Four Things To Do In The Year of Crazy

This year, as many of you know, has been a super tough year on my family.  We began homeschooling for the simple reason of wanting our children to have health in all its forms, and to choose a developmental educational method.  This year, health hit us all in the face over and over as one thing after another happened that involved a sick horse, sick extended family members, and accidents that required lots of follow-up appointments.  I gained a completely newfound  and amplified respect for mothers who homeschool through chronic illness of themselves or their children. The lack of rhythmicy was okay for a few months but honestly drove me (and my children) insane after the first few months.

I think if you homeschool long enough (my oldest at this writing is 16 and a half), at some point you may just hit a year like what we had.  Maybe it is illness or divorce or death or just one thing after another where the hits just keep coming.   In the midst of a year like that, what do you do?

Let Go.  I think the biggest thing I learned this year is to let go.  I thought I was letting go since my some of the children are older, but what I learned is that just by being physically here there is a lot I normally do and don’t think about it.  When I physically wasn’t present due to having to be in hospitals or meeting health care team members, they really had to step up. I always thought they were fairly independent and good at taking charge of household things, but I learned that they could pull it out without any supervision when they needed to. I also learned that I am still doing an awful lot that I probably need to just let go even when things are calmer.

I let go of things that normally  would bother me or seem like a big deal, extending down to end of year activities at this moment that in the past would seem stressful. I simply haven’t even been physically at home sometimes when my kids were.  I was out of state or out of town dealing with medical emergencies.  This year,  things such as end of year things that would normally be a bigger deal to get everything right and ready  are really no big deal  in the scheme of things.  To the things that normally would bother me in the scheme of dealing with teenagers, I asked myself, is it fatal?  Is it so unhealthful that I can’t stand it or is it something we will survive?  Can it be there with limits?  Let it go. Inner work is perhaps the biggest help here.  Pause and listen.

Find rhythm where you can.  In the beginning of some of these things, there was no rhythm.  We were needed  or I was needed at places daily in the middle of the day or the morning.  It didn’t feel like  much was happening as far as the academic end of school unless my students could do it on their own.  I set very small goals for schooling, and just felt that any little step was a step forward in our original plans.  It also helped that in general I plan less weeks and less days because I know life happens and I otherwise am too ambitious in what we should be covering.

What was comforting to me came from our unschooling friends.  I got remeinded that there is a lot to be learned in life in general and unschoolers go on to college or whatever their life plans are as well! I also took a very long-term view that everything we wanted to do, or at least most of it, would be covered by high school graduation!  As things would calm down, some rhythm would emerge.  Maybe it wasn’t a normal rhythm, but a rhythm nontheless.  Let go, and grab onto what you can regarding rhythm.  Listen when everyone is tired and says they cannot do one more appointment.  Find the spots of rest.  Don’t push through.

Do what you can.  We did get through blocks this year and math practice and reading practice for our little student and more.  We didn’t take field trips really, but things happened – just at a slower pace.  Waldorf homeschooling doesn’t mean covering 9 blocks a year.  It means sinkly deeply into what you are doing; that less is more; and that skills are being supported and emerging.  It also means total overall health.  All you can do is what you can do!

When it is all over, take time to rebuild.  We are looking forward to a summer of rejuvenation and a new year in the fall.

Many blessings,

Carrie

 

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A Month of Joy: April

Looking forward to spring in the Northern Hemisphere? So am I!  It seems to be very slowly moving into the Deep South – we had very low temperatures last week which is unusual,(although today it is supposed to be summer temperatures for some odd reason). We went on holiday to Florida a few weeks ago  to catch some sun and came back to cold.  We used to live in Florida, and I said I would never move back there, but now that I am older and hating the cold even more I am reconsidering! LOL.

This is normally a month of great beauty and joy – the springtime of creation.  The plants and flowers are bursting anew; the sun is out more often and the temperatures are (hopefully) rising.  The world seems fresh and full of possibilities.  In this sense, I too am excited to begin anew.

