Wednesday, October 31, 2007

All Hallows Eve and Wednesday Religion

Today's religion reading centred on the eighth commandment - thou shalt not bear false witness. What does that mean for our every day life, for all we say and do?

We also discussed the saints - this is the week of All Saints, isn't it? Thomas read about the martyrs, about the Doctors of the Church, of St Athanasius and the Arian heresy, of St Benedict and monasticism.

Alexander is yet to complete and share his religion reading...He has a love/hate relationship with his Scott Hahn book. Hates the writing style and loves it when he finishes a section!

And ~ We also celebrated All Hallow's Eve.

The Solemnity of All Saints is celebrated on November 1. It is a Solemnity,it is the day that the Church honours all of God's saints, even those who have not been canonized by the Church.Pope Sixtus IV in 1484 established November 1 as a holyday of obligation and gave it a vigil (known today as "All Hallows' Eve" or "Hallowe'en").

The Church recognizes Solemnities and Sundays as high feast days that last longer than a day. The celebration starts the evening before, as mentioned in The General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar: "Solemnities are counted as the principal days in the calendar and their observance begins with evening prayer of the preceding day. Some also have their own vigil Mass for use when Mass is celebrated in the evening of the preceding day. "

In England, saints or holy people are called "hallowed", hence the name "All Hallow's Day". The evening, or "e'en" before the feast became popularly known as "All Hallows' Eve" or even shorter, "Hallowe'en".

November 2 was the date designated to pray for all the departed souls in Purgatory, the Feast of All Souls. The feasts of All Saints and All Souls fall back to back to express the Christian belief of the "Communion of Saints." The Communion of Saints is the union of all the faithful on earth (the Church militant), the saints in Heaven (the Church Triumphant) and the Poor Souls in Purgatory (the Church suffering), with Christ as the Head. They are bound together by a supernatural bond, and can help one another. The Church Militant (those on earth still engaged in the struggle to save their souls) can venerate the Church Triumphant, and those saints can intercede with God for those still on earth. Both the faithful on earth and the saints in heaven can pray for the souls in Purgatory

On All Souls Day and November 1-8 one can gain plenary indulgences for the Poor Souls.

We tried to remember some of these concepts and talked of indulgences, while having an All Hallows Eve mini party.

Made paper chains and blew up balloons.

We bobbed for apples. We had donut eating contests. We ate nibbles, had a barbecue, ate sweets.

And laughed. Enjoyed the company of family and friends. Don't our kids and friends look great, dressed up? Dh with "hump" on his back. Me , in pink, trying to eat a donut - hands free!

Prayed the De Profundis for the dead ~ "Out of the depths I have cried unto thee, O Lord..."

Tomorrow we'll pray the Litany of the Saints, and attend Mass.

Happy All Saints to all! And thanks to those who attended our mini party!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A morning of unschooling...

Friends have recently discussed their feelings of inadequacy ~ are they doing enough schoolwork? Looking at curriculum lists and at homeschool blogs makes them feel bad....

In the interest of making everyone feel better, I am going to post today's unschooling morning. Feel inadeqate? Read this post and you'll feel better - bet you do more creative stuff with your mornings!

After waking everyone up, I organized laundry, hung out washing on the line, tidied up. Kids made their own breakfast - one had apple pie and ice cream, one had just ice cream, two had yogurt and cereal. Thank heaven, someone ate something healthy! I eat after my workout - planned on porridge and banana and skim milk today....

We cleaned up the kitchen then, while kids did their fitness routines ( yoga, trampolining, the Canadian Air Force 5BX programme, a medicine ball routine from Men's Health magazine..) and tidied rooms and played computer/video games, checke email and played guitar and piano ~ I worked out. Turbo Jam then a circuit workout from Prevention. I rocked ( modesty here) - 70 minutes of fun!

I returned a phone call to a friend, Jonathon began uni work on the computer and work for his graphic arts part time job. Alexander finished his Kumon Maths booklet. The rest of us got ready to meet same friend and homeschooled son for coffee.

