Friday, March 30, 2007

Boomerangs and the Crusades

These two items do not usually go together ~ but, they have, this week, in our homeschooling.

Wednesday at Group Learning we continued with our topic of Medieval Times. The kids made mini catapults
(or trebuchets) for craft. I worked with the Seniors ( teens) on the topic of The Crusades.

We watched some of the movie The Kingdom of Heaven and discussed the historical accuracies and inaccuracies of the film. And I enjoyed looking at Liam Neeson and Orlando Bloom ( they are kinda cute. :-) ).

We read and talked about the Crusades - a definition, the different crusades, the Albigensian heresy.

I then had the teens break into two groups - Muslims and Crusaders.We formed a Muslim-Crusader Dating Service. Each group had to think of positive attributes of their group and of ways to put a positive spin on any negative attributes. I provided books for research...

Then, they made posters - trying to get the other group to date them!

There was a lot of fun and chatter and I hope the kids had a good time, while learning about the Crusades.

And the boomerangs? They were yesterday's activity.

Alexander is reading through a Physics textbook and I like to add in hands on stuff for everyone to do. I found the boomerang activity in the book Teaching Physics With Toys.

Students explore why a boomerang "sticks around."

The boys made the boomerangs and added in modifications after testing their flight path.They became familiar with the lift force resulting from the flow of air over a wing and with the ability of a force to cause the rotation of an object.

The spinning boomerang behaves very much like a spinning gyroscope, and the rotation is known as gyroscopic precession. The stability of the spinning boomerang against unwanted motions caused by small forces is known as gyroscopic stability.
You learn something new every day.

My birthday

... was on Tuesday. And, no, we don't have pics cos we really didn't do anything special - and we forgot pics anyway! lol! But here is a pic of Gerry and I on Gerry's birthday last Saturday....

Tuesday was a very busy day for me but we celebrated my birthday by attending our parish's Tuesday night Mass and Novena to St Anthony of Padua. Fr. and Br. remembered my birthday and we sang Salve Regina - one of my favourites. It was very sweet of them to remember.

And we had Chinese takeaway for dinner, followed by a cheesecake brought over by two of the Youth Group leaders. Another sweet thought!

( But think of all those calories! lol!).

Gerry gave me two new Taebo workout DVDS, the younger four boys gave me a new handbag and the older three texted and phoned.

Thanks, guys...Thanks, everyone, for making me feel blessed....

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI

It is nearly the anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II.

I remember that week. We had recently moved to Sydney. Our parish was new to us. Everything seemed foreign - nothing was mentioned at Mass about the Pope' s passing...We since know the priests and the parish and understand that evening, but at the time it seemed so weird to us...

I attended a Mother's Night Out during which the Pope was discussed . I was the only Catholic, my first time meeting others in the group, yet Pope JP2 was discussed by all in a favourable light. Thus is the legacy of this Pope.

The kids and I did some talking and reading, some notes and sketching in our journals, about Pope John Paul II and about the then new Pope, Benedict XVI.

Here are samples, in remembrance of that time...

P.S. Some of these pics are not clear so you'll have to squint and guess! lol!
P.P.S. Sarah is hosting the next Fair - all about Pope JP2. Check out her blog on April 2...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Gerry's birthday.

Pics from Gerry's birthday dinner, while we were in Queensland last week. A cool holiday and a very inspiring Kumon ( work) conference.

And a fun birthday for my dh!

Pope John Paul II

Jon Voight stars as the Pope in a new two part series on SBS here in Australia. Part 1 will be on Sunday April 1 at 10 pm and Part 2 the following Sunday evening ~ Easter Sunday.

You can also purchase the DVD from Amazon and other sellers.

Oh, and another link to share ~ Gregorian Chant for the forthcoming Holy Week Masses ~ online, music and audio.

Have fun!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Bonds and the Theology of the Body

The Bonds Company has a new service - design your own undies!

They will take your design and send it to you, for $AUS39.95, including postage.
Sounds like fun but a tad expensive.

