Monthly Archives: July 2009

Entering adulthood. Does it happen at 18?

Yesterday we had a birthday party for Alex who will turn 18 next week. We had what has now become the family tradition of the ‘wall of fame’ that is photos of Alex from just before birth to now-with a small extra bit to add photos for the next week.

Officially, as far as our culture is concerned he becomes an adult now. Although there seems to be stages to the process from 16 then 18 and then 21. I don’t think Alex is really noticing too much that there is a step up at this point. He has been planning for it gradually anyway.

As the children reach adulthood parenting adults is a bit different. I think some people think their role is finished at 16 or even younger, but the fact is once a parent always a parent, but the role changes. So we all have to adjust a little.

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Children need nature

lens1494032_1227172850charlotte_mason_nature_studyCharlotte Mason built a great deal of her philosophy of education on the idea that children needed to be outdoors with nature. One of the most important box loads of curriculum resources a home educating family can have must be the one full of wellies. Some of the best lessons we have had are the ones that involve puddle jumping, snail hunting and tree searching.

There’s time to play running around the garden with a football, or with the girls hurtling around with dolls prams like some kind of pink miniature Ben Hur event. Rarely does rain stop play, which is a good job because we are getting a lot of rain!

Charlotte understood children needed time outdoors to help them not only appreciate the world around them, the beauty of creation and to have a good time, but because it helped them learn. She encouraged parents to let their children explore, to spend time peering at the beetle in the grass or chasing the butterflies. She wanted children to know and understand the nature in their immediate vicinity.

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Family Life. Diabetes, rain, the moon and a nice cup of tea.

Yesterday Josh went off to a conference, entering the sub-culture of diabetes. He met a couple of fellow Type 1s there but most people had type 2 apparently. It was an interesting day for him where he met with other type 1 diabetics and learned about the post code lottery for NHS provision. My type 2 people couldn’t get the strips they needed for blood testing and other people couldn’t get clinic appointments when things went wrong. Josh is fortunate in that after a few hiccups (mainly with a dopey pharmacist) he is getting all his equipment and seeing clinic staff as and when he needs to.

He wants to get involved in some of the research into type 1 which is still proving to be a bit of a mystery as to its cause.


Yesterday the biggies took the littlies out to the park for an hour. They grabbed the moment when the sun appeared from behind the clouds and set off. By the time they reached the park they needed to take shelter under the slide. After adventures in wetness and going to buy gingerbread men from the local shop they headed home just in time for a full out thunder storm. So what does a mum do when six soggy people arrive on her doorstep?

Strip the little ones and get them towel dried -wrap them in dressing gowns and make a huge jug of hot chocolate and a cuppa for Josh. (or Duppadee as Heleyna calls it). Now, that’s better.

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Badman report on Home Education: Inquiry into the review.

Rumours that there was to be an inquiry into the review on home education were not exaggerated it seems. THERE IS ONE happening. It says it will be a short one. I have to say I am unsure what to make of this. Whether it is an honest attempt to understand what has made home educating families so angry or whether it is a whitewash to say how wonderful Badman, Balls and the rest of the team are and try and shut us up remains to be seen. I’m not immediately convinced this will be honest but hey.

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Feast of St. Bridget of Sweden

183730Today is the feast of my beloved St Bridget of Sweden. She is an amazing woman and a very powerful intersessor -she must have sore knees even in heaven!

Bridget was a wife and mother as well as the foundress of the Bridgetine order. At the age of 13 her marriage was arranged with the a8 yr old Ulf, a good and gentle man. They had 8 children one of whom is St Katrin of Sweden or Vadstena. But Bridget also knew the heart ache of seeing a child go off the rails quite seriously. One of her sons, Karl got embroiled in an adulterous affair, dazzled by wealth and power and wanting whatever he wanted. His affair with the really rather nasty Queen Joanna of Naples came to an end when he died in his mother’s arms.

Bridget knows about the trials and triumphs of parenthood and her daughter Katrin is the patron saint of mothers who miscarry their babies.

You can buy a print of this picture HERE                                  


I have a lot of resources for St Bridget -or to be more accurate St Birgitta in my sidebar. She wrote a huge amount after God spoke with her. Much like St Faustina she kept a spiritual diary and there is much to learn from it. 

One of the things we see in the diaries of St Bridget and St Faustina is that God doesn’t just leave us trying to read the signs of the times. He never leaves us in the dark about what He wants of us and what is happening around us. In every generation He sends someone to speak to us, to warn us and to encourage us.

