Thursday, February 28, 2008

One on One?

Simply Lovely One-on-One is a new homeschooling blog fair. The blog fair has many great ideas on spending one on one time with kids.

At first reading,however, I winced at the title. Finding time to simply be with my kids, to simply be even with my dh is, well, hard.

I felt like a bad mum. Like Rachel felt.

Only Rachel is not a bad mum. She chats to her kids. She snuggles with her kids.

And, in my own way, I am not so bad at mothering. Or at finding alone time with my dh.

Yes, I tend to be more of a management person than a Love person. I do love and show love in my own way, however..

As I look at my weeks, I see that I manage some alone time with my children and with my dh, but in different terms. In snatches here and there.

I rarely go shopping or on errands or anywhere by myself. I take dh and/or one or two children. We talk. We joke and laugh. We listen to music. Yes, sometimes we argue. But we also get to spend that time together.

Things come up. Sometimes important things.

Sometimes we pray.

Little bits of time alone occur naturally. I tend to grab hold of these, to snatch and use these bits and parcels of time, as they arise.

For example, Tuesday night I was sleeping and missed the St Anthony Mass ( I have been unwell). When I woke, the house was empty. Most were at Mass. I got up, tidied up and then son Luke arrived home. We made tea and sat together, talking, in the sitting room. An unexpected snatch of time but an important one, time to talk about decisions this week.

Another example. Last week, I was hanging out washing and saw that the garden needed some weeding. I called Anthony to help and he and I made a few jokes, he asked a few questions, we had time together talking while weeding.

More examples? Dh and I went grocery shopping together last Saturday, no kids!, sharing a drink and some chat at a coffee shop on the way.

Our family times may look different to the family times of other homeschoolers . At least, it seems that way when I read homeschooling blogs.... We pray ( Anny is learning the Anima Christi right now, in Latin). Yes. We read. Yes. But we also watch TV/movies together A LOT and sing lots of Singstar. And watch 80s music clips. And listen to music. And all talk at once.

And have people over. We love having people over, as several of us tend to be a loud, social bunch.

The great gift of family life is to be intimately acquainted with people you might never even introduce yourself to, had life not done it for you. ~Kendall Hailey, The Day I Became an Autodidact

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Chair of St Peter

February 22

The feast of the Chair of St Peter has been celebrated in Rome since the fourth century. The chair is a symbol of authority, as in a throne; as a king rules from his throne. St Peter was the first Pope and the Pope is the visible head of the Church.

In Matthew 16:18, we read how Jesus told Peter "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church."

Today we read about this feast. We discussed papal infallibility. And we made Igneous and Sedimentary Rock Cookies, after reading about the three different classifications of rocks, and of how igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks are formed.

Third Sunday in Lent

..And Thomas decided to use his "Chocolate" cookbook, to make a couple of special desserts.

Sundays are not days of fasting. You can tell that from these pics, can't you?
Thomas made Frozen Expresso Mousse and Rich Chocolate Tart.

Truly rich and decadent. We had a visitor for dinner and he seemed to enjoy the fruits of Thomas' cooking. After our meal of takeaway pizza.
( I couldn't eat any. Sigh. My stomach is still not right. I'm off to the doctor on Wed for a check up...)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Update on "OMG! Should I Share My Journey?"

Friends have asked about weight loss - how did I get from there to here.

I wrote briefly about this at the 4 real learning forum but thought I'd cut and paste it here. Permission to Skip if bored. ( Hey, I know I am boring).

Basically, I started with little steps - I realized I couldn't go on a diet, been there, done that. Instead, I worked on ( work on) body image and healthy eating and healthy exercise. For me, it was a five year journey, but at least it has been lifestyle changes. Six years ago, I was obese, now I am "normal" and this is now my way of life. I remind myself -It takes time and is a process so don't beat yourself up over slips along the way - this is for life, right?

My first step was walking. I had just come out of hospital, after a messy miscarriage and deep vein thrombosis, and had been on bed rest so could only walk 15 minutes a day. But I started where I was.

Same with food. I knew what I needed to do - I researched some low fat meal ideas, made a list of ideas for meals and snacks and "treats" and tried to watch portions.

And I read ( still read) books like "Intuitive Eating" to work on the mind stuff often associated with food and body image and diets, for women.

And then I gradually added in changes from there.

I used to weigh only monthly at the beginning. To break the scale and number addiction. Now I weigh once or twice a week.

And I continue on step by step. It is life, there is not an end but simply what I do each and every day that makes a difference. Some days are great. Others are not so good. It is okay, I keep on moving on. Working on my health and fitness and weight and body image neuroses.

