This week between Christmas and New Year’s did not start out as I had planned. I wanted a very quiet and calm place of nurturing and steady rhythm with a lot of time outside to hike and play. I wanted time to dream and plan and unplug, which is what I normally do during these twelve days of Christmas and the twelve Holy Nights. Somehow, instead we ended up with commitments almost every day (yes, I forgot to use my “X”’s on my calendar to “X” off days, I guess!)
Then I guess our oldest daughter and I got sick with some sort of flu-like virus where we pretty much laid in bed for over 24 hours, too sick to do anything else…. And now the littlest one is down and out as well…..So that took care of our commitments, but not in the way that I had planned!
My wish for you this New Year is the gift of steadiness – of not jumping into the highs and lows, but the sure knowledge of when to take a risk to do something new and when to know when routine is just right. It is so important to remember Continue reading
It is Christmas Eve Day, and in the midst of the last minute baking and preparations for tonight and tomorrow, there is a certain feeling of contentment that goes with this time of year. I love looking ahead and thinking about the wonderful and beautiful twelve days of Christmas and the Holy Nights.
These can be days of silence and wonder, days of cutting out media and spending time with the people you love most in person, days of connecting to nature and to the light within ourselves.
Within the Christian calendar, these days mark twelve days of Christmastide after fasting and preparing ourselves spiritually for this season. They are festive days, but also requiring a certain amount of thought. Where is the light within us and how do we reflect that light? There is a threefoldedness that occurs in the three days after Christmas with the feasts of St. Stephen, the first martyr; the feast of St. John the Evangelist and the feast day of The Holy Innocents that begs us to ask the questions how do we show generosity (especially to those different from us in spirit and also how do we materially show generosity to the poor?); how do we show light and wisdom in the words we speak like St. John; how do we advocate and help the innocents in our world – how do we protect them, seek justice for their tribulations and trials and renew our own faith in the Divine Creator and all of humanity?
This is a time to start with ourselves, but also a time for us to look within our own families. Continue reading
Eileen over at Little Acorn Learning is doing a whole series on the slow summer. You can see one of her blog posts regarding this subject here. There was also an interesting post about “banishing the playdate” that recently came across my Facebook page. Part of what the author wrote about wasn’t perhaps particular to summer, but what I personally hold dear from summer – biking around to see who was out and could play. You can read that blog post about spontaneous play here.
I think slowing the summer down is so important. Think back to Continue reading
Each summer has its own particular feel and energy. In the past, I used to always feel like there was “July Doldrums”. Last summer was a summer full of community and fun, and there wasn’t really a “July Doldrums” but there was a bit of emptiness as I recovered from two years of loss. This summer, we are doing active things, but I have often felt tired. I think this has to do with planning homeschooling for three children while also studying for a major re-certification exam at the end of this month; my head is so wrapped up it is like my body is kayaking but my head is digesting all this information! LOL. I have been feeling more energized this week after taking the children camping with a dear friend of mine and her children, and coming to a point in my planning and studying that most of it is done! Yay!
So, I wanted to share some things I am enjoying right now. One thing of delight is that we are planning a trip to the beach in September after Labor Day. So, I have been enjoying reading about the Georgia Coast. I think we are going to go into Florida for our beach week, but a lot of the warm Atlantic Ocean wildlife is similar. I have always wanted to get “The Treasure Cave: Sea Tales of Tiptoes Lightly” by Reg Down to bring with us to the beach to read, so I am excited for that. We will also bring games and puzzles (and our eyes to watch the stars as part of our seventh grader’s astronomy block! Less light pollution!)
We have been enjoying checking out the National and State Parks in our state as we work on badge requirements for a Civil War badge, a Get Outdoors Badge and a Junior Ranger Badge. These badges are a great way to discover your state! You can see the National Parks Foundation link here: http://www.nationalparks.org/connect/npf-kids/junior-rangers
I have been enjoying church. There is something lovely about the time between Pentecost and the new church year. I have been thinking about this post: http://www.episcopalcafe.com/daily/church_year/no_ordinary_time.php. Some in the Episcopal Church refer to this time as “Ordinary Time” like our Roman Catholic friends, but the Book of Common Prayer does not name this season. The monks of Taize call this time “The Time of the Church” and I like that. The Feast of the Dormition of St. Mary is a feast I am contemplating (August 15) and the loveliest ways to celebrate in our home.
