Radiance in February

If you can picture it, think of the most beautiful bubble of light that could surround you and your family. Think of everyone in your family as being happy, healthy, and smiling. This, to me, is the essence of February. It’s a month that is often in the Northern Hemisphere is dark and cold, but if we can imagine a brillance and radiance into it, it can become a beautiful glimmering light. After all, we begin the month with Candlemas, a celebration of light. We think of the first beginnings of light, and a beautiful candle festival helps mark this occasion.  There are so many ways to make candles, including rolling beeswax sheets, dipping candles, pouring beeswax into half of a walnut shell (and you can push in a little candle in order to have little floating lights, which are always fun for children), and you can make earth candles where you pour a candle and place a wick directly into a hole into the earth.

More than the visible signs of light, where is the light in your heart and home? Where are your connections with the people you love? Sometimes on the weekends, we have one or two people over just to have a glass of wine and play games. It’s a good way to mark the days in winter. Some of our friends have needed help this year, and we try to be good stewards of our time and resources and help out. It’s just part of being part of community. If you are searching for community, I would love to hear about your journey! Please leave me a comment in the comment box below.

This is a wonderful time to change over your nature table if you have one to mark the seasons.  Flower fairies, branches in water that are budding,  a single candle, perhaps leading up to the markings of St. Valentine’s Day and then a little Lenten dish Garden to begin the beginning of March, as Lent begins on March 2 this year,  are all appropriate. All winter greenery is taken down.

This month in 2022 we are celebrating:

Black History Month – Of course Black History IS World history and American history and should be in every subject we teach EVERY month, but it’s also wonderful to take a renewed look at wonderful books and biographies this month.  

February 1 – Lunar New Year for those celebrating and also the Festival of St. Brigid

February – Mardi Gras! (until Lent, of course) Fat Tuesday is on March 1 this year with Lent beginning on March 2.

February 2 – Candlemas and also Groundhog Day.

February 14 – St. Valentine’s Day (you can see this post about Celebrating Valentine’s Day in the Waldorf Home

February 21- Presidents Day

Lovely things to do with children this month:

Make Valentine’s Day cards ; plan little treats and crafts for Valentine’s Day; make window transparencies; 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, grow sprouts in the kitchen or a little microgarden.

Homeschooling –

If you are looking for a little re-boot to your rhythm, please do try the above back post! There are so many wonderful posts about rhythm to look at. So, whilst February is a month in which many homeschoolers can feel in a rut and ready to just give up, try instead to think what would be the perfect reset and recharge for you and your family? Maybe it is a great month for a book study, a project that the whole family can be involved in or something else!

Our homeschooling this month: We are still in Rome and moving slowly! We have used this year to intensively practice on skills including multiplication and division, decimals and fractions, spelling, writing, grammar and more. It’s been a year of progress and improvement in many areas, which is exciting, although I feel like some of our creative endeavors have taken a bit of a backseat in this process . Our sixth grader has learned a lot! So far this year we have covered Ancient Greece and Greek History, Rome, physics, geometry in our blocks.

Our high school junior is at a four day a week high school and we are planning to visit a few colleges this last half of the school year. She made her own list and is driving that process. Our college sophomore is doing well at university and has made the Dean’s or President’s List every semester of college so far, and is still having fun.

I am already thinking about next year and homeschooling seventh grade and I am making a plan. It’s my favorite grade to teach, so more about that in future posts.

Farm Life: Farm life is about mud management of the pastures, thinking of spring seed sowing for the pastures, getting through the winter and keeping weight on the horses, gathering equipment for more bees in the spring, and some seeds. We will be re-doing the outside of our barn in the spring and hopefully some more fencing. There are many projects still to be done in our house, but the outside takes the priority right now for the horses.

Work Life: It’s been a busy season and I have been busy working 3-4 days a week so we have been doing homeschooling on the weekends and during the week. It’s been busy! I have made some lists as for continuing education this year and am projecting abundance. My colleague and I moved into a new office space today and we are excited about that.

#Abundant2022 – it’s real, and I am working with my word of the year. Did you decide on a word this year? How is that going?

I would love to hear from you! If you need any help with parenting or planning, I do consults via phone or Zoom- you can email me at admin@theparentingpassageway.com for your spot!

Many blessings and peace,

Carrie

Launching Adults

Many parents tell me the hardest part of parenting is watching their young adults ages 19-25 launch out into the world.

