Monthly Archives: October 2011

Redemption and hope.

If there is one thing that makes the Catholic Church glow in the dark, it is her message of redemption. It doesn’t matter how bad, how utterly vile and ugly the sin is, if you repent, there is redemption, even sainthood.

This photograph has been engraved in my mind since I first saw it some years ago. I have very recently read ( but now can’t find the article) that the old man sitting here Alessandro Serenelli has his cause for beatification sent to the Vatican.

We need a saint like him so much in todays toxic broken culture.

Now I have to confess that I am one of those people who have had difficulties with the way the sainthood of Maria Goretti (Whose mother is in the photo) has been touted. She is put forward as a saint of purity because she resisted Alessandro’s attempt to rape her and he then stabbed her so often that she died of blood loss a couple of days later.

I have worked with rape victims and the idea that resisting your attacker so he couldn’t rape makes you a saint is just nasty. What about the mother who was raped while her baby, having been snatched from his pram, was held against her with a knife to his throat to force the mother to submit? Is she not as saintly for submitting to such a foul act to save her child? And what about all those women prisoners during wars who have placed themselves in front of soldiers to save the young girls from rape? Not one of the women and children I have worked with were “impure” because they got raped. My disgust at this version of St. Maria’s life has made me avoid her.

But with the cause for Alassandro opening there is something much more profound, and dare I suggest, much more useful for rape victims and their hope of healing, is the fact that Maria completely forgave her murderer. Her forgiveness helped her mother forgive and that joint forgiveness helped him to find the God he has so far rejected.

In prison he converted and began the long and surely very difficult process of turning his life around. He had been a man who liked pornography and from that awful habit he went on to a disordered desire for the 12 yr old Maria.

I must admit I think Maria’s mother is a saint. She forgave the man who did such a terrible thing to her little girl. That is the most astonishing and grace filled act of forgiveness.

And all that forgiveness and grace worked. Alassandro repented; he completely turned his life around, so that he could sit on a little bench with Mrs Goretti on that day when Maria was canonised.

He died on the 6th May 1970. He left behind this testimony warning against the toxic media that poisons souls (H.T PornNoMore)


Are working mothers making their children sick?

I worked when the older three were little. At the time I really thought, and still think to be honest, that I had no choice. I spent most of my working life trying to find ways not to work, but for a while I was the main breadwinner, so it certainly wasn’t easy.

I have been listening to various podcasts and do love the Catholic Laboratory Podcast. I think it was one of those podcasts where Mr Maxwell talked about the research into children’s physiological reaction to being left. There is good research (which I already knew about) that shows that the stress hormone cortisol is raised in babies and toddlers who are left in nurseries or with other carers without their mother. This stress hormone reaches a peak around the age of 5 when these children are put into school and it seems these children have reached the limit of their stress. The obvious long term effects for mental health problems are there. I assume there will be follow up research to see if this answers some of the questions about the exponential rise in serious depression and even psychotic illness in children.

More research has shown something else. Children who are put into care as babies are at a far higher risk of failure to thrive. This is where children are generally underweight and ill despite a normal healthy diet.

My oldest had failure to thrive. I spent a lot of time taking him to peadiatric appointments where he was put through a gammit of tests for various serious illness. Every time he ate he was violently sick, to the point where he became nervous about eating at all.

The doctors had no idea then why such as thing as failure to thrive existed. But she told me that children always seem to grow out of it around the age of 4. Sure enough just after turning 4 Josh was discharged as he had finally put on some weight and stopped being sick. It seemed there was nothing to worry about and yet here is now at age 22 with type 1 diabetes. Is there a link? I don’t know, but as more research comes out showing how bad it is for children to be removed from their mother so young – we’ll have to see.

When the other two were younger I was able to be around a little more when they were little, although I did go through a patch of working very long hours when they were older.

Even then, when I worked in CAMHS, we were seeing much younger children who were floridly psychotic. It has been shown by study after study that children have increasing levels of depression and self harm. Families are disintegrating – and there’s a lot of fall out from that.

