Friday, October 31, 2008

Everybody's Talking 'Bout Me...

Who sang that song? Not sure. But it ran through my mind today..
There was a really embarrassing situation at homeschool ice skating . Several of us were sitting at a long conglomeration of tables, talking while kids were skating. Talking in small groups, or in twos and threes. I was perusing another mum's book on organisation for homeschooling mothers when I overheard a conversation.
Two of the ladies were talking about me. I presume they thought I couldn't hear. I heard bits about the clothes I wear and the things I say. Not favourable bits.
Hey, here is what I wore today, to mass, to skating, to grocery shopping..Not so weird or immodest....
Anyway, I heard only snippets. I tried not to listen. The ladies concluded that I had different values to their values. Again in a not favourable way.
Oh dear. Oh well.
You can't please everyone all the time, can you? And if you are friendly, talk to everyone and anyone, an extrovert and one who organises homeschool events, you tend to be a litle more out there than most. And thus more open to criticism.
I tried not to eavesdrop. I pretended I hadn't heard those snippets that I did hear. I read my book. I talked to a new homeschooler and later to my closer friends.
And talked to the kids tonight about gossip and judging others. Turning this experience into a learning experience.
For us all.

Those Sweet Recipes

For those who asked!

Coconut Ice

Combine 1 can condensed milk, 3 1/3 cups icing sugar, 4 1/4 cups desicated coconut. Mix well. Mixture is dry. Divide the mixture in half. Press half in the base of a small slab tin that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Colour the rest with a few drops of cochineal or red food colouring. Press the pink mixture over the white slab. Chill until firm. Cut into squares.

My Grandmother's Toffee

250g butter, 2 cups sugar, 2 cans condensed milk.

Melt butter, add sugar and condensed milk. Boil slowly, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon for about 20 - 25 minutes. Mixture will thicken and turn a golden brown colour. Toffee is ready when it reaches the small ball stage ~ a small amount of mixture is dropped into a glass of cold water, if it forms a ball it is ready. Pour into a slab tin that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Chill until firm. Cut into squares.

All I can say is YUM!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What do homeschooling mums do at ten p.m.?

At ten p.m.?

Come home from work and a women's group at church. Eat a bowl of lentil soup from the crockpot for a very late dinner, soup that she put on earlier in the day. Play loud music , dance, text friends re Dr Who ( sob! David Tennant is giving up!). And start making sweets with youngest son. Sweets for All Hallows Eve ( Halloween) tomorrow. Coconut ice and my Grandmother's Caramel Toffee.

Then blog about it at eleven p.m. All in honour of Halloween. Paper chains included.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Of Saints and Other Things

Saturday was the feast of St Crispin. We read a little of this martyr but what struck us the most ( me the most) was how his name sounds so edible! We went through a list of all the yummy, crispy foods we like- including Nestle Crunch. I am not a big chocolate fan, usually like dark chocolate but I do have a soft spot for the milk chocolate and rice bubbles in Crunch.

Oh, and we were a bit more literate than that! Looked up St Crispin's Day today, the Battle of Agincourt, and read the St Crispin's Day speech from Shakespeare's Henry V.

Also, today is St Simon and St Jude . Anthony is named after St Jude, Jude of the New Testament - Anthony's full name is Anthony Michael Jude...

And we are planning some fun for this week's feast of All Hallow's Eve ( Halloween), All Saints and All Souls. You can check out the links in our blogs in the sidebar. Homemade sweets and paper chains, orange and black, for Halloween. A special dinner and the Litany of All Saints for Saturday. And Mass.

Mass and prayers for souls, and the De Profundus, and Soul Cakes for Sunday.....

Our centrepiece above is a votive candle, rosary beads, roses from the garden. You can also see the flowers, again from our garden, near our Bible and missals and small icons of Our Lady...and near dh's ships....and two of our crucifixes, placed on the wall.

I have been hesistant to add items to our wall. We rent. I've felt we may move. Then, slowly, gradually, over the last two years, I have added prints. Photographs. And now crucifixes. The longer we stay here * nearly 3 1/2 years now * the longer it looks like we are staying.

Freaky to stay in one house and in one area for such a long time.

