Category Archives: Uncategorized

I’m Sorry To Tell You…

…but this is not Michelle writing but her daughter Iona.

Unfortunately my mum passed away on Tuesday night. As most of you know, she had experienced a long eleven year struggle with a complex illness that even I could not start to explain, and I feel she was ready to go home. She never made it to the hospital, but died at home attended by paramedics who did a wonderful, sensitive job. The cause of death is known, but as yet has not been properly explained to us by her GP, so I cannot give you any real information on that.

The family has come together and the children are coping as ¬†well as they can, we hope you will have us in your prayers for the coming days and months, and as mum once wrote ‘if you don’t have a God, borrow one’.

I know that she appreciated the love and support she found from her internet friends and so we all thank you for any advice, kind comments and the faithful readership you offered her in her life.




Home ed happens anyway.

It’s been rough recently. For dysautonomia awareness month my dysautonomia is making me very aware of it.

This week is a quiet week for home ed. I’ve set music, reading, finishing off work including the Archimedes pack and we’ve started an artists lapbook.

I had a doctors appt to get to today. I was gone a long time. When I got back the children were doing some cooking with Iona. They had finished off all their lessons and watched an episode of SALSA (which they love) before starting some cooking.

It’s really heartening to see how they just continue to do their learning no matter what’s going on around them. They were pretty proud of themselves too ūüôā

The plan for me is that I am to go back to the doc on Thurs if I’ve managed to stay out of hospital until then. As it happens half term is coming up so hospital wouldn’t effect things so much anyway. We’ll see. Hospital is no place for sick people – but I am running out of excuses not to go in.

Talent – it’s out there. Go and see.

I’m not sure I’m allowed to say this, but honestly, my children are quite talented really.

finalrender_cu_001Alex is revamping his portfolio at WESTBURY BISCUIT and it’s looking good. You can click on the pictures and see how they came about. I love the Captain who’s creation you can see HERE. More recently he has been working his way through some Andrew Loomis work so he can get a good handle on drawing figures.

Things in the video games industry are a bit rough right now, but with a lot of hard work Alex hopes to make it onto the ladder when things improve.

Iona has a blog with her friend at Life the Universe and Would You Pass theP1100644 Custard Creams? Iona posts her poems which are always funny. She has also set up a place to show her cakes as her business is officially launched by the end of next week. See her creations at Iona Rose Cakes.

I am being a proud mum, but you have to admit – they are good at what they do.

Day of Prayer and Fasting for Syria

873159734232b37b679313fd7ea15336Pope Francis has called for a worldwide day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria. He has given his ideas for negotiating peace in this situation to Pres. Putin who is chairing the G20 summit.

In the UK the vote went against the war. Both our Government and Obama’s want to go against the Syrian Govt by backing the groups, one of whom is Al Qaeda. How it can be even remotely ethical to back terrorism is beyond me.

The Christians are being slaughtered by the very people Cameron and Obama wish to support!

So prayer and fasting is sorely needed.

Book list for boy aged 10 -11 (USA grade 4-5 UK year 5-6)

I thought I would write a list of the books that Ronan has read, listened to and what I’d like him to read over the next few months. Obviously I’m not saying the books are only suitable for boys – but they are books I think he’ll enjoy.

Literature and fun

The Narnia books all of them. We have them in paperback but they are a bit messed up. Also free audio at Ancient Faith Radio

The Letzenstein Chronicles bks 1-4

The Hobbit Alvin Fernald books

The Railway Children

Around the World in 80 Days

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Historical novels

Eagle of the Ninth Chronicles Rosemary Sutcliffe and other of her books.

The Blood Red Crescent

Detectives in Togas and The Roman Ransom

Secret of the Shetlands

Hidden Treaures of Glaston

Red Hugh

The High Deeds of Finn MacCool

Alfred of Wessex


The Little Duke Charlotte M Yonge

Living Books factual History/Science

The Mystery of the Periodic Table

Galen and the Gateway to Medicine and Archimedes and the Door to Science

Mythology and tales

Odysseus and Troy 

The Age of Fable

Books of¬†Padraic Colum¬†including¬†The Children’s Homer¬†which I have in hardcopy (from a second hand bookshop in Wigtown) There are other books and a few years ago


Beethoven by Thomas Tapper

The Story of My Life Helen Keller



Gutenburg Children’s bookshelves (free ebooks)

Other books Home Geography Long

Possibly the Tarzan books

I bought the full pack of Yesterday’s Classics¬†which works out pretty well. Their sister site Baldwin Classics has now launched a curriculum. Check out Heritage History as well.

The poverty diet, charity and neighbours.

This article on how chronically sick people (specifically those with ME in this case) find themselves poor and therefore relying on cheap or free food, making them sicker for longer, opens a can of questions.

u8_thin-girl-fat-girlFirst of all, we know from other studies and just knowing people, that the poverty diet is part of the everyday life of a lot of people regardless of their health when they became poor. The rise in rickets, malnutrition and even the return of scurvy to Britain is surely a sign that we are getting it badly wrong. The exponential rise in people having type 2 diabetes is surely linked with the poverty diet.

Now food must be handed out to the poor from Government distribution systems such as food banks, so that people don’t starve. We have a food bank opening up just up the road where my oldest daughter will volunteer. ¬†There is no famine, no war, no massive shift in the population and yet many people can’t or don’t eat healthy well balanced food, and food prices are getting very high indeed.

It’s not just because people are poor. A lot of the problem is that food quality is so bad, and cheap food is often barely food at all. ¬†We have poisoned the soil and our fruit an veg have sucked up pesticides for so long that rinsing them under the tap or peeling them is pointless. We’ve known for years that industrially farmed meat is bad for animals and for those who eat them, but it’s still more expensive and more difficult to find free range meat and organic meat is out of most people’s regular price range.

Being fat is not the biggest problem we face. Being sick because we can’t get the right minerals and vitamins to keep us from being very ill is the problem. The poverty diet becomes a vicious circle. You can’t eat healthy food, so you either stay sick, get worse or become sick; then you are too sick to earn more money, or to keep your job, so you stay on the poverty diet. Worse still, being ill can prevent a person being able to cook properly and so getting easy food becomes a habit.

