Monthly Archives: November 2007

r4254474207.jpg Pope Benedict VI has published his new encyclical which you can read HERE

“Spe salvi facti sumus” it begins quoting St Paul’s letter to the Romans-in hope we are saved.

So Papa has covered the cardinal virtues in his two encyclicals, Charitas (love) and now faith and hope.


As I have a rather unwell baby to take care of I have been stuck under her and that gave me time to have a quick read through of ‘Spe Salvi’. I love the way the Holy Father writes. He is not difficult to understand at all and yet he manages to ack so much meaning into a small number of words. The encyclical is deeply rooted in Scripture as one would expect.

He speaks of the real Christian hope of redemption comparing it with the rather limited hopes of those who only have things to hope for. He points out how St Paul and the author of Hebrews have a much deeper and more substantial grasp of hope.

Salvation is not simply given, writes the Holy Father, it is offered…and we are on a journey to attain it. He then begins the journey with the nothingness we are tempted to live within-the old gods who can lead us from nothing to nothing-to slavery.

He then tells us the story of St Josephine Bakhita. I love this saint and have been working on writing a children’s version of her lifestory for my godchildren for some time. One of my godchildren is called Josephine and I don’t think there are other saints with that name.

bakhita5.jpg St Josephine was kidnapped from her village in Darfur, Sudan by muslim slave traders. She was sold and resold, tortured and abused until at last she came to the house of the Italian consulate and began nurse to his friend’s daughter.

Finally in Italy she found the God she had always sought in the tortured Christ-a God who loved her with every drop of blood from his wounded heart. She was baptised and joined the Canossian sisters and lived her life sharing the love of God she had found. The children loved her too and called her their Black Mama.

Pope Benedict links the story of St Josephine with St Paul’s letter written in prison as he sends back the slave Onesimus to his master -no longer as a slave, but as a brother in Christ.

From there we journey deeper into an understanding of this hope. We are not called as isolated individuals but as a people; family, community. Papa is clear that we are not meant to see our salvation as just for ‘me’ and each man’s relationship with God being purely personal-it is communal.

He writes of the 19th Century modernity and it’s loss of hope. We must pray and we must suffer and be willing to suffer for other people. We must embrace the cross as Christ commanded. It is part of the journey-it is how we offer “com-passion”. He reminds us we need to “offer it up” but he isn’t being trite-it is part of hope and the gift of redemption.

Having given a view of hell and human made justice he goes on to look briefly at purgatory and then we are brought back to heaven. He calls on Mary Ave Marie Stella to be our guiding star and help to bring us home.

Read it all-it will be well worth your time. We are well blessed to have a pope like this.

The Spanish Armada and Lepanto resources

Here is the resource page for Iona’s work on the Spanish Armada.

We used Anne Carroll’s book ‘Christ the King, Lord of History’ published by TAN. You can get it from good Catholic bookstores and Amazon. It’s a useful overview of history but not a good book for in depth work. She makes some mistakes and the book, being one small volume misses out huge chunks of history that children need to learn. I found it a useful, easy to read book to dip into.

Alongside this we read Hugh Benson’s story ‘Come Rack, Come Rope’ which is a great tale of trying to stay Catholic in England under the horror of the Elizabethan persecution. He covers the many martyrdoms including St Edmund Campion and the murder of Mary Queen of Scots-which of course was one of the reasons King Philip II sent the Armada.

We discovered some facts which Iona has included in her work;

Santa Cruz who died before the Armada was deployed had been a hero of the Battle of Lepanto. This is an imortant historical event – links to resources are included below.

We also learned that Queen Elizabeth I was supposed to be eating goose on Michaelmas when she received the news of the demise of the Armada. It seems somewhat far fetched to think it took from July to Michaelmas (Oct) to get the news to the Queen-but it is a legend that has strangely persisted.

King Philip II of Spain accepted the storm that crushed his great Armada as God’s will-although God could not be blamed for Philip’s slowness to act nor his poor choice of Admiral when Santa Cruz died. Neither could God be blamed for the cunning and dishonesty of the pirate Francis Drake.

Sadly for England she never recovered the beauty of the Faith and many many people suffered and died because of the anti-Catholic laws.

link to audio about St Edmund Champion. You will need RealAudio to listen to it unless you have Switch or other form of audio conversion software.

on the Armada.

a link from a Baldwin project book.