I hope as this information becomes better known that other families will be forewarned, and will not fall into the horrible trap. There simply has to be a better way for families, a way to allow the bills to be paid while living on one wage.

Listen HERE and HERE

One of the 10% who survive.

As the 40 days for life continues…

(H/T catholicvote)

Millstones in the murk- child abuse is still ignored.

Child abuse is a truly hideous thing. When it is done by anyone it is hideous; when done by those professing to be Christians it is worse; when done by those professing to the Catholics it is worse still and when done by priests it reaches to the very slime of hideousness.

When these crimes are exposed and a light is shined on them, we are all supposed to learn from them. We should see how it came to be and make absolutely sure that it can never happen under our watch.

And yet…

I am sorry to say I think there are probably whole chambers of hell filled with nice, polite Christians, the pillars of their parishes and communities, who simply would not allow their noses to sniff the foulness of abuse and could not face it was happening, so allowed the victim to continue to be a victim and put other victims into the power of the abuser.

(These chambers are right above the ones for politicians and journalists who use child abuse and murder to dishonestly attack the innocent for political gain.)

Why is this?

When we see stories of a Vicar General and Bishop letting a paedophile priest continue his abuse we are shocked and revolted. Why did they let it continue?

We could say, that was then, this is now. psychology has moved on and we now understand that abusers are committing grave evil and it must be stopped. But have we moved on?

Very very recently a child was being abused, quite systematically and increasingly publicly. There were a couple of families trying to mitigate the damage being done to this child by giving food and other things.

Lots of people saw the child on a regular basis, including school staff, and many observed with their own eyes the shocking abuse suffered and yet no one did anything.

Finally someone phoned social services and the child’s minister. For TWO YEARS more nothing was done.

Finally when it seemed that this child’s life was being completely ruined the same person returned to the phone and a couple of other people joined in making the calls and finally social services and the police were involved.  The reason people took so long to tell authorities about this child was because it is very well known that social workers are often very unprofessional, and lack discretion. It was quite rightly feared that if social services got involved and let it be known how they had come to be involved and yet did nothing to help the child, even the support the child did have might be removed by the abusers.

Nevertheless in the end this child has been removed and helped, thankfully. But there was some shockingly unChristian behaviour in sucking up the abusers done by some people openly bragging that it wasn’t them who helped this poor child.

When so called Christians behave like this, what hope is there?

All those who pretend that their church or community is too nice for that sort of thing are culpable in its continuation.

It seems to me that for all the stuff said about child abuse by those who have never had to deal with it, there is still a pretty nasty insistence among “nice” people to let the children be abused so long as there is no fuss made.

Those who refuse to act on behalf of the least of God’s children will find eternity very dark and very hot. It is well past time to wake up.

Home education – And what about science? Huh?

After the “Are you a teacher?” and “Is it legal?” questions and when the great “S” question has been asked the next recourse of those who do not understand your decision tends to be “How will you teach science?” or more often “You wont be able to teach science.”

Interestingly as we have been doing this Home Ed lark, and as Iona did quite a bit of science aimed at homeschoolers one of the comments she received from her schooled peers was how jealous they were at the amount of actual experiments she got to do, compared to them.


The Classic Science of Mr Q Lots of freebies and the pay for booklets are convenient Pdf downloads.

TOPS Science

Maths/Science Nucleus k-12 free curriculum. This looks pretty good to me. However, handle with care. I have already come across some aspects that I will edit out. There’s a piece about feelings that has that horrible ’60s view that feelings can’t be helped and we need to learn to express them. I am sure most of you have more sense and are teaching feelings and how to control them in the light of virtue training. I am not sure if there are other dubious bits of science there, but there is certainly plenty of good stuff.

NIH curriculum supplementation mostly aimed at middle to high school. Looks like there are some fascinating subjects there.

Apologia Science books are based on a “living literature” approach. We have used their Astronomy and Botany books. The background is Young Earth Creationist, but written in a fair way about mainstream science and secular science. It is written in a way that respects the children.  There are some free chapters to give you a sense of the books.