Alexander has his Learners Driver permit so he drove us all to our parish's office, to drop off info for an upcoming parish survey and some items for the church bulletin. While he and I were chatting with the secretary ( is that what we call her??? She is nice and friendly!) in the parish office, Thomas and Anthony went into the church to light candles. Our kids have a lighting-candle-fetish.

Off to morning tea at a local shopping centre. Had our snack, friend and I had a long talk about some issues and the kids talked and visited Dymocks, a book store. Spending time in a book store, perusing books and talking about books with friends is a cool way to spend a school morning, don't you think?

We are making books this term, our usual Term 4 and pre Advent activity, using ideas from Creating Books With Children by Valerie Bendt. Looking at title pages, at drawing books, at dust jackets in Dymocks gave the boys lots of ideas. And soothed my doubts about neglecting any educational activity at all. It is educational. Right?

Morning tea was coffee for me, tea for my friend, McDonalds for friend's son and two of my sons, Quiche Lorriane for another son. At the local food hall. Makes up for the apple pie breakfast? Not.

Saw another homeschool friend and daughter, off to lunch. Shops and lunch was their planned homeschool activity...Sound familiar?

Went to the grocery store to buy supplies for All Hallow's Eve and All Saints, to the post office ( mailing a parcel to Italy, interesting discussion on postal rates and shipping). Drove home, kids reading in the car - Thomas :"Carry On Jeeves" by P G Wodehouse; Anthony :a manual on rpgs - picked up Jonathon, met Gerry ( dh) for lunch - at Subway. Hey, healthy food at last!

You know, we must be on a new grocery budget - feeding the family for a huge amount of dollars each week, by eating out a lot! lol! You know, you read about homeschoolers at home, doing a lot of cooking and baking, saving money. We go through fits and starts - eat home and cook, or eat out and rarely cook......

We read about St Simon and St Jude, Alexander is now off to part time work at Kumon and Thomas and Anthony are folding junk mail for their midweek deliver round . Work education, in syllabus terms. I aim to do phone calls and paperwork and planning for my Kumon centre .

I have checked online for any news ( current events) to share with the kids - no, I think I'll skip the headlines, about Britney Spears and a "priest". No current events education today!

So, don't feel bad, fellow homeschoolers. We all have unschooly mornings now and then - they just happen more frequently, and with less guilt perhaps, in a home where "education is life".

And tomorrow is another day - actually a very busy day planned. But we'll fit in our weekly dose of Wednesday Religion. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Celebrating the Liturgical Year

This morning, I am planning for some activities. Activities to celebrate the liturgy this week.

Wednesday, October 31 is All Hallow's Eve. Last year we made sweets and black and gold paper chains. Shared our fudge with friends. We had a special dinner for All Saints. And made Soul Cakes for All Souls. Attending Masses, of course, and saying the usual prayers, too....

I was thinking that this year, we could have a mini party. A family party? Perhaps invite others? You, know, Catholics Give the Best Parties. I mean, why shouldn't we laugh and have fun, even while remembering the liturgical year, after praying for All Souls , after commemorating the Feast of All Saints?

We can pray the De Profundis - and here is an interesting article describing the use of the De Profundus in contemporary and popular culture.

We can also pray the Litany of All Saints. ( As an aside - this was sung in Latin at Anthony's baptism. Beautiful.)

Perhaps have some apple bobbing and a donut eating contest - maybe a barbecue followed by some sweets. Lollies. Homemade or otherwise....

Maybe make some Coffee Braid and some Dead Bones Cookies.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Joining the Thin Club

This is the new book I am reading. Finished "Secrets of a Former Fat Girl" ( but I will re-read it sometime soon. There are things I need to digest - ah, I mean, think about!).

Do you see a pattern in my reading?

You know, I could be finishing the translation of Dante that I started a few months ago. Or be finishing Pope Benedict 's "Jesus of Nazareth" - which I also began a few months ago.Or I could be reading something challenging on education for work or a good book on home schooling and mothering .
For my life.

But, no. I am shallow. I am stuck in the realm of diet and fitness! lol!

So, back to the book "Joining the Thin Club".

It is not a humorous read, unlike Delaney's book. Former Fat Girl was fun.

