Monthly Archives: July 2010

Quiet time

Having a quiet time with the blog for a few days while we catch up with family and friends.
Seeing my “mum” Sr Kath and others.
back soon :)

Dot died this morning

My friend Dot died very early this morning.

May she be welcomed Home.

Thank you for your prayers. Please pray for her safe journey Home and for her family as they grieve.

Paper Dali offers ebook on bedrest

Paper Dali has an ebook for $5 on bedrest and how to survive it. Go check it out.

Home education is bad I tell you! Here we go again.

The report is out on the murder of Khyra Ishaq, which Kelly over at Green and Gold picks up on. I still haven’t read the report but apparently the dear decrepit NSPCC (fake charity extroadinaire) are still trying to pin this on home education.  Both Kelly and Carlotta picked up the Guardian article by Alan Thomas and Harriet Pattison in which they try to correct some of the gross misinformation out there. I am a little surprised a paper like the Graun allowed this to be published but you can soon see by the comment thread that the usual Graunids (or whatever you might call them) are crawling around spewing their ignorance and bigotry. I actually laughed when I saw the “What about science?” question.

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Fibromyalgia and other autoimmune diseases; where do they come from?

While many doctors and researchers say that fibro has been around since Job talked of his aching sinews and that diabetes went undiagnosed even as St Anthony of Padua died of it (probably type 2) and that ancient medics like Galen talked of sweet tasting urine (not a modern way of diagnosing thank heaven!) it seems that in modern times these illnesses have reached huge proportions.  Why is this?

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those looooong car journeys.

“I need a WEEEEEEE!”

“I feel sick..bleurgh!”

“Are we nearly there yet?”

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Please pray for Dot

Please may I ask your prayers for our lovely friend Dot who is now dying in hospital. She is 85 and her last brother died last month. She had a fall about three weeks ago but didn’t really recover from surgery.

It looks as though she will be heading off Home any time now.

This remarkable lady has taken care of her family, her daughter, grandchildren and great grandchildren until only a few weeks ago.

During the Second World War she worked to make screws for Spitfires and told us many stories about avoiding bombs and hiding out on the canal tow-path if she was too far from a shelter when the sirens went off. Her garden Anderson shelter was filled in some years ago.

We lived next door to her for many years and she was a great support. We returned the favour as she nursed her husband Eric in his last days.

We saw her last night and Josh is there now. We hope the others can visit in the next day or so and say goodbye. Hopefully we can see her one more time before she goes.

May the Lord welcome her Home.

Charlotte Mason (ish) curriculum grade 2 (yr 3 UK)

Apart from all the WORK THEY DO TOGETHER here is what I have planned for Ronan for the Autumn term and beyond (whoops am I having a Toy Story moment there?)

Reading: A lot of his reading is independent now, so he can read whatever he likes. For reading to me he is working through Tomie de Paola’s 26 Fairmount Ave books. He also has a couple of Stage 14 Oxford Reading Tree books he would like to go back to.

I intend to print off some of the Treasure Chest comics for him as we go through various subjects.

poetry: Walter de la Mare and Christina Rossetti among others.

yummy spelling and some online spelling stuff.

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Home ed curriculum Kindergarten/Year 1 (UK)

apart from the joint work you can READ HERE

Reading: We are still using The Oxford Reading Tree books given to us by another HE mum. Avila is working through stage 6 at the moment. As she needs a more Phonic based approach she uses Starfall and for a bit extra I get pages from the McGuffey Readers and some Language Arts

She is able to read well enough now to be confident with story books which she reads to her little sister.

She and Ronan are working through Yummy Spelling. To prevent her reversing her letters and writing from the wrong end of the page she has a wooden moveable alphabet, so she spells the word with these first and then copies it down on her page.

poetry: R L Stevenson and A A Milne mainly.

Writing: She is working through the Starfall downloads and any other writing sheets I make for her usually as part of her Latin lessons.

