Monthly Archives: January 2009

Homeschool Week


It’s been the usual busy week. On Tuesday with another family we began the pirate ship which will be a rather large lapbook type thing with information in the portholes, the sea and sails. While the slightly bigger kids were painting I stripped Heleyna and put her in the high chair with her own bit of paint and paper. She proceeded to happily paint herself. Well, at least she wasn’t adding her own little wreckovation to the pirate ship.

Next week we will look at famous pirates and their flags and add that to the ship.

Ronan made a card -without any help- for Sr Kath and wrote inside it. I need to post it; her birthday was yesterday Blushy.

Both Ronan and Avila are reading most days and Ronan has been helping Avila learn her phonics. I gave them a number chain game to play  together so Ronan could help Avila with her number recognition as well.

We’ve reached a point where he is really bringing his sister on. Although he moans about reading, I’ve found he is more willing to do it if he is reading to Heleyna and as she is always up for a story that is working well. It helps that the ORT Stage 5 happen to have a story about pirates as well.

I’ve noticed that Heleyna will bring Ronan books to read to her and he will sit and do this as relaxed reading. Even Avila will have a go with a couple of the books she knows by heart.

Maths is more of a struggle. I have decided I need to buy in a curriculum as I think I need a structured approach and preferably someone to teach it for me!

Shana has recommended SAXON and LIFE OF FRED

I have been looking at Math U See which for me has the massive advantage of a DVD so someone else IS teaching it.

There are other programmes out there such as Singapore Math and I am sure others.

The children do like the Math U See worksheets available on the website and the free video is excellent-but we’ll have to see.

What programmes do any of you use or recommend?

LATIN is going well. I visited Mr Linney’s Site in search of his new Spanish programme which is nearly ready and found THIS EXCELLENT LATIN QUIZ based on the Linney Latin lessons linked from his blog. Ronan took the Quiz for lessons 1-10 and got 100%!!!! And there I was thinking he wasn’t really taking it in!

I’ve found a very good Catechism which makes life a bit easier. I am not that taken by the illustrations. I think they are a bit odd-new agey, but the children like the site and for older kids and adults there are wonderful videos of Cardinal Arinze.

Tomorrow a couple of homeschool families are coming over to study Hammurabi and his code from Susan Wise Bauer’s absolutely brilliant and easy to use series The Story of the World.

Playtime I have tried these last couple of weeks to increase the time Ronan has as play and free time. I noticed he was getting a bit over timetabled, to the point where he kept asking me “What do I do now?” I think it is important that he can learn how to use his own time effectively so I have made him have more free time. LOL! Anyway it has worked well. He has been able to take up good activities without being told “try this” and I am sure this is helping him with some independence.

So that, along with a few other bits n pieces is a week of homeschooling.

St Thomas and Charlotte Mason

aquinas-frescoOn this feast of St Thomas Aquinas I thought I would mention that Charlotte Mason spends some time in her books talking about the fresco at the Spanish Chapel of Santa Maria Novello. Here is part of the fresco showing St Thomas with the sciences. I will let her speak for herself on how the fresco was for her a vision of God giving man his intellect.

The philosophy of the Middle Ages dealt, as we know, with theology as its subject-matter; and, while there is much ecclesiastical polity with which we have little sympathy pictured on the remaining walls, on one compartment of wall and roof we have a singularly satisfying scheme of educational thought. At the highest point of the picture we see the Holy Ghost descending in the likeness of a dove; immediately below, in the upper chamber are the disciples who first received His inspiration; below, again, is the promiscuous crowd of all nationalities who are brought indirectly under the influence of that first outpouring; and in the foreground are two or three dogs, showing that the dumb creation was not excluded from benefiting by the new grace. In the lower compartment of the great design are angelic figures of the cardinal virtues, which we all trace more or less to divine inspiration, floating above the seated figures of apostles and prophets, of whom we know that they ‘spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.’ So far, this mediæval scheme of philosophy reveals no new thought to persons instructed in the elements of Christian truth. But below the prophets and apostles are a series of pictured niches, those to the right being occupied by the captain figures, the ideal representations, of the seven Liberal Arts, figures of singular grace and beauty, representing such familiar matters as grammar, rhetoric, logic, music, astronomy, geometry, and arithmetic, all of them under the outpouring of the Spirit of God. Still more liberal is the philosophy which places at the foot of each of these figures him who was then accepted as the leader and representative of each several science,––Priscian, Cicero, Aristotle, Tubal Cain, Zoroaster, Euclid, Pythagoras; men whom a narrower and later theology would have placed beyond the pale of the Christian religion, and therefore of the teaching of the Spirit of God. But here all are represented as under the same divine outpouring which illuminated the disciples in the upper chamber.

