Martinmas Warmth: Rhythm

Did you ever think of rhythm as a carrier of warmth for children (and adults)?  I consider holding rhythm one of most important ways of conveying warmth to my children.   Rhythm assures us that we are making time and space for the things that are most important.  This could be warming meals, it could be just time together; it could be the stability and repetition that children and teens thrive upon. Rhythm frees up the child to have energy for growth, for emotional evenness, for play, for boredom and dreaming, for doing what we love.  With this scaffolding, children don’t have to spend time wondering the order of things, or when lunch is, or what happens on Mondays.  They can live in greater freedom.

A school setting naturally helps provide some of this structure for some families.  However, in homeschooling, we have to create and hold this scaffolding and patterning of rhythm ourselves.  Some parents feel as if they are hopeless with rhythm and can never stick to anything consistent.  However, I often tell parents they most likely DO have a rhythm as to how they do things in their household, even if it is only the meals or sleep times. Even if we start with just meals and rest/sleep, we can start from a place of strength to create the other pieces of our life.  It also gives a great backbone to gentle discipline as rhythm cuts down on chaos.  For those of you with mainly tiny children under the age of 9, this is very important!

Rhythm does have occasion to change with development, season, and homeschooling as one moves up in the grades.  For example, as children grow into the teenaged years,  things change,  but perhaps surprisingly, much of the basic structure remains intact.  Meals probably stay about the same so long as you are not out every night at activities and miss family meals together.  Bedtimes may expand a bit, but I notice the patterns set as children still are extending into our older children.  None of our children sleep particularly late, and we have always had such an emphasis on sleep and earlier bedtimes that they are not ones to usually stay up super late either.  Just my experience; yours may be different!  Our priority on being in nature and outside also has remained unchanged.  We may have more to do in school than in when my oldest was only in first grade, but we still go outside, and we still have a no to low media home.  Sunday is still church day, Mondays is still horseback riding day.  These things have not changed for years.

Rhythms can also change with the seasons. Right now, we are in this beautiful season of Martinmas warmth, light, and protection.  These themes also carry into Advent, which begins one week from today.  This time of year leads me to more cleaning up, changing seasonal focus in our home, creating, cooking and baking , and crafting.  I am so happy to be home and cozy this time of year!  Spring feels much more exuberant and we just want to be outside and enjoying greenery bursting into fruition.

And lastly, the piece of rhythm that is how to get multiple children and their schooling accomplished does change as all the children grow simply because the children’s school takes longer and they have more subjects. My high schooler has much more work to do than my first grader, but it is still my job to use rhythm to provide balance.  Rhythm in this case is an aid, even if it needs frequent tweaking.  I just wrote a little watercolor paper schedule solely for our homeschooling hours and hung it up in our schoolroom.  It might change next month, but each time I do it, it reflects our priorities for that period of time.

Rhythm is warmth and love, and something special unique to each family.  Please, look at it that way and not as something to be endured.  Rhythm is an extension of love and nourishment.

Wishing you all a few more happy Martinmas days before Advent, with Martinmas protection and Advent posts to come this week!

Love and blessings,

Carrie

 

Martinmas Warmth

Warmth is one of my favorite topics of this time of year, and I think it is so exemplified in the story of Martinmas.  The beggar was cold and shivering, and St. Martin cut his cloak in two and gave half of it to the freezing man.  This generous act of providing physical warmth led directly to the experience of faith for St. Martin.  It reminds us that warmth comes on many levels.

Providing physical warmth for our children via layers of clothing and hats is so important, especially for young children whose physical body doesn’t work like an adult. Children have a metabolic rate that runs faster than an adult’s.  Therefore, under the age of nine especially, they are unlikely to know whether they are truly cold or not.  I am sure we have all experienced the child that is swimming in cold water and is literally blue, but doesn’t realize they are cold.  This is common amongst children who really cannot tell their own temperature very well.

