Monthly Archives: July 2008

Avila’s Hospt appt

We went off to the hospital this morning and Avila saw the paediatrician and then had her bloods taken. He is being pretty thorough so she’ll have Coeliacs test and Wheat sensitivity. He has also requested full blood count, HB, ferintin and some other stuff.

So, now we just await the results.


For me-the forms to make a formal complaint against the hospital and request (firmly) the release of my notes have arrived. I would like to think this will be all that is needed to get the MRI released so the chiropractor can see it-but I have had nearly 6 years now of being given the runaround so I am not holding my breath.

I wont be blogging for a week or so.

God bless

Roy Schoeman coming to Oxford

My friend Amanda has emailed me to say

” ROY SCHOEMAN will be here in the UK speaking about his amazing conversion story from Judaism to Catholicsm, and his wonderful book called ‘Salvation is from the Jews’ and his more recennt work, ‘Honey from the rock’.
He’ll be speaking at 7pm on 13th August at St Gregory & St Augustine’s Church on the Woodstock Road. If you are fee, please try to come and meet Roy and hear his testimony, it really is so inspiring..
Also, there is an Old Mass at 6pm before the talk.”

For those who can’t go his website is HERE

Hospital appt and fighting the NHS

Just a quick note to say Avila has her hosptial appt on Thurs. We are expecting them to take bloods for the full blood count, HB level and Coeliacs test.

Meanwhile I have been advised by the Chiropractor that I need to start an proceedings to make a formal complaint against the hospital where I had my MRI.

I’ll explain more soon when I have more time. Just say a quick prayer please.

40 yrs of Humanae Vitae – God and marriage pt II

In 1930 the Anglican Church held it’s Lambeth Conference. They decided that contraception should be allowed in extreme circumstances for married couples. According to an article in the evangelical magazine Touchstone (which I recommend btw) the reason this decision was made in the face of Scripture and Tradition was that many anglican clergy were already contracepting and wanted the okay for the sin they were committing. I can’t find the article at the moment.

The decision caused Pope Pius XI to immediately respond and Casti Connubii was written in the same year. If you haven’t read it-take the opportunity.

In CC the Holy Father reiterated the holiness of marriage and its place in our relationship with God the giver of Life. 

But the door had been opened and more and more Christians began to see contraception as a possibility and as in the West material wealth increased there was less willingness to have children.

The most well known and widely used modern contraception is The Pill as it has become known. It is a group of pills of various mixtures of synthetic hormone designed to make a woman infertile. The history of the Pill is well told and very ugly. The side effects and damage done to the health and lives of women-including those who died-did nothing to stem the tide of use. In her lecture ‘Contraception, Why Not?’ Dr Smith gives a pretty thorough overview of history post 1930 and the fall out from contraception.

You can listen to it on MP3 HERE

I am not having the time to write about this properly so I will leave it there for now.

HV 40 Yrs; Against Contraception- For Marriage (pt 1)

On Saturday we celebrate the feast of SS Joachim and Anna, the parents of Our Lady, grandparents of Our Lord. I will write their story later. Saturday is also the 40th Anniversary of the promulgation of Humanae Vitae by Pope Paul VI. This is a very important anniversary in the life of the Church as this prophetic document was roundly and very publicly condemned by dissident priests and theologians across the Western part of the Church. One of the leading voices in this movement was Charles Curran. He remains firm in his anti-HV stance despite all that has happened to prove the pope right. I would not say he is a leading voice of dissent these days-Dr Janet Smith utterly smoked him in debate not so long ago-but he is still the figurehead of HV dissent I would think. Click on the links. If you haven’t heard Dr Smith take some time and listen to her; she changed my mind.

Contraception goes back a long way. Egyptian women and their crocodile dung, potions involving mistletoe and various womb bindings; mercury and herbs including poisonous ones were the answer to a pagan woman’s wish to avoid a baby. Most of the market for this seems to have been temple based.

Linked with this of course was Molech worship in which babies and children were sacrificed in the fires of this god.

Kimberly Hahn while still a protestant did her MA thesis on Christian attitudes to contraception. In studying Scripture and seeing how it is so pro-life and anti-contraception she came to learn the Catholic Church’s teaching on the matter. This was the first step for her towards conversion.

While the Old Testament firmly teaches that children are a blessing and the sin of Onan is deadly, it is St Paul’s admonition against Pharmakeia (Gal 5:20) in his letter about marriage and the Church that is the most striking. The word is sometimes translated as ‘magic’ but this was a very specific magic-contraception.

