Two feast days.

Tomorrow is the Feast of St Peter and St Paul.

Peter was the first bishop of Rome, the first Pope. He was previously a fisherman and Jesus invited Peter to follow him, “I will make you a fisher of men.”

Peter’s name was Simon but Jesus changed it to Cephas ( Peter – rock), saying “On this rock I will build my church.” Peter was the leader of the apostles.

Pauls’ original name was Saul and he was Jewish. However, because he was born in Tarsus, he was also a Roman citizen with the Roman name of Paul .

Paul has been called the apostle of the Gentiles because he preached the Gospel to those people who were not Jewish. This mission took him across the then known world and, in the New Testament, we can read many of Paul’s letters to the newly formed local churches in various areas of the world .

In Hungary, bread is often blessed after Mass on this feast day. I think tomorrow will be a perfect opportunity for us to bake some bread – perhaps we’ll try a specialty bread recipe, like this Apple Raisin Bread. Fruit breads are low on the GI index!

The Catholic Culture site also suggests making Apostle Cookies on this day. We’ll stick to the healthier bread I think!

Saturday’s feast is the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. Suggested activities include making ( or buying) a torte or Name Day cake – and eating it, of course! And praying the Litany of the Saints.

Perhaps you will join us in making bread or eating cake in honour of these feast days? 🙂

The feast of St John the Baptist

..And Christmas in June! Well, Christmas pudding and custard and ice cream, that is.

John the Baptist was the precursor of Jesus, born six months before Christ. It is six months till Christmas and so we always have a little bit of Christmas on the feast of St John. Typically, pudding and custard.

Older son, Greg, sent me a text – he and his brothers in Adelaide also remembered the tradition and had Christmas cake last night, in honour of the feast.

Here is a summer pudding recipe, traditionally made in England on this feast day – cherry pudding decorated with flowers.


You didn’t have them all together?

Tonight Gerry and I had a meeting with a financial advisor. Just organizing a few things.

This guy is our new advisor, here in Sydney.

He asked about children – how many total, how many dependents. I said 7 boys.

“You didn’t have them all together?” he asked.

I looked blank.

“Some are from Gerry’s first marriage, right?” he continued.

I was startled. I forgot that it can seem weird to some people, that yes, Gerry has 7 children but, yes, he has only been married once and, yes, I gave birth to all 7; I am the mother of all 7; that we are not a blended family… Not that there is something bad about a blended family but it is comical to find that a large family is assumed to be a blended family. To be told that I don’t look or act like a mother of a large family ( how am I supposed to act, btw? lol!).

The advisor took some convincing.

Then asked if were “good Catholics”.

I had to laugh.


Bridge to Terabithia

Last night , Anthony (youngest son), Gerry ( dh) and I saw the film Bridge to Terabithia . The film is based on the children’s book by author Katherine Patterson.

Paterson writes ~ I think it was Lewis who said something like: “The book cannot be what the writer is not.” What you are will shape your book whether you want it to or not. I am Christian, so that conviction will pervade the book even when I make no conscious effort to teach or preach. Grace and hope will inform everything I write.

We loved the film. We laughed, we cried ( well, I cried), we enjoyed.

Although we have read the novel, watching the film has inspired me to read the book again.

And I have followed a little rabbit trail ~ perhaps we can have some Terabithian inspired homeschool time?
Movie website ~ with teacher activities
study guide for the book
Check out Paterson’s website, and her other books..


More on Classical Unschooling.

In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis writes:

Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already. That is why children’s games are so important. They are always pretending to be grown-ups– playing soldiers, playing shop. But all the time, they are hardening their muscles and sharpening their wits so that the pretence of being grown-up helps them to grow up in earnest.

I am resting from surgery right now and reading the rest of Campbell’s LCC book. I must admit that it is making me feel peaceful – I see a connection between Campbell’s “much not many” and Suzie Andres’ book “Homeschooling with Gentlness” – which I dubbed the “little way” of unschooling.

The Latin Centred Curriculum book is not making me want to ( necessarily) follow a scope and sequence for classical education for my children. It is reminding me of the importance of reading, of reading aloud, of time to explore – and of not filling up time with many have tos. This seems to fit directly with Andres’ take on unschooling.

And it means allowing time for play, for leisure, as well as time for study and work and reading. Time for the play described by Lewis, above.

Many other books that I have read on classical education strike me as “fillers of buckets” -but the sense I am getting from Campbell’s book is not of filling buckets but of lighting fires ( to mis-quote Yeats! lol!).

