Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hit Me With Your Best Shot!

Like a Virgin.
True Colours.

And many others songs, on the workout DVD I did yesterday and today.

An 80s aerobics and music mix, with Richard Simmons ( yeah, I know, sorry - and corny as h**l).

I jogged in place, I did high impact instead of the workout's low impact moves, to make the workout more advanced. And I had a whale of a time - sweatin' and singin' and dancin' to 80s hits.

And because of the high impact, my heart rate was up. Cool!

I felt like I was at party, being a dag, dancing around, doing aerobics moves and singing.

Now, that is not just a cardio workout - it is pure fun.

I think working out should be fun, at least some of the time, don't you?

St Athanasius

Feast Day is Friday. Bishop of Alexandria and Doctor of the Church. And Alexander's Confirmation Saint.

I have been looking for some Egyptian recipes to try this weekend.

Found this site.

We may try the Foule Mudammes ( Egyptian Chilli) and the Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake.

Hmm. I wonder how any calories are in these Egyptian dishes? lol!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Risi et Bisi, Venice, St Mark

Two Saints

Today we are doing some cooking, for our parish Youth Supper tonight. Supper after Mass, during which Fr. Thomas Sullivan will give a homily. Fr. is from the Fathers of Mercy and is the missioner for our parish mission this week .

Today, I am reading to the family about two saints ~ Saint Zita and Saint Mark the Evangelist.

We have the book Vendela in Venice out for display and to read - St Mark's relics are in Venice and these and the lions of St Mark are discussed in the book.

I thought we'd tie our cooking in with the liturgical year - make Risi e Bisi for St Mark ( apparently a favourite dish in Venice on this feast day) and also some bread for St Zita - the Little Cook and patron of housekeepers.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Murder Mystery Dinner


Luke and Jonathon were the murderers!

We had a really nice dinner, I ( sort of) followed recipes from my birthday cookbook - Nigella Express by TV cook Nigella Lawson.

Nibbles with cocktails, Naan bread Pizza with wine and soft drink, Beef Tagine with olives and capers/rice/ sauteed cauliflower and capsicum, White Chocolate Mousse and Apple Tart, cheese and biscuits and Anthony's dragon cake with coffee and tea.

The characters and dialogue and clues were engaging - we tried to solve the crime ourselves.

And dh and I ended the night at Adoration in our parish, after 1.00 a.m., when the guests left.

Cool evening and lotsa fun.

P.S. My character, Edith, ended up being quite a shocker ~ definitely not someone I'd emulate IRL!

Friday, April 25, 2008

St George..

....and his Dragon Cake.

Anzac Day

Today is Anzac Day. We remember those who died during war, especially those at Gallipoli in World War 1.

Thomas has made some Anzac Cookies . Anthony has researched Anzac Day on the web and shared some new info with all of us. We will attend Mass tonight, for Anzac Day.

Anthony is also making a dragon cake - it was the Feast of St George, he who killed the dragon, last week. St George is Anthony's Confirmation Saint.

Tonight,we are also having a Murder Mystery Dinner Party - who will be the suspect? I'll let you know..

And post pics of the party and of the dragon cake...

Trapped in Paradise.

Not really.

Although we do love that film, with Nicholas Cage. Part of our Christmas list of movies ( be forewarned - has swearing).

But last night a friend and I were Trapped in a Car Park ( And with no swearing- just lots of giggles).

I met some friends, other homeschool mothers, for dinner last night, after my work at Kumon. We went to the Coffee Club to celebrate another friend's birthday.

And we parked in the carpark that closes, unbeknownst to us, at 9.00 p.m.

So, at 10.45 p.m. there we were, trapped in the car park, no way to get out. Gates all closed.

We laughed.

And we got help so we arrived home safely. After rude texts from my friends and family, about my ability to get trapped!

Just another adventure in the life of homeschooling mother. Who knew we lived such exciting lives? lol!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Out for lunch...

...with son Anthony today.

A good day.

Sursum Corda

Lift up your hearts.

Today my heart was lifted by Mass at 7.00 a.m., by the prayers and by the Sacrament. Peaceful. Helpful.

Today was my heart was lifted by my Taebo workout. (Yeah, I know). Punching, kicking, pushing myself to the limit, singing to loud music, sweating, made me forget my failings and my faults, my imperfections, my self centredness.

Hey, is is a new day and a new start.