I don’t think Big Tam would disagree with that, do you?

Jan 31st Pro-Life Witness

Saturday, 31st January – Oxford Pro-life witness

Outside the entrance to the John Radcliffe Hospital - Headley Way, Oxford. (Car park available outside the Church of St Anthony of Padua)

3pm – 4pm

Rosary prayed for the reparation for abortion and prayers for all unborn babies, their Mothers and Fathers, and for all the Drs and nurses involved in the evil of abortion.

Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in the Church of St Anthony of Padua , just behind where we pray.

This is a beautiful video of an 11+week baby in womb dancing! The little boy was born in June last year. (Don’t be put off by the music-my kids were all dancing to it too!)

Refreshments available afterwards.

God Bless you and hope to see you there!

Please keep Amanda and all those who show such dedication in your prayers.

Government attacking homeschoolers again!

It was only December when the last consultation with the Government ended and it was agreed that provision for homeschoolers was fine and we should be left well alone. The attack last year was around the word “truancy”. The suggestion was that homeschooled children and truant children were somehow the same thing. This, of course was blasted down in flames. The leaders in the home ed community, especially spokespeople from Education Otherwise had put forward the facts about homeschooling very well and that was that.

It seems that those with the Government will stoop really low indeed to attack the homeschool community. One the one hand homeschooling is a front for FORCED MARRIAGE-not that there is ANY evidence, and then Government are quite willing to make snide assertions about abuse; again with no evidence. Even that very dodgy organisation the NSPCC are in on the homeschool bashing.

There is a consultation summary and questionnaire online which is to be completed by 2oth Feb.

While they try and persuade you to register-you don’t need to. I would print up the doc and arrange your answers and then get them typed up in one go.

The first question uses the word “safeguarding” as though home education is a bad idea already. It is a shockingly badly worded questionnaire and makes it clear they want to “monitor” us and uses “support” as a euphamism for interfere.

This is not a Government that has shown itself friendly to families or the rights of children. The snide accusation that homeschoolers are either keeping truant children or abusing our children is so dishonest it hardly makes the homeschooling community feel we can trust Big Brother does it?

If you can help us fight this-please do. Prayers will be very much appreciated.

Humanae Vitae was right of course

We are still in the 40 years since HV time and it’s the year of St Paul, so we are thinking of conversion more at the moment.

The man who had a major role in the development of the Pill Carl Djerassi has admitted it has been a bit of a disaster, especially for his own country of Austria which has a birth rate of 1.4 at the moment. I think it’s only abour 1.7 here in the UK so we are not fairing much better.

Professor Djerassi was honest enough to admit the evironmental damage the Pill has done with estrogens entering the water supply, which he suggests (and research in America would back him up) has had a negative impact on male fertility.

Cardinal Schonborn of Austria points out that the Church saw the horrible outcome way ahead of time. Pope Paul made it clear in HV that women would be used and families would be destroyed by sex without responsibility.

My oldest son works in a home for the elderly. Let’s be honest here. Putting old people into homes is a result of smaller families. Frail or sick parents need more than a couple of adult children to help care for them. How often do we see a huge burden fall on one child who is already looking after a her own children with little family support because THERE IS NO FAMILY.

I think it is vitally important that my six kids take care of each other. I don’t want to think that they’ll all leave home and take care only of themselves. I want to know that if any of them need help the others will be there for them.