A new experience for me.

I don't really know how to live anywhere long term, how to stay friends long term without having to resort to email and blogs to keep in touch...

That crucifix, by the way, the San Damiano Cross , is the one St. Francis was praying before when he received his commission from the Lord . It is the very first crucifix I ever bought, before I was even Catholic. Pregnant with son number five, Alexander, suffering many health problems, being sent to hospital and bed rest, being told I and the unborn child may die, being told not to have any more children, with all these things heavy on my mind, I called into a little Catholic bookstore on my way to hospital. I spied the San Damiano crucifix - although I didn't know that was its title. I liked the art, icon-ish. I liked the colours. I bought the crucifix and kept it next to my bedside in hospital.

Alexander is now seventeen, so that crucifix is more than seventeen years old. And it is memory-ridden.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008


What to do when one is physically tired?

The simple answer is sleep.

Yet it is not a simple answer, really. I have absolutely zero trouble getting to sleep but I darn well cannot STAY asleep. I cannot go back to sleep when I awaken, as I do, during the night, with thoughts swirling in my head.

This makes me so tired.

Today, after a a usual busy day, and a hard weights workout ( high rep low weight - 3kg or 7lbs), well, I find my hamstrings sore and my body tired.

A happy tired, though. It was a run, run, run day but a fun one - Mass, surfing with the kids at Manly, sit in the sun and talk, lots ( lots!) of driving, errands, pick up and drop off, go to the school fete, laundry and cleaning at home, phone calls and emails to make for work and parish and teen group stuff..Many other things on the dreaded To Do List were left untouched... But, not, course, the DVD to watch! Or the homeschool log/blog to do...

A pleasant exhaustion. I love homeschooling, I love my work and my volunteer work, my blogging and technology and connections, my dh, my friends, my life...

Now, if only I can have a good night's sleep! St Peter Damian, pray for us!

N.B. St Peter Damian is often invoked for insomnia. He was a Benedictine, a Doctor of the Church, and his health suffered at one time, due to lack of sleep. He often replaced sleep with prayer.
ETA ~ Friday night, last night, I managed nearly a full six hours of sleep! Woo hoo! I feel like a new woman!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Few of Our Morning Things...

Anthony's lego creations, all over the sitting room...

The same sitting room, now tidy, with teaset out, for the Women's Group this evening. Got everything neat before work this afternoon...

The THINK Challenge ~ Place the following materials on the table: 12 straws 30 cm of tape scissors (these may not be used in the solution) an egg (raw or hard-boiled although raw is more fun). The challenge is to build a structure that will support the egg and keep it at least 3 cm above the surface of the table. You may not tape anything to the table or the egg. You may not use any materials besides those listed above.
Me ~ in the kitchen, organising a litany of things-to-do before we leave for work and after a typically busy morning..Thomas snapped the pic - bossy Mum in action!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Daybook Again

As suggested by Peggy. Want to participate, too?

