Monday, July 31, 2006


It is lunch time. Everyone is waiting for lunch. And I am blogging on metacognition.

The boys and I had a long discussion on metacognition this morning.

It started with a note to self in my diary - maths journals.

I visited this site and found the lesson on metacognition.

And introduced this to my sons.

Wham! The discussion started.

Thinking about thinking? What about discussing discussion ( metadiscussions)?

I posed the problem - what are our thought processes when choosing clothes to wear -
or food to eat (for example, at a fast food restaurant)?

One son flatly denied having any thought processes! Huh? We all jumped in and proved him wrong ( nicely I hope, although our discussions can get quite heated).

Anthony (10 and youngest) discussed his choosing clothing thought processes - it was an eye opener for the rest of us.

Jonathon's thought processes on clothing were interesting - very image centred.

Are mine? Probably. ( Blushes)

We found more info on metacognition.

And a quote from Edward de Bono - "unless you know everything, what you need is thinking".

The boys wrote in their journals and I blogged ( am blogging).

Sunday, July 30, 2006


Susan has a good post on her blog on
a Sabbath season. Started me thinking.

Talking with a priest from our parish added to the thoughts already swirling in my head, about homeschooling and seasons.

We don't do a lot of planning in our educational process. We live and learn.

I read about education issues. I look at our state's education documents.The boys and I talk - we follow interests. I know what we can do and should do, over a term or a season.

And then the days just flow on from there.

We do some Maths. Some writing. Some reading. Some themes. We talk. We watch movies. We participate in groups. Some art - symbolic self portraits! Music lessons and band practice. Ice skating. Skateboard lessons.

We have meetings to discuss progress and paths.

I keep a log of what we do. And it all gets done. I can check off outcomes achieved on the education outcomes checklist.

This season our focus is Chemistry, via Group Learning and follow ups at home. Alexander is studying Latin. Thomas and Anny French, via some fun computer programs.

We all keep journals and nature journals. And the boys will be blogging this season, as a way to extend writing skills.

Wednesday mornings, before Group Learning, seem to have become a good time for more focused religion reading and writing and discussing. We read about the Saints and celebrate the liturgical year as a matter of course. And Anny is copying out some Latin prayers.

Current events - reading and viewing and talking about the news - takes place.

The Maths we do takes the form of Kumon or workbook or activities or maths journals .

And there is some Kumon English study .

[As an aside - I am a Kumon Education Centre Supervisor and the children have the option of studying with Kumon. Or not. What has been interesting for me to see is that some of my boys like a methodical programme, with clear goals. ]

This term I have replaced our artist and composer of the month with a weekly Latin quote and poetry selection - rotated on the refrigerator. A nice change.

The choices for this week? They are e e cummings and
Cogito ergo sum - I think therefore I am

Friday, July 28, 2006

Luke is "home" for the weekend.

We picked him up from the airport tonight. And here is a pic, taken over cake and coffee ( cake made by son Thomas, of course!).

This is Luke and Alexander .

As an addendum to yesterday's post on Happy Things...

" The discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a new star."

Anthelme Brillat-Savarin - French gourmet ( and lawyer) (1755-1826)

(Photo courtesy of )

Thursday, July 27, 2006

What happy thing happened today?

Bridget asked this question at the 4 real learning forum.

It is Thursday morning here, so I pondered my Wednesday.

What happy things happened?

Luke is coming to Sydney for the weekend!

I have had fun connecting with friends via blogging.

I lost one pound. Happy dance!

I rocked and jammed to Turbo Jam Cardio Party ( "Mamma said knock you out!" L L Cool J).

I actually cooked a dinner that ( almost) everyone ate.

Other mums and I had a good laugh about our children and their ( sometimes)endearing personalities over lunch at Group Learning.

Alexander and I shared laughs over a P.G. Wodehouse book.

I enjoyed another thoughtful chapter in Scott Hahn's book "Lord Have Mercy."

And smiled over Tempe Brennan's relationship woes in Kathy Reich's "Break No Bones."

Laughed and talked with Gerry and the boys about the Dr Who episode we watched on DVD ( a birthday present for Alexander).

