Tuesday, September 30, 2008

When I'm 64!

Know that Beatles song?

The refrain keeps going, on and on and on, through my head.

My kids would tell you, in jest, that I'm not far off 64! Hah!

But I am wondering about growing older. About life in the future. About what I want to be like and what I don 't want to be.

About facing life without kids.

The Who sang I hope I die before I get old.

And now they are old. Or dead.

For those of The Who still alive, is life what they thought it would be?
Better? Worse? Just different?

My grandmother used to say I hope I die at Christmas and ruin it all for you!

Well, I certainly don 't want to do that! lol!

But I do know that who I am, how I will live will reflect some of the choices that I make now, in my late forties.

Scary, huh?

The saints are the sinners who keep on going. Robert Louis Stevenson

Maybe. Maybe you have to just keep on going, in prayer and love and doing what is right.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Dr Who party

..for the last episode of of Dr Who in this series.

Sob. I am sad. Very sad.

I won't give spoilers but if you mised Sunday's epiosde, go and buy the DVD. NOW.

Devil's Food Cake

For today's feast. The Feast of the Archangels. St Michael. St Gabriel. St Raphael.
Anthony made the cake. I iced it.
We loved this line ~
St. Michael, who didst drive from Heaven Lucifer and his rebel crew, pray for us.

St Anthony Academy

St Anthony Academy. The official name of our unschooling homeschool.

And the name of my new blog.

It is an account of our days. A list of what we do, educationally.

For the state. For us. For anyone interested in what our homeschool looks like, nuts and bolts, the nitty gritty.

And because I have become increasingly bad at keeping that paper trail, that log for the Board of Studies. This way, our log is online.
I hope.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Bare Minimum? The Messy Side of Learning?

What is the bare minimum in homeschooling/unschooling?

What do you think is the "bare minimum" you need to cover in your homeschool?

I am thinking about this, because of a blog post I read ~ at yarns of the heart. And because of a discussion ~ at the 4 Real Learning forum.

I am not yet sure of our bare minimum.

However, I have a leaning towards our minimum being books, or books/movies/music/living the liturgical year , just because these have been so important for our family.

Last week, Anthony ( recently turned 13) was sitting in the family room reading James Thurber and sharing with us bits of Thurber's dry, sardonic, satirical humour humour.

A visitor didn’t get the nuances – I realised that all the reading Anthony has done and all the movies he has seen and all the talking we have done have helped him develop a cultural literacy.

I tend to think that we live in a rich environment, are involved in our parish and community and so a lot of learning just happens - I don't need to put many things on my bare minimum list.

Things like literature, discussion, film and media, current events, art, music, computer, history, work education, food and technology....These things just kind of happen....and science and languages for Alexander...

Maybe, too, it depends on the child and his needs and age?

Perhaps just living in a rich, book and faith filled environment is my bare minimum.

And then we go from there, adding and adjusting and deleting things as it seems right for each child.

You know, as much as we might like to think that learning happens in a linear fashion, that if we do abc then xyz will happen, well, reality has shown me that learning is messy. It is haphazard. It is one step ahead, two steps back.

A bit like a toddler learning to walk.

Classical education, by its usual neo-classical definition, tends to be structured and orderly. Yet the child still learns in his own way, picking up bits here and there, needing review or forging ahead, finding a passion or just ticking a box...

The messiness of learning is where unschooling comes in - going with that educational flow.

The claim is that if educators invested a fraction of the energy on stimulating the students' enjoyment of learning that they now spend in trying to transmit information we could achieve much better results. Literacy, numeracy, or indeed any other subject matter will be mastered more readily and more thoroughly when the student becomes able to derive intrinsic rewards from learning. At present, however, lamentably few students would recognize the idea that learning can be enjoyable.

When people enjoy whatever they are doing, they report some characteristic experiential states that distinguish the enjoyable moment from the rest of life. The same dimensions are reported in the context of enjoying chess, climbing mountains, playing with babies, reading a book, or writing a poem. They are the same for young and old, male and female, American or Japanese, rich or poor. In other words, the phenomenology of enjoyment seems to be a panhuman constant. When all the characteristics are present, we call this state of consciousness a flow experience, because many of the respondents reported that when what they were doing was especially enjoyable it felt like being carried away by a current, like being in a
flow.THOUGHTS ABOUT EDUCATION Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Classical in content, unschooling in practice?