As I write this I am listening to Fr John Corapi. I think he is the one to speak to our generation. If we choose not to listen that is one thing-but we can’t say we weren’t offered the opportunity to understand can we?


“The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible reductions. In this way the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which these changes cannot be reversed.”

Adolf Hitler

I can’t reference this quote which I saw on a forum-but it fits.

Cushion covers have many uses…

Not so long ago Deb showed her savvy-shopper side with THIS POST on her bedding for a tenner bargains.

After I made a rather cheeky comment about the more slippery side of faux silk cushion covers Deb very kindly sent me some :)

But who needs to use them as cushion covers? The first thing Avila did was lay them out in the hall as hopscotch squares. She and Heleyna then danced around them like they were some kind of disco game.

P1000334Then there is the silver sack race approach-that didn’t work for Roni too well as he was a little too big, nor for Heleyna as she wasn’t so good at jumping, but was just right for Avila who hopped around all over the place.

Ronan did reckon he could make a spaceman suit out of his. Ummm we’ll see.

P1000336Then there is the small person’s sleeping bag approach. Then of course they make great sleeping bags for the toys.

So Deb as you see, your kind gift is getting penty of use (and abuse)

Thank you and God bless :)


Year of the Priesthood: Cain and Abel


A lot of people complain about the quality of many of the priests we have today (pray more) but God must have wondered what He had started when He looked at the quality of the first priests! Adam blew it and gets shut out of the Garden and then we get Cain and Abel.

As first born son Cain would have had a special role as priest in the family-but Cain had ideas of his own it seems. We get the impression from Scripture that Eve thought Cain was the promised one and spoiled him a bit. Abel was less loved it appears. Then they grow to be priests and come to make their sacrifices. According to Jewish tradition these sacrifices were for their brides as they entered married life. Again we see the role of priest is to sacrifice to God for his bride.

In the offered sacrifices we see the symbols of bread and the lamb; Abel offers the unblemished lamb and Cain just offers some grain -but not the best. St Francis of Assisi made sure that the churches he had anything to do with had the most beautiful adornment and chalices of gold and precious stone. Only the best is good enough for God he reminded the people. Mother Angelica followed the same principle when she built her beautiful church with all the best materials she could find.

Cain didn’t feel the need to give God the best he could which I believe would not only have been an insult to God, but to the bride Cain was supposed to be sacrificing for. God didn’t accept the sacrifice. God did however accept the sacrifice of Abel who understood that both God and his bride deserved the very best he could offer.

Cain was jolly annoyed by all this. He got a bit stroppy and in a fit of envy went and murdered his brother. Now, Scott Hahn reckons there was an element of human sacrifice here and it certainly fits neatly. Cain says spitefully, “So You want the best, I’ll give You the best…” and kills Abel. (The fact that Cain apparently was considered the ‘best’ until this point isn’t lost here either). Cain, having offered the sacrifice takes his wife and has to make a run for it after God tells him he is in big trouble.

God then gives Adam and Eve a new ‘first born’ son Seth and from him the priesthood of father to son continues. God does not give up on the priesthood even though it became very badly corrupt very early on.

mount_carmelI know, I know I am late with this, but the feast of Our Lady of Carmel is an important one so I didn’t want to let it slide by completely unremarked.

It’s not just that Our Lady gave us the Brown Scapular through St Simon Stock and showed her love of the Carmelite order. It is her link through Mount Carmel with the Old Testament saint Elijah. There’s just something special about Carmel.

I have a few people to pray for at the moment-people in really, really difficult circimstances and so I ask Our Lady of Carmel to pray for them-which I am sure she will.

Hopefully I will be on top of things enough to blog on the feast of my beloved St Birgetta of Sweden in a few days.


I haven’t got around to reading Caritas in Veritate yet. Now the holidays are upon us I hope to get a bit of time to do so. I’ve heard some good analysis of it so far and wonder what it will have to say to a an ordinary mum like me. Quite a lot probably.

At this point I haven’t even had time to read the comments on the encyclical but I have seen some lovely quotes from the Holy Father as I skimmed through the document. His insistance that rights presuppose duty to others for a start. He strongly challenges the “I’m alright Jack” attitude of so many where they seem to think they only need to look after themselves. He challenges the arbitary rights insisted on by some groups while basic human rights are violated and ignored. He talks about the place of family and of subsidiarity (gotta love the man) but I really do need to get to grips with all 30,000 words I think. I get the impression the Holy Father is simply reiterating love of family, love of neighbour, and sharing to change the world; but that might be a gross oversimplification and I haven’t read it all yet.