Maths: She is working through Math U See Alpha at the moment and will start Mathematical Reasoning Level A in Sept. (NB I am wondering what to do with the Maths programme for the future. All our group is using Math U See so we share the DVDs but I find the process of getting hold of the stuff really really difficult and long winded. Also, as photocopying the workbooks is not allowed under their copyright it can be a bit expensive. However the course itself is very good indeed and the children work well with the DVD lessons.  The Critical Thinking books are excellent. They seem expensive but you get a good chunky book for the money and the copyright allows for photocopying within the family which helps a lot.)

RE We will begin the Faith and Life Series again along with continuing Catechism and other Bible Stories; most often I follow the Liturgical year and we study that Sunday’s Gospel. Saints stories with minibooks.

Critical thinking Visual Perceptual Skills Book 1 and Hands On Thinking Skills.(this is something all 3 of the younger ones love doing. I’ve got it lent out to another family atm)

Read Alouds and Listening: apart from the joint stuff she likes to have the Ballet stories of Swan Lake, Coppalia, Nutcracker etc from her big Usborne Ballet book. There’s a few more but I’ll link them as we go along.

St Bridget of Sweden- I just love her!

It’s the feast day of my beloved Saint Bridget of Sweden.

You can download some worksheets about her over at That Resource Site Blog.

She has been part of my life since I did my Masters at Maryvale where the Bridgittine Sisters were so wonderful.  I remember Mother coming to tell us a little about St Bridget and one of the stories she told (that I haven’t found online but Mother had a humongous book on St Bridget) is that while in Rome Bridget came to a place where people were about to hang a woman for witchcraft. Bridget intervened and saved the woman’s life.

Jesus said that He would not leave His Church orphans and He has always kept that promise.

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Charlotte Mason (ish) curriculum for K (yr 1) and grade 2 (yr 3)

I am planning the Autumn term with a view to having the lessons and resources set and ready to roll in the next couple of weeks so it doesn’t keep nagging at me over the summer.

Some curriculum sites from last academic year and review of Autumn term stuff.

For many of the lessons Ronan (beginning grade 2 (UK yr 3)) and Avila (beginning Kindergarten (UK yr 1)) work together.


Linney Latin and the online revision/tests from Ex Sedda

British Sign Language;  Stories in BSL and BSL Haiku

Greek lessons

We should try and do a bit more Spanish if there is somewhere to squeeze it in.


Map Skills B and Rivers and Oceans as well as beginning to use the big Reader’s Digest Atlas we have and an old book of the Holy Land.

I am also going to return to reading Pagoo which didn’t really take off last year.

They can watch the film Paddle to the Sea on You Tube and if click on the bookcase it is on my resource blog. If all that goes well I will buy Sea-bird for them at some point.

Religious Ed

We are using the Faith and Life Series.  Ronan will start Our Life With Jesus which is above grade for him but he had his First Holy Communion a few weeks ago, so he is where he should be. Avila will return to the first book, which although she has already done a lot of it when Ronan did it, I think I can get away with repeating it with her if I change some of the worksheets.

We are also using some of the St Joseph Picture Books; The Catechism and some of the saint stories.

Read Aloud: St Benedict of the Hills and Augustine Came to Kent (with huge thanks to Clare for her kindness and generosity in sending this and Beowulf to us.)

And we can do some saint stories and notebooks


With the group we are using Story of the World Vol 2 (I have to say I was disappointed by the end of Vol1 and the beginning of Vol 2 isn’t much better. I am glad we have Augustine Came to Kent and I will have to put some ‘filler sheets’ in where St’s  Bede and Gildas  are left out. I had to do a bit of correction over Constantine and add in the Council of Nicaea which is surely a very important part of the history of the world.)

Read Alouds: Apart from Augustine Came to Kent we are reading Beowulf (again with thanks to Clare for her kindness)

I have some other hopes and plans for History, but we’ll see how that goes.


Ronan has been learning recorder and I think it’s time I started to teach Avila as well.

