Thursday, June 28, 2007

Kids' blogs

Check out some of our kids' blogs ~

Anthony on St Cyril of Alexandria

Thomas shares his Latin vocabulary for this week

And Alexander blogged his translation of De Profundus
(Psalm 129).

Two feast days.

Tomorrow is the Feast of St Peter and St Paul.

Peter was the first bishop of Rome, the first Pope. He was previously a fisherman and Jesus invited Peter to follow him, "I will make you a fisher of men."

Peter's name was Simon but Jesus changed it to Cephas ( Peter - rock), saying "On this rock I will build my church." Peter was the leader of the apostles.

Pauls' original name was Saul and he was Jewish. However, because he was born in Tarsus, he was also a Roman citizen with the Roman name of Paul .

Paul has been called the apostle of the Gentiles because he preached the Gospel to those people who were not Jewish. This mission took him across the then known world and, in the New Testament, we can read many of Paul's letters to the newly formed local churches in various areas of the world .

In Hungary, bread is often blessed after Mass on this feast day. I think tomorrow will be a perfect opportunity for us to bake some bread - perhaps we'll try a specialty bread recipe, like this Apple Raisin Bread. Fruit breads are low on the GI index!

The Catholic Culture site also suggests making Apostle Cookies on this day. We'll stick to the healthier bread I think!

Saturday's feast is the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. Suggested activities include making ( or buying) a torte or Name Day cake - and eating it, of course! And praying the Litany of the Saints.
Perhaps you will join us in making bread or eating cake in honour of these feast days? :-)

Monday, June 25, 2007

The feast of St John the Baptist

..And Christmas in June! Well, Christmas pudding and custard and ice cream, that is.

John the Baptist was the precursor of Jesus, born six months before Christ. It is six months till Christmas and so we always have a little bit of Christmas on the feast of St John. Typically, pudding and custard.

Older son, Greg, sent me a text - he and his brothers in Adelaide also remembered the tradition and had Christmas cake last night, in honour of the feast.

Here is a summer pudding recipe, traditionally made in England on this feast day - cherry pudding decorated with flowers.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Alexander on a Sunday morning...

....reading his book - The Persian Expedition by Xenophon.

Alexander is studying
(reading) Ancient History this year.

Doesn't he look like a young man of leisure? Jeeves and Wooster anyone? :-)

My husband, the rapper.

Gerry, messing around with the kids...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

You didn't have them all together?

Tonight Gerry and I had a meeting with a financial advisor. Just organizing a few things.

This guy is our new advisor, here in Sydney.

He asked about children - how many total, how many dependents. I said 7 boys.

"You didn't have them all together?" he asked.

I looked blank.

"Some are from Gerry's first marriage, right?" he continued.

I was startled. I forgot that it can seem weird to some people, that yes, Gerry has 7 children but, yes, he has only been married once and, yes, I gave birth to all 7; I am the mother of all 7; that we are not a blended family... Not that there is something bad about a blended family but it is comical to find that a large family is assumed to be a blended family. To be told that I don't look or act like a mother of a large family ( how am I supposed to act, btw? lol!).

The advisor took some convincing.

Then asked if were "good Catholics".

I had to laugh.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Bridge to Terabithia

Last night , Anthony (youngest son), Gerry ( dh) and I saw the film Bridge to Terabithia . The film is based on the children's book by author Katherine Patterson.

Paterson writes ~ I think it was Lewis who said something like: "The book cannot be what the writer is not." What you are will shape your book whether you want it to or not. I am Christian, so that conviction will pervade the book even when I make no conscious effort to teach or preach. Grace and hope will inform everything I write.

We loved the film. We laughed, we cried ( well, I cried), we enjoyed.

Although we have read the novel, watching the film has inspired me to read the book again.

And I have followed a little rabbit trail ~ perhaps we can have some Terabithian inspired homeschool time?
Movie website ~ with teacher activities
study guide for the book
Check out Paterson's website, and her other books..

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

More on Classical Unschooling.

In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis writes:

Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already. That is why children’s games are so important. They are always pretending to be grown-ups– playing soldiers, playing shop. But all the time, they are hardening their muscles and sharpening their wits so that the pretence of being grown-up helps them to grow up in earnest.

I am resting from surgery right now and reading the rest of Campbell's LCC book. I must admit that it is making me feel peaceful - I see a connection between Campbell's "much not many" and Suzie Andres' book "Homeschooling with Gentlness" - which I dubbed the "little way" of unschooling.

The Latin Centred Curriculum book is not making me want to ( necessarily) follow a scope and sequence for classical education for my children. It is reminding me of the importance of reading, of reading aloud, of time to explore - and of not filling up time with many have tos. This seems to fit directly with Andres' take on unschooling.