Badman Review; Responses and thoughts

HSLDA in America have produced and excellent response to the Badman Report on Home Education, which my friend kindly sent me a link to.  They pick out some glaring omissions in Badman’s report:

The Badman Report asserts: “International comparison suggests that of all countries with highly developed education systems, England is the most liberal in its approach to elective home education.”

Seven lines of analysis follow this naked assertion. He mentions Germany, “most European countries” (without elaboration), and New Zealand.

The omission of the United States is a particularly blatant error when it comes to the subject of home education. There is little doubt that more children are being homeschooled in the United States than in the rest of the world combined.

But of course America was quite deliberately ignored in the Review as  it made it easier for so much research to be dismissed out of hand. A great deal of the research showing how well homeschooled children do comes from the USA where homeschooling has been so prevelent for so long. By ignoring this Badman could more easily dismiss the research from the UK on home education which shows the same level of good outcomes. Of course this is a government with a strong track record of ignoring research that contradricts it’s political motives.

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Coming to the end of term.

We’re finally coming to the hols and the last few bits of work are being done and dusted.  I’m really pleased with the curriculum books and art stuff I have bought.

Artistic Pursuits was expensive but it is a well written course that all the children in our group enjoy. It’s well set out and has proved adaptable to the age variation of the group.

Ronan has nearly finished Primer of Math U See and we have just has Alpha back from friends so he will start that next term. Avila is half way through Primer already. She has really taken to the manipulatives; it’s definately a system that suits her.

We’re still using Story of the World as our main history book but we do other history things as well.

I’ve recently bought a set of three books Weather and Climate, Rivers and Oceans and Mountains and Volcanos for the group geography sessions. We have started Weather and Climate and I find it refreshingly focused on the actual science and free of propaganda.

This week I’ve tried to concentrate on helping Iona get more filming done. We are working on some stuff for her book study of Things A Lady Would Like to Know, but also I wanted a couple of films of her teaching the little ones to cook something. The filming has gone well but I have found that the camera records in .MOV which Windows Movie Maker doesn’t deal with. So here I am having a right old game of it looking for simple software to convert .MOV to .AVI or perhaps a reasonably priced software that would allow us to edit .MOV files. If anyone has any suggestions I’d be grateful!

Badman Report and now Sweden!

The fight goes on. I have written to our local councilor but have not received a reply as yet. He tends to be pretty good on replies so I will keep you posted. Meanwhile one of the mums has written to our MP asking her to sign the Early Day Motion put forward by Mark Fields MP. I have to say I am not holding out much hope, but you never know. It seems to me, but I could be wrong, that MPs whose voting record has been anti family up to now are not going to rush to support home education.

From letters some other home edders have received some MPs who say they support home education do not believe that signing EDMswill help and that they are both a waste of time and money. As I don’t really understand what the EDMs are and what they are for I can’t comment. At least the MPs in these letters are saying home ed is a good thing. Other people seem to be receiving spin-letters. The kind of ‘I’m sure you are wonderful BUT’ letters.

Meanwhile the Government of Sweden are out to make home education illegal on philosophical and religious grounds. This is truly scary stuff.

You can sign the petition HERE and I ASK THAT EVERYONE takes the minute or two to do this. I warned a while ago that home edders here in the UK should be extremely cautious about turning to the Human Rights legislation to aid us. I believed it was man-made and therefore too easy to change.

The Swedish approach says this:

The position on homeschooling in the suggested law is a return to darkness. It is unbelievable. Homeschooling will NOT be permitted for those referring to philosophical or religious reasons according to the European convention on Human Rights!

The added words used to make home education virtually impossible, are FOUR: 

“Education otherwise is allowed if… there exist extraordinary circumstances.”

These four words will soon be used to beat home education here. What on earth will “extraordinary circumstances” be?

A couple of us have written to our bishops and as with other letters I’ll let you know what response is forthcoming. I am also going to write to Bishop POD because he seems genuinely to care about children and their education. It has also been recommended that we contact Lord Alton who has an excellent record of supporting family and children rights.

