Monthly Archives: May 2008

Summer term curriculum

I am not doing a whole lot of curriculum planning this week. Frankly I needed a brain dead week-and I’m more or less having it. Purple 

But as a good homeschooling mum I do have SOME ideas for the Summer Term. My first idea is we wont be working formally for 7 weeks. I will probably finish a week early and have a cleaning up and sorting week. It will be the end of an academic year so we usually do a clear-out to get ready for the next year.

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Larry and Murry miss Josh

“We’ve been left here!”

Eaten bread is soon forgotten

On Sunday we celebrated Thursday’s feast of Corpus Christie. The readings reminded us not so much of the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist but in our responsibilities to that Presence. We need to REMEMBERthat God has saved us from slavery; taken us safely through the desert where we have had to deal with snakes and scorpions and brings us to Himself -to Jerusalem where we are one body, His Bride.

Father talked to us about the ingratitude of those who having been fed by the Lord walkaway and refuse to believe. He used an old saying “Eaten bread is soon forgotten”. Israel soon forgot about the manna and lost faith-even before they had entered the Promised Land. Then Jesus feeds the 5000 and the following day they are already asking for a sign!

Nothing much has changed.

I wonder how much lack of faith and ingratitude go together. But to be honest I think it goes deeper than that. Surely it is lack of love. If we really loved as God has commanded us to love then the Real Presence in the Eucharist would not be so hard a concept to grasp would it? After all, Christ giving Himself to His Bride-feeding Her, His body through an all consuming-passionate- act of sacrifice is Love in its fullness.

Satan’s view of things is diametrically opposed to the Eucharist. His words are “I will not serve” and “you will be as gods”. Following these ideas we get to make God in our own image and reject the radical call to Truth. We get to eat bread that is soon forgotten but we are starved of the Lamb.

I remember Ross Moss saying that one of the first things that pointed her towards the Catholic Church was her realisation that she needed to eat the ‘lamb’. As part of her Jewish heritage she saw the huge importance of the Passover meal in the way God prescribed it and when she first became a Christian she saw the lamb was no longer there.

Just as the lamb had to be eaten at Passover, so the Lamb has to be eaten now. We remember in a special way- the remembrance of the Hebrew word that is “to make present”. Christ the Lamb of God stands on the altar as though slain (as St John wrote in the Book of Revelation). We are called to partake in that heavenly banquet and eternal sacrifice.

Let’s not forget.

Josh and John’s Amazing American Adventure

This evening Josh and his friend John go down to London and from there they fly to America. They are going to spend 6 weeks around Ohio and thereabouts.

Josh worked hard and has saved up for this trip. He has been very determined to overcome the obstacles to doing this trip and finally it has all come together and he and John are on their way.

Friends have been very kind on both sides of the pond. On this side he has received a great deal of support from people like Sr Kath, and my friends Julie and Dot. Julie actually went and got him some dollars to take out with him.

Shana has been the amazing queen of organisation in the US side of things and has arranged for the boys to stay with families while they have their Great Adventure. I am very grateful to her.

Josh is going to visit FUS while they are out there and have a look round and meet the staff. He is hoping and praying that he can get a place there and we can somehow arrange the finances. Shana mentioned that a friend said the Psalms say God owns all the cows on the hillside-so he could sell a few! I am trusting that if Josh is meant to go there then the money will happen. God does that kind of thing a lot. He has done it for us before.

Josh will find something unexpected in his luggage later.

Whatever happens with the university it’s a trip the boys will remember. They are on the train and headed off for their Great American Adventure.

Homeschool week

Just come to the end of the week and half term is here.

I have been winding down this week but we’ve done a few things. Iona sat the second paper of her maths IGCSE on Tuesday and I gave her the rest of the week off. I’m nice like that :)

Ronan has been doing bits of science and Maths. I have made some photo flash cards for Latin.  We are using the Linney’s Latin which is a lovely easy and fun way to learn the language. I have used some family photos of Roni in a life jacket and visiting a farm and put the words ‘Sum nauta’ and ‘Sum agricola’ under them. Then I’ve printed up the other words for sentences and Roni has been playing with them to make various Latin sentences around being a sailor and farmer. I am going to make a card of him being a poet-but I think I’ll have to get him to pose for a photo for that.