Poor diet has been implicated in the massive rise in depression. The quick fix approach to this serious disease is to hand out prescriptions of antidepressants all of which have the side effect of weight gain. In women poor diet leads to hormonal imbalances which are always treated with the sledgehammer of chemical contraception, with the side effect of weight gain.

Then there are those of us on loads of steroids and yes, you guessed it, weight gain is a major side effect.

We’ve known for years that starvation diets and starvation in “real” situations has a negative effect on metabolism and we know that poor quality food effects both physical and mental health but still starvation diets are advertised as a good idea, and it’s only recently that any move to improve the quality of hospital food has happened.

It has also been well known for a long time that starvation effects metabolism and so people who have been starved often end up heavier once they can eat a normal amount because their metabolism is used to conserving energy. Couple this with the rise in diseases like Dysautonomia and ME which effect metabolism and the problem is made worse. The question remains unanswered (unresearched thanks to the way food is distributed by very big and powerful business) on whether diet is at the root of the exponential rise in autoimmune diseases. It has been noted that in Asian and African countries autoimmune disease is rare, but in Asian and African populations living in the West it’s on the rise at a shocking rate.

gkc1The BBC are repeating the interesting mini series documentary “The Men Who Made us Fat” alongside a new doc “The Men Who Made us Thin”. Obviously it’s the BBC so treat with caution but the questions raised are valid.

Now that the cause for dear ol’G.K.C. is finally moving ahead perhaps we can get ourselves a patron saint of fat people. There is a story that a lady approached him rather crossly during the war and demanded to know why he wasn’t out at the front.

“Madam,” responded GK, “If you walk to the side you will see that I am.”

Iona and other lovely places

We have been very blessed to get just over two weeks holiday again this year. We went up to the caravan site near Bamburgh and spent a day on Lindisfarne, aka Holy Isle.

P1020974It’s family tradition that the children walk the causeway from Beale on the mainland to Lindisfarne, following the poles that stick out of the sand marking the way. The older three have walked the causeway a few times and last year was Ronan’s first time. This year Avila joined the walk for her first time also. Hopefully Heleyna will get her turn in the next couple of years.

P1020977It’s not quite the same as the monks and pilgrims because we meet them in the car at the end, but it’s close.

From Bamburgh we came up to Edinburgh and spent the night catching up with cousins. The children all played together as though they see each other every day, rather than once or twice a year. I love how well they get on.

The folks went on their holiday at some unearthly hour the next morning and left us their house for two weeks.

We were able to meet up with other family and catch up.

Then on Tuesday we headed north to Iona where we had a B&B booked for two nights and Josh’n’Jenny had a hotel booked.P1110515

It’s a very long journey through stunning countryside, mountains and waterfalls. The Highlands are Tolkeinesque in beauty and space.

We got the ferry to the island of Mull and drove across it to the ferry that would take us to Iona.

P1110694We were last their 12 years ago. It’s been a long time and Ronan has been looking forward to going there for a long time. He finally got to visit the ruins of the Augustinian nunnery that was destroyed by Henry VIII and handed over to his already wealthy friends. In the ground is what is left of the little chapel dedicated to St. Ronan of Iona.

Ronan was a bit disappointed that the building had been turned into a kind of shed and locked up. But we saw it at least.

P1110605The lady who ran the B&B was lovely. She had a lovely kitchen and we were allowed to use it whenever we liked, making tea and coffee. She was very generous and took a real shine to the children. She told me the whole island had been told about my kids ‚Äď in a good way! She had a particular soft spot for Iona and gave her a big hug when we left.

She met us at the ferry and gave us all a lift to the house and then took us back to the ferry when we left.

Ronan overcame his fear of dogs making friends with a big softie of a dog who just loved being stroked and fussed.

There were sheep in the garden (owned by the son) and views across the sea.

We were going to head further north but the travelling was way too much so we came back to Edinburgh. Al needed a rest after all that driving.

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Blog rest

I don’t think I’ll be do much blogging for a couple of weeks. Might not be doing any at all.

But I will be back.

You have been warned.

Home education: Avoiding both Twaddle and poison.

Charlotte Mason warned us parents against the “diluted twaddle that is commonly thrust upon children...” because she, quite rightly, saw it as an insult to their intelligence.

P1020263I confess without guilt that I do censor what my children consume, whether it’s food, books, media or clothes. They have neither TV nor computer in their rooms and they don’t have a phone. The 10 and 8 year olds have Kindle’s and I decide what goes on them.

A child centred education means offering what’s best for the child, not merely allowing them to consume whatever they like.

So far this approach hasn’t been a problem. It’s been remarkably easy to keep out the twaddle, let alone the really poisonous stuff aimed at children. But they are young yet and I know from previous experience it can get much harder when they are in their teens.

I think it’s actually a little easier to ensure they get access to good stuff these days than it used to be. Either that, or I am better at finding it. In a strange way I think the internet – that thing most dreaded by so many parents – is a very useful tool for offering information that I would never have had access to when the oldest three were little.

Home educating the children has also made things a lot easier. Home ed kids tend to be more innocent over all, and less worldly. They aren’t usually as steeped in the culture. That’s not to say some aren’t and that we can all let our guard down. While our little home ed world may be safe enough, the culture is still very toxic.

I did think that as I policed what the children had, I would have battles of will with them – like when you try to make a toddler eat something that might be good for them and all they want is crisps and electric green sweets. However this just hasn’t happened (yet). I do have a massive advantage in that their older siblings are good at policing things too. Alex is the video games master; so they have Minecraft and some oldies like Mariocart. Just in case you are saying “Hang on a minute, are you saying that have an x-box?” And then you may be thinking “Well, she’s not as on the ball as she pretends.”

Yes, they have an xbox which is inherited from their older brother. The games they have are also inherited from him. I don’t object to computer or games console games; I merely object to the children having access to media that is bad for them. They all use a computer and sometimes this includes “play time” rather than just educational stuff. ¬†This is part of their allotted “free screen” time and they don’t get to play for hours. In fact they get an hour unless there’s something else going on and then they get none. They get plenty of outdoors time and play traditional games like Snakes and Ladders and Chess.