We have until 19th October to complete the consultation. On the whole most people agree we need to do this. There are mixed messages about whether this is worth doing; on the one hand those who say Balls is essentially a mini dictator and can and does do whatever he likes-on the other hand some people think the Tories might just overturn the Badman report if there is enough pressure to do so. In the end I wonder at this point what we have to lose?

There has been some correspondencewith the Church of England office. They wrote a reasonable response for home education initially but this was misused in the Report. Suddenly the CofE spokeswoman seemed to change her pro-home ed stance and reported that she had been told 40% of home ed families are known to “social care”. (odd use of words that) It seems the CofE have realised their error with this utterly amazing stat and are retracting. It’s all a bit of a mess though. I believe the Cof E could make an important statement to support families in this country. They have that ability, and I am disappointed they seem unable to make a clear statement.

You might want to READ THIS ON BULLYING - a debate between David Howarth MP (LibDem) and Vernon Coaker MP (DSCF). One of the mums has written an excellent letter to Mr Howarth on this. I haven’t asked permission to post the letter here but I am sure she will okay with me at least giving a general abstract.  She was concerned that the whole emphases was on getting bullied children back into the school; that neither the option of home education nor the role of parents was even mentioned.

She points out the costs of not preventing or properly dealing with bullying and the reluctance of schools to face up to it. I agree with her fully on this. We were simply stonewalled over our son’s serious bullying at school.

She asked that the role parents play in both preventing bullying and instilling good behaviour in their children be recognised and that present policy of forcing parents into work so they hardly get to see their children was counterproductive.


I believe we need to fight this alongsideanyone fighting for the rights of families and children but we need to be cautious about supping with the devil so I wont be recommending approaching charities, organisations or individuals who have shown anti-family, anti-child and anti-life agendas up to now.

I’m planning to do a picnic in Sept and I’ll let you know about that.


NFP, yes to God and just what is providentialism?

Inside Catholic have run a couple of interesting articles recently that to me at least seem to go together. The great debate on Is NFP Mysogynous? continues in the many comments while Danielle Bean writes her heart rending colomn on what it’s like to say Yes to God even when He is saying “not yet”.

DSCF1164The short answer to the question of whether NFP is mysogynous is simply “of course it isn’t.” NFP empowers women, gives back their health and understanding of their own bodies as well as helping to space babies when there is a serious reason to do so.  For many women it has been the way they have tackled fertility problems and achieved that longed for pregancy. While I think I see where the argument that NFP is anti-women might come from; essentially that NFP is primarily the woman’s responsibility-I just don’t see the problem. As many in the comments posts pointed out contraception is often the woman’s responsibility and with it comes the horrible side effects (as well as the moral problems). Even those areas that men take on have nasty problems associated with them for the men too. NFP is at least safe!

The comments looked at the contraceptive mentality that can lead to the misuse of NFP while others pushed the providentialist line.  I think it is interesting how much debate there is on this subject. The Church teaches in Humanae Vitae that children can be spaced in line with the Will of God. I find it difficult to grasp why some people think they can over ride HV and say using NFP is just contraception and is wrong. 

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Home ed trip: beautiful experience

We visited a Serbian Orthodox Church today. It was a stunningly beautiful place and a deeply moving experience.  The priest told us about the Church and a little about his own story of how he and his parents escaped from Serbia after suffering in the camps and prisons of the Communist regeme.  I would like to learn more about the Serbian community around here for they must have stories to tell.

P1000211The Church is built in the traditional style with men from Serbia coming to the rescue of the building firm who had no idea how to construct the dome. One man, from Belgrade, painted all the icon frescos that cover the walls and ceiling of the Church. It took him sixteen years. Apart from the stunning talent of this man he must have been someone of deep prayer. True beauty is often lacking in our world today-but this church is a small peice of heaven.

Father sang for us. He sang in Slavic the Litany of Serbian Saints-well some of it. I remember reading that research showed that people exposed to Gregorian chant could be cured of migraines and have their blood pressure reduced. This chant is like that and has a very Jewish sound to it too-more so than Gregnorian I think. It seems to stand between the Jewish cantor and the Latin chant touching both. Father had just the right voice for this. I can only describe it as ‘cleansing’.

A couple of the dads would like the chance to visit and I think as Father has said we could go again I may try and book another visit-with dads too.

Meanwhile term is coming to a close. I’ll finish Roni tomorrow and then next week is all for Iona and filming with her. After that we will revert to autonomous ed for the holidays. You see the children don’t stop learning, they just don’t get structured learning.

Frugal Living- thanks to the 44% extra tax we pay.