You can’t really talk about what’s going on because they are adults and it is not yours to tell. This is also true of younger children that there comes a point to stop sharing as well, and becomes our work to turn inward and garner support there.

This is a hard time to be launching into the world, but other times in history were also hard. Challenges also exist, and we do our best to prepare our children as they head into adulthood. We can guide them, but only to the extent the young adult wants to hear and act on what would be helpful – and sometimes we honestly don’t have the right answer, because the parent and the now young adult are two different people in situations we never had to deal with!

You worry about them. Many parents tell me they worry for their children’s safety, whether from gun violence or because they are different than other young adults. Bullying can occur even in college, which is disheartening and sad. Parents worry their child won’t be able to find stable employment or a stable healthy relationship.

One mother told me, “And if you even want to complain or worry aloud about how your children are doing – don’t – because then someone will inevitably tell you that you obviously did “it” wrong and how great their children are doing!” Ha. Competition amongst parents can still exist, even at this age. Who is finishing university? Who has a great job? Who is in a solid relationship with someone wonderful? These may be conventional standards, but perhaps asked amongst the elders and extended family and general community. They may be the wrong questions, but ones people think will lead to a happy life.

So, today I say set those worries or niggling fears aside for a moment. There is no worrying that can change the outcome in someone else’s life. They are their own person on their own journey. There will be good and bad along the way and they will make the choices. We did too! We must always remember that our now young adult has their own path to walk and fulfill. We have prepared them the best that we could and we can send them the power of our love and support. We can be in their corner, always and forever.

If you have to help your child longer and more intensely than others because things aren’t so typical, then so be that as well. I know parents who have done things above and beyond for their adult children who have struggled with neurologic, physical, or mental health challenges and it helped the parents sleep better at night and worry less. So be it. Everyone’s path is not the same and we do what we need to do to help with their stability and to help the health of our children sometimes. These situations can be complex, and easy for others to try to judge from the outside, but honestly, don’t we all wish we had people like that in our corner!

So…..

To those of you with young adults that you are worried about, I see you. Please know there are so many paths and ways to become independent adults and the early 20s can be a time of trying to pull all those pieces together. It really doesn’t matter what you were doing at that age; this is their journey. Support them in love.

To those of you with children that are seen as “atypical” in some way and you are worried about their safety and things that others may judge and deem very basic, I see that and hold that in my heart. We all want our children to be safe and accepted and loved.

To those of you whose children are in college and dealing with things you didn’t think they would have to deal with or discovering that this path is not what they thought, I see you.

To those of you with children on paths seen as not as standard as heading off to university, I see you.

For those of you dealing with judgment surrounding your young adults in some way, I see you. Life and maturing, in the 19-25 age bracket is not often linear.

Parenting is hard and launching young adults is hard, but it can also be a pleasure. The moments of joy and success can radiate, and the parenting at this age, like all ages, can be fun and wonderful. It is exciting to create a relationship with your young adult that is different than it was when they were younger. It can be a bittersweet time to watch them grow, stretch, fail, learn but such a wonderful time to extend our love and support even more as we see them for who they are and who they will become.

The days of parenting may seem long and the years may seem short, but I am telling you that you will never, ever regret the time and everything you have invested in having good communication and an open relationship with your child. This helps immensely. It is especially a good reminder for those of us that still have younger children at home while we watch our other children who have launched and are navigating the world. It gives clarity to parenting path, decisions, ideals.

Thinking of all of you with young adults today with love,

Carrie

Working With Your Word of the Year

I mentioned on social media yesterday that when I feel overwhelmed or like life is just one big to do list, I like to go back to my word of the year or vision board and re-align my priorities. The other things I like to think about in general besides going back to the very essentials include planning ahead, requesting help and delegating to other people in the household, and using rest and relaxation as a foundation (life is too short! We don’t have to be productive every minute!)

The word of the year is very helpful to me. This year my word is #abundant so I have a document in my phone that I can review daily. I took my word and found some teachings from my religious tradition, so that is there for me to remind myself what this word means to me. Then I made a list of the areas in which I want abundance this year, which includes abdundant peace, abundant parenting, abundant finances, abundant health, abundant faith, abdundant professional life, etc. So you could brainstorm categories under your word, or you could make a vision board representing categories under your word. What would your life look like in different areas if your word was your reality for the year?

