Monday, July 30, 2007

I finished it!

Oh my gosh, I just finished "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows"!

A really, really good book. Very sad. Very powerful.

And I am feeling sorrowful at the close of the series. I want to go back and

re-read every book again.....

A favourite quote ~ you know, I have to share quotes...

"Because", said Harry, before Hermione could answer, "sometimes you've got to think about more than your own safety! Sometimes, you've got to think about the greater good!.."

I have got to know these characters so well, that I have tears in my eyes now, as I type these words and remember the sacrifices of characters, in the novel.

A good book touches your soul, doesn't it?

Two quotes

From two very different sources.

And yet they seem connected to me, in support of unschooling, in support of the type of living and learning that occurs in our Catholic homeschool.

"The trouble with talk about 'learning experiences' is that it implies that all experiences can be divided into two kinds, those from which we learn something, and those from which we learn nothing. but there are no experiences from which we learn nothing. We learn from everything we do, and everything that happens to us or is done to us."John Holt, Instead of Education

And, from ZENIT News, July 25 ~ One of the priests asked the Holy Father about enjoying human things, such as recreation. "I liked playing soccer more than going to Eucharistic adoration," the priest said, explaining that his superiors in the seminary scolded him for this. "Doesn't bringing man close to God, and God to man, happen in our humanity, even for us priests?" he asked the Pontiff.

"I would be against choosing whether to play soccer or to study sacred Scripture or canon law. Let us do both," Benedict XVI responded. "We cannot always live in high meditation; maybe a saint at the highest levels of his earthly existence can do that, but normally we live with our feet on the ground and our eyes fixed on heaven. "Both are given to us by the Lord and therefore loving human things, loving the beauty of this earth, is not just very human, but also very Christian and quite Catholic."

The Pope said that a "healthy and truly Catholic pastoral care" includes living in what he called the "et-et," Latin for "and-and."

He explained that this should prompt us "to live humanity and the humanism of mankind, all the gifts that the Lord has given us, which we have developed and, at the same time, not to forget God, because in the end the great light comes from God and only from him comes the light that gives joy to the realities of the things that exist."

"Therefore," the Holy Father said, "I would like to work for this great Catholic synthesis, for this 'et-et'; to be truly man -- that everyone according to their own gifts and their own charism loves the earth and the beautiful things the Lord has given us, but to also be grateful for the light of God that shines on the earth, that gives splendor and beauty to everything else."

"Let us live in this Catholicity joyously. This would be my answer," Benedict XVI concluded, prompting applause from the priests present.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A cooking night. And Harry Potter.

Thomas and I felt like cooking tonight, on our return home from Sunday evening Mass. We were in a cooking mood!

Thomas made Chocolate Profiteroles. I made small meat and vegetable pies.

A finger food dinner.

And now I am back to reading, one could say devouring, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." I am drawn to the story ~ what will happen next? I can smell the evilness of Lord Voldermort. I can taste the fear of the characters. Gosh, I need to finish this book!

Rowling is a good storyteller.

On Women. On Feminism

Catholic Mommas share a post on Christian Feminism.

It all started with a post on a recent homily, wherein "the blame for all the ills of society was placed squarely on the shoulders of women".


The post goes on to describe a positive view of feminism, of Christian feminism, recognizing the dignity of all, men and women.

And this view is supported with quotes from Pope John Paul II and from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

I openly admit to being a feminist, if feminism means supporting the influence and role of women; looking for equal rights and dignity ; acknowledging the role of each sex, differences and similarities.

Pope John Paul II spoke of the vocation of both women and men as following Christ and in following the example of Mary ~ the culminating point, the archetype, of the personal dignity of women, is indispensable. In her is perfectly realized what every human person, i.e. man and woman alike, should aspire to: To serve Him means to reign.

I am a woman, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a worker.
But before all these things, I am first and foremost a person, a Christian, a Catholic.

When people look at me, do they see only my sex or only labels or only boxes in which they can squeeze my personality? Or do they see who I am and what I do? What sort of example am I of Christianity, regardless of my sex?

In the encyclical Redemptoris Mater the Pope JP2 lists these virtues :
It can thus be said that women, by looking to Mary, find in her the secret of living their femininity with dignity and of achieving their own true advancement. In the light of Mary, the Church sees in the face of women the reflection of a beauty which mirrors the loftiest sentiments of which the human heart is capable: the self-offering totality of love; the strength that is capable of bearing the greatest sorrows; limitless fidelity and tireless devotion to work; the ability to combine penetrating intuition with words of support and encouragement.

