds of physical activity since the weather is generally nice…hiking, kayaking, roller blading, walking, playing in the yard never disappeared these past months, but I feel so drawn to these activities now.
  • Incorporating more and more loose parts play and re-arranging indoor and outdoor play areas.

P.S. — For those of you who are using any form of screens with your small children, how about looking at rhythm, play and outside time in preparation for Screen Free Week?  Screen Free Week 2016 is coming May 1-7! You can see http://www.screenfree.org for more details. 🙂

These are a few of my favorite things for grades-age children and teens:

  • Spring handwork – wet felting, making beautiful spring crafts
  • Movement outside and exploring nature
  • Adjusting our rhythm to the seasons, but sticking to strong awake, rest and bedtimes, along with regular nourishing whole foods mealtimes.
  • Exploring local history through geological and nature study, and also through local historical events of significance.  There are so many National Park sites and museums to explore!
  • Letting teens sleep.  Spring is a time when a lot of physical growth seems to occur, and teens need their sleep!

Please share with me what is inspiring you this month!

Blessings,
Carrie