Aren’t you afraid that there will be gaps in your kids’ knowledge?
…I went to school. I was taught history, science, English and math. There are lots and lots of things I do not know about those subjects. Does that mean there are gaps in my knowledge? Or does it just mean that no one can know everything there is to know? Parenting a Free Child: An Unschooled Life by Rue Kream

My kids get asked questions all the time, especially by others who know they homeschool. That’s okay. That’s life. Life for unschoolers who are out there and open about our different educational lifestyle.

Sometimes the kids know the answer to the question, to the educational quiz. Sometimes they don’t. I usually just smile when their lack of an answer is pointed out to me.

Why? Simply because I am aware of the fact that my kids do KNOW a lot of stuff, that they do have gaps in areas of less interest but surpass the school curriculum knowledge in other areas. It is not a race or even a competition.

And what is more, my kids have the tools for learning. They can research, find out information when and if the need or interest arises, can study, can think for themselves ( tell me about it, when we have our next heated disagreement! ), can talk about ideas, can work hard and also know how to have fun, can pray.

They are not perfect. They are not academic gurus.

Neither am I.

We all have gaps in knowledge but at least the interest in learning, that spark, still exists for my kids. They have made connections.

I think education is important, but my view of education is that children need the classical tools of learning more than they need to amass a great store of information. Read The Lost Tools of Learning by Dorothy Sayers ~

Is not the great defect of our education today–a defect traceable through all the disquieting symptoms of trouble that I have mentioned–that although we often succeed in teaching our pupils “subjects,” we fail lamentably on the whole in teaching them how to think: they learn everything, except the art of learning.

Or Newman ~ Idea of a University ~ But education is a higher word [than instruction]; it implies an action upon our mental nature, and the formation of a character; it is something individual and permanent, and is commonly spoken of in connexion with religion and virtue. When, then, we speak of the communication of Knowledge as being Education, we thereby really imply that that Knowledge is a state or condition of mind..

Or, as Kumon says It is how we learn~ It is our job as educators, not to stuff knowledge into children as if they were merely empty boxes, but to encourage each individual child to want to learn, to enjoy learning and to be capable of studying whatever he or she needs to or wishes to in the future. Mr Toru Kumon, Founder

In a homily on the weekend, Fr. discussed taking up one’s cross and carrying it.

True. We do not know what cross may come our way but we take it, with prayer and perseverance and joy.

Joy? Yes, I have seen joy even in suffering. And this relates to unschooling, to gaps. Simply because we focus on relationships and building a happy home. There might be gaps in knowledge and gaps in virtue but the fact remains that we are working on these things. We are working on the tools of learning, on learning on how to live, cross or no cross. These things don’t come without effort or thought or mistakes but with prayer and work. And play. And joy, seeking joy.

I don’t make crosses for my children. I don’t have to. We live, we pray, we attend Mass, we learn and life happens. Joy and crosses.

For our family, unschooling has little to do with education and much more to do with our relationships, the way adults view children, and the philosophies we chose to live by. The principles that guide us do not apply only to a list of academic subjects. They permeate every part of our lives and our interactions with each other…We live without subjects, in a world where life is not separated into neat little pieces but instead swirls and flows together in ways we could never design… Rue Kream, from the aformentioned book.
We have gaps. We have crosses. We have joy. We have those swirls and flows.

And today’s swirls and flows include work at Kumon, packing for New Zealand, and I am asking the kids to do our bulletin board for September. I am too busy to help this month! It will be interesting, won’t it, to see what the kids post on the bulletin board, what will be of import for them this month…


Well, after tonight’s episode of Dr Who, all I can say is that I am addicted.

Addicted to Dr Who and to Battlestar Galactica.

Hooked. Line and sinker.

Been reading spoilers at the Digital Spy website.

Don’t look if you don’t want to know what happens!


A trip to Ikea

That was part of today’s events..a trip to the Ikea store at Rhodes Shopping Centre…went with three of the kids and one of the friars from our parish.

It was a pretty funny outing. At one stage, I was flying, er, I mean driving, the car up the exit ramp . Saw a minimum height barrier ~ obviously meant for trucks and vans not station wagons like my car. Yet, I instinctively worried about height – would my car fit under the barrier? And I instinctively ducked my head, while sitting in the car driving ~ as if that would help!

The funny, funny, thing is that Br., in the front passenger seat, instinctively did the same ducking ( useless, redundant) motion, at precisely the same time as I.

Gosh, we laughed. And laughed. Tears rolling down our faces.

The kids looked at us in amazement.
And Thomas texted his friend – “I think Mum is blonde”.

As if!

St Monica

Her Feast Day is today.

Went to Mass. Read about St Monica, and about her son St Augustine ( his feast day is tomorrow).

It is the prayers of Monica herself that have been invoked by generations of the faithful who honour her as a special patroness of married women and as an example for Christian motherhood.

We had some wine at dinner, in honour of St Monica , and made Steak With Red Wine. Why?