Seton’s Science The stuff you can buy from Seton Homeschool supplies. Some of the Mr. Wizard videos are to be found on Youtube.

Cosmos4Kids also has other sciences for children aged 8ish and above. They even have a maths page now. (scroll to the bottom of their page to see the choices).

There are a few things to learn at the Children’s University of Manchester

Hubble site find out what to look for in the night sky and go out and look for it on a clear night.

CHC uses the Behold and See series

Draw Write Now no 6 is recommended for nature study.

There are lots of different science kits around for all kinds of experiments.

Ian Maxwell’s Catholic Science Podcasts are excellent, covering not only science but the history of science. He regularly covers a Catholic scientist, their life work and achievements. He also straightens out some of the misinformation spread about the Catholic Church’s approach to science.

You will also need a good supply of the following:

mentos, and/or alcha-seltzer and Bicarb of soda


red cabbage

aluminium foil

various other stuff of a kitchen nature.

Now, there is a debate about the best time to get children involved in what I suppose would be called “formal” science. It is thought better to allow younger children to spend more time exploring and studying nature. This is a very good way of helping children to make their own discoveries through exploration. In nature study the children are first allowed to be filled with wonder and appreciation of the sheer beauty of creation. Charlotte Mason encourages us to allow our children plenty of nature exploration time.In this way children build the foundations for enquiry.

When they are older they can begin more formal science. However, I have to admit we have already done some “formal” stuff, but gently and in some ways just for the interest.

I avoid the National Curriculum in all its banality, but I especially don’t like it’s science approach. Everything is done for the children. If and when they ever get to do their own experiment it is all set out for them with a preset result. Frankly, it’s boring. The problem with a science curriculum that gets very young children to write and plot and learn to box things up, is that they never learn how to see the nature, the world around them.

It seems to me there are three types of science curriculum out there. There is what I suppose would be called “secular” science that looks at the world as a purely material place. A lot of science is based on material observation so this is fine so long as the books remain within that remit. The other books I have tended to use are Christian based science books. These openly acknowledge the root of existence in God and how the order and law we can discover in the universe is set there by God. These books are explicit not only in acknowledging the First Cause – the Unmoved Mover but in stating who He is. I have no problem with these books. Some of the Christian based science books are Young Earth Creationist in view such as those provided by Apologia. Again, these books are so well written and so honest in putting forward both sides of the debate that I don’t have a problem with them.

For older children some of the “science” books lean towards a more secular political viewpoint, rather than empirical evidence. I would tend to lean even further towards Christian based books then, so long as there isn’t a political agenda in them. I think the reason many Catholic American homeschool curriculums recommend Apologia and some other protestant based science books is that they do have a more honest approach to science than many “secular” books.

Finally however I would say it is very important for the older children to get to grips with the history of science and the persons who made the discoveries. For Catholics this is particularly interesting as so much science has been done and dusted by great Catholic thinkers as the Church has been the core of scientific support from medieval times. Sadly, yet again, Catholic families must tread carefully even with fellow Christian written stuff because there is a nasty tendacny among secular and some protestant writers to repeat dishonest accounts of the Church’s approach to science.

Do our children really need a University degree?

When my son Alex decided he would not go to university there were some raised eyebrows. Some people thought this was simply a ridiculous notion and that all “good” children go to Uni.

Having taught in a University, I remember thinking as I walked those hallowed halls, “God forbid any child of mine ends up here!” If parents knew what went on in these places (mostly at parental expense) they would, or at least should, be appalled.

Then there’s the cost. This blog entry sums up very nicely just why I want my children to be very cautious about Higher Education. It is indeed a matter of justice. It is grossly unjust that jobs with no possible connection, or a very mild connection to academic learning are asking for graduates.

Now that degrees have been made very expensive but actually not very useful. But just as most families are brainwashed into thinking all children must go to school to get an education – and this in the face of the astonishingly poor standards of education they get; they are equally brainwashed into the idea that all children need a degree.

But do they?

What stuff do you need to be a home educator?

I thought I would put together a list of must haves for any Home Educating family.