This article in the Daily Mail has been doing the rounds showing how one income families with a mother in the home are paying 44% more in tax than the rest of the developed world. I don’t know whether the research also took into account the higher cost of living over here as well.

One or two of the comments about how individual families struggle so much because mum is at home struck a cord. I’m not sure I believe in ‘frugal living’ any more. Or rather I am not convinced it is possible to have a family with one wage and stay out of debt. In reality all that happens is we put off and put off buying what’s needed until in the end we have to buy a load of stuff in one go, blowing any hope we had of pulling back some cash. Mind you the fact that I have just spent loads on curriculum material means I got a 10% discount. lol.

It seems to me the level of tax imposed on single income families constitutes theft. It would be good to know a Tory Govt would put a lot of this right; but they seem rather quiet on the matter of being pro-family.

So, how to beat them eh? On the whole I don’t think we can; but we don’t need to cave and join them either. There are ways of keeping the inevitable debt down.  But more than that be careful how you think and don’t get tempted to horde stuff for fear you will never be able to replace it if you ever need it again. On the other hand don’t be throwing out things you will need again. Try not to think that you are entitled to stuff because others have it. I would guess this is harder for people who have had to give up a lot of things they once had, than for those of us who have pottered along like this for a long time.

SHARE what you do have. I think this really is the way to make small amounts go a long way. Children’s clothes are great for sharing as is food and for the home edders curriculum stuff. SHARE time and any talents you might have as well. In this way an alternative economy can work. Don’t do it on a tit for tat basis. Just give what you have more of and see what happens.

I am also very keen that the children learn to take care of one another. I really think a lot of the struggles families face in paying bills is because there isn’t enough sharing going on. I am hoping my children have learned that they are ‘my brother’s keeper’.  They don’t need to spend money on ‘stuff’ and lots of holidays and meals out while one of their own is struggling to pay the gas bill.  I also want them to be there for each other in a crisis. There is something utterly soul destroying about trying to cope with a serious family crisis with no support from family, and I am teaching (I hope) my children that this must not happen.

The way to beat this Govt at their anti-family game is for families to work even more closely together and God will take care of the rest :)

A wedding.

We had a wedding to go to on Saturday. It was a very special day and I am sure the happy couple will be just that-happy. The little ones loved the horses in the field next to the hotel and they thought the food was amazing.


There was a sorbet as a starter which Roni stared at in wonder saying “Wow! WOW! WOW!” before he could eat any of it. Honestly, I don’t starve the boy, but seeing what he thought of as icecream BEFORE the main course was a little taste of heaven. lol.

The wedding itself was centred around the young couple making their vows and what those vows actually mean. Despite the princess dress (Avila thought she was seeing a real princess) and the flowers and fairy-tale look both bride and groom knew that marriage was for life and that this meant through tough Grimm fairy tale times as well as the sugary Disney times.

I am not sure how to explain this, but there was a sense of the genuineness of this marriage; that it is rooted in God’s will for them. I think it was clear that they are both committed Christians with a true sense of putting God centre in their lives.

They face their life together with a lot of advantages. They both have parents who are supportive and loving. The groom even thanked his parents for the genuine love they had always shown him. He was truly grateful that they had always been there for him. They both belong to what appears to me at least to be a strong Christian community in which they will (I hope) be supported.

It was lovely to see so many children there -and to remember their parents weddings. Ahem, we seem to be of the age to remember quite a few weddings now.P1000156

I think the ‘traditional’ bits where the couple seriously make the oath to one another before God is very powerful. In marriage we give each other 100% of ourselves and are prepared to work to get each other to heaven.

The speeches were quite good I thought and fairly short-but Avila found them a bit boring. LOL! At least she was quiet which is more than can be said for her 2yr old sister who liked singing ‘head shoulders knees and toes’ in her high chair!

We got home at nearly midnight with sleeping children and a little Avila who had danced at the wedding just like in the stories. She was so happy!

It was a lovely day and I wish God’s blessings on them both.

Home Education Review: Sense of deep despondency.

You will remember that the actual CONSULTATION about home education is going on at the moment and as the closing date for this is the 19th October 2009 you would be forgiven for thinking that the vast array of draconian anti-family recommendations in Badman’s report would be on hold until such time as the results of the Consultation were in. You would be wrong. Carlotta has links HERE and HEREwhich show how monitoring home educated children-coming into our homes uninvited (normally called trespass) is being pushed through.

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