This is more serious in tone. Yet, still very interesting. The focus, again, is on the mind and on body image. With a dash of practical tips for weight loss and weight maintenance.

The Thin Club is a state of mind. It is the balance of your life that enables you to understand what is truly important versus what is not so important. When food is your focus, the layer cake becomes a goal. When food is the means to a greater end - a way of fueling your body, staving off hunger and sanctifying where it comes from--it all starts to make sense. And the layer cake will no longer matter.

Well, I am not tempted by layer cake - my temptations lie in the realm of savoury foods, alcohol, nuts, pepper cheese, cheese with a bite...But I see the point. We work on ourselves and on healthy habits.

What other fitness books am I coveting?

I like the sound of The Skinny, Skinny Bitch in the Kitch and The Incredible Shrinking Critic.

I am such a good role model for my kids - see the serious books I am, well, lusting after, see the classics I am reading? Ha, ha!!

I promise that I'll go back to better books soon. Really. Once I get my mind off this whole weight thing.

And I won't complain when Anthony re-reads his Phantom comic!

( That's why I am an unschooler ~ it all counts. :-) )

Postcards from the Edge.

Not the movie, with Carrie Fisher, Meryl Streep, Shirley MacLaine.

But our Thursday morning.

We are part of a postcard exchange with some internet friends. We will send postcards from Sydney to these friends from other parts of the world. They will send postcards in return.

We wrote and addressed our cards yesterday.

A fun geographical exchange!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A pang of envy

Warning - negative post. Posted in the interest of sharing with friends and keeping it real. Feel free to skip!

Now, it is not a nice thing to admit - that feeling of envy.

Yet, that is where I was at, yesterday.

Friends told me they were expecting another child. One said they had decided to try for another child ~ and, it happened~! Another said it was unexepected and she felt unhappy but knew she would come to grips with a new baby.

I rejoiced for these friends, I offered support for the one struggling to accept her pregnancy.

But I also felt a pang of envy.

I have longed for another child. It looks like it just ain't gonna be. I'm kinda old. :-(. [No, not kinda old ~ definitely old, says the little voice in my head. Sigh!]

I spent my thirties suffering health problems and resultant infertility. And depression. And weight gain.

Then, now in my forties, I have battled the health demons, lost weight, have had several pregnancies - all resulting in miscarriage. In DVTs ( I have a genetic blood clotting disorder). In hospitalization.

I am thankful for the seven healthy children I have. I love my sons, in spite of my failings as a mother! I am also thankful for the many other little souls that I miscarried. I know that God has different plans for different people.

And I am not a spoilsport. I am truly happy for my friends. I know my friend with the "unexpected" pregnancy will come to love this child.

But, yesterday, I still felt that little pang of envy.
Sometimes, I am not a very nice person. Blah.
And now I'm feeling bad about posting. But I think I should go ahead and hit publish anyway. Maybe someone can relate...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Secrets of a Former Fat Girl

No - not my secrets! I'm still a fat girl ( well, sort of - but getting thinner! lol!).

But the above blog caption is the title of a book that I am currently reading (currently devouring - uh oh, food words again!) ~ a book by Lisa Delaney.

It is light hearted. It is witty. Delaney is not frightened to laugh at herself. I like that. It feels familiar.

However, as I delve deeper into the book, I sense its poignancy. How society judges one based on looks. The pain this can cause.

To be honest, I am also finding "Secrets of a FormerFat Girl" to be very helpful. The main "secret' is that it is all about your mind. Get the mind stuff fixed first, and everything else will follow.

Delaney recommends exercise as a way of getting fit, starting out, feeling strong, feeling powerful.

I couldn't agree more. Especially after my fun and tough hour long Taebo Advanced Live workout this morning.

Delaney discusses diet rules - now, don't throw the keyboard at me in disgust! These are not your typical diet rules, but concepts applicable to your own life. Self written. Individualized. Manageable.

Delaney states that, inadvertantly or not, we all have some diet rules. Perhaps we tell ourselves that we love chocolate ( or margaritas and G & Ts, in my case) . Or that we can't stop eating nuts, can't stop at one small handful of cashew nuts.