This too is a Baldwin book chapter

The Baldwin project books are old but that does not mean they are good historical accounts. Treat them with care as there is a lot of anti-Catholic polemic and inaccurate assertions in some of these books. Perhaps they are better as the obvious bias and historical revisionism can hardly be missed-but tread carefully.

This is a short overview and less polemical than others. Church actually seems to know his history well and is a bit fairer in his analysis

Fr Ray’s short post on King Philip II

This article appeared on a Catholic blog in response to the grossly anti-Catholic and an-historical film about Elizabeth. 

   The rewriting of history from an “English” perspective is creaking again under the weight of criticism which has come in response to the film “Elizabeth; the Golden Age”. I haven’t seen the film, but I have seen so much stuff in the media about it. This is the first time that I have witnessed the Elizabethan Settlement getting a public thrabbering. In Britain we are brought up to understand that the Elizabethan Settlement (a new political order in England in which the Monarch created her own church and in which law could be created independently of truth) was the main righteous player in creating a fairer world at the beginning of the modern age. In order to go with this theory you have to trash the spiritual past of England, claim that the trashing and attempted trashing of so many other States by the English was righteously undertaken (Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands and Spain) and that so much that has taken place since because of this is good. The thing is – we haven’t yet recovered from the violence which our State used in the sixteenth century in order to separate ourselves from the great movement of grace. The ‘creakiness’ of this new film, in its obvious deformation of history and historical characters, seems to be a sign of this. Sukdev Sandu concludes his review in the ‘Telegraph’ saying “The pity of this botched follow-up is that it never once touches us.” The real history of the English will be written one day when we have a clear conscience to do it.Incidentally, the political intentions of Spain towards England which prompted the Armada, were contained in a letter from Philip II to the Duke of Parma, which he was to open when he landed in England. The letter spelled out three directives for the Spanish invading army: 1. That in England the free use and exercise of our holy Catholic faith shall be permitted to all Catholics, native and foreign, and that the exiles shall return.2. That all places in my Netherlands which the English hold shall be restored to me.3. That the English shall recompense me for the injury they have done to me, my dominions, and my subjects; which will amount to an exceedingly great sum. (This third point may be dropped; you may use it as a lever to obtain the other two.)It’s very unclear how things would have turned out had the Armada been successful.

h/t to Friends with Christ

G K Chesterton Lepanto

Fr Ray’s post on Lepanto


The Armada is recommended on Ambulside Online for Yr 8 (13-14yr olds)

I love THIS on socialisation from Totus Tuus. I’ve been meaning to post it for a while. I was reminded when I went out with the children yesterday and got involved in a conversation about Maths lessons in school. A father was recounting how his 7 yr old daughter brings home so much homework every night and a lot of it is maths. He complained that he did not understand it.

We were in Sally’s Shop and the lady behind the counter (not Sally) said she knew the problem and many schools were now running evening classes for parents so they could assist in homework. He admitted he had been to one and had not understood it.

The lady then recounted how her daughter and son in law had attended one of these lectures and her daughter had been baffled. Fortunately it seemed her son in law understood Maths and so when their little girl came home with complicated work he had shown her how to do it. She had gone to school the next day with all her answers correct-but the teacher has marked them all wrong because she was not using the system set out by the school!

What with this and now the Govt wants to teach our 5yr olds about drinking —another good reason to homeschool I think.

No homeschool group today

Heleyna isn’t well today so we decided not to go to Homeschool Group and I cancelled Sign Language and Ruth’s computer lesson this afternoon.

Heleyna has coughed, cried and slept a lot. She get’s cross about her cough poor thing-but she’s quite chirpy between times.

toilet_rolls250.jpgThis has given us a free day so Iona got on with more of her Ven Matt Talbott story and made a bit more of the Nativity scene with the children. They also had a face painting and crown making session. There are still enough toilet roll tubes to make three magi a few more shepherds, a donkey and an ox. While Alistair gets very alarmed at the number of toilet roll tubes I start hording around November, they do make the best Nativity scene. Ronan wants to make a Fr Christmas too so we will probably have a St Nicholas visiting the Child Jesus and if Avila has her way, there will be a snow man in the garden by the stable. We should have enough tubes for an angel or two as well.

  5018374102218_60.jpgI made some Christmas cakes -one in a proper cake tin and five in the baked bean tins.

I use the big tins for this (850g) size. We use them a fair amount as it’s cheap food for the multitude. In fact at some point I will do food resources on this blog. It has already been suggested that we mums with more than 1.2 children and one wage coming in need to share ideas of how we feed the family and/or ravaging hordes on a budget-so watch this space.