A tall act to follow.

In my opinion, homilies similar to the homily described by Catholic Mommas (above), do a disservice to the Church, to women and to men, to families.

A family at church told me of the old Mr Ed TV show, apparently showing now on Foxtel . They described it as being a good example of a wife's obedience to her husband, not making any decisions herself but always looking towards her husband for his leadership. "The good old days - great for the kids to see!"

I don't think so.

That is not how it works in our home. We work things out together, as a Christian couple, giving in to each other's needs and special areas of interest. My dh feels it would be annoying for me to ask him to make decisions on everything - hey, he trusts my judgement as I trust his! We co-operate.

And we believe that this co-operation is a better example for our children.

To quote JP2 again ~ Sadly, a long history of sin has disturbed and continues to disturb God's original plan for the couple, for the male and the female, thus standing in the way of its complete fulfillment. We need to return to this plan, to proclaim it forcefully, so that women in particular—who have suffered more from its failure to be fulfilled—can finally give full expression to their womanhood and their dignity.
from Mary and Women

Friday, July 27, 2007


Today's homeschooling was archery.

I've organized a few lessons for a homeschool group, today's lesson being the first.

It was grey and cloudy but still a fun morning, and the archery session was followed by lunch and everyone chatting together, hanging out together.

Robin Hood anyone? Or maybe I should be Maid Marian..

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Religion and Graphic Organizers

Doing some religion related reading this morning ~ Anny read a section on citizenship and on obeying lawful authority. An interesting discussion has ensued....and we have looked for a way to demonstrate this discussion. A paperwork trail...

I did an online search for graphic organizers and Anny found one that interested him. He is writing his graphic organizer on citizenship as I type.

And now we have looked at the Catechism of the Catholic Church. What does the Church say about legitmate authority?

1897 "Human society can be neither well-ordered nor prosperous unless it has some people invested with legitimate authority to preserve its institutions and to devote themselves as far as is necessary to work and care for the good of all."
By "authority" one means the quality by virtue of which persons or institutions make laws and give orders to men and expect obedience from them.
1898 Every human community needs an authority to govern it.16 The foundation of such authority lies in human nature. It is necessary for the unity of the state. Its role is to ensure as far as possible the common good of the society.
1899 The authority required by the moral order derives from God: "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment."
1900 The duty of obedience requires all to give due honor to authority and to treat those who are charged to exercise it with respect, and, insofar as it is deserved, with gratitude and good-will.
Pope St. Clement of Rome provides the Church's most ancient prayer for political authorities: "Grant to them, Lord, health, peace, concord, and stability, so that they may exercise without offense the sovereignty that you have given them. Master, heavenly King of the ages, you give glory, honor, and power over the things of earth to the sons of men. Direct, Lord, their counsel, following what is pleasing and acceptable in your sight, so that by exercising with devotion and in peace and gentleness the power that you have given to them, they may find favor with you."
1901 If authority belongs to the order established by God, "the choice of the political regime and the appointment of rulers are left to the free decision of the citizens."
The diversity of political regimes is morally acceptable, provided they serve the legitimate good of the communities that adopt them. Regimes whose nature is contrary to the natural law, to the public order, and to the fundamental rights of persons cannot achieve the common good of the nations on which they have been imposed.
1902 Authority does not derive its moral legitimacy from itself. It must not behave in a despotic manner, but must act for the common good as a "moral force based on freedom and a sense of responsibility":
A human law has the character of law to the extent that it accords with right reason, and thus derives from the eternal law. Insofar as it falls short of right reason it is said to be an unjust law, and thus has not so much the nature of law as of a kind of violence.
1903 Authority is exercised legitimately only when it seeks the common good of the group concerned and if it employs morally licit means to attain it. If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience. In such a case, "authority breaks down completely and results in shameful abuse."
1904 "It is preferable that each power be balanced by other powers and by other spheres of responsibility which keep it within proper bounds. This is the principle of the 'rule of law,' in which the law is sovereign and not the arbitrary will of men."

An interesting morning, the feast of St Joachim and St Anne.

Monday, July 23, 2007

A 1960s theme.

A friend had her 40th birthday party on the weekend ~ a party with a 1960s twist.
Whole families were invited and we had a wonderful time - the DJ organized games for both children and adults and the kids and teens played and danced and talked.
My friends and I and our dhs danced the night away - some cool 60s dances! And we enjoyed vodka cruisers and champagne. :-)
Here we are in 60s regalia.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

Through my fault, my most grievous fault. The Confiteor.