Her idea is to re-write these rules, re-work them into positive helps for a healthy diet and for fitness.

For example - I work out every day.

I love cardio.

I eat a healthy snack in the afternoon.

I leave food on my plate.
Starting with just two "rules".

And so on. Ad nauseum, I guess, to some. But useful for people like me, people with food issues.

But not obsessive - not like the film The Devil Wears Prada - " You don't deserve the job. You eat carbs!". Gasp. Made me laugh... Love that film.

Friday, October 19, 2007

On mothering and on education

Molly has a post on a "mothering test" - what sort of mother are you?
I tried the test ~ and here is the result. Mmm. Kinda true...Perhaps.

Your type is: entp —The “Independence” Mother

“When I held my babies, I always faced them outward so they could take in the world.”
Full of energy and confident in her own self-sufficiency and competence, the ENTP mother encourages her children—as a role model and as a teacher—to be independent and confident on their own in the world.
A “big picture” person, she points out options and possibilities along the way. Objective and logical as well, the ENTP wants her children to evaluate their choices and learn from the consequences of their own decisions.

The ENTP mother is resourceful and action-oriented. She likes going places and doing things with her children, exploring all that life has to offer. She is less concerned with rules, routines, and schedules. Introducing her children to new concepts and activities, challenging them, and stimulating their intellectual development are top priorities.

Our babies were always out in the world, taken everywhere, held by everyone, propped up to see the world.....

I guess both the ideal of independence and the concept of exploring the world have shaped not only my mothering but also my educational philosophy - they describe why we are unschoolers rather than more timetabled homeschoolers.

We pick ideas and activities from here and there. We flit around, but always with a big picture in mind. (Mostly with a bigger picture in mind ).

Some internet friends and I have been discussing educational methodologies as Catholic homeschoolers. A couple of quotes have been shared. Quotes I want to remember. Quotes which describe my unschooling - Charlotte Mason - Classical practice.

The first is from Pope Pius XI, in his encyclical On Christian Education ~

The Christian teacher will imitate the bee, which takes the choicest part of the flower and leaves the rest, as St. Basil teaches in his discourse to youths on the study of the classics. Nor will this necessary caution, suggested also by the pagan Quintilian, in any way hinder the Christian teacher from gathering and turning to profit, whatever there is of real worth in the systems and methods of our modern times, mindful of the Apostle's advice: "Prove all things: hold fast that which is good."

The actual quote from St Basil , referenced above ~

For just as bees know how to extract honey from flowers, which to men are agreeable only for their fragrance and color, even so here also those who look for something more than pleasure and enjoyment in such writers may derive profit for their souls. Now, then, altogether after the manner of bees must we use these writings, for the bees do not visit all the flowers without discrimination, nor indeed do they seek to carry away entire those upon which they light, but rather, having taken so much as is adapted to their needs, they let the rest go. So we, if wise, shall take from heathen books whatever befits us and is allied to the truth, and shall pass over the rest. And just as in culling roses we avoid the thorns, from such writings as these we will gather everything useful, and guard against the noxious. So, from the very beginning, we must examine each of their teachings, to harmonize it with our ultimate purpose, according to the Doric proverb, 'testing each stone by the measuring-line.'

I guess this explains, in part, our reading of Harry Potter and St Teresa of Avila - all in one day.

Or watching both The Nun's Story and The Breakfast Club.
It can all be good.

Most of the time.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

St Luke

Today is the Feast of St Luke - our eldest son is named Luke - you can see him here, chatting on the phone. Happy feast day, Luke!

The Apostle Luke is the patron saint of bachelors (watch out, Luke!), artists, physicians and butchers ( My original typo said bitchers but that just doesn't sound right, does it?). . St Luke is often portrayed with the symbol of an ox.

In view of this ( the ox and the patron of butchers, that is..) , sons Luke and Greg and Nick said they would probably have beef for dinner tonight, celebrating Luke's feast day. They live together in Adelaide.

I thought that we here in Sydney would do the same - I'm off to cook something with beef in the crock pot, so it will be ready when we arrive home from work tonight.

What to cook? Hmm. Maybe a beef curry?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Paella and bread

I enjoyed the paella , last night's "Spanish" dinner for St Teresa of Avila.

