Monthly Archives: December 2010

Frugal Friday freebies

I’ve been working on some freebies to offer you.

If you want to get the New Year under way with some planning get yourself a folder and here’s a set of planning sheets for January, I’ve made a prayer and Bible study add on There’s more months on the way and some other stuff too.

If anyone wants something specific as an add on just let me know.

That Resource Team family have kindly given me a page on their site for my worksheets and other stuff. So you can find it all easily

Is it an acolyte? Is it a liturgical abuse?…No, it’s Josh with a mop and bucket!

I haven’t made it to Mass at all this Christmas but the boys have gone. Ronan has started serving and loves it.

On Sunday the lads were quite late home.  It turns out that there’s a heavy leak from one of the radiators in the sanctuary, so as Mass went on Josh was quietly standing near the rising waters with a mop and bucket. This unusual piece of liturgical equipment kept the waters parted for Father to move around the sanctuary safely and say Mass. The MC arranged for a couple of the other servers to stand in such a way that Josh was hidden and not a distraction for the congregation.

Al reckons that if Father can show him where to turn off the boiler (in the crypt) then he would be able to fix the problem, saving the church the cost of a plummer.

There are many skills the lads need to properly serve for Mass, carrying candle’s, ringing bells, swinging the thurible and mopping floors.

Christmas blessings to one and all.

Wishing everyone a blessed Christmas, especially for those who have faced such difficult times recently.

Here’s an essential Tomie de Paola moment:

God bless

Got heat, done docs and Christmas is nearly here.

Managed to get to the docs yesterday thanks to the kind help of a friend. I took the oldest lad with me as muscle in case her care got stuck in the snow, but we did ok.

I left the other lad at home to look at the central heating problem. I thought it was something to do with the outside vent for the flue being frozen.

The doc sorted out the meds and blood forms and offered me a flu jab which was a bit late . I have to go back for first blood test in the New Year.

We got home to a warm house! Alex had been outside investigating and found that although the vent as fine the pipe to the boiler was frozen. He defrosted it and lo and behold the heating kicking in.  Whey hey!

We had more snow today but it’s wetter so the roads are clearing.

It could be a proper white Christmas though.

Should have taken my camera

  Snow Flake 3 It’s snowed a foot or more here and it looks stunning. We set out this morning for my hospital appt, with a helpful shove from a neighbour and  drove through roads of brown slush and astonishing lumps of ice (it’s been hitting -10 C). The playing field was beautiful in it’s shroud of snow and mist. The trees look amazing. I just wish I’d taken my camera.

DoctorAt the hospital I saw the Consultant. She strikes me as the real-deal medic wise. I’ve seen far too many doctors over the years who haven’t a clue about basic good manners let  alone patient care – she’s a breath of fresh air.

I’m to start an ace inhibiter which she says is usually the best way with “younger patients” with hypertension. That’s me you see “YOUNGER patient” :)

As usual I forgot all sorts of questions but I did ask about my eyesight. She had a look and there’s no obviousa haemorraging yet. Good. But she isn’t sure if the vision problem is fibro or hypertension. We have to wait and see what the AI does. I hope it’s hypertension and the drugs stop it. I really want my eyesight back properly.

I’ll need blood tests and more kidney function tests and have to go back in 6 weeks. I am impressed with her effeciency. I was at the hospt about two weeks ago for the 24 hr sphig and she’s sorting me out promptly.

 We managed to get to the GP with the letter and I assumed I would send Josh to fetch the script in a day or too. Er…no. Got a call from the GPs office and I have to go in tomorrow.

  Well, I love the snow, but it’s a nightmare driving out there (and poor ol’dh has waited nearly an hr for a bus from work and then got stuck at the train station – hope he’ll be home some  before 8pm) I phoned a friend who has kindly agreed to try and take me. Josh will come as car pushing muscle….might take Alex too. You see great big giant sons are a marvellous thing.

BundledThe central heating is broken so the children and I are wrapped up snuggly with shawls and blankets. I am also grateful to whoever it was who invented the hot water bottle. What a star.