So, I doubt that we will change much in the way we unschool, but I am inspired once again to blend our few have tos with the bulk of our day – movies, reading, music, reading, playing, reading,outings, doing, reading…..:-)

And work and relaxation.

Still, all our pupils will require some relaxation, not merely because there is nothing in this world that can stand continued strain and even unthinking and inanimate objects are unable to maintain their strength, unless given intervals of rest, but because study depends on the good will of the student, a quality that cannot be secured by compulsion. Consequently if restored and refreshed by a holiday they will bring greater energy to their learning and approach their work with greater spirit of a kind that will not submit to being driven. I approve of play in the young; it is a sign of a lively disposition; nor will you ever lead me to believe that a boy who is gloomy and in a continual state of depression is ever likely to show alertness of mind in his work, lacking as he does the impulse most natural to boys of his age.

Play. Today was a good example of play….

This afternoon, we met with a couple of other Catholic homeschoolers. I took only Anthony and Thomas. We met at another’s home, we sang the Regina Caeli, we talked about Latin and English words.

I took a painting of St Anthony of Padua, for picture study, and we discussed St Anthony’s life. Feast Day June 13.

We learned about the tau cross.

The bulk of the time, before and after this “learning” interlude, was spent in play. Imaginery play, involving a fort, swords, running, teams, co-operation…

Much was learned in our little learning interlude but much also was learned in the hour or so of play.

Campbell talks about this as freedom within limits.

Makes sense in my experience.

I’m home from surgery…

Went in yesterday and home today! The doctor has sent tissues off for pathology but his opinion is that everything is all clear! Deo Gratias!

And what did I come home to? A bedroom makeover and a fridge full of meals! Coffee cups, dark chocolate, a healthy living magazine, paintings, quilts, cushions, towels, candles, ornaments, yummy chocolate fudge squares and super dinners…..

Some friends – a bunch of lovely homeschool mothers and their daughters – had visited in the afternoon, while I was at the hospital and they cleaned, provided meals, re-decorated the bedroom for my homecoming. A complete surprise.

How nice! Thoughtful. Caring. Loving.
Thank you guys!

Classical Unschooling

On the weekend, dh and I attended a homeschool conference. The keynote speaker was John Taylor Gatto.

Now, as much as I enjoyed John’s talk, I admit to preferring his books to his talk.


Well, his books offer his experiences as a different teacher in the US public schools; show us what we can learn from his experiences and how schools can also learn from homeschoolers.

His talk, however, came across as knocking schools .I am just not into that. I think we need educational diversity, to suit our different children and families and communities, and I know that for some families school is a good option. Just as homeschooling and/or unschooling are good options for other families.

I also spent money at the homeschool conference – no news, right? I bought some new novels for the kids – Thomas and Anthony in particular are avid readers so new books are always welcome.

I purchased a book by Andrew Campbell – The Latin Centred Curriculum. I have read about this book at various homeschooling sites, so was pleased to have my own copy.

Campbell argues for a classical education, in an historical sense of the term. Studying a few subjects deeply and not necessarily studying a myriad of subjects in a shallow way.

So, I am back to thinking about the goals of education. I guess I like reading about education and pondering these ideas. I share my ideas and passions with my dh and children. They share their passions ~ I share mine ( fitness and education and books and movies and history..).

I am reminded that I like the passion of unschooling with the living books and good habits of educator Charlotte Mason and the idea of Latin and the classics from a classical education…

I hae always had a soft spot for author Laura Berquist’s thoughts on goals, on ultimate vision for homeschooling. For us, it is family centred education, with freedom to explore interests. And, as Berquest states in Designing Your own Classical Curriculum, “..I knew that I wanted ultimately what we all want, the eternal salvation of my children. Academically, I wanted a truly Catholic intellectual formation. I hope to instill ( I would add – encourage, as children seem born to love learning).. a lifelong love of learning and to give my children the tools to pursue that learning.”

Berquest goes on to describe her goal that her children should be equipped to attend an excellent university, and do well there. Again, I add – if they so choose. I certainly have valued my university education and wish my children be prepared for the same, if university is in their future. It keeps their options open…So far, university has been the case, for the four eldest sons…

Meanwhile, on the homeschooling front, a search has lead me to some links on classical unschooling. Interested? Read the following. 🙂

Willa on Classical Unschooling
Ask the Experts – Classical Unschooling
A 7 part series on classical unschooling