I am re-reading Kathryn Hulme's novel "The Nun's Story".

Sister Luke, the main character of the novel, describes the weekly culpa, or ritual of proclaiming one's faults.

"..and all of it [ note - the confession of faults] sounded like trivia wrought out of senseless scrupulosity until your turn came and until you felt beneath your scapular the white-hot burn of humiliation which told how much of your pride was still alive within you and how far away was that perfection in humilty..."

This sense of pride is one area that leaves a sting within me and encourages me to go to Reconciliation or Confession.

As a convert, the Sacrament of Reconcilation seemed strange to me at first. But there is a beauty, a sense of grace, yes, sacramental grace, within the sacrament . A grace that I could never have imagined before becoming Catholic.

A Brethren friend and I were discussing Confession and she wondered aloud if this really was just a measure of control, of the Church having control over us all in general, and of men having control over women in particular.


But I doubt it.

I see instead the peace and the grace. It is not forced but something that helps one in developing charity. Makes one better. Makes the world better.

" The word reconciliation is rich in meaning. It suggests the gift of God's forgiveness and the removal of the barriers we place between ourselves, our community and our God. Reconciliation means the rebridging of the gap between God and us and between ourselves and others. It also suggests the deep peace that comes from being brought back into harmony with God, with sisters and brothers and with the whole of creation. "

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

We picked up our copy of the book this morning - we should have bought several copies as there is a waiting list of those wishing to read the book!

And, no, no-one wants to have it read aloud. At least, not right now.

They want, instead, to devour the book and then share, discuss, take the book apart....

Thomas is reading it first - curled up right now, in between folding the junk mail he delivers on the weekend.

Anthony has read the ending - and sent me text messages in answer to my queries of "Who dies??".

Why text messages? Because no one else wants to hear the ending in advance.
:-) Just Anny and Jonathon and me.

A happy weekend and week of reading, to all HP fans!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Homeschool Morning

Was this morning a typical homeschool morning? Probably not. But it has been a pleasant morning, an enjoyable morning, with learning being our lifestyle ... so, I thought I'd share....

Gerry was off to work early and Alexander and I woke early-ish, to workout. I tidied, did laundry, checked email, asked kids to help me clean uo the kitchen ~ the usual.

Jonathon has spent time studying for his uni exam tomorrow ( Screen History and Research) and discussing the effect of TV and cable TV on cinema attendance. Thomas checked ninemsn for news and we got into a discussion on the Liberal government, on Prime Minister John Howard and Treasurer Peter Costello.
Thomas and Anthony made a motorized model car - well, it is almost finished. Alexander tried reading more of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" in Latin, with a Latin dictionary nearby!

Anthony worked on folders for his role playing game - writing, diagrams, statistics; and he and Thomas played a computer game, discussing strategies. Everyone played music - guitar and piano, singing along, listening to CDs.

Anthony went on a bike ride around our small housing estate ~ by himself!

The kids played basketball and "guns" , involving running around our end of the cul de sac and trying to shoot each other with foam bullets and toy guns. :-)

And there has been a lot of reading ~ the spoiler of the new
Harry Potter book, an anthology of 1960s humour ( including Thurber and Belloc), an autobiography of a fighter ace of WW2, Choose Your Own Adventure Dr Who. Anthony found my copy of "The Nun's Story". I have been looking for that book for ages, wanting to re-read it after I re-read Godden's "In This House of Brede" earlier this year.

Thomas cooked dinner for tonight, ahead of time! ~ I helped.Spaghetti and Meatballs. Alexander made signs for my Kumon centre and I worked on Kumon paperwork and phone calls and emails and on the parish newsletter.

I read aloud a bit about the saint for today - Blessed Peter ToRot , from Papua New Guinea.

Now, time for more laundry and lunch . Alexander ( and others) are going to watch an old Dr Who TV episode over lunch, with book comparisons, of course, and then we are off to work at Kumon. Anthony will do some Kumon English reading and writing work, until Gerry picks him up at 5 or 6-ish, while the rest of us are working at the centre.

A pleasant winter school morning!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Literature Activities

Today I have suggested that we look a little deeper at the book "Bridge to Terabithia" by Katherine Paterson.

All of us have read the book. Some of us have seen the movie.

We have printed this list of NewberyMedal and Honor Books and highlighted those we have read ~ and any we may like to read.

How many have you read?