I know I hardly am a simple woman or lead a simple life, but I like the idea of a daybook, occasionally, as a scrapbook of memories , a litany of what is happening.
Outside my Window... Rain. Isn't it lovely - we really need this rain! I loved hearing the rain during the night and now I love seeing the rain on the leaves of the plants outside the dining room window.
I am thinking... Thinking about watching what I eat and getting back into a regular routine of healthy meals. No mindless eating. No emotional eating. Less alcohol.
From the learning rooms...I've just made Thomas unhappy by asking him to do some Maths. "We are doing schoolwork today?" he asked, incredulously.. Yes. I am failing at unschooling...
I am thankful workouts. They keep me sane, they keep me fit, they help me learn about myself, they make me happy. As Billy Blanks says, in one of his Taebo workouts, Learn something about yourself. Squeeze your butt! That line always cracks me up.
From the kitchen..Alexander just made me toast and Vegemite for breakfast. And Anthony just brought me a cup of tea with skim milk. Aren't they sweet? And we've been cooking ~ on Monday Thomas and Anthony did some baking; for dinner after work I made pasta and tomato sauce. Last night I made pea soup. Today, I'm cooking lunch - maybe some homemade quiches and homemade sausage rolls. Just call me Martha Stewart from now on!
I am wearing.. workout clothes. My standard morning apparel.
I am reading..Run by Ann Patchett; The Do-able Diet by Barbara Wimhurst; Secrets of a Former Fat Girl by Lisa Delaney.
I am hoping.. that everything goes well for Luke, as he moves back to Adelaide. Relationships suck sometimes, don't they?
I am creating..Memories , I hope. For the youngest four sons in any case. ...Freedom and flexibility within the natural boundaries of our life. It’s like the whole world is open to us and we pick and choose from the buffet. ...Like yesterday. After French class at our house, the kids played with foam dart guns and we mums talked and talked. And then ended up at Mc Donalds for lunch altogether. So, French class becomes French day – from 9.30 – 2.30 when we had to go our separate ways for different activities/have tos.If we were more structured, we wouldn’t feel the freedom to just drop everything and hang out, as we did yesterday. Yet, I see a real value in the kids building connections together and in creating memories and in valuing the freedom of childhood and of the teen years.
I am hearing.. Jonathon playing the guitar in the sitting room, playing and singing a song he wrote..And the hum of the dryer from the laundry..And Anthony's pen scratching on paper while he works on Kumon Maths ( Thomas hasn't started Maths. He's on the computer, playing games).
Around the house... We cleaned for the house inspection last week but have had many visitors ( as usual) so spend our time cleaning up, making messes, cleaning up! lol! I'm caught up on laundry. But need to vacuum again.
One of my favourite things...Today? The smell of toast cooking on a cool morning. Yum! And having people, a friar and one of the kids' friends, over today for lunch - I love having people over or catching up with people. I'm a social animal.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...Kumon work, as always. Phone women re change of venue for the womens' group at church - it's gonna be here, at my house. Surfing for the kids on Friday. Finish off the tax stuff. Clean the cars. A farewell lunch for Luke . Watch Alias and The Brady Bunch Movie!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bad Parent?

An unschooling article.

Bad Parent - Unschooling ~ Why My Kid Won't Attend School This Fall - Or Maybe Ever

The flexibility and freedom described in this article is why unschooling fits my educational philosophy. My life. Our life. Why I choose to be a small business owner, run a Kumon Education centre instead of going back to teaching, to fixed hours, while homeschooling my kids.

Spontaneity. A choose-your-own schedule. Having freedom to do many things, if we choose, not have our lives tailored by school and work schedules. Learning suited to the learner.

As we talk, I realize that Benny is not at "real" kindergarten today, because it is what suits my family at this moment. I'm not against school. Not by any means. After all, Brad and I fared pretty nicely after a regular school education. With two PhDs between us and a couple of published books, our desire to learn clearly wasn't quashed.

But un-kindergarten for us means Benny can sleep late so I can write. It means we don't have to worry about bedtimes and can go out on the town with friends any night of the week. We can go to Europe and visit my family when the flights are cheap. Un-kindergarten also means we can pick and choose how we spend our days and who we spend them with. Benny can go to free classes at the Metropolitan Museum in the week when it's less crowded. He can read a book on sharks when he feels like it. He can experiment with bungee cords while eating his breakfast at noon.

So, is unschooling bad parenting? Or is it really, really good parenting, providing a good education, a good life?
What Makes A Good or Bad Parent?

Monday, October 20, 2008


A book I am reading by Ann Patchett.

Patchett's writing has shades and echoes of Rumer Godden and of Elizabeth Goudge ~ the weaving of Catholicism, of faith, into a story; the ability to help one climb inside the head of the characters, to stay there, to relate; the hook that , both painlessly and painfully at the same time, draws you in and makes you look at your own life in the light of the story, with fresh insights and possibly more self knowledge.

A living book. A book that forces you to your knees in prayer - yes, a fiction book that reaches one's soul.

Like Godden and Goudge, Patchett writes of families and people and of relationships .

Maybe I am more sensitive to these things right now . I find I want to curl up with Patchett's book yet am also a wee bit frightened by, no not frightened but perhaps wary of, the doors the writing opens in my mind. Thoughts of family and of people.