Then I went and brainstormed under each of those categories – how would I have abduncant peace? what would it look like to have abundant finances? What would abundant health be like? I wrote down a number of ideas, strategies, or just the things that are keeping me from abundant peace or abundant health, etc. This is the document on my phone so I can pull it up.

When stressors, challenges, or decisions come up, I can pull up this document and brainstorm about it with my word and the ideas I had in different areas. Will this decision bring me abdundant peace? Can I change this stressor in some way or mitigate it so I can have abundant health, etc?

So, just to give you examples of some of my very personal things under different categories..

Abundant Parenting – strategies to connect with each child and to connect as a family; meditations and prayers for each child, listing the big things each child needs my help with or big things that need to happen this year (ie, high schoolers and deadlines for things)

Abundant Finances – strategies of how to increase our income and decrease output including ideas for no spend weeks and months

Abundant Peace – setting boundaries with specific situations/people written down, setting time for rest and relaxation including scheduling naps and Friday nights where I just go to bed early, scheduling time with my husband and the close friends that I love who I always know have my back and best interests at heart (small circle friends!)

Abundant Faith – finally getting to join something during the week at my church because it is on Zoom! So grateful! But also ideas about how to share our faith with our children better.

Abundant Professional Life – so ideas for courses I want to take, but also ideas for minimizing burnout as I absorb people’s energy and circumstances, setting boundaries.

Abundant Health – about a million thoughts under this one! But mainly to schedule those thoughts or they won’t happen in reality!

I would love to hear how you work with your word of the year.

Blessings and peace,
Carrie

The Art of the Inner Work of Homeschooling

Homeschooling is a fine and balanced art of being a teacher, being a parent, being the caretaker of the family, often being the holder of the family emotional life; the family climate so to speak. We often begin homeschooling for our children and for the successes we know homeschooling will bring them as we strive to meet a child’s physical, academic, or emotional level, but yet it is often us who end up stretched in varying ways that we never guessed or knew was possible.

We learn to be strong within our own convictions of why we are doing what we are doing. I think too many people spend an awful lot of time on the “how” of homeschooling, perhaps rightfully so, but perhaps we need to be in connection with our why’s in order to carry us through. And since there is often more than one way in which to accomplish a goal, vision, or task, we need to be really connected into this why. Why is homeschooling the right answer for our family, for this child, for us as a unit? What will we gain? What will be challenging? Then we can worry about the how.

We are often stretched with the juxtaposition of the mundane – the daily meals, going over spelling for the twentieth time or that math concept for the millionth time, the soothing of emotions day after day- and the challenging. How do I teach subjects that I didn’t learn about? How do I make an inner life for myself within this? After years of homeschooling, who AM I?

We learn to build our families in ways that take into account everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and to really see our children for who they are – and help them become who they will be in life. Building is an important task of the inner work of homeschooling.

Inner work varies person to person. If you follow Waldorf homeschooling, you may find ideas amongst Rudolf Steiner’s regarding inner work. If you follow a specific religious path, you will find ideas there. Many people create their own path. Your path itself may look different depending upon if you are focused upon your children, you yourself as the teacher or you yourself as the human being. Perhaps we cannot separate ourselves as teacher and self so easily, but I often find what often needs to be nurtured in times of homeschooling burnout is not more ideas for me as a teacher, but ideas for me as a human being who is separate and distinct from the children and the family.

I would love to hear your thought,

Carrie

January, The Happiest of Months

I love January. Although it may be colder where I live with an occasion of ice and snow (and now tornado threats sometimes!), it is that idea of an entire year laid out before us with shiny new possibilities and opportunities. A time to create and shape things anew. Since I am building my year of abundance on rest and relaxation and balance, the introverted vibe of this season feels just right.

I made a calendar the other day the way I have for so many years of homeschooling – take a larger piece of paper and divide it by folding into six squares on the front and six squares on the back. This provides one month for each box and in each box I write down days we celebrate, ideas for the month, and when the children were small and under aged 7 I included what tale I would tell for the entirety of the month. Repetition and daily, weekly, and yearly rhythms are soul nourishing for all of us, but especially for the life of small children. Even without small children in the house, I felt a need to return to these roots. For January I wrote down the days we are celebrating, and then a few catch phrases of things I associate with this month: water, birds, soup, snowflakes, outside, hiking, organizing, rest, date nights (on the farm at this point), reading, creating.