Avoiding children was always seen as a pagan approach to life and the Church continued to condemn it from the Didache (80AD) through the Fathers and right the way through to now. Nothing has changed in the teachings of the Church.

St Paul makes it clear that marriage is holy and that it reflects our relationship with God and even more so with Christ and His Bride the Church. He is only teaching the holiness of marriage as Christ Himself had done, and even in the debates about divorce no good Jew would have contemplated preventing children or killing them. That was what the pagans did.

Schisms and protestantism did not change this teaching. All Orthodox churches retained the teaching against contraception until very recently indeed. I heard a rumour that in some parts of the Russian Orthodox there were mutterings about ‘in extreme circumstances’-but I haven’t seen it verified.

All the protestant leaders-Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and so on stuck with Christian Tradition and taught about the evils of contraception. So it remained until 1930…..

My beloved St Bridget of Sweden

St Birgitta is my role model. I love her to bits.

It is her feast day today. I think I should cook something special tonight to celebrate- but it’s pizza’n’chips night because there’s a Scout’s meeting. Ah well. Happy Feast Day anyway.

Iona is 14 and it astonishes me to think that St Bridget was already married to her 18 yr old husband Ulf by that age.

In 28 years of happy marriage she and Ulf had 8 children; four boys and four girls. The two younger boys died young and Karl, her oldest died of a fever just before he could get into serious trouble over the really horrible Queen Joanna of Naples.

Three of the girls married-Cecilia, Merita and Catherine while the youngest Ingbord became a Cistercian. Catherine’s husband died while she was with her mother in Rome.  She spent the rest of her life with her mother eventually entering her religious order Of the Saviour known as the Brigettines. She is St Catherine of Sweden or Vadstena (where she was Abbess of the Monastary founded by her mother) St Catherine is patron of mothers who have miscarried.

The Brigittines are still a strong and active order. There is a house in Birmingham at the Maryvale Institute.


St Bridget Resources:

St Birgitta-her life and revelations

St Bridget of Sweden-co-patroness of Europe

St Bridget of Sweden; Lives of the saints

Brieg Bio at Catholic Encyc

Medieval Sourcebook- for those with acedemic inclinations

Wiki Bio of St Bridget

Revelations of St Bridget (Wiki)

Ethical parenting or ‘green’ parenting.

We went to visit family on Sunday and had a lovely time. Alistair’s aunt gave me a copy of a magazine called ‘The Green Parent’ – with due warning that it can be a bit New Agey at times.  We had been talking about the philosophy of education put forward by Charlotte Mason. A large part of a Mason approach to education is getting children to learn about the world around them. We spent the summer term looking at trees and plants and creepy crawlies. Miss Mason ensured that children spent a lot of time out of doors, learning about their environment; treating it with respect and naturally understanding where food came from. This was back in the days before Tesco’s, clingfilm and plastic boxes.

“The Green Parent” is not really Charlotte Mason friendly, but it does have a homeschool article -and apparently does so quite often. Homeschooling rarely gets a mention in the mainstream-so a regular column in a magazine is refreshing to see. There was also a very good article on beekeeping.

I would love to keep bees. I have a probably unachievable dream to have a hive or two, a few chickens and goats and make cheese. The children groan whenever I talk about my cheese making, but a girl has to have her dreams!

One of the major themes of the magazine is that ‘green parenting’ is ‘ethical parenting’.

Now I want to contemplate the Christian response to what is (as far as I can see) is the superstition of environmentalism. The response is stewardship of course, but there is more to genuine ethical parenting than stewardship of the environment.

But I’ll come back to this. Excuse the irony but our Tesco’s delivery has arrived….

Books-choosing and vetting for children

I meant to say in the previous post we also vet and carefully choose the books we have in the house. A lot is said about the ‘media’ as though it doesn’t include the printed media and if it does it does not include books.

Children’s books can be pretty awful. Some are not morally awful-just badly written and I would rather the children read well written stories or fact books. Some of the ‘school’ books are just boring, badly written and inaccurate in facts. We avoid them.

Obviously we have no Jaqueline Wilson books in the house or Philip Pullman. We don’t have Dan Brown either although Josh was given a copy of the “Da Vinci Code”-which was renamed by discerning readers the ‘Duh Vinci Code’. Putting aside how one man can get so much so wrong in one book Josh couldn’t even get through it because it was so badly written.

You may wonder why we allowed him to read it. Mainly because he needed to answer those who bizarrely had read it and believed it! As he had been given a copy this was the opportunity with supervision to do so. Of course Josh is older. If he had been a young teen or impressionable I would simply have removed the book.

