Monthly Archives: February 2008

Those sunny (or not) homeschool days

We have homeschooled with a vengeance the last three days.

There was a lovely glass painting and card making activity on Wednesday morning at homeschool group, so the children could make gifts and cards for Mother’s Day this Sunday.

In Sign Language we began a more difficult song to practice. As I said I have been inspired by The Choir on BBC2 and have decided we need to get this Sign Language group working together as a Sign-Song Choir. I am going to aim at them doing a performance after Easter.

Yesterday was a normal day, but we managed to get to Mass as well. When the weather is fine I can take the scooter out.

Josh received quite a generous amount of money from a lovely priest to help towards him getting to FUS. We spent ages looking at how to apply for scholarships-but came up blank. Still, there is hope…

Today Karen came over with her children and one of Val’s. Iona and Emily worked on a project on the 1920’s.  The boys and Avila learned about what prehistoric people ate. We went scavenging in the garden and then with the help of my laminater we made mobiles.

A good three days.

Values Clarification and Dr William Coulson.

29103.jpgAlistair asked me to get him this 3 CD set of lectures for Christmas. I was a bit surprised as is rather work related for him, but I obliged. I have just had the chance to listen to them myself. Some time ago I had a tape of his which covered his involvment with Dr Carl Rogers and Dr Maslow and his apology for the immense damage their system has caused in both Catholic institutions and education. Dr Rogers nearly wrecked his life with his new values clarification system. The impact of the system certainly wrecked a lot of other people’s lives. In the end he saw he had created a monster, but sadly it was too late.

Dr Coulson, is now making it his life’s work I think to apologise for and try to undo some of the damage done when ‘client centred’ therapy was introduced and then ‘child centred’ education. He points out that in the early days many people who had agreed to take part in the experiement with the theory pulled out when they saw how destructive it was. ‘Normal’ people, Coulson says, saw what would happen if they allowed this dismantling of basic moral norms to go ahead.

As a psychi nurse I could see pretty quickly that the whole “warm, empathic, non-judgemental, unconditional positive regard” idea was simply a way of allowing patients to get away with not taking responsibility for their actions. It meant they had no reason to change.

The basis of the counselling, no matter what the client had done, or wanted to do, was that there was no such thing as ‘ought’ and that guilt was not a good thing. We could not ‘judge’ the actions of others, only they could say how it felt for them. “How does it feel for you?” as the question.

I think most of us knew it was silly and if used indiscriminately, dangerous. One of my clients informed me of her plans to murder her step-father.  I was well aware how it ‘felt for her’ but that didn’t change the fact that she could not kill someone; it’s BAD as well as illegal.

You can read more HERE and HERE

I think the victim culture we live in is rooted in the Rogarian system. It is this basis that says we are simply what we are made to be-that we cannot rise above that and make an act of will to be better because we ‘ought’ to. If there is nothing good and all is relative, then why struggle to be good?

I hear so often those who assume that being abused means you will abuse; that being broken in some way means you have to brake others. RUBBISH!!

As Dr Ray points out in his book “Back to the Family” many people do rise above the abuse they suffered in childhood and become good, even ‘excellent’ parents. If someone who has been abused, beaten, lived with an alcholic parent or been passed from pillar to post can grow up and be a good parent…

Both Guarendi and Coulson believe there has been too much pychology in education and that it has massively undermined the rights and authority of parents, where schools now leave children with the idea they have a right to choose whatever they want to do, believe etc. Then these kids are wide open to the pressure from big business such as contracption, abortion, tobacco and alchohol.

There’s a lot to say about this. Get the CDs and any time you wish you could put your children in school-remember why you are glad you don’t.

Ronan is 5

noonoofeb08-028.jpgYesterday was Ronan’s 5th birthday. Time flies! He had a lovely day with Grandad and Auntie Shirley coming over for dinner. Here he is wearing the shirt from his Auntie Fiona and Uncle Iain and holding the telescope our friend Julie gave him. We have just started some work on the solar system so we are hoping for a clear night soon to have a good look at the moon.

Hols are over :(

 No The hols are over. Al goes back to work on Monday and after 2 weeks of slack-happy I have to get back to the homeschooling. So I had better get some plans sorted for the next few weeks until Easter.

I went shopping with Iona yesterday-girls time. I had a lot of book tokens so I got some stuff for Ronan and the girls including the DK Spanish set. I don’t know how good it is, but DK tend to be pretty good. Ronan is pleased with it and looking forward to Monday’s lesson.

Hoping to head off to the Library on Tuesday.

Homeschool group and Sign Language on Wednesday. I have decided to choose three or four songs everyone can learn to sing and sign and set them up as a choir. Perhaps I have been inspired by watching The Choir-Boys Don’t Sing on BBC over the last 4weeks.

