Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A bumper sticker. And my family.

I read about an unschooling bumper sticker today. Created by unschooling mother Anne Ohman.

"How can I connect with my children today, expand their worlds, bring joy into their lives, nurture and encourage what they love to do?"

Add the word family and I think this what I am aiming for in my life. Family near and family further away ( esp older sons..).

"How can I connect with my family today, expand their worlds, bring joy into their lives, nurture and encourage what they love to do?"

I'm copying this into my journal.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Chronicles of Riddick? Of Macbeth?

I love unschooling. I love the mystery of connections.

We make connections from one thing to another, we find interesting relationships between experiences and build our learning frameworks.

Beam me up, Beowulf talks about these connections.

We had one of our own last night. Watching The Chronicles of Riddick ( Vin Diesel) I saw a connection between a character and that of Lady Macbeth.

Jonathon picked up on this, too and all our talk ran in the direction of comparing the plot of The Chronicles of Riddick and of Macbeth - similar characters? Similar treatise on ambition?

Anthony has not (yet) read or seen Macbeth so we gave a narration on the story.

I must dig out some Shakespeare re-tellings.

While smiling at the mystery of learning connections.

Some Clip Art Provided by

Friday, August 25, 2006

And while I am posting about...

Living Without School and Learning All the Time....Cindy has a good post. A quote from the book "For the Children's Sake".

Learning Spaces.

Elizabeth and others are hosting Loveliness Fairs this year.

The current fair is titled Elegant Simplicity in Learning Spaces.

Now, I'll be frank.

We don't have a Learning Space per se.

We tend to view the whole house as a Learning Space - just as we view the whole of our lives as Learning Time.

However, over the years of babies and toddlers and older children, I have learned a few tricks about keeping clutter at bay. And about strewing.

One way I de-clutter is by having shelves and nooks and containers.

You can see our family room stationery and art nook above.

And our sitting room coffee table/camphor wood chest is currently one of our strewing tables - we saw a python show on the weekend ( before the Big Bike Accident) and so I have placed a book on snakes on the chest for possible perusal.

Simple ~ yes. Elegant ~ well, I am not so sure.

No school? Why?

At the park on Wednesday, another Catholic homeschooler and I and a group of children ( ours and those of friends) went for a long walk.

My friend is a structured homeschooler. We are pretty loose and relaxed with our unschooling style.

But we both talked about why we choose to live without school.

Now, this post is not a tirade against schools.

It is, however, a post on

We live without school because we can.

We can take time to pursue interests. To build relationships. To just take time.

We can hang out in the wider community - life and learning and the adult world are not separate entities for my sons.

Are the children learning? Do they know their Faith?

More importantly, to me, - is their learning and their experience and knowledge of the Faith living ? Real?

My children, like me, are far from perfect.

Some positive things that we do share, though, are a love of music, of books, of movies.

We enjoy talking about these things.

We pray together. We go to Mass and to Confession together.

And, for the most part, we enjoy hanging out together.

Dh comes home not to angst filled evenings of homework but to family time.

School encroaches on a child's time - even after school hours are filled with homework. When does the family gather time to really know each other, to become friends?

This aspect of family life is so much easier and natural with homeschooling. Families with children in school can and do have super family relationships , I know - and homeschoolers are not immune to difficulties and problems - but family relationship in the long term seems to be more easily built via homeschooling.

And specifically by the experience of mindful parenting and unschooling.

Perhaps it is this idea of family relationship that really describes why we live without school.

We live without school for the family's sake.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Do you journal?

I keep a once in a blue moon personal journal. I like to write quotes and mottoes and reminders . And worries and problems and prayers and more reminders. Fitness stuff. And five happy things.

I also, obviously, blog.

And I have a general journal - writing and drawing with the kids, nature observations.

I update these whenever. There is no time frame. No compulsion.

My homeschool journal is a slightly different matter. We are required to keep some record of learning for the state. I aim to write in my homeschool journal each night, capturing just a glimpse of the activities and learning of the day.

Sometimes, I am organized and keep the learning in the subject categories delineated by the Board of Studies.

Sometimes I write down activities and discussions and follow up with the BOS outcomes subsequently highlighted.

Sometimes I just write and could care less about curriculum connections for the state!

And sometimes I skip the journal all together.

Yesterday -

* Tessellations
- Investigate, generalise and reason about patterns in number, space and data, explaining and justifying conclusions reached.
- Visualise, draw and model shapes, locations and arrangements and predict and show the effect of transformations on them

* Discuss formal and informal language
- usage, verbal, written, swear words.
- Students understand that the way language is used varies according to context. - Students understand that language has an important effect on the ways in which they view themselves and the world in which they live.
- Students use the conventions of Standard Australian English with understanding and critical awareness.

* Writing skills - blog entries
- Students select from a repertoire of processes and strategies when listening, viewing, reading, speaking and writing by reflecting on their understanding of the way language works for a variety of purposes in a range of contexts. - Students write for a range of purposes and in a range of forms using conventions appropriate to audience, purpose and context.

