Sunday, March 30, 2008

What Anthony Read Yesterday

Nim's Island is a book I bought yesterday. For us to read in preparation for seeing the movie next weekend, the movie with Jodie Foster ( one of my favourite actors) .

Anthony read the book in the afternoon. He enjoyed it ; said it was an easy but captivating read. I hope to read it myself this week.

We pretty much love books and reading here, although right now I am finding it hard to discover a riveting book . I am reading mostly light non fiction, nothing taxing , no deep novels, no deep spiritual reading.

After "Nims Island", I am looking for a good read, a sink-your-teeth-into read.

The kids have had their mental teeth stuck in a number of books. Anthony has been reading some of Isaac Asimov's Robot series and Thomas some of Gibbons' "Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire". Alexander is currently enjoying Bram Stoker's classic ~ "Dracula".

I love the diversity of my kids' reading.

Baked Pumpkin

I made this for dinner the other night. Yummy! You can see the pre and post baking pics.

Cut the top off the pumpkin, scrape out the seeds and some of the flesh. Layer thin squares of toast, chopped onion, thinly sliced cheese, salt and pepper in the pumpkin. Replace the top and bake in a slow oven 2-3 hours. Remove top, stir contents, add hot milk and serve with extra milk for bowls, to make a soup consistency. And enjoy.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Struggles With Attitudes

My Thankful Thursday post, and Genevieve's thoughtful responses, have highlighted something for me.

My struggles with attitude.

No, don't worry, this won't be a post full of angst. This is not a bleeding-heart-blog. But it is a blog for pondering and sharing and some of us ( Genevieve and me ) seem to ponder best when we write. Or blog.

Thursday was my birthday. Birthdays are always bitter sweet for me. Where does the time go?

Dh and I stayed up very late, spending time together, talking together. We talked of a number of things, of this, of that, of some every day things, of important things.

And dh pointed out that I have become abrupt in my responses to our children.

Ouch and double ouch.

The super thing about being married for a long time is that we can share, honestly.Most of the time.

We can hold each other accountable for words and deeds.

Thus, dh's words made me both wince and wonder.

I see that I am often abrupt. Partly because of my sarcastic, somewhat wicked sense of humour. Mothers aren't supposed to use this humour on their kids, right?

But my biggest problem is probably busyness.

I get busy. I like being busy . ( What am I running away from, that I have to keep my life so busy? Or is it personality? Is busyness a problem or is it really attitude? One of my Lenten reads, Finding Sanctuary, made me feel uncomfortable when encountering my busyness and the contrast of the monastic life. ).

Regardless of the reasons for this busy life, I do know that, in my busyness, I can be abrupt. A response that could be more loving, friendly, becomes a terse shorthand answer.

In living a go-go-go lifestyle and being efficient, I forget the gentle response.

I am so not gentle.

And so, one of my attitude struggles is a struggle against abruptness and towards "yes-ness".

I prayed about this, at Mass and at Adoration yesterday. Hoping I will be given an epiphany on how to change my response.

You can do nothing with children unless you win their confidence and love by bringing them into touch with yourself, by breaking through all the hindrances that keep them at a distance. We must accommodate ourselves to their tastes, we must make ourselves like them. --------St. John Bosco

I suspect that change will come simply by doing - by my consciously making an effort to be less abrupt. It is the act of doing that makes us become what we are. Repeated acts of niceness, not abruptness; and, I imagine, repeatedy falling down and dusting myself off mentally, will mean that eventually yes will be a more automatic response than the terse alternative.

I've seen this happen in other areas of my life. I have acted as if I was what I wanted to be and over time, a change occurred. The me I wanted to be became the more natural me.

My other struggle of attitude is a body image attitude. Again. (Does this get boring? Is this a woe-is-me post? Horror. I shudder. And yet, in order to think, I write. I share. Yes, I bore...)

One would think that after losing weight, a person would be happy with their body.

Uh uh.

It seems that I look in the mirror and all I see is the back fat, the daggy arms, that horrid waist, the saggy b**bs.

I don't expect perfection, yet I find it difficult to come to grips with a slimmer self. I look in the miror and see fat. As if I am the sum total of my looks. As if weight is the all-encompassing, most important part of a person.

Both intellectually and spiritually, I know this to be false. Yet, just as I fall back on a sarcastic, abrupt answer in default when busy, so I fall back into negative body images at milestones, at certain times in my life.

Like my birthday of last week - there comes the thought of being both fat and old.

Sad. I know that who I am is more important than how I look but the negative self talk is default mode.