Then finally on Friday Karen is coming over with her children. Emily and Iona are to start a project about the 1920s and 1930s together with an eye to PG Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster. Meanwhile Matthew and Ronan are going to start learning about the Stone Age; hunting and gathering etc.

 Caveman  Cavewoman

Hospital Appt for Avila

 XrayAvila had her appoitment at the Children’s Hospital today. She was not all that keen on going, but I promised her she would not be kept in and she settled down. The Out Patients door is different from the A&E entrance so she was more relaxed once we were there.

Weight and Height; she’s on the 9th centile now which is a vast improvement to this time last year when she was under the 4th! The doctor said he was not a paediatrician, he was a surgeon, but he felt he ought to see her properly before referring her on the paeds in case she needed any surgery.

He took a history and had a look at her tummy and then sent her for an x-ray. Normally the x-rays would automatically appear on his computer back in his office but the computers were down so it had to be done the good old fashioned way. Her x-ray was up on the old light. She is very impacted and so requires a proper bowel clear out, which he is arranging via the GP. Then she is to have another appt with him-this time at City Hosp-for a day surgery bowel biopsy.

He is not concerned about her meds, but has offered a couple of alternative ideas in the letter to the GP.

Hopefully these things will offer us some answers and help Avila get healthier.

Art Gallery


As Alistair is off this week, we are having some family trips out. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery has the biggest collection of Pre-Raphaelite in the world. This is great for me because I LOVE the pre-Raphs.

The above painting is called “Boar War” by John Byam Liston Shaw (1872-1919). Yes, they all had names like that. My favourite of these artists is Edward Byrne Jones. Anyway back to this painting. Shaw painted it around 1901 (oil on canvas). The woman is his sister Margaret Glencain and she grieves the loss of her cousin George in the war. The painting shouts in fine detail the glory of life in early summer, demanding joy and laughter, but the purple shadow is the woman, the wool unknitted in her hand. She has no one to knit for now.

The most famous pre-raph art the Gallery has must be the Stunning Grail Tapestries. They are in storage most of the time so I have only seen them once properly, but they are my favourite.

It does seem that all that romantic high expressed emotion was not good for these artists who all seemed a bit overly preoccupied with the more miserable aspects of life. They did a lot of religious work too, but even then they seemed to find the joy in Christianity rather elusive.

hm3_11_5_0_big.jpgThe huge oil on canvas version of this tapestry is there. The detail is fine and each feather of the angel almost glows. It’s another painting I love BUT this is the adoration of the Magi and it looks like a Wake! My beloved husband-an art critic (hehehe)- announced that Mary had a face like “a bag spanners”. She does! So does Jesus. She is not even meeting the gaze of these men who have travelled so far. This is a painting and tapestry that is about the prophecy of the gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh- prophet, priest and king. His priesthood is sacrifice and the Sacrifice is the crucifixion. Despite the sadness I do love this stuff.


Alex saw this painting and liked it so much he bought a poster for his room. It’s called Dominicans in Feathers by Henry Stacy Marks (1880-1887). Marks apparently painted a lot of birds as he preferred them to people. He is supposed to have rather pomposly announced that birds were less conceited, less greedy and less boring than people. The poor man must hasve kept with some bad company. The painting is lovely though.

For the children there is plenty to see, to explore and as they get older to copy and draw.

Upstairs there was an area showing a Vicotorian sitting room and scullery as well as a kitchen circa 1960 and another one of around 1940. The kids dressed up in Victorian servants clothes and had a good look at the 1940s house with its papered windows and gas masks.

Surprise in the post!

Tithing is not a strong point with me, but just before Christmas I thought I had better sort a few things out. AS I listen to Catholic Answers rather a lot I thought I would donate to them. They were having a drive at the time with free books as part of it, but living so far away across the pond I assumed the books would not come this way.

But the postman arrived the other day with a parcel and there were two signed books inside!

1111172.jpg I got Karl Keatings book “Catholicism and Fundamentalism” which I read some time ago. It’s a useful overview of the more bizarre end of the battles we face.

The other book was Rosalind Moss’s new book; a study of St Luke’s Gospel, just in time for Year C and the Bible study we are doing in homeschool. It is pitched just right for Iona, beautifully written as you would expect from Rosalind Moss and very straight forward. Her Jewish background gives a depth of understanding that might otherwise be missing.

For some time now I have been a rather inactive member of the Association of Hebrew Catholics established by her brother David. I have learned a great deal about the Jewish roots of the Catholic Church from them, although some of the more complicated aspects of Mitzvah go way over my head.

Meanwhile I’ve finished reading the Ray Guarendi book-which I do want to try and find time to write about again-and I’ve started Marcus Grodi’s novel “How Firm a Foundation”, which I am really enjoying.

As a side note Josh has met Mr. and Mrs Grodi and liked them very much.