In the end, as this poor man is realising so late, the Church was right when She said the Pill would bring about the destruction of families, the objectification of women (in particular) and more misery as more selfishness was unleashed.

I do see some signs of change. I meet families-not just Catholic-who do not want to use contraception and certainly don’t want their daughters poisoned with the stuff. More information is getting out there and more people have had enough.

Perhaps if less people use contraception there will be less unborn babies slaughtered in abortion.

We hope and pray.

Kindess and Concerns

My sister in law was over today and we got talking about the way communities seem to work. She is working with people who live in a more rural area than she used to. She feels she relates better to them than her old client group who tended to live in high rise flats and housing estates. In many of these places people, even the worst of estates, can find a kind of community. Certainly it may be easier in rural places where there is a village culture, but even inner city places can have these little oasis of kindness and community.

With the way the economy is going there is a lot of worry that people will be left destitute.lancasterbishop1 Bishop Patrick O’Donaghue, affectionately referred to as POD, has talked of how this time around the economic downturn could have serious effects on families because families and communities simply are not as strong as they were even in the 80’s when we had the last massive problem economically.

He pointed out that families simply seem not to be taking care of one another these days and that a change in behaviour was desperately needed to ensure people got through what could be a number of very difficult years.

I think there are real signs that people are trying to care for one another even in the most difficult circumstances. I know of one case where a friend came and stayed with a friend of mine while her baby was in hospital and helped out. I know of a sister who has offered to pay the gas bill for her sister because she has no children and understands the problems of heating a home with little ones in it.

In my own life I love how the mums share so much so that we all have a way of caring for our children and for each other.

I think it was St Francis of Assisi who said that anyone who owns more than he directly needs is in effect stealing from those who are in need. It’s a good thing to remember as I think it won’t hurt to hoard all those kids clothes for a while.

A lot of support I see in my local area is done quietly. It’s the neighbour who takes care of a garden for someone less able. That same neighbour who kindly gives you a lift on the day the tutor at college phones to say he has called an Ambulance for your son (as happened to me last year).

It’s the person at Church who asks what help you might need when a new baby is due-or a child is sick.

It’s the time taken after Mass to offer support to a mum with a concern about her child, or the mother who has just lost her baby.

I know of parents who are working when they could be retired to help out their children and grandchildren.

I know of teenagers willing to help someone sort out a house they are moving into.

There are loads of these little things going on just around here. It’s not too gloomy is it?

pennywise recipes

Veg  moussaka serves 8 for £6.88 and Rabbit and Chicken Pie for £11.70

Rabbit is £3 for 250g (about 8oz)

I am also trying to improvise as much as possible to avoid going near a shop. If I don’t have what I would normally use-i use something else.

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Homeschooling week

 Reading I think I have worked out how to fit it all in again now and that feeling of hitting a wall is dissipating nicely.

I have gone back to the Charlotte Mason books to help refocus me a little. I got a bit wrapped in timetabling the academic subjects for Ronan and Iona and forgot that education is a much broader activity. So today I let Ronan and Avila play uninterrupted and gave them the chance to plan their own day a little.

Ronan likes to be told what to do and have me do it with him. Allowing the free time means he has not been able to simply depend on me forming his day for him. It’s worked quite well.

He and Avila requested some reading time and we spent some time on STARFELL reading two poems and then looking at the short piece on Scott Joplin.

I am still helping Iona with her media project filming her reading “Teddy Bear” by A A Milne. This is just a rough work project to see how it goes. We want to put together a proper story reading film and get back to the cooking films we were making last year.