They will continue with Kinderbach (even though it’s a bit easy for Ronan; I think it’s just as useful that he helps his sisters in this as learning the piano and music).

Also Classics for Kids and Sphinx kids. I think we might do just a little notebooking on this- looking at a composer each month with Classics for Kids.

Art and Art appreciation.

We’re still using Artistic Pursuits but I note that the price is a bit high these days. I’m glad we already have the books. I think we will have to look elsewhere when we are through the ones we have. I like the Seton stuff but as the group is mixed I need to find a more neutral course- or like the family over at That Resource Site- I need to make my own…umm….I just might.

I think that’s about it for what they all do together. I’ll post the K and Gr 2 separate stuff as two separate posts.

Mary Magdalene and the alabaster jar

It’s the feast of St Mary Magdalene today. She is quite an interesting character but the traditions that surround her are both confusing and contradictory.  

It is no longer considered polite to refer to her as the repentant prostitute and to be fair to her,  there really is no historical record that she was. In fact some of the earlier traditions have her as a virgin.  Then there are the traditions that link her to Mary of Bethany the sister of Martha and Lazarus.  Who knows?

As for me, I tend to think of her as Mary of the Alabaster Jar. There’s something profound in the story of that jar.

Alabaster is a soft stone that can be carved and polished so that it is translucent. Making the jar would have been fairly labour intensive, taking time to hollow out and make the properly fitting lid. Then the beautifully crafted object would have been filled with the expensive ointment with it’s rich perfume.

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Resource link

Thanks to the mum of That Reasource Site I have THIS RESOURCE link which looks good.

Politeness without biscuits

Dearest Gwen considers the etiquette of her home life and friends.

The weird world of chiropractics

I have Fibromyalgia which for those of you who have not heard of it, is a chronic pain and fatigue syndrome that leaves me with quite a few difficulties.

Every six weeks Avila (who has some kind of autoimmune bowel disorder that acts just like coeliacs)  and I have an appointment at the chiropractor to be pulled and crunched about.

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Freebie: Human development through pregnancy.

I just discovered this great site via THIS SITE which I found while looking for something completely different at New Advent.

I also found a good C section vid.

Free resources from That Resource Blog

Early hominids read aloud and worksheet(ish) set.

I am going to spend some of the Summer hols putting together some more sets on this subject.

British bird set most of the pictures come from an out of copyright book online and some from a really old bird book I have here. For those of you following the Burgess Book of Birds for American birds the team has produced this amazing set of cards and workbooks.

There’s also my Montessori type cards for very little ones.

I think the amount of work That Resource Team has put into their blog and website is truly astonishing (and rather humbling).

Nature, nurture, personality and free will.

Back in my psychi days when I were a young lass, we constantly had a debate around the nature versus nurture aspects of mental illness. How much of a person’s experience of say schizophrenia was really nature; that is the chemical imbalances in the brain, and how much was nurture; that is how they had been taught to behave and react in their upbringing.

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On putting together a Yr 11/grade 12 curriulum

Iona will be entering what would be sixth form (if she were in school) in September; that is Year 12 or Grade 11.

We have been talking about her learning plans for that year and this is the first lot of ideas:

She has some employment working as a companion for a young teen which may finish around the beginning of term but her work babysitting and helping a young lad with a bit of home education on odd days will continue. This will increase her knowledge not only of children’s learning in general but how to work with someone as they learn.

She will continue with her budgeting especially as she has a somewhat more regular income now.

Writing: she has her plans for future work with her brother and some independent writing plans as well as continuing her blog.

Sept: hopes to start Understanding Human Nutrition level 1: 10 points with the Open University.

Traditional Logic part I

May 2011 : Understanding Cancers level1 15points Open Uni.

(If she completes these courses she will have 35 points at level 1 by the end of yr 12)


Notes from the Underground Dostoevsky

The Great Divorce, Scewtape Letters and Til We Have Faces CS Lewis with lecture on Till we Have Faces by Peter Kreeft.

