Unschooling choice

People wonder what unschooled teens will choose to do, to read, if their time is not structured, if they are not required to “do school”.
Will they choose unlimited video games and easy read books and TV?
They may do.
Or like Anthony this week, they may choose to read..and read widely…and talk about reading.
In Anthony’s (self directed, self chosen) reading pile this week….

Dante’s Divine Comedy (Hell) and Shakespeare’s Coriolanus.

Scott O’Dell”s historical novel The King’s  Fifth and a French Reader.

The education  of an autodidact.
With mum and brothers and friends around, for discussion.
That quantity time.


Here comes November!

As the October Challenge draws to a close, I have planned and begun my November Challenge. By default.

Jillian Michaels.

Namely, Ripped in 30 and 30 Day Shred. Chosen because the mix of intervals, of cardio and strength and abs usually give me good results in a short amount of time. Healthwise.

Often tough but effective and good to push one self without the exhaustion of hour long pushing.

Those of you who workout will understand.

And I am planning on revisiting some old favourites for the eating part of the challenge.. Old favorite books that is. Secrets of a Former Fat Girl, The Do-able Diet,  The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Dieting, Calorie Queens.

What is the common thread in these books? All written by women who used to be overweight. That been there done that thing.

“You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to bring it.” To quote Jillian from today’s workout, workout one of the Ripped in 30  workout DVD.

Good advice!


That October Challenge!

“I had at last become a true child of the modern world,completely tangled up in petty and useless concerns with myself..” Thomas Merton, in The Seven Storey Mountain.

And so I consider these words as I continue with my October Challenge. I want to be healthier and fitter, and lets face it , look better …. I want it all… Fitness and holiness, without concern for self.

Can the two mesh together?

And is this a dilemma of the modern age?

It has cast a new slant on my October Challenge.

As Merton before me, I could be in danger of ..”worrying about a lot of imaginary rules of health, standards of food value….”

My October Challenge is attempting to eat with some balance…not often achieved but those days that I do are glorious. And I note that these days are more often weekends, days that are busy and full but without my crazy work schedules.

My fitness has been that walking/jogging rotation…and I am loving it! I am singing, I am walking and jogging and dancing and I am enjoying not feeling so worn out after a workout…you know, when I am often busy and sleep deprived, adding a push myself to my limits workout can be fun..but exhausting. Walking and jogging every day, with a little bit of strength training, makes me feel less tired right now…and it’s great to do cardio every day…great fun and good for health and body…and mind ( those prayers while working out). And I can push myself and feel worked out, nicely tired…not I-can’t-make-it-up-the-stairs tired.

One more week of the October Challenge to go!


Duty and Love

Falling in love while I was still a nun complicated things and helped me think about myself in a different way” Mary Johnson, in “An Unquenchable Thirst.”

Mary Johnson describes her life as a nun…and her falling in love with someone other than God…and her surprise at this. And yes, this “falling in love” was one of the reasons she left her religious order.

Yet we shouldn’t be surprised by falling in love. If we love God, when we feel His Love for us, then we love even more..we love Him more and our capacity for love of others is heightened.

This is not a romantic love but a selfless love. 

Fr James Martin, in his book of his priestly vocation,  In Good Company,  writes of celibacy and chastity…As a Jesuit, he discusses his vows of chastity, poverty, obedience and says ” …even chastity does not preclude one from falling into love..Falling in love and being in love are both gifts from God. Its a question of what you do….A chaste person tries, like Jesus did, to love as many people as possible.”

I think the same could be said of those of us in the vocation of marriage…we love our spouses, we love our children and we also love others. First we are loved by God, then we love others. 

It has  taken that awhile to dawn on me…

Where am I going with this? 

A son and I discussed love and duty. How the two are intertwined. We love . Sometimes we act solely out of Love. Sometimes we act because we feel loved, and we feel His Love. And sometimes we act out of duty.

We act regardless of falling in or falling out of love. 

As Fr Martin says…it’s a question of what we do. 

Our Lord has created persons for all states in life, and in all of them we see people who who achieved sanctity by fulfilling their obligations well.” St Anthony Mary Claret

There hasn’t been a lot of talk lately about duty..we talk instead of love, of doing things out of love. 

I find the two go hand in hand..we live and act out of love and out of duty.

Duty need not be negative..it can be a result of love, it can lead to love or to enhancing love. 

Love and duty keep our lives in order..I love and I do what I ought. 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us of this positive bent…the ‘commandment is expressed in positive terms of duties to be fulfilled.’ (2198)

Positive duties. 


A Quick Succession of Busy Nothings

“Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.” ~Jane Austen

That’s the danger, folks. That we who like-to-do-a-lot can  just  do-too-much and miss out on all the important things..family, prayer..sleep.

Which is one reason I unschool. We don’t need another set list of To Dos in our life. We need to connect more, to form relationships with each other, with books, with ideas, with nature, with the world. with self, with God. 

“Education is the Science of Relations’; that is, a child has natural relations with a vast number of things and thoughts: so we train him upon physical exercises, nature lore, handicrafts, science and art, and upon many living books, for we know that our business is not to teach him all about anything, but to help him to make valid as many as may be of––
“Those first-born affinities
That fit our new existence to existing things.” Charlotte Mason

So how do we do this? We have  daily, work-at-home rhythms and I am pondering being less busy….

But how can you stop being busy? It’s a simple change of mindset: you say, I’m not going to be busy anymore. Even if you have little control over your schedule, you can decide that you’ll slow down, and pick the important things to work on, and if necessary, talk to your boss about doing this. If you control your schedule, you can drop all the busywork, and just pick the high-impact tasks. It might seem impossible, but once you decide to put an End to Busy, you have taken the biggest step.”