Parents need to be more aware of the messages in many books aimed directly at children and youngsters.  Many books try to undermine family life and especially purity.

Yes it is a minefield -walk cautiously.

Young’uns and the media

World Youth Day is over and I have barely caught any of it on EWTN as yet and I haven’t bothered with the MSM. They never tell you anything.

I have however read the Holy Father’s speech’s. He knows how to tell the truth doesn’t he?

Philip has posted the speeches in full, as well as a post showing a bizarre video of some bloke called Jenson. Read the text of the Holy Father’s speeches HERE and HERE. I haven’t actually had a chance to get the kids to read this stuff yet, but they will when they get an opportunity.

Sometimes I think holiday time is actually busier than term!

In his out reach to the young people at WYD the Holy Father talks bluntly about the real evils in modern life, drug and alcohol abuse and the way the media portrays evil.

“Here too, in our personal lives and in our communities, we can encounter a hostility, something dangerous; a poison which threatens to corrode what is good, reshape who we are, and distort the purpose for which we have been created. Examples abound, as you yourselves know. Among the more prevalent are alcohol and drug abuse, and the exaltation of violence and sexual degradation, often presented through television and the internet as entertainment. I ask myself, could anyone standing face to face with people who actually do suffer violence and sexual exploitation “explain” that these tragedies, portrayed in virtual form, are considered merely “entertainment”?”

He eloquently points out what so many refuse to see. I was struck by these words particularly as at the moment I am reading Teresa Tomeo’s little book ‘Noise’.The subtitle is “How our media-saturated culture dominates lives and dismantles families.”


Josh brought this book back from his trip to America.

The book is pretty short but it is packed with research and case study evidence of the massive damage being done to families and individuals by a bombardment of poor quality and down right nasty media. She tells of the impact the growing and very business savvy pornography industry is having on families.

There seem to be two main areas of the media that parents need to be on top of. First there is the fact that we have to police what our children get access to in programmes, music, internet sites, and friendships as well as printed material such a magazines.

Secondly we need to be on top of how much of even the good stuff we allow. Hours in front of a screen is a bad idea even if they are watching something as excellent and wholesome as Ray Mears.

Most of what this book offers is just plain old common sense. That fact that she has had to write this and that there is a definate need for people to read what she has to say only goes to show that plain of common sense is nowhere near as common as we might like it to be.

She talks about the impact daft thin, nearly dead girls have on the girls watching. Tomeo herself suffered from anorexia as a result of trying to be like someone she had seen on TV. She also points out that the plastic surgery industry is doing remarkably well out of the desire to look like those plastic people on TV.

The book packs a lot of information. There is the increased alcohol consumption among children who admit adverts have encouraged them to drink; there’s the effect of violent video games.

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Teaching children The Sign of The Cross

One of the first prayers we teach our children in our family is The Sign of the Cross. It is a perfect prayer for little ones as they can begin the gestures even before they can speak.

Heleyna is still in the arm waving and occasional head poking stage, while both Avila and Ronan enjoy being able to make the Sign and say the prayer.

This prayer is one of the few we have that date back to the beginnings of the Church. (The Our Father, Apostles Creed and First Eucharistic Prayer are others) and it is one that has changed very little.  We still use the cross markings on the forehead that was probably the earliest gesture the prayer incorporated. Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholics hold the thumb and two fingers together as a sign of the Holy Trinity.

It’s such a little prayer and yet it is packed with so much meaning. The words are the ones Jesus told the Apostles to use as they baptised all the nations. They are the Trinitarian formula in which we recognise the Oneness and Three Persons of the Holy Trinity.

In the gesture of the prayer we ‘proclaim Christ crucified’ and that we are part of the Body of Christ. We also make a statement about ourselves as whole persons made in the image and likeness of God.

We are made body and soul. There were a couple of heresies in the earlier days of the Church where adherents tried to separate the importance of the body to the soul. This led to some pretty odd and unpleasant behaviours because the body did not matter-only the soul.

The Church has always taught that we are whole persons however. So how we pray needs to reflect that. We have a prayer and liturgy tradition that incorporates our whole selves. We put our hands together, we make the Sign of the Cross; we kneel before God; stand and at times even prostrate ourselves before Him.

Children instinctively use their whole bodies to express themselves. Teaching them to pray using actions and gestures is a natural extension of this.

I also teach them that as they touch their head, heart, and shoulders they are reminding themselves to love God with their whole MIND, HEART and STRENGTH.


Fruit Picking time

It’s the season of soft fruit. I just made the last batch of jam last week with last years fruit, so the timing for this years pickings is just right.