On learning from websites and the studies on computer access and brain development – well, it’s a shambles. I think it’s fair to say that many of the studies done are as bad, if not worse, than those done for ME/Cfs. There’s rarely a separation between long hours on Grand Theft Auto and the watching and playing the lessons on the Khan Academy.

It’s actually pretty easy to make sure they don’t watch “bad” TV or play games they shouldn’t because the media is in the house – in the living room.

I don’t make a big deal of what equipment we use for learning, or entertainment. I simply police it all. The children then (hopefully) get into the habit of using the stuff wisely. I have been interested to see that having a Kindle each has not stopped the older two from reading hardcopy books. Part of this may be because we use hardcopy and computer for lessons.

More and more books are available for children that are well written and free thanks to the public domain resources. That’s not to say that all “old” books are wonderful and new ones are awful. Again, we have a mix and some old books are pretty awful, just as some newer ones.

They love the books from Bethlehem¬†and thanks to forums, blogs and even the dreaded Facebook, I’ve had good tips for books from Amazon or elsewhere.

I try to tread a path between the “hate your siblings” and “parents are stupid” on the one side and the moral sledgehammer, complete with so much sugar I could raid Josh’s insulin stash on the other.

I don’t force books on the children, if they really don’t like them. We have given up on a couple of books because they just didn’t suit the kids. They weren’t bad books and they are obviously well loved by other families but just not mine.

I don’t allow them to ditch a book just because it’s a little bit hard to read. They need to stretch themselves sometimes. This should bare good fruit later when they are willing and able to choose good media for themselves.

It’s been harder with films to keep out the rot. However I think we’ve managed it pretty well. There are some really lovely family films that don’t offer gore, violence or sex and do offer genuine relationships and a good story.

Steven Graydanus 60 sec reviews are useful.

Ramsay’s Disease – the efficacy of Evening Primrose Oil and the Exercise idol (pt2)

Ramsay’s Disease is authored by Dr Simpson who has done years of research and Nancy Blake who has ME.

(Ramsay’s Disease blog entry 1)

Dr. Simpson points out the various studies that show the efficacy of fairly high doses of Evening Primrose Oil in enhancing the fluidity of blood flow. ¬†Fish oils had also had some success, he says. ¬†There have been studies showing that high doses of EPO can assist women with premenstrual tension. It has also been shown to improve luteal phase defect probably because of it’s action on prostaglandin. I already knew about the latter studies and this is why EPO made it into the BNF a few years ago – don’t know if it’s still there. Simpson doesn’t mention luteal phase defect, but then he isn’t writing about fertility problems, he’s interested in blood flow and capillary size in people with ME.

He proposes that “people who develop ME have the anatomical feature of smaller-than-usual capillaries in those parts of the body which become dysfunctional and manifest symptoms…” which seems fair enough,and might go some way to explain why more women than men are dx with ME, (and that’s before you take the different hormone balances into consideration) and then he continues with “after exposure to an agent which initiates changes in the shape populations of red blood cells.” And that leaves us with the mighty question what agent?

I don’t remember being ill before I became ill (if you get me) I didn’t have the classic “flu that never went away”. I didn’t even have the equally common “virus that went away and came back and then never went away” either. I was fine. Then I couldn’t walk and was in terrible pain and other weirdness; but nothing obviously viral.

If Simpson is right and small capillaries are part of the problem then that makes me wonder how many of us were harbouring the problem until something (I suppose the “agent”) triggered it. I’ve always had what adults around me called “poor circulation”. It means I tended to have colder extremities. But that was it. Nothing like the Raynaud’s I now have or the POTs rash and blood pooling or the purple feet and knees, as adverts of my dysautonomia. That’s new. But if I always had circulation problems then that would tick a Simpson box about overly small capillaries.

All of this would lead to poor profusion and explain the muscle fatigue – moving from aerobic to anaerobic at the least provocation; raising lactic acid and of course leading to a crash (PEM/PENE)

Simpson does not claim that taking Evening Primrose Oil could or will cure ME. He’s aware of the complex and just plain nasty side of the disease, but EPO could help blood flow and this should lead to some alleviation of some symptoms.

The lack of acknowledgement of much of the research and complete lack of follow up is frustrating.

At the end there is a discussion of some of the deliberate hurdles and obfuscation that has been put in the way of a proper diagnostic criteria and treatment plan.

As the author notes, if those people who came forward to take part in the much discredited PACE trials were excluded if they suffered Post Exertional Malaise (PEM) sometimes called Post Exertional Neuro Exhaustion (PENE) were excluded from the study then not one participant actually had ME! (cf loc 5185 90% Kindle edition)

The book ends with a very good commentary by Nancy Blake whose professional background is in psychiatry. She points out that a tick box approach to diagnosis is not a good way for medics to decide what is happening or how to help a patient. She also, rightly, points out that labelling people with ME as having a psychiatric disorder without any history of precipitating factors is not going to be accurate.

Misdiagnosing people with ME as having a completely made up dx of Somatoform disorder is deeply unethical. Ms Blake doesn’t challenge the existence of Somatoform disorder in her criticism of it’s use to label people with ME, but frankly as there is no evidence the disorder exists at all, you have to question the motives of the doctor who uses it.

She goes on to note how research is heavily hampered by the downright silly mess of diagnostic criterias available some of which, such as the most ridiculous one, the Oxford Criteria do mention PEM but don’t ¬†have it as required. ¬†This means lots of non-ME are misdiagnosed with ME/cfs as well.

She writes:

Fighting against this illness in the way that medicine and convention expect us to will ensure that we lose not only the battle it also the war – in the short term, we will get worse. In the long term, we may end up among the 25% who are completely disabled.”

I have to agree. I did what I was told at the beginning of all this and now I am much sicker, and more disabled than I think I would have been had I listened to what my body was telling me. There are so many other patients who tell the same story.

Further reading

A story in the Telegraph about a woman who died from complications of  ME

How to commit a mortal sin.