Neuroses? When you have been obese, it is hard to see yourself as normal. Even when your BMI says that you are. Every now and then I catch a glimpse of myself in a shop window and I wonder who that person is. That person who looks a normal weight, well, maybe a bit chunky. Then I remember it is me!

And because of my anorexic history I know I need to avoid diets - a dictum like no carbs is likely to send me over the edge.

Little by little. Step by step.

Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself. Saint Francis de Sales

( And that really IS a St Francis de Sales quote. ) Family joke.
P.S. The Superhero pic? I am the Geen Lantern according to this Which Superhero Are You? Quiz.


Son , Greg, is having his wisdom teeth out this morning and also having a bit of his jaw removed. So prayers most apreciated.

And I have had a bad bout of, well, diarrhoea ( blushes) this week and it just won't go. I can't eat normally and when I eat it causes problems. Happy healing thoughts please~!

Thanks, guys.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A crappy week, schoolwork wise....

...but, hey, we are unschoolers, so who cares? We learn from everything, as a toddler learns while exploring life.

Monday I was still very sick so the kids worked on Maths and English on their own, helped around the house, exercised, played computer, played piano, watched a re-run of "Life on Mars", with Greg who missed the episode last week. Before work at my Kumon Centre. We read about the Seven Servite Founders and prayed the Dolors Rosary.

Tuesday was a meeting of Catholic homechoolers at my house. So , the time prior to 10.00 a.m., was spent cleaning house for mum who felt ill, general tidying, buying something to serve f0r lunch, while mum organized stuff for the meeting.

The morning was the planning meeting for we mothers, play for kids, then the Rosary and prayers and blessing , with two of the Friars of the Conventual Franciscans. Three mothers couldn't make the day but we still made a nice group of four, with someone bringing in another friend's son.

We shared lunch , the kids began a brief cleanup and then French Class mums and kids arrived. And, yes, some of the earlier group of people stayed. Greg taught French class and we mums chatted. French is schoolwork, right?

Cleaning up , more computer, reading, part time work for Alexander and Jonathon, Mass, Singstar and visitors concluded the day of schoolork. French and music and housework and socialization are schoolwork, don't you think?

Today the kids are folding pamphlets and delivery of same pamphlets, having a friend over, I have work for Kumon since Head Office is visiting next week and I have lunch with the previous Parish Council Chairperson. Alexander is working at McDonalds and Jonathon has a work related interview. I want the kids to do their Kumon study (Maths or English), too, and dh and I will share some Lenten reflections tonight after our parish Lenten programme earlier this evening.

Maybe tomorrow will be our saving grace, schoolwork wise. The kids will throw in some Latin and religion amongst their Kumon. And before work. 'Cos Friday is another busy, non schoolwork day -Mass, Homeschool Teen Group at our house, music lessons, part time work for Alexander, work at home for Jonathon, Youth Group, Stations of the Cross.

All the while, the week has involved, to date, the filling in of little furrows here and there, with reading and music and Lenten reading.

"The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts."
-- C. S. Lewis

I take heart in this quote of Lewis - my hope is that our life is irrigating deserts, inspiring learning. Not just schoolwork for the sake of schoolwork.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Reaching a Weight Goal.

Yep, I reached a goal weight. A tentative for now goal.


I've had food poisoning, after eating prawns in Adelaide. And I've been SO sick.I don't dare start eating again - my tummy is still achy and not normal.

Got on the scales this morning and, in spite of feeling sick as a dog, I smiled at the numbers. I lost 3 kg ( about 7lbs). I know,yeah, it doesn't mean anything, it's only fluid loss and it's only numbers.

Health and fitness are way more important.

But seeing the number on the scales was still fun!

This means I have lost a total of about 37 kg ( about 80lbs) - I think. I didn't really weigh myself at the beginning of my lifestyle change, five years ago. But I am basing this on a weight I was in 2001.

I feel like Diet Girl . She rocks!

And, yes, I am not glad I've been sick and feeling like death - but, hey, every cloud has a silver lining, right? And I've been able to pray and offer this up - good Lenten sacrifice.

Hopefully, I am back to normal, eating healthy and working out hard tomorrow. I didn't workout yesterday (unless you class passing out in the airport toilet as a workout! ).Today I just did a 22 minute upper body workout from the FIRM - very easy normally but I couldn't face Taebo, jumping around or using my (sore) abs. And, man, those 22 minutes were hard.

Hmm, probably shouldn't have worked out, even a light workout, on a sore and empty stomach. Oh, well.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

More Adelaide Pics

A Book Meme

Tagged by Rachel....