Still, I am addicted to Bonds underwear - they are very durable. I always buy Bonds for the kids. And I have a passion right now for their new, groovy women's range - makes me feel feminine. Lost of bright pinks, lime greens, gorgeous purples, funky 60s style flowers, matching sets.....

What makes a woman feel feminine? Obviously pretty underwear for me. :-)

But there is more to it than that. I have been reading some of The Theology of the Body ~ Pope John Paul II. Human Love in the Divine Plan.

When the Pope spoke of of love, he did not speak only of a theology of the body, but of a theology of sex: "The theology of the body becomes also, in a sense, a theology of sex, or rather, a theology of masculinity and femininity".

Pope John Paul II continues ~ "In fact, how indispensable is thorough knowledge of the meaning of the body, in its masculinity and femininity, along the way of this vocation [ of marriage] ! How necessary is a precise awareness of the nuptial meaning of the body, of its generative meaning - since all that which forms the content of the life of married couples must constantly find its full and personal dimension in life together, in behavior, in feelings!"

The Eucharist and Penance are the "infallible and indispensable" means, said the Pope, "for forming the Christian spirituality of married life and family life". With these, that essential and spiritual creative ‘power' of love reaches human hearts and, at the same time, human bodies.... This love allows the building of the whole life of the married couple according to that ‘truth of the sign,' by means of which marriage is built up in its sacramental dignity".

The sacrament of marriage emphasizes our equality but also our masculinity and femininity ...

The Sydney Harbour Bridge

Yesterday was the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the opening of the
Sydney Harbour Bridge.

We read Building the Sydney Harbour Bridge by John Nicholson.

And today we will do some student activities related to the bridge and its history.

Thought a few of you may like to check out this piece of Australian history.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A Quiet Morning.

Friday was the close of a busy week. Many appointments, early mornings and late nights.

As a result, we decided to skip homeschool ice skating and just stay home for the morning. A brief respite, considering that the afternoon held pre-poll voting, work for J and A and I and music lessons for T and Anny. Then youth group, picking up a few extra friends to go, Mass and Stations of the Cross. Late dinner....

The morning was pleasant.

And I made a discovery - I just don't like doin' nothin'! lol!

I told the kids they could hang out and do whatever they wanted and Jonathon worked on university assignments - and, me? I ended up using the time to workout, to do laundry, to put dinner in the crock pot, to clean carpets and windows, get rid of cobwebs outside and mop the tiled floor.

My quiet morning ended up being filled by chores. Just couldn't help myself!

Perhaps this activity is a mother's version of quiet? At home....

Thursday, March 15, 2007

St Joseph and St Patrick

Some activities for these March Feast Days ~

The Loveliness of St Patrick is at Mary Ellen's blog. Many ideas on books, lesson plans, crafts, cooking ,music...

Prayer of St Patrick and other information.

Litany of St Joseph

And Fr. shared this website with me - Exploring St Joseph ~ Fun activities to do with Dad or for Dad.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Marriage meme.

I've been tagged by my friend Ruth.

Would you like to be tagged? If so, consider yourself tagged!

1. Where/How did you meet? At university - I thought someone was following me one night, turns out it was Gerry, trying to catch me up to ask me out! lol! I literally was running away from him. :-)

2. How long have you known each other? We met briefly 30 years ago but didn't get to know each other until later, and through dating...

3. How long after you met did you start dating? Over one year.
4. How long did you date before you were engaged? Do you really want to know - this is embarrassing. One month!! Psst - don't tell my kids. :-)

5. How long was your engagement? One year.

6. How long have you been married? In April, it will be 28 years. Gosh, I am old!

7. What is your anniversary? 7 April
8. How many people came to your wedding reception? 100 + - we wanted a small-ish wedding.

9. What kind of cake did you serve? OMG, I can't really remember - two or three tiers and brown decorations, from memory, to fit in with the autumn theme.

10. Where was your wedding? Holy Rosary Church, Perth, Western Australia

11. What did you serve for your meal? A buffet dinner, altthough the wedding party was served. A mix of traditional foods ( hams, roast, etc) and Asian dishes ( stir fry, etc).Desserts - pavlova and fruit salad, plus cake, of course!