...discovered that these children absorbed information mainly by “doing nothing, observing, having conversations, exploring, and through self-directed learning”. They liken the “chaotic nature” of informal learning to the process that leads to scientific breakthroughs, the early stages of crafting a novel, coming up with a solution to a technical problem, or the act of composing music.

“Its products are often intangible, its processes obscure, its progress piecemeal,” they say. “There are false starts, unrelated bits and pieces picked up, interests followed and discarded, sometimes to be taken up again, sometimes not… Yet the chaotic nature of the informal curriculum does not appear to be a barrier to children organising it into a coherent body of knowledge.

Thomas and Pattison acknowledge that critics will say home-educated children are likely to pick up information peppered with misunderstandings or inaccuracies, and parents may unwittingly pass on their own misconceptions. “Yet the lack of information quality-control does not appear to lead to muddled, confused children,” they say.

“In some ways, it may be an advantage because, rather than presenting knowledge in neat packages, the informal curriculum forces learners to become actively engaged with their information - to work with it, move it around, juggle ideas and resolve contradictions… It is not a static thing contained in a series of educational folders. It is alive and dynamic".How Children Learn At Home

Science Experiments

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Turbo Jam Kickin' Core

A super workout for yesterday - I forgot how much I love the music in that workout, simply because I've been so focused on puke-in-the-bucket workouts that I FORGET to get into my fun but effective workouts. The ones that work but with great music.

I think there's room for both sorts of workouts in my regime.

And, to be truthful, kickboxing like Taebo and Turbo Jam have played the biggest exercise role in my weight loss, helped to (kinda) reshape my body.
Kickin' Core has some nice hip hop, old school. It has some dance, shake what your mamma gave you moves. It has powerful kicks, punches and capoeira. And it is good for the core and those obliques - boy, do I need that.

About 45 minutes long, although I sometimes do just the cardio and then double up on a favourite section or on the turbo ( the anerobic drill).
Have you Turbo'd today? :-)

More from Leonie Martin

From that book mentioned in the post God Made the Violet Too.

As the years passed, it became evident that the most salient feature of Leonie's moral character was the virtue of religion. Her love for Holy Mother Church expressed itself in the most profound respect for the representatives of the Church...All ecclesiastics were the object of her veneration and she prayed often for them...

Not a bad idea for the rest of us, huh?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Yet Another Recipe

Woo hoo! I am turning into a super housewife ~ some one wants the cake recipe, too!

Queen of Sheba cake

250g ( half a pound)dark chocolate, chopped

1505 (2/3 cup) caster sugar

150g unsalted butter ( about 5 ounces)

1 tablespoon brandy

1 tablesppon freshly brewed coffee

125g ( one quarter of a pound) of ground almonds

5 eggs, separated

Topping - 200g dark chocolate chopped, 60g unsalted butter, chopped

Combine chocolate, sugar, butter, brandy, coffee in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until chocolate melted and mixture smooth, stir in ground almonds. Whisk in egg yolks, one at a time, until well combined.

Beat egg whites until firm. Fold into chocolate mixture. Spoon into a greased 20 cm ( 8inch) square tin then bake in a moderate oven 45-50 minutes until cake is firm to touch but still soft in the centre. Cool.

For the topping, combine chocolate and butter in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir occasionally until smooth. Cool for 15-20 minutes or until thickened, then pour over cake. Stand at room temperature until set. Refrigerate.


Leonie. The sister of St Therese of the Child Jesus.

An internet friend sent me a copy of the book God Made the Violet Too, a life of Leonie. Thank you, you know who who are! Very generous!

Ever since reading The Story of a Family, when pregnant with youngest son Anthony, I have been interested in Leonie.

The Story of a Family tells of the Martin family, parents of St Therese. Zelie and Louis Martin will be canonized in October.