In the words of Good Charlotte ~

Make the best with what you're given

This ain't dying

This is living!

Said we're movin' on, and we got nothing to prove

To anyone

cause we'll get through

We're movin' on and on and on and on...Keep movin' on

lol~! Me and music - a song for every occasion!

The Regina Coeli last night after Mass and Do Ya Love Me? during Taebo today...

I'm off to a great day, after such a great start!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Homeschool mothers are bad examples!

Friends arrived at my house around 8.30 a.m. today, to bring their kids for French class. I was rushing out the door, after working out, to take a son to work. " Come in" , I said "The kids can start French with Greg and I'll make us all tea when I get back . "

And breakfast. Turned out that not only had I not had breakfast but neither had most of the other mums. We had made sure that our kids had eaten breakfast but had neglected to feed ourselves.

I made the mums toast and Vegemite and tea at 9.30 a.m.

We were a bad example to our kids - do as I say not as I do!

The day got better. No schoolwork, even though we are all officially doing some formal work these school holidays. After French, we got to play - Singstar for us mums and for the kids, games outside, an exra friend and her family joined us for lunch, play after French class extended to lunch and to the afternoon.
I felt like a kid again, myself, blowing away my resposnsibilities.

But the responsibilities all came back to me late afternoon and early evening. Various incidents from yesterday clouded the day.

I can sense things from my past bubbling below the surface. I've worked hard to put away my past, some of the yucky things from my childhood. But I haven't done this enough. And it comes out in not so nice ways, bites me back via those close to me. I don't give enough and then, because I don't give enough, I get back, I receive, in similar fashion.

History repeats.

Clear as mud? Like my mind.
And sometimes my life.

Pope Benedict (from a recent audience): "Even
suffering is part of the truth of our life. Thus,
trying to shield the youngest from every
difficulty and experience of suffering, we risk
creating, despite our good intentions, fragile
persons of little generosity: The capacity to
love, in fact, corresponds to the
capacity to suffer, and to suffer together."

Monday, April 21, 2008

Household Organisation

Dh re-organised the kitchen pantry yesterday. With my assistance, of course.

Now, my house is organised for the big things - you know, for LIFE. We manage to keep a fairly neat and fairly clean house, we do a lot of activities, we homeschool and have a full life, have a lot of people over and life generally works well. There is flow.
However, the little things tend to be kept in a more random manner. The bookshelves will be neat but with little order to the books. The cupboards will be useable and things can be found but there is little system to the storage.
This extends to to the kitchen. The kitchen is a little thing in the scheme of things, right?

Well, a disorganised pantry drives dh nuts.

And, on Saturday, when I visited a friend in her new house, I saw her new really large pantry, much larger than mine. That didn't make me envious. I could care less.

But I did feel pangs of guilt over her neat pantry. Everything put in sections, one could find anything at a glance.Lots of food.

Nothing higgeldy-piggeldy.

I like higgeldy-piggeldy. I like eclectic. I like a scrapbook approach to life ~ - in the small things ~ and a loose organisational stucture for the big things.

But I still felt bad about that pantry.

So, I started the pantry tidy up on Sunday morning. And dh took over, he is much better at this sort of detail than I.
Didn't he do a magnificent job?
Dh said " I love all your good intentions", when he found the pressed flower kit, the gingerbread men kit, the gingerbread train kit, the Chistmas cake baking mix. I buy these kits to do with the kids but we don't alway get around to it...Dh laughed at all the homeschooling and parish stuff I keep in the pantry ~ not much room for food.
And, he said "How can you run such a great Kumon centre, a great business, do so many things and be organised, and yet keep a basic thing like a pantry so disorganised?"
I don't know. Are these things related?
And the even bigger question is ~ Now, how do we keep our pantry this way???

Saturday, April 19, 2008

We saw Nim's Island tonight!

The new movie with Jodie Foster, based on the book by Wedy Orr. We saw it with two other homeschool families.

Several of us have enjoyed the book and we all relished the movie, which was filmed on the Gold Coast in Queensland. We laughed when Nim said she is homeschooled and then corrected herself - well, really island-schooled.

It has been a kind of island-ish week. Anthony drew a map of an imaginary island, while doing activities based around the novel Prince Caspian. We tore the edge of his map and soaked it in cold tea, searching for an aged appearance for the map. We talked about island-ish geographical terms - isthmus, peninsula and so on.