It was challenge week on Wednesday at homeschool group so the children had lots of different activities to have a go at around the room. In Sign Language we got into a long and complicated version of The Fisherman and His Wife with lots of new signs for the children to practice. Far too many for them to properly remember I think!

Today Karen came over and the children did some final bits about the Iron Age and Celtic life. Karen showed them some excellent little animations on the BBC history website. Last time we made a little iron age village out of card. This time the children could see and animation on how such houses were built.  

After lunch they played with lego.

In praise of Lego.

I love Lego. Children can design and build all sorts of things. There are gears and pulley’s and battery packs to make vehicles and robots that will actually work. It’s great for ideas and helping children learn cooperation and planning skills.

We’ve built up quite a collection over the years and Alex still uses it to design models he wants to make on his 3D art and animation programme he uses on the computer.

Avila, the NHS and me.

I have a friend who has breast cancer. She has been-and continues to be put through-what we are jokingly called the Economy Package. Considering how serious her cancer is she’s had shoddy treatment. Well, I have had a similar experience with my own care and we decided we were too positive in our approach and too passive in the face of the system.

SO. We both decided we would fight back.

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Some Links of interest

I have just discovered SPARKLEBOX a website with loads of good worksheets, downloads and other stuff for KS1 and they have another site for KS2. A lot of the stuff is free and the the stuff you pay for is reasonably priced. I’ll stick in the sidebar in the WORKSHEET area.

I particularly liked the handwriting practice sheets with a grass, sky, ground motif to help children remember how letter shapes work. There’s some good Bible story sheets to print off so children can learn sequencing and tell the stories.

I have also added a link for Robert Louis Stevensons’s A Child’s Garden of Verses. I am going to work on a couple of them with Ronan so he can aim for the target on the CM achievement scale for a six year old.

You might also be interested in Donna Young’s pages for cursive handwriting and other stuff.

Then for Catholic stuff you might like CATHOLIC KIDS.

Finally; I promised to but up the links for the Eucharist MP3s I’ve been listening to. Take a good look at ST. MICHAEL’S MEDIA. The programmes are by Michael Voris-a straight talker who is very clear and doesn’t sugar coat anything. If you don’t want to hear some very difficult stuff don’t go there-but if you really want the unvarnished Truth; he’s the man.

Okay…more later.


Iona’s IGCSE Maths

 Student Head Explodes Iona got up at the ridiculous hour of half four this morning and accompanied by her father, caught the train to Bristol. The exam centre around here mysteriously closed down which is somewhat inconvenient.

So poor old Iona arrived at her exam at 9am and sat her first IGCSE Higher Maths Paper. She reckons she did okay and she had time to go back over the paper and correct a few things.

She and her dad stopped for a bit of lunch to recover before coming home.

She sits her next paper on Tues afternoon and her brother will take her.

I’m still trying to decide what to do after this. The exam and the journey to Bristol are very expensive and really we can’t afford it. I am not all that keen to get her to sit the IGCSE English even in two years when she would normally sit it.  She is working hard on her portfolio and it is looking very good already even though she is yr 9 at the moment.

I think employers are more interested in higher level qualifications and proof of reliability. The fact that Alex has held down a job and been offered extra work there and will have good references will probably do him more good in his CV than any gcses.

we have been looking at Open University courses. They have lowered the age of admission to 16 so Iona has more opportunities in that direction than the boys did. However the OU is bloomin’ expensive too. But I would be more willing to shell out on that as I think the fact that all the courses offer points to a degree is worth something.

This is made all the more difficult because I don’t have any homeschool friends with children as old as mine, so none of them have this decision imminent. It is scary because these decisions can effect the children’s future opportunities. If they need gcses I think they need to take them on time. Taking them late looks bad on the CV and competition for jobs is a lot heavier than the Govt and media are reporting.

When I used to shortlist people and interview I looked for reliability and honesty over qualifications-but that was me and that was then.


