Two good posts on learning.

In the first, a parent discusses the fact that his daughter does not want to return to school – after only two days of kindergarten. He posts a reply from Fr. George Rutler ~

The only real university is the universe and a city its microcosm. That is why an expression like “New York University” is foolish. New York City is the university….Instead of school, children should spend some hours each day in hotel lobbies talking to the guests. They should spend time in restaurant kitchens and shops and garages of all kinds, learning from people who actually make the world work….One day spent roaming through a real classical church building would be the equivalent of one academic term in any of our schools, and a little time spent inconspicuously in a police station would be more informative than all the hours wasted on bogus social sciences. My Wife Takes a Rather Different View

The second post gives us a glimpse into the unschooling/homeschooling life of a mother of two ~

Sometimes I feel like a failure as a homeschooler. I’m not doing it right. Heck, I’m not sure I’m even doing it at all. We call ourselves homeschoolers because we have to account for the fact that our kids aren’t enrolled in school. So homeschoolers we are, but it doesn’t feel like homeschooling is what we do. We don’t play at teaching and learning, we just do it. The way I homeschool feels like an extension of household management. I notice what my children need, try to predict what they might like, and I do my best to provide it for them. It’s like running your kitchen — you notice when you’re running out of milk and buy more of it. You can also see what’s been sitting on the pantry shelf for months and donate it to a shelter or throw it away. Maybe you look through a cookbook and decided to try a recipe that looks good. How hard is that? Keeping a well-stocked home library is easy for me and shopping for workbooks or other “educational materials” is, well, shopping, and I like to shop.
Autumnal Anxiety

Pretty much the way I homeschool – like I shop or cook
(and since I hardly cook, but do spend a lot of time with my kids and at the shops, – well, you get the idea! lol!).


A Kumon Collage

Alexander snapped this pic as we packed up after Kumon tonight.

I have a whiteboard just outside the centre and each week children who have reached their goals, write their names on the board. Everyone sees the board on entering and exiting the centre so the children gain recognition for their efforts.

And the white board becomes a weekly art piece, a Kumon montage.

On Being a Parent of Older Kids

Our older sons – Luke, Greg, Nick – were here for the weekend, last weekend. For our parish Dinner Dance.

We had fun doing silly dances together on the dance floor ( Abba? The Sylvers – Don’t Blame it on the Boogie?).

And I have reflected a little on my career as a mother.

In many respects, I suck at mothering. It doesn’t come naturally, I make many, many mistakes. I do things other mothers would not.

Like yesterday. Anthony was texting his brothers on his mobile phone while doing a page of maths. I told him I’d have to put his phone on the breakfast bar for awhile, simply because he was constantly distracting someone with the phone and messages. Jonathon said – “See, the other homeschool mums ( my friends) are right~! He is too young to have a phone! :-)”

I replied that I didn’t mind him texting while doing schoolwork, it was just distracting others.

And then Jonathon laughed – what mother says she doesn’t mind kids texting instead of doing Maths??


What I have learned about mothering, however, can be summed up in a few words. My internet friend, Willa , reminded me of the importance of these three words.

Not, they are not “I love you”, although saying that is important.

The key words for me, as a mother, have been “Staying in the moment.”

Willa is very wise.

Staying in the moment.

And keep on working on relationship – relationship with parents, siblings, others, God.

I have found this to be most important, as my kids have grown older…I have three young adult sons, one eighteen year old and three younger sons. I thought I’d be a bad mother of young adults – I didn’t know how, I knew the little ones best. Well, I am not a great mother, but I am learning!

Staying in the moment has helped – I am not parenting any generic young adults, just my own.

Seeing each one as an individual, praying, working on myself and with Gerry and with the kids, has been key.

Right now, I am at a spot where I think parenting and giving the kids a good childhood , passing on the Faith, are just as important as a good education.

They can catch up on the education later, if they need to (but, hey, I see them learning all the time, anyway!).

It is harder , however, to work through problems in parenting and relationship so I’m aiming for joy and trusting that the rest will follow.

It has, so far.


The Beheading of St John the Baptist.

This is tomorrow’s Feast Day. It is also the anniversary of Anthony’s First Holy Communion Day. Anthony made his FHC on this day, four years ago, when we were living in Adelaide.

This morning, we read about St Augustine ( today’s Saint) and about tomorrow’s remembrance of Herodius and how she connived to have John the Baptist beheaded.

Anthony had the idea of copying a craft from his book, the Horrible Histories Annual 2007.

The craft ? Creating a severed head.

A gruesome craft, but one that certainly fits this Feast. A gruesome craft that is right up my sons’ alley!


Just Another Manic Monday!