And it means allowing time for play, for leisure, as well as time for study and work and reading. Time for the play described by Lewis, above.

Many other books that I have read on classical education strike me as "fillers of buckets" -but the sense I am getting from Campbell's book is not of filling buckets but of lighting fires ( to mis-quote Yeats! lol!).

So, I doubt that we will change much in the way we unschool, but I am inspired once again to blend our few have tos with the bulk of our day - movies, reading, music, reading, playing, reading,outings, doing, reading.....:-)

And work and relaxation.

Still, all our pupils will require some relaxation, not merely because there is nothing in this world that can stand continued strain and even unthinking and inanimate objects are unable to maintain their strength, unless given intervals of rest, but because study depends on the good will of the student, a quality that cannot be secured by compulsion. Consequently if restored and refreshed by a holiday they will bring greater energy to their learning and approach their work with greater spirit of a kind that will not submit to being driven. I approve of play in the young; it is a sign of a lively disposition; nor will you ever lead me to believe that a boy who is gloomy and in a continual state of depression is ever likely to show alertness of mind in his work, lacking as he does the impulse most natural to boys of his age.

Play. Today was a good example of play....

This afternoon, we met with a couple of other Catholic homeschoolers. I took only Anthony and Thomas. We met at another's home, we sang the Regina Caeli, we talked about Latin and English words.

I took a painting of St Anthony of Padua, for picture study, and we discussed St Anthony's life. Feast Day June 13.

We learned about the tau cross.

The bulk of the time, before and after this "learning" interlude, was spent in play. Imaginery play, involving a fort, swords, running, teams, co-operation...

Much was learned in our little learning interlude but much also was learned in the hour or so of play.

Campbell talks about this as freedom within limits.

Makes sense in my experience.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

I'm home from surgery...

Went in yesterday and home today! The doctor has sent tissues off for pathology but his opinion is that everything is all clear! Deo Gratias!

And what did I come home to? A bedroom makeover and a fridge full of meals! Coffee cups, dark chocolate, a healthy living magazine, paintings, quilts, cushions, towels, candles, ornaments, yummy chocolate fudge squares and super dinners.....

Some friends - a bunch of lovely homeschool mothers and their daughters - had visited in the afternoon, while I was at the hospital and they cleaned, provided meals, re-decorated the bedroom for my homecoming. A complete surprise.

How nice! Thoughtful. Caring. Loving.
Thank you guys!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Classical Unschooling

On the weekend, dh and I attended a homeschool conference. The keynote speaker was John Taylor Gatto.

Now, as much as I enjoyed John's talk, I admit to preferring his books to his talk.


Well, his books offer his experiences as a different teacher in the US public schools; show us what we can learn from his experiences and how schools can also learn from homeschoolers.

His talk, however, came across as knocking schools .I am just not into that. I think we need educational diversity, to suit our different children and families and communities, and I know that for some families school is a good option. Just as homeschooling and/or unschooling are good options for other families.

I also spent money at the homeschool conference - no news, right? I bought some new novels for the kids - Thomas and Anthony in particular are avid readers so new books are always welcome.

I purchased a book by Andrew Campbell - The Latin Centred Curriculum. I have read about this book at various homeschooling sites, so was pleased to have my own copy.

Campbell argues for a classical education, in an historical sense of the term. Studying a few subjects deeply and not necessarily studying a myriad of subjects in a shallow way.

So, I am back to thinking about the goals of education. I guess I like reading about education and pondering these ideas. I share my ideas and passions with my dh and children. They share their passions ~ I share mine ( fitness and education and books and movies and history..).

I am reminded that I like the passion of unschooling with the living books and good habits of educator Charlotte Mason and the idea of Latin and the classics from a classical education...

I hae always had a soft spot for author Laura Berquist's thoughts on goals, on ultimate vision for homeschooling. For us, it is family centred education, with freedom to explore interests. And, as Berquest states in Designing Your own Classical Curriculum, "..I knew that I wanted ultimately what we all want, the eternal salvation of my children. Academically, I wanted a truly Catholic intellectual formation. I hope to instill ( I would add - encourage, as children seem born to love learning).. a lifelong love of learning and to give my children the tools to pursue that learning."

Berquest goes on to describe her goal that her children should be equipped to attend an excellent university, and do well there. Again, I add - if they so choose. I certainly have valued my university education and wish my children be prepared for the same, if university is in their future. It keeps their options open...So far, university has been the case, for the four eldest sons...

