Celebrating Valentine’s Day In The Waldorf Home

February is consistently labeled as the month where all homeschoolers want to quit.  The dreary weather often makes those of us in the Northern Hemisphere want to head for warmer locations and sunshine, and get rid of school altogether!

But really, Valentine’s Day can be our little spot of sunshine!  There are all kinds of things to make and do, and it can be a lovely pink and red time of showing love for one another.  I love Lisa’s Valentine’s Day post over at Celebrate the Rhythm of Life and would like to add some resources so you can have an amazing  handmade Valentine’s Day celebration!

Verses –

Good morrow to you, Valentine.
Curl your locks as I do mine,

Two before and three behind,

Good morrow to you, Valentine

-From “Festivals, Family, and Food: Guide to Seasonal Celebration” by Diana Carey and Judy Large, page 9

Games:  The book mentioned above has a suggestion for a Valentine Ring Game ( so you would need a group large enough to form a ring).  It is sort of a version of “Duck Duck Goose” involving a handkerchief and song.

Stories: The book “Tell Me A Story” from WECAN  has the story “A Million Valentines” by Suzanne Down; Suzanne Down’s Juniper Tree Puppetry website also has an entire book of Valentine Day stories here.

Activities:  Making Valentines out of red, white, and pink paper, lacey doileys or leftover lace is a fun activity.  Also,  making little felt hearts with a string, sort of like a pendant necklace is fun, or to sew two little felt hearts into a brooch.  One year we found heart shaped buttons and made little bracelets with buttons.

You could also consider the Swedish-type hearts made out of paper that sometimes one sees around Christmastime.  They are really sweet and may appeal to older children.

“All Year Round” has a suggestion of making bird biscuits and hanging them from a branch.  You can try my Pinterest Board for more suggestions, including biscuits to feed the birds, felt heart garlands, little lanterns, and more.

One thing we like to do is to have a pretty breakfast table with flowers and fun decorations.  Little garlands of red felt hearts are easy to make last minute and are very sweet hanging up.  Many of the crafts on my Pinterest board would make a pretty table.

When we think of activities, we also include acts of service.  If there is anyone in your neighborhood that is alone, elderly to visit, or a food bank that needs donation, those are all great ways to spread Valentine’s Day love and cheer.

Food:  Having a tea party seems to fit in well with this day.  On The Parenting Passageway Facebook page, I posted a picture of the flowering tea we had at Candlemas.  These would be fun at Valentine’s Day too, and everyone enjoys watching the flower unfurl in the hot water of a clear tea pot.

If you have wonderful pictures of your Valentine’s Day fun, please do post it over on The Parenting Passageway Facebook page or share a link below.

Blessings,
Carrie

 

 

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Blooming

Throughout the ages, spring has been a time of renewal and coming alive after a fallow and inward winter.   The significance of “forty” for the forty days of Lent coincide to this awakening and renewal and is not to be underestimated.  Forty days are in many scenes from Biblical History.  One only has to think of Noah and the Ark, Moses and the forty days after he killed the Egyptian, Moses in the desert, Joshua and his forty days to the Promised Land, Elijah walking for forty days and forty nights, and the time of Jesus Christ and His temptation in the desert.

And, after each of these fallow, anguishing, waiting periods, renewal occurs afterwards.  So I have been asking myself:  “What is my forty?  What regrowth, renewal, or positive change is going to come out of this time?”  Just like the way disequilibrium gives way to equilibrium in development, the way the rain turns into the sun shining,  fallow periods or even times of hardship often lead to  amazing new beginnings; a  blooming and blossoming, just like the branches of the flowering trees here in the south.

 

 

Sometimes we get stuck and can’t see our way out of the fallowness. If you live long enough, then you will have plenty of fallow periods or periods where things just aren’t going well.   How we get unstuck depends upon us.  Some of us need to start in the physical plane, with exericse or changing our nutrition or seeing a healthcare professional. Some of us need to start in the emotional plane with counseling, checking our values, putting in boundaries. Some of us need to start on the spiritual plane and as our spirituality and connection to everything around us deepens, we feel a new burst of energy and direction.

Even if you don’t celebrate Lent for religious reasons, I invite you to take some time during Lent for renewal and spiritual deepening.  I would love to hear your plans!

Blessings,
Carrie

Dynamic Development

Childhood development is never static and is ever unfolding. Sometimes the big joke in parenting is sort of, “Wow!  I just figured out this stage and now my child is on to something new!”

In my approach to development, I combine my ideas from when I worked as a pediatric physical therapist,  studies from The Gesell Institute, and Waldorf education’s view of the child.  Periods of equilibrium and disequilibrium routinely occur throughout development, typically with disquilibrium around the half-year marks, and pronounced differences  in development typically most dramatically noted around 3 – 3 1/2, 6/7, 9 (talked about an awful lot in Waldorf literature) ,  12 (although I don’t hear much about this one in parenting circles), and 15/16.  I think 15/16 is by far the most difficult transtition.