We will be celebrating:

April 4- Martin Luther King Jr’s Feast Day in the Episcopal Church

April 25- The Feast of St. Mark the Evangelist

and getting ready for Ascension Day, which is May 10th and the Rogation Days of the Episcopal Church, which are the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday that precede Ascension.  If you are planning ahead as well, try this back post on Rogation Days and this back post on Ascension Day

What I thinking about in the home:

Spring Cleaning and Deep Cleaning.  I hurt my ankle/foot on holiday and have been hobbling about, but I still love to think of spring cleaning and have plans for deep decluttering and deep cleaning once I am able!  Here is a post on Housecleaning and Homeschooling and a favorite on  An Ordered Outer World for a Peaceful Family

Spring Crafting – I am looking forward to receiving our box from Happy Hedghog Post and also looking forward to some beautiful spring crafts.  I have some great projects on Spring Pinterest Board

Spring Self-care – We are still dealing with a lot of doctor’s appointments for our little guy who fell and hurt his teeth.  I fell on our vacation and had a doctor’s appointment for a very sprained ankle.  But beyond that, I have been in a little phase of establishing new morning, afternoon, and evening self-care routines.  I will be utilizing some of my favorite health care people to build a health care team to help me stabilize some of the health challenges I have faced this school year.  Yay for me winning!  We might also be doing a little moving challenge around our house for the big kids.

Spring Friend Care – I read the other day that the five people we spend the most time with clearly influence us.  I was thinking about the people I spend time with the most outside of my husband and family, and really want to focus on making spring and summer with those beautiful friends as lovely as possible.  In order to have friendships, which are so important, we have to put effort into them!

Spring attitude – Time for a fresh start in the expansiveness of spring!

Can’t wait to hear what you are up to!

Blessings,
carrie

50 Ways to Celebrate Eastertide

Eastertide is such a joyous time – in the Northern Hemisphere, spring is beginning, and the season of Eastertide runs all the way from Easter Day until Pentecost on May 20.  I think of Eastertide as a time to remember that play and joy are such an important part of being human.  So, without further ado, here are 50 ways to make Eastertide memorable:

  1.  Dye eggs and try your hand at some spring crafts
  2. Visit a sheep farm where the sheep are being shorn and then wash, card, and dye some fleece.
  3. Make projects having to do with sheep – I have an entire Pinterest board devoted to to wool and knitting here
  4. Spring clean your house (deep clean)
  5. Get rid of things you no longer use; paring down in the spring feels so good!
  6. Re-vamp your diet to include even more fruits and vegetables and meatless meals.
  7. Take great care of your skin
  8. Cleanse your rhythm from things outside the home that are no longer serving you or your family
  9. Look at our bee and butterfly friends in the garden, in books, and in crafts.  There are some ideas on my spring Pinterest board
  10.  Clear your life from people who bring you negative energy
  11. Make time to spend with those you love and trust – family and friends
  12. Think carefully about new endeavors.  What are you growing for this season?
  13. Find a wonderful new book to read!
  14. Go hiking.
  15. Go camping. If your spouse doesn’t like to camp, gather a moms and childrens group to go.
  16. Spend time in nature every day.
  17. Add some puppetry to your life
  18. Try journaling 50 days of gratitude
  19. Change your priorities so you have time for self-care.
  20. Slow down and rest
  21. Learn some beautiful new songs for spring for circle time or to sing as a family
  22.  Carefully investigate your spiritual path and find a way to deepen your inner work
  23. Go easy on yourself and give yourself space
  24. Find an app to help you meditate or visualize
  25. Go swimming
  26. Get a massage or sit in a sauna.
  27. Spend time with animals.
  28. Get to know your local farmers and enjoy local foods.
  29. Create art
  30. Plan ahead…or not. Whichever brings you joy in your homeschooling!  Here is some inspiration for planning high school and here is some inspiration for planning the grades.  Also, here is  a whole Pinterest board devoted to the  Early Years
  31. Learn some new Waldorf verses
  32. Pick fruit
  33. Plant a garden
  34. Create something beautiful for your outdoor space
  35. Plan new adventures in travel –
  36. Have a May Day festival shared with friends
  37. Plan for Ascension Day
  38. Plan for Pentecost through these musings
  39. Make some rock art
  40. Create, cook, and sing for Pentecost
  41. If you celebrate Pentecost as a family, consider a gathering for Pentecost
  42. Encourage someone or become someone’s mentor.
  43. Drink more water
  44. Set up a new exercise plan
  45. Catch up on your doctor and dentist appointments
  46. Take naps
  47. Walk in nature
  48. Watch a sunrise
  49. Go slow and enjoy spending time with your children.  If you are homeschooling, less books and more play.
  50. Have a picnic