Perhaps body image takes awhile to adjust to weight loss. Perhaps the living as if philosophy can be applied here, too. Live with joy in my fitter body, as though I accept my body and perhaps I will - accept my normal body, normal BMI . Not model thin but normal.

And fit.

I said recently to a friend, that I find that working on and with my kids on attitudes is of more importance than working on behaviour or on Maths. I see now that this applies to myself.

No default modes. Acting and living on purpose.

If, then, you are looking for the way by which you should go, take Christ, because He Himself is the way. --------St. Thomas Aquinas

Cartoon courtesy of Gary Olsen, Cartoon College

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Yeah, I know it is not Thursday yet but I'm getting in ahead! Thursday's gonna be busy for me.

And I like Ruth's idea, from way-back-when, of hosting the occasional Thankful Thursday blog.

Today ( Wednesday posing as Thursday), I am thankful that I am an unschooler.

Why? Read Genevieve's post and smile at children learning and enjoying learning, at choices in education, at collaborative learning.

At unschooling.

I was feeling guilty about our Easter Octave - work stuff for me, for the kids a little bit of writing and lots of Guitar Hero, Singstar, some reading, friends over. But an unschooler shouldn't feel this guilty for not doing-school!

Genevieve's blog post reminds me that joy is important, too - something I can forget when I am busy...

We are seeking joy and thus, a school week of a bit of reading, a bit of writing, French class, work, lots of fun and play and friends, is cool.

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tuesday Links

Alice's lovely ideas for an Easter Tea.

Maybe we can adapt this and have an Easter afternoon tea, during this octave of Easter?

And an interesting book and blog, thoughts on Mary, from a Catholic convert's point of view. From one who struggled to understand the Church's Marian devotions. [I can relate... ]

Behold Your Mother.


Glimpses of our Easter table.

Glimpses of our Easter and of dh's birthday.
The Easter Vigil. Mass on Easter Sunday night. Prayers. Many, many, yummy chocolate eggs. Hot cross buns. Time with family. With friends. Music.
And workouts.
Yes, Easter workouts. Grabbing time to work out makes me a cooler person. I hope. Nicer. I hope. Healthier. More fit. More fun. Puts an added smile on my face.
What workouts? Aerobic weight training and step aerobics. Weight training ~ light weight high rep. Kickboxing.
Working off chocolate and tiredness .Working out to look and feel better, to be better. Even at Easter.
As a fellow poster says in her avatar, on the Ya-Yas fitness forum ~ What can I say, life is my catwalk. I want to be a"hottie"senior citizen.
Happy Easter season!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Holy Saturday and the Fat Free Vegan

(A weird juxtaposition of post topics in my recent blog titles. )

Today we are looking forward to the Easter Vigil at church tonight and we start the Regina Coeli. Prayed from Holy Saturday to Trinity Sunday, in place of our usual praying of the Angelus.

I woke up feeling fantastic , it has been over a month since I last felt really well- the prayers of Good Friday, the Stations of the Cross and the three o'clock Passion helped me Find Sanctuary. Eating less yesterday, because of Good Friday's fast and abstinence, was also great for me. I feel fitter and my abs feel flatter.( Am I the only auburn haired blonde? I mean, really, this blend of the religious with diet and body image is very!).

Visited the fitness forum this morning and found a link to yet another cool blog, the
Fat Free Vegan. Yummy recipes. Maybe I can feel this great all the time, by following the advice of writer and food anthropologist Michael Pollan -- Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Okay, maybe I can only do this 50% of the time but at least I like the sound of the tag line!

Some recipes from the vegan blog, ones I want to try ~

Penne Arrabbiata
Enchilada casserole

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday and an Early Birthday Present

We picked up son Nick from the airport, went to "live" Stations of the Cross and Reconciliation at our parish. It was super - Fr. looked great in a purple cope, members of Youth Group acted out parts of the Stations, the Stations were the more traditional Stations that my dh likes, we sang the Salve Regina ( my fave).

I worked out to yet another FIRM workout - 55 minutes of step aerobics and weight training. Hey , it's fast and abstinence from food and meat, not workouts, isn't it?

Nick won't be here for my birthday next week so he gave me an early present - a kitsch coffee mug, a 1950s housewife pic on the mug, with the words domestically disabled emblazoned on one side and on the handle.