Leonie was a difficult child, and struggled with religious life as an adult, entering and leaving and re-entering the convent several times..

I have been called a difficult child ( even a wild child, as an adult!) so I definitely have a soft spot for my namesake.

Leonie's mother, Zelie Martin, wrote of child raising and of raising a child that seems more wayward than others. She wrote ~ Brutality never reformed anyone; it only makes slaves.

Wow. I agree. The importance of love and of free will and of guidance, not of physical punishment.

I can see I am going to enjoy this book - I've read about one quarter of it so far...

The Queen of Sheba

Really, the Queen of Sheba cake.

Thomas made this yesterday, for a friend's birthday. It is a flourless, dark chocolate cake. Very rich but very yummy.

Happy birthday Chris S.!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wow. Homeschoolers are versatile.

Why do I say that?

Well, here I am, almost 11 pm. I am reflecting on our day and jotting down notes in my homeschool log.

French class at our house with other homeschoolers. I write in the log.

Sounds innocent and easy.

But it doesn't describe the jokes, the smiles, the game of guns, the mums chatting, the morning tea....All of this is part of pre and post French.

Plus, we still have to find another teacher. So I am busily, industriously, hopelessly trying to teach French via a book. Me, who has no talent for languages.

Not good!

But Thomas must be learning something. He kept inserting French words into our family dinner and discussion and TV watching, after Mass tonight.

We versatile homeschoolers!

Monday, September 22, 2008

On prayer

Stealing this quote from Maria and, of course, from Pope Benedict XVI.

God's love can only unleash its power when it is allowed to change us from within. We have to let it break through the hard crust of our indifference, our spiritual weariness, our blind conformity to the spirit of this age. Only then can we let it ignite our imagination and shape our deepest desires. That is why prayer is so important: daily prayer, private prayer in the quiet of our hearts and before the Blessed Sacrament, and liturgical prayer in the heart of the Church.
– Pope Benedict XVI

That Korean Beef Recipe

From the post on the Korean Martyrs.

Maria asked for the recipe. Well, here it is, very much adapted from the Women's Weekly Asian Dinner Party Cookbook.

Very much adapted because that is how I cook. Slap dash. Delete something here. Add something there.

Surprisingly, this Korean Beef still turned out well. A sweet but not sticky sweet sauce. Delish.

We had it with rice and with Chinese noodles.

1kg ( about 2 lbs) of steak, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon sesame seeds ( I didn't have any so left these out - but they would make an authentic addition!)
6 green shallots, finely chopped
1/2 red and1/2 green capsicum ( pepper), sliced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger ( I couldn't be bothered to grate the ginger so just chopped it up)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons sherry

Brown the sesame seeds, if using, in a frypan. Combine all the other ingredients. Marinate for a couple of hours ( I left out the marinate for a couple of hours step, as I only started cooking this at 8.00 p.m. I marinated for, like, 10 minutes. lol!).

Heat a tablespoon of peanut oil in a frypan or work. Add all other ingredients and stir fry until steak is cooked.

That is it. Simple as - especially if you follow my cheat's version.

EVERYONE in the family ate it and liked it. That is amazing!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mummy Porn

I don't think I am guilty of mommy porn.
Of writing glibly of days with the kids, the family, of homeschooling, of Catholicism, as though it all fits together. Always. No doubts, schisms, fights, despair.

I try to make this blog real and not a form of fantasy, nor a form of life porn.

I blog to share with friends, family, new friends, people I will never meet..to share the ins and outs of life.

I blog for myself.

I share some intimacies, some secrets but not others.

There are few guidelines as to which secrets I will choose to share and which others I will hide. Privacy of other individuals, of course, is important to me and the protection of this privacy is one of my guidelines.

Is sharing some intimaces, some secrets, a method of encouraging blogging voyeurism? Again, I hope not.

I hope, instead, to help others, in the sense that being real helps others.

Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing. Rollo May

And blogging helps me. I think and find solutions while writing. While blogging.