We did practice some Sign Language this afternoon.

 Piano Man Piano Lesson.

Ronan is very interested in the piano so I am just starting him off. He is learning where to find middle C and to use his right hand thumb, first and second finger; C, D, E, E, D, C.

We have looked at an octave and he is beginning to recognise the notes from middle C up to the octave C using the black keys in their twos and threes as clues.

We played a short game of find me all the C’s and all the D’s on the piano.

That’s it. He’s only 4 and really piano -say the bigwigs- is best learned from age 6 or 7. As CM herself says that 6 or 7 is the age to begin formal learning I’m going with that idea. It works everywhere else. In the meantime I hope Ronan (and the girls as they get older) maintain an interest.

I’ve spent quite a bit of today looking at curriculum for both Ronan and Iona. I’ve also put together a resource page on the Spanish Armada which I’ll post when it’s ready.

A tale for November

We have been praying for our deceased friends and family throughout November. On Sunday we went to Mass for the celebration of the end of the Liturgical Year, the Feast of Christ the King.

Father told about his friend’s death on the Wednesday before.

She was one of those simply holy women who had cared for her family and quietly worked in the church. At last she had grown too old to work or even take care of herself and had gone into a home.

On Wednesday, the feast of the Presentation of Our Lady, Father said he was getting on with his work and he thought of his friend who had loved Our Lady and how this might be a good day to die.

There was Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in the evening at church. (This is done to pray for an end to abortion-particularly the slaughter that goes on in the same road our church stands on. We have an abortion mill on one corner)

After Exposition Father drove over to the home to visit his friend. She was indeed close to death. He gave her the Sacraments and then as she settled he simply sat by her bed saying his rosary. She asked for her daughter and the nurses called for her.

“I told her, wait for your daughter, she won’t be long” he said to us, and the old lady opened her eyes and waited. Soon her daughter arrived and they were able to say their goodbyes and then it seemed the old lady quietly died.

Father continued to pray over and over as he sat next to the bed. The staff had gone to make arrangements. Then suddenly the old lady opened her eyes and pushed herself up in the bed. She was focused on something else in the room and was full of joy.

A moment later she lay back and had died.

“I saw that she had gone to heaven,” said Father.

She was a quiet saint who died beautifully.

Adataptable Monday

 Books We rearranged the day so that we could go to the library and change the books. Unfortunately for Iona there isn’t much choice. The ‘teen’ books are of such oor quality they are not worth the rather grey paper they are printed on. There is not much actual ‘literature’ available in our local library I’m afraid.

They did have some good story books and books on tape for the little ones and we have borrowed a couple of beginning Spanish books as well as a short story on Mozart. I managed to get the one and only Stage 2 Oxford Reading Tree book available as well.

I think one of the problems with children’s books these days is the library stocks ‘text books’ for the national curriculum. For most homeschooling families the NC is to be avoided because it is so banal- but that means we need to look further afield for the ‘living books’ Charlotte Mason recommends.

Despite the limitations we have come home with a reasnable supply of stuff including “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” which is great fun.

Dot is unwell so we could not visit her. I think I need to find a way to leave the children at home and get over to see her on my own. Need to think how to do that…

Made pirate hats and eye patches when we got home.

Pro-Life Rally in Oxford 

Support those who are fighting the good PRO-LIFE fight. Sign the petition for the children of Bulgaria and say a prayer for Amanda a fellow homeschooling mum as she stands with those prepared to speak out for the life of babies in the womb and their mothers.

Fr Ray on King Philip II of Spain

Iona is still working on her history project on the Spanish Armada. Fr Ray has very usefully posted THIS from the Catholic Herald. It looks as though the Herald have pulled the article though in favour of one about the plight of the Chaldean Christians in Iraq. Nevertheless there is enough on Fr Ray’s blog to be helpful for Iona.

Shana’s beautiful rosaries

I’m useless at saying the rosary. I have the virtual rosary on my computer and that has been a great help-but when I am off and about doing housework, homeschooling, nappy changing and responding to various forms of “mum..” “MUM!” “MUUUUUUUUUM!” etc during the day-I get a bit lost.

What I need is a wrist rosary with flat beads I can turn so I can remember where I am.

I asked my friend Shana if she could supply me with one and she has set about this. When it arrives I’ll post a picture.

But meantime go order one of your own at ST HUBERT’S ROSARY 

Shana is a homeschooling mother of eight and a lovely lady.