Here are the rules:
1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

Well, I am sitting in Nick's study, in his townhouse in Adelaide. Next to me is one of the books I have bought while here in Adelaide. "How To Eat Like a Hot Chick" by Jodi Lipper and Cerina Vincent.

Deep and meaningful, right ?

But I have to play the meme exactly as I have been tagged. Don't I? I can't run to my bedroom and select a different book ( "Finding Sanctuary : Monastic Steps to Every Day Life" or "Cardinal Galsworthy" or "The Adventures of Diet Girl").

I have to reveal my more shallow side ( well, the Diet Girl book could share equal shallow space here.).

Woe is me.... There are only five sentences on age 123. Obviously the Hot Chick book is extremely erudite. So, I can 't post the next three sentences on that page.

I know. I will turn over a page and post the next three sentenes there.

Uh oh. Hm. Do I really want to? Should I edit?

No, be brave. Play the meme game properly.

The next three sentences, after the fifth sentence on page 123, are ~

Some foods, though, are just plain sexy, and it's totally easy to look unbelievably hot while eating them. We asked around and observed many women, and here for you now are the hottest foods you can find. Eat away bi#$%es.

Very educational and illuminating, I am sure. (And if you want to know the hot foods, they are - fruit, meat, ice cream, french fries and lollipops. Enough said.).

I think I'd better redeem myself and my reading and post the next three lines, after the fifth sentence from page 123, from "Finding Sanctuary". This describes the experience of Pachomius, an early desert father, in creating a community ~

He allowed this to go on for several years, hoping that his humility would inspire them to change their ways but they only abused his kindness all the more and, as the years wore on, they came to despise Pachomius. He finally realised that something had to change, so he gave them a clearly stated description of the way of life he expected them to lead. He laid down clearly how each monk shoud live and in this way created the first monastic rule for community.

This chapter is obviously on communtiy , community as sanctuary and how we must overcome obstacles in community with both love and discipline.

Oh, the final part of the meme states that I must tag five others. I tag Maria,
Cindy , Catholic Mommas, Marie and Hopewell Mom School.


... Birthday, Nicholas!

Dh, Anny ( youngest) and I are in Adelaide for two days, to celebrate (third son) Nick's' birthday. Nick is the only one left in Adelaide at the moment.

(And, yes, I am blogging while interstate, in South Australia!).

Monday, February 11, 2008

Today, we remember...

.....Our Lady of Lourdes.

Went to Mass this mornng and the kids will be adding a Lourdes page to their Mary Notebooks -writing and illustrating a notebook page on Our Lady.
I thought we might also discuss the following thoughts from Pope Benedict XVI, on education - if I can squeeze in time, amidst all my Kumon prep before work and an evening Parents Information Meeting that I am running today...Of course, if I got off the internet, that would help!
" The educative relationship is, however, above all the meeting of two freedoms and successful education is the formation of the right use of freedom.Little by little the child grows, he becomes an adolescent and then a youth; we must therefore accept the risk of freedom, always remaining attentive to help him correct mistaken ideas and choices. That which we must never do is to go along with him in his errors, pretend not to see them, or worse, to share in them, as if they were the new frontiers of human progress.Education cannot, therefore, do without that authoritativeness that makes the exercise of authority is acquired above all by consistency in one's own life and by personal involvement, an expression of true love. The educator is thus a witness of truth and of goodness: "
From the Vatican, Jan. 21, 2008 BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
From the Pope's Letter to Romans on Education "Each Person and Generation Must Make Their Own Decisions in Their Own Name" .
The last line quoted above is very powerful - "The educator is thus a witness of truth and of goodness. "
While educating our children, while living and learnng as a family, we educate and form ourselves, our characters, our souls.
Who knew that homeschooling would ultimately be concerned with growth, with truth, with goodness?

Some more resources for Lenten strewing...

Project Compassion

Operation Ricebowl ~ this site has a Lenten calendar and weekly, multicultural, meatless recipes.

HT - Faith, from the Unschoolng Catholics email list.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Nature Walk

We went for a walk this afternoon, on two of the walking trails, at the Cumberland State Forest. It is always interesting to visit this local forest after rain.

One of the walks is a sensory walk ~ you can see us hugging trees and blocking ears...

Jonathon pointed out the incongruities of our walk - enjoying nature, looking at toadstools and at spiders, discussing shale and the scale of hardness, while debating the definitions of forest and wood ( 'How can there be a coffee shop in a forest' asked Luke) and with me sending emails via my mobile phone and Jonathon's girlfriend talking on her phone , as we walked the trails...Ah, the wonders of naure, of homeschooling, of modern life.