We have discussed the novel as a coming of age novel - how did Jess change? From here, our discussion has become more personal ~ personal growth and decisions, talk about other books we have read and other movies we have seen.

Does this growth ever stop? Do we ever really "come of age" or is it a continual journey?

We are reading about exposition, climax, rise and fall of events, resolution and a couple of the kids have completed a plot graph for "Bridge to Terabithia."

All this literature focus has brought us back to discussion of the Harry Potter books and movies. We saw the new HP movie last week and started watching one of 0ur older HP movies on the weekend. A few of us are re-reading some HP books, while waiting for the release of the seventh novel on Saturday July 21.

I found a few online study guides for HP and thought we might explore some Harry Potter themes and literature in our homeschool, over the next few weeks...

HP and Language Arts
Harry Potter Units and Lesson Plans

Monday, July 16, 2007

Carrying the Cross

We went to Mass yesterday, a Mass held at St Agatha's for the handing over of the WD Cross and Icon to our Diocese .
Jonathon and four other Youth Leaders from our parish CorYouth Group helped to carry the cross and accompanied it on the ferry to Parramatta Wharf.

Alexander will help carry the cross during the procession into Mass at another local church on Tuesday, as a representative of youth from our parish.

We all had a chance to venerate the cross.

And to reflect on the cross. One never knows what one's cross will be. Or where it may take you.

Maybe even to Parramatta!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Happy Ordination Day, Fr. B.

We went out for dinner tonight, on the eve of the anniversary of Fr. B.'s Ordination Day .

Fr. was ordained two years ago.
Thank you for your prayers and Masses, Fr. ~ and for your friendship.

You are in our prayers always...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Alexander's Birthday Party

His sixteenth birthday party, on Friday the thirteenth.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen!

Sweet Sixteen and Never Been Kissed?

Sixteen Candles? ( no, but two sparkler candles!).

We were trying to remember songs with the motif of 16 ~ know any others?

Purple is Alexander's favourite colour and the gifts had a purple motif. One friend gave Alexander the purple bandanna above, I promptly tied it around Alexander's forehead ( Dire Straits and The Karate Kid style??) and grabbed this pic.

A fun night.

Friday, July 13, 2007


" Malfoy stared at Dumbledore.

'But I got this far, didn't I?" he said slowly.
'They thought I'd die in the attempt, but I'm here..and you're in my power...I'm the one with the're at my mercy...'

'No, Draco,' said Dumbledore quietly.' It is my mercy and not yours, that matters now.' "

I am re-reading the sixth Harry Potter book ~ "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince."

This morning I was moved, I was touched, by the above dialogue.

I was reminded once again of the mercy of God. Of how I think and plan and worry but ultimately must lay down my worries and over planning, resting in His mercy.

I saw His mercy in my all clear from my specialist this week - no cancer!

I saw His mercy in the forgiveness of my children, in their understanding of the whys behind my cross words, my failings.

I felt His mercy today, after a sleepless night worrying about the Kumon Education Centre of which I am Supervisor. Field staff visited my centre yesterday ~ I saw only my faults and worried that I wouldn't "make the grade". Whatever that grade may be. The positive response and discussion this morning with the Kumon staff made me smile at my worries and made me remember to trust , act and pray.

I experienced God's mercy at Mass this morning with the children, while praying and really listening to the homily and receiving Him in the Eucherist.

One can find God and His mercy in many places - yes, even in a Harry Potter book.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

St Benedict.

The feast day of St Benedict is tomorrow, July 11.

However ,we celebrated this feast today, as we shared lunch with some other Catholic homeschoolers and learned a little bit about the life of St Benedict.

He is the patron saint against poisoning and Pope Paul VI also recommended St Benedict as the patron saint of Europe.

The older kids in the group wrote their own rule of life, after discussion on the
Rule of St Benedict. The younger kids did copywork and colouring in. And one of the mothers distributed medals of St Benedict.

We also shared Italian food for lunch - the saint was born in Italy, after all~!

You can read daily sections of the Rule .
Motu Proprio ~ Pope Benedict 7 July 07 Summorum Pontificum.

We have been reading this ( in English!), and discussing the Mass according to the 1962 Missal. Discussing the Pope's letter to the Bishops.

Great for English and Religion this week...

I also thought Alexander might like to try his hand at translating some of the Latin text of the motu proprio.

Alongside working on reading Harry Potter in Latin.

A rather incongruous Latin reading list! lol!

My new boots!

Well, actually, I bought these boots at the end of winter sale last year and promptly forgot about them.

Found them in my cupboard and have taken to wearing them on these cold winter days.