So yesterday we went of to Dunchurch in Warwickshire (nr Rugby) and meet the folks for a lovely meal.

This meant getting up and out of the house in time for 9am Mass. This might not seem that much of an achievement to you dawn Mass goers-but we had 3 adults, 4 young people -or whatever the new politically correct descriptive term for a teen is-and 3 little ones to organise and get out of the house.

Josh was going to pull the ‘jetlag’ thing and go to Vigil Mass-but he forgot! LOL. So he had to come with us in the morning.

From there we set off for Dunchurch and after a lovely meal-introducing our Spanish student to an English pub-we set off for a local farm where you can ‘Pick Your Own.’

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Flashcard games

Officially we have finished homeschooling for the summer. However the joy of homeschooled children is they are not aware of any differentiation between ‘school’ and ‘holiday’. If it’s fun they like to do it. While I’ve given Ronan and Avila more Lego and play doh time they have of their own accord continued with some books and word play.

I bought a set of Oxford Reading Tree flashcards and Ronan loves playing games with them. We played Snap and a memory game yesterday in which he happily read all the key words offered by the cards. Avila was part of the game and I think she will pick up some of the words just because she is playing with Ronan.

If anyone knows of other games we can play with Flashcards let me know. The set offers Lotto and something else as well as Snap and the Memory Game.

St Paul, Part II (Year of St Paul)

Saul of Tarsus, Roman citizen, Son of the Tribe of Benjamin and Pharisee entered the school at the Temple of Jerusalem and sat at the feet of the great Rabbi Gamaliel, grandson of Hillel.

It seems that Saul was a very bright, intellectual young man. However as we will see he lacked both wisdom and humility. He certainly learned at the feet of the great Rabbi, but he did not feel the need to listen when the man spoke wisdom.

It is difficult to know how much Saul saw of Jesus while he preached in Judea. We are not told. However once the Church begins in earnest at Pentecost, when Peter leads the other apostles out to preach the Gospel, Saul decides he does not approve at all of this new movement.

While Rabbi Gamaliel says that those who follow The Way need to be left alone so that it can be tested to see if it is of God, Saul becomes active in the persecution of the Church very quickly.

we know from Acts that the young man Saul was complicit in the martyrdom of St Stephen one of the first ordained deacons of the Church. He then went all out to find ways of persecuting members of the Church, even being prepared to travel to Damascus in his quest to destroy what Jesus Christ had founded.

I am not sure what made Saul so virulently opposed to the Church. As a Pharisee he would have agreed with most of what the Church teaches, including the Resurrection. He certainly understood the Messiah would come to renew all of Israel-all 12 tribes-not just the two that had returned from the diaspora (Judah and his own Benjamin). Perhaps he just wanted what the elite of the Temple seemed to want-the status quo and the fear that this fast growing sect within Judaism was going to massively upset that.

Whatever his reasons, Saul was out for blood and off he rode to Damascus.

The story from Acts of how he was felled from his horse is probably one of the best known Bible stories of all.

“Saul, Saul, ” said Jesus, “Why do you persecute Me?”

Jesus used the word “Me” not “My Church”. This was undoubtedly the beginning of St Paul’s understanding of the Church as the Body of Christ. The members of the Church have a bridal relationship with Christ the Bridegroom. He is the Head and She, the Bride is His Body.

More later.

The Boys Are Back in Town

The little ones were very excited yesterday at the news that Biggest Brother Josh was coming home. They spent all morning standing at the window waiting for him. I even had to set up the little table there so they could have lunch because they didn’t want to miss his arrival.

There was some flight delay thanks to storms in both Chicago and Pittsburgh but the boys were not that much later home than we expected.

As soon as the children saw him they shouted out and we all rushed outside to greet him. Before the poor lad had set foot in the house Alex had tried his fedora and Iona was pulling the beard to see how well it had grown in six weeks. Heleyna too was inspecting it closely. Josh was a bit concerned Heleyna may not remember him, but she let him hold her and gave him a hug so I think she did.

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Children make you miserable- Dr Ray fisk

I was listening to Dr. Ray Guarendi the other day. For his monologue at the beginning of the programme he essentially fisked a rather flaky and frankly unpleasant article he had been sent from Newsweek Magazine. You can listen to him HERE Go to Wednesday July 2nd broadcast of The Doctor Is In.

Even in the article they admit that in the 1950’s parents were happy. it was something in the 1970’s that made raising children just so unpleasant. The article writers blame political circumstances. Dr Ray of course laughs at that-as should anyone with half a sense of reality.