Parents often ask what they need to be successful throughout all these changes as their child unfolds.  In my personal opinion of working with families over the years, I  think there are four things, mainly, that help this process of helping a child grow:  having your own “stuff”  under control (ever tried living with an alcoholic parent, narcissitic parent, etc?    And not all of us have these things, but most all of us have wounds from living; just some of us own those wounds and try to make this woundedness better for ourselves and the people who love us); affectionate  love and connection to our children (and to your partner if you have one); loving boundaries;   rhythm (which is a defining hallmark of whatever your own family culture is!).  I don’t think it is is about perfection; I don’t think it is about doing everything just right.    A child growing up is also a family growing up and adults developing and changing too.

It is never too late to do these four  things.  All of us can become more self-aware and work on what our wounds and triggers are; nearly all of us can work to become more peaceful and compassionate.  It is never too late to  connect to and love your children.  Children have love languages just like adults do, but most children I know certainly perceive love in time and attention.  I read a few psychology sources that state even just 15-20 mintues of concentrated time a day is important; other sources like this Washington Post article from 2015 talk about how quality is more important than quantity, how family practices like dinners together do matter, and how teens need to spend time with their parents.   We can learn how to hold boundaries; I think I started seriously writing about boundaries back in 2008 and have written many posts on boundaries since then.  This one and  this big list of boundaries are among my favorites.   Finally, it is never too late to discover your  values as a family and prioritize those with your time (this is the beginnings of rhythm and habit!).

In this month often associated with love due to St. Valentine’s Day, let us love our children enough to help them grow in the healthiest ways possible!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

The Art of Waldorf Homeschooling

No matter how many curriculums and resources you buy, at the end of the day, Waldorf homeschool teaching is an art.  There may be times when things will be more rote due to life – long-term illness, stress or other things may take over – but the best lessons for our children grow out of a centered, artistic space and reflect not only the journey of the archtypal human being, but the immediate geography  of our area and  the beautiful child in front of us.

If you are new to Waldorf, this seems incredibly daunting.  I have talked a lot with mothers who have never even seen Waldorf Education in person; only images from the web.  How does one bring this to life?

I think there are four  loose guidelines for the art of Waldorf homeschooling:

Know yourself.  Where is your spiritual work?  This is important in Waldorf Education because the teacher is the vehicle in which the curriculum lives, and the curriculum flows through the child in front of you.

Know your children.  What needs balancing?  What is unfolding?  What is interesting to them?

Know your place in the world.  Where are those tiny seasonal changes, what is the geography of your state, your province, your part of the world?

Know the curriculum of the Waldorf School.  No, you may not follow it exactly, and I often wonder if Steiner’s indications for homeschooling would look different than the school curriculum,  but I think the big iconic blocks that really reflect the archtypal development of the human being should not be missed. You may add things dependent upon where you are in the world, but I wouldn’t ever miss the great stories that make up the curriculum

Find your space in whatever way works for you in order to create.  In order to create off the curriculum, you have to actually read things ahead of time and digest them.  This can be daunting in the upper grades, but it is still a necessity.  Eighth grade is revolutions and modern history, for example.  That can be a lot to create off of!  But if you break it down into a reasonable flow, and even if you have to look at images around these events to get your creative juices going, the easier it is to get going. When my children were very small, I would set up an ironing board in our room with all the things to wet on wet watercolor paint so when I got out of bed, I could spend ten minutes painting with no set up time.  There are a million different ways to get this time in, and if you can start with small increments, even ten mintues a day  or half an hour a week and work up from there, you can do it.

Waldorf homeschooling is not for everyone due to this artistic creation and finding the time to do this.  It is hard to draw from an empty well, and some people stay centered better than others during time of stress.  Some people are dreamers, but never get around to the execution part.  Whatever is holding you back, I would urge you to tackle it.  I think not only do children deserve this beautiful education, but also we as adult human beings deserve to rememeber and find our own creativity for our own healthy becoming.

Many blessings and much love,
Carrie

Candlemas

“If Candlemas Day be fair and bright

Winter will take another flight.

If Candlemas Day be cloud and rain

Winter is gone and will not come again.”

The February second coming of Candlemas, in an agricultural sense, was often viewed as the first day of Spring.  How fitting to have a beautiful idea of light come into the world on this day, and to celebrate by eating sunny foods and making candles.   Many Christians bring their candles to their parish to be blessed as well.  This day in Christianity is known as the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord,  and commemorates the Christ as the Light of the world.

We plan to have a brunch with friends on Candlemas, full of sunny foods,  and to roll and dip beeswax candles.   Earth candles are also lovely and fun to make!  One of the things I love about this particular festival is that it isn’t really complicated and can be quite simple.  There have been many years where we dipped candles just around our kitchen counter!

This is also the day I love to put some first sign of spring on the Nature Table.  If you live in an area where you might see a hint of budding on the trees or the first pussywillows of the season, you might enjoy doing this as well.

Here are a few back posts for inspiration:

The Magic of Candlemas

The Quiet Beauty of Candlemas (with instructions for dipping candles)

Candlemas is Coming!

You can also see some beautiful projects on my Candlemas Pinterest Board as well.

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