Writing about an idea frees me of it. Thinking about it is a circle of repetitions. Mason Cooley

Or read George Orwell on Why I Write ~

..I do not think one can assess a writer's motives without knowing something of his early development. His subject matter will be determined by the age he lives in -- at least this is true in tumultuous, revolutionary ages like our own -- but before he ever begins to write he will have acquired an emotional attitude from which he will never completely escape. It is his job, no doubt, to discipline his temperament and avoid getting stuck at some immature stage, in some perverse mood; but if he escapes from his early influences altogether, he will have killed his impulse to write. Putting aside the need to earn a living, I think there are four great motives for writing, at any rate for writing prose. They exist in different degrees in every writer, and in any one writer the proportions will vary from time to time, according to the atmosphere in which he is living. They are:

1. Sheer egoism...

2. Aesthetic enthusiasm...

3. Historical impulse...

4. Political purpose ...

I hope my blogging is not mummy porn, blogging voyeurism or sheer egoism.

I think I blog, I write, for historical impulse - writing things down for prosperity. For memories.To keep in touch with others.

For aesthetic considerations - I like to write, to mess about with words, to have some fun in sharing ideas and activities and humour with others, to play with writing little aphorisms.
For political purpose - okay, I am laughing at myself here but, perhaps, mildy, in a tiny way, like a mustard seed, my blogging on homeschooling, on education, on our Faith, on body image, on parenting, on being a woman/wife/mother today will help not only me but also another.

And, unlike those perfect superstar working mums ( dang, I want their bodies!) , unlike those darling, sweet, nurturing, ( always inspiring to me) other homeschool blogging mums , I do not have it all together. Sometimes, I have many things together, juggle many balls at once , and I do this kinda well. Other times I can't even get one thing together.

Mostly, our life is a mish mash of activities, of life and liturgy and learning. And this is what I aim to share when blogging.

Not mummy porn.

The Korean Martyrs

We read about the Korean Martyrs.

The Korean Martyrs were the victims of religious persecution against the Roman Catholic Church during the 19th century in Korea. At least 8,000 adherents to the faith were known to have been killed during this persecution, 103 of whom were canonized en masse in 1984.

I made Korean Beef . Yum! This recipe is a keeper.

And I had a very relaxing day. Met a friend for breakfast ( fruit and nut bread) at Borders. Did some shopping, had my nails done ( mauve/purple). Met dh for lunch (lentil soup) at Coffee Club. Had a woman at the nail salon make a pass at my dh. Truly!
Then home for a workout, housework, laundry. Put up some posters at church. Thought about going to Confession, but didn't. Had a cup of tea with friends. Watched Alias.

Do you think my life revolves around food, conversation, workouts, DVDs? Sometimes I think it does..Well, I do homeschool, too, and work for Kumon and do volunteer stuff for homeschooling/Kumon/our parish.

Really. I do.

It is not all about food and talking and being social!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

On modest dress

Don't worry, I'm not going to be Jansenistic here ( is that even a word?? ).

Neither am I going on a rant, nor off on a tangent about who should define modest dress, dress for Mass, what I wear as a woman.

Or on why statutes on modest dress are (nearly) always addressed to women and rarely to men. How it is assumed that men will have little or no self control. How revealing clothing is seen as a source of temptation for most men.

Now, I am not advocating wearing revealing clothing to Mass. But I am advocating teaching the virtue of self control - yes, self control in dress ( I have a couple of very short skirts that I wouldn't wear to Mass, for example - I wear my more temperate short skirts to church. lol!).

And teaching self control also in lust, in desires. It is not always the dress that is immodest, but sometimes the hearts of those who look upon it.

But this is not a diatribe, remember. Just a few words on modesty, since this issue has come up, again, on email lists.

The few words?

Well, I agree with ~ And Sometimes Tea ~

We'll just agree to say, "We should dress modestly," and leave the details up to the individual properly-formed conscience, the person's spiritual adviser, and the person's spouse/mother/other close friend who can be trusted to tell the person if he/she is venturing out dressed like a gigolo/tart.