Frugal Friday – freebies and cranberry sauce recipe

Check out the page That Resource Site have kindly put up with my little freebies. Hope you find something useful there. Check out their Blog too. I especially like the look of the Christmas themed writing resources. We have done the little Advent detective sheets.(opens pdf) and they have been admired.

I made a batch of cranberry and apple sauce (a small batch) We didn’t have enough cranberries to do a pure cranberry sauce so I added apples:

3/4 lb cranberries

4 oz (abour one) apple peeled cored and chopped.

3 fl oz apple juice (== 3 tablespoons ish)

2 fl oz water

A cinnamon stick

Heat it up until the cranberries are popping and the apple is getting soft.

Add 6 desert spons of sugar I do 2 dem 2 white and 2 soft brown.

A teaspoon of sweet (mixed) spice.

Stir it in and keep it hot for a while.

Turn off the heat and put in a nice jar.

Iona has 20 Uni points now.

Iona got her Open Uni resilts today and she has passed with a good mark. So now she has 20 points at level 1.

So we can sort out her next course soon. If she wants to go on to do a degree at another University she will need 90 level 1 points or she could stay with the OU.

I think as time goes on more Universities will offer distance learning and online learning like the OU making things cheaper and more flexible all round.

The new student loan system is marginally better than the old one and certainly offers better grants and sponsorship but it doesn’t really cahnge the fact that students will have to work and study and distance courses have long been set up to allow for that. They also allow the student to pay per module, avoiding massive debt.

I have been a bit stumped by the anger over student fees. Certainly the debt will be higher but all of us with American friends know they’ve coped with this system. Also the payback system is much better raising the when to pay back earnings from £15 to £21 seems good and then having the whole lot written off after 15 years is brilliant. (If that bit stays).

I think the whole University sytem and culture needs massive overhaul and perhaps the anger stems from the rather odd way the Govt have chosen to approach the problem. But then it seems in politics they only see the money.

Home eduaction finished until next year.

As I am absolutely shattered and getting far too snarkly with the kids, so I’ve decided to finish term today. So no formal learning until the new year.

We’ve got a family joining us for the day on Friday but we’ve postponed the Christmas party until after Christmas because dear ol’K has broken her wrist and can’t drive at the moment – so we’ll wait ’til she’s de-casted (is that a word – it is now) for the party.

The children have been listening to The Cinnamon Bear on Homeschool Radio Shows; they have added more Christmas shows for your delectation.

Then they watched some great little Jesse Tree vids on Youtube produced by Holy Heroes.  It saved me reading the Bible (That sounds awful doesn’t it? But I am sure you know what I mean).

We also belted through another 4 lesson set of Kinderbach. I reckon we’ll have finished the whole lot (stage 6) by the end of Jan. The children have enjoyed this a lot and Ronan and Avila have really started to get to grips with the piano. Heleyna hasn’t got as much from it but she is learning some singing and rythmn with is good.

Heleyna who is 3 is showing a lot of interest at the moment in all sorts of learning. She gets a lot out of More.Starfall and has a set of the Oxford Fun With.[various} books. We got them from Costco so they were very cheap. She loves doing the exercises in them. Then she reads a printed up version of Starfall’s  first reader Zac the Rat followed by The ORt stage 1 book A Good Trick with two to three decodable words per page. Heleyna doesn’t know her phonic alphabet well enough to decode yet but she loves the books.

I finished reading them The Lady of Guadalupe by the very talented Tomie de Paola. Yesterday I read them another book by him The Legend of the Poinsettia.

Did slavery stop invention?

Plato said that necessity is the mother of invention and he seems to be correct.  Over the last hundred years or so new inventions, machines, medicine, compounds like nylon and who knows what else have been invented and used, at a great pace. I have wondered why.

The Greeks and Roman’s at the height of their respective cultures and Empires produced a huge amount in learning and inventions. There is even some evidence that early batteries made enough electricity to allow makers of little gods to electoplate them in gold or silver.

Rome had access to all sorts of materials, including a range of metals and yet although they came up with some excellent engineering and of course the invention of concrete – there doesn’t seem to have been the huge invention process you might expect from a thriving and wealthy empire.