And then we saw Nim's Island . These connections made me feel quite serendipitious.

Friday, April 18, 2008

House in Progress

Dh and I just bought this townhouse - the one on the end. We are going to use it as a rental property - three bedroom, two bath, side garden and courtyard. Well, it will be a rental property when the building is completed and it is painted and carpets and curtain and gardens added....I love the attic bedroom btw!

So, yes we are property owners once again. ..)

Thursday, April 17, 2008


We all need some semblance of planning to get us through

We all need some semblance of planning to get us through.

Even I as a kinda unschooler.

As Theresa notes, unschooling is not defined by what we don't do but by what we do. She quotes this article ~

2. Forget about what we are NOT doing. Far too often the focus of unschooling becomes what we are not doing. When we find ourselves starting to describe our philosophy in negative terms (we do not follow a curriculum, we do not do worksheets, we do not limit our learning to school hours, we do not force the memorization of facts and figures), we need to stop and consider the message we are communicating. Unschooling isn’t about creating a vast landscape of things not done. It’s about doing. We interact with our children and respect them as individuals. We follow their interests, and we follow our own. We explore and learn alongside them. We are open to new ideas and experiences in a multitude of shapes and forms. We act as facilitators when their interests lead them to subjects we cannot personally help them with. As unschoolers we do, rather than do not.

Someone said to me at dinner the other night, that he thought my kids were clever and intelligent but couldn't figure out how since we did so little schoolwork ( he knows our family well!). I think he was thinking of all we are not doing and not of all we DO.

I fall into the same trap. I get into survival mode. I wonder how we will fit eveything into our lives.

When I am feeling overwhelmed ( too much to do) I have found I need to sit down, perhaps when kids are asleep or watching a DVD, and put thoughts on paper. Getting it all on paper, in a notebook or journal - or blog , clears my head.

I pray.

I also write up rough schedules - yes I am an unschooler but I need to see that it *is* possible to fit everything into my week! Or where I can simplify. OCD or something.

Of course, we never follow these schedules but having them helps me feel better. I know it is possible to fit everything in.... I also make up meal lists and ideas lists for spending time with the kids and any formal work.

Can you see I am a list maker?

And I remind myself, when I feel that we are in survival mode, that I am getting the most important things done, that I am after progression not perfection, that there is time to do everything God wants me to do, don't rush it, take time to enjoy it. These little mantras keep me going when I have a tendency to feel like I am just treading water or always playing catch up.

I plan by the seat of my pants - typically I use my personal planner/diary and jot down activites/bookwork as I think they will fit into our weeks or as I hear about a good idea and think - well, Friday is free so we might try it then.

As for a log, I vary from year to year. Last year, I designed a form with curriculum areas and sample activities listed - I could circle what we did and add a note every few days.

This year I have returned to my old standard - in an attractive notebook, I write down what we do in brief note form and the curriculum area. Technically I do this daily but in real life, it is every few days.

So, Monday the formal work I had suggested was working on writing, maths sheets, French homework.

What we actually did looked like this in our log ~

ENGLISH Silent reading; more writing on novels
MATHS Numbers TV show - pursuit theory; Kumon
LANGUAGE French homework
ARTS Music practice
SOCIETY AND ENVIRONMENT Reading Horrible Histories magazines; reading Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
TECHNOLOGY Computer; Design - model making; Food and tech - make pasta and home made bread for dinner ( one son's turn to cook)
PE/PD/HEALTH Trampoline; weight training; Work ed - work at Mum's Kumon centre.

So why am I writing all this down?

These are ideas we have been discussing, at the 4 Real Learning Forum and at the Unschooling Catholics email list.

These are also ideas that I am sorting through mentally ( mentally as in silently and on my blog! ).

Sorting through as I look at my family's lifestyle, my work commitments, the whole issue of time with the kids and with dh.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Home Truths and Mothering

Talking to someone today, I was hit with a home truth.

No, not hit. More like whacked across the head, out of the blue.

I was asking for help with discernment re the extra Kumon work issue.

Out of (seemingly) nowhere came the comment. The home truth.

I said that I was lucky simply because I homeschool and spend a lot of time with my kids, they come to work with me, are involved in my work.

The comment?

"Quantity time doesn't necessarily mean quality time."

My reply?

"Ouch, that hurts."