Now, is that a hint? Surely not! Surely my sons know that I am a domestic goddess?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Today is Holy Thursday. Maundy Thursday. A good day to take five minutes to reflect, to think about five things for which we are thankful. Or grateful. Or happy about.
My list ~

1. Maundy Thursday at church tonight. The word Maundy is derived through Middle English,
and Old French mandé, from the Latin mandatum, the first word of the phrase "Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos" ("A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you"), the statement by Jesus in the Gospel of John (13:34) by which Jesus explained to the Apostles the significance of his action of washing their feet. The phrase is used as the antiphon sung during the "Mandatum" ceremony of the washing of the feet, which may be held during Mass or at another time as a separate event, during which a priest or bishop (representing Christ) ceremonially washes the feet of others.

2. The Chrism Mass of last night. The use of oil in ritual is ancient and widespread. There are many references to it in the scriptures, as in Psalm 33 (“ sacred oil on the head flowing down Aaron’s beard to the collar of his robe”); “Christ” literally means “Anointed One”; the oil of chrism is used in coronation ceremonies.In the Catholic tradition three different oils are used – chrism for baptism, confirmation and ordination as well as for consecrating churches and altars; the oil of catechumens, as the name suggests, for baptism; the oil of the sick in the sacrament of anointing the sick.The Chrism Mass at which the oils are blessed and the chrism is consecrated (because chrism is used in the rites which impart a sacramental character) takes place in the cathedral towards the end of Lent so that they will be ready for the Easter sacraments.

3. I am feeling well - or at least, not unwell. A major breakthrough. I have had a difficult Lent, health-wise.

4. My dh and sons. And our parish. My family has been super, picking up the ball when I have been sick, helping in our parish with stuff for Palm Sunday and the Easter Tridium. And we are lucky to be given the opportunity to help out, to serve in our parish , hopefully giving back a little for the abundance that we have received.
I sound quite gentle and pious, don't I? Well, the next "thankful" item will change that perception ~ see, it really is all about me ( as one of my pyjama tops says...)!

5. A FIRM workout today. Weights and cardio, with step aerobics. Yay! I love to workout.

[The above pics? William Blake's Holy Thursday ( 1794) and the FIRM workout "Complete Aerobics and Weights" (2003).]

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Homeschool Tuesday

I was quite sick last night. Woke up with a terrible headache and a pretty formidable To Do List.

I did some yoga for light exercise and to clear my head. And had to listen to a philosophical debate between two sons on the psychological benefits ( or not) of yoga, of "blooming like a flower."

Namaste. I am sure. Especially with numerous phone call interruptions - a peaceful yoga mum I am not!

But Anthony and I had some fun with our Prince Caspian unit. We are picking and choosing ideas from the Further Up and Further In book, a thematic guide to the Narnia novels of C.S. Lewis. Today, Anny made a poster on the water cycle and we investigated the differences between oceans and seas.

And discussed the Byzantines and iconic art. Not at all related to Narnia.

And talked on the question of homeschool differences - are homeschooled kids different? This arose out of a complaint from Thomas, about the tone of Dr Wiles' "Exploring Creation with Chemistry" book. A book I found boring, too.

We prayed the Anima Christi, in Latin and in English, for Holy Week....organised stuff for our parish newsletter etc...cooked, folded pamphlets for delivery, had French class, did some errands, took Alexander to work at Kumon, worked on my Kumon newsletter....went to Mass ....

And so went part of our homeschool Holy Week.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Cross of Holy Week

This is the current background on one of our computers.

A Maronite icon ~ from this website. Fifty Maronite icons, retrieved from the book, “The Maronite Icons: Modern Sacred Art”. Icons of the Maronite Liturgical Year Sundays
and Major Feasts.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

What's for Dinner?

Oh, gosh, I am so bored with thinking of dinners. I don't even cook every night, as sometimes the kids cook and sometimes we buy takeaway. But it is still hard to think about dinners, to find dinners that are easy, not too expensive and quick to cook, especially when we are home late ( most nights!).

Didd a Google seach this morning and came up with sites and ideas.

What's for dinner tonight?

What's for dinner - make dinner time family time

What's for dinner, recipes by email

And a blog devoted to What's for Dinner, put together by another mum

This, too, is another "mummy's blog", with daily recipes ~ I want to try the Blushing Penne Pasta.

Feel free to share suggestions.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Quotes of the Day

Quotes of the Day is a fun website. We like to check in there, now and then, and see what quotes are up for grabs. For discussion. Or dissection..

Liked this quote from G. K. Chesterton. It fit in with current discussions on Lent and after a Day of Recollection for Young Men, recently held in our parish. Three Young Men from our family attended this day.

The quote?

To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Interests and Academics ~ and Herbs

Today I weeded the back garden. I am supposed to be resting more but find sitting down for too long to be intolerable. And a little bit of weeding never hurt anyone.