* Archeology - read Egyptology.
- Students understand that the interaction people have with places in which they live is shaped by the location, patterns and processes associated with natural and built features.
- Students understand that peoples’ actions and values are shaped by their understanding and interpretation of the past.

* Science - read new Horrible Science magazines - forces, ants, bees
- Students understand their own biology and that of other living things, and recognise the interdependence of life.
- Students understand the scientific concept of energy and forces
and explain that energy is vital to our existence and to our quality of life.
- Students understand the nature of science as a human activity.

* Read Usborne book on Spies and discuss spies and spy technology
- Students understand how cultural beliefs, values, abilities and ethical positions are interconnected in the development and use of technology and enterprise.

*Use computer for games, blogging, internet searches, email - Students apply organisational, operational and manipulative skills appropriate to using, developing and adapting technologies.

*Review Latin prayers - Students comprehend and communicate in the target language through listening and responding, and speaking.

*Daily fitness
*Part time work - Kumon and newspaper delivery
*Visit T in hospital and also look at x rays and talk about bones and joints and surgery
*Attend Mass and social after with visitor for dinner
- Students know and understand health and physical activity concepts that enable informed decisions for a healthy, active lifestyle.
- Students exhibit attitudes and values that promote personal, family and community health, and participation in physical activity.
- Students demonstrate self-management skills which enable them to make informed decisions for healthy, active lifestyles.
- Students demonstrate the interpersonal skills necessary for effective relationships

And nothing for the Arts section - although I could have jotted down the music we listened to. And maybe someone practised the piano/guitar? Who knows?

So, do you journal - homeschool or otherwise?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Poor Thomas...

had a nasty bike accident and orthopedic surgery. Check out his
blog for pics.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


Read this and be reassured.

( I was ).


Today we had a very cool family game of basketball. In the winter sun. At the courts near our church and the school.

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." --Annie Dillard

Friday, August 18, 2006

A busy week.

“A person’s freedom of learning is part of his freedom of thought, even more basic than his freedom of speech.” ~John Holt

Monday - band practice - recording music for a CD for two sons, Warhammer constructions with a friend for two sons, chat with homeschool mums for me, my work at Kumon, Thomas cooked dinner. We read about St Clare and also about St Maximilian Kolbe. And some of us began watching the first half of the movie 'The Others."

Tuesday - We read the poem and Latin quote selections for the week ( chosen by Jonathon and Alexander). Much discussion of the poem. Did some Maths and English and A worked on his Latin. J was at work and A went to work. T and Anny rode bikes around the local area and lake. Read and wrote about the Assumption of Our Lady or any other topic of choice from religion books. Shopping. Cleaning. Laundry.Cooking for a birthday dinner for guests ( and don't ask how it went - it was a comedy of errors!). T and Anny folded newspapers and I helped them deliver these. Attended Mass for the Assumption ( T and Anny serving - just barely). Listened to Dire Straits.

Wednesday - a very early start ( 8.00 a.m.) for my Kumon Training day. We listened to the CD of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in the car on the trip ( in peak hour traffic ). Then caught the train - I to St Leonards and the kids to the city. They shopped. Hung out at Borders. They were going to visit the Powerhouse Museum - but ever quite made it. Instead, they met dh for lunch and went to a movie ( Hoodwinked). And finally met me back at the car, after my training and tests.
Home at 7.30 pm - takeaway for dinner - fast food but we talked about making healthier choices and nutrition. And we ditched our current read aloud ( boring) - think we will read aloud the last HP book instead ( in preparation for the next HP book due out at the end of the year).

Thursday - Up early again. Continued wth my TJ workouts - this time Cardio Party Remix. Friends were dropped off at our house and we drove them down to St Ives for skate boarding lessons. And lots of soccer and playground play and talking after. We mums discussed swear words - how often do we swear? Do we? And why? And what do we say? I talked about one memorable occasion when I used a (very) rare word and how the kids will never let me live it down!

Dropped friends at home, after listening to The Silver Chair on CD in the car. Love audio books! Lunch and then to work for me, J and A - Thomas and Anthony watched the BBC version of Prince Caspian, played piano, Anny cooked dinner ( macaroni cheese and vegetables and fruit muffins). Reviewed Latin prayers and I did Kumon worksheets. So did T and Anny.

Friday - Up and at 'em for a workout ( TJ Fat Blaster) before homeschool ice skating. Went to Penrith - listening to YellowCard and the Eurythmics on the way - I skated with Anny and a little friend. Then chatted to the other mums while the kids skated and talked. And we had lunch. Home eventually for odd jobs, errands, reading, work for J and A, music lessons for T and Anny, Kumon business stuff for me, Warhammer models, laundry, discussing and reading Snowflake Bentley, you name it. And tonight pancakes for dinner ( yes, I am cooking) and Youth Group for J and A - and a game ( Scene It) and a movie ( the new The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe on Foxtel) for the rest of us. With continued Kumon worksheet study for me. And discussions on germs and white cells and AIDS.