We are given one episode of her childhood which suggests a possible origin for her firmness of will. She was sometimes sent down to the cellar to draw wine for the family, and fell into the habit of taking secret sips. She developed such a passion for wine that before long she was drinking great draughts of it whenever opportunity offered. One day a family slave who had been spying on the little girl denounced her as a wine-bibber, and Monica, covered with shame, gave up the habit. Soon afterwards she was baptized, and thenceforth seems to have led a life of irreproachable virtue. St Monica ~ EWTN library

St Monia is a great example of perseverance in prayer.


How to start losing weight

That is what I have been asked. Some people
( thankfully, not the whole world and not everyone I meet) know I have a lost a heap of weight, over a five or six year period.

A heap?
About 35 kg, about 80 lbs. I say about as I didn’t often weigh myself at my heaviest, and I know that I was probably a lot heavier and had lost some weight before I first weighed myself.

Well, because it is just way too embarrassing to talk about weight. Putting the truth of my weight gain and loss on my blog this past Lent was like coming out of the closet, I am sure.

Anyway, people want to know how to start. It is often the first step that is the most difficult.

I agree with Lisa Delaney from
Secrets of A Former Fat Girl. She advocates starting with one thing and letting that one thing be exercise. Well, maybe two things ( Would you believe two things? asks Maxwell Smart in Get Smart).

Delaney’s advice? Exercise and a mantra. Something that helps you not give up. Something inside that clicks.

First things first. Why exercise? Well, when we are overweight we are often more sedentary so any extra exercise will help automatically with creating a calorie deficit and causing a weight losss. Plus, it makes you feel good – eventually. It changes your image of yourself, from one who hates working out to one who is a fitter person ~ eventually.

All good things come in time, to those who work and wait…..

And exercise makes you fitter, makes your metabolism work faster, makes you feel good, gives you that happy endorphin feeling ~ eventually ~ makes you feel you are finally doing something permanent, long term, feel good about your weight.

For me, my first workout to lose this weight was walking. Yes, I had been a lot fitter in the past, I had been to aerobics classes and done Jazzercise and weights and Jane Fonda and Denise Austin. But those were in my overweight but not obese days, or my thin but trying to be thinner days. Or my eating disorder days…

I have had a problem with food and body image all my life, since my first mother-sanctioned extreme diet at age eight.Probably before that,even…I can’t remember a time when I didn’t think I was fat, regardless of weight. And those Extreme diets just so don’t work for me , and for most obese people,I suspect.

So this time, it was going to be different. I was starting with small steps, with walking. Started at fifteen minutes, worked up to thirty then forty five than sixty. And then got into kickboxing.

But starting small, with walking, helped me change how I felt, and made me feel good and got me fitter. I walked outside, rain or shine. I walked in the morning, or as soon as I could, given my schedule. I bought some indoor walking DVDs for the days I couldn’t leave the kids – I have some Leslie Sansone’s if anyone wants to borrow them!

One thing, exercise. Two things, exercise and that mantra. That mantra, that inside saying that lit my fire and helped me keep going, that was important, too. Just as Delaney said. Her’s was/is
INO ~ It’s Not An Option.

It’s not an option to give up. To not go for that walk or do that exercise. It’s not an option to think that health and exercise are options in themselves.

Make your positive statement part of your life, your little self discipline, so you won’t give up on that exercise. Or on yourself.

For me, my first mantra was –
if she can do it, so can I. While in hospital, after yet another miscarriage and recovering from deep vein thrombosis, I read a Slimming magazine. The Slimmer of the Year had lost a lot of weight , through walking and healthy eating. I thought – what made her better than me? Nothing. If she can do it, so can I. And so I didn’t let myself quit.

We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit.

Well begun is half done.


How to start losing weight? Start with walking or some other form of exercise. Make a conscious decision to do this daily or three or four times a week. Work on that mental click, that mental saying or determination, that won’t let you give up. Use this exercise time for prayer – I used to pray my Rosary while walking. Develop that self dicipline.

It is not easy. I give you that. I hate it when you read books that tell you – just eat less and move more. Yeah. Right. This doesn’t address the physical issues that obese people have, the mental issues, the mind stuff. The feelings. The spiritual connection. Time. Organisation. How to.

Sh*t! If it was easy we’d all be like Twiggy or Madonna. NOW.

By the same token, it is not as difficult as some other books make it. You don’t need to make huge changes ,you don’t have to give up wheat or dairy or chocolate or God forbid, alcohol! Start small. Work on exercise and mental stuff, then address food and food issues. Lower fat, lower GI, healthy choices 80% of the time, portion control…Stopping ZOMBIE EATING.

One by one, step by step.

P.S. Zombie eating? From the blog of The Amazing Adventures of Diet Girl ~

People talk about comfort eating or emotional eating but what about ZOMBIE EATING? I’ve found myself at the Cookie Table at work, staring down at the crumbs on my chest and thinking, What the hell happened there!? The feet and hands and mouth took over before the brain could make the connection between receiving the stressful email and grabbing the biscuits.

Other times I’ve been glassy-eyed in line at a coffee shop, fixated on the idea of my hand wrapped around a hot cardboard cup of overpriced beverage to soothe an undefined troubled feeling. Then I’ll take the first sip and come back to earth… Shit! What did I do that for!?