John Taylor Gatto has famously said that a good education doesn’t cost anything. Well, it does cost something. I am assuming he is using hyperbole to say that the shocking amount of money poured into state education doesn’t produce educated people, whereas tightly budgeting homeschooling homes are producing extremely well educated, independent learners.  But it isn’t free and so those of you heading off on the home education adventure will need a tool kit.

This is mine>

A computer and good printer. If at all possible find a printer that doesn’t drink ink like an untreated diabetic. This is a major challenge for me. I bought a cheap printer because that’s the money  I had, but it has proved to be a serious “buy now, pay later” object as it gets through a set of ink once a month! If, like me, you are educating lots of children and your printer gets heavy use and you happen to have the money, I have been told that laser printers are best. However, looking into them, I have found they are very expensive and very big. So, talk it over with people who know and decide how to do this.

Computers are essential to HE it seems to me. They offer access to a whole internet of excellent quality free resources, books, audio, lesson plans, curriculum, you name it – it’s out there and more often than not it’s free. Some of the pay for it stuff is very cheap compared to other methods of doing it. So for example I am paying for More.Starfall because it’s cheap and very useful for all three younger children (even though it’s focus is pre-school to kindergarten). Starfall itself is free. I am also paying for the Children’s Musical Adventure keyboard lessons, which works out very cheap indeed for all three little ones to get lessons every day.

My next must have is a laminator. I use ours a lot for flash cards, mobiles, art projects, place mats, anything you want to keep in good condition for repetitive use. Pockets for the machine can be cheap if you shop around.

Wipe down tablecloth for all those craft things you’ll get up to.

Empty margarine tubs: no home ed mother throws away tubs with lids. They are just right for movable letters, flash cards, glue sticks, fraction blocks, bits of wool,….and so on. Those large round chocolate or biscuit tins. They are good as cake storage for the bakers in the family, but also for larger amounts of manipulatives, flash cards, attribute shapes, blocks and so on. Also there is the excellent extra bit of loveliness that you get to eat the chocolates first. Many people underestimate the essential role that chocolate plays in the lives of home educating mothers.

Essential furniture include a considerable number of bookcases and a large cupboard for all that craft stuff you will be stocking.

You will need an endless supply of glue, paint, pens, paper, salt and flour for salt dough. You will also need scissors, paint brushes, glitter, – well you get the idea.

Transport – This is an area we have some problems with, but we occasionally use a taxi to get us all and the wheelchair somewhere we really need to be.

Most HE mums tells me their highest HE bill is fuel as they drive quite some distance to many of the places they go.

What essentials do you use?

Judging a book.

I have been reading some Homeschool parents views and agree with the importance of building a home library of very good books. No surprise there then 🙂 Most parents are well aware that books can cause damage and are careful about what their children read. It’s a bit silly to keep children away from various screens on account of the content of the internet and TV channels, but give them free rein over all the revolting books aimed at destroying a child’s innocence or grammar and vocabulary. I know many American parents can say they have managed to get some lovely books from the library. To be honest our experience has been that finding high quality children’s books at the library has been quite a struggle. I have concluded that building a strong home library is the way to go.

Choosing books for our home library isn’t always easy. When I first took the children out of the school system I had come to the conclusion that there was hardly any literature of even a mediocre quality for children. Fortunately I was wrong. I like to look for recommendations from trusted sources, whether that be other parents whose views I trust, or websites with staff whose views I have learned are trustworthy. I have found some wonderful books this way. If I can’t find them, sometimes there are YouTube videos of the story.

One of my methods for choosing books is to read the reviews on Amazon. Now, the obvious disadvantage of these reviews is that I have no idea about the people writing them. Nevertheless there are some reviews that are clear and honest, giving me a good overview of whether to spend my cash that way. Some of the best adverts for books are the one star reviews. I have often gone ahead and bought a book based on the one star reviews.