Children are persons – not hot-house plants.

Charlotte warned that children should not be treated as hot-house plants forced to grow in an unnatural environment “The world suffered that morning when the happy name of ‘kindergarten’ suggested itself to the greatest among educational ‘Fathers'” she wrote (Home Education p189). She has not been the only warning voice against the early forced education of little ones. Over the years more and more experienced educators have spoken out against this including Holt and Gatto of course.

The UK Govt however lacking any form of common sense and being swamped in their own twaddle have decided that the way to tackle the appallingly low standard of literacy in this country is to ignore the research and force 3 and 4 year olds to learn to read.

My fellow homeschooler and friend Amanda has sent me this link to a BBC report that repeats, through the research Dr Lilian Katz what most of us who homeschool have been saying for some time. It is a mistake to try and force little children to read. Dr Katz points out that Scandinavian children do not attend school until the ages of 6 or 7 and they have no literacy problems like we do here in the UK.

Years and years of research backs up the view that children need time to grow and speak and form their habits (as Charlotte would say) before formal classroom education is required. It is important for a child to want to read-putting them off is hardly a good idea.

Unfortunately in the UK twaddle reigns supreme.

Another good reason to homeschool.

Linney’s Latin

cover.gifThe Linney book arrived yesterday and I’ve added his website into my resources list. He offers free downloadable pronounciation in both Classical and Ecclesiastical Latin. I think we’ll stick with ecclesiastical as the children may learn some hymns and the Mass in Latin as we go on.

The course is written especially for homeschoolers and has a lovely easy start to it. So easy that I think I might be able to persuade Iona she can learn a little too. In fact she can help Ronan (and the girls when they are older).

Roni has learned to say “Sum nauta” (I am a sailer)-which is quite good because he is when he goes out on the boat with daddy.

homeschool group

Having spent the last two days making bean-tin cakes and icing them we were ready for homeschool group today.

When I offered this session I thought I would be driving-but no, that’s too easy. So, after much thought in my tired brain we organised a taxi. I told the children to stay in the living room with Heleyna while Iona and I carried out the box of cakes, the playbag, activity bag, flask and crutches. Ronan was in charge of my handbag and Avila had her own handbag full of tissues (her special job). I went back for them and they got into the car and off we went.

We unloaded in much the same way-Ronan and Avila had a bag each, I had Heleyna and crutches and the taxi driver kindly helped Iona with the rest- just as Nicki arrived with the keys to the hall.

I do believe this was what I will call a Charlotte Moment - when everything came together well.

The cake session went very well. I explained that each gift cake was a gift and the children could decorate them for another person. I had expected it to be about one cake between two so each family would get two or so cakes to take home and hand out. As it happened only 16 children were there today and we had made 16 cakes! Iona had also made gingerbread men, and Shariska had made fairy cakes. I demonstrated the easy way to make a rose out of icing and then we left the children to it.

I had to laugh when one of the boys was desperately trying to find a way to keep his cake. His first cunning plan was to decorate his gingerbread man and give that away-keeping the cake. But he correctly sussed that his mum would not approve. So quickly he came up with another plan. He came over to his mum and suggested that he could give his (by now beautifully decorated) cake to another person at homeschool group who would kindly give it back!

Mum said he could give it to someone NOT at homeschool group today (his sister perhaps) and maybe she would share it with him. He went away thoughtful, and I wonder if there was another plan brewing for that cake.

We cleared up and Shazia gave a session on how to make a sandwich. This is a very useful skill for the children to learn. Ronan can almost do it now, but Avila still needs help. Nicki told me of a mum she knows with 5 or 6 children who all down to the little ones make their own sandwich and pack a little lunchbox each to go out with. They are very efficient. I think that’s a lovely idea and I might let my little ones do something like that for winter picnics under the table. If it works well I think I would have another Charlotte Moment to claim Smile 

With Iona’s help the children played a Geography version of hot potato. They had an inflatable globe and when it was stopped the child in possession had to find a country. Great fun. Earth 

More Sign Songs this afternoon. I think we should do a concert at Christmas…

Scouts tonight and a quiet 10mins as Heleyna is (shh) … asleep ZZZZ

Busy week ahead

We have a busy week ahead and so I have planned it very carefully. Today and tomorrow Iona and I-and hopefully some help from Alex- will be making cakes and biscuits and getting them iced and having sweets, icing, icing pens etc ready to roll. Then on Wednesday we will be off to homeschool group with all the stuff and I will teach the children how to make roses and other stuff out of icing.