Homeschool looks interesting when you capture it all on paper. Yet, there are many discussions and reading of books and using the computer and blogging that I have missed - this is a truly a brief summation.

Learning happens. How can one stop learning? Impossible.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

And more quotes..

...for my inspiration ( see the tiredness post below.)

Anti-tiredness and pro unschooling quotes.

You have to stand for what you believe in. And sometimes you have to
stand alone
. ~ Queen Latifah

Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our
. ~ Charles R. Swindoll

You can get all A's and still flunk life. ~ Walker Percy

Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song. ~ Pope John Paul II

And ~ Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought. ~ Pope John Paul II

More blogs.

Alexander, Thomas and Anthony have just started blogging.

Can I write this down as English and Technology in my homeschool journal?

Of course I can!

Anthony's ( Anny's) birthday

A quote from Galileo.

"You cannot teach anyone anything. You can only help them to discover it within themselves."

Thanks, Cindy.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I am tired. I am an unschooler.

Reading a couple of homeschool blogs recently has made me tired.

I get tired reading about all the marvellous things that others are doing with their children. All the fabulous read aloud times.

All the curriculum talk.

I started reading about a
Latin-Centred Curriculum.

It is *so* not me.

I moved over to
a Thomas Jefferson Education.

Hello?? Where would I begin to label my children - core? scholar? love of learning stage?

No, better to stick with what I know best. Living and learning. Unschooling. Relaxed homeschooling. Or lovin' life.

However, I am failing even this.

One son is going through a "argue with mum" stage. The didactic stage of the Trivium? Or perhaps the rhetoric stage?

But I am failing at being a good sounding board. He and I are just not connecting as we should. Youth Group at church is also not helping - to be frank,it is a pain in the butt right now.

I am tired.

Okay, unschooling is about living together. But why do I just want to curl up with a good book and tell everyone to go away?

A failed unschooler. A tired homeschooler.

I think I'll read some unschooling blogs.

I think I'll pray.

I think I'll eat some ice cream and catch a movie with my husband.

I think I'll smile and enjoy my children and our lives.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Chemistry pics - flubber and butter

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross ( Edith Stein)

August 9 is the Opional Memorial of Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

Also known as Edith Stein.

A convert to Catholicism . She died in Auschwitz.

She wrote - The teacher thus needs a basic education in dogma and asceticism. Apologetics is certainly also good, but the former seems more important to me: ready arguments, as right as they may be, often do not have penetrating force. But she whose soul is formed through the truths of faith -- and I call this ascetic formation -- finds words which are proper for this human being and for this moment respectively.

And also - Everywhere the need exists for maternal sympathy and help, and thus we are able to recapitulate in the one word motherliness that which we have developed as the characteristic value of woman. Only, the motherliness must be that which does not remain within the narrow circle of blood relations or of personal friends; but in accordance with the model of the Mother of Mercy, it must have its root in universal divine love for all who are there, belabored and burdened.

Very inspiring to this homeschooling, working mother.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Something for me to think about...

"Be gentle to all and stern with yourself." Saint Teresa of Avila


I have a motto each year. Well, I aim to have at least one.

I started this habit back in 1997, after reading a book on goals and on getting "your best life ever."

The value of a motto, for me, is that it acts as a reminder of what I want to be and do.

I write the year's motto(es) in my diary - that way I see them every day.

I share them with the children and with my husband - and often with friends.

Cindy and I have talked about mottoes.

I thought I would share the mottoes of 2006.

* Be an overcomer
* Fit by faith
* Walk by faith, not by sight
* Never give up
* Live joyfully the standard

On the fridge this week...

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Littera scripta manet

The written word remains.

Poem chosen by Anthony.

Latin quote chosen by Alexander.

Malibu's Most Wanted.

Have you seen this film? It is not a super film but a funny one - and, yes, be forewarned, there *are some unsuitable bits.

The main character is a white rapper from Malibu. His father is Governor. And B-Rad thinks he is helping with his father's campaign by rapping and saying that his dad "gets down with all the b****** and
'ho-s'. " (euphemism)

This line just sticks with me.

Right now, I am a Turbo Jam groupie. I have to do a TJ workout every day. I sing the songs in my head all day.

So, in the words of B-Rad and in the words of those at one of the internet fitness forums that I visit - I am a Turbo Jam 'ho'. I would do ( almost) anything rather than give up my TJ workouts.

I want to be Chalene when I grow up.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Symbolic self portraits

Son number 6 and son number 7 :-) completed symbolic self portraits from the
lesson plans here.

A symbolic self portrait is not a visual representation of the artist's physical traits but visual representation of what the artist feels, thinks, likes, dislikes, lives with on a day to day basis.

Just the discussion and the jotting down of ideas, prior to the sketching, was important.

What is your favourite food?

What makes you angry? Happy? Sad?

If you could be any animal, what animal would you choose?

What are your hobbies?

And so on.

These pics are a bit sketchy but you get the idea of the boys' symbolic self portraits. They could use paint, oil paint, oil pastels, water colour pencils. One chose oil pastels crayons. One chose water colour pencils.