But one thing I seem to be coming across with increasing frequency is those who give a book a one star review, saying the book is rubbish, for no other reason than they personally have not understood it! They are not criticising a deliberately opaque writing style, or an overuse of purple passage, they just say, I don’t get this so the book is rubbish. I can’t help wondering if this peevishness is rooted in the educational systems insistence that all must be rewarded. All are winners, and if a person faces some challenge they cannot immediately overcome then it’s the fault of the challenge, not the person who can’t meet it. To be honest I think it would be like me criticising the length of my road, simply because I can’t walk up it.

I wondered if this “if I don’t understand it, it must be wrong/rubbish,” view was a product of “modern” education: that is post 1970s (ish). But I stumbled upon a book from the early 20th C (public domain) about St Teresa of Avila by someone who doesn’t seem to have understood what she was doing with her life at all. He laments her humility and obedience as gross weaknesses that prevented her doing any good beyond the confines of her order and perhaps Spain – but as Spain remained Catholic she didn’t do her own country any favours really! It seems that the 19th Century had it’s share of people who thought they were qualified to write tomes on subjects of which they understood nothing. The author makes it clear he neither understands nor respects her vow to God, or her love of Carmel, and yet he claims he thinks she is a great woman. And why? He admires her great intellect and wit.

The writer is (sadly) a man of his time. Intellect and wit were the be all and end all. Simplicity, faith and wisdom were for the lesser people. Coming across someone like St Teresa had obviously left this author with some cognitive dissonance. How could this vastly intelligent woman had so abjectly failed to fulfil her potential he wonders?

I think I find in this book some of the roots of poor education as compulsory education was made law over America and Britain. The breadth and depth of the Classical approach to education was ditched in favour of something narrower, flatter and with a strangely arrogant edge to it.

In the end we are bound to have slid down to the place where a person will openly admit they have not understood something, and yet be arrogant enough to assume it is the author’s fault.

I really want my children to be willing to stretch themselves with reading and understanding what they read. Nothing worth while comes all that easily.

Feast day of St. Teresa of Avila, Dr of Church and my daughter’s patron.

It’s my daughter’s Name Day today. I have to confess I have been slack on this business, but I want to try and mark their saint name days a little better. I remember we came to a halt over the day for St. Ronan of Iona, who is so obscure he doesn’t appear to have a feast day. I think we decided to borrow from one of the Irish St. Ronan’s. Anyway today is the feast day of St. Teresa of Avila, a truly wonderful saint who is one of the very few (is it 7) doctors of the Church.

Teresa lived at a time when God was pouring out great downpours of Grace onto Spain and Italy. The saints that emerged in those turbulent times are so many that our St Teresa met many of them.

She met St Francis Borgia, St. John of the Cross. St Peter of Alcantara, St John of Avila, St John of God and possibly (can’t remember) St Robert Bellarmine. It seems that the people of Spain were blessed enough to be practically tripping over great saints in those days.

That’s quite an array of extremely holy people.  It shows that when Jesus said “I will not leave you orphaned,” He really meant it. As unrest, war and political upheaval happened in Europe and the blood of the martyrs particularly in England under the heavy axe of Elizabeth I, spread, God raised great voices for Himself, full of courage and true holiness. These men and women took their oaths seriously, and obeyed them even in the face of hostility from their own fellow Catholics sometimes.

We are reading Saint Teresa of Avila from the Encounter the Saints Series (No I haven’t bought the whole set – but it’s tempting isn’t it?) The children are enjoying it and the illustrations are very good.

Other books and resources –

The Life of St Teresa of Avila by St Teresa of Avila

Life of Teresa of Jesus I haven’t read this one so can’t review it.

St Teresa of Avila by Robert Hugh Benson a well written solid story of her life, which lacks the awful sentimentality that some 19th c authors felt needed to be part of saints stories. Good ol’Benson.

Fantastic St. Teresa resource page

The interior Castle Audio

The Interior Castle (or the Mansions) reading files I read this for Lent some years ago. Then one day as I was reading Charlotte Mason’s Ourselves from the Homeschooling series (its book 4 I think) I thought how much it resembled the work of St Teresa of Avila – in fact it was so similar it couldn’t be a coincident. I have since discovered, without much surprise, that Miss Mason was an avid reader of the great saint. In fact I have heard that a copy of St Teresa’s work was on her night table when she died.