Completed four pages of Kumon maths problems - factorization of polynomials is fun, like working on a jigsaw puzzle.

And found a cool P.G. Wodehouse website, devoted to his novels. Emailed the link to the rest of the family.

Oh, and yes, I guess we had a happy moment or two over schoolwork - A finished his Middle Ages book ( his cover is above), T and Anny finished symbolic self portraits.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Yes, I do housework.

Often I get inspired by something - an event, a person, a book, a desire.

On the weekend, I ws inspired by music. Listening to loud happy music makes housework extra fun.

I swept outside - the porch and patio.

I used carpet shampoo on the sitting room carpet. Replacing the furniture in the room created a desire to re-arrange the furniture. So, now our sitting room has a different look.

With Good Charlotte blaring from the CD player, I started on the family room and the dining room. Moved the furniture around there. And enlisted the help of Thomas and Alexander and dh.

Then I moved to the main bedroom - hmm, it needed some sprucing and a touch of beautifying, too.

It feels nice to be sitting in new rooms, well, the same rooms but with a different twist. A makeover?

On being a wife...

Now, don't worry, I am not about to blog on another hefty topic.

But the mothering posts, here and on Genevieve's blog and the related posts at the 4 real learning message board, have created a spin off - from mothering to the topic of being a wife.

You can read some posts

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Just say no!

This was a slogan put out by the Health Dept of Western Australia, quite a few years ago now. It was aimed at young people and was part of their safe sex programme.

As you can imagine the slogan attracted a lot of comment. Many people felt it was unrealistic to ask young people to say no to relations outside marriage or to say no to casual sleeping around.

Why am I writing about this?

Yesterday, two homeschool friends and I were talking, while our teens were at band practice and the younger ones were war gaming.

One friend mentioned that her church recently hosted a talk for teens/young people on the issue of abstinence - or not.

She said that, later, her own children asked her about her experiences - had she abstained before marriage.

And, yes, she told them the truth - and her reasons for her choices.

So, we three mothers got to talking. Is it hard to expect our children to wait until marriage ( if, indeed, marriage is in the picture for them).

What is a Christian viewpoint?

The other friend told how some young people in her church are married young - presumably as a solution to the abstinence?

Both friends asked me about my older sons and their thoughts - they are young Christians who are not married. What choices are they making - and why?

Now, obviously, this is a matter between my older sons and God.

But over the years Gerry (dh) and I have talked about why the Church encourages us to wait for marriage - or to be celibate if that is where we are called. About avoiding occasions of possible temptation, where possible.

And all parents know that, ultimately, young adults will make their own choices. We can pray but they are their own people and have their own relationships - with God and with others.

They will make their choices - prayerfully, and sacramentally, we hope - just as we made and continue to make ours.

Can they just say no?

Here are a couple of articles .Everyone has his own gift from God, suited to his vocation - Pope John Paul 2

Pope John Paul 2 - Paul's teaching on the sanctity and respect of the human body

A Christian View of Sex

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Reading Genevieve's blog has made me think.

I have been haunted a bit by her post.

What is it that we want our children to remember? How will they think of us as mothers - what will they think of their childhood?

What type of mother do I want to be - and what type of mother am I?

I admit to having visions, visions dancing in my head, of the mythical, perfect mother .

She is calm. She is gentle. She is smiling. She is nurturing.

Well, my children usually get the smiling mum. But the other attributes ?

In my dreams, the mother I want to be is a bit like Ma in the Little House series of books. Cooking. Baking. Loving. Always present. Fair.

The reality of my mothering traces a different path.

I love my children and I have fun. But I get overly enthusiastic - definitely not calm and placid. I like to be busy. I like pop/punk/rock/hip hop music.

Is my energetic nature not nurturing enough?

And let us not go down the cooking and baking path. Although I *am into light sabre fights and basketball.

I try. I strive. But my mothering never meets my standards.

I like some things I do and some of my mothering - but I never am quite there, never quite there at my mothering vision.

Scott Hahn offers me words of encouragement in his book "Lord Have Mercy". He writes of spiritual growth and I think his words apply to my growth as a mother.