It does. It hurts. And maybe it hurts because there is veracity in that statement. I spend a lot of time with the kids and, to a certain extent, with dh, but am I fully engaged? Is it quality time? Will there be quality time if I take on more work?

I looked for a definition of quality time online, at

Found ~
quality time
time devoted exclusively to nurturing a cherished person or activity.
[Origin: 1985–90]

And ~
quality time n. Time during which one focuses on or dedicates oneself to a person or activity: "When you decide to turn on the TV, you decide ... not to spend quality time with your family" (Steve Tschirhart).

I'm not sure if I ever really give this sort of quality time to my family. ( Insert sad face). I am a queen of multi-tasking, I tend to nearly always do two or more things at a time.

So, I need to think about this . ( Insert an expletive, insert "Far Out!" ).

Writer Sonia Taitz says, of mothering that What children take from us, they give…We become people who feel more deeply, question more deeply, hurt more deeply, and love more deeply.

Very true.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

What would you do?

Kumon-wise, that is. Work-wise.

My part time job/business keeps on growing. It's a bit like Topsy!

Last week, I won an award at Kumon, for excellence in my Kumon centre ($500! Woohoo!).

I have also been invited to go to Japan for a Kumon Conference ( 5o years of Kumon ) in December. Around the Feast of St Nicholas - December 6. For a few days or a week...

But I am totally unsure about leaving the family for such a thing. I mean, my main life is my vocation as a mother and wife, then all my other stuff.

Should I stay or should I go ( as the Clash sing).

Kumon has also asked me to consider opening another centre. Nearby, soon-ish. This means I would start a new Centre from scratch and hopefully build up student numbers, helping children with maths and English and what we call life skills - commitment, independence, perseverance, time management, study skills...

So, I would run two Kumon centres. Eventually more money - good for our old age, for dh and I at retirement. But is the cost of time worth it?

I am a pretty high energy person, I guess, and, quite frankly, at the moment neither dh or I feel that all the extra things I do, my work and all my volunteer stuff, detract from my main vocation.
Dh is pretty happy, he says, with me in my role as wife ( isn't he sweet?).

And he feels that the family and the unschooling work well too, that everyone ( mostly) benefits from all my finger-in-many-pies stuff.

Except when he is grumpy, or we rush too much, then his opinion changes! lol!

Basically dh says the decision of whether or not to go to Japan,whether or not to open another centre, is up to me.

He says that he is unwilling to tell me what to do. Wah! As much as I am a Christian Feminist, I have to be honest and say that sometimes I wish a decision was made for me.

I am bad at choices. People ask me to do things for them and nine times out of ten, I will do it. This may be my nature, I think I tend to be more yes than no.

Being a yes girl has sure got me into trouble in the past. lol! So, I am trying to discern the right thing to do now.Yes, I am praying, but I suck at discernment...

Not only should I stay or should I go but should I work more? How would this be, logistically speaking?

What would you do? :-)
P.S. Edited to add ~ just found this quote on Cindy's blog. Maybe it will help me discern..."True happiness lies in giving ourselves in love to our brothers and sisters. "~ Pope John Paul II

Friday, April 11, 2008

Sometimes I am a dork!

Jammin' to my Turbo Jam workout this morning, 55 minutes of TJ Cardio Party 3 before Mass and homeschool ice skating and work meetings, well, I thought to myself - You are a dork sometimes.

dork –noun Slang.

a ridiculous person; jerk; nerd.

I mean, there I am in the family room, dancing away, twirling around, punching and kicking, belting out the song lyrics, having a ball of a time. I realized how dorky this must look. Must be.

But, hey, it is all in the pursuit of fitness, fun and happiness!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A broad view of education

Discussing unschooling here and here.

One thing I shared was that I know that just taking a holiday and having fun, without worrying about interests and learning, is often helpful. A good way to re-connect.

But it really has to be without learning strings attached – that we will visit a museum and if all the kids are interested in is the coffee shop, then that’s okay for now.

This leading an interesting life with no learning pressure for awhile often helps with re-kindling interest and excitement and relationships.

My kids are fairly social so we do things with others.

Today, I have work meetings, I have to drive an hour to get there. I went to 7.00 a.m Mass and have asked the boys to read some of their religion books over breakfast.

The kids and one of their teen friends are coming with me to work, and they will go to the library, the shops, have lunch out while I am in the meetings.