As parents, I think it is important for us to keep our children warm.  We see this in many cultures all around the world – dressing babies warmly, even in subtropical and tropical climates.  When our children are warm enough, then energy will not be diverted from the growth and maturity of the nervous system just in order to keep warm.  Warmth allows our children to settle in, to not be restless, to rest and sleep and grow better, and to reach their fullest potential as human beings.

As a rule,  we recommend three layers on the top with one layer tucked in, and two layers on the bottom.  Here in Georgia I like two layers on the top and two layers on the bottom, just depending upon how cold and windy it is.  Contrary to popular belief, the Deep South does see snow and we do get freezing temperatures, although this year we are still running remarkably warm for mid to late November.   I like  the Ruskovilla wool/silk blend woolens from Green Mountain Organics, and owner Michelle Morton is lovely to work with!

However, perhaps the most important part of warmth is the one that can be so difficult – providing warmth emotionally and in generosity to others.  This doesn’t seem as if it would be difficult at all – we all love our children.  However, sometimes the day to day routine of taking care of toddlers, preschoolers, and multiple ages is exhausting.  Some mothers tell me it can be enough to keep everyone safe and cleaned and fed and to the bathroom and back, let alone to think about games, or playing, or entertaining, or having fun!

In parenting, we have to search for the joy.  The outward manifestation of this warmth IS the nourishing care we provide, but the emotional component of warmth and joy is much more elusive.  Do we delight in our children?  Some children, particularly melancholic children, are much more sensitive to this barmeter than others.  Small children NEED to sit on your lap and be close to you.  I always say this about the age of four years old. Four is a great age for sitting on laps – but all ages love to be close.  Teenagers will drape themselves over you. Emotional warmth and connection!

Playing, reading together,  laughing, taking time together is this emotional warmth.  For teenagers where nothing seems to be quite right, sometimes time alone with you as the parent and working shoulder to shoulder (not too much pressure to talk but being together), or taking a small outing, even just a walk without younger siblings, can be such warmth and wonder.  I think being outside in nature also provides this essential warmth – the warmth of connectedness and interconnectedness of the world.

Lastly, generous acts for those less fortunate than ourselves is at the heart of the warmth of Martinmas.  Consider collecting, volunteering, helping.  This could be local  friends in a tough spot this year or strangers in your community or the world. Enjoy this light, warmth, and protection of Martinmas by sharing it.

Blessings,
Carrie

 

Martinmas: The Light of Compassion

This week, as we continue to celebrate Martinmas, let us show the light of Martinmas as compassion that begins in our own families.  This beautiful light that begins here can then radiate out into the world.

Compassion begins first and foremost with ourselves. I speak with mothers every day who are so hard on themselves.  They are constantly thinking, “Am I doing enough for the children?  Too much?  Do I have enough boundaries or am I spoiling them?  Am I modeling a million things correctly for them so they will grow up to be good people?”  So many things to consider, and sometimes we lose the compassion for ourselves in the process.  How can we authentically model this for our children when we cannot shower ourselves in compassion?

Compassion requires listening.  It requires being open enough to really hear not only the words, but the subtext beneath the words.  Modeling this is how small children learn. Actions are the shining path of compassion.  We work on our mistakes with restitution.    We show our forgiveness and we admit our mistakes .

Kindness in the family is the first line of compassion in our entire society.  Some further ideas include this posts that I liked about the Family Kindness Project  over at My Little Poppies.  I have written about kindness in parenting as a journey back in 2009.  All it takes is a few first steps to start, to get back on track, or to consider kindness and compassion as a top priority in your home.

Let’s all use this week in celebrating Martinmas as a way to shine our light in our families.

Many blessings to you all,

Carrie

 

 

Martinmas Light

This whole week we will be celebrating Martinmas in our family.  With it brings the ideals of warmth, light, and protection to bring to ourselves, our families, and our communities.