They can all decorate a cake and as there is Christmas and Eid coming up they will have gift cakes for grandma or someone else in the family. I am aiming at one cake between two so we are making and icing about 12 and then some gingerbread teddies and round biscuits for the little ones to splat icing and Dolly Mixtures over.

On Thurs and Friday I think we will be recovering!

So that’s the week ahead.

Today-we made lots of cakes and biscuits in between shopping and doing the washing and sorting out baby clothes.

Iona has done some more work on her Matt Talbot story among other things and Ronan has been looking at the beginning skills for learning to read music. I have found a website that may prove useful in teaching music-if it does I will post it here.

He has had story time and of his own accord he read to Avila.

Tonight I had to laugh when Ronan asked how his “phonebile” moved. He meant mobile-but that’s the best miscue word I’ve heard in ages.

We had a rough night with Heleyna and really she isn’t too well at the moment. She is teething quite badly, which for her is unusual. She managed to get her first two teeth without much effort, but now she is working one out the hard way. Plenty of Calpol and Calgel to settle her.

It snowed last night.


Photo credit: Alex Scott Nov 2007

Sunday’s are family days

I love Sunday’s. It is not exactly a ‘day of rest’ but they are family days. In the past when both Al and I worked shifts as we were nurses, the rhythm of the liturgy and the season could get lost in the whole shift system.

The week has been very busy and I am feeling somewhat jaded-but this morning the routine set in as always.

I prepared the joint and put it in the oven; pork today. Then I peeled and wedged some apples and fried them off in butter, spice, brown sugar and a little orange juice. I threw in some blueberries for good measure.

I love that smell-spice and cooked apple.

Got the spuds peeled and ready to cook while Alex bathed the girls and Iona made crumble for the apples.

Ran around getting everyone ready to go to Mass while Al took Josh to work-He’s doing a strange shift today.

It’s the 33rd Sunday of the year which means it’s Christ the King next week-the end of the liturgical year! Time to get ready for Advent and Christmas. We’ll have finished St Luke’s Gospel and be moving back into Yr A which is St Matthew-so I had better finish St Luke with Iona soon.

We had friends over for lunch after Mass. Karen and Mark homeschool their children and we are part of the the same homeschool group. Karen brought over a load of the Oxford Reading Tree books and some workbooks for Ronan to use. She also brought over a load of baby clothes. You see the ‘alternative economy’ working again. I’ll sort out the clothes and pass some on to other mums and the rest can go to ‘Stillwaters’ the crisis pregnancy centre.

We had a lovely lunch and then the children all ran upstairs to play. One of the lovely things about homeschooled children is the way they can all play happily together regardless of age. This is actually backed up by research (mainly from the USA although more is being done in the UK, notably Durham Uni). The research shows that homeschooled children have better social skills with both adults and other children.

We had a lovely relaxed afternoon in which Avila regaled her favourite parts of the film “Flushed Away”. Al and Mark talked men’s stuff-you know; making tables, shed stuff and DIY. We talked about their experience of fostering and our work in CAMHS and so on.

They had to leave then to see to their dog and the horses. So Iona got tea for us all and now we are sitting buy the fire while the smalls have story time with Dad. Heleyna is moving around the carpet roaring and bellowing at toys. She gets a bit excited I think. She’s teething badly at the moment -poor girl-a new tooth is coming through the bottom gum.

Alex is busy with his college assignment.

I love a traditional Sunday; family, Mass, dinner, chilled afternoon, light tea and story time. What more can a mum ask for…


Last night Heleyna managed to crawl fowards! Whey-hey! She did it again this morning! Crawling Baby Soon she’ll be off and into all sorts of stuff.

This blog is…

A lot of bloggers go through the “why am I doing this?” phase. Well, I went through all that before I started this blog.

This blog is simply a way for me to keep a record of our home ed, ideas and progress; sharing it with others and hopefully getting some ideas back along the way. Lots of us in cyberspace homeschool, so there should be ideas out there.

Estherruns a blog list for homeschooling families.

Last night I actually read back some of my posts here and saw how badly edited they are. I do apologise for that, but I don’t tend to write each post in one go (thank God for ‘save and continue editing’)- I write a bit between other things I am doing, or while I am feeding Heleyna. As you can imagine, this hardly lends itself to well presented articles.