The same can be said of the Greeks. At the height of their learning and culture with such people as Galen, Socrates, Plato and the ever lovable Aristotle – still they seem pretty univentive compared to modern times.

Looking at the history of medicine or machines it seems there wasn’t that much to be said of the ancients, but there was an upsurge in both medicinal understanding and machine incention in the Middle Ages. Monateries led the way it seems. It was the Cistercians who invented the water wheel I believe and thus made milling so much easier, quicker and finer.

We know from archeology of monastic gardens that the Benedictines and others had a stunning understanding of how plants could be used for medicine. The pharmacy was increased with the pilgrims and their protecting crusaders who came armed with all sorts of spices and medicines fromt the Holy Land and beyond.

We know that thanks to the monateries of Britain Leprosy was eradicated here by the end of the middle ages (I believe it returned after the truly nasty Henry VIII closed all the schools and hospitals in his grabbing of monsatries and their lands).

While it is obvious that war and famine can hold back invention and progress, there had to be something underlying the lack of inventiveness for so many eras.

There are those who argue quite reasonably that much science was put on hold because pagan systems of belief did not accept order in creation or time. It was the Jews and Christians who saw creation as ordered by One God who was a reasonable God. Obviously pagans are not going to look for the laws of physics if they don’t see how they could exist. Even so people like Euclid (300BC ish) must have considered something approaching order for his works in maths and geomatry to have been so accurate.

So what was the real block to invention?

I can’t help thinking it was slavery. it wasn’t just Greek and Roman cultures and life sytles that were propped up by slavery. It was widespread through all cultures (and sadly still is too widespread). Slavery was built on the idea that some people were not worth much. Christian ideals of all people being made in the image of God and possessing dignity and a soul was only introduced with Christ. Before that, the strong could decide on the worth of the weak and slavery was rampent.

No one is going to invent cleaners to make slave life easier. No one invents a central heating system that works better than a hypocaust if it’s fine to have children crawling in the heat under the house; because they were only slaves after all.

In the end great empires always fell and I wonder if slavery and child sacrifice played a huge role in their fall – but it seems that countries that value (or valued) freedom and got rid of slavery then became inventive.

Britain has stopped inventing and making stuff over all and I know from those who work with the problem, that slavery in some pretty nasty forms is back with human trafficking (slave markets).

There’s an old saying “sin makes you stupid.” and slavery is surely a sin. Wish we were rid of it – but it’s alive and slimy even up the road from where I live.

It is good to ask for proof sometimes.

I am afraid that I am getting cynical in my old age and I tend to want proof of all sorts of things. The more popular something or someone is, the more doubtful I tend to be about it/them.

Yesterday was the third Sunday of Advent and happened to coincide with the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

In the Gospel we heard how St John the Baptist languishing in Herod’s jail sent some of his disciples to see if Jesus really was the One. Now there may have been a couple of reasons for this; John must have known he wasn’t likely to get out of Herod’s custody alive and wanted his followers to follow Jesus; but maybe he was sitting in the dark, facing death and just wondering if he had been right about his younger kinsman.

Jesus is not offended by the question but tells the disciples of John to go and tell him what they have seen. He is happy to provide proof that He was indeed the Lamb of God, and that proof came in the form of miraculous healings.

When the unassuming little Indian Juan Diego went to the bishop of Mexico and said he’d seen The Blessed Mother and she was requested a chapel, it was hardly surprising the bishop asked for proof. I don’t think we can judge the poor bishop harshly- well I can’t as I would have had the same reaction.

I also have great sympathy with Juan Diego when he tried to avoid the Lady that cold December 12th. His uncle was so ill it looked as though he would die and Juan had medical issues to attend to so he skirted around the other side of the hill to avoid her. She, found him and part of her proof for the bishop was that at that very moment Juan Diego’s uncle was healed. I can’t help wondering if in the end that was more important to his family than the miraculous roses and stunningly beautiful image that appeared on the cactus fibre tilma.