Maybe. On that last bit.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Glimpses of our day, yesterday..
Cooking. Science experiments. French class. Catholic Homschoolers Group.
And today I feel blah, been feeling blah about myself most of the week really. Seasonal changes? Hormones? Lack of sleep? Venial sin?
Probably all of the above.
I'm praying. Of course.
Going to Mass.
And simply, basically, with-no-exceptions Just Deciding to Keep On Keeping On, doing what I normally do ~ but with that extra smile. I find that, if I make myself smile, the smile starts to spread.
I'm also choosing happy workouts to do - workouts that make me feel plain good and energetic. Make me smile even more.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Intuitive Eating

From the book ~

Honour Your Feelings Without Using Food Find ways to comfort , nurture, distract, and resolve your issues without using food. Anxiety, loneliness, boredom, anger are emotions we all experience throughout life. Each has its own trigger, and each has its own appeasement. Food won't fix any of these feelings. It may comfort for the short term, distract from the pain, or even numb you into a food hangover. But food won't solve the problem. If anything, eating for an emotional hunger will only make you feel worse in the long run. You'll ultimately have to deal with the source of the emotion, as well as the discomfort of overeating.

Ten Principles of Intuitive Eating ~

1. Reject the Diet Mentality

2. Honour Your Hunger

3. Make Peace with Food

4. Challenge the Food Police

5. Respect Your Fullness

6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor

7. Honour Your Feelings Without Using Food

8. Respect Your Body

9. Exercise--Feel the Difference

10 Honour Your Health

Monday, September 15, 2008

I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do

A paraphrase of St Paul.
Feeling blah today about my behaviour. My mouth that runs away from me.

So, what do I do?

Well, go to mass this morning, for Our Lady of Sorrows.

That is a good thing.

And then while doing work and home and homeschool things, I eat. I snack. Too much.

I turn to food when sad or upset.
Sick, huh?

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


We made these gemmed ( with glitter) cardboard crosses today, for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Gonna use them as placecards for dinner ~a belated Father's Day dinner for Gerry.

Oh, and I also made a cheesecake for Friday - dh's return and the feast of the Holy Name of Mary...I try to do something special or different for some of the feast days each month...unschooling, er, living the liturgical year.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Today is the feast of St John Chrysostom.

A saint our family always remembers, because we have a humorous connection with this saint, his name and a friend from long ago.

And because I like his thoughts on prayer ~ It is possible to offer frequent and fervent prayer even at the market place or strolling alone. It is possible also in your place of business, while buying or selling, or even while cooking.

Today some of us went to Confession, the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Reading some of St Teresa of Avila this afternoon, I found this apt quote. It describes how I felt after Confession and while praying ~ It constantly happens that the Lord permits a soul to fall so that it may grow humbler. When it is honest, and realizes what it has done, and returns, it makes ever- increasing progress in our Lord's service.

Okay, I don't know about making ever-increasing progress in our Lord's service but at least the intent is there. That prayerful feeling after Confession.

If only I can remember to THINK ~ think BEFORE I speak or act.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Holy Name of Mary

After my workout this morning, I talked to the kids about today's feast.

This day became a universal feast on Sept 12, 1683, as thanks for the victory over the Turks who beseiged Vienna and threatened Christianity.
The feast recalls the significance of Mary ~
"Let me say something concerning this name also, which is interpreted to mean Star of the sea, and admirably suits the Virgin Mother." [St. Bernard +1153]

Went to Mass, kids went on a homeschool walk in the Cumberland Forest and I went to a funeral. We all met up again and with homeschool friends went to Castle Towers food hall for lunch.
Where Alexander and a couple of homeschool friends worked on another homeschooler's Chemistry assignment.

See, unschoolers actually do schoolwork ~ even in food halls and over lunch!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

If you don't require any schoolwork, will teens do school stuff?

This question has come up recently, in different forms and in different situations.

When asked about homeschooling by another.

When quizzed by a teacher and a teacher trainee.

On an email list.

I see that teens, if given time to breathe and explore, well, explore within boundaries; if given a healthy, well, healthy as relationship with their family; if given an interesting home life and environment; if surrounded by prayer ( I pray for my teens daily..) ; well, I see that teens do grow and mature and start to look at themselves and at learning.

At Who They Are and Who They Want To Be.