Miss Mason would undoubtedly have some firm words to say to me about the habit of perfect execution. Shy Whistler 

Homeschool group-Sign Language and more

Having got the kitchen sorted and arranged I set up the slow cooker with beef stew.

Once the bags were packed and the flask filled with tea, we called the taxi and set off for homeschool group. It was ‘Book week’ this week. The children played games, had stories, snacks and then a couple of activities based on the ‘Wind in the Willows’.

I took my Charlotte Mason books in to show Julie (one of the mums). She has been wondering about adjusting her curriculum to more of a PNEU approach. We had discussed it over the phone and I was able to lend her one of the books to start her off.

At the end of the session we came home with Karen and her children, Val and hers, Nicki and hers and Ruth and hers with Mary. I think we tried to get about 16 people around the table! Whoo-hoo!

After lunch we gathered in the front room for Sign Language. By this time Josh had managed to get the fire lit even though we seem to have run out of firelighters. (I’m sure there are some somewhere). Interestingly most of the children are well used to a coal fire as they also have them-and there I was thinking that was unusual these days.

We had a good Sign Language lesson which included some Signed Christmas carols we will practice ready for the end of term. We seem to have our own signing choir Smiley Choir .

When they had finished Nicki, Karen and Val left to take their children home (and Val has some in school that needed collecting).

I gave Ruth a lesson in computer use-she is going to buy one.

Meanwhile the children were playing hide and seek-and by children I am including Alex who had come home from college and was having a great time.

Ruth took her children home then and I fed Heleyna before heading off to jar up the batch of marmalade I made yesterday.

Helen popped over to talk about work while I was jarring the marmalade. She left not long after Al got home and I served the beef stew. Heleyna did well with hers (which she had after I’s zapped it in my whizzer). She is eating well-although it is still very very messy!

Poor Heleyna is trying to crawl everywhere now-and she can-but backwards! She is so frustrated at not being able to go forwards. Bless her-it will come Crawling Baby .

After tea Al took Ronan and Avila to bed, while Iona and Alex headed off to Scouts (something Miss Mason would have approved of).

Busy day-but a good one.

Christmas Prep

 Cookies I know, I know-it’s only November, but there’s so much to do so many people to do it for. We go into cooking overdrive in this house from now until the end of Advent. Hampers of homemade goodies will be put together and given to family, friends, the church bazaar and so on.

I started the apricot chutney last night-and in a daft moment thought I would have time to finish it this morning. Of course I didn’t-and I burned it. Badly!

Oh well-the marmalade is going a little better-although Delia never cut her skins one handed while clutching a grumpy baby. Laugh 

Iona is busy making chocolates and shortbread. We also have gingerbread cake moulds in the shape of gingerbread men-but there is obviously some knack needed to get a whole man out of the mould, which we haven’t quite found yet.

In the end -there will be prettily wrapped pressies for everyone.

A Monday sort of day

Ummm. I think I’m having a ‘Monday’. The children seem to be on top of what THEY are supposed to be doing; it’s me who is having the ‘Monday’.

Iona has done quite a bit to tidy up and add to her science work on poisonous plants. She’s found some fascinating things during this project. In fact she was able to tell Sr Kath about the horrors of hogweed the other day when she mentioned the convent garden has been invaded by the nasty stuff.

Julie came over as she is not at work today. So Iona did some of her English essay rather than the media work we have been doing. Julie told us that she has been told in three schools now that children do not need to learn subject, verb, object (or any grammatical instruction presumably) for English!

I have heard a few horror stories over the past few days; and read the story of the Polish boy so unimpressed with English education he has requested to return to his school in Lodz.

I am so glad I homeschool!

Ronan has done some Maths today. I used his all time favourite Sportacus from Lazy Town to make up some questions for him. Sportacus taking sweets off Ziggy-that sort of thing.

He then went on to do some reading and have a story.

Avila went to nursery for her session.

After lunch they had play time and then we went to sort out their bedroom now that Al has put the shelves up.

Must go and sort out the chicken that’s in the oven now.

Alternative Economy

G. K. Chesterton and his great friend Hillaire Belloc were great advocates of Distrinitism, a beautifully sensible economic system based upon the idea of subsidiarity. This is something defined by the Church  thus: “it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them.” (Quadragesimo Anno, encyclical letter of Pope Pius IX)

I remember hearing Dr Scott Hahn (in one of my tapes in the ‘wall of Hahn’ I own) saying he had studied economy while still a protestant and had come across Pius IX’s encyclical quoted above. He had been astonsinished by its sense and wisdom.