Here are some links I have been enjoying out and about on the Internet: Continue reading
Do you all remember when I posted a summer parenting project? Mine this year centered around de-cluttering the house and exercise, but in past years I have begged parents to find a religious/spiritual home for their family. This year’s post is right here: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2014/05/23/a-summer-parenting-project/
I am not the only one with this kind of thing on the brain! I got great joy in reading Kara’s post over here about exercising: http://www.kelizabethfleck.com/2014/06/7-quick-takes-birthdays-broccoli.html. As a former personal trainer, a gym manager, a trainer of bodybuilders and a physical therapist, I cannot stress enough the importance of exercise. This is so important for mothers who are suffering from depression and anxiety, and such a great example for our children. Our homeschooled children really need breaks during the day to run and play. Some homeschooled children do that naturally, but I do find the older children get the more they sit around and read….or craft….or read. It can take determination to keep your family moving, especially during a busy school day, but so worth it!
My husband has traveled out of town Monday through late Thursday night for years, and I really got out of the habit of exercising consistently. He is now traveling less, and I am happy to say I am back on the exercise train. What works best for me is to get up and out the door when my husband is home. So, I am in the gym by 6:30 each morning, and my goal is to move that up to 6 AM. I am tired by the end of the day, especially when I am teaching, (which is what I found out last year having sixth and third grade), so exercising at night is hard for me. Morning is much better! We have also been doing active things as a family, which we did last summer as well, but it is nice to have that piece too. Hiking, kayaking, and running at our local park have been fun.
De-cluttering is coming along as well. I am slowly culling books, which is so hard for me because I love books and as a homeschooler I keep thinking I will need that one book! My husband painted our school room a cheery yellow (Daffodil from Sherwin Williams) and with some naturally dyed curtains, I think it is going to look great for when we start school again in August. I will try to post some pictures when it is all done!
What are you all up to? Let’s celebrate our successes, no matter how small!
Blessings and love,
It is summer! There has been an article circulating around the Internet from over at The Atlantic regarding summer and having free time to just be: http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/06/for-better-school-results-clear-the-schedule-and-let-kids-play/373144/
Part of this article deals with how “personal” executive function (ie, the ability to set goals, to be self-motivated and do the practical things to achieve a self-selected goal) is much better in children who spend less time in activities supervised by adults:
The authors studied the schedules and play habits of 70 six-year-old children, measuring how much time each of them spent in “less structured,” spontaneous activities such as imaginative play and self-selected reading and “structured” activities organized and supervised by adults, such as lessons, sports practice, community service and homework. They found that children who engage in more free play have more highly developed self-directed executive function. The opposite was also true: The more time kids spent in structured activities, the worse their sense of self-directed control. It’s worth noting that when classifying activities as “less structured” or “structured,” the authors deemed all child-initiated activities as “less-structured,” while all adult-led activities were “structured.”
The summer can be a difficult time for working parents in particular, and some children end up trading school (an adult-directed activity), for different adult-directed activities in the summer – camps, lessons, and the like.
I am hearing from parents who both have to work this summer, or single parents who have to work. They are wondering how to give their children a summer of time in nature and unstructured play. I would love to hear suggestions from you all and how you have handled unstructured play for summer in your family. My own thoughts would be to enlist family members or friends who are able to be home and are taking their own children to the lake, beach, forest or out for a picnic. I have many family friends where both parents work, and those parents I know are taking a good deal of vacation time this summer to make the work week shorter –ie, taking each Friday off so they have a long weekend with their children, for example. I also have friends who work who have talked to their boss about changing their work hours so they go to work very early and get home early so they can have some daylight hours with their children to be together. If a parent works from home, of course the children can have unstructured play there, but many parents have told me if they have only children it can be hard to get things done or multiple children while they are working sometimes play great and come up with wonderful ideas and sometimes not! Continue reading
Elizabeth Foss is enjoying her first grandbaby, and I enjoyed her post regarding the days after birth here: http://www.elizabethfoss.com/reallearning/2014/05/in-praise-of-the-babymoon.html
I find it interesting if one looks on the Internet regarding “planning” a babymoon, most of the top posts have to do with planning some special time with a spouse prior to the arrival of a baby! This is baffling to me. Most attached parents, and parents who hold childbirth and the parenting of children in the most sacred terms, do not think of babymoon as a honeymoon getaway, but as a sacred time after a baby is born when life as a family with children begin.
Having a first baby, having multiples babies, all changes things. Nothing is or should be the same as it was, but perhaps not in the “inconvenienced” way general society assumes. I wrote some time ago about the joy of the first forty days after birth, and encouraged readers to slow down for an extended time after birth. Here is that original post: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/07/17/40-days-after-birth-and-beyond/.
There are many beautiful ways to prepare for the first forty days: Continue reading