Blessings,

Carrie

The Wonder of A Simple Lent

Candlemas is upon us next Friday, and I am planning something simple to celebrate.  However, Lent is  also coming.  It begins on Valentine’s Day this year.  This long season of anticipation and wonder always takes me longer to plan, so I am beginning to look at how we want to keep wonder alive during these 40 days.  During Lent,  I have that feeling of love for this introspective time of the year.  There is something so moving and wonderful about this season.  The gradual awakening of the earth from its beginning budding of the flowers and trees to the jubliant and triumpant spring is wonderful each and every year.

Lent in the Waldorf home has a certain spirituality of the soul that can be transmitted to children with the doing of the most simple things that are outside of any specific religious tradition.  If you are new to Lent as a spiritual practice, I recommend that you start small!  It can be as simple as commiting to watching the birds at your bird feeder every day; commiting to taking a beautiful hike or walk outside all the Saturdays of Lent, or doing work to help someone else.

Lent is a wonderful time to empty your calendar and focus on what matters most in your heart.  Let us recommit to our children in the most wonderful of ways.

My  own spirituality is tied to my religious practice as an Episcopalian and part of the world-wide Anglican communion, so I am sharing my Lenten plans based upon this. Perhaps you can modify these ideas for your own family.  Any Lenten practice is more about doing  than words when children are involved, but I do have two  teenagers so it seems appropriate to have both the words and the doing this year!

My main plans include:

Lenten meals.  I am focused on make ahead breakfasts and eating many vegetarian meals.  There are quite a few links on my Lent Pinterest board board for different meal ideas.

Lenten housecleaning.  I typically spread “spring cleaning” throughout Lent.

Establishing healthy habits to last not only the 40 days of Lent but for the rest of the year; you can see more about my view of Lent as a time for re-growth and renewal here

We will be attending Ash Wednesday Mass, Mass throughout Lent, and the masses of Holy Week.  They are quite different than the typical Divine Liturgy. My favorites include Maundy Thursday and Easter Vigil.

There will be an offering jar to donate to Episcopal Relief and Development on our table.

We will be saying the Lenten prayer of St. Ephraim (St. Ephrem in the Orthodox tradition) together daily.  It is short and easy to say with children.

I ordered Station of the Cross cards from a Roman Catholic supplier, and will modify prayers for each station from this document from The Episcopal Church Stations of the Cross for Global Justice and Reconciliation  to go through on the Fridays of Lent.

I will be reading along with The Good Book Club  and will be listening to the podcast from the Episcopal Migration Ministries that will be running throughout the Lenten Season

I will make a  Lenten calendar for the smallest member of our family to follow along.

Hoping to incorporate suggestions from the 2018 Carbon Fast for Lent calendar

I would love to hear what you are doing to build up the wonder, renewal, anticipation of Lent!

Blessings,
carrie

 

Raising Light in Darkness

As Candlemas is coming soon (February 2nd), I have been thinking a lot about the image of light in the darkness.  Some parents tell me that they see  the world as dark place.

I agree that even general politeness and reverance seems to have taken a distinct turn for the worse.  I saw something this morning where after the Eagles won the play-off game against the Minnesota Vikings, some people held up a sign mocking the Viking’s 99- year old- fan, Millie.  The sign said “F— Millie.” (and there was more on Twitter, as related in this article.)   To me, that just about sadly epitomized where we are as a society. Sometimes everything in the media seems so rude, raw, and ugly, down to disrespecting an elder over a football game.

