Michaelmas Celebration For All Ages

Michaelmas is such a wonderful festival!  The inner strength and courage that Michaelmas represents is so fortifying as we look ahead to the winter months.  My family celebrates The Feast of St. Michael and All Angels in church; and we also celebrate this event at home.

I think one of the interesting things in the home environment is that if you have both teens in the family and small children, you may have been coming up with Michaelmas celebrations for fifteen or more years, and you may be  trying to find ways to appeal to both teens and tiny children.  This requires strength and constancy in festival making!

We have done all sort of things over years past:

  • Made felted shooting star balls
  • Made dragon bread
  • Dyed capes and sashes either golden yellow with natural dyes or red
  • Had obstacle courses
  • Hunted for “dragon tears”
  • Made dragons out of felt
  • Made dragons out of thin modeling material and put it on candles
  • Made blackberry crisp
  • Had puppet shows with older children presenting for younger children
  • Had music and verses specific to Michaelmas
  • We have made Calendula Courage Salve.
  • In accordance with our religious tradition, we have shared stories of angels and verses and prayers about angels from The Bible and other sources of tradition within our church.
  • We have told many stories of St. Michael and the Star Children, Little Boy Knight, St. George and the Dragon.  There are so many wonderful stories and legends!

It takes time to try things and build up traditions.  You can certainly build up slowly over the years, and also build up a community with which to celebrate.  This year, I missed getting together with folks on this special day – celebrating in community is so wonderful!  I asked my teen earlier in the month what she would find interesting for a  Michaelmas celebration and she mentioned putting on a well-crafted puppet show for younger children; an obstacle course (“the harder the better” she said!) and, of course, food.   I find something like a bonfire with food and other activities works well for teens.   If you have teens, what sorts of things are you doing for Michaelmas?  Please share in the comment box below.

Here are some links to some of our more treasured ideas  in this back post.

Here is a link to my Michaelmas Pinterest board with links for verses, songs, food, crafts, and ideas.

I hope you have a wonderful Michaelmas – may your courage be strong, your words so true and your deeds so brave!

Blessings,

Carrie

A Rogation Heart

I have been thinking a lot about “Rogation Days” lately.   Rogation Days in the Anglican Communion is celebrated on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before The Feast of Ascension and then the Sixth Sunday in Eastertide is Rogation Sunday.   These are the days in the Anglican Communion in which we pray for the blessing of  bountiful harvests of those who work with the land, for the earth and the seas and for our place as good stewards.  There are prayers offered for seeds, for animals, for tools, for water and for rain. As time has gone on, I think perhaps the strict agricultural blessing has widened in some areas and even includes an idea of praying and being grateful for all the fruits of labor within humanity.

This custom began in about the fifth century England (most sources put this tradition coming from France originally).  From my understanding, this often involved “beating the bounds”:   walking the boundary of parish lands.  This procession often included figures of Pontius Pilate in the form of a dragon, Christ in the form of a lion, and varying  images of Saints.

Some in the Episcopal Church have pointed out that “beating the bounds” points to boundaries in general for life, even in our modern times….I have pondered this.  Does having a rogation heart mean I am to ask myself if I am using boundaries in order to have a healthy life?  Am I using boundaries in order to expend my energy on what is closest to my heart in caring for my family and neighbors?  Am I being called to reconciliation as part of setting boundaries? 

Another source I read about Rogation Days pointed out that there is something in Rogation Days that reminds us of the Creator and that even Job needed reminding of who created the Cosmos when God finally spoke to Job out of the whirlwind (Interesting commentary on this particular passage here).  So, I find myself praying for humility; for the ability to never lose a sense of wonder and awe regarding this wonderful planet and yes, its people too.  To have a heart of gratitude.   Sometimes we all need reminding of that.

And for some reason, the image that pops into my head when thinking of a rogation heart is that of the sunflower.  My favorite flower for summer is the beautiful sunflower.  There is nothing like standing in fields of sunflowers in the Deep South of the summer, the sun and humidity beating down on your back with yellow smiling faces as far as the eye can see.  Smiling in the sun and the rain and happy to be part of Creation and to be loved by the humans in the fields.    May we all have grateful hearts of wonder and find the sunshine in each other.