It’s the birthday of St. John the Baptist today. He was to be the last of the Old Covenant prophets, pointing towards the coming of the Lamb of God who brings about the New Covenant.

220px-Jacopo_Pontormo_031According to a small t tradition I have heard recently, John was thought to never have sinned. He wasn’t immaculately conceived; he was conceived with the missing grace of Original Sin, but he never chose to do wrong. ¬†I think this tradition comes from some of the Fathers.

John called people to repentance and then he offered them a form of baptism that allowed them to make a sign of how sorry they were and the intention of starting again and trying to live a better life. This was not the Sacramental baptism Jesus commanded His apostles to perform, but it was a well recognised symbol in Jewish tradition.

John spoke out for marriage and against the adulterous and unlawful marriage of Herod and Herodias. He was arrested, imprisoned and beheaded.

The question seems to come up quite a bit about how many people are really in a state of mortal sin, when they commit mortal sins. Was Herod truly guilty?

Well, it depends. Committing adultery and/or entering into an unlawful marriage is grave matter – that is, it’s very serious. There are many things that are grave matter, that can remove the grace God has put in our souls.

Herod would have needed to know his action was sinful. Now, Herod may not have known, but then John told him, so then he knew. If he knew and committed the act anyway – then that’s a state of mortal sin.

So, in a nutshell; it has to be grave matter – that is, something seriously bad.

The person has to know it is grave matter

And they do it anyway.

“Aha!” says Clever Clogs, “I see the ‘Get out of hell free’ card. If we don’t know it’s bad, we can do it! WHoo-hoo!”

Not quite.

You see while there is such a thing as invincible ignorance – it’s not as easy to be invincibly ignorant as Clever Clogs might like.

First of all there’s the natural law which is written on our hearts. This means that deep down we know that killing the old lady next door, or an unborn baby is a very bad thing. We can ignore the feeling but it’ll be very difficult to explain to Himself that you didn’t know, and couldn’t know at all.

On top of that, most people have access to information that can form their consciences and therefore have an obligation to form their consciences in line with God’s will.

Some people genuinely couldn’t know that something is bad and they do it in genuine ignorance. We can’t say who or when, but God knows. All we can know, for ourselves, is that avoiding the truth isn’t invincible ignorance, it’s willful ignorance and that isn’t a good idea. Doing whatever you like and avoiding anything uncomfortable is a very dangerous way to be a Christian.

So, my advice about hell – don’t go there.

Will the changes in GCSEs help home educators?

The Conservatives Hold Their Annual Party Conference - Day 4Michael Gove is setting about changing the way GCSEs are done. My dh says one of the changes will be that pupils will be reading whole books for English. That has to be a change for the better – if it happens.

Gove is ditching course work and continual assessment, probably, in light of the unsurprising news that parents and even teachers were doing the coursework for pupils, on a rather embarrassingly regular basis. So, those who cheated were getting better results than those who did the work for themselves. ¬† Gove is moving to an exam only GCSE. Is this a good thing? Umm, I don’t know, but it might make life just a tiny bit easier for home ed children.

If this actually happens then I wonder if home educators might feasibly have an easier time accessing exams.

As it stands most people seem to either send their children to school or college for GCSEs or they (like us) go through the IGCSE route with the massive exam costs that go with it.

There had been some colleges willing to take pupils at any age, so long as they were ready, but that door got slammed when funding changes ensured that pupils able to take GSCEs at 13 or 14 would not be able to and would therefore have to wait until they were of a bureaucratically acknowledged age. I can’t help wondering, sometimes, if Gove et al actually want children to be educated.

Gove has also announced that GCSE exams will be harder. I wonder if this means GCSE and IGCSEs will now be on the same level. At the moment it is generally recognised that IGCEs are harder and therefore of a higher quality.

While on the surface these changes might look good, I’ll wait and see. It’s under this Government that UCAS as ditched equivalencies making Open University points worthless while easier exams are accepted. ¬†It is going to be a massive shift in emphasis from getting an education to jumping through hoops and I am yet to be convinced that this will happen.

It is very frustrating to see that in America many universities are welcoming homeschooled students with open arms because they have noticed how much better educated they are, on average, than schooled children; that over here doors that were open or opening have been shut. UCAS needs scrapping completely, as it’s nothing more than a tick box machine that rejects well qualified students simply because there isn’t a box to tick.

American universities have a massive advantage in that they still meet with would-be students and actually interview them. This helps form a view of whether a student can actually do the work of the degree. Having a box ticked that shows a student has a good memory, is hardly a ringing endorsement as far as I can see. Having a folder full of lovely exam results but an inability to work independently or treat other people with respect is not a good start in adult life.

I am glad I don’t have children old enough for any of this right now. Whether it will be better or worse by the time they are old enough I don’t know. ¬†I did think the children could get work and do a part-time degree with the Open University but they have jumped on the “charge excessively” bandwagon and their courses are simply no longer affordable.

As things stand I would prefer my children to do one of the very good quality homeschool Highschool Diplomas, but as UCAS narrows it’s boxes this might not be the right choice – unless they don’t want to go to Uni over here or at all.

As more distance learning is launched I’ll be keeping an eye on what options the children might have.

Confessions of a Home Educator; I’m not teaching them much,

A lot of homeschooling parents will refer to themselves as their children’s teacher, and I suppose all parents are teachers to some extent in that we have to teach our children how to do things or about stuff. This side of the pond home educators tend to say they are not teachers, but rather they facilitate¬†their children’s learning. I think I’m a bit of everything, but that’s what comes with being a mother. All mothers who mother are teachers, facilitators, mediators, and loads more just by dint of bringing up children. ¬†Is it different being a mother who home educates to being a mother whose children go to school?

Honestly, yes. It’s quite different. There are some things that overlap. I no longer have evenings filled with homework and grumpy children who have done hours at school and now have at least a couple of hours of homework. All the homework is done in learning time so their evenings are their own. In fact quite often their afternoons are their own, and they have learned to cook, paint and do some rather odd science experiments in that time. Quite often learning does happen in the evenings but it’s because they’ve found something that interests them, not because I’ve nagged them to get it done because it must be handed in.