An aside: When I was a child I hated saint stories. I had been given a couple of little saint books by someone. Each story was short and packed with sugar. Each illustration was of a syrupy saint gazing upwards fulfilling the motto of being so heavenly minded as to be no earthly good.

The exception for me was St. Bernadette. She had worked a quiet miracle for my grandfather giving him a good extra 5 years when he had been about to die. I took her as my Confirmation saint and happened to get a book some time later about her life which was written in a straight forward honest way. Even so, I assumed she was one of the “normal” saints unlike the rest of ’em. I heard in passing that St Ignatius Loyola had converted on reading the lives of saints, which astonished me as I wondered how a soldier could have found such sentimentality appealing.

Thankfully I now have access to a world of well written solid saint biographies and can share them with my children. They are growing up with a completely different view of the heroes and heroines of the Church – thankfully.

Why doesn’t God just show us He is there?

So many times I hear the question, why doesn’t God make it easy to believe in Him? If He is really there, why does He make it so hard for us to find Him? Even I have caught myself asking this question.

Of course Jesus answers it in His parable of Dives and Lazarus. Dives is the rich man who walks past the poor Lazarus every day and never so much as notices him as he leads his rich and comfortable existence. Both men die, and Dives is in the fires of either hell or purgatory and he calls out to father Abraham when he sees Lazarus, asking that Lazarus bring him a little water. Abraham says it’s impossible for either man to cross the chasm between them. Dives then (implying he is in purgatory) asks that someone go warn his brothers and receives the famous reply “Even is someone should rise from the dead they will not believe.”

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Home Education outcomes.

I have had some interesting conversations recently about the whole process of learning and facilitating our children’s learning. One of the most fascinating aspects of this is how many mums will profess marked differences in learning style and approach with siblings. Just like our family, they do not seem to have two children with the same approach to learning.

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Home Education and The Importance of Reading

I was talking to someone today about Home Education in general, outcomes in particular and we ended up discussing reading. I must admit I am very interested in how children learn to read. The person I was talking to today had been told that children will just pick up the ability to read in the same way they pick up the ability to speak. I was surprised that such a view as I have never seen anything that would support it.

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Life and Home Education – keeping up.

Things change. Last week, I had more than had enough of this home ed marlarky and felt exhausted and burned out. Well, here I am, feeling better- thanks to the fact that I am not nearly so ill as I was last week, and thanks also to the amazing spurt of work progress the children have made the last couple of days. But then it’s not so much that they have worked harder, but that I haven’t been on their case so much, so they have just settled down to get on with it.

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A question of miracles and angels (on what would be the Feast of Guardian Angels)

Someone asked whether there was evidence from other Christian communities of great miracles akin to those seen in the Catholic Church. It’s something I too have occasionally wondered about. Part of the way Christ proved His credentials was by the great miracles He performed and His apostles went on, with His authority, to do the same, which included raising the dead.

I am reading the life of St. Teresa of Avila by R.H Benson and I note the very great miracles associated with this amazing saint. She healed, she exuded holy oil and was (possibly still is) incorrupt.  I read a short story of St. Pio (Padre Pio) to the children for his feast day and there again there were some amazing miracles associated with him, not least of which was the restoration of a lost eye to a doctor who had been an atheist and who became Catholic.

Mgr Benson spent a lot of time in Lourdes and beheld many miracles himself there. Something like 70,000 people observed the miracle of the sun on October 13th 1917 that was centred around Fatima.

The miracle of Lanciano is another almost shocking miracle which defies science as Christ allowed cardiac tissue to form within the centre of a Consecrated Host and the wine turned to blood. It’s all been tested and yet still there are those, so terrified by the implications who either insist it just must be a hoax, or more comfortably, ignore it. This is in the face that 1200 years later the blood and cardiac tissue are still fine.

Benson tells the story of how the author Zola actually observed a miracle and went home and lied about it, rather than accept what he had seen in Lourdes. Zola of course was desperate to remain atheist, but what excuse for side stepping huge miracles do Christians have?