Blessings,
Carrie

Monthly Anchor Points: June

Anchor:  a person or thing that can be relied on for support, stability, or security; mainstay: Hope was his only anchor.

When we work to become the author of own family life, we take on the authority to provide our spouse and children and ourselves stability.  An effective way to do this is through the use of rhythm.  If you have small children, it takes time to build a family rhythm that encompasses the year.  If you are homeschooling older children and also have younger children not yet ready for formal learning, the cycle of the year through the seasons and through your religious year becomes the number one tool you have for family unity, for family identity, for stability.

June is the month with the longest amount of daylight hours for the Northern Hemisphere (and the shortest days for the Southern Hemisphere – how are all my Down Under readers faring?)

These are the festivals that will anchor my month:

21 – Father’s Day

24 – The Nativity of St. John the Baptist

29-  The Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul

Famous Saints I will be taking to my inner work this month –

9- St. Columba

10- St. Ephrem of Syria (lots of great reading to do here)

14 – St. Basil the Great

22 – St. Alban of Britian

Aside Note – 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 is our “primus inter parus” (first among equals) but holds 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”.  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))

Ideas for Celebrating June:

  • Here we are tubing down rivers, camping, going to water and splash parks
  • Blueberry Picking – Strawberries are about done, but blueberries are coming soon
  • Try out different popsicle and cold drink recipes
  • Gardening – especially with an eye to our friend the bee
  • Hunt fireflies at night
  • Stay up and gaze at the stars
  • Have bonfires and camp fires and make s’mores
  • Summer theater outside!

The Domestic Life:  I love June for going through and re-organizing the school room, throwing out papers that have accumulated, going through closets and drawers, re-vamping meal plans with cooling foods in mind.

Homeschooling:  We ended this week, (week thirty-five), as everyone’s concentration was down (rightfully so for our geographic region and climate).  The children are outgrowing clothing at a rapid pace, and I could tell their forces needed to be directed to growth and rest.  I will be writing a post soon detailing a binder I put together for seventh grade to wrap up the year from a teacher  perspective, and what I am doing differently in planning fifth and eighth grades than I have in previous years.

I would love to hear what you are up to this ending of May and looking ahead to June!

Blessings,

Carrie

Monthly Anchor Points: May

Anchor:  a person or thing that can be relied on for support, stability, or security; mainstay: Hope was his only anchor.

When we work to become the author of own family life, we take on the authority to provide our spouse and children and ourselves stability.  An effective way to do this is through the use of rhythm.  If you have small children, it takes time to build a family rhythm that encompasses the year.  If you are homeschooling older children and also have younger children not yet ready for formal learning, the cycle of the year through the seasons and through your religious year becomes the number one tool you have for family unity, for family identity, for stability.

Beautiful May!  Here in the Deep South, the pools are open, people are holding barbeques at the pools and lakesides, everything is in bloom and we are enjoying the sun!

My month will be anchored by these festivals:

1 – May Day  – you can see this  back post  about May Day

10 – Mother’s Day

14- The Feast of Ascension  – please see my Pinterest board here

21 – Saint Helena

24- The Feast of Pentecost  – please see my Pinterest board here

25 – Memorial Day   – please see my Pinterest board here

31 –  Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

 

Ideas for Celebration:

  • Strawberry Picking if ripe in your area
  • Lemonade and cookies
  • Make a rhubarb pie or strawberry-rhubarb pie or jam!
  • Watch birds nesting
  • Grilling, backyard barbeques
  • Planning summer vacations
  • Swinging in a hammock or on a porch swing
  • Swimming
  • Gardening, planting
  • Outdoor projects
  • Celebrate Memorial Day with a community event – some areas offer parades or other activities

The Domestic Life:  I think May (and over the summer months) can be a wonderful time to introduce new chores to children and to establish a chore routine in your household. 

Homeschooling:    I hope to have the vast majority of my planning for six year old kindergarten, grade five and grade eight done by the end of June so that  July and the beginning of August can be a true rest.  It is moving along!  Feel free to check out my Pinterest boards by grade for many ideas.  I hope you too are coming along in your planning!

Many blessings,
Carrie

Ideas for Easter Baskets

I know many parents who are starting to gather together some small treats for Easter baskets.  I wanted to share with you some ideas I have collected over the years for baskets, including ideas for older children.