Man’s Search For Meaning Viktor Frankl I really think this book should be on more upper high school home ed lists. Frankl understood human nature in such a remarkable way and not just because he survived the concentration camps of Hitler.

The Last Freedom (about Frankl) Michael Ryan

A book by Spike Millagan that neither of us can remember the title of but which is in her brother’s bookcase.

He Leadeth Me fr Walter Ciszek and I would like her to read The Shadow of His Wings by Fr Goldman but I must have lent my copy out some time ago as it’s nowhere to be found.

Then possibly The Trail by Kafka

and The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald.

I am sure there will be more but this is the first plan we’ve come up with.

The question of a suitable education.

The question of what constitutes a “suitable education” rumbles on. Perhaps it should as it is a question that needs some discernment, especially when we see so many children failed by schools these days both academically and personally. It’s not just that children are leaving school with poor academic ability (regardless of exam results quite often) but that they are not able to think logically or take initiative without being pushed or led.

If I was to answer the question on what constitutes suitable education I would have to say what it is that I believe makes home education so much more suitable for my children than a school one.

I am home educating my children to ensure they can live and learn in an environment where they are safe and loved and truly respected. They are first and foremost part of a family. From there they can learn to be part of a community and a wider society. No child of mine has suffered assault, verbal or physical abuse since being home educated. I cannot say the same of those who were in school.

My three younger children (7,5, 3) have not been exposed to foul language, aggressive language or retelling of “adult” television programmes – unlike those who went to school. (by “adult” I mean those crass soaps that have such horrible story lines and yet parents allow their 4-6 yr olds to watch for some unearthly reason).

There is silence when they need to have it for learning. Impossible at any school I have ever set foot in.

Their health needs have been met. (Schools have a pretty shocking record on this one).

Being part of a home education group that is mixed age means they have role models to look up to, other adults to learn with and younger children to care for and role model for. This enhances their social skills and maturity as well as morals in their treatment and respect of others. Having more responsibility also naturally enhances self esteem as well as verbal skills.

For example my 5yr old sat with my 3yr old today to do a game about counting ducks.

So far this suitable education hasn’t mentioned a single academic subject. “What about science?” someone will bellow.

Well yes, we learn that, but more importantly they are learning what commitment in marriage and friendship is about. They see motherhood and fatherhood as positive things not something to be dreaded or treated as second rate to a “career”.  I do not want my children to imbue the horrible cultural view that “Career” and “money” are the pinnacle of success. I want them to learn to be good people who might just have a successful career.

Finally they are learning to learn so that we can do the academic things such as maths, Language Arts, languages, critical thinking, science, ….and so on.

As they get older (the younger ones) I think I am leaning more towards providing the Trivvium and Quadrivium that was the bastion of medieval education. That is was was once known as the Seven Liberal Arts:

Grammar, rhetoric and logic

Arithmetic, geometry, music(and art) and Astronomy(Cosmology)

This system developed by St Albert the Great was rooted in a view of the value of the human person and developed out of the rich soil of learning and life laid down by St Benedict of Nursia. He had set up ‘schools’ in his monasteries where boys (the girls went to his sister St Scholastica) from all social backgrounds mixed together and learned together. But they didn’t just learn reading, writing and arithmetic. They learned farming, animal care and how to look after themselves and others. Benedict’s “suitable education” was about learning respect for each person and finding value in all work.

I think if what the children learn gives them a grounding in all these areas they will know how to learn, how to discern learning and what they need to learn, and having never attended school they will hopefully not learn to hate learning.

Care and respect of the elderly

This might not seem a very home eddy kind of subject for a home education blog. But life is home education and treating others with kindness and respect, especially when they are frail, is a good lesson to learn.

I have a friend who is 85. She recently had a fall, and is often the way for people of that age, she broke her neck of femur and is now in hospital. She has had surgery and has already been transferred to rehab where we went to see her at the weekend.

I have to say my experience of working with and visiting frail older people has been bleak. I was very concerned at what we would find.

