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?