This month, we are celebrating:

1- New Year’s Day

6- Epiphany/Three Kings Day

17- Martin Luther King Jr. Day

These are a few of the things we are enjoying this month:

  • Daily walks, hikes, or horseback rides rain or shine
  • Puzzles and board games. We have been playing a lot of Scrabble and got the board game Azure for Christmas.
  • Green smoothies and juicing
  • Opting outside daily
  • Playing with our horses and dreaming of the show season to start again
  • Indoor microgardening!  So fun!
  • Decluttering the entire house. This somehow feels like it must be done this year.

For those of you trying to figure out what to do with children in inclement weather (besides dressing well and going outside!), I always say that a good rhythm of work is the foundation of everything else. So meaningful work is the most important thing you can do. Slow things down, and involve your children. Children need long-simmering doses of time. Chop vegetables for soup, bake something, teach your older children to cook, let your littles help you with laundry, deep clean. Meaningful work is a strong key to family life. Those of us with land, animals, etc may take it up a notch with the amount of daily care required, but even in the city you have work to do and your children need to see that and be a part of that work. Even toddlers can participate.

If you are looking for 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 marshmallows; 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.

We are beginning Week 18 of sixth grade homeschooling this week! Our sixth grader and I will be looking at Roman History, along with a good amount of math, spelling, handwriting, and drawing. Our oldest is off snowboarding in Colorado, (and our middle child who is a junior in a four day a week high school) will be starting back this week. They truly do grow up and make their own lives. Sometimes parents bemoan when things change as their children become young adults, but I think instead watching it all unfold is rather exciting and precious in its own way and gives us as parents a chance to re-create ourselves in new ways as well as we answer the question of who we are at this juncture in our own biography.

January blows in with a plea for balance and re-evaluation. I am currently taking phone consults for parenting and homeschooling should you want to sort some things out. Please send me an email at admin@theparentingpassageway.com if you are interested.

I would love to hear how your January is unfolding! Drop me a comment or reach out on social media.

Cheers,

Carrie

365 New Opportunities

May this be a very happy and wonderful year for you, dear reader! May this year be one of love, of peaceful parenting and family life, of helping others, and of seeing your dreams big and small come true.

Every year I choose a word that I think will help me embody my goals, dreams, and plans for the year. Resolutions are so often made to be broken, but a single word often provides me a meditative point to start and end my day, which in turn helps me create my reality. I have been writing this blog since 2006, so you can look back and see all the different words I have chosen since then, but last year my word was “build.” I had no idea that we were going to end up buying a farm and having horses and bees at the time I chose that word! Build was an amazing word for the year as I built my career further, we built the farm (and are still building it up!), we built connections with our teenaged and adult children, and we built homeschooling in new and different ways to fit into our lives!

This year, I chose the word “Abundant” and am envisioning all the different ways this word is going to impact our lives. Abundant relationships. abundant personal and family health, abundant farm life, abdundant finances, abdundant peace, abundant care for my patients. I have decided the best way to begin this is with a foundation of rest, relaxation, and relationships. It’s been a busy two years with finishing a doctorate and specialty certification and moving while treating patients and homeschooling, and while this year promises to be busy, I have also promised myself to balance this out with rest, relaxation, and spending time with those I love so much. My husband and I will be celebrating 30 years of marriage in May and I am excited about this milestone more than I ever have been at previous anniversaries. Maybe this is because now I can look back and see that we have held a lot of different incarnations of each other throughout the years and loved each other through all the changes. I am also so enjoying watching our two oldest children tackle their own lives and their own adventures. And, I am enjoying what I consider these twilight years of homeschooling. Our son is in sixth grade, and while he most likely will be doing some form of non-traditional high school, I will be enjoying these middle school years together creating an abundance of time together in a more traditional homeschool setting.

I cannot wait to hear what you have in store for 2022. Please feel free to reach out on social media, through email, or yes, happy to talk on a phone consult.

In closing, this is the beautiful blessing I often share on the New Year:

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours.

-From an Old Irish Blessing, author unknown

May this year be the one in which you are ENOUGH just the way you are.

May this year be the one in which you are content.

May this year be the one where you are loved as richly as you deserve.

May this year be one of bountiful and deep friendships, beautiful family memories, and love.