12. How many people were in your wedding party? Best man, maid of honour, two groomsmen, two bridesmaids, three flower girls...

13. Are you still friends with them all? Well, with some, but we don't see any of them any more - live too far away.

14. Did your spouse cry during the ceremony? As if - neither of us cried.

15. Most special moment of your wedding day? The fun at the reception - we danced the night away. I was a big Sex Pistols fan and we and our uni friends were all doing the pogo. :-)

16. Any funny moments? I told my dh off during the ceremony - he was messing around a bit and not being sensible! lol!

17. Any big disasters? We changed the venue and forgot to tell the photographer. :-(

18. Where did you go on your honeymoon? We didn't - we were poor university students and had to be back at uni the next week. We did have one night away together, at a nice apartment near the beach..

19. How long were you gone? One night! lol!

20. If you were to do your wedding over, what would you change? I wasn't Catholic and didn't really see the significance of the Sacrament of Marriage - I even told my friends , when they said I was too young, that if it didn't work out we could always divorce. :-( So, I'd change myself. :-)

21. What side of the bed do you sleep on?:Woah - private stuff here. :-) I always sleep on the side near the door.

22. What size is your bed? Queen sized.

23. Greatest strength as a couple? Only God knows. Our sense of fun? Although that also gets us into trouble.

24. Greatest challenge as a couple? Taking time out to talk.

25. Who literally pays the bills? We both work - me part time. I do the budget and bill paying.

26. What is your song? Well, we don't have one, really. Dh has a Divinyls song as my ring tone on his mobile, for when I ring him.Not one I am sharing, though. :-)
27. What did you dance your first dance to? At the wedding? A waltz and then the Sex Pistols..

28. Describe your wedding dress: Very simple, no frills, etc. I am not a frills person. Cream, not white.

29. What kind of flowers did you have at your wedding? Strelitzia and carnations in the church, I carried a prayer book ( my dh's FHC missal, white leather) , adorned with carnations and the bridesmaids/flower girls carried small bouquets of carnations.

30. Are your wedding bands engraved? No, and mine was cut off during one pregnancy, when my fingers swelled with water retention.. :-(

31.How old were you when you were married? 19. My mum wanted us to live together and not get married....!!

Activities for yesterday ~ and for today's homeschool morning...

Here are some pics of Monday's homeschool activities.

Alexander and Jonathon went to band practice, but had time for a few things before leaving. Jonathon worked on his university assignment and Alexander made the stone axe above. He is studying ancient history right now and to make a stone axe was an interesting excercise in problem solving...

Anthony made ginerbread men, using the cookie cutters and baking set he received for Christmas.

And Thomas and Anthony each tried to paint in the style of the Dutch painter
Mondrian . It is the anniversary of Mondrian's birthday this month and Gerry's dad is Dutch - thus, the rather tenuous connection, and why we read about Piet Mondrian yesterday. Mondrian is known for his compositions using geometric shapes and primary colours to depict emotions.
Today's activities will centre around Project Compassion - a six week programme during Lent, Caritas Australia raises money through parishes and schools , with an aim of reducing world poverty.
There are resources for schools available on the net - today we will read about Farid and a fish farm, and we will work together on the primary and secondary school activities.

Karen mentions a similar programme for Lent in the U.S., with corresponding educational materials ~ Operation Ricebowl.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Faith and Movies

These books look interesting.

Anyone used them, or know what movies are suggested?

From the synopsis ~

Faith and life come together in this unique approach to the lectionary. Each Sunday's readings are seen through the lens of a particular movie that highlights themes or issues emphasized in the Gospel. It proposes practical points for reflection, conversation and personal growth, in addition to insightful film analysis.

Movie synopsis and commentary include background information on films, actors, directors and writers
Key scenes and themes for easy reference in group settings
Useful for homilists, teachers, young adult groups, pastoral ministers, discussion leaders, or anyone intrigued by deeper meaning in the movies

There are three books in the series, one for each Cycle of Sunday Scriptures - Cycle A, B or C.