No, not really. (Apologies to The Bangles).

In fact, it was a pleasant Monday, a great Monday!

Yesterday was the feast of St Monica, the Patron Saint of married women and of mothers. We started the day with 7.00 a.m. Mass – although we arrived late. Sigh. Gerry was at work so couldn’t attend Mass with the rest of us.

Breakfast out and the kids went to the shops while I had medical tests at a nearby medical centre. We met up again for morning tea at the Coffee Club – red creaming soda, Coke Zero spiders, iced coffee, skim milk flat white…

The boys had bought a present for Father’s Day ( next Sunday) and a cool card for Gerry. We laughed at the card – I’ll post a pic on the weekend…And they spotted a priest from our parish walking past The Coffee Club.

Father joined us for coffee.

We split up – Alexander to go to the movies and the rest of us to finish shopping
( I bought the new Kathy Reichs novel and Jonathon bought a Ramones t-shirt. Thomas purchased a model plane, and Anthony a secondhand computer game).
Back home, we set to work. Me to do laundry, mop the floors, sort Kumon, workout. Jonathon at the computer, writing an assignment for university ( due this Friday!). Thomas and Aanthony built the model plane, flew it in our cul-de-sac, made modifications to the model, installed and played the new computer games, practiced piano.

We had a late lunch ( pretty usual for us!) and then Alexander returned, with his guest and Krispy Kreme donuts! Showers, clean up the kitchen, work at my Kumon Centre.

Some of the preschoolers at Kumon were so adorable!And one of our students had a birthday and gave lolly bags all round – even some for me and my family…

We were flat out at work, Gerry picking up Anthony at 5.30 and the rest of us stayed at work until 7.30 pm.

My doctor, who knew I was worried about the tests, rang through with the results that evening ~ he had asked for the tests to be given high priority. All clear! He was surprised himself – but pleasantly so. I was ecstatic ! The effects of prayer.

To celebrate, we had take away pizza for dinner, and chocolate ( D#%, there goes my diet!) – and a Vodka cruiser for me!

A perfect way to end the feast of St Monica.


Science for today

Making a thermometer.

Anthony worked on this while Jonathon typed his university assignment and supervised ( well, sort of). The rest of us were out on errands.

When we arrived home, Anthony demonstrated the use of his home-made thermometer.

What do you need to make a thermometer?

A clear or see through straw, cut to 10 cm

Cover one end of the straw with Blu-tac and then with sticky tape

Three glasses each half full. One with hot water, one with tap water and food colouring and one with tap water and ice cubes.

Squeeze the straw and thus suck up some of the coloured water. This acts as mercury in your thermometer. The coloured “mercury” will rise in the hot water and fall in the water -with-ice-cubes.

A Meeting of Catholic Homeschoolers…

…at my house, this morning.

We talked about the Assumption; about the Transfiguration and read about and participated in Reader’s Theatre related to the recent Feast day of Blessed Mary Makillop.

Morning tea was shared. A lot of yummy food! Probably too much for we calorie conscious mothers ( yes, diet and exercise was part of the adult discussion!). And I made pikelets , an Aussie food in honour of the Aussie saint.

Some kids worked on the life cycle of a monarch buttefly ( metamorphosis – a scientifc example of transfiguration??). Alexander did a little research on the roots and meaning of the word Transfiguration.

Definition. Root Latin; Trans, meaning across, & figura, meaning shape, form, or picture.

Noun. 1. A striking change in appearance, character, or circumstance, a
2. A change made so as to exalt or glorify.

St. John Damascene Homily on the Transfiguration,
It was not of tents that the Master consituted thee [Peter ] the orderer, but of the Universal Church. Thy disciples, THY SHEEP, which the Good Shepherd entrusted to thee as head, have fulfilled thy desire [to make tents on the Mount of Transfiguration]. They have raised one tent to Christ, one to Moses and Elias, and NOW WE celebrate our feasts HERE.

Other children began work on a notebook of Our Lady – making a cover, working on a page/entry for the Assumption, their choice. We hope to add to this notebook throughout the year, as the Feast days of Our Lady are celebrated during the liturgical year.

I think it is a good thing for all ages to come together and celebrate the Feast days, our life in the Church.

And very good for we homeschooling mothers to share our journey.


Doorknocking for the St Vincent de Paul Society

Sunday was the annual doorknock appeal for
St Vinnie’s, as the charitable organization is called, ~ colloquially that is.

Our parish Youth Group helped with the dooknock and we went along as “adult supervisors”. I took Anthony with my group; too young for Youth but he loved helping with the Appeal.

Apart from the pouring rain, that is! Our socks and shoes were water-logged by the end of the walk!