A cool unschooly day - I know the boys will come home with heaps of books. And have fun!

Sometimes, joy and the love of reading are cool descriptors of our day...

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

St. John Baptist de la Salle

Yesterday was the Feast Day of St. John Baptist de la Salle .

It was also our wedding annniversary. I am blessed to have my dh - he has put up with me and my vagaries for 29 years of marriage, he is always funny, always supportive.

We had Mass celebrated for our annivesary, a special Blessing, and Fr. read aloud words from St John, about the vocation of teaching.

As parents we are our children's first educators.

As homeschoolers we take this educative role even further.

Mass, the blessing, and the reading were inspiring. Peaceful. Helpful.

Among StJohn de la Salle's princilpes of management of Christian schools, there is the following, something I thought might be helpful for me as a homeschooler ~

( The teacher must endeavour ..)
12. To place no faulty models or standards before the pupils; always to speak to them in a sensible manner, expressing one's self in correct language, good English, and with clearness and precision. 13. To employ none but exact definitions and well-founded divisions . . . 18. To assert nothing without being positively certain of its truth, especially as regards facts, definitions, or principles. . (Chap. V, art. ii, pp. 31-33)

And ~ One must abstain from punishing children who are just beginning school. It is necessary, first, to know
their minds,
their natures, and
their inclinations. (Conduct of Schools)

I see the above to be true, both in my vocation as a parent and at work as a Kumon Education Supervisor. I must know the child before I judge his deeds.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Enjoying Life on Mars

We love this TV series and recently bought Series 2 on DVD.

No, it is not a doco on Life on Mars. More like a cop show with a science fiction twist. The title comes from David Bowie's song Life on Mars ( Is there life on Mars? she sings).

Last night, while dh and I were out for our pre-anniversary evening, the older kids watched the rest of the series. I am aghast! They know the ending before I do. And they won't tell me the ending, just that it is super.

I am the kind of person who reads the ending of the book first.

Who likes knowing endings in advance - especially if the ending might be sad.

Who got son Anthony to text me the ending of the last Harry Potter book, before I had read it ( to text me, so others who didn't want to know wouldn't have to hear).

The suspense will kill me.

Dh and I will have to find time this week to catch up on DVD viewing...

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Those Endorphins!

Wow, I am on an endorphin high!

I had a window of time in which to workout this morning and I knew that I should choose a happy workout. The window between 7.00 a.m Mass with one son, coming home, getting others up, talking to dh and kids and then getting ready to help out with morning tea at the 10.30 a.m. Mass.

I did Turbo Jam - Fat Blaster ( eight turbos, aerobic and anaerobic drills). Love the high impact and the music/lyrics ( Put your hands up in the air!). Then Turbo Jam Ab Blaster.

Gosh, I feel fantastic. I wish everyone this feeling - beats stress and tiredness.

And it helps that tomorrow is our wedding anniversary. We have been married 29 years. Another wow.

Dh and I are off to dinner together tonight, I've booked a suite at a nice motel, we are going to Mass tomorrow at 7.00 a.m before work and homeschool.

The last time we went out together like this, was on our wedding night! What will we do with ourselves - it's a shock. ( I'm sure we'll find something to talk about and to do.... :-) ).

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Faithfulness and Perfection.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is so helpful to me. Especially as a convert. I find it incredibly satisfying to go through an examination of conscience, to think about my vocation, about my relationship with God and with others.

Then the time in the confessional brings peace. Even if I sometimes don't want to hear what the priest has to say!

Pondering today, after Confession, I began to think of being faithful.

Am I a faithful wife? Sure, I am not having affairs but is there a mental faithfulness?

Am I faithful to my vocation of motherhood? To the other areas in which I feel called to work and serve and live?

Reading on the net tonight about faithfulness, I found this blog and a post on being faithful rather than being perfect.

In our own lives too, being faithful implies living a life of faith in response to God’s calling (Rom. 8:28-30), and not merely living a life of moral perfection.

Pope/St. Gregory the Great wrote about the qualities of a faithful servant of God in leadership in his book Pastoral Care. “Indeed, a servant is guilty of adulterous thought, if he craves to please the eyes of the bride when the bridegroom sends gifts to her by him,” he wrote, comparing those of his priests who would compromise the truth in order to win their parishioners’ favor, to an unfaithful servant of the Bridegroom who seeks to use the gift to win the bride’s heart for himself (Pastoral Care, Part II, Ch. 8). Faithfulness to God and to others often means working to win their hearts for God and not for self, sometimes even at the cost of losing their favor for oneself.