You can read the whole ENCYCLICAL. 

Distributism is essentially a family based model, much like those economies of medieval times when men were taught skills in guilds and took care of their little piece of home and land for the benifit of their children. The extended family was important then and they took their duty of care for one another very seriously. I have seen this criticised as though a brother caring for the dowry and needs of his sister somehow kept her as a lesser being.

Not so. Within our family the children are expected to share what they have and take care of one another. This is the beginning of our little alternative economy. While there are some items that each of us has which is not really sharable-most things; toys, books, computer, TV etc are all shared.

Among fellow home ed mums we also share. We pass on books, resources, baby clothes and equipment among ourselves. We give time to one another and share our skills. One mum has horses and has offered time with them. I teach Sign Language to a group of the children. One of the mum’s is good at organising science activities for the children and so on.

As our children are various ages we can assist each other at different stages. I have done the ‘teen’ years first and can talk about ideas of learning at that age and offer resources. Meanwhile I am about to start Ronan who is only 4 on the first rung of the home ed latter. Most of the parents have already stepped over that first hurdle and can offer ideas and support as well as resources.

I think Chesterton and Belloc would have approved of the way our homeschool community runs. Most of us are on very tight budgets because we are all families with one wage coming in. We all know the difficulties of providing what is right for our children and I am grateful to have met so many other mums who agree with me about some of the ‘material’ things that we will NOT provide for our children.

So as I juggle the budget and the time to get the presents bought and made (cooking galore!) I know I am not alone.

Tomorrow is Remembrance Sunday. We haven’t said much about it this year. Ronan has asked about the poppies and so I explained about the fields in France where so many men are buried.


I do not doubt that every family has stories to tell of the wars; not just WW1 and 2 but more recent wars as well. We pass those stories on so that what happened and why is remembered. This is history as it was always told-word of mouth, family member to family member.

I am allowed to be proud of my boys sometimes

I don’t tend to show off about the children- well, it can be a bit much when a mum goes on about how marvellous her children are-but I think I am allowed to have the odd moment.

The Betterware lady came around this afternoon with the stuff for Josh to distribute. She briefly explained how it all works and then went on to say how much she liked Josh. She said she had worked with a lot of young people and Josh stood out for his willingness to work hard and his politeness etc etc.

He’s doing a long day today at Grovesner House- that’s 8am to 8pm; I’ll tell him what she said when he gets home.

I did mention HERE about Alex standing up for the faith.

Every mum should have the odd moment of pride.

Flexible Routine

After Rosary this morning, instead of rushing off to do jobs we chatted about plans and ideas. After breakfast I took Ronan and Avila for a walk to the Deli. Alex started work there today at 11am, but he was very worried because he had to go into college first thing for a Dyslexia assessment.

We bought a loaf and I let Dee know that Alex might be a bit late. On the way home we gathered leaves for the laminator. Bounce 

By the time we got home, Iona was half way through her Maths. We gathered around the table and I plugged in the laminator. The first thing I did was laminate two blank sheets of paper; one each for Ronan and Avila. They can draw on it and write on it and wipe it off. So they did.

Then I laminated our gathered autumn leaves and we hung them as a mobile from the ceiling. I have been wanting to do something like that for a couple of years-ever since seeing it done in the visitor centre at the Wyre Forest.

It will soon be time to do the Christmas display-and I am sure there will be plenty of laminated stuff to see.

Iona moved from Maths to History/Geog and her project on the Spanish Armada. I’ll say more about that later.

The little ones had finished with the drawing stuff and Avila had gone to get a book to sit down with. Roni went to sit at his table and practice the letter Jj.

It was then time to get shoes on and head out to Mass. Having the children learn to get themselves ready to go out is something Miss Mason talks of as a ‘habit’. Children need to be able to listen when I call them and be obedient – getting shoes on and coats as required. Ronan can do this, and Avila is trying hard but she needs help with her shoes-which is to be expected.

We set off and went to Mass. This is a lovely quiet Mass and the children respond well to that and are able to pray, and take part a little better than the busier Sunday Mass. As it was 12pm Mass we began with the Angelus.

After Mass Josh took the three smalls home and Iona and I went into Cotteridge to collect a parcel and do some quick shopping.

Home again and had lunch.

The children then asked to listen to a tape story in Josh’s room. They are listening to Charlie and the Choclolate Factory. Josh had gone to work and Heleyna was settled. Quiet!