"Let's face it: Spiritual growth, like physical conditioning, doesn't come easy. We'd all like to shed our sinful habits overnight, just as I'd be pleased to drop twenty pounds by tomorrow morning or triple my muscular strength by next week. But changes in character are, like changes in our bodies, rarely discernible from week to week or month to month. Only over the course of years or decades do we notice a difference. We need to have a regimen, and we need to stick with it over the long haul."

Thursday, July 20, 2006

We are currently reading..silently...quietly...on our own...

The Great Gatsby F Scott Fitzgerald

The Corporation

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire J K Rowling

Julie and Julia

Break No Bones Kathy Reichs

Surprised by Truth Patrick Madrid

Lord Have Mercy Scott Hahn

The Return of the King J R Tolkien

Monday, July 17, 2006

On Being Catholic... the title of a book I have recently read. It is by Thomas Howard and was loaned to me by a priest in our parish.

Thought I'd share a quote from the Envoi -

"No religious man, surely, will ever make the claim to have arrived; or, if he does, the rest of us demur over what looks for all the world like presumption on his part. Perhaps he is a high-level initiate in some arcane Gnostic sect. So be it. But, for the general run of religious people, Jew and Muslim as well as Christian, the semse of being en route is very much to the fore. be Catholic is to see oneself as for, not against, the world. "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved" ( John 3:17).


As is this blog, with the title - being Catholic is SO punk rock.

Jonathon will love it.

being catholic is so punk rock

Self Portraits

Thomas and Anthony - and perhaps Alexander and I - are working on self portraits this week.

We have been using the lesson plan ideas from the San Diego Museum of Art - I like the thought of the symbolic self portrait, the collage one and the three dimensional portrait.

San Diego Museum of Art

This is one of Jonathon's stylized self-portraits. One of his uni courses has been an Art one ( Visual Art) and he had to produce a lifesize self-portrait, using ink...

Cumberland State Forest

This is where we went for our nature walk on the weekend.

We have recently experienced rain and were hoping that some of the creeks would now have water - sadly, still mostly dry, even though it is winter in drought stricken New South Wales.

We all enjoyed the family walk - one son started off complaining but got into the family hilarity - even when he fell off the path and into the mud!

He took this photo with his mobile phone - we were intrigued by the lichen on the slim tree trunk. And we talked about mosses and lichen...I need to look up more info as I think I was a bit sketchy in my details!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Bragging rights!

Son number five ( Alexander - just turned 15 last week...) has won a writing competition! He is one of five secondary school age winners from Australia.

This was run by Kumon Education Australia and the theme was "World Peace and Me".

Kumon Education aims to contribute to nation building and world peace through education of the whole child. Thus the theme.

Alexander's work will be displayed in Bangkok at the Conference in August. His work may also be used as part of Kumon's promotions.

And here is his poem....

“They create a desolation, and call it peace”

A desolation they call peace,
Floating on the breeze.
Tearing through the streets,
Softly whistling through the trees.

A desolation they call peace,
Means nothing to you or me.
Peace is sharing, peace is caring,
Education for you and me.

A desolation they call peace,
Disappears without a trace.
A tear slowly forms,
Then trickles down a face.

We look for friendship,
Togetherness at least.
Instead they create
a desolation and call it peace.

* Tacitus was a prominent historian of Roman antiquity, with his style as an author characterized by an uncompromising boldness, and a sharpness of wit. The above quote, from his book Agricola, is influential when thinking about peace.

Funnily enough, the theme makes me smile because I remember the film Miss Congeniality - Sandra Bullock and the beauty pageant applicants ALL want world peace!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

My current passions.

My two current passions are my two FAVE workouts.

I do these on DVD as home workouts but both are available in gyms as classes. Home workouts suit this homechooler's schedule better, right now....And her budget.

Tae Bo has has been a long time favourite.Billy Blanks really works you hard and is a great inspiration.