But the main reason I don’t see myself as a teacher is because I don’t have a clue about a lot of the things they are learning. I never did grammar at school so now that Ronan is doing lots of it, I can get completely lost. Fortunately his workbooks are clearly laid out and so if he gets stuck we go through it together. Usually he gets it before I do.

Thankfully the children are not limited to learning only what I can teach them, and this has been good for me too. I am learning maths (properly at last) alongside the children as they watch the DVDs or Khan Academy vids. I am learning Latin (I only know choir-Latin) and Greek thanks to the great curriculum I am able to get from America where homeschooling has been going on longer and where there seems to be a commitment to good resources. I am also learning Spanish with them.

I’ve picked up my love of history again we learn together and there’s plenty of stuff they have taught me over the years as they went off following an interest.

The joy of home ed is I don’t have to be the teacher who knows and talks at them about what I know. I can be just as ignorant of the subject as they are and we work on it together. The fact that so many suppliers offer CD, DVD or other forms of lessons makes this so much easier.

No more “prove it” fears.

We are registered with the Local Authority because I pulled the older ones from school. I was obliged to write to the school explaining I was removing the children to educate them at home. The head then sends the letter to the LA and so we are registered. Families who have never sent children to school don’t have to be registered.

In the early days I was paranoid that I wouldn’t have enough “proof” that I was doing what I said I was doing so we got through a LOT of workbooks and worksheets and I took (and still take) lots of photos.

As it happens I’ve never had to show the LA person anything as they aren’t obliged to look and they aren’t obliged to look because they don’t offer anything to help.

P1020699I still print off a lot of sheets really but now that I’ve invested in a good quality whiteboard the children can use that for lessons and rub it out later. I don’t need to have “proof” on paper.

I haven’t been seen by the LA for a couple of years, which I assume means they are happy with what I am up to.

(some) Reasons to Home Educate.

P1020598There are so many reasons I am home educating that I could probably write a book on it. Not a particularly coherent book, probably, but certainly a very big one.

There are certain parts of my children’s academic education that I think are very important and are simply not properly covered by the National curriculum if they are covered at all. I want them to learn critical thinking. We have approached this with visual perceptual skills to start with and then thinking skills and analogies. From there we will look at Logic, fallacies and ordered thought processing.

In Maths, as much as I grouch about the shocking cost of Math U See, it is very ordered and sensible in it’s approach so the children grasp concepts well before building on them with the next ones. It’s a different and more logical approach than what the NC offers.

In science they don’t get as much hands on work as I would like (and they used to get) but from what I gather, they still get to do more genuine finding out type work than is available in schools.

But there’s more than just the academic side:

Socialisation: Yes, the S word. Like most home educators who have been doing this for more than a week I have noticed my children have good social skills; better than I would have expected. Sibling relationships are so much better than I could have hoped for and the children have learned to have patience for youngsters, gentleness with babies and respect for children and adults who are “different”. That’s if they even notice. In our home ed group we have children who look different because of a rare genetic disorder (It is Ectodermal Dysplasias Awareness Month) and a mother (me) who uses a wheelchair and sometimes twitches and jerks about a bit, or gets breathless and can’t speak. The kids don’t care. They all take it as part of life.

It makes me laugh when I hear people say that home educators are shielding our children from “real life”. We are giving them way more real life than they would ever get in school. They see mums pregnant and see the baby soon after birth, they see disability, different ages and all kinds of life in the community.

Quiet time: We live in a busy, loud and rushy-abouty culture. Children need quiet times. They need time to simply be, to read or sit and think. Adults need this too of course, but children especially. The constant full-on activity and noise levels at school are horrible, even for kids who aren’t sound sensitive. ¬†(The number of stories I’ve read and seen and even know personally or children on drugs – usually Ritalin – just in term time should raise a whole bagload of concerns)

When Avila was still very sick, she used to need to go and lie down quietly. Sometimes I’d continue a lesson while one of the other mums would take her off somewhere quiet and read her a story.

Child centred learning; Instead of imposing a pre-packaged system on my children, I am able to tailor their learning to their needs. Ronan gets a more Classical approach and Avila a kind of Charlotte Mason cum Montessori approach while Heleyna gets Montessori with the slow and repetitious approach that she needs while she battles her dyslexia.P1020263

I know, from experience, that if Heleyna was in school now, she would be failing.  Her short term memory is very bad (a common thing in dyslexia) and so we need to repeat and work slowly through things quite a bit. She needs plenty of hands on work and plenty of break times to get through. Even a good SENCO would struggle with that when s/he had so many children with SEN to deal with. I had 8 SEN children in one class when I was working and their needs were so different it was impossible to offer them what they needed. One of those children really needed one to one all day every day and he was lucky to get 10 minutes a week with me alone.

Reading books: Perhaps because four of my children have some level of dyslexia, but also because I think good literature is good for the soul, the mind and life in general, I want my children to read. I want them to read whole books from beginning to end and I want them to enjoy reading. Charlotte Mason put forward the method of narration where the child would discuss what s/he had read. This can be made formal or better yet, an informal chat where the children, having loved what they have read will automatically want to tell you all about it.

The other side of this coin is I get to help them choose the books they will read. This means I can get them to stretch themselves with a book or two which isn’t as easy as they might otherwise choose to read. It also means I can avoid letting them poison themselves with nasties. As it happens bad books haven’t been an issue with us so far. There’s a lot of good stuff out there, some of it old and some of it new, and more of it coming onto the market; so there’s no time for rubbish books thankfully.

Home Ed meet ups: As is the nature of things, home ed groups vary. But the one we attend these days is just a lovely group.

There’s a whole LOAD of reasons I don’t want my children to go to school. I try not to be too anti-school, but so many parents tell me so many things and I remember well the ridiculous targets and boxes to tick even in Reception classes.

One other thing that has been bugging me is the medical papers I’ve been reading recently. I am astonished by the appallingly bad standard of much that gets published. I can’t help wondering if this is the standard Journals think is acceptable, what kind of education have these people had? I went to a working class comp and frankly, I could write better articles than some of the ones I’ve seen. I certainly want my children to have a better education than that.