At goals and careers and futures.

At interests and work, be it part time work or volunteer work.

For example.

Anthony ( just turned 13) and Thomas (15) are writing novels. Now, I don’t ask them to do this and they definitely go through stages of writing and of not writing but of playing computer games instead –however, this writing is something they have taken up on their own.

They like reading. They like writing. The two seem to go together for them, like fish and chips, like Jeeves and Wooster, like Abba and pop music, like gin and tonic, to create the writer's urge.

Anthony is reading a book on Ancient Egyptian Literature and someone recently asked me if Anthony was studying Ancient Egypt in homeschooling this year. No. He became interested because older brother Greg is learning Ancient Sumerian. As a hobby. And I think Anthony is more interested because this study is not a school requirement or a subject, he is free to pick and learn things without me making them schooly.

Of course, he has days and days of just reading Battlestar Galactica comics, too!

Thomas is reading Dickens' David Copperfield. We discuss the characters and Dickens' distinct writing style. We talk about romance and the ridiculously funny things David will do to attract Dora's attention.

Dickens seems hard reading, sometimes, perhaps, when assigned and pondered. It is, however, interesting for Thomas, interesting in a others-have-said-this-is-good so-I'll-try-it-for-myself way.

Alexander has chosen to study Discrete Mathematics at Open University this semester, again a choice prompted by curiousity and love, and piqued by interest. He is not being pushed to pursue a career in Mathematics, he only turned 17 in July and is studying subjects of choice at university, before picking a (possible) major.

An unschooling, liberal arts education.

Not required but inspired.

And such an education amidst comic books, Singstar, music video clips, Dr Who, Battlestar Galactica, movies, foam dart guns, video and computer games, pop art and pop culture, chores and helping out, helping others.

Amidst our prayers and faith; amidst our ever failing striving for virtue.

But we strive.

And the teens do choose schooly stuff, education. Living.

....Enough philosophy.... Must get off the computer and cook dinner...Just home from work and haven't even thought about dinner...Too busy pondering the philosophy of education...And blogging.

Will mums cook dinner if not required to do so? Perhaps that should be the question?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

How To Waste Time

Yesterday, I negelected to do everything on my time plan, my to do list.

Yes, I was tired and I did go to bed earlier than usual - about 11.20 p.m.

But I also successfully wasted time at clairol.com. You upload your photo and try on different hair styles and hair colours.

And, yes, they have a section for men, too.

The kids and I had a screamingly funny time, playing around with my hair and colour.

Dang, I always wanted to be blonde but the blonde hair swatches just didn't fit my (old and wrinkly) face...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

What are you doing today?

What are you doing today?

I love to hear about the lives of other unschoolers. It's motivating and reassurring! :-)

I even have a time plan for today!

I'll never stick with it of course!

7 am Up, tidy, my morning novena, laundry - about to start laundry now, already running late!

7.30 Workout, kids get up and make beds, dress, eat, play computer

8.30 Breakfast etc Tidy Dress Org for French class Read about today's saint - St Peter Claver

9.30 French class my house with other hsers. Morning tea, chat and play with friends

11.00 Go to parish office to help move furniture etc Say family morning prayers in the car on the way

12.00 Lunch with an older lady I met in hospital. Kids come along too - to the Bagel Shop - and they/we also go to the library/shops

2.30 Buy bread for St Anthony Mass, take Alexander to work at Kumon

3.00 Home - do my Kumon business work, kids fold junk mail for delivery then read and hang out or work on models and games, do laundry, phone or email or text some people to say hi now we've returned from NZ, phone a lady from church who is having some difficulties

6.00 Pick up Alexander from work , quick tidy up at home

6.30 Mass

8.00 Cook dinner - Greek Egg Fries

Evening - talk to dh on the phone, he is away for work, watch a Battlestar Galactica with the kids, do some of my Kumon Maths study, hs log, text people about work meetings tomorrow, spend 10 mins organising a talk on Padre Pio for Catholic homeschoolers next week, spend 10 mins on some work emails and do internet banking, prayers. Kids will clean up and we will all go to bed too late, knowing us!