May this year be the year that you help someone else, the year of your generous spirit blossoming.

May this year be the one that is perfect for you and where you are in life and may you enjoy it abundantly.

Many blessings for a peaceful New Year with new beginnings of nourishment and love. In this year, may you hold steadfast to love, beauty, truth, and goodness.

Looking forward to 2022,

Carrie

Advent: Little Lent

It’s been a whirlwind year, friends. Between COVID, working, finishing a bunch of continuing education courses and finishing a doctorate and specialty degree the year before, and moving to a farm that needed every single thing renovated and re-done…I was done and feeling exhausted. I took a few weekends recently and just rested a lot and prepared myself inwardly. It turned out to be the beginning of my own lesser Lent.

As part of the Episcopal church, which is part of the Anglican tradition, we draw from both Eastern and Western traditions of the church and from the Celtic Saints. Our Western church will begin Advent on the fourth Sunday before Christmas as is customary, but I have felt called this year to start the fortieth day before Christmas (this includes Sundays, unlike the Great Lent before Easter). S, I began lesser Lent with resting and the ideas of fasting and the coming of Christmas in my head. I have been using this little book: https://www.amazon.com/Celtic-Advent-days-devotions-Christmas/dp/0857467441/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=celtic+advent&qid=1637195336&sr=8-3 to help pull things together, and I have been planning for Advent this week.

Some of the preparation is the external trappings. I am thinking about cleaning, about getting a Christmas tree which we usually do the second week of December or later but probably will do earlier this year, and about holiday shopping (of which I am probably at least 60-70 percent done). I am also thinking about food and Christmas Eve (thinking specifically about Danish and Polish food), and my word of the year.

But the internal part is about striving to be better as a human being. Forgiving people and praying for those I don’t feel like forgiving and praying for. For trying to find the light of Christ for others even when I am tired. To help walk with those in pain or distress. To understand the point of view of others. To find my prayer life again. To find times of fasting.

So, this week I sat and focused on the coming of Christmas. Not just the hustle and bustle part, but the quiet part of spirituality, of the beauty of the farm, of our lives, of the gratitude I hold for our family and very close friends who are like family. Of all the change we have been through this year, and all the changes to come. I could sit and dwell for a moment with the changing leaves, the dropping night temperatures, the little creatures scampering around the farm, the squishy horse faces that are hopefully moving in next week, the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, This work felt just as important and wonderful as the physical preparation for Advent. What a wonderful thing to have forty days!

If you are thinking about Advent beginning the Sunday after Thanksgiving next week, here is a back post that you might like: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/12/07/advent-and-other-winter-celebrations-within-the-waldorf-home/ and I have Advent posts every year so over 10 years’ worth of Advent posts! You can use the search engine to pull up all the previous years.

What things are you planning for Advent? Do you have any resources to share? Please leave me a comment in the comment box – I would love to hear!

Blessings and peace,

Carrie

Homeschooling Plans for November

This year has been an interesting balance of sixth grade with outside classes in math and science and an outdoor program and sixth grade inside the home. On one hand, it’s amazing to have opportunities in our area – so grateful! And on the other hand, it is hard to really get things done as we have no consecutive school days. I work outside the home on the days our sixth grader is in class, so it is what it is and I decided to find a way to make it work by limiting the amount of material we are covering at home and making it manageable. Deeper depth is always going to be better than a mile wide and an inch deep!

So, for November, this is where we are with outside classes:

  1. Outside math is working through Saxon Math 7/6 with a teacher who is a retired engineer. I don’t mind the daily practice that comes with this class. At home we are also working our way through geometric constructions that I have done with our other children when they were in sixth grade.
  2. Outside science has done some middle school chemistry and they are beginning physics with an emphasis on mechanics. At home, we have done Earth Science using Christopherus Earth Science and some other resources. I have a few more plans for the year in science (see below), but I am not wedded to doing all of it. Energizing, not depleting is the goal for this year.
  3. The Outdoor program is covering all kinds of building, engineering ,and survival skills, and also working their way through Ancient History, which we did last year in fifth grade. That’s fine by me!

Plans for this month at home:

We began Greek History with a look through Live Education’s booklet, which has been fun, and doing the geometry mentioned above. We will be moving into the History of Rome, one of my favorite blocks, before Thanksgiving.