A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man's mind can get both provocation and privacy. ~Edward P. Morgan

A good book should leave you... slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it. ~ William Styron, interview, Writers at Work, 1958

I am slightly exhausted when reading Run. Exhausted as in tired, yes, from slack of sleep, but exhausted more from being forced to examine my roles and my soul ~ oh, gosh, am I really like that?

Homeschooling mothers spend our time with our children but do we really spend this time? Or is this time frittered away?

And what about time for husbands and for friends - do we have time to move beyond the superficial? Do we want to?

A character in Run, Sullivan, talks of why he left Boston ~

I left because my father gave up on me as soon as there were those other boys, your sons, because they took his attention and his love without any effort at all.

At first thought, I felt sympathy for Sullivan as I tried to plan , to control in my mind how a parent could find time for all his children, acknowledging and accepting their differences. But then I thought of my own family and I felt sympathy for, no, not sympathy for but empathy with, the character of Doyle, Sullivan's father.

Parenting and marriage are not easy, yet they are full of joy and also of work; and we walk this line precariously,this line between being a good parent, trying not to enjoy one child more than another, between being an attentive spouse and a good mother yet still being ourselves.

A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul. ~ Franz Kafka

As a good homeschooling mother, as a Catholic wife, woman and mother, I read and absorb and make little mental notes on my behaviour. For, if family is not my main role,my main job, what else could be?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

St Peter of Alcantara

Today is his feast day. He lived 1499-1562

Hey, I only read about this priest last Thursday night, after a woman's group, and after reading about St Teresa of Avila!

St Peter was a Franciscan. He knew and supported St Teresa of Avila, being her spiritual director. He is often invoked against malignant fevers.

And today is the beatification of Lous and Zelie Martin. We prayed this prayer, especially for my friend Sabine's young son Michael, who fell into a pool and is still in ICU.

P.S. This painting is by Giovan Battista Pittoni and is in the National Gallery of Scotland, in Edinburgh. Greg, maybe you can go and see it!

Do I need this t shirt?

No, wait, I'll buy it for the boys!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

txtn wen sleepn

Well, at least I'm not this bad, as bad as the link below, ~ yet!

After a recent texting gaffe, I am relieved to find that I am not the only person who suffers from texting mistakes and humilation.

wat am i tlkn bout? Rd link blw.

Texting in your sleep?

It's okay - texting isn't all bad. In fact, it shows good acquisition of language skills. Or so says this link.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Lisa's Report Card

..for Deliberate Family Living...Want to participate? Just visit her blog for details.

Family Prayers Woo Hoo! Said the full rosary; trying to remember to pray a novena as a family..Goal - be more consistent with the Angelus.

Family Time: Pretty good - lots of hanging out time, some talking together, Singstar, DVDs, laughing. Not much family reading together but, hey, you can't have everything! Goal - smile.

Household Routines: We've had numerous visitors ( pretty usual for us) and a rental house inpspection so we've done a lot of tidying up and cleaning this week. Even Thomas and Anthony's room! We've worked well together, only one rant from me when rushed. Goal - encourage T and A to keep their room reasonable. Is it possible?

Meal Preparation: Simple meals as usual but mostly healthy. Eggs, Satay sticks. Rice casserole and pumpkin soup and cake for visitors and leftovers for us. Vegetable Fried Rice. Takeaway Sunday night and Subway lunch Thursday. . Goal - cook more and use what is on hand.

Other: Been talking more to the kids about my childhood - sometimes this is good, sometimes dredging up the past is bad....We are continuing to celebrate the liturgical year together ...Dh and I have had time to sit ....We all worked at the parish working bee and 25th celebration and had a super time!...If I could change one thing, what would that be? Maybe I'd like to live more mindfully - I get busy, forget to be in the moment and to just savour the all goes so fast. Goal - be present. Truly. Wholly. Physically and emotionally and mentally. People first. [ A tall order! ]
Thanks, Lisa, for the chance to reflect. Anyone else want to play?

On Spiritual Direction

Attended a women's group at our church last night. Our topic was prayer and we looked especially at St Teresa of Avila and prayer.

I read a bit more about this saint last night and about her spiritual director - St Peter of Alcantara.