However, my  children have to live in this world, and their children will live in it too.  I can only hope we as a family  are equipping them to:

Be capable — Interesting article on that here in the NY Times from 2012

Be resilient. Notice  the beauty even amidst the struggle

Do what is right  and not be afraid to stand up for that even if it is different (for me, much of this is centered around our spiritual lives as part of The Episcopal Church and of the  Anglican Communion, but also  entwined with the idea of integrity and just not being a horrible human being.  Some days my parenting goals are as small as “just don’t grow up to be a terrible human being.” )

Have integrity – to be who they are at all times. I never want them to have a private life that is completely different and unethical than their public life.

Be a lover of  the whole of  humankind, to be kind and help people. Here is a back post on kindness in the home.

Have and keep the faith.  This was an expression in my family growing up that  when we would part someone would inevitably say, “Keep the faith.”  We knew as a family that life was hard, life was up and life was down,  but goodness remained.  I still feel that way today.

Tell me your favorite ways you are equipping your children  and yourself to be a light in the darkness.

Blessings and love,
carrie

Joyful January!

I just love January.  The organizer in me loves new calendars, new organizers, the promise of a new school semester.  The cozy introverted part of me loves the colder weather and being warm and cozy at home, snuggled up with hot chocolate and a good book and having things slow down.  It is going to be a great month in so many ways.

This month we  are celebrating:

Christmastide until Epiphany

6- Epiphany

15- Martin Luther King Jr Day

31 – St. John Bosco, celebrating with books and maybe a viewing of a movie about his life

If you are thinking about:

Rhythm  – this is one of THE best back posts on rhythm for families with children of different ages.  It includes tips for families with early years children to teenagers, and links to a seven part series on rhythm.

Fun things to do with children:  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

Meal planning:  I am thinking about overnight steel cut oats for breakfast; soups; roasts; fresh squeezed sunny juices to counteract the cold outside

Health:  Rest and replenishment and getting outside!  Even with the cold!  Have you seen the 365 Mile Challenge?

Reaching Out:  I will be focusing on the issues that is part of the public policy of The Episcopal Church.  We will also be reaching out in service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

My Word of the Year:  #Replenish:  I am setting goals as to what replenishment would look like in action to me.

I would love to hear what you are up to!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

 

 

A Crafted Life

One thing I love about the beautiful and peaceful this winter season and the inner work of Christmastide is the ability to stop and think about how I want to craft our life – for me, for our family.  Do you ever think about that? Many of the parents who read this blog have made very conscious decisions in their parenting in order to provide the healthiest home environment they can for their children, so I know many of you do.

Often I need that mid-school year check in.  Things can so easily get off course depending upon what emergencies came up in the fall.  So I often use this time between Christmas and New Year’s to think about  what are the most pressing needs for each and every family member, including myself, and what would be best for building for the future.  Often what we need and what our family members  changes with the age/developmental stage of our children, the age we are (!!), and the seasons.  So each year, I invite myself to turn inward and think about, “What does my family need?  What does my spouse need?  What do I need? What is the most important and essential thing that we need?”

Sometimes this leads toward me thinking of a word to carry myself through the year.  You can see the little tradition of picking a word for the New Year and some of the things I typically do with that word here.  You can see my word this year, “replenish,” on The Parenting Passageway Facebook page as the pinned post.  Some people will go so far as to choose a word to embody their entire family.  We have a family motto that we have had for years (KIPPA – kindness, integrity, positive attitude, patience, adventure), but I am meditating on the idea of a word for 2018 for our family.

 

People often ask about choosing a word for their year.  Sometimes a word is obvious depending upon what has happened during the year, but if not I usually start by thinking what is the most important and essential thing and will that word help me or us strive in that direction?

Once I have my word, I think then is the time to work artistically with my word and see what arises.  This is almost like the idea of just free artistic journaling as mentioned in  the book The Artist’s Way.  And then I need an action plan if there is anything that needs to happen.  This year, my word will require some action, otherwise how will I feel replensihed if everything remains the same?  Something will have to change in my inner or outer world.  And the final piece is the action. It is not enough even to dream or to have a plan.  As I always tell my children, the dream is free, but the hustle is real!

Can’t wait to hear about your word!

Blessings,
Carrie