On a slightly different note I wonder about Guardian angels. We always tend to think of Guardian Angels as the ones who take care of us on an individual basis. We hear stories of saints who had a very close relationship with their angel – Padre Pio for example. But I also wonder about guardian angels for countries.

The children at Fatima first received a visit from the Angel of Portugal, and received the promise that Portugal would never lose the Faith. We know from Scripture that Israel had a guardian angel, which I think was St. Michael. I assume from this that every country has a guardian angel, but I wonder if countries who as a cultural whole reject God, also reject the protection of their angel. Countries with horrible histories like Germany and England come to mind. Is it possible to (for want of a better term) sack/fire a guardian angel?

I was reading Divine Office a couple of days ago and Jesus condemns whole towns, Chorazim and Capernaum, and then in Revelation John is told of the Seven Churches and the one in Laodicea is in for a serious judgement. So I am wondering if individual parishes and archdiocese have an angel?

I am also left wondering about invincible ignorance? If God has given His Church plenty of miracles, some of which are pretty astonishing even by miraculous standards, and if He sends His Mother to speak to us, and if there is plenty of opportunity, especially these days, for people to get access to this information – how genuinely invincably ignorant are many people? I suppose that’s for God and the individual to work out.

The miracles produced by the saints of the Church through the Grace of God are often amazing, sometimes mysterious and of course very thoroughly researched these days.

And thankfully the age of miracles is not over. I loved the story of the dead baby who returned to life after prayers to Fulton Sheen. Hopefully he will be canonised soon.

Now then, when will we see a miracle attributed to Gilbert and Frances Chesterton? Soon I hope 🙂



Not every Home Education day (week, month…) is a good one.

Let’s face it, sometimes being a home educating mum feels like pounding at a hard nut and not cracking it.

I confess that the last couple of weeks have been truly hard and I reached the end of my tether yesterday and decided I had no choice but to send Ronan to school and concentrate on the girls. Part of this may be having the flu (or something like it) and trying to keep on top of everything while being yukky, hot and cold and generally erchgh. (If that isn’t a word, it is now. Neologisms r us).

I had planned, with planning sheets and everything, that Ronan would be a bit more inependant in his learning this year. This was mainly based on trying to fit more and more work with Heleyna into the day, and I must admit, I wanted more time for me. Ahem. I didn’t really consider too closely whether it would work or not. Lesson learned!

At the end of a difficult week, a couple of my children are on probation. If next week begins in the same way, they are grounded. So, I dismissed them for the day and they went off to bake and peel acorns ready for leaching the tannin. I put the radio on and set about clearing up and checking the workbooks, wondering what on earth I was going to do, to keep the HE boat afloat.

I was listening to Dr. Ray Guarendi,(Sept 27th or 28th) and suddenly a mother phoned in who was thinking of sending her recalcitrant ten-year old to school because she just wasn’t getting anywhere with him. Dr. Ray gave her some ideas and even gave a rendition of how her day had been. It was MY DAY (well fortnight) as well!! She laughed and I had to too. After giving some final thoughts, including the very good one that leaving the lad to get on with it, and if his day dreaming and groaning means he has to work through tea time and loose free time then so be it. He finished with the words, “Don’t let a ten year old decide for you whether you can homeschool or not.”

So, I am ready – and less fluey which helps a lot – and on Monday, the work will be laid out and I will not bother about how long it takes. I will stop what is happening for joint work, and then outstanding work must be done.

There’s acorn flour to make too. We didn’t get as much tannin out as I expected, which makes me suspicious there’s still an awful lot in there. So more leaching is ahead. Then we’ll make a little soda bread bun or something similar – not to eat too much of it. English oak is not as safe as American oak apparently. But in times of famine it has served English people well.

It wont hurt the children to understand how bad things can be when there’s no food to eat. They have done without some stuff, when we’ve been skint – but have never starved or done without a meal.

Or is cooking acorns really hippy????

UPDATE- I’m going to have a go with Kalei’s little “organise your learning” set.