The Church guides our souls; we all have need for spiritual direction and we receive, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, graces and guidance.

So, to a certain extent, we all have spiritual directors, receive spiritual direction.

But, are we called to have a specific spiritual director , more private guidance, in addition to this more general direction ? A director who can guide us towards perfection?

The Catholic Encyclopedia has this to say on spiritual direction ~

II. Still more frequently is spiritual direction required in the lives of Christians who aim at the attainment of perfection . All religious are obliged to do so by their profession; and many of the faithful, married and unmarried, who live amidst worldly cares aspire to such perfection as is attainable in their states of life. This striving after Christian perfection means the cultivation of certain virtues and watchfulness against faults and spiritual dangers. The knowledge of this constitutes the science of asceticism. The spiritual director must be well versed in this difficult science, as his advice is very necessary for such souls. ...

IV. Whoever the director be, he will find the principal means of progress towards perfection to consist in the exercise of prayer and mortification. But upon the special processes of these two means, spiritual guides have been led by the Holy Spirit in various directions. Different is the type for the solitary in the desert, the cenobite in the community, for a St. Louis or a Blanche of Castile in a palace, St. Frances of Rome in her family, or a St. Zita in her kitchen, for contemplative and for active religious orders and congregations.

Or for a working, homeschooling , busy mother and wife...
P.S. Can certain blogs and blogging count as spiritual direction? Wishful thinking? :-)

Thursday, October 16, 2008


A challenge from the THINK blog.

And what we did for some of the time this morning.

Use the materials below to build a car. No scissors! Then, see if you can make it roll down a ramp.

4 sheets of paper
2 pencils
2 textas
sticky tape

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Are You A Hippie?

Hmm, I always say there's a bit of a hippie in all of us......

You're Not Exactly a Hippie...

While you're not a hippie, you've got the spirit of one.

Like most hippies, you have deep beliefs and unusual interests.

You may not buy into hippie fashions, music, or heavy drug use.

But at heart, you are a free spirit and suspicious of the status quo.

Saints and Food this week...

Tomorrow - St Gerard Majella. Gerry's name day. I'm planning on buying an ice cream cake to help us celebrate this feast day . Why? Because ice cream cake is one of dh's favourite desserts.

Prayer for a Good Confession

St. Gerard, Patron of a Good Confession, who gave courage to souls whom fear and shame had overcome; who gave sorrow to their hearts, resolution to their wills, truth to their faltering lips; help me to make a good confession. Enable me to know my sins, to be truly sorry for them, and to be firmly resolved, with God's grace, never to sin again.
Help me to confess my sins humbly and sincerely, to confess them in the spirit of faith, as confessing them to Our Lord himself.
Stand by me in this confession, O gentle Saint, an angel of God sent to free me from sin. Amen

Saturday - St Luke the Evangelist, and son Luke's name day. Mass followed by pancakes for breakfast?
And no blonde moments. I promise!

Luke also has a special connection with the women in Jesus' life, especially Mary. It is only in Luke's gospel that we hear the story of the Annunciation, Mary's visit to Elizabeth including the Magnificat, the Presentation, and the story of Jesus' disappearance in Jerusalem. It is Luke that we have to thank for the Scriptural parts of the Hail Mary: "Hail Mary full of grace" spoken at the Annunciation and "Blessed are you and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus" spoken by her cousin Elizabeth. Catholics Online

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

St Teresa of Avila

One of my favourite saints. Feast day October 15.

I have found her writing to be both helpful and practical.

Our table centrepiece today is a book of quotes from St Teresa of Avila, some rosary beads, map of Portugal (ETA - Spain!) and a pic of the Portuguese ( Spanish) flag.

We shouldn't build build castles in the air. The Lord doesn't look so much at the greatness of our works, but at the love with which they are done.
And ~
Not long ago a very learned man told me that souls who do not practice prayer are like people with paralyzed or crippled bodies; even though they have hands and feet, they cannot give orders to these hands and feet.
ETA ~ I had a blonde moment and confused Portugal with Spain. They're close, right? lol! Anny has since printed out the correct map and flag....

The Weekend..

Parish working bee and twenty-fifth celebration of the opening of the Parish church ( the building, that is!).