Math practice – I do pull out a combination of workbooks and such to practice concepts and keep reviewing for practice as we do have standardized testing at the end of this school year.

Handwriting – we are working on cursive.

Language Arts – we write in all subjects and as we do our main lesson books, but we are doing separate work in spelling with All About Spelling.

Our Episcopalian Corner – I have been using some of the free lesson plans here: https://vts.edu/lifelong-learning/younger-youth

Our loose plans for the rest of the year at home includes:

Roman History and then Christmas break

January – Medieval History and more Geometry

February – Business Math

March and April – Medieval Africa and African Heroes, African Geography

May – Zoology or Botany

Other possibilities include music lessons since our youth choir isn’t singing right now at church due to Covid, and to keep pushing physical movement (which is also done at the outdoor program). We have 4H, church youth group, and horseback riding which is plenty to do on top of farm life. ❤

Where are you in your homeschooling year?
Blessings,
Carrie

Ho Hum Parenting

What is ho hum parenting and could it help my family life? This is a question I get asked frequently by younger mothers.

Ho Hum could imply a detached way of parenting or being almost non-responsive, so I want to first and foremost say that we need to be responsive to our children as this is the basis of all attachment. This is especially true for babies – a babies’ wants and needs are the same.

Yet, as our children grow we need to give them time and space to figure things out on their own – that is what makes children grow up to be resilient. If we keep responding to our children the way and how quickly we would respond to a baby or even a toddler, it creates a sense of urgency and less ownership for the child themselves. Children are smart and capable – if they have good models and good guidance, you can give them a little time and space to fix their own problems. This then carries into the middle school and adult years. Children learn to separate over time, and this is necessary in a sense to learn how to function as part of the family and the world (and not the complete center of it with expectations that everything will be done and revolve around them as the center).

One way to approach this is to think about a “ho hum” approach. Some of the ways we tend to respond to children, especially children who are more highly sensitive, is to match that urgency. I think what we want is for our children to feel heard, to feel like their needs are met , but also to value them as themselves with their own intellect and gifts. Therefore, if we can respond in a calm and less urgent manner, a manner in which we actively listen to our children and reflect back to them what they said, they can often solve their own problems. This, to me, is the point of parenting: teaching our children with good models and problem-solving how the child can be the author of their own life. This is the valuable basis of a relationship that lasts into adulthood. I believe and have seen that if you do this, your adult children will still want to come to to you with the big things for guidance, but overall, they have it handled.

Ho hum, then, means listening and reflecting. It means being calm and matching urgency to the BIG problems in life, but not to every little problem. If you have a highly sensitive child that is stressed a lot with small things, I think this is an even more important role to be able to help them see how to self-regulate. In order to do this, you need to be able to separate yourself from your child’s path. Your path is intertwined with your child, but your child has their own path. Sometimes with older children, you can hear parents bemoan, “I already did seventh grade math” or something to that effect – and this is true for many areas in life. You already were 10 or 14 or 20. You had that age. You cannot microscopically manage these ages for your children. Our children are their own people and if we can stay out of that way in a gentle, ho hum manner of availability, we can be a part of their developmental unfolding whilst not doing it for them.

Part of ho -hum parenting is having a rhythm. This keeps us from taking on too much, which makes the entire family stressed out, including the children. It also keeps us accessible and available. This is an important part of ho hum parenting – to be there. It also sets boundaries around a day in which children may have a million requests about “what are we doing today?” “can I do___?” This helps us fill in those blanks for the child, and gives the older child agency as they should be able to identify the rhythm on their own or with the use of a visual aid. Every household’s rhythm will look different and it should fit your own family

Part of ho-hum parenting is including the basis of health. No one in the family can feel well if we are not home to make healthy food, if we don’t have time to be out in nature. A child that often feels as if everything is urgent and is “wired”, often needs less in their schedule, not more.

And the last part of ho-hum parenting is figuring out how to communicate and perhaps in very different ways than we were taught or that was modeled for us. It is being sensitive enough to see what is going on underneath for a child who is more reserved, and it’s being able to help week out the important thing for a child who is super sensitive and overreacts. It’s understanding developmental stages and how this fits in with personality, and using your calm words and presence to help. There are many back posts about communication on this blog. I personally had to re-learn how to communicate. I took classes in nonviolent communication and read a lot, which was helpful. If I can do it, you can do it too!

I would love to hear about your parenting journey.