I love the flexibility of home education. I love that the children are not interrupted by bells and moving to new classrooms when they are settled and interested in their work. I love that they have friends of different ages.

The other thing I’ve noticed and love is that the home ed children play together and there is no gender separation. Boys and girls are happy together and respectful of one another. On a side note, but one that I think pertains to Home Ed, I’ve seen and heard the argument against girls as altar servers, saying it puts boys off serving. At our church boys and girls, men and women, serve together without a problem, and my boys have never said they don’t want to serve with the girls. If any son of mine did say that I would have to have a little chat about respect. But I don’t think (I certainly hope) that this won’t be an issue as it’s simply not an issue with the home ed children we know.

My time with them: I hadn’t appreciated this until quite recently. But the fact that I am around them all the time means they can tell me stuff, ask me stuff and we can just cuddle up and talk together. ¬†The importance of this becomes more evident as they get older.

These are just some of the reasons to home ed. There are so many more.

Fatima, the Pope and a touch of eschatology.

miracle_of_fatimaIt’s the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima today, commemorating her first appearance in the little town of Fatima in Portugal to the three children Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco on May 13th 1917.

Today,  96 years later Pope Francis will consecrate his pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima.

Blessed Pope John Paul II dedicated himself to Our Lady of Fatima too, especially as he saw her hand in saving his life on May 13th 1981 when he was shot.

The apparitions at Fatima have to be one of the most important visits Our Mother has made to us over the last 2000 years. ¬†Her promise that the War would end was fulfilled pretty quickly and the solders returned home. But she had made a stark warning. Men needed to repent, abide by her Son’s commandments and basically get our act together or there would be another war. She made it clear, that just as Scripture tells us, wars happen as a result of sin. She also warned that Russia would spread her errors over the world and nations would be annihilated.

Even after the spectacular miracle of the sun seem by over 70,ooo people, some many miles away, there wasn’t the right response to her plea. She had told Lucia that a strange light would be seen in the sky to herald the new war.

On Jan 25th 1938 an unusal aurora borealis was seen so far south that it caused fire engines to be sent out around London to find the source of the red lights filling the sky. Scientists made note of it’s unusual stretch and discovered it was caused by a surge in sunspot activity.

Lucia wrote to the Holy Father from her convent saying this was the sign.

Two months later the Second World War began.

Lucia became very ill and it looked likely, at the time, that she might die. In obedience to her bishop she wrote down the Third Secret and it was sent to the Vatican with instructions that it should not be told to the world until after 1960.

For whatever reason, Pope John XXIII read the message and did not announce it. The secret wasn’t announced until after the shooting and amazing survival of Bl. Pope John Paul II. Unfortunately the late announcement, coupled with a somewhat over enthusiastic view from Cdl Sodano that the prophecy was completed – when the vision hardly showed the events of 1981 has resulted in a large number of disgruntled and concerned people thinking that a) there’s more the to the 3rd secret (Lucia said there wasn’t) and b) the consecration of Russia hasn’t taken place properly yet (Lucia said it had) and c) there’s more of the secret we do know to be fulfilled (this seems very likely as only Cdl Sodano seemed to think it was all done with).

It’s a sad fact that all the dire warnings Our Blessed Mother gave us at Fatima have come to pass. If only we had listened. ¬†But the message of Fatima is just as important today so we can still respond to Christ’s call via His Mother. Pray, do Penance and try to conform our lives with His will.

The fact that, despite how much we ignore her, God keeps sending Our Blessed Mother to mother us shows the amazing love, patience and mercy He has.

Obviously we are not supposed to go chasing after private revelation without due prayer and discernment and we are supposed to hear what the Church has to say on them. We know the Church never rushes to judgement on these matters. So much investigation takes place I wonder sometimes if the message is lost in the long wait. The official recognition of some of the apparitions at Kibeho in Africa came after the prophecies had been fulfilled.  I assume enough was known about the messages to have prevented the fulfillment of the horrible prophecy of the genocide, if people had repented as Our Blessed Mother asked.

As our Holy Father dedicates his pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima we await the full triumph of her Immaculate Heart giving glory to her Son.

Jimmy Akin’s 9 things to know about Our Lady of Fatima

Third Secret and the Angel Emmett O’Regan

Third Secret and Millenium¬†There’s quite a bit on Unveiling the Apoc, so take a look around.


3 Quick Takes



Received a beautiful bouquet of pink roses today from a rather fine gentleman I married 25 years ago today.

We’re celebrating our Silver Wedding Anniversary with a take away tonight and a night away at the weekend. Lovely.



First day we could actually do the learning outside in company with the guinea pigs on the lawn. Cups of tea and  learning trays at the ready.


Just back from the hospital where the Prof has raised the Ivabradine to 7.5mg bd. He is pleased my heart rate is coming down a bit. Hasn’t been over 130 since I’ve been on it. ¬†He wants the Candasarten increased again to prevent another mini-stroke and/or a full stroke Still running high BP and fluctuating a lot. He wants the GP to sort that out once I’ve finished this lot of Prednisolone and possibly once I’m off the Furosemide again.

He also thought going after a dx of Lupus was a good idea as it covers a lot; almost all in fact, of what’s happening with me.

He’ll see me again in 2 months. He is very good.

My daughter’s first Kindle book. You know you want to buy it.

My oldest daughter has been slaving away in the attic writing, when she isn’t slaving away in the kitchen making cakes. And now she has launched her first book on Kindle.

It’s called Beady Cloud¬†and your life will be miserable if you don’t buy it ;P

It’s available on and


It’s not available in hard copy but you can download kindle reader to your PC for free and read it there.


Me/cfs on The Lens radio

David Singer has four short but packed episodes for you to listen to on the scandal of ME/Cfs treatment from the FDA and CDC. 

If you have ME or know and love someone who has it – take a few minutes to listen.

Don’t know if he’ll add more later.