And some reviews at Amazon.

Vocation of motherhood.

Twenty six years ago I became a mother. I undertook the vocation
of marriage and motherhood without a blink. I barely thought about it. I certainly didn't pray about it. I was young. I was a non Catholic.

However, I have tried my best in my vocation. I have tried to learn and grow and trust in God's grace. To the best of my ability.

But I never knew it would be hard. Hard to discern what is right.

Why do I write this now? Dealing with some issues over teen sons, girls, text messages, email. "Young love".What is the best thing to do, to allow?

My dh's reaction is to get angry. My reaction is to talk both my dh and my kids to death.

But we'll pray. And I'll definitely work at being a better example of Christianity myself. Often I am a crappy example. :-(

I didn't know what I was getting into, all those years ago! :-)

And why do I share this on the blog? Well, I don't really know. Except that it helps me to write, to sort it out. And I really want to share with my friends not just the joys but also the struggles of a homeschooler's life.

I hope the honesty helps us all. No, we are not perfect and I would be wrong to only share the positives here.

Nope. Here we are, warts and all. Working on things with God's help.

Let's pray for each other in our vocations.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Today's physical activity...

We try to do something physical or active with the boys each weekend. For fun, fitness, family time...

The last few weeks, it's been swimming at the RAAF Base. Last week , it was cleaning up after Jonathon's party. :-)

Today we went on a nature walk and a play in the park. Some pics above. This is at the Basin, a nature reserve/park/walking area near our house.

We observed some of the water birds ( Pacific blue ducks, black swans, Eurasian coots) and the plant life. The bottlebrush was in bloom.

We had fun walking, talking, playing. And I also lectured one son on his room, attitde, et al. I should shut up, sometimes! :-(

All this activity followed my morning workout - I started with an old school dance workout - I love old school music. Think L L Cool J - or in this case, Sugarhill Gang. Sugarhill are the live band in Donna Richardson's Old School Dance Party 45 minute workout. "So busted", I sang along with the band...

I followed this up with the abs and lower body toning sections ( about 20 - 30 minutes total) from Carmen Electra's Fit to Strip workout. Don't worry - no strip tease (phew!). This is a toning workout, no equipment, just Carmen and her trainer Michael.

After this toning workout I added the 10 minutes abs ( or as the DVD says, belly) workout from Crunch Pick Your Spot Pilates. .....

As our walk in the sun finished, we had lunch together and prayed the Rosary at lunch . We are off to Mass and a movie tonight.

How's your Sunday?

So, what can your kids quote?

Catholic Mommas have enrolled in the tomatosphere project.

So have we!

But Catholic Mommas wonder - will this idea take? Apparently, Shakespeare was a flop, but their kids can sure quote Hank the Cowdog!

Can you relate?

I found last night that my kids could not define irony or grace or Polycarp. Or ???

Fr. asked them questions and they failed dismally.

But they can quote books/literature, pop music and movies.

Maybe we need to re-think our unschooling. :-)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Forty Martyrs Meatballs.

March 9 was the feast of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste.

These holy martyrs suffered at Sebaste, in the Lesser Armenia, under the Emperor Licinius, in 320. They were of different countries, but enrolled in the same troop. This was the twelfth legion, and then quartered in Armenia. Lysias was duke or general of the forces, and Agricola the governor of the province.

The governor, highly offended at their Christianity, and refusal to sacrifice to his gods, devised an extraordinary kind of death, slow and severe, and he hoped this would shake their constancy.

The cold in Armenia is very sharp, especially in March, and towards the end of winter, when the wind is north, it is also a time of severe frost. Under the walls of the town stood a pond, which was frozen hard . The judge ordered the saints to be exposed quite naked on the ice for the night; and in order to tempt them to renounce their faith, a warm bath was prepared at a small distance from the frozen pond, for any of this company who were willing to renounce their faith.