Crown of Thorns

We made a Crown of Thorns for our Lenten dinner table centrepiece. We make this out of salt dough every year....But dh walked in and died laughing, when he saw my creation. I am so not crafty! Here is the finished, yet to be varnished, product - dh kindly came to the rescue and re-made the crown for us.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Purple the colour of Lent. Penitential.

Purple, preferably a sombre, dark shade, is worn during the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent. Purple signifies great solemnity, with connotations of both penance and royal dignity.
Adoremus Bulletin

And here is my new purple top ~ very penitential? Not!

I also bought a new purple t-shirt for son Alexander. Purple is his favourite colour and, judging by the winter clothing on display in the stores, for the next season, purple is also a trendy ( in) colour right now.

Trendy and Lenten at the same time. :-)

Look. New teapots.

Very kitsch, I know, but still kinda fun. I have the teapots on my dining table, as part of a centrepiece ( Yeah. Bad taste!)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

OMG. Should I share "My Journey"?

Cindy, over at Lean But Not Mean asked us to share our fitness journey.

My first thought? OMG, no!

But dh has encouraged me. He thinks it is good for me, and might help others. So, I share, in trepidation....

Six years ago. Health problems and depression. And I gained weight.

I went from thin to obese.

I was a chubby child ( and my mother had me on constant diets), an anorexic teen, an always dieting, always working out young mum, then an overweight and finally depressed obese person.
I got help for my depression. And for my health.

Over the last six years, I have worked on healthy eating ( again) and have come to love working out ~ again.

So, here I am today ~ a work in progress. Still chubby but not as ,well , fat, as I was. I've lost well over 30 kg - well over 66 lbs.

Cindy asked us to share our fitness journeys. This is mine in a nutshell.

I feel very brave sharing these pics . I forgot how it used to be. I feel sad that I am no longer the thin person I was. But happy I am no longer obese. Yet I live in fear, every day, of going back there. Of getting fat and depressed.

It's a mind thing, as well as a physical journey.

Of Lenten Strewing

At the Unschooling Catholics email list, we have been briefly discussing Lent and Lenten Strewing.

Lent is a forty-day period before Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday. We skip Sundays when we count the forty days, because Sundays commemorate the Resurrection. Lent is a season of soul-searching and repentance. It is a season for reflection and taking stock. Lent originated in the very earliest days of the Church as a preparatory time for Easter, when the faithful rededicated themselves and when converts were instructed in the faith and prepared for baptism. By observing the forty days of Lent, the individual Christian imitates Jesus’ withdrawal into the wilderness for forty days.

To strew (str)
tr.v. strewed, strewn (strn) or strewed, strew·ing, strews
1. To spread here and there; scatter: strewing flowers down the aisle.
2. To cover (an area or a surface) with things scattered or sprinkled.
3. To be or become dispersed over (a surface).
4. To spread (something) over a wide area; disseminate.


Strewing, in unschooling terminology, means leaving material of interest around for our children to discover.

Do Catholic Unschoolers force Lenten penances and practices onto our children?

I doubt it. Unschoolers tend to use a less didactic model of education and of homechooling and of life; Unschooling is trusting the learner to be in charge of his or her own learning.

This is also known as interest driven, child-led, natural, organic, eclectic, or self-directed learning. Lately, the term "unschooling" has come to be associated with the type of homeschooling that doesn't use a fixed curriculum. When pressed, I define unschooling as allowing children as much freedom to learn in the world, as their parents can comfortably bear. Pat Farenga

We try to inspire, to be role models ( Ack! This is my downfall...). .

We aim to create a family culture of Catholic practices - so that living the liturgical year is like breathing. It is part of what we do and part of who we are.

Another member of our list discussed her strewing of possible Lenten reading material. A great idea!

Here, in our house, we are discussing our Lenten penances and Lenten reading – what spiritual reading will we do, or will be read aloud as a family? What will we give up or what will we do extra? Even just the discussion is helpful.

Right now, as part of the things on our bulletin board, we have a cartoon explaining Lent, and an article on Ash Wednesday.

I have also strewn the Dhouy-Rheims Bible on the camphour wood chest – cum - coffee table in the sitting room. The Bible is open to Matthew 5 – the Beatitudes. Fr. mentioned at Mass that we could try to read these during Lent and try to emulate some of the virtues described….I've asked the kids to copy these into their notebooks ( perhaps I should copy this into my journal?).

I am also trying to find some nice Lenten artwork for the computer background, too, for visual strewing.

The reading of something more spiritual during Lent and Advent is a practice we began , as a family, many years ago - maybe a year or so after I became Catholic. I was received into the Church in January 1995 and confirmed in March 1997.

I have found that the spiritual reading together helps.