  Mommy & Baby We discussed some aspects of writing up her childcare work today and looked at Language Acquisition. I have to admit I find the whole business of children acquiring language fascinating. It is one of the few things from my days training to be a Sign Language Interpreter that I actually think was worthwhile. I am not so sure Iona finds it quite so fascinating though. Tired 41x5f2dzd8l__sl500_aa240_

In RE I have decided trying to think it all out for myself is too hard. With Ronan and Avila I am using the Illustrated Catechism and a lovely book of Bible Stories they got for Christmas. Usually I find children’s Bible’s a bit naff, but although I am not that taken with the illustrations I do like the stories. I think the author knows Scripture pretty well.51qnkjr-ndl__sl500_aa240_1

The little Catechism uses (to my mind) quite high fallutin’ language for a 5 and 4 year old, but it’s short and sweet and we get to discuss the pictures and talk about the bits of the Bible that go with that line of the Creed.

Meanwhile with Iona I have been inspired by Shana’s reminder of Scott Hahn books and have taken from my wall of Hahn “Reasons to Believe” and “The Lamb’s Supper.”

We will read them together and discuss each chapter as we go.

Pennywise Life. Distributismish

5312I said I would post some recipes on how we are trying to save money this year. So here are some of our scrimping schemes and a couple of recipes.

I don’t suppose many of my penny pinching ideas are all that new to most of you. We are trying to cut back on the extraordinaryly high electricity and gass bill. I am back to not putting the central heating on and keeping the children in one room as much as possible. If other families are coming over I put it on. But we wear more jumpers and Josh gets the coal fire lit early so we get some good heat downstairs.

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Term Starts-hit that wall running!

Term has started! I always feel like I just hit a wall running when a new term starts. During the holidays I get into a nice rhythm of daily activities and they all fit reasonably well into the day. Then homeschooling starts and I can never remember quite HOW I fitted it all in!


Iona had her 15th birthday on Sunday and we all went for a meal thanks to the kindness of an aunt. Iona invited a couple of friends to join us and they had a sleepover at our house. Heleyna made friends with our waitress and got a little packet of chocolate buttons for her charm. LOL.

Now that term has started she is putting together some storyboards and we are working at a short film of her reading a poem.

She is putting together more notes for her childcare booklet and I am aiming at her being able to do NVQ 2 and even 3 in childcare next year. If she has all the evidence up front it should make getting the NVQ assessed pretty easy. We have decided to go down this route because Iona will need a job in a year or so. She wants to train as a writer but that is not an easy market to break into. With an NVQ qualification and with the experience she is gaining working with the younger children and babies in our homeschool group, Iona should be very employable in the childcare industry.

At the moment Heleyna’s little friend is in hospital having had an operation for cleft palette on Monday. She’s doing okay, but caught that nasty virus that has been going around. Hopefully the docs will let her home soon and let her mum get some real sleep! Iona has been working with her and has learned about NG tubes and bolus feeds.

In RE for Iona I am changing focus this term to apologetics. She has a friends who simply don’t know the Faith. One will ask, the other tends to make erroneous statements in a definate manner. So, we spent today discussing the difference between doctrine and discipline and that the real meaning of authority is. One of her friends is under the impression the Pope can do pretty much whatever he pleases. Iona has managed to explain he can only do what God allows, but this needs explaining further and so today we looked at apostolic succession again and how that leads to the authority of the Pope and how that authority is by its nature limited.

This is not an easy subject and I think we’ll have more time with it.

Meanwhile Ronan is getting back into the swing of working. We have gone back to his all time favourite Astronomy and his less favourite reading. He is working on stage 5 of the Oxford Reading Tree Books now. Although he tends to moan a bit, I find he actually likes the stories and usually has plenty of comments at the end. I am giving him a bit of self reading time with the books too which he does enjoy as it makes him feel more grown up. After all Iona reads to herself.

Avila has also gone back to the ORT books. She is on Stage 1+ and loves it. She is only just 4 so I am not doing much with her, but she enjoys joining in and that helps encourage her and Ronan.

Latin and writing are also underway. Ronan wrote a post-Christmas thank you letter today.

Maths tomorrow. Then full timetable next week.

Phew! When is half term…..?

Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

Let’s face it, 2009 is looking set to be a pretty difficult year for a lot of us. In our family I think we are better off than a lot of people. We have the advantage of all still living under one roof so it’s easier to take care of each other. Alistair is in the rather enviable position of having stable employment and the two oldest boys both have jobs at least for now.

