Tag Archives: family

Home Education: Galloping towards the new term.

P1110572There are three weeks before the new term starts. You may be wondering why I follow the term dates set by the Local Authority when I don’t have to. It’s because it sort of works for us. The children have schooled friends and it’s easier to have the holiday dates the same as theirs and as Al works with children, it suits him better to follow term dates (give or take). For me it works out pretty well as terms tend to be around 6 to 7 weeks. Occasionally there’s a longer one, but they aren’t frequent. When the term is too long I simply make the last week a reading week or, if required, a catching up week.

So as we gallop over the next three weeks to term I am getting everything ready and writing some lessons and some lesson packs.

I’ve just spent a scary amount of money on next years curriculum and I really hope to have the brain power, energy and time to write more of my own stuff because frankly I haven’t managed to get much for the money. (and that’s before the import tax is demanded). I think I need to find a balance between buying curriculum because I need something they can do no matter what I’m like on any given day, and making the most of no-brainfog days to write and produce stuff we can use.

I have overcome my Atos fear and decided not to spend even more money buying massively ahead in case I find myself unable to buy resources. I will trust that even if the Govt and Atos can’t be trusted Providence can.  It was quite a personal battle but I did it. lol.

I cooked the tea last night without doing anything ridiculous, forgetting to cook half of it or needing to sit down for long periods. Woo-hoo! I cooked one meal while we were away and it was a nightmare, so this was a lovely blast from the past when I used to be competent lol.

I am going to try and use the rest of the holidays to get some writing done if my brain can do it. I am wondering about typing up and formatting ebooks in the public domain that aren’t yet properly formatted and offering them for 70p or something. I think I could do this even in fog because it would be copying mostly. How this and writing lesson packs turns out will depend on how term goes.  I am hoping to sell some lessons over the next year alongside my freebies.

Heleyna has been reading to me most days and she’s coming on well. I think not letting it slide through the holidays was the right thing to do.

I am printing off lessons I’ve bought as downloads as well as freebies and setting up folders with lessons for each day. Let’s see if being really organised works. They will each continue with their learning boxes, but Ronan, and perhaps Avila will also have an Arch file with printables for the week. I’m also gathering free ebooks and looking at ways to make lessons with them. Leaning back to the Literature based approach of Charlotte Mason I think.

I think we will still be pretty eclectic over the next academic year with some Classical, Montessori and Mason all in the mix, but then the three younger ones are all very different in how they learn.

Heleyna hernia horse and cub camp

P1020713Iona, Ronan and Avila went off to Cub Camp on Friday and got back yesterday and Heleyna had her hernia op at the Children’s yesterday. So her dad did a Father’s Day special, staying with her all day. She came home a bit groggy but the scar is neat and her stitches should dissolve in a few days. We’re leapfrogging calpol-paracetamol with neurofen for pain. You can give both 4 hourly so by alternating you can give pain meds 2 hourly. A good reason not to by those combined children’s meds.

As Miss Avila got a little cuddly rabbit when she had her biopsy some years ago Biopsy Bunny; Heleyna asked for a horse to name Hernia Horse. He arrived just in time for her hospital date. She is very pleased with him.

Avila, who is reading Florence Nightingale’s Nuns at the moment has become a little Flossy herself.


Skin to skin and co-sleeping. My own story of keeping my daughter alive.

Taken just days before another hospt admission where things were really rough.

Taken just days before another hospt admission where things were really rough.

The “science” on sudden infant death has changed rapidly over the twenty-four years since I’ve been a mother. When my oldest was born I co-slept against midwife advice. By the time my now six year old was born the advice had gone from “no” through “yes” through “maybe” back to “no” to “definitely do it”. We are now back to “no” according to reports I’ve seen via the MSM. I don’t know what the latest study is based on and what variables were taken into consideration, but I do always remember the comment from one researcher some years ago who said, “Where there are no cots, there are no cot deaths.”

A recent story (and there’s been a few like this over the years) tells of a mother who held her still born baby skin to skin and the baby lived.

In light of this, and against the present advice, I thought I would tell you my story. I co-slept with all six of the children; some for longer than others. I did put the older three in a moses basket next to the bed fairly early on, but didn’t do that with the younger three. One morning I woke when Iona was only a few months old to find her lying in the basket, not breathing. I’m afraid I forgot I was a nurse and panicked. I confess, I slapped her and she started breathing, and crying poor kid. My GP was unconcerned and said this sort of thing happens occasionally. Really? Thankfully with Iona it never happened again.