There are many wonderful songs to bring to our children that exemplify carrying light in the darkness. There are four wonderful songs on pages 28-30 in the Autumn Wynstones book – “We Carry Our Light In the Darkening Light,”  “My Lantern, My Lantern,” “The Sunlight Fast Is Dwindling,” and “Glimmer, Lantern, Glimmer.”

The other fun thing to do is to play with light itself through the beautiful making of lanterns.  Those of us who have been homeschooling for a long time usually have a collection of lanterns made over the years – how fun to take them all out and put them about in our homes and homeschooling spaces and see how long we can use them and not turn electric lights on in the morning or in the evening.  There is also something very comforting to very small children in lighting the lanterns and having tea around the time it gets dark each afternoon.

Now is also a good time to replenish the candles on the table and even freshen our verses for thanksgiving and gratitude before we eat.  Small gestures have such large meaning for our children.  Candle dipping or candle rolling is always lovely this time of year.

Lastly, now is a fun time to play with window tranparencies. I love little scenes for autumn and winter. I enjoy saving window stars for Advent and Christmastide, and Rose Windows for around Candlemas, but little window transparencies are so enjoyable.  Just yesterday I picked up this book, entitled, “Transparent Window Scenes Through The Year.”  I cannot wait to delve in and make a few window scenes to enjoy.

I have some more thoughts about bringing light in on a spiritual level, so perhaps our next post…

Blessings and love,
Carrie

Martinmas: Warmth, Light, and Protection

 

I love this time of year.  Martinmas is nearly upon us, and it brings an entire season of warmth, light, and protection that extends all the way through Candlemas and the very first inklings of spring.

St. Martin was (and is) an exceedingly popular Saint – the patron Saint of vine-growers, winemakers, beggars, tavern keepers. It was traditionally a time of great harvesting – the wine was ready from the summer harvest, grains and vegetables were ready to be made into porridges, the larger animals were slaughtered for winter food, and the community came together and reminded themselves what we all know: that to dwell in community and unity is protection through the long, cold, hard winter nights.  This was actually a time that perhaps we in America more associate with Thanksgiving, where the fruits of the harvest were showed off (goose was the traditional meal, and in the United States this extended to turkeys),  there were games and dances and parades.   Barns and larders were filled, and the people were thankful.

Today, we recount the story of St. Martin.   St. Martin, a Roman solider, who saw a shivering beggar outside the city gates. He cut his cloak in two and used half to cover the beggar.  Later that night, in a dream it was revealed to him that the beggar had been Christ himself.  This experience, and experience is one way that we learn about faith, became transformative and set St. Martin’s life on a course of compassion and light toward the most down trodden  and poor.   We carry lanterns in a meditative walk to remind us of the light we all possess inside. And we carry lanterns in community as we shine our collective light out into humanity.

Over the next few weeks, I will be writing about warmth, light, and protection as we shore ourselves not only against winter, but against division, fear, coldness and uncaring.  Instead, we will be talking about ways to nourish ourselves and our families toward warmth, unity, joy and openness, and caring.

Many blessings to you,

Carrie

 

November Love and Gratitude

I was thinking about gratitude the other day in this month of thankgiving…and I was thinking how often, we think in our head that we KNOW we should be grateful, that we should be full of gratitude…but in our hearts we still feel this discontent; that things could be different; things could be better; things could be more perfect.  Have you ever felt that way?  And Steiner talks about gratitude, love, and duty.  I thought this blog post did a wonderful job talking about this topic.  It has been on my mind a lot.

Gratitude is a way to look at the world. How do we nurture this in ourselves and in our children?  I think in order to model this for our children,  we need two things.  The first thing is to find our own contentment and the second thing is to find our sense of wonder.

I find if I can say, “This will somehow all work out for good,” or “I am exactly where I need to be,” or  “I am thankful even though this didn’t work out the way I wanted it to,” the more my contentment grows and the more thankful I feel. The less I complain and find joy in the ordinary moments, in telling the people around me how much I love them and how I appreciate them, the more my gratitude grows. Especially for  small children, this modeling is what they see and need.