Back at McDonalds, I was jolted out of my reverie by the dulcet tones of a lady customer, “Arrriiiight hen, gis a Big Mac meal wi’ Diet Coke!”

I took in the spotty lad behind the till and the swaying drunks in the queue. Fark! How the bloody hell did I get here?

I left, walked home in the rain and watched telly.

Most times I have the ability to stop, tune in and realise I’m just stressed or anxious or bored or needing to pull a Greta Garbo – and therefore not shove something unnecessary in my gob. But sometimes I don’t even register that I’m feeling anything at all. It happens so fast and mindlessly that I don’t wake up in time.


Oh, that workout!

Which workout? That puke-in-a-bucket workout – the 30 Day Shred one.

Level one is kinda easy. Level two is more challenging.Level three has a high dread factor for me – who knew you could get a kick-ass, killer, advanced workout in thirty minutes.

I did Level three today, high impact, working out hard – attemped it lower impact last Saturday and did all the workout while coughing my heart out. But today, I only coughed once ( okay, maybe two or three times..) – those meds are working! And I can do high impact again!

The walking planks and travelling push ups are tough on the upper body. The rockstar jumps and plyo lunges are not easy, either, nor is doing cardio with weights.

I don’t have a love feeling for this workout but I do it anyway – it is fast, efficient, effective, advanced, push yourself, non stop, in only half an hour. I feel as challenged after this half hour as I do with a Taebo Advanced sixty minute workout. Go figure?

I was really feeling it in the shoulders and arms and legs and butt, when at the grocery store this morning, and after the workout. Woo hoo!


That photo album..and Abba…

That photo album…..

..of unschooling pics… and with music…

Wednesday ~ I began the day with Mass, for St Bernard of Clairvaux. Kids? Computer games, Wii Fit, some Kumon Maths, Alexander reviewed Italian for uni, Thomas and Anthony researched some info on a Saint of choice , then wrote mini reports.Writing and religion! Jonathon went to teach Scripture.

I worked out, blogged, read blogs, sent Kumon emails, talked to kids, cooked for lunch visitors, blow dried hair, then went to play! Went to the movies with two other homeschooling families~mums to see Mamma Mia, kids to see Star Wars Clone Wars. Absolutely LOVED Mamma Mia – we sang in the cinema, laughed and, yes, cried.

The winner takes it all
The loser standing small
Beside the victory
Thats her destiny

Home for lunch – our family, Jonathon, my friends and their children, Br L. from our parish, after also teaching Scripture class.

And I can chat with you baby
Flirt a little maybe
Does your mother know that youre out?

The children played games of guns and Zombies!! The grown ups talked, everyone left, clean up, delivery of junk mail, laundry, a bit of work for Kumon, some email too, while eldest son Luke cooked dinner and the other boys watched the movie Hot Shots.

And another visitor – how cool! I love visitors!

Ring, ring, why dont you give me a call?
Ring, ring, the happiest sound of them all

A few of us stayed up late, talking. Dh, I, Luke, Alexander, Thomas were up to midnight discussing child development, child raising, parenting, Kumon, kids’ thoughts, individual rights, rules or no rules and the Westenberg Model of Parenting and Homeschooling. lol!

Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight
Won’t somebody help me chase the shadows away
Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight
Take me through the darkness to the break of the day

Today the boys will do some more Kumon Maths and some Latin. We have read about St Pius X and looked at the Olympics coverage online. Jonathon is at a meeting. I have a bucket load of Kumon prep and phone calls and folders to do. We will all go to work at Kumon.

I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay
Aint it sad

Then dh and I are going out for a small dinner, together , alone, just the two of us. Probably around eight p.m. A date night! Woo hoo! I’ve organised this, simply because I’ve been sick and so we have had less time together. And now I’m getting better…And I want to play…hence the movies twice this week and friends over and now a small dinner out…Small because I want to just spend time with dh and not spend a lot of money or calories!

Honey honey, how you thrill me, ah-hah, honey honey
Honey honey, nearly kill me, ah-hah, honey honey

Luke will be cooking again, after work, he said he finds this cooking relaxing. He will make Japanese ( it was Italian last night) and the boys are having a SpongeBob Squarepants mini marathon. The five that are home together.

Waterloo – knowing my fate is to be with you
Waterloo – finally facing my waterloo

More unschooling pics for that mental photo album.

So I say
Thank you for the music, the songs Im singing
Thanks for all the joy theyre bringing
Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty
What would life be? Without a song or a dance what are we?
So I say thank you for the music
For giving it to me

[Sorry! After seeing Mamma Mia, I just couldn’t resist those Abba lyrics! ]

Night is young and the musics high
With a bit of rock music, everything is fine
Youre in the mood for a dance
And when you get the chance…
You are the dancing queen, young and sweet, only seventeen
Dancing queen, feel the beat from the tambourine
You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life
See that girl, watch that scene, dig in the dancing queen

Makes me want to do Singstar!