With Avila, it was a different story. My, now 8 year old, daughter didn’t breathe through the night on a regular basis until she was just over 2 years old. I co-slept with her. There’s something in the wiring of a mother breastfeeding her baby that means we are very attuned to our baby. Every time Avila stopped breathing I woke up. There was a kind of silence that woke me and there she was limp and breathless. I would massage her and sit her up and lie her down, moving her around and offering milk until she took a breath. Some nights I would have to get her breathing again two or even three times. One truly awful night I was woken by her “silence” something like seven times.  Despite how sick she was and how much time we spent in the Children’s Hospt. I was never offered one of those “alarm” things. They don’t work with co-sleeping anyway so, in hindsight, I am glad.

One day I met a midwife who had worked in Russia during the depths of Communism when the health service was at an all time low. She told me that what I had done with Avila was something that in Russia they called Kangaroo care. They didn’t have NICU facilities, and babies kept dying. I don’t know whose idea it was, but as an extension of skin to skin, the Russian midwives encourages mothers to hold their sick babies close at all times; c0-sleeping. She told me this saved countless little lives.

I am convinced co-sleeping kept Avila alive and the fact that I breastfed her for so long also helped.  The time when she was tube fed and nothing was working, it was when I expressed and they gave her my milk, that at last, she started to show signs of making it.

I would do it again.

(In that photo she is just past her first birthday. We did a Christmas play with the HE group and then just after Christmas she was admitted, again, to hospital where we saw in the New Year. It was the most difficult admission she’d had. Tube and drip and being mostly unconscious or barely rousable. Nothing was working and I begged for a breast pump. Once I’d expressed the nurse came to see how a bolus feed would go. For the first time in a week a feed went down the tube and stayed there. A few days later she was awake and a few days after that, well enough to go home. There were numerous admissions after that – but none quite that scary).

On the desperate need for support for mothers with youngsters or a crisis.

I’ve been going on (and on and on) for some years about the terrible lack of support for mothers in today’s culture. Both the nuclear and extended family has broken down in many ways. Coupled with the lack of children born to many families over the last couple of generations – or perhaps only the last generation for those who held on to the Faith, means there isn’t much support for mothers, like there was in the old days.

It has been noted that one of the reasons young mothers in particular feel isolated with their new borns and toddlers is that they are at home in a ghost town. Every other person in the street has gone to work. They are simply alone and too often that can lead to post natal depression and anxiety problems.  Many mothers who would have chosen to be home and care for their children then feel forced back into the workplace.

The Anchoress writes on this suggesting that parishes need to set up some kind of network of older mothers, with experience and now less responsibility, could help the newer mums coming through. I think there is also an absolutely desperate need for parish support for families in crisis. I do know that thankfully a lot goes on under the radar.

Have a pray about this. Is God asking you to do more to support someone in your family or parish?

Dad’s need to be on the ball with this too. Adam’s role as Bridegroom and father was to care for and protect his wife and children.”Husbands love your wives as Christ loves the Church pouring Himself out for her” (Eph 5:25). That pouring out was His Passion (which literally means to pour out), where He poured out every drop of blood for us.

Dad’s need to be aware of when their wives are struggling and not expect her always to be able to give well thought out coherent instructions about what help she needs. When things get rough dad’s who have to go to work and leave the wife to it should be phoning around and asking for someone to help her.

The same goes the other way around. When I knew in advance I was going to be in hospital for a long while I phoned around asking people to help my husband with food and support while he was left caring for the children and still needing to come up to the hospital. It worked well. People really responded beautifully, making offers and accepting requests.

Having a parish based group of people who will help out, going over and spending time with a mother,  or reading to one child while the mum gets the baby settled., or even something as simple as holding the baby so she can go to the toilet ALONE.

It’s not just mothers with young children who need help. I was talking very recently with a mother who is in a long-term crisis situation. She desperately needs a fellow woman to just help with the children so she can get all things done and care for her husband. Her father is brilliant and does a lot, but taking care of teenagers is full-on parenting and just a second pair of hands could make all the difference to her.

We actually discussed the possibility of putting out a plea in her church asking if anyone feels God nudging them towards this sort of pastoral care.