That's my plan. I know the reality will be different.

Monday, September 08, 2008

September 8

The Nativity of Our Lady.

Anthony served at Mass, a Mass most of us couldn't attend as we were at work.

Thomas made two birthday cakes - okay, they were packet mixes from our store cupboard but that is okay. Except Thomas forgot to pay attention and put the ready made frosting not on one of the cooked cakes but in the raw cake. Baked it anyway and, from all reports, it resulted in a moist and yummy cake....I wouldn't know. I put on one kg ( 2lbs) while away in New Zealand so am really working out hard and watching what I eat.

Those darn delicious Auckland Hilton Hotel cocktails!

Friday, September 05, 2008


We write or draw New Zealand in our journals, in our apartment, while on holiday.

Homeschooling on holiday? Yes, it is all life.

Each time we go away, or over a holiday season, the kids and I pack either our general journals or our nature journals. We paste things in. We add a few lines. A quote. A sketch. Anything that seems appropriate for us to remember our time.

And we re-read and share and laugh or ruminate over old entries.

Education in a journal.

Excerpted from Wild Days: Creating Discovery Journals by Karen Skidmore Rackliffe.
There are many kinds of journals, as there are many journeys in life.... Journals are a place to remember thoughts, ideas, images, dreams, events, developments, musings and hopes. Discoveries are flashes of thought that make the world seem somehow brighter, more beautiful, interesting, or bizarre.

A discovery journal places moments of insights together, page upon page, building connections between seasons and years. It is a record of days, a bringing together of scattered experience into a meaningful whole.

A discovery journal...is a book you write yourself about anything that has importance to you. You make all the rules, and you can change them anyway you want.

There are many names for these personal books. I like the word journal because it implies a journey, a beginning and a destination, with turning points along the way. I like to imagine my life as a journey, finding my way one step at a time.

Blogging in New Zealand

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Waitomo Caves

Drove three hours to the caves, enjoying the NZ scenery along the way. Well, sort of. Long story...

Had to take the McDonalds pic ! Like many of the homes here, even the McDs are built not of brick but of wood or weatherboard. The food was yucky though ~ had a ham salad sandwich from the McCafe and it had mayonnaise. Lots of it. I skipped lunch...

The caves were awesome - the glowworms, the structures, the boat trip in the dark, the two hour caving walking trek after

The guide asked our group to sing in a cave cathedral structure, to hear the acoustics. No one would sing ~ among strangers, I guess. So, I sang Abba and Jonathon joined in.


Sydney Tower

We went there last Friday with Homeschool Teen Group. My friend Chris put up pics of me doing a ferris Bueller at the glass. THANKS, Chris! lol!

Nieuw Zeeland

Named after the Dutch province of Zeeland.

We are in NZ. I am here for a Kumon Vision Conference. I am speaking at the conference on Saturday...and lost my speech that I had saved on the computer! But it is okay, Kumon had saved a copy...

Since work paid for me to be here, I paid for dh and the younger four to accompany me. We have a few days together before I go to the conference. Poor Luke is alone at home with Belle the cat. But I have a feeling he will appreciate the quieter house...

Pics from yesterday, flying to Auckland. The family left early and I had two and one half hours alone at the airport. Iit's okay, I didn't eat M & Ms! Instead, I sat at Starbucks, had a skim Chai Latte and made Kumon phone calls and texts and emails to parents. And got so involved in work that I almost missed my flight. Oh, dear.

Met a couple of really interesting people on the plane ~ a real estate agent from Auckland and a man from kellyville, where I live. He goes to St Michael's Catholic Church and was interested in Kumon because his daughter struggles with maths. It's a small world!

Last night, we walked around the harbour area of Auckland. Very attractive, even if a tad cold. Had dinner at an Italian bistro near the harbour. Surfed the net. Did 60 push ups and 160 ab exercises, among other exercises. Took my Clexane injection to prevent blood clots from flying.And stayed up way too late, watching Battlestar Galactica.

Who are the final five cyclons??

Today is the feast of St Gregory the Great, my son Greg's name day. I'm texting and emailing him.

We are off to Waitomo Caves.