Hey, don't you like the green? :-)

World Youth Day.

Our parish held a WYD Pre-Anniversary event last Sunday, July 8. WYD08 is July 15-20, in Sydney, next year...

The day began at 2.30 pm, with a BBQ , in the pouring rain~! Thankfully, the BBQ area is under cover.

The youth group had decorated the parish hall with WYD banners and posters and placed a statue of our Lady and of the Sacred Heart on display. We adjourned to this area for talks and music, praise and worship songs from the parish Youth Band and from the parish's Youth for Christ band.

Holy Hour in the church, with Benediction in Latin, brought the event to a solemn closure, followed by Youth Mass with Bishop Porteus at 6.00 p.m.

We helped out with the organization and all the helpers were at the church on Saturday and then from 9.45 a.m. Sunday to 9.00 p.m. Sunday night. We finished with clean up and a cup of tea!

A long and tiring day, but a very worthwhile event.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Inspire and Require.

Maureen left a comment on my blog post on Learning Principles.

~For me, "Inspire not Require" is more about modeling desired other words, not requiring modes of learning you are not also willing to pursue~


I definitely aim to inspire real learning, to be a good role model of learning myself. However, I also have no qualms about requiring study, yes, even study that I myself may not currently be undertaking.

For example, the boys are studying Latin - Alexander by choice, Thomas and Anny because I asked them to. I studied one term of Latin at school but have learned more Latin over the years of working with my kids. All the boys have studied at least one year of Latin, since dh and I think it is important - for language, for logical thinking, for beauty, for the Church.

So, with Latin, I am hoping to inspire and I definitely require the study. Yet, despite the element of requirement , last weekend, while making a roleplaying game, Anthony pulled out his Latin book .He perused the book, using Latin words for characters, places, items in the game. Anthony said it was fun!

My introducing a subject, my requiring a subject, did not kill a love of learning but enriched Anthony's play.

I decided that we are not aiming at perfection - just happiness and progression. So, some have tos and some want tos work for us. :-)

Basically, Gerry and I have always envisaged our sons studying at university. We both studied at university ( we met and married while university students) and we felt that the stretching of ourselves and of our minds via study was beneficial.

Now, our sons' lives are their own ( before God), and not ours, but university is a standard, so to speak, a given in our family. If someone really didn't want to study at unversity , had other goals, or wasn't suited for university study, that would be fine. Generally, however, even the younger two talk about "what I'll study at uni."

So, our unschooly - ness also reflects this university goal.

University is just seen as part of a path, perhaps, not as the be all or end all or defining of self.

All this discussion has been inspired by the book "A Thomas Jefferson Education." This book is on my next to read boook - in the education category that is! .....I tend to have several books going at once - one spiritual/theology, one for self educationn one geneal novel, one fitness, one homeschooling....

I have recently finished "The Latin Centred Curriculum" and can see how classical education can mesh with unschooling in our house. Reading Maureen's Thomas Jefferson Education Blog Carnival makes me interested in the learning stages and learning principles of TJE. I'll have to purchase a copy!

And I see how we can continue to blend all this with our educational lifestyle approach, as I read both Maria's and Cindy's blog posts on education and unschooling.

Thank you, Cindy, for encouraging this discussion!

Our bulletin board...

Can you see the pics of Alexander as a baby and toddler, on the bulletin board ( double click on bulletin board pic)? It's Alexander's birthday month - he turned 16 yesterday, on July 1st. Happy sweet sixteen!

You can also see our other interests this month ~ the periodic table of elements, Dr Who, Harry Potter and St Benedict ( we are meeting with some other Catholic homeshoolers for this feast day). Oh, and the fortunes from the fortune cookies at Alexander's birthday dinner, and a postcard from Assisi....

I also should put up the WYD 08 logo on the board. We attended the ceremony yesterday at Darling Harbour - the arrival of the cross and icon, and the launch of the WYD song by Guy Sebastian. Bishiop Fisher reminded us of the great blessings associated with the cross and icon and with WYD itself and said that we will be able to tell future genrations " we were there."

And next week our parish youth host a pre-anniversary WYD event. A BBQ, talks, music, Holy Hour and Youth Mass with Bishop Porteous.

We definitely need a WYD logo on the bulletin board!

Also,check out the remote controlled Dalek, Alexander's birthday present from his six brothers. Gerry and I have given him the first Harry Potter book in Latin - Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis .Something A's been wanting for awhile! It's still on order, but patience is a virtue, right?