Except my dh nearly killed me . I weeded and discarded what I thought were two unsightly weeds. Turns out these were two of his favourite plants. Oh well. Thank heavens for patient dhs.

Dh pruned some herbs for me and these are now drying in the laundry. Hence the pic above.

My drying of herbs sparked a discussion with Anthony (12). Anthony then searched our bookshelves for a book that he had once perused and now wants to read more carefully ~ "The Illustrated Herbal".

I was reminded once again of how unschooling works, of how the interest of one family member often rubs off onto another.

I also thought about the role that books and conversation and adult company has in my sons' unschooling.

A large part of our educational process, of our unschooling, of our living and learning, is simply sharing our lives.

The kids have always been very involved in our adult lives – in the things dh and I do at church, in the community, my work , our work where possible at home or outside, our interests, our friends and visitors, our lives, our music, many of our movies, our books and reading, our conversations, our choices, our failings, our good and bad times.

The result, arrived at almost inadvertantly, has been sons who love books and reading, who can talk and talk, who form opinions and share opinions, who like learning ( for the most part) and who are often academically inclined.

So, it was interesting for me to read an article on learning and on teacher education,
Making it harder and better: Improving teaching and learning. By Lola Hill, from Deakin University, here in Australia.

In the Introduction, Hill writes ~

In my experience as a visiting teacher educator to perhaps a hundred primary classrooms over more than a decade, I have witnessed innumerable interactions between teachers and children in which the teacher appears not to have grasped the meaning or consequence of a child's intellectual offering. I am not speaking of the inevitable moments when distraction or preoccupation interferes with a teacher's ability to listen and respond adequately to a child, nor of situations when the child's meaning is unclear, but of interactions in which a child's expression of thinking is clear, unambiguous, and significant, yet falls into the void, uncomprehended, unacknowledged, and unused. That particular opportunity to engage the child in further learning is lost. In the short term, the child may not appreciate his or her own achievement, and in the longer term the child may question whether the effort required to engage intellectually with a teacher is worthwhile.

I do not believe that these teachers deliberately neglect children's interests. We do not educate our teachers to engage with children intellectually. Like Splitter and Sharp (1995, p. 65), I distinguish between 'schooling' and 'education'. Unlike education, schooling is not renowned for its attention to inculcating reflective and critical thinking and judgement in its learners. Most teachers, I hazard, are more schooled than educated. Consequently, most are not practiced at joining in thoughtful dialogue about substantive issues. Sadly, many appear disinclined towards it.

Intellectual development is a journey requiring effort, not an inherent gift which one does or does not possess. One chooses whether or not to embark on the journey and applies one's intelligence, among many other personal qualities, to the journeying. If we want our teachers to be educators in the true sense of the word, then we must educate them. We must provide them with opportunities, support, and challenge to become reflective, critical, and creative thinkers, to grow intellectually, to engage in a process of constant transformation. Then, in Postman's words: "What this means is that at its best, schooling can be about how to make a life, which is quite different from how to make a living" (Postman, 1996, p. x).

I wonder if we busy homeschooling parents (sometimes often?) disengage with our children and miss the opportunity to talk , to connect minds. Especially with young minds - five year olds and eight year olds...Do we almost over protect our children and thus end up giving them dumbed down books and movies and child only activities and experiences?
Yet, we homeschoolers have more opportunity than most to simply spend time with our children and to share our day to day experiences. This must work to our advantage, both educationally and from a family-connectedness point of view.

I know I have been guilty of mental dis-engagement. I have been busy, distracted, or at the computer ( blushes) and thus have missed opportunities to be with my kids.

However, I have also been aware of my own need for education and of sharing myself, warts and thoughts and all , with my sons. This, perhaps, has been my saving grace. Perhaps it has been this sharing, this self education, this following of interests, alongside adult company and books, that has helped form my children's minds. So far.

Yes, we do some schoolwork. Indeed, as shocking unschoolers, we have used and are using textbooks sometimes. Often, however, it is the education that occurs outside the schooling parameters that matters the most.

Thus, our life, shows our children how to make a life. How we make our lives. How we live our faith.

And this leads to creative thinking and searching. And to more reading. And, often, to formal academics .
Now, if we can just get that humility thing going.
And work on ourselves more, as Christians. With prayer.
While drying herbs and reading about herbs. :-)

Friday, March 07, 2008

Workouts ( a cross post)

I've been sick lately, so mostly doing easier workouts. Or Advanced workouts, but for only half the time. Walking it out a bit.
It felt good , therefore, to be back in the swing this morning, before Friday Mass. I did Taebo Advanced Live 7 ~ some great ab and glute and legwork, after the warm up and stetches, then kickboxing for cardio, kicks and punches. Fun music, too. "Riding on the Metro" by Berlin "Boogie Fever" by the Sylvers. "Be Who You Wanna Be." Some rap....