He is Risen! The apparent contradiction between Mary Magdalene and St. Thomas

fra-angelico-noli-me-tangereJesus is Risen in accordance with the Scriptures. The women are the first witnesses and among those women is St. Mary Magdalene, to whom Jesus says the famous words “Noli me tangere..” that is “Do not cling to me,” going on to a rather odd explanation of “for I have not yet ascended to my Father.”(John 20:17). Then not long after this He speaks to St. Thomas offering His wounds to be touched as proof of His Resurrection. While it is uncertain that Thomas actually did touch Jesus, he was certainly invited to. So why the difference?

It has been suggested that Jesus was responding to the two different approaches to His Resurrection. Mary Magdalene had seen His Passion, suffered with Him to the last and she loved Him with what many commenters put as an “earthly love” which was a real, giving love (agape) up to a point, but Jesus was more than an earthly man, He is God Incarnate and in His Resurrected Body He is Present in a more heavenly way than before. In telling Mary not to cling to Him, He is warning her that He is not staying in this form on earth now, She must begin to learn to love Him in a fuller way so that when He returns to Heaven she mustn’t lose hope, but have even greater love and hope.

Poor old Thomas, on the other hand, had felt the rug pulled from under him as Jesus was arrested and the news that He had been condemned reached him. When He is told Jesus has Risen, it’s more than his battered hope can handle. Jesus appears to him and show He is there Body and Soul, not a ghost or a walking corpse, but a truly Resurrected person.

The Resurrection was a massive shift for the apostles and disciples who all had their own personal view of who Jesus should be and what He should do. Even after all that had happened in the last eight days they still approached Him asking if now He would restore Israel.

There are so many flavours of Jesus among Christians even today. It’s very difficult not to cling to the Jesus we have made and to believe in the Jesus who presents Himself to us. But once we have met Him, we can’t help falling to our knees saying “My LORD and my GOD!” with Thomas.

Oh My People – Reproaches Micah 6:3…

Greek Byzantine reproaches sung in Latin.

The reproaches

Remember the hour of Mercy from 3pm and the Divine Mercy Novena starts today.

From Hosanna to Crucify in less than a week

Entry_Into_JerusalemJesus wept.

He wept for Jerusalem the holy city with the Temple at it’s heart, which had turned so far from God. Jesus had just raised his friend Lazarus (a name meaning God has helped) ¬†from the dead and now He enters Jerusalem on a donkey, through the King’s gate in a very public fulfilment of the prophecy of ¬†Zechariah (9:9) “Rejoice greatly O daughter of Zion, Shout in triumph daughter of Jerusalem. Behold your king has come to you. He is just and carries salvation. He is lowly and riding on an ass and the colt the foal of an ass.”

So Jesus comes to Jerusalem with the prophecy fulfilled to the last detail and the poeple recognise this and come out shouting for Him, their king, the son of David. Within a week they will have forgotten their palms and songs of joy and will be shouting at the Roman Procurator to “Crucify Him!”

So it will be for our new Holy Father. He has entered the Vatican to shouts of joy even from those who have shown themselves to have no heart for God. How humble he is, they cry and see how he loves the poor.

But soon there will be shouts of ¬†hatred as they realise that yet again the Pope is, in fact, Catholic. There’s been a few of those shouts already.

Jesus calls us to rejoice, but He also insisted we carry a cross. He had to because the people He loved so much didn’t want to receive the truth.b16f1cca

As Jesus entered Jerusalem that fateful day the people singing “Hosanna!” had decided what kind of Messiah they wanted. They had their own idea of a king. Like the media today they put out the sort of things they expected the King Messiah to do. He must make reforms, get rid of the Romans, ¬†change the Law perhaps.

But Jesus had already said He wasn’t going to change the Law, He was going to fulfil it. ¬†The people soon tired of a man who kept speaking the truth and was doing what God wanted rather than what those who considered themselves elite wanted.

Pope Francis will face the same as the palms laid out for his inaugoration wither, so will the media’s sentimentality. ¬†He will still be the Pope for the poor, but they will hate the fact he insists the poor have a right to be born.

I have to say, however difficult it gets for Pope Francis, and even if he must bear the wounds of Christ in the most difficult way; more difficult than his namesake St. Francis even, he does have a massive advantage. He has the prayers of his brother in Christ Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. There’s also the sense that Blessed Pope John Paul II is looking down on them with his prayers. The brother popes knelt together in the chapel to pray and there on the wall was a copy of Our Lady of ¬†Czestochowa with the Divine Child. As the original Icon has stood the test of many evil men and been victorious, there is a sign for the future- whatever it brings.

There’s an old saying that it’s easy to break one stick, but bind three sticks together and they cann’t be broken.

Lent; Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows. (Mystery 6)

Jesus us taken from the cross and placed in the arms of His Mother.

Anyone who has lost a child will remember the pain, that deep soul wrenching pain that comes with the loss. Those of us who have watched, helpless, while a child of ours suffers terribly and the sense of them leaving us is a pain that is beyond description.

Mary had watched her Son be tortured to death. Now two brave men arrive with a signed permission from Pilate that they can receive the body of Jesus. Joseph of Arimathea was a relative of Jesus and Nicodemus was a friend of Joseph’s. Both these men had positions of status in the Temple and were (particularly as Pharisees) well aware of the Law.

In stepping into Pilate’s house that day before the Sabbath, which that year coincided with the Passover, they made themselves unclean. To make themselves so unclean they could not celebrate the Passover they went and took a bloody corpse down from a cross. They were so terribly ritually unclean now and yet that Precious Blood that they undoubtedly got over them did not make them unclean, but cleansed them.

St. Longinus, the Roman soldier pierces the side of Jesus so that blood and water flows out.

Jesus is laid in the arms of His Mother and she holds him as she had when he was a child.  The Pieta is a scene produced by many artists, the most famous I suppose is the sculpture by Michelangelo.

pieta1But I have to admit that it’s Mel Gibson’s scene in the Passion that I remember most vividly. You cannot look on that scene and not know that you are the one who brought it about – that He and she have suffered and drunk to the dregs the cup of suffering and all because of us.

Jesus is then wrapped in a shroud, traditionally a cloth belonging to St. Joseph of Arimathea, who is (again according to tradition) to be the first bringer of Christianity to Britain.