The challenges of homeschooling

There are of course challenges when homeschooling. To be honest I don’t think the books about homeschooling often face up to these challenges and I can think of one that actually dismisses a couple of them as though they are hardly a problem at all. Well, maybe for the authors of that particular book it wasn’t.

The obvious challenge that I think just about all homeschoolers face is the attitude of other people, but most of us learn to grow a good solid rhinoceros hide on that one.

There are some real challenges when homeschooling our children. One of mine is trying to teach Roni while Heleyna rushes around us like a mini tornado.  Getting out marbles  or mega blocks for maths means Heleyna just has to be in another room or she steals the stuff. If he wants to write something she will try and eat it! Ah yes, every classroom has it’s disruptive ones!

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Feast of Our Lady of Fatima

It’s the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. She first appeared to three shepherd children on May 13th 1917

For younger children there is a colour sheet HERE and a somewhat better one HERE

Download the story for your children in comic form from TREAURE CHEST

Pope John Paul the Great and Sr Lucia had a close link, not just because he accredited Our Lady of Fatima with saving his life. They both had a deep understanding of Christ’s love for the world. When Sr Lucia died I remember saying I thought the pope would follow her soon-simply because of the ‘link’. I’m sure there’s a better word than that, but I’m tired and can’t think of one.(*sigh* This is why I will never be a writer lol).

The message of Fatima in a nutshell is PENANCE, PENANCE PENANCE and lots of prayer, especially the rosary. Fr John Corapi calls the rosary his weapon and says to us “Don’t leave home without it.”

I’m teaching the little ones the rosary a bit at a time. We say a decade each morning and I tell the Scripture story for each Mystery before we offer the prayers. At the end of the decade we include the Fatima prayer:

Oh Sweet Jesus, forive us our sins,

save us from the fires of hell,

bring all souls to heaven and

especially those most in need of Thy mercy.

The Vatican has very recently approved another Marian Apparition. It’s caused a bit of a stir because the apparition was over so long ago, and because the Vatican so rarely pronounces on these matters. There is a YOUTUBE announcement HERE.

There are some reports that this apparation would not be approved until the ‘end times’. Hmmm. As the Vatican does not appear to have released the full transcript of the messages as yet I would be very wary of those reports.

Meanwhile the Vatican has also taken in hand the reported apparations of Medjugorje and we await their verdict. I think the question over Garabandal is with the Vatican too.





First Holy Communion

My god-daughter received her first Holy Communion on Pentecost Sunday. This is such a very special and important day in a child’s life. On that day she gets to receive Jesus, Body Blood, Soul and Divinity for the very first time.

Of course many children do not fully understand the sheer amazing miracle of Christ’s Presence that they are about to receive in the Eucharist, but I have seen children with a deep inner realisation of Who it is they are receiving, even if they cannot really put that into words. A lot depends on how well the children have been prepared of course, and sadly, many First Holy Communion preparation materials are pretty poor.

It was a beautiful day and the parish arranged things so that each child received his or her First Holy Communion with their family.  The children were beautifully turned out in their white dresses and the boys in suits. No one was over dressed or silly. It was all done with proper care for the real reason the children were there.

Afterwards we went to her house and the family sat together talking and enjoying the day.

I’ve been listening to some good Bible studies about the Eucharist which I’ll link to in some later posts. He points out some very interesting things, that I had not considered before. He looks hard at John 6 of course.

One of the interesting things he points out on this programme is that Judas DID NOT BELIEVE Jesus when He said, “You must eat my body and drink my blood or you will not have life in you.” Okay, you could argue, but lots of people did not believe at that point. They walked away, despite the huge miracle of the feeding of the 5000 only the day before. Jesus did not call everyone back to say they had misunderstood Him. In fact He asked the 12 if they wanted to leave too. Judas stayed with the others but like Satan he was already refusing to serve.

Satan must have been getting a bit nervous at this point. Jesus was there with the apostles, but he was predicting his death. Having the Son of God walking around was bad news, but at least He was planning to leave.

The Last Supper was a disaster for Satan. He may have wondered about the Resurrection and that was going to be bad. The whole business of getting Jesus killed was to get Him out of the way-but then He produces the Eucharist. THIS IS MY BODY, THIS IS MY BLOOD.