Meanwhile, on the homeschooling front, a search has lead me to some links on classical unschooling. Interested? Read the following. :-)

Willa on Classical Unschooling
Ask the Experts - Classical Unschooling
A 7 part series on classical unschooling

Renewable Energy

A few weeks, ago, I was the co-ordinator at Homeschool Group Learning, for a session on Renewable Energy.

I found some lesson plans ( here and here ) and we adapted a few of the ideas and activities for the session.

In the ensuing weeks, Anthony has been working through a couple of the extra activities, off and on, here and there.

Today was an energy relay race. We enlisted some of his brothers to help.

I had saved some styrofoam packing peanuts from a recent package delivery. These peanuts represented energy.

I was the sun - I scooped up as much energy as I could and ran to the plant ( Alexander). Then Anthony ( the herbivore) ran to Alexander and energy was transferred. Finally, the carnivore ( Thomas) also scooped some energy - this time from Anthony.

See how small the energy pile was at the end? This demonstrated that energy can be transferred but that, with each transfer of energy, there is some energy lost ( or used elsewhere - e.g in staying alive).

A fun activity for a cold and chilly morning - the running certainly helped us feel warm.

What makes your heart sing? A re-post from our fitness blog...

Cindy asked this question on her blog.

And do you know my answer?

Working out!

Yes, I love playing basketball or cricket or skateboarding with the kids. And I love going on family walks. But for my mental health and joy and fitness and weight, I also need my own workout. Where I push myself and use muscles I didn't know I had!

My heart sings after a good workout. I have been known to sing out loud, jump in the air with enthusiasm and to ask why others don't work out when it can make you feel this way. What way? Like a million bucks! lol!

My dh and kids tease me about this but I truly love my workouts. I love the endorphin high and the way I feel after a hard workout. I'm on a high and want to share that with others.

Like this morning. I did Taebo Celebrity Fit Cardio followed by the floorwork section of Taebo Ultimate Abs. I rocked, I had fun, I was smiling at the kids at the end.

My heart was singing. :-)

Monday, June 04, 2007

St Gorg Preca

Yesterday was Trinity Sunday and also the canonization of
St Gorg Preca, a Maltese Saint.

We have a new stained glass window in our parish church, a memorial of St Gorg. Our parish has a large Maltese community.This stained glass window, along with another stained glass window representing St Michael, was blessed yesterday by the Bishop.

Our family helped organize the morning tea with the Bishop, after the Mass. I took along mud cakes, but didn't get to try any, what with making sure teas and coffees were served and with all the little things one does at morning teas and at the clean up afterwards - at least I saved those calories! lol! And got to talk to many people...There was an abundance of food, much of the leftovers being taken home by another family with several children. They'll feast this week! :-)

A lovely morning, Thomas and Anthony served at Mass and we had incense at Mass. I love incense!

St Gorg Preca was known by one of the older priests at the friary here. The Saint had a secial ministry for young people and set up The Society for Christian Doctrine, encouraging lay people to be catechists. This was, apparently, unheard of at the time ( 1907).

Here is a prayer , for private use and asking for the Saint's intercession


Lord God, You granted countless favours to Blessed George Preca, choosing him as a most faithful instrument in founding the Society of Christian Doctrine, grant that I also may learn to turn all circumstances and events of my life into opportunities to love You and to serve the Church, and all humanity with joy and simplicity, lighting up the corners of the earth with faith, hope and love.
Deign to glorify your Servant Don George and, if it is according to your will, grant me through his intercession the favour I request ....... (here make your petition). Through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

A spare day.

On Friday, I had a spare day.

What do I mean by a spare day?

A day which unexpectedly has nothing planned.

I was booked for surgery but, due to a hospital mix up, the surgery was postponed until next Friday.

What to do? We'd cleared our schedule , in order to make this day free for hospital.

Wanna know what I did? Poor dh had to go to work. :-(

But I?

Well, I went to Mass with the kids - First Friday, nice to be able to fit in Mass. We normally attend First Friday Mass but I was going to have to give it a miss 'cos of the hospital.

Then the kids and I had a game of basketball, on our driveway.

And we cleaned out the toy cupboard and the linen cupboard.

Took everyone out for lunch.

Wrote in my journal.

Did lots of reading at night, while the teens were at youth group and while Gerry did his uni assignment and while Anthony read his novel - I finished The Shadow of His Wings, a story of a Franciscan seminarian conscripted into the Nazi army in WW2. Great book - I want some of the kids to read it next; it was a birthday present for Jonathon from a priest friend.

Also re-read The Do-able Diet - I love reading books of real life weight loss and fitness stories!

So the spare day was a gift, even if I felt out of sorts at first, because of having to wait another week for surgery. I'm sure that God has His plans. :-)