What is our weekly, work at home, unschooling rhythm? Flip over to the Unschooling Catholics blog and read my post there..

“And that is how the weeks go…way too fast…but we work on flow…on doing…and on being…Like the blue willow tea set…cups in a row, beauty, but not perfect…little imperfections…like those little imperfections in our days, our order, our rhythms …that make the unschooling week”


Dead people as friends…St Teresa of Avila

“The highest perfection consists not in interior favours or in great rapture, but in bringing of our wills so closely into conformity with the will of God that as soon as we realize that He wills anything, we desire it ourselves with all our might.”

St Teresa is one of my “mentor” saints. I read her writings, I look to her for inspiration.

She is my friend.

Yes, dead people as friends…read my post here.

I think St Teresa may be horrified at parts of who I am, a modern techi-devoted, Singstar and workout devoted,  working and homeschooling, wife and mother…but I like to think we would share the same sense of humour, sense of duty, love for our Faith, love for God.

And so we cooked a Spanish flavoured dinner for St Teresa’s feast day, October 12. I shared the recipes in my regular food- for -the -liturgical -year “column” on the Australian Catholic Families blog.

Pope Benedict XVI wrote that St Teresa had a ” a profound and articulate spirituality” and reminds us to emulate St Teresa, in  seeking God’s friendship every day, in prayer…for time spent in prayer is not time wasted. ( Blog of the MI Australia).


My Invisible Unschooling

Someone teased me recently about my unschooling. That if Anthony sneezes I would write that in my Homeschool log as Health.
I laughed. It may be a tiny bit true.
Yet my sons, yet Anthony, is educated and has a well rounded education, a liberal arts education, not in spite of having me as a mother and not in spite of all the things I don’t do, but because of all that I do.
All those invisible things I do, things that seem effortless and seamless but are done, every day, day in, day out, with a direct philosophy in mind.
A philosophy of unschooling, of children being natural leathers, of emphasizing the tools of learning, of creating a rich learning environment at home and elsewhere, of modelling, of discussion, of strewing, of Love.

The author also introduces the concept of unschooling not as an ideology — some fixed system against which to measure reality — but rather as a habit of observing children carefully and being willing to adapt our approach in light of our observations. In Suzie’s words, “Unschooling makes much more sense when we think of it as a suggestion rather than a mandate. Be with the children. Really look at them. Enjoy spending time together, talking, investigating, reading, playing.”

At the end of Chapter 2, we find a summary of the principles of unschooling. “Let the child learn by his own initiative, in his own way. The basics are not hard, children want to learn them, and they will ask for help when they need it. Learning is easiest and most effective when it is spontaneous and entered into by desire. Our home life will include necessary tasks, obligations, and duties, but learning does not have to be one of them.”

From a review of the book A Little Way of Homeschooling…you know, that book on Catholic unschooling, the one to which I am a contributor..and a perfect description of what seems to be invisible unschooling.


A Fitness Challenge

Fat and frumpy. Old and ugly.

You know those things we say to ourselves.

It’s that self loathing. And for many women it began in their teen years.

For me, it began in my childhood. But that’s a whole other story.

As Ajay Rochester says in her 5 Minute Diet Book, starting from a point of self disgust is not helpful.

Instead, we should begin a new fitness venture from a point of being positive… Affirmations if need be. Self control over negative thoughts. Choosing workouts that make us smile.

Lately I have been doing more walking and jogging workouts.Outside. Or inside… Leslie Sansone being some of these workouts.

Leslie is bubbly, chatty, positive. I can pray while walking or jogging, otherwise mindless workouts. ….Hail Mary… Contemplation instead of mindlessness…

And if I am walking, jogging, doing upper body strength training in my family room, I can ham it up. Act like a dork. Dance. Sing. Who is to see or care?

Leslie has an October walking and jogging challenge beginning on Monday. To overcome these I-hate-me feelings I am taking the challenge. Setting a plan for x number of kilometres.

And looking at my chaotic eating habits… Yes, my life means I tend to be chaotic in eating. As described in Intuitive Eating…” The Chaotic Unconscious Eater often lives an over scheduled life, too busy, too many things to do. The chaotic eating style is haphazard; whatever’s available will be grabbed….nutrition and diet are often important to this person…just not at the critical point of the chaos. Chaotic eaters are so busy putting out fires ( in my case doing all that I need to do and working two jobs and homeschooling and trying to eat what’s on hand to save money..) they have difficulty recognizing biological hunger until it’s fiercely ravenous. Not surprisingly, the Chaotic Eater often goes long periods of time without eating.”

Mmm. Me to a tee.

So my October fitness challenge is to hate myself a little bit less ( son Thomas always says to me, Mum you are worse than my friends, girls my age, about hating your looks and body! …yep, that’s me..), to walk and jog perhaps with Leslie, to structure eating and be more mindful.

I’ll report back regularly!

And …..want to join me?

religion, Unschooling

What are we cooking today, Mum?

We cook our way through the liturgical year.

I change our dining table centerpiece to reflect the liturgical year.

This week, we have had a statue of St Michael the archangel on the dining table. Our saints book open for the day. The Dhouay Rheims Bible for St Jerome. The Story of a Soul for St Therese of Lisieux. Today a statue of St Francis.

And our ongoing feature for this month, the month of the Holy Rosary, is a statue of Our Lady, some rosary beads and a missal open to the indulgenced prayer to St Joseph for the month of October.

This week, we have made Devil’s Food Cake for the Archangels, quiche for St Vincent de Paul, my grandmother’s toffee for St Jerome, a strawberries and cream cake for both St Therese and for the guardian angles…and today for St Framcis?

Well, check out my post on the ACF blog…. Cooking for the Feast of St Francis.