Satan must have remembered that first temptation reply “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every WORD that comes from the mouth of God.” So here was Jesus not giving bread alone to His Church, but the WORD made flesh, the EVERY WORD or complete WORD of God.

Jesus went to His death pouring out every drop of blood for the New Covenant. He rose again and then finally He leaves, taken up to Heaven wrapped in the Shekinah (the Glory cloud of the Holy Spirit), but as He instructs the apostles to go out and baptise all the nations in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, He finishes with the words Satan just didn’t want to hear, “And behold I Am with you even until the end of the age.”

Christ has of course kept that promise and He is present in the tabernacles of Catholic churches throughout the world and is made present on the altars of Catholic and Orthodox churches every day.

Treaure Chest and other links

Thanks to Fr. Ray I have added this great link to the Living Books FIction box on my side bar. I haven’t had a good look at the comics yet, but I think they look good. Well illustrated and nicely written. There’s a great deal of useful information. A homeschool mum’s dream.

I also discovered THE COMPLETE FATHER BROWN stories. I’ll put that link in ‘Living Fiction’.


Ed Balls just scares me! The battery farming of children goes on.

A week of sunny homeschooling

I’ve cut back some of the more formal homeschooling now we have good weather. There’s plenty to learn about the garden, growing herbs and what exciting creepy crawlies live in the soil. We have been out and looked at the local trees, spotting beech, silver birch, chestnut etc. We have not had much chance to see birds. City life I suppose.

There are plenty of water games to play in the garden, and we have sat there for reading time when it’s not too hot.

Avila has not been to nursery this week because of her new meds so she and Ronan have spent some time listening to story CDs and following the words in the book. As I type they are squished up in a chair together following the words to the “Cat in the Hat Comes Back” by Dr. Seuss.

Karen and the kids are coming over later this morning and we will finish off the iron age study we were doing with the boys, while the young ladies will be designing a 1920s newspaper.

Assessment thoughts.

My friend Shana lives in America and has mentioned that her children are doing their state assessments at the moment and then they will be finished for the summer. I think most American homeschoolers have to put in some form of proof to the state authorities as they home educate. The level of proof seems to vary from state to state, but I am get the impression most states ask for something.

In Canada homeschoolers can claim an allowance for homeschooing which I assume is linked with proof of some sort.

In England (I’m not sure about Wales and Scotland) we don’t have to provide any proof of what we are doing if we don’t want to. I have provided proof of a sort to our local authority because I wanted to be sure I was doing the right thing. As it happened, our very nice LA man didn’t really want to see too much because he was afraid of overstepping his role as he is not allowed to ASK to see work.

I want some way to measure my children’s progress but I don’t want to fall into the trap of being like school. The National Curriculum is pretty poor, but I am wondering about using the BBC Schools website for KS2 and KS3 assessment levels.

Iona seems already ahead on KS3 points because she is working at IGCSE level which is KS4-but I could use it for the three smalls later on.

Celebrating 20 years of marriage.

Over the past week it seems a lot has happened and I have hardly had time to think about blogging.

Al and I celebrated 20 years of marriage (China) with a night away at a lovely hotel in Hopton Wafers Shropshire. My friend Julie had her little goddaughter for the night, and it seems they both had a good time. The biggies looked after the other two smaller people.

It was a wonderful, peaceful and stress free experience. In our room there was an armchair. I sat there with a cup of tea and my Father Brown Stories and just read. AAAAHHHH! It felt as though huge weights fell away. The resturant was one of those really posh ones. OOOH! It was just a wonderful time.

The children have bought us some lovely gifts which they gave us on Wednesday night as we celebrated our anniversary. I was very touched by this because they planned it all themselves and kept it all as a surprise.

All this and sunshine too!


Homeschool in Spring

Finally the weather is getting better! So Iona took her seedlings outside to “sunbathe” she told me. Once they were suitably refreshed in the glorious gentle warmth of a Spring sun she re-planted them out to give them more growing room. We looked at the planters and there are actually some real signs of life. When Karen came over with the children and we planted them out I didn’t think much would come of it as it was all a bit slap dash. Loads of kids around the planters enjoying getting messy-but not necessarily getting the best from the seeds. But hey, there are sweet peas and nasturtiumsshowing through. The rhubarb is looking good, but I think the strawberries will need some tlc this year.