Jesus had said that even if a man should rise from the dead some people would refuse to believe. He told the Temple authorities they would only receive the sign of Jonah and He was in the belly of the earth for three days. But many people don’t ask “Why did He rise?” they ask “Why did He have to die like that?” Now, that’s a mystery, but I think part of the answer is that He wanted to show us just how utterly horrible sin really is. I think a lot of art has sanitized the Passion so much that we don’t get it any more. ¬†

In seeing the horror and agony of the Passion, especially in seeing it from the point of view of a mother watching her son being whipped, beaten, forced to carry a heavy cross on a back already ripped and bleeding, having the nails hammered through him and then hung Рand knowing that He became sin for us (1 Cor 5:21) we must see how dreadful sin is and we can never tire of  asking for forgiveness (and trying not to sin in the first place)

As Pope Francis has said, God never tires of offering forgiveness, it’s we who tire of asking for it. But we mustn’t. We must run the race to the end.

Conclave; What the next pope will not be doing.

The conclave starts today and the 115 cardinals will be shut in to pray and discern as they choose the next Holy Father. Yesterday, Cardinal Timothy Dolan wrote a blog about some media bloopers. Now the Church has been around for 2000 years and while I might have sympathy for some of those first century pagans who thought we were cannibals for eating our God or whatever else weird they misinterpreted, I can’t see how a qualified journalist with access to the internet could make some of the amazing mistakes shown here.

If a science journo suggested the Big Bang was a large balloon being popped they would never work again but it’s fine for religion journo’s to say Catholics think the pope is a god!

The other thing that is so much part of journalism (the BBC stink of this) is the bizarre idea that the Holy Father has the power to change the truth to fit what the culture (by that I mean western culture because we aren’t getting this rubbish from the east or south) thinks should be true.

Jesus never said to Peter or the apostles “Whatever you make up can be true.” He gave the power of binding and loosing in His Name not whoever is Pope’s name. While doctrine can develop and be taught in better and clearer ways, it certainly can’t be changed.

So, it doesn’t matter who is elected pope, whether he is a good man or a bad one as we’ve had a few times, he can’t suddenly decide that the priesthood can be separated from being a spiritual father, so that women can be ordained. He can’t suddenly decide that something intrinsically evil and against natural law can be allowed. He can’t decide there are too many persons in the Holy Trinity.

It was this limit to the authority of the pope that started me off back to the Church more properly (I was living it out on the edge).

I was a supporter of women being ordained and had bought into the empowerment argument hook line and sinker. I was not enlightened during the Anglican debate which went out via mainstream (mostly BBC) TV as they only ever interviewed men who came across as misogynist for the all male priesthood side. No one explained, or were given a chance to explain, the ontological nature of the priesthood from Adam onwards.

In my search for answers I bought a book called Women at the Altar and read it. I didn’t know enough history back then to spot some of the shocking bloopers. But she had put the encyclical on ordination by Blessed Pope JP II. I read that too and saw that the Holy Father said he didn’t have the authority to ordain women.

The limit of authority fascinated me and off I went in search of answers. When I got to grips with Jesus self claim to be The Bridegroom, I finally got to grips with why priests are men, but more importantly, what authority is and why a Pope can’t just proclaim whatever he likes. The Holy Spirit doesn’t interfere with free will, so all the Popes have been sinners, even the many saints among the list, (and there are far far more saints than bad sinners in the papal list) but He does ensure that when teaching on faith and morals the pope gets it right; that is infallibility and it’s much more limited that I realised.

So the BBC and others can demand contraception, abortion, divorce, killing off the sick and elderly, ¬†and priestesses all they like – the Church can’t change her position on these matters. She doesn’t have the authority to do so.

My Kids are blogging.

I thought I would plug the blogs of two of my children.

My daughter “Gwen” had written this hilarious piece on what it’s like to take her mother shopping, when said mother uses a wheelchair retail moments. I am sure many of you who either use a wheelchair or shove a wheelchair will relate to this. Hehehe.

And my dear ol’ newly married son has a blog showing some of his art and designs, including the lovely engagement ring his wife is yet to receive as the jeweller seem to be as slow as an Ent.

Have a look and enjoy.

The Entire Word.

It was St. Luke’s Gospel this morning, wherein Jesus fasts for forty days and is tempted by Satan. ¬†In the very first response to Satan, Jesus reveals Himself. Satan says, “If you are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread.”

“Man does not live by bread alone,” Jesus quotes Deut 8;3. ¬†If we didn’t know the tempter was Satan would we think Jesus would do wrong in making some bread for Himself and eating it? ¬†It doesn’t seem wrong. And yet God doesn’t create for His own sake. He needs nothing. Everything He has made He has made from His agape love. We don’t have an English equivalent to agape (Greek) although the word “passion” comes close. ¬†Unfortunately we have reduced the word passion to meaning intense feelings; but it really means to pour out for the sake of the other. Hence Christ’s Passion is His pouring out for us.

Christ’s bread miracles are both about feeding the people, not because He is in need. But even though he feeds the 5000 with bread and fish (not bread alone) He still insists we should live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. (Deut 8;3 Matt 4:4 Luke 4:4).

What is the Word? John tells us “In the beginning was the ¬†Word,… and the Word was God” (John 1:1) In Greek it’s logos, a word of meaning. Greek has so much more in it’s language on this point.

The Lord Jesus Christ, the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity is the entire, meaningful Word that we are to live on.

Christ gave us the Church, His Bride, His Body (in which we are His body) and the Church from the apostles (he who hears you, hears Me. He who rejects you, rejects Me) gave us the entirety of public revelation through oral Tradition (1 Cor 11.2) and written Scripture (first canonised at the Council of Rome 382 AD under Pope St. Damasus I). All of this is completed, so that we can live on every word that comes from the mouth of God, in the Holy Eucharist, where we receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Word of God; Risen, and whole.

So while we receive the Word in the form of the Liturgy and bread (and wine) we are not being fed by bread alone, but by every Word that comes from the mouth of God. And let us remember that the Word was what brought about creation. What He says, is. When He says “This is My Body,” and “This is My Blood” He means it.