Monthly Archives: January 2008

You know you’re a homeschool mum when…

You are teaching Maths to the 4yr old who has borrowed his baby sister’s blocks for the occasion and you are feeding that baby sister as you teach. Meanwhile the 3yr old has been bribed to silence with a bag of grapes and you are gently interrupted by the 14yr old as she writes up the history of fingerprinting for her wall display on forensic science. You finish the Math’s lesson and as you are starting Bible story with the smalls, you find yourself in conversation with that dear 14yr old about how no, photo’s of dead bodies and the maggots that eat them (entomology) should probably not be part of a display in the dining room! You then, having got to the bit where Joshua and Caleb have news of the Promised Land, give up the story because the baby is howling her head off!

We did get some more Millie done. Ronan has mixed blue and red, red and yellow, yellow and blue and we have expanded her body accordingly. Then he and Avila painted the pig moneyboxes JulieD got them for Christmas.

Being a mum means “worry”.

Stuart of Tears of a Clown has blogged about the shootings in Nottingham. Of course many pundits and ‘experts’ in the media insist that crime isn’t so bad, but the perception of crime being bad effects people.

The fact is our perceptions are not always formed by the media; I hardly watch the news or have the radio on so I am out of the loop a lot of the time about that makes the news. But I am in the local loop and here the local events via other mums, the kids and shop keepers. I know therefore that the local parks are not safe because you can be set upon by gangs who’ll beat you up and steal your bike-because my son’s friends have been through that. I am aware of my neighbour being mugged in a road nearby, and of the children who break stuff and hit and scream at each other as they walk down my own road after school.

My milkman came to be paid this morning. He’s been off work for a month thanks to a gang of lads who beat him up, broke his arm by stamping on it and left him in hospital needing surgery.

So when Josh is out on the streets all day mapping hydrants for the fire service-I do get a bit nervous.

At least the driving rain and hail has stopped now, so he and Chris will be walking in relative dryness. Rainy 

Finding new songs to sign

Iona is the quick thinker around here. I was struggling this morning to come up with anything new for this afternoon’s Sign Language session. She suggested we try the Tweenies site on Cbeebies. They had the songs, music and words; easy. We chose ‘Two Fat Gentlemen’.

No homeschool group this morning; got the kitchen cleaned, threw food into the slow cooker. The morning shot by remarkably quickly, mainly because there’s so much to do with the biggies at the moment. The smalls played together happily and even played well with Heleyna for a while. It is nice to see her learning to join in.

Norman is at the menders. Norman is our vacuum cleaner and living with six kids means I vacuum most days. I haven’t vacuumed since Friday, so you can imagine the mess and I was getting a bit fretty about having a house full of other people’s children on my horrible floor. Iona-a thousand blessings upon her- took it upon herself to get the dustpan and brush and did a really good job of cleaning up.

Sign went well and the children enjoyed the new song. They requested the story of ‘Charlie’ about a deaf man I used to know. He was a lovely man. So the session is signing songs and then I sign a story and we finish with another signed song-then the children go off to play.

St Aidan, ice cream and Linda’s Farm

warren-mill-07-038.jpgIt’s the feast of St Aidan today. We have visited the lovely little island of Lindisfarne quite often as a family and it has some special relevance to us for private reasons. Years ago when we first visited the island Alex was very taken with the statue and announced that it was obvious that St Aidan was the patron saint of ice cream sellers. Now, you have to admit that flame in his hand does have a decidedly Mr Whippy look about it.

When we went last Summer Ronan, seeing all the sheep in the fields assumed we were visiting Linda’s Farm and was hopeful we could get to meet Linda. Somehow we just managed to miss her.

Aidan was a monk on Iona and was sent to Bamburgh at the invitation of the holy Christian king Oswald who is also a saint. Aidan didn’t speak a word of what was English back then but he travelled with the king and it was the king who acted as interpreter.The people, who had resisted a rather cross missionary from Iona previously, converted in droves under the gentle hand of Aidan and the good example of their king.

For those of you interested in the history around the saints like Aidan, Cuthbert, Oswald and the Council of Whitby, be warned; Celtic Christianity has been hijacked in many areas by anti-Catholic protestants and New Age (or should I say aging) hippies.

It seems that the monks and nuns who established the monasteries of Iona, Lindisfarne and other of the northern sites came probably from the days of St Patrick, but inherited the liturgical calender of St John and St Polycarp, rather than the Latin Calender dates the Pope used. This did not make them any less Catholic than the Eastern Rite Churches today-so be careful what you read.

Excellent Blog Award

excellent2baward_5.jpg Therese of the Aussie Coffee has kindly awarded me the Excellent blog award.

The rules:

By accepting this Excellent Blog Award, you have to award it to 10 more people whose blogs you find Excellent Award worthy. You can give it to as many people as you want-even those that have received it already, but please award at least 10 people.

I would like to award

1. Swiss Miss whose last post on her 4yr old’s ‘talking’ is worth the award all by itself!

2. Paul who is on the Side of the Angels and should be writing for the Catholic Herald I believe-at the very least  and I recommend clicking on his linked blog to read the novel he is writing.