Faithfulness implies service to the One whose glory we want more than we want our own. It implies even giving up having a reputation for perfection in the eyes of other people in order to live a life of faith in response to God.


Mindful Parenting Yet Again

Sandra shared this link. Very good.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Rules to Live By

...At least for this week...

After reviewing my responses to my children and the aftermath of too much chocolate in the Easter season, I have decided to make a few temporary rules for living.

A temporary Rule of Life.

Re-reading Secrets of a Former Fat Girl reminded me of the role of rules in one's life.

The author, Delaney, shares how a few rules and a few mantras can help one change. She suggests adopting the mantra "Whatever it Takes" and "Its Not an Option (INO) ~ whatever it takes to get the change that is needed and giving up is not a option.

If you have any doubt about the role of INO to change you life, think about this: Right now other"mere words" have just as much power over you. Words Like"I am weak" and "I am not worthy." Words like I can't". These words are defining you; they are shaping the way you live now. Secret 3 : Adopt INO can help you fix that...

The idea of living ( and eating) by some set of rules is hard even to think about I know. When you life is full of stress ( as most of ours are), you savour the freedom to eat what you want and do what you want with the little downtime you have..But you know on some level that this is hurting you more than helping you..

How not to use INO: to make youself feel bad for not living up to some impossible standard you set for yourself . Think about INO as the encouraging words of a coach, not the judgement command of a drill segeant. It is meant to lift you up, not tear you down.
Chapter 3 "Secrets of a Former Fat Girl" Lisa Delaney.

This week's rules? Or should I say ~ Current Rules?

* Morning prayer and/or Mass ( getting back into good habits)
* No sharp words ( 'nuff said)
* No chocolate ( self explanatory, in the post Easter chocolate haze)
* No large helpings, no seconds, no nibbling
* Workout with intensity

I'll let you know how I fare with these rules. Assuming you are interested, of course!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

A Typical Day

Faith shares a typical homeshool day.

Our days are typically atypical.

Today I woke at 6.30 a.m. with dh. Three sons were up, too - Luke to get ready for work and Alexander and Greg to do yoga.

Dh went to work and I drove to 7.00 a.m. Mass.

Had breakfast out with one of the older parishioners, a time for her to air her thoughts and for us to clear the air. Maybe part of my role as Parish Council Chair? Maybe just because I hate talking behind backs and like to be up front? Who knows?

I texted the kids to remind them to get up, do chores, have breakfast.

Went to get petrol, texted some more, chatted to a friendly guy in the l-o-n-g queue at the service station. We got on famously! My kids and dh always tease me about talking to everyone and anyone...

Then home to talk to the kids, give them their cupcakes - the ones I bought them while out, bite back some sharp words re undone chores and video games ( not their fault - mine - I wasn't home!), time to tidy up, do laundry, start working out. I did most of Turbo Jam Cardio Party 2 - love the song Get Back by Sir Mixalot, and the pumping and kicking moves that go with that song on this workout.

Kids started some university work for older ones, some Maths and some Latin for others. Anthony jumped on the trampoline.

Then a visit from a priest, who chatted to the kids. Greg made us tea and we retired to the sitting room to talk more...

Kids finished formal work, played computer, talked on the phone, played piano and guitar, read books, did workouts, I did internet stuff for work and pleasure, looked at the email list and boards I moderate on the web, paid bills, blogged, texted, answered texts for work and friends, answered work and home phone calls.

We had lunch ( leftovers and make your own- you are doing grocery shopping soon, asked one son hopefully. Yes, tomorrow or this weekend..).

Off to work at Kumon - kids in tow...Got a text from dh, I'm in trouble over something I said to someone. Uh-oh.

Ah, home again. I realized that we had NOTHING for dinner. I had planned to put pea soup onto cook in the Crock Pot this morning, but the morning ran away from me. No soup started.

Dh came to the rescue, with takeaway Chinese food. I love my dh!

We watched two episodes of Firefly, talking about the characters. Worked on newsletter labels for Kumon with dh. The kids cleaned up and I showered. And I shoo-ed nearly everyone to bed, we've had too many late nights and early mornings. They went, to listen to music, to chat ( the younger four share rooms), to read...And I went to blog. While working on tomorrow's To Do List.