It is customary in Armenia to make forty balls of wheat or bulgar in a dish on this day, to remember these saints and their faith. We have usually made meatballs instead. :-)

And so we did today ( one day late, but the thought is there!).

In Greece, however, it has apparently been the custom to make dishes with the theme of forty - for example, a pastry dish, with forty layers of phyllo pastry. A nice twist.

We had a visitor for dinner and he shared in our "Forty Martyrs Meatballs" supper.

A few links.

1. Julie from Bravewriter has a helpful post on Taking It Easy.
She reminds us that we homeschooling mothers don't have "to do it all, to do it well".

2.We spent some time on Thursday, looking at sites of medieval castles. This was a result of Wednesday's Group Learning session on castles and architecture in Medieval times.

A few of the sites ~

Virtual tours of medieval castles

Be a virtual castle explorer

Styles of castles and photographic examples

links to interactive online games and activities relating to the castles theme

Friday, March 09, 2007

A few cool Lenten things.

We have been finding some cool things to do during Lent, covering our Lenten theme. And counting as schoolwork in my log!
The first is a a calendar for Lent. I found this Lenten Calendar over at the Trinity Acres blogspot. Some good ideas for activities, prayers and saints for each day of Lent.

You can print it out , save it , modify it - very nice!

And , on Wednesday, another interesting activity was writing an Examination of Conscience.
I had Alexander write his own Examination of Conscience. It is based on Scripture verses and is relevant to teens .

The idea was for Alexander to have his own guide for an examination of conscience based on some key Scriptures.He read each verse and thought about how it applies to someone his own age. He then wrote one or two questions based on the passage, to help himself or someone his age make a good examination.

I adapted this idea from the book " 100 Activities Based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church." A cool book, with lots of similar, interesting activities and games.

Here are the verses and some of Alexander's questions - perhaps you and your children can write your own?

Matthew 5:22 ( on anger)

Matthew 5:28 ( on lust)

Matthew 5:43-48 ( on love of enemies)

Matthew 6:6 ( on forgiveness)

Matthew 6:24 ; 2 Timothy 6:9 ( on money)

Matthew 7:1-5 ( on judging)

Have I been quick to judge and condemn, even when I know the circumstances?

Romans 12:16 ( on pride)

Havve I thought myself above others? Have I praised myself but not others?

Romans 13 1-7 ( on obedience)

Have I rebelled against my parents? Have I disregarded authority, because I didn't want it or want to hear what those in authority said?

1 Corinthians 13:4-6 ( on love)

Ephesians 4:25 ( on truth)

Have I been honest with those around me? Or have I evaded the truth?

Ephesians 4:28 ( on stealing)

Ehesians 5: 3-4 ( on right speech)

Have I spoken of what I should not?

Ephesians 6:1-3 ( on obeying parents)

Am I always respectful to my parents? Do I honour them and their wishes?
And the last activity that I want to share is art. Well, art related.
Thomas and Anthony illustrated and wrote the titles for each Station from the Stations of the Cross.Good for them to reflect on each Station while drawing, writing, colouring...
Hope you all are having a fruitful Lent.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Anthony cooking breakfast.

Anthony decided that he wanted pancakes for breakfast this morning and asked me how to make pancakes. I dictated the recipe for his diary and then he set off to make pancakes for himself and for one or two of his brothers.

A good Lenten breakfast??

The Fruits of the Holy Spirit

Fruitfulness was part of the discussion of last night's Lenten programme, in our parish.

Are we fruitful Christians?

I asked about a definition of being fruitful, and Br. mentioned the
Fruits of the Holy Ghost.





Benignity ( Kindness)






Continency ( Self control)


These are related to the Gifts of the Holy Ghost ( wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, fear of the Lord) , since the gifts help us to discern the will of God and to be ready to do the will of God. Some of the effects of the gifts of the Holy Ghost are, in fact, the Fruits of the Holy Ghost.

Do we manifest these fruits in our lives?

It was an interesting discussion. Some people seem to know that they are being fruitful, even if they will not see fruits until eternity.

Others of us doubt our fruitfulness.