There is also an absolutely desperate need for something like this to help those of us who have had crisis situations with seriously ill children. I wish someone could have helped me during all those times I was in the Children’s with a very sick child.  The experience has left deep scars I’m afraid. Ironically after one of the most difficult admissions with a very sick child, when I was pretty ill myself with a roaring chest infection, it was a fellow mother with lots of children who came to my rescue. After being told over and over by nurses that my fever was keeping my daughter’s fever high – what was I supposed to do!?! she finally became well enough to be discharged. We had been in hospital over a week. The following day my friend took me to the doctors. I was so very ill the doc said she was calling an ambulance to have me sent into hospital straight away! Thank God – and I do- my friend was there and she promised to take care of me; which she did and I escaped admission. She took us all to her house and kept me in a chair while she ensured meds and fluids were put into both my daughter and me. Bless her for that.

In Japan there was (perhaps still is) a system where relatives sit with a person in hospital to take care of their needs. It means that sick people don’t dehydrate or starve for being too weak to feed themselves. It’s a beautiful service that is an extension of the family cohesion found in the Shinto religion.

As Catholics we are called to this sort of thing. To be fair, while I don’t know about “official” parish programs, (which we do need) there is a lot of quiet support going on under the radar.  We are all called to be Simon of Cyrene at some point in the journey, and to accept a Simon when we need to. Maybe we just need to be a St. Veronica. Whoever we choose to be in the face of someone else’s suffering, let it not be Pilate.

On a slightly side note, I think the way home education works can offer this sort of support automatically. Those of us with older children will help out with younger ones in lessons or groups so that there is support. Perhaps some of the best home ed groups do work like extended families a little.

Marriage, oneness and sacrifice – from yesterday’s readings.

Yesterday’s readings were about marriage. I love the way the three readings went together so clearly. First we heard how God took a rib from Adam and made Eve who was “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” so that marriage from that day forward was that

a man would leave his parents and become one flesh with his wife

This is how God designed marriage. One man, one woman become one flesh.

The next reading was from the letter to the Hebrews and describes how Christ suffered and poured Himself out for the Church. As St. Paul teaches, Christ is the head and the Bride, His Church is the Body and they are “one flesh”. As the Bridegroom Christ gave every last drop of Himself for her sake.

Christ and His Church are One.

The final reading was from Mark’s Gospel where the Pharisees try and trick Jesus by asking about divorce. In this Gospel they ask if it allowed for a man to divorce his wife. St. Matthew adds the detail of “for any reason” as the Pharisees had apparently been discussing the teachings of Hillel the rabbi who allowed divorce for the most trivial reason (much like no fault divorce).

Jesus points out that Moses only allowed divorce in the second law he gave Israel (God gave the first law in the Commandments) because Israel was stiff necked and unteachable.

God says He hates divorce (Hosea??) and Jesus adds that God designed marriage from the beginning to be between one man and one woman and they leave their parents and become one flesh.

No valid marriage can be ended by men.  Marriage is a reflection of the Bridegroom Christ and His Bride the Church. It is why families are called domestic churches.

Those who have split Christ’s body have broken His command and forgotten His prayer that “they should be one.”

Jesus then goes on to welcome the children and insist that children should be welcomed.  They teach us to remain innocent for the Kingdom of Heaven.

In today’s Divine Office St. Paul points out that child bearing can help bring a mother to heaven.

When God calls two people to marriage, He expects them to accept His life in their life and all the little lives He might wish to send. He is life, not barrenness. Children are gifts even when they are part of our cross.

If you ever forget that love is about sacrifice and that it hurts, look at a crucifix. Even the “cleaned up” ones show Christ suffered for us. Thank God He will never ask any of us to suffer to the depth that He did.

And while I’m talking about Christ’s crucifixion; don’t forget to pray for those brave Catholic souls who have endured crucifixion over the last few weeks. There’s a photo going around of an unamed martyr crucified by “Islamists”.

Here we are again.

We are back from 2 weeks of rest and sunshine. Yes, we had sun most of the time. Amazing!

Ronan had a sort of right of passage in that he walked the causeway between Lindisfarne and Beal for the first time.  It took them about an hour and 20 minutes.

Met up with friends in Wales and saw kith’n’kin in Edinburgh.

There were sand castles and adventures for the children.

It’s good to be back. Lots of washing and unpacking to do and catching up with everyone again.

Avila’s First Holy Communion.

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Avila received her first Confession on Saturday and her First Holy Communion yesterday. It was a lovely day for all of us. Family and friends gathered to support Avila on this special day. Lots of home ed families joined us to celebrate and Father said some wonderful things about families educating their own.  It is good to have a PP who supports our decision to home educate and supports it openly.