I love music in workouts.

My doctor told me, on Wednesday, to take it easy - I have to remind myself of this, as I tend to like to push myself in workouts. Esp when I can get ino the music groove!

( I am laughing at myself so its okay,you can laugh, too. ).

Sts Perpetua and Felicity

My Confirmation Saints.

March 6 is the anniversary of my Confirmation, and of the Confimation of two of my older sons ~ Nicholas and Gregory. We were confirmed together, in the 'old Rite' and 'old Mass', in 1997.

With the lives of so many early martyrs shrouded in legend, we are fortunate to have the record of the courage of Perpetua and Felicity from the hand of Perpetua herself, her teacher Saturus, and others who knew them. This account, known as "The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity," was so popular in the early centuries that it was read during liturgies.

Perpetua's last words were to her brother. "Stand fast in the faith and love one another."

Not a bad motto for one's life.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Preventative Method of Education

Interesting blog post on the Salesians and on how the Order describes their adherence to St John Bosco’s "preventative method of education".

Among the characteristics the Salesians say they try to embody are "a welcoming attitude", "optimism and joy", "creativity and flexibility" and a "deep trust in God". They pride themselves on what is called the "preventive system" of education that was devised by Don Bosco and is based "entirely on reason, religion and loving kindness". It is "preventive" in that it "seeks to prevent the need for punishment by placing the child in an environment in which he/she is encouraged to be the best one can be".

I made a cake!

I felt like eating Christmas cake.

Yes, I know it is Lent (hence the purple ribbon trimming) , but I haven't given up cake for Lent ( I have other penances). And I like Christmas cake any time of the year. And my tummy has been so unwell that it is fun to be able to eat some things..Well, there are many things I still can't eat, but I wanted to give cake a try.

I baked this yesterday afternoon, the house smelt warm and cosy and delish during the baking. We ate the cake wth soup for dinner, after Mass and Novena to St Anthony.

This pic is ( much needed) proof that I can bake a nice cake! lol!

ETA ~ This is a nice recipe, that I have used in the past. ( For Mary:-))

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Anthony's New Latin Book

And one he is really enjoying.

Learning Latin through Mythology.

The book consists of thirteen units, each including a short English version of a myth, an illustrated Latin version with vocabulary explanations, a related Latin grammar activity, plus related writing and open-ended projects.

A nice adjunct to his Latin Primer, Latin Grammar and copywork. And to his memory work ~ of some Latin prayers and hymns...

Saturday, March 01, 2008

March 1st

Feast of St David of Wales.

We read today that St David advised his followers to refrain from eating meat and drinking beer.

Well, I don't really eat much meat or drink beer but I hope the Saint didn't mean that one should refrain from all alcohol! Shock!

I made Welsh Rarebit for lunch.

And tonight some of us are going to the Cyndi Lauper concert! Woo hoo!

I love Cyndi - her music, her clothes, her fun attitude, the fact that she is a strong woman.

I am a pretty strong woman. I guess. Or so others tell me.... And sometimes people say that to me, that I am a strong woman, as though being a strong woman is a bad thing. An un-Christian, un-Mary-like, un-motherly and un-wifely thing.

Can one be both strong and holy?

I was heartened last night, when reading "Holy Women of Russia" by Brenda Meehan. In writing of Margarita Tuchkova , the founder of the Borodino community, Meehan says ~

"...the impression left of her (Tuchkova) is of a woman of great residual willfulness. It was will and determination that had enabled her to build a memorial church, a women's community, and a flourishing monastery. Once committed to someone or something, she used every personal resource and every powerful connection she had, to help that person or plan prosper."

A strong woman, yet clearly pious .
Meehan concludes ~ "In her, holiness and impassioned character were two readings of the same text."

Gives me hope.

As do these quotes of C.S. Lewis - part of our bulletin board for March. Anthony is re-reading "Prince Caspian" and we are doing related activities together this month. I found these quotes to add to March's bulletin board.

A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading.
Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.

An explanation of cause is not a justification by reason.

Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.

It's so much easier to pray for a bore than to go and see one.

The safest road to hell is the gradual one - the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.

There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, "All right, then, have it your way."

Thirty was so strange for me. I've really had to come to terms with the fact that I am now a walking and talking adult.

You can't get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.