Billy Blanks and Taebo

Taebo fan's page

Turbo Jam is a new fun workout for me - its like dance and kickboxing together.
Turbo Jam

And Chalene's TJ blog

Am I a workout addict or what? My early morning workout is my daily time for me - before the busyness of the day begins. I never miss a day - I love it so much and have a fun time. I feel like a kid again - and if my kids are awake they like watching me workout or trying to outdo me in push ups or sit ups or punches and kicks.

Tae Bo even has a kids' workout. Way cool, baby doll! ( lol!)

Thomas' and Anthony's castle


This term, in our homeschool group - Group Learning - we are studying Chemistry. I think it will have a focus on cooking and kitchen chemistry.

I am thinking about follow up activities at home. We have some Chemistry textbooks and Alexander ( just turned 15! last week!) can use those as a framework. We can all do many of the experiments from these books.

I thought it might be fun to look at some famous scientists. I know Nicholas ( son number 3) wrote a book with bios of several famous scientists, and illustrations, when he was around twelve. Luke ( son number 1) wrote a Chemistry book for younger students, when he was around 15.

[We write a book each year , based on Valerie Bendt's book "Creating Books With Children.]

Anyway, I don't think we'll be making books this term. But I have found some fun Chemistry related websites - and am open to more website suggestions. :-)

A Chemistry based lesson plan, using Dr Seuss books

A Chemistry portal - many good ideas here

Mind you, this all fits in with our recent Harry Potter movie/discussion marathon - we could look at Chemistry and the HP books! Hence the pic...

Harry Potter

This week is mid year school holidays for the school system. While many of our usual homeschool activites cease for the school hols, we find that we still homeschool - we still read, do some Maths, do some writing, do activities, watch movies and talk.

We "school" ( homeschool/unschool) year round...

Over the course of this week, we have been watching the Harry Potter movies. Again.

And discussing the characters, their growth and change. The differences between the books and movies - the pathos we feel when we read about Cedric's death in book number 4 ( I cried). Was that same degree of pathos captured in the film?

The different directors each built a slightly different set and thus created a smidgen of difference in the films.

What was our favourite HP book - and why?

So our talk has flowed. Isn't this the beauty of homeschooling - the learning and talking never ends.

Why do you blog?

I was reading a blog the other week - on thoughts on blogging.

What makes a good blog?

Why do we blog? What makes a good blog, a great blog - or does that even matter? It's not a competition, is it?

We blog simply as a way of keeping in touch.

We have moved. A lot. The blog helps us connect with friends and family - and especially with our older sons, living interstate.

We also share with our internet friends - new and old.

So, by this definition, our blog isn't good or great - it is just us. Telling a little bit about our weeks and our homeschooling and our reading and movies and activities.

Why do you blog?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Middle Ages

An update on our Middle Ages rabbit trail. Alexander is writing a book called "On Architecture" - it is about the architecture of the medieval world.

The castle ( via Thomas and Anthony , with some help from Dad) is still in its early stages.

And here is one of Thomas' shields - he has been reading a bit about heraldry ( and arms and armoury - the Middle Ages from a military viewpoint? !).

Posting and thinking

I do not seem to get time to post. Life moves at a fast pace. And I wonder why.

Why do we do so much?

I am a gregarious person, so I guess that plays a part.

And I like to be busy. On Mother's Day I took the opportunity in the afternoon to do a few jobs - and I enjoyed myself. I realized that I like work.

However, I think this term, while still being busy, will also be a more restful term. We are looking at dropping a few of our outside activites - we might be home one more morning a week ( this is unusual for us!).

This will also give us time for more spontaneity and flexibility. I find that very scheduled weeks leave little room for serendipity. For the spur of the moment dropping into the library or baking cookies or walking to the park.

I think it is this spontaneity that I am missing the most.

I read blogs of people with simpler lives and more flexibility and I yearn for the same for myself. And for my children.

But do they yearn for this themselves? Hmm.

It may be that this is the Holy Spirit calling us to take time out and listen.

I am thinking here of St Frances and his simple enjoyment of nature.

Or of St Therese and her Little Way.

Reading part of "Seasons of a Mother's heart" last night ( Sally Clarkson) reminded me to take time out for beauty and the enjoyment of beauty.

Can I do this and still keep up most ( not all) of our activities and work on my To do List?

We will see.