It seems God was planning ahead a bit with His choice of material. Cactus fibre disintegrates and even the most skillfully woven tilmas never lasted more than 30 yrs at the most. Hang one above a load of burning candles and it would fade and rot even quicker. The tilma with the image is now over 500 yrs old and show no sign of rot. The image has been studied by scientists of all kinds and the image remains a mystery. Interestingly it sits on the fabric without sinking into it (as paints and pigments would have) in much the same way as the image on the Shroud.

We’re reading The Lady of Guadalupe this week.

Frugal Friday; radio shows and Christmas

 Gingerbread I have recently come across Homeschool Radio Shows which offers free online vintage shows from the golden days of American radio. The show available until Christmas is a semi-dramatisiation of The Cinnamon Bear. There’s a pdf download of a colouring book to go with the story.

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Fibromyalgia – coping strategies.

  I’ve just spent the last 24hrs strapped to one of those all day sphig things, again.  It’s nice when it’s over. Anyway, I was thinking it was time I did another “how to cope” post on fibro, especially as the freezing temps make pain worse.

Layering is the answer to being warm. I am not ashamed to admit I’ve been walking around in leggings and two maxi dresses or leggings and trousers as well as very thick socks. Yep, I admit it, I am the very epitome of fashion faux pas. But I am warm, and that’s all that matters.Frosty

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The Immaculate Conception – misconceptions and stuff.

[This painting by Flemish artist Jean Bellegambe (1480 -1535 ) shows St Anne pregnant with Mary.]

There seems to be a lot of confusion over the descriptive title “The Immaculate Conception.” The first misconception is that Jesus is the one conceived immaculately. Well, I suppose He was sort of. But as He was conceived via the Holy Spirit with two sinless natures (human and Divine) and having no sin in His person, it’s not the obvious place to put the title.

It is Mary who carries the title The Immaculate Conception. For some this suggests that she too was conceived in some miraculous fashion. As far as I can tell there is no early tradition of this. Her parents SS Anne and Joachim had a normal marriage and loved each other.

I tend to be suspicious of those who try to say Mary was conceived miraculously, as there has been more than one heresy especially among the gnostic groups, that made marriage and sexual relations within marriage sinful.

So, as far as we know Anne and Joachim conceived Mary in the usual way. It is therefore, not the manner of her conception that makes her immaculate – it is what God did for her at the time.

[As a side note; Mary's marriage to Joseph was not of the usual kind as she had made a Temple vow to virginity. I don't want to explain all that now, but her perpetual virginity is based partly in that vow].

Thanks to the Fall, Mankind has lost the fullness of Grace and what we don’t have, we can’t give. Therefore our children are conceived with the missing Grace - the stain of Original Sin. As the Psalmist says, “Behold I was conceived in sin, in sin my mother conceived me.”

Thankfully we now have Baptism to undo most of that damage, leaving only the scar of concupiscence.

Mary receiced the fullness of Grace as a gift from God at her conception. She was therefore immaculately conceived. She still had free will though, so the fact she remained without sin is her choice aided by all that Grace.

But why did God do this? Did Jesus need His mother to be pure?

The best answer I have heard on this was from Jimmy Akin (unsurprisingly) who said while it might not have been necessary, it is fitting.  He and others also piont out that God has a special love for the woman He chose to be His mother and therefore specially gifted her with Grace.  I like that.

The other part of the answer to “why?” lies in her role as the new Ark of the Covenant. You may remember that the old Ark was built with a gold interior and in it was placed the Law (Word of God) the Manna(bread from heaven) and the rod of Moses (prophet and priest). Then when Israel’s sin meant the Assyrians got the upper hand Jeremiah hid the ark and it was apparently never seen again; unless it is true that the Ethiopian Copts have it.

Mary is described as the Ark by John (Rev 12 if I remember rightly) where he turns to see the Ark and describes a woman shining like the sun and giving birth to a Son that the dragon wants to destroy but can’t.  She is the pure golden Ark in which the Bread of Life-Word of God-prophet/priest/king became incarnate.

So it is fitting that God saved her and made her full of Grace.

The next question I have heard asked is how can she have been saved before the Incarnation and saving acts of Christ?