Gerry and I stayed up late discussing this last night and I plan to chat about fruitfulness with the kids today.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Confirmation Day!

Today, ten years ago, was my Confirmation Day.

I , and two of my sons, Greg and Nick, were confirmed together on this day.

Archbishop Hickey, from the Perth Diocese, celebrated a Latin Mass and Confirmation on the evening of March 6, 1997, the Feast of Sts Felicity and Perpetua.

Felicity and Perpetua are my Confirmation Saints and my Confirmation names.

I've sent a text message to the boys, remembering our Confirmation Day...It was a blessed evening, and supper afterwards with friends, with priest friends and with the family of my Confirmation Sponsor.

It seems so long ago...:-)

March Bulletin Board.

And what we are doing in March.

Gerry and I have birthdays ( 21 again, of course!). So there are some pics from the past...

I am going to a work conference in Queensland and Gerry and the boys are coming, too, for a holiday. We'll celebrate Gerry's birthday while we are away. Hence the map of Queensland.

Our artist of the month is William Bouguereau.

Stations of the Cross in our parish continues and the mini symbols of the Stations is a visual reminder. We attend each Friday evening.
We are watching the Stargate series ( Jonathon was given Volumes 1-4 for his birthday) and also the TV series Numbers. I have a super maths curriculum for this TV show.

Finally, a prayer of St Patrick and a Litany of St Joseph , for their Feast Days this month.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Another C.S. Lewis quote.

On fairy tales ( and, for me, this relates to some other fantasy books and movies and tales...) ~

"Those who say that children must not be frightened may mean two things.

They may mean 1) that we must not do anything likely to give the child those haunting, disabling, pathological fears against which ordinary courage is helpless: in fact, Phobias. His mind must, if possible, be kept clear of things he can't bear to think of.

Or they may mean 2) that we must try to keep out of his mind the knowledge that he is born into a world of death, violence, wounds, adventure, heroism and cowardice, good and evil.

If they mean the first I agree with them; but not if they mean the second. The second would indeed be to give children a false impression and feed them on escapism in the bad sense. Since it is so likely that they will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Other wise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker."

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Family pic...

 Jonathon's birthday party last night.

We celebrated J's 18th with a party - his birthday was January 26 but this was the first weekend his older brothers could fly over.

65 + people.

But in these pics it's just Gerry, me, the seven boys and Nick's friend Hannah.

Perhaps I'll post other party pics later.

Friday, March 02, 2007

St David

Thursday March 1st was the Feast of St David of Wales.

We remembered this Saint by eating Welsh Rarebit for dinner.

And by laughing at the name of St.David's biographer - Rhigyfarch.

We found the real pronunciation of this name at Wikipedia ~ but preferred our own made up pronunciations!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

A Lenten Programme.

Last night was the commencement of our parish's Lenten programme.

Gerry ( dh) and I attended the programme last year . We went out for coffee and talk after each session last Lent and then shared information from the programme with the children at home.

This year, we are attending with son Jonathon, so no "date time" - but we are still hoping to share our reflections with the children.

Each week, one of the Brothers from the Conventual Franscicans, leads us in prayer and then reading and discussion/reflection on the forthcoming Sunday Gospel.

There is a theme to each session ~ last night the theme was Finding Christ in prayer.

Br. mentioned that many times we talk and talk to God - but we don't stop to pause, think, listen.

I know the listening part is hard for me. As is discernment - I think, is this really God's will or my own inclination?

During the quiet reflection, I was able to think about listening, about finding time to be still and about how discernment works.

I think that the hour spent at the Lenten programme each week will be of spiritual benefit ~ for me, for Gerry, for Jonathon and for the other boys.

If your parish holds such a Lenten journey, I encourage you to attend even one session. To journey with others during Lent has proven helpful for me.

Medieval Presentation Homeschool Group Learning yesterday.

Lenten Wreath

Our tablepiece - a Crown of Thorns. Anthony and I made this last Sunday, the First Sunday in Lent, ....and we'll fill it with flowers on Easter Sunday....