Many blessings and peace,

Carrie

Candlelit November

My son told me yesterday that our farm looked like honey. When I looked at him he said that the trees were golden and the sun was setting which made a golden glow over that. It was, indeed, like a honey-kissed landscape for us to rejoice in.

I love the calmness and coziness of November. Even here in the Deep South, the temperatures have actually been cold at night for us, and firelight and candlelight sound like such a good thing to go with warming drinks and foods and the cold crunch of leaves outside. This month, instead of being a frenzy leading up to the holidays, can be a beautiful slow-paced autumnal march towards winter.

I love November in all its crisp -leaved, golden sunset, chill temperatures perfection.  The leaves are FINALLY turning here where I live, and it feels like the beauty and coziness of fall is upon us at last.

This is a wonderful month of celebrations for our family (yes, even now that our children are 20, almost 17, and 12!)

  • November 1 and 2 – All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day
  • November 2 – Election Day
  • November 11 – Martinmas (and there are many other posts about Martinmas if you use the search engine box!) It’s also Veteran’s Day, which we celebrate every day with my husband and father in law who are veterans.
  • November 20- My handsome husband’s birthday!
  • November 22- Thanksgiving
  • November 28- First Sunday in Advent
  • November 30- The Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle

Learning and celebrating:

  • Learn songs for a Martinmas Lantern Walk – you don’t need a lot of people to do a Lantern Walk. You an also check your local churches – if you live in an area with a German population, there may be a church holding a celebration of this day.
  • Use transparency paper to make window silhouettes and transparency cut-outs and lanterns.
  • Bake bread on the cold days
  • Look for bird’s  nests as the trees lose their leaves; make feeders start to be filled all the time, make treats for the birds
  • Dip leaves in glycerin or beeswax and preserve them
  • Cook things with cranberries, corn, and pumpkin.
  • Try the book Cranberry Thanksgiving and make cranberry bread!
  • Learn some Thanksgiving songs and practice so you can play them after Thanksgiving Dinner!
  • Find a place to volunteer to serve Thanksgiving dinner
  • Make Thanksgiving Baskets and leaving them on your neighbor’s doorstep!
  • Gather greens and natural items to use for an Advent Wreath.  We do this at church from the areas surrounding the church and it is quite lovely!
  • Find books, cozy blankets and pillows, and mark off half days for just reading and lounging around. Pull out candles, homemade Martinmas lanterns, salt lamps  and scatter them around.  Cuddle up and read with some fabulous tea or hot chocolate.
  • Find handwork projects that you will love and get started.
  • Order some woolens for your family members; my favorite place to get them is Green Mountain Organics
  • You probably already have found your hats, mittens and gloves and coats, but we are a little slower down here with cold temperatures coming later so I just did that this week!

For littles especially:

For the older children:

  • Get them involved in your autumn traditions – baking, cooking, cleaning, taking care of the birds outside, hiking, star watching, volunteering.
  • Think of traditions of gratitude and light.  Some teens may no longer love a lantern walk (although I still love it and I am an adult), but some teens might go for a big bonfire with friends on Martinmas.
  • Some thoughts:  Cultivating Gratitude in Children
  • How do we help older children internalize the spirit of helping the most needy, the most destitute, the most poor? That is the work for this age.

Inner Work:

Farm Life right now is slowing down for our bees. They were very sweet and sort of passive bees, and I think with that personality came the fact that they were not aggressive gatherers. In fact, they have already eaten through all their honey, so I worry a bit about their survival this winter but we do live in a milder climate so hopefully they will make it through! The horses will be here in 1-2 weeks so we are busy ordering hay and shavings and getting stalls ready, making sure we have blankets for everyone as through the winter is still show season and many show horses are clipped and need some protection from the cold! People ask if we will get other animals, and we may get a few chickens, but honestly having horses here and boarder horses to take care of is enough work!

In school life, we are excited to have our oldest child home from college for breaks around the holidays and are making some plans to celebrate at home. Our middle child is a junior and doing well at her four day a week high school, which is still considered homeschooling due to shorter hours, but it doesn’t involve a lot of work on my end which still feels odd! Our twelve year old is still homeschooling with an outside program when I work, and we are slower going through our lessons, but he is putting forth good effort and I have seen a lot of academic growth this year.

I would love to know what you are up to this wonderful November!

Blessings,

Carrie