She is in the brand new, just opened, and rather shiny Queen Elizabeth hospital. It’s a place of huge corridors. She has a room to herself and it’s typical hospital NHS fare. But she was comfortable, had plenty to drink and was clean. I was so grateful to find her like that.

I saw no more than three staff on duty so the fact they were managing to keep on top of care for some fairly highly dependant people is very good. She said they were taking good care of her and she seemed ok although of course she very much wants to go home. She knows her daughter and grandchildren are busy getting the house set up for her return and that is helping her-although she is much much more forgetful than she was only a couple of weeks ago. I wonder if it is the anaesthetic.

I hope the front line staff will support her family in getting what she needs to be able to live at home, if at all possible. I know her daughter is finding it difficult to get staff to talk to her, because they are so rushed off their feet.

When this new Government take the axe, as I know they must, to the NHS and other services, I hope they will target the extraneous managerial staff and not nurses and those who actually do the patient care. I think they could save money and increase staffing in one blow by insisting that no nurse manager spends more than half his working hours with a clip board. The rest must be on the wards or in the community having proper clinical duties.

After my friend’s suicide last year I became more convinced that my cynicism about those who are supposed to be carers was justified, but I am glad to say it was dented just a little by the gentle and respectful way I saw the nurses talk to Dot.

I wonder if staff would be better with patients if they knew their story. When I trained we were all made to study the poem The Crabbit Old Woman, but families might need to read this reply to the crabbit old woman (hideous muzac alert!). In the end if nurses are not treated with respect, they will be ground down and find it harder to treat those crabbit old people with respect.

But for now, Dot is cared for and for that I am grateful.

Please say a prayer for Dot. She looks very frail indeed right now.

Honestly, young people!

If you want to know what the Young People around here get up to when our backs are turned READ THIS SHOCKING EXPOSE coupled with the HORROR OF TEENAGE GIRLS SHOPPING.

The Statue of Responsibility because the bar for ordinary behaviour has dropped too low

Anyone who has read Viktor Frankl’s books will have heard of his idea that the USA needed a Statue of Responsibility to be built on the west coast to put some balance on the Statue of Liberty. (click on picture for link)

He was a brilliant man who even before he went to the concentration camps for the ‘crime’ of being a ‘subhuman Jew’ understood that the meaning of life was rooted in love and hope.

He didn’t mean pink and sparkly love or silly hope he meant the love that involves sacrifice and suffering and the hope that is rooted in reality (an ontological absolute reality- not fluff, smoke and mirrors).

I’ve had a few conversations with people recently that have illustrated real love and trying to offer real hope but when I told my dh about one of these he said the grandmother in question was “extraordinary”. I have to say I disagreed.

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If you have curricula books you don’t need… request

As I mentioned before I can’t afford to buy in any new curricula books for some time. BWYA suggested I should ask for what we need here and see if anyone can offer stuff:

I did think the best way to do this would be to offer books we aren’t using, but unfortunately I’ve just given away a huge box load so I’m sorry to say I have a couple of Usborne books Fairy Things to Stitch and Sew and Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Not much of a trade I’m afraid.

If anyone has Critical Thinking books for Math Reasoning and anything Grade 3 (Ronan works well above Grade) I’d be grateful. And I would love to get hold of some Seton Homeschool books any grade for English and History.

We would have to look at P&P to make sure it was affordable – because it can be a huge amount. There’s no immediate rush for books as we are finishing term in a couple of weeks and I can’t even afford parcel p&p at the moment.

Thanks for considering.

Ask away for what I might have that I haven’t thought to give away. Who knows what I might find…

Home Education: day in the life

Clutching my coffee I managed to get downstairs without waking Heleyna this morning. Roni and Av had breakfast while I said Morning Prayer and started on the kitchen. Then a rather bleary 3 year old appeared wanting her breakfast.

Cleared up and started lesson prep for the day.

Family morning prayer (rosary) followed by final lesson prep and then we got started,

They both started with penmanship and grammar.

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