I think I am going to try and concentrate on the gifts God has given -which of course should be offered back to Him.

3kings3boxmGOLD: Symbol of royalty/kingship. Gold is my family. We will have to work together this year to make ends meet. I am hoping to grow some veg and share that with other home ed families who I hope will join me in the veg growing thing.

We have started cutting back on the food we buy. I wont be ordering so many treaty stuff, which the children can do less of really without noticing. I will have to make more bread and we will eat more simply. I don’t think it will do us much harm :) I enjoy cooking (usually) and between us Iona and I will plan cheaper meals. I’ll try and post some cheapo recipes for feeding large families.

Lots of homeschooling ahead; but I must not loose sight of what I am doing as a parent, rather than as a teacher. I also need to remember my role as wife.

I am happy as a housewife and believe that despite the lack of status it holds that it is worthwhile. We are great Foyles War fans here and there is rumours they will make a series called Foyle’s Peace for after the war. I was interested (and a bit irritated) to see that Huneysuckle Weeks who plays Sam in the drama has asked the writers to keep Sam single so she can continue to work. In those days (1940’s) a woman became a housewife once she married.  What would be so awful about playing the part of a stay at home wife?

FRANKINCENSE: This is prayer. I’ve been listening to the amazing speech Mother Teresa gave at the National Prayer Breakfast in1994. In it she says those famous words “A family that prays together, stays together.”

She talks about how those who have so little shared with those who have less.

For 2009 I want to increase the family prayer time. We tend to let it slip in the holidays-but maybe we could do more at the dinner table.

Sharing will be an important part of this year. We have been given so much. I have children’s clothes piled everywhere. The younger three are set up for quite some time! I have started bagging up the excess and what they have grown out of to pass on to other mums and to charity shops. With so many families facing a jobless future around here I think the charity shops will do well.

After Mass just before Christmas one of the ladies of the Church gave me an envelope with a Christmas card and a very generous donation of cash! I was stunned by her kindness. She said she was the mother of 8 and new how difficult it can be to make ends meet. What kindness!

Part of prayer is TRUST. As we face some difficulties ahead we need to Trust God will care for us.

Josh has had to put his dream of doing a degree at FUS on thick ice. The economy shift means he has no chance of earning the kind of money he would need to get over there. He is setting out to go to Uni here. It’s been a tough time for him.

MYRRH: This is the resin from the Commiphora Myrrha tree and has been long associated with healing and cleansing antiseptic qualities. It is part of the holy oils for anointing and has been since Moses’ day (Ex 30). It is also associated with death and would have been used to anoint Our Lord if He hadn’t Risen before the ladies had a chance.

Myrrh seems to be deeply symbolic of both healing and suffering; of sweetness and loss.

I am hoping that as 2009 goes on I will be increasingly healed. I’ve been seeing a chiropractor twice a week for some time and he is dropping it down to once a week. My pain levels have dropped so much that I am really seeing a change in how well I can lead my life.

Avila is also doing better. We are hoping this year she may finally be rid of her illness all together. She is growing and putting on weight and just looks so much better.

2009 does look tough in many ways. But I like a challenge.

9th Day of Christmas

 2009 Glasses Happy New Year everyone. I am having a few quiet moments to blog while the little ones are at the park with their dad.

circumcision_picI’m afraid we didn’t do much for the Solemnity of the Mother of God and the Circumcision of the Lord, but we did not forget them.

I’m going to start back with Home Ed on Wednesday. We all agree that we should keep the Christmas holidays until after Epiphany (and we will be celebrating it on the 6th despite the changes).

Before that was the wonderful feast of the Holy Family and Father preached about the problems and joys families face today and reminisced a bit about his own childhood. He talked of the the power of the family rosary and just how important that is to holding a family together. He also admitted that as a child he was always a reluctant participant. Ronan can relate to that!

I’ve updated the sidebar and I’ll try and post on something more substantial soon.


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