For St Benedict, the principal way to meditate and the main way to be in silence is through reading. In fact, in the Rule whenever Benedict uses the word' meditate', he is always referring to reading or to the memorisation of a text for later use in prayer. For him, meditation is always rooted in Scripture. From : "Finding Sanctuary". Abbot Christopher Jamison

Finding the time for extra reading, or to read aloud to the kids, can be diffcult. I speak from my experience of failures in keeping up with such reading. We may not do this reading every day, but we aspire to read more days than not.

And when we undertake such spiritual reading, we find that we grow together, we talk, we laugh, we sometimes pray - and that certainly helps our unschooling.

St John Chrysostom wrote ~ " 'I am not,' you will say, 'one of the monks, but I have both a wife and children and the care of a household.' This is what has ruined everything, your thinking that the reading of scipture is for monks only, when you need it more than they do. Those who are placed in the world and who receive wounds every day, have the most need of medicine."

Pancake day

(Sorry Kristine - my mobile flubbed your pic. Come over for another!).

Monday, February 04, 2008

Sunday Nights..

....have become our take away dinner nights. More often than not, we buy takeaway food for dinner, more often than not after the 6.00 pm Mass.

And, more often than not, we have others join us for this dinner. Probably because they know I won't be cooking so they won't have to eat my food! lol!

Last night was Thai and pizza. A weird mix but it works for us. We had the same takeaway two Sundays ago - this selection gives the fussy eaters in our house a choice.

Last night, we had two visitors and lots of laughter .

It is an enjoyable way to start the week.

This week, we have the Feast of St Blaise.

And Shrove Tuesday ( Pancake Day or Fat Tuesday ). Unhealthy sweet pancakes will be for dinner, after the St Anthony Mass.

This day, the day before the beginning of Lent, is known as Shrove Tuesday. To shrive someone, in old-fashioned English (he shrives, he shrove, he has shriven or he shrives, ), is to hear his acknowledgement of his sins, to assure him of God's forgiveness, and to give him appropriate spiritual advice. The term survives today in ordinary usage in the expression "short shrift". To give someone short shrift is to pay very little attention to his excuses or problems.

On Shrove Tuesday, many Christians make a special point of self-examination, of considering what wrongs they need to repent, and what amendments of life or areas of spiritual growth they especially need to ask God's help in dealing with. Often they consult on these matters with a spiritual counselor, or receive shrift.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. fast and abstinence, and we, again, more often than not, have fish and chips for dinner. A meal of abstinence after a day of fast...

And Friday, the first Friday of Lent, will have Mass ( well, we usually try to get to Mass on Fridays anyway) and then stations of the cross.

The kids and I are having a meeting today, to talk about some framework for this week. Lenten reading and penance. Finishing books. A report on Wollongong. More work on our postcard project. Latin. French homework. Writing out the Beatitudes...

Jonathon is in hospital today, gets his wisdom teeth out, so I guess its an easy week for him. :-) Uni hasn't started back yet...And work as normal for Luke, Gerry and myself.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Finding Sanctuary

A book I am reading - in parts. A dribble here and a dribble there. A book I have on loan from a friend.

Monastic steps for every day life. By the Abbot of a Benedictine Monastery in Worth, U.K. Fr. Christopher Jamison.

Silence is Step 1 of the monastic steps in the book. Ouch. I tend to be enveloped in busy-ness.
Inspired by this step, I have taken time for silence.
In silence and in solitude, I start to question and doubt. Is this event/thing/whatever really from God or have I taken things into my own control-freak hands once again?

In silence, I begin to doubt God's hand in my life and I see where I take control and, I guess, don't let God have control.

Step 4 is Humility. Another ouch.

"We descend by exaltation and we ascend by humility" Rule of St Benedict, 7: Humility.

You know you have a problem with humility and pride when you are counselled on such areas and you reply, inwardly of course , I mean, who wants to admit to this out loud? - "Not again. I know it's not pride".

And of course it is. That inward dialogue certainly lacks humility.

Great book, by the way. Not built upon esoteric ideals but with every day tips for living an every day monastic life.
I may even be able to get beyond Step 4 ( Humility) ~ one day!

Saturday, February 02, 2008


Greg and I went to Mass this morning, brought home blessed candles for our table. I lit the candles and read of Candlemas to the kids...And we looked at the fresco for today in our Saints book...

Tonight we are having Pasta e Fagioli for dinner ~ an Italian dinner in honour of St John Bosco ( Thursday's Saint).

With Irish Soda bread, in honour of S Brigid of Ireland ( Friday's Saint).

A multicultural dinner!

And it is almost ready - I'm off to serve and eat.

Happy Candlemas.