But it was not a hit with family and friends.

Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

( The paradoxes of life ~ When it comes to cooking, I lose more than I win ; when it comes to weight loss, I gain more than I lose - but that's a whole 'nother story! ).

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Messing about with cigarette lighters

I always loved that line in Wind in the Willows ~ messing about with boats.

Today we messed about with cigarette lighters. All in the name of Science, of course.

We looked at the properties of butane and similar low molecular gases. What happens at different pressures. From "Teaching Chemistry with Toys".

Now, my kids all like fire - Anthony loves lighting or holding candles in Mass, for example. Just for the attraction of the fire. This attraction of fire meant that today's Science experiment was prolonged. Who could resist a few extra attempts at the cigarette lighter experiment?

Tonight we are celebrating the Feast of St Gerard Majella - my dh's name is Gerard, after St Gerard. And Gerard is one of Alexander's middle names - Gerry and I prayed a novena to St Gerard in 1990, asking for his intercession re our desire for another child. Alexander was born in 1991. :-)

Alexander and I bought a Turkish Delight Cheesecake, as part of our celebration. To go with the paella, in honour of St Teresa of Avila.

I hope St Gerard would approve...

Monday, October 15, 2007

St Teresa of Avila

A Doctor of the Church.

Her bookmark ~ Let nothing affright thee,
Nothing dismay thee.
All is passing,
God ever remains.
Patience obtains all.
Whoever possesses God
Cannot lack anything
God alone suffices.

Very helpful for me, in view of yesterday's post and my concerns...

I highly recommend "The Way of Perfection", available for download here.

We went to Mass this morning and I think we'll try our hand at making
Paella tomorrow.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Fat and Female.

Do you have days ( weeks?) when you look in the mirror and despair at yourself - you look fat?

Well, I'm in that mode right now.

Well, yes, I am fat - but I have lost weight and I am working on health and fitness and thus on losing more weight. At getting to my current goal weight...

So, why aren't I congratulating myself on the weight loss to date, the slow but gradual weight loss over the last few years? And why aren't I congratulating myself on my ongoing commitment to health and fitness?

Women, in general, have issues regarding weight and self image.
This article explores some of these issues, the reasons behind some issues and offers support.
Body image and weight management problems become serious when this affects other aspects of life, such as not wanting to spend time with others when eating is involved, regularly skipping social, family, or work activities to work out, or cancelling social engagements based on weight. Your role in life as athlete, friend, and family member will not be affected by more or less pounds. It will be affected by happiness and self-confidence. Feel good about yourself, and understand that occasionally questioning how you look is normal.

So, hey, I'm normal - even if I am somewhat fat! And at least I am fit - I workout every day, at a fairly high intensity. I love my workouts! A mix of cardio, kickboxing and weights.

They make me feel strong and powerful. Especially if I avoid mirrors!

Why am I sharing my fat thoughts? Simple because I know I am not alone - even people who are not overweight have weight issues. Body image is something we need to work on, as women and as mothers. We want to pass a healthy image onto our children, an emphasis on health and fitness and fun and not on appearance.

It is part of our mothering - looking at ourselves and at the silent messages we give.
And this blog is part of my "therapy" ~ it helps to write out thoughts and feelings. It is almost cathartic.

Remembering Our Lady of Fatima.

And this is our centrepiece on our dining table......... A prayerbook - Exercises in Piety , rosary beads and candles.....We sat around the table, lit the candles and prayed the Litany of Our Lady.

Then, I did some baking - curry puffs, sausage rolls and a custard tart. You can see the leftovers above.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tuesday in Wollongong

We made a trip to Wollongong.

Had a great day, with family and friends, as you can see...

Caught up with Fr. X and Br. Z. :-)
Enjoyed the trip there, missing the turn off yet again. It's a family tradition.
Explored the beach, lighthouse, rock and saw a whale in the distance, whilst peering over the ocean.
Had playground fun - I love playgrounds!
An enjoyable lunch at the harbour, a visit to the Cathedral and to an ice creamery. Also visited a Buddhist temple and then the Conventual Friars and their parish .
Back home, just in time for our regular Tuesday night Mass and Novena to St Anthony, then a Parish Council Meeting.
Great day!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Yes, boys can play with Barbies!