Education and health care are NOT the major problem. Dr Ray points out that when people have children for their own ’emotional’ needs (as the article says) then those needs are hardly likey to be met. Parents have let children rule in the house and they hardly have any.

Dr Ray goes on to say quite a few other things that explain why people immersed in the ‘Me’ culture who have become weak parents. As a result of this the children can be rather unpleasant to live with. There was the cultural shift in the 60’s and 70’s away from valuing children as persons to treating them as disposable commodities. Have a couple-a boy and a girl- if you like, but only as some kind of addition to a home. Too few people really understand just what a parent is and what is expected of you as a parent.  Selfishness and the ‘Me’ culture with the Culture of Death do not mix well with being a real parent.

Meanwhile-Dr Ray rocks! LOL!



St Paul (for the year of St Paul)(pt 1)

Painting of St Paul by El Greco 1606 OIl on Canvas and now in the Museo de Greco, Toledo.

St Paul was born 2000 years ago in Tarsus in what is now Turkey. His parents were of the tribe of Benjamin.

Only two tribes had returned to the Promised Land after the Diaspora and these were Benjamin and Judah. They awaited the coming of the Messiah who would restore all Israel.

The happy parents had their son circumcised on the 8th Day as the Law proscribed and they named him Saul. As he grew up they taught him the family trade which was tent making. They were evidently rather skilled in the industry as their endeavours had secured them Roman Citizenship. Steve Ray (click on the link for a little film by Steve and a brilliant TIMELINE that any homeschooler would love) the apologist and historian suggests they probably made tents for the Roman army and had thus been rewarded.

Paul grew up a Pharisee following the Law (the Halakah -the Way) and I dare say he made a massive effort with all 613 Mitzvot. The Pharisees believed all of Scripture-using the Septuagint as their primary set of books, but also using the Hebrew books as well as one or two other books such as Enoch.

Saul was a bright lad and when he started school at the Temple in Jerusalem he was soon taken as a disciple by the great Rabbi Gamiliel grandson of the equally great Rabbi Hillel.

The 21 year old Saul, was already a shining example of a Pharisee learning his Faith in the heart of the Temple when Jesus was crucified outside the wall of Jerusalem.

Spanish student at nearly midnight.

For the last few years, every July, we have had a Spanish student come and stay with us. They spend the month here learning English, attending classes and going out on trips. The organisation is well run and we get on well with the lady in charge of it all.

We didn’t have anyone last year as I hadn’t long had Heleyna, but we thought we could just about manage it this year. Josh, bless him, offered his room again. However as there is a pretty bad recession in Spain at the moment they had less than half the usual number of kids come over and so we didn’t have one. The organiser sensibly housed them all within easy reach of one another so they could meet up and travel a little safer.

Last night however we got a phone call from the organiser. The students had just arrived in the country and been taken to their respective family homes. Now we’ve been taking these kids for some years now and the rules and idea of the set up has been clear from the get go. They are looking for a proper family experience for these children-or as family based as possible.

Unfortunately one of the girls had found herself in a house with two adult male lodgers and other adult students. She had phoned her dad, obviously upset and he had been furious (understandably) that his 15 year old daughter was in this situation.

We were asked if we would take her and we said we would. The poor girl eventually arrived here at quarter to midnight last night. She was a bit shaken up and this is her first visit to England, so an unfortunate start to her stay. But she went off with Alistair to the Uni this morning and seemed a bit more relaxed.

Hopefully she’ll have a nice stay.

Sorry Josh lad- your bedroom is being girlified. Where do you want to sleep when you get home?

“Daddy I need a WEEEEE!”

Alex is a fan of ‘The Gadget Show’. Last night we were watching them review various bits and bobs and one gadget really caught my attention. It was a camping loo.

It is lightweight, plastic and folds flat and comes, we were told, with some liners. I found one online and thought it a bit expensive -but there are cheaper bog standard ones for about a tenner.

Now you may be wondering what camping expedition I am planning that has me thinking about toilets, and the answer is none. But we do go out on some longer than 3 minute car journeys and almost inevitably at some point in the procedure the “Daddy I need a weeee!” siren goes off.

Many a parent has found themselves in a rather awkward position dangling a child over a patch of grass on the moterway enbankment while said child makes a bladder gladder or worse. For parents with difficulties -some kids are HEAVY- there needs to be a comfortable, stinging nettle avoiding alternative-don’t you agree?

I think one of these folded and left in the boot with a roll of suitable bags-and a good supply of toilet roll of course, could be the answer. No more little girls struggling and no more boys afraid of stinging nettles and prickly bushes.

Now then, can I persuade my husband that we need to keep a loo in the boot?