We settled down to do some work from Ros Moss’s book and I gave Iona some reading to do from the chapter on Pentecost.

Maths is taking up a lot of her time at the moment as the exam is fast approaching.

Iona loves cooking and I think it’s a very important skill. We don’t do a lot of writing with this subject. I think the important aspect of this subject is she learns about food, about how to store it, prepare it and cook it. She learns how to budget for a family and the tips and tricks of making food go around at a reasonable cost. Lentils! I realised the other day I put lentils in just about everything I cook these days. They are cheap and a great bulking food to make a meal sharable between us all.

I do want some written and photo evidence for her portfolio, but at the moment we are concentrating on the ‘doing’ rather than the theory.

Do you ever have those times when everything goes wrong at once?

My laptop is slowing giving up the ghost. It’s seriously overheating and the mouse is bust. I know it wont last much longer but I really need it to!! The man up the road has tried to do something do rescue it for me but hasn’t managed to.  *SIGH*. Ah well, each day it lasts out is another day and I have saved all the files I use to a little external hard drive. So the photos, kids media files and other homeschool stuff is safe at least.

Then Iona was making ice cream this afternoon (and thank goodness she was) when she discovered the upright freezer isn’t working! Thank God she discovered this before everything was ruined and thank God a friend gave us a chest freezer some time ago!! We transferred everything across-but I am not sure the fridge is working either. AAARGH!

Ah well…

Avila’s Hospital Appt

Took Avila to the Children’s Hospt this morning for her appointment with the Paediatrician.

The doctor was very nice to her and we actually saw the consultant rather than a reg! He took her history and a brief history of her siblings. Honestly, it’s a bit shocking when you have to explain that out of 6 kids only one has never had a problem with anything! Anyway, fortunately the other 5 are pretty healthy these days.

He asked about her birth (as the surgeon had done). I was a bit irritated to find the surgery info was not in her notes, nor some of the blood tests she had during her last admission. He seemed quite unaware of a lot of her history-probably because for some reason it wasn’t in her notes. He was really taken aback when I explained how she didn’t breath through the night until was about 18mths old or so.

I told him I had taken her off gluten and although it certainly hadn’t miraculously cured her; she was better. She has less pain, more energy and is less volatile in her moods. He seemed okay with this.

So. he has changed her meds and wants to see her in a month. The meds will take some time to kick in and he wants to be gentle with this. He did offer admission for the process but said I could do it at home if I preferred-and I do.

When he sees her again he wants blood tests done. He particularly wants a blood count. (The one from her previous admission was missing). He thinks she will need iron but wants to be cautious because it causes constipation.  He also wants to test her for Coeliacs and before that happens she will have to eat gluten again, but he said don’t reintroduce it yet as the gluten free diet seems to be helping her.


Canals, life on a boat and Sign Language

It was homeschool group yesterday. It was local history day; Ruth and my session. We did a session on the canals. I had a book from the library and managed to find some good resources on line as activities for the children. We looked at the kind of life a Victorian boat family might have had; the boat space, horse, tunnels, locks etc. we mapped out a cabin on the floor so the children could see just how tiny the space was.

The made a cardboard boat, did some traditional canal art, worked out a route for a cargo boat and had a choice of things to do in a small activity worksheet booklet.

The LONDON CANAL MUSEUM have some wonderful resources. You can download worksheets and activities from the teachers and family sections. There’s plenty there to keep any homeschooler happy for quite a time. Go and have a look.

We did Sign Languge here in the afternoon. I think I want some new stuff to do with the children and i am wondering whether I should split the group so I can push the older or more advanced children on a bit. I haven’t decided quite what to do yet.

Silent No More

Please support the Silent No More event in Oxford. Details are HERE.

Women will be allowed a voice at last to speak out about their experiences with the abortion industry and how, not only were their babies killed, but their lives were badly effected. God bless them and comfort them.  It is a courageous act in a world that really doesn’t want to know.