We went to a friend's house for lunch yesterday, and Thomas and Anthony played games with our host's young daughters. What did they play? Barbies, of course!

And to think that we don't own a Barbie....

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Our Lady of the Rosary

Tonight, at the close of this Feast Day, we made a Rosary Ring. One Our Father and ten Hail Marys, using balloons, paper and a cardboard Cross. Kinda fun.

We also talked about the making of memories, of associating activities with the liturgical year, of the passing on and keeping up of such traditions.

We should try to teach the children the invisible truths of the faith by means of the visible things around us, by means of the visible actions of daily life; we should try to give them the habit of seeing all created things as, in some way or other, signs of the power and wisdom and love of God. We should try to train the children to make the thoughts and words and actions of daily life true signs of their love of God, able to be offered with our Lord's sacrifice in the Mass.

From BEGINNING AT HOME -THE CHALLENGE OF CHRISTIAN PARENTHOOD by MARY PERKINS Copyright 1955 by The Order of St. Benedict, Inc., Collegeville,

More ~
And here, surely, is the proper task of the Christian laity--to sacramentalize daily human living and all the materials and actions and occupations bound up with it. Priests "mediate" between us and God; they bring us the grace of Christ In the sacraments, the sacramentals, by their prayer, and they offer us to God with Christ in the Mass. And we, the "laos," the people of God, are, analogously, to "mediate" between the mystical Body of Christ and the un-Christened world of men and things. We are to help to bring not only our own children, but also our non-Catholic neighbors to Baptism, to Christ.

We are to build the houses that the priest will bless, and live in them in the power of that blessing. We are to take days and weeks and years and re-order them to that pattern of holy human living that the liturgy of the Church lays out. We are to work in all the rightfully human occupations of modern living and re-order them and all the material things they involve, to the life and service of Christ's members, and so to the glory of God. And thus we shall be doing our own part in re-establishing all things in Christ, in extending that consecration of the world which our Lord inaugurated by His coming.

The remains of the science experiment..

...became Rocky Road. I took the mini marshmallows, stirred through melted chocolate and other ingredients...Delish.

Friday, October 05, 2007

A new form of homeschooling.

I am stealing the term, below, from Marie and Rachel.

It describes homeschooling/unschooling. It makes me smile, in a familiar, I-know-what-you-mean kind of way.

" I'm the flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of homeschooler."

Enough said.

Today we bought syringes.

A weird title, huh?

We went to First Friday Mass then bought some syringes for a Science experiment - from the book Teaching Chemistry With Toys.

The experiment? Marshmallows in a Syringe - demonstrating the effect of pressure on gas.

We learned about colloids and Boyle's Law.

Plus, the kids managed to eat a few mini marshmallows - now all I need to buy is dark chocolate, nuts, glace cheries, coconut and we can make rocky road!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Guardian Angels

Today's Feast Day.

We made little Angel Cupcakes - see the angel wings?

We shared the cakes with people as they left Mass tonight, the regular Tuesday night Mass and Novena to St Anthony. The kids stood at the door and offered the cakes to other people, as people left the church after Mass..... One way to celebrate this feast.:-)


A Fresco of Saint Francis

The Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi is this week.

I tidied my homeschooling cupboard on the weekend and found a cool art book - "A Work of Art." Prints of different artworks, artist info, activities for follow up.

The first artist is Giotto di Bondone, and the book depicts some of the fresco of the life of St Francis. We are praying a novena to St Francis and intend to attend Mass for this feast, this week. It was quite fitting ( serendipitous) to find this art.

There has been some debate as to whether it actually was Giotto who painted these frescoes . Giotto did, however, paint the interior of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua.
Alexander, Thomas and Anthony worked on their own mini fresco this morning, using chalks and coloured paper and water colour pencils. And the ideas from the book.
Oh, and Alexander passed his written driver's test this morning, before we attempted our artwork, on the Feast of the Guardian Angels! So, he is now an official Learner Driver. :-)