Damn! We forgot the Rosary. I'm off to remind everyone to pray. No family Rosary tonight. Sigh. But at least we'll say our rosaries in our rooms. We are going to First Friday Mass tomorrow. Before Homeschool Teen Group at the movies. That counts. Right?

Not your most holy Catholic homeschooling day, yet typically atypical.

Playing Nicely

How many times a week, does a mother remind her childen to Play Nicely?

Seems I often say Play Nicely or Speak Nicely to my kids.

So why can't adults do what they recommend? How hard is it for an adult to play nicely?

I have experienced adults not playing nicely this morning. On the internet and in real life.

As Cay said, perhaps we need to remember that we are all One Body.

And we need to pray, to pray that we can all be open and honest and Play Nicely.

Thanks for your prayers, for these concerns. :-)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

More on Unschooling ~ Unschooling Mindfully

To live mindfully.

Sounds very Buddha-like, doesn't it?

Yet to live mindfully, to live well, is an idea steeped in Christian tradition.

"Today is the day the Lord hath made;let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24 2.

For me to unschool mindfully, I need to be there for my children. Mentally and physically.

When I unschool mindfully, we seem to have better relationships. When I get too busy and leave the kids solely to their own devices ~ get this done, do some Maths, watch a DVD, play computer ~ yeah, we might be unschooling but we are not connected.

The Joyfully Rejoycing website has this to say.

I think work and the things we "have" to do tend to expand to fill the time available. And unless that time is scheduled specifically for something, it's going to get eaten up by "have tos".

So make your son a "have to".

One of the problems with parenting (and unschooling) is that no one thing of it seems important enough that it must be done. Obviously the whole thing adds up into a great big something, but there aren't any immediate deadlines on any one thing. They don't need a book read to them today. He doesn't need to go to the park by the end of the week. The "deadline" for parenting feels like it's years in the future so nothing really needs done right now. But there's (seemingly!) hundreds of other things that do have very real deadlines.

So create a schedule and deadlines for being with him. Make sure he does get x books read to him (or whatever he likes to do). Make sure he does gets x hours hanging out together to explore freely with you, time that belongs to him even if it doesn't feel like you're accomplishing anything. In terms of relationship, it will be accomplishing something for him.

Reminds me to put my kids ( and my dh) on my To Do list!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Unschooling by Default?

My previous post , about attitudes and living by default, opened up a can of worms. For me.

I realize that sometimes I unschool by default.

True. I am an unschooler at heart.

By unschooler I mean one who sees learning happening everywhere, all the time.

Actually a day in the life of an unschooler looks a lot like summer days and weekends for other people. Unschooling isn't so much in what unschoolers do as in their attitude towards life and learning and how they're intertwined. Our conversations are our lessons without being lessons.
Joyfully Rejoycing

At the 4 Real Learning Forum, someone asked about weak areas in homescooling.

My reply?

This year, my weak areas have been a) read alouds ( we read a lot and share reading but I am doing next to nothing wrt reading aloud) and b) any formal work, in general ( we have done a few days here and there of Latin, Maths, etc but mostly we go back to just being busy, without any formal work).

I think I have homeschooled for so long that formal work isn't interesting me. But life and spending time near and with the kids, is.

I hate letting my emotions run our school - if I plan to unschool, well, good, but to unschool by default seems to be my weakness right now.

When I unschool by choice I am connected and learning flows. When I unschool simply because I am tired or busy then I feel I set a bad example to the kids. That it is okay to shirk duties because of how one feels.

This week, I am making a conscious effort. To be nice - no sharp or abrupt answers to my kids. And to unschool by plan.

Today, we have worked on our April bulletin board, folded leaflets for delivery, glanced at a website of Italian swear words ( blushes), did housework, exercised, played games, looked up the history of April Fool's Day after an April Fool's trick, played with virtual bubble wrap, read books, listened to music, played the piano and guitar, talked about the book " Nim's Island ", baked muffins, done driving practice with one son. This afternoon, it is friends over for the kids, part time work for some, and work related stuff for me.

And the kids will add a page to their Mary Notebooks; a page on the Annunciation . If not today, then tomorrow.

No, this doesn't look like school. No, there is not a lot of schoolwork happening. But there is a lot of learning, a lot of unschooling, of planned unschooling on purpose going on.

And nice-ness.