It was time to read to Iona. I’m reading her Louis de Wohl’s wonderful book ‘Lay Siege to Heaven’. Interestingly I read today in the Macaulay book ‘For The Children’s Sake’ that her daughter had mentioned at University that her father read to the whole family in the evening. She was treated by her fellow students as extraordinary for having had such an experience. Sad really.

Iona is reading the Poldark novels by Winston Graham as her personal reading.

When we had finished reading she went to do some Christmas cooking and I could do a little personal work while feeding Heleyna. The little ones played upstairs for ages.

Nigel arrived and while he had Iona I did the Tesco’s order.

When he had gone it was time to cook the tea. Heleyna sits in her high chair in the kitchen with her toys and joins in the fun. Today Roni and Avila came to help with the cooking. This is not always possible but today I could give them jobs; mashing and chopping. I can’t find Ronan’s small sharp knife, but I let him have a go with mine.

It’s storytime with dad now and they’re off to bed.

Alex is sitting at the big ‘puter muttering over his assignment. He has had a busy day at work and enjoyed himself. I am so pleased he has the job at the Deli-I think it will suit him well.

Bad news-other news.

Josh received an email from EWTN yesterday saying they cannot offer him a place in Jan. They have insurance problems and there also seems to have been some confusion about Josh getting there; not sure why.

Josh has worked very hard and saved very hard to afford this trip and he is very disappointed. Nevertheless he is not giving  up yet and still hopes to go over. Shana has kindly said he can visit her.

We will have a think about where he could go next. There are one or two ideas…

Meanwhile Acorns have said he should be able to book shifts in a couple of weeks as his CRB is finally through and they are just clearing his references. This means he can safely hand his notice in at Grovesnor House and still be sure of employment.

Homeschool Day

The children were ready and we set off in a taxi for homeschool group. Got there just as Sally arrived with the keys.

It was games week this week so all the children played various games including giant noughts and crosses provided by Val. As usual there was the ‘creche corner’ for the babies and some spare chairs for the children who wanted a quiet time.

After the group was finished Ruth, Karen and Val with their children came back here for lunch and Sign Lanaguage. The fact that the table is finished was just perfect as all the children and two adults managed to fit around the table while Ruth, Iona and I found places at the edge. So we had about 11 or 12 people around the table. Al will be pleased.

After lunch we gathered the children into the front room and learned some Sign Language. I began with the alphabet today; followed by family signs and some songs-Days of the Week to the tune of the Adam’s Family; Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and I’m Taking Home a Baby Bumble Bee.

Karen and Val left then as Emily and Matthew have music.

Ruth stayed and the children had time to play. Maria showed Avila a simple song on the piano.

Ruth has bought me a laminater for my birthday!! Whoopee! It’s perfect. I have so many ideas and plans for things to make with and for the children. The first thing I want to do is laminate some autumn leaves for the Autumn display.


Ruth has lent me some reading books and ‘Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons’ and Karen is going to let me have the Oxford Learning Tree books Emily and Matthew has finished with. We had a chat about how the children learn and about how they are.

Talked about food and recipes. So I am off to cook chicken now in some kind of BBQ sauce cobbled from Delia and Ainsley.


dot.jpg We went to visit Dot this afternoon. She has been a great friend to us for 20yrs or so now, and is greatly loved. The children told her what they had been doing and Avila sang her a song. She ran a shop for many years, and was very pleased to know that Alex had the job he very much wanted at the Deli in our road. He will learn a lot there about running a small business.

Today she seemed quite frail. It is really the first time I have seen her not so well. Of course this in no way changed the way she was. Dot lives to the utmost. She can not leave the house very much these days-but she has the ability to be loving and living in all her circumstances.

The morning was filled with the usual homeschool activity. Avila went to nursery and Josh collected her at the end of the session. Alex left the house just after 10am to catch his train to Bristol for the second paper of the IGCSE English. He is back now and says he was pleased with the way it went. He actually got the W H Auden question we hoped might come up!

Iona has been doing Maths, story writing and some history this morning.

Ronan has done some more letter work or ‘penmenship’ as Miss Mason calls it. She says that a child should be taught the habit of perfect execution and not be allowed to produce shoddy work. She speaks of French and German schools in which children handed in perfectly executed slates of work.

In fact her mention of slates has given me an idea. I will buy Roni and Avila a small whiteboard and pens each for practice work. This will save paper and space!