3. Leigh at Mommy Memoir

4. Kit, By the Brook

5. Antonia who has her quiet little world. I’m not sure I can link to it. But believe me this IS an excellent blog.

6. AutumnRose who manages to make her blog look so good.

7. Annie Under Her Starry Mantle and her beautiful baby.

8. Ebeth who when she is not climbing the pillars has her Hearts at Home

9. Karen The Gem of the Ocean

1o  Mac the Mulier Fortis who has been mentioned before on this blog.

Big Tam, Angelic doctor-Dumb Ox

aquinas1.jpgIt’s the feast day of St Thomas Aquinas today; affectionately known as ‘Big Tam’ he was a man of genius intelligence and great holiness. I was told by a Dominican priest that the saint spent hours before the Tabernacle and would beg God to help him in his writing as he strove to find answers to questions raised about the Faith. It was Aquinas who lead the way in the philosophical understanding of faith and reason.

He loved Our Lord in the Eucharist very much and it was St Thomas who gave us the word ‘transubstantiation’ to explain the Presence that had been taught from the time of the apostles, through the Church Fathers and so on. When the new feast of Corpus Christie was added to the Calender in1264 it was St Thomas who wrote the liturgy for it.

He wrote a great deal-the most famous being the Summa Theologica which I was told was actually written for High School aged children; 14-17yrs old!  I love the Summa, but it could hardly be considered easy reading. It is very clearly set out though.

He was seen speaking with Christ in the crucifix in Church once, where Christ praised him for his writing and asked what he would like in return. “Only You Lord” Thomas replied.

There is a good children’s resource on St Thomas HERE at Domestic Church. As it says there just before he died St Thomas received a vision of heaven. Seeing the fullness of Truth there he said “All I have written is as straw” for no one can fully capture the reality of heaven and the wholeness of God.  Sadly I have seen these words misused by those who wish to attack the Catholic Faith. There is an irony there-the closer this simple Dominican got to God-and he got very close-the more he realised he didn’t know or understand; and yet his critics believe they know so much more than him and can twist his words to mean something they never did.

As a quiet youngster many people had assumed that Thomas was stupid and he had been taunted with the name ‘Dumb Ox’ but his professor in Paris  Albert the Great said of him “This dumb ox will fill the earth with his bellowing.”

At some point I would like to read THE DUMB OX by G.K.Chesterton  and of course I recommend you read it too, but if you happen to be a homeschooling mum with more than enough stuff you are supposed to be reading already, HERE’s a much shorter essay by the wonder Mr. Chesterton. I love the fact that Our Lady appeared to the good saint and reassured him that he would never become a bishop. LOL!

St Thomas Aquinas is our homeschool patron and therefore one of the family saints in our Litany.

Further reading: for those with older children I recommend Peter Kreeft’s Summa of the Summa

In Divine Office today the terce reading for his feast was:

“Brethren, be joyful. Try to grow perfect; help one another. Be united; live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Cor 13:11)

Burn’s Night Supper

robtburns.jpgDespite yesterday being a ‘non-day’ we managed to do a bit about Robert Burns and had a good luck at the poem Ode To A Haggis. Iona and I put a small display up on the wall which included Scott tartans.

We checked out the proper way to do a Burn’s Supper-and promptly ignored nearly all of it.Sr Kath arrived and we welcomed our guest without whiskey. She can proudly claim that the bard is buried in her home town of Dumfries.Thanks to the way the last couple of days had one, we had completely forgotten to  make the trifle! However Iona got Alex to give her his special flapjack recipe and she set about making that instead.

FLAPJACKs8oz soft brown sugar8oz butter

2tbsp of golden syrup or clear honey

12oz Scottish jumbo oats

4 or 5 pieces of stem ginger in syrup-chopped.

Grease an 8″ X 12″ tin or something of a similar size. Chop the ginger and DON’T eat any-it’s a discipline thing.

Put the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan and heat gently until the mixture melts- stir it a little to bring it together. Remove it from the heat and pour in the oats and add ginger. Stir it all together and then pour it into the prepared tin and flatten it out.

It goes in the oven at Gas mark 2/3 (about 150C) for 35/40mins.

Get it out and let it cool a little before cutting and then wait for it to be cold before separating the pieces.

This is a great recipe and not too sweet. Alex has added coconut and/or chocolate at times and Iona has used it as a topping for apple crumble- really lovely.

7762-mmmm-haggis-0_full.jpgHaggis, Neeps and tatties

I boiled the haggis-3 of them to feed 9 of us although the last 3 count as one slightly greedy person.

Peel a pile of spuds and chop them-add them to very lightly salted water and boil.

Chop and peel one and a half turnips and boil.

When the neeps and tatties are cooked, drain and mash them with a bit of butter.

Remove Haggis one at a time from boiling water and place on a plate before a husband (if no husband is available improvise). The husband takes the traditional ceremonial dirk-okay so he takes the kitchen knife- and plunges it into the beastie. At this point someone is supposed to be reciting the Ode to a Haggis, but no one was. Earlier that day Alex had recited the poem in the voice of the Swedish Chef from the Muppets-but the less said about that the better.

Make gravy and serve.

The children love this meal -and it’s easy baby food.

After the ‘supper’ we went and sat around the fire with a cuppa and Sr Kath and a good time was had by all. We didn’t end the evening with ‘Auld Lang Syne’ but Sr Kath was treated to Ronan reading her a story (one of his ORT books) and had the wonders of LazyTown extolled to her.

It was a good night.