The answer is God isn’t bound by time. He can pour out His Grace where ever He wills and so He did, and Mary knew this when she samg the Magnificat; “My soul rejoices in God my saviour…”

When did the Church start believing Mary was without sin?

Luke starts us off telling us that Gabriel declared her “full of Grace,” which apparently is the closest translation from the Greek.  The early Church Fathers recognised her as Immaculate, understanding that as Jesus is the Second Adam so Mary is the second Eve.

Some of the understanding of the nature of Original Sin got confused by the height of the Middle Ages and even St Thomas Aquinas wrote against the Immaculate Conception. It seems that at the time Original Sin was seen as an addition, rather than a losing of the fullnbess of Grace. There was also a sense – not a full heresy apparently, but something off – about sexual relations in marriage being sinful but forgiven.

It was the lowlands Scot Johns Duns Scotus who turned the tide back to the Fathers and pointing out that it was appropriate and therefore God did it.

The Church began to speak more plainly of Mary being without sin both original and personal and at the Council of Trent the idea of Mary having Original Sin was condemned.

So it continued unti 1854 when Pius IX finally declared the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. In 1858 Our Lady appeared to the 14 year old peasant girl Bernadette in Lourdes and confirmed that she was indeed The Immaculate Conception.

I know there are people who have difficulty with this doctrine; but to me it all seems reasonable. While I have heard people ask questions about it, I haven’t heard any refutation- other than some people trying to rehash Thomas Aquinas. Listening to those who do this leaves me questioning whether they had actually read a word he wrote. I have more problems with the fact that baptism doesn’t remove concupisence. But that’s another story.

Our children and technology.

The questions and arising problems of children with certain technology keeps coming up. This article and this one also linked from Zoe Romanowsky come at the question from two angles. First of all there is the question of the gross and cruel misuse of computers and phones and then there’s the over use, more often than not linked to misuse of computers, TV, game console and mobile phones. The question of why all these children have phones has never been properly answered. Some children might need one because of long, often difficult journeys to and from school – but why do so many children have them?

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Alex wins a place in the Advent Calender

Alex entered the Adobe Creative Juices competition to win a place on the Advent Calender and made it for today St Nick’s day Click on the Calender and then click on box 6 to see his entry.

Second week of Advent

Off to Mass this morning in bright sunshine and sparkling ice. The readings began with the famous Isaiah 11:1 promising a shoot from the stump of Jesse. David bar Jesse’s royal family appeared to have been cut down as Israel and then Judah had been taken into exile. But Isaiah promised the little remnant that remained in Jerusalem that a saviour would come. It did then in the form of King Hezekiah but as with most Biblical prophecy there is always more than one fulfilment. The complete fulfilment would come with the Messiah.

By the time John is baptising in the Jordan many had given up hope of a Messiah ever coming. Israel remained scattered and only Judah and Benjamin with some Levite priests made up the lands of Judea. (Luke tells us the prophetess Anna was of the tribe of Ashur thus foreshadowing the return of all Israel).

John is related to Jesus so has some Judah in his blood but he is the son of the man who had once been High Priest Zachariah and was therefore a Levite. Those of you who say Divine Office will say the beautiful prophetic prayer of Zachariah at John’s circumcisn and naming. If you are suddenly going to regain your voice after nine months of silence that is the way to do it I think. John is the voice in the wilderness that Isaiah had spoken of. He calls on the people to repent and be baptised. To repent means to stop and turn around. The baptism that John gave was akin the symbolic water of purification the Jews used for ritual cleansing after being with the dead or with blood or childbirth. John’s baptism was to show sorrow, but it was not the baptism Jesus asked of His Church for it did not confer Grace. Later we know the apostles baptised with water and the spirit those who had only received the baptism of repentance from John. (Acts 19).

Advent needs some quiet thought. It is supposed to be a time of purple- of repentence and preparation. There are no flowers in the church at this time as we are still in the desert – waiting for the words “Ero Cras,” (Tomorrow I come).

In the lady chapel a vase held the purple tulips I had taken there with Iona to remember my dear friend who died last year just before Advent began.