The second thing we need is our sense of wonder.  We often talk about this for tiny children, but I think our older children and teens also desperately need this.  However, in order to have a sense of wonder, we must not be rushed.  We need unhurried time and space in order  to mark the sunset, the appearance of the stars, the whiskers of our furry friends, to see the strange bud of the sunflower blooming right now, in November, in my yard.   Gratitude occurs in these ordinary moments and cannot be scripted.

I think with older children, we can speak more directly about the pitfalls of never being content because contendness goes with gratitude.  To say that we are thankful “but” is not being thankful with our whole hearts.  We can look at books that have gratitude as a theme.  We can say what we are grateful for that happened during the day whether at night before bed or around the dinner table.   We can talk about how we can dial back our “wants” for material goods and instead foster volunteerism.  We can still model. We can do with love for each other in our own families because that generosity toward others begins right at home.   And we can be persistent. Volunteer, wonder, and have gratitude together.

I would love to hear about your traditions for fostering gratitude and love in this month of November.

Blessings,

Carrie

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things: November

November is one of my favorite months – the colder temperatures, the crisp air and falling leaves that crunch under my feet, the birds coming to the feeder, the wonderful hiking, bonfires and hot chocolate.  Yay for November!

This month we will be celebrating:

November 1 – The Feast of All Saints

November 2- The Feast (Commemoration) of All Souls Departed

November 8 – The Presidential General Election (We already early voted but will be watching the returns and perhaps we will even make an Election Cake!)

November 11 – Martinmas

November 24- Thanksgiving Day

November 30 – St. Andrew the Apostle

plus this month marks my husband’s birthday!

Wonderful things to do this month with the children:

  • Tell favorite Autumn stories!
  • Make Autumn crafts – dipping leaves, making beeswax candles, leaf and bark rubbings, splatter painting around leaves
  • Read the book Cranberry Thanksgiving  and make Cranberry Bread
  • Go hike and be outside
  • Rake leaves, fill bird feeders and bird baths, take care of the all the winter gardening chores
  • Start deep cleaning the house in preparation for the holidays
  • Stock up on all the woolies for warmth – If you need a re-fresher as to why warmth is important, try this back post on “Warmth, Strength, and Freedom”
  • Make lanterns for Martinmas!  Even teenagers enjoy making a new lantern.  You can even buy the biodegradable sky lanterns as a twist to the traditional Martinmas Lantern Walk for teens.  This can be wonderful for older children who have done a lantern walk for years  and years and who would like something different to mark the season.
  • Have a coat drive; collect food for your local food bank.
  • Start traditions of gratitude for the month of November . Some have a gratitude tree where the leaves become a gratitude for each day.

Homeschooling this month:

  • Our first grader is deep into drawing, painting, and modeling the alphabet.  More on that to come!
  • Our sixth grader is finishing up mineralogy and moving into European Geography and Roman Studies.  This promises to be a fun time that will carry us until Christmas.
  • Our ninth grader is studying High School Spanish II, Biology, Algebra I, and a block on Comedy and Tragedy.  We are following the Christopherus book, “Comedy and Tragedy” and just finished with Sophocles’ Electra.  This week we will be moving into Noh Theater.  I ended up switching biology textbooks and hope for going through the basic concepts of biology that we already covered in our eleven weeks of school and move into our new material soon.  I feel confident this is going to work out well for our ninth grader.

Holidays:

I am already starting to think about making gifts.  And I am thinking about a post-holiday get-away.🙂

Inner Work/Self-Care:

  • I have been attending a series at our parish regarding dismantling racism by a reknowned professor.  It has been wonderful and also the focus of a Bible study I am persuing right now.  My head is full.🙂
  • I am finding it difficult to get up super early to head to the gym at 5:30 , so hope to get back into the swing of things this week.
  • Feeling gratitude for all the local farm fresh food available in our area.

I would love to hear about your plans for November.

Blessings and love,

Carrie