First of all, if you are looking for organic, fair trade or allergen free candy, you can try some of the suggestions listed here: here

If you are looking for a healthy alternative to those marshmallow Peeps, try this recipe

Ideas for baskets:

  • Bubbles/cool bubble wands
  • Small balls with different textures
  • Seed packets/gardening tools
  • Jump ropes
  • Pool or sandbox toys
  • Wooden animals or gasp, plastic animals if they are going to go live in the sandbox or a pond of water
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Kites (older children love these as well!)
  • Pinwheels
  • Supplies to build a fairy house
  • Accessories for bicycles  like a bell for the bike or a bike basket
  • Pool goggles, swim shoes, snorkles (older children as well!)
  • Play silks
  • Clothespins and braided yarn ropes –they can be so many things!
  • Stuffed animals – homemade felt or knitted animals – or Waldorf dolls
  • Clothing for dolls, yarn “leashes” for stuffed dogs
  • Playmats that roll up for small animals, figures or tiny cars.  Many of the playmats are easy to sew.

For older children:

  • Books
  • Craft kits
  • Paper dolls to cut out
  • Small model sets that will fit in basket
  • Woodworking or leather working tools
  • Yarn, knitting needles, crochet hooks or supplies for cross stitching
  • For older teen sewers, the book “Sew Fab” might be nice.  (My teen has been eyeing it.  It is geared towards teen girl clothing). 
  • Card games
  • Watches
  • Art supplies
  • Gift cards (sorry, but older teens love gift cards)

For religious items, you could think about icons (there are even small laminated print icons), Bibles or other religious books, necklaces or bracelets with crosses.

What are your favorite things to put in an Easter basket?  Please leave the age of your children with your item in the comment box! 

Blessings,
Carrie

Finding Peace in the Resentment

Oh, February, you got me again, I think.  I went into winter thinking all would be fine and all I know is for about three weeks I have felt….

Resentful.

Tired.

Without reserves.

Irritated.

A little lost with how to continue to juggle all of it in homeschooling and my own need for self-care and self-nourishment….Even frustrated….

Juggling children of three wildly different ages within the Waldorf curriculum is often difficult.  Going from nursery rhymes and baking and fingerplays  to geometry and algebra  and historical events back to drawings and working on basic early grades skills through mythology to fielding housework, outside activities, the unexpected is a tall order……Oh, February, really, it is too much for one mother at times.

And for everyone, the things that will drive one to darkness will be different.  For me, it is not the cooking or cleaning on top of homeschooling that trips me up.  Those things are fine.  The harder part is the mental exhaustion from the juggling of three very different ages, stages and attitudes.   I am so very tired by the end of teaching time for three separate people that I really can’t combine due to large age gaps…   The harder  and darker part for me is often juggling the “should” for each age and how the “should” would look if  the entire school day was devoted to each child’s  grade or developmental level…. and maybe there would be some hours for me…instead of an all day, all hours being “on” from 5:30 in the morning until 8 at night….Have you ever felt that way? Continue reading

How To Have The Most Peaceful Family in January

Here is how:  turn off the screens.  Get rid of TV, computer screens, videos, video games…all the screens.  Have a screen-free  two weeks, cold turkey – just like that!  And then see how much better everyone does playing and getting along as siblings and decide to extend it further.

Here are some wonderful things to do in January without any screens:

Cut out paper snowflakes, including really cool 3-D snowflakes

Dip candles

Roll candles

Play board games or card games with your children

Draw, paint, model

Whittle wood

Make popcorn together

Bake together

Play in the snow – build snow forts, have snowball fights, snowshoe, downhill or cross country ski, ice skate on a pond

Read and tell stories

Build forts inside

Take a walk outside in the cold – look for animal tracks or berries or birds or all of the above

Knit, crochet, cross stitch, finger knit, spin, sew

Sing and make music together – learn some new songs!

Clean, scrub, dust, work around the house – rearrange furniture

Go bowling or find an indoor swimming pool to swim in

Write letters to family and friends; write stories together

Snuggle on the coach with hot chocolate and marshmellows

Cook for a neighbor

Find a place of worship to attend and get involved

Throw a party

Clicker train your dog, cat, or other animal

Take care of plants; start seeds indoors when it it is time

Add your own ideas here!

Many blessings, enjoy January!

Carrie