The coming week will be a busy one. There are interesting feast days and events for the children: Tomorrow is the feast of St Nicholas, once bishop of Myrna who having survived ten years in prison thanks to Galerian and Diocletion went on to attend the great Council  of Nicea and from there became the ever famous Father Christmas. There is tons of good stuff here.

Tuesday is the feast of St Ambrose a man of song :) It is also Avila’s 6th birthday (a girl of song and dance).

Wednesday is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception – something that causes very interesting questions. (Well, I think so). I think I might do a post on that. It’s also the day I am back at the hospital (groan – but then Advent is supposed to have some penance).

Thursday is the feast of St Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. A quiet saint who did quiet things in extraordinary circumstances.  The feast of his Lady, Our Lady of Guadelupe would be on Sunday which is Gaudete Sunday from the Indroit “Gaudete in Domino semper!” (Rejoice in the Lord always). I think she will be outshone by her Son that day as she would only say was right.

Blessed Advent to you all.

Frugal Friday- free books and making those workbooks last longer.

It is often said that home educating is for the wealthy middle class. The arguement being that educating at home costs a lot. Well, nothing worthwhile is free but there are ways of cutting down on the costs. (You can save quite a bit by not sending the children to school; all that money on travel fares and uniform are just the tip of the  school costs iceburg, which can be better spent on actual education and going places worth going to).

  Sleeping Kitty On MonitorI do think that having a good computer at home is important. I know there’s a lot to be said about the use of computers with children but I’ll discuss that in another post. I can’t offer any ideas on cutting the costs of bloomin’ computers. Keeping them alive is a bit hit and miss here and that’s with Alex knowing quite a bit about them.  But having one does cut down on costs and helps you find lots of freebies and shop around for good deals on curriculum resources and books.

BooksWorkbooks can be expensive. However there are a couple of ways of cutting the cost. Some workbooks such as those from the Critical Thinking Co allow in house photocopying so in theory you would buy one book between all the children. Other books such as Math U See don’t allow that. However I have it from the supplier of the Math U See stuff here in the UK that it is legal to use a separate   notebook to write in and that preferves the workbooks for other children. I assume this can apply to other no-photocopy allowance workbooks too.  It is also good to see the freebie of online worksheet and drill from MUS. I have to say I think the Seton books are a good price so it’s not such an issue.

Now the question of photocopying is something I’ve been wondering about. The printer we have seems to use ink quickly even on “fast” and this is very expensive indeed. It is costing so much I am questioning whether photocopying a 300+ page workbook that cost less than $4o is worth it.Printer

After Christmas I am hoping to replace the printer with one that has inks stocked at Costco so we can feed the ink monster with cheaper cartridges. Whether this will truly cut the cost of photocopying I don’t know; if not I think we will consider copybooks (like Pukka pads) for other stuff.

With online books I only print up the pages we really need. So while Kinderbach is good value for money I don’t print every exercise in the books. I skip the ones we can get away with.

Another good freebie and frugal is the Science of Mr Q. My children love this course. Life Science is completely free and he offers free units for Earth Sc, Chem and Physical Sc. The rest of the units are paid for as pdf downloads saving a small fortune in shipping.

I did start making a whole load of Jesse Tree pics for the children, but I’m not that able these days so instead of reinventing the wheel we are using the lovely free downloads from Paper Dali who offers some other wonderful stuff as well as her Jesse Tree ornaments.

Finally I have been wondering about false economy. We had a tumble dryer that I managed to get with ‘points’ over ten years ago. It cost a lot to run over the last few years because it was wearing out and didn’t work so well. I don’t have a drying area in the house and we keep the heating off as much as possible. With the washing for 8 we needed something that worked. When the dryer finally died a couple of weeks ago we got an ex-display dryer so there was some money off. But I have noticed that because it works really well and has a sensor that knows when the clothes are dry and switches the thing off – well it’s not on nearly as much as the old one. That’s got to be a saving on the leccy.

Mothers who kill their own children.

I suppose on the surface this hasn’t much to do with home education but it has a great deal to do with family life.

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