Monday, October 12, 2015

Our New School Room.

In December last year we moved into our new home. The only room in the house which I could visualise was the study. I am not very good at decorating, but I knew what I wanted in this room! After nine years in a small, but beautiful 1906 Federation cottage, with no dedicated learning space, I was VERY excited about having a room to keep all our books in.  My photos don't do the space justice, but I did my best. It is my favourite room in the house.

Those who know me well, know I have a soft spot for buttons! 

Here is our read-aloud sofa. I wanted red to offset the blue walls, but I didn't expect it to take so long to find the right sofa. The first one I found sold out after I waited too long, another one we drove to Sydney to look at ended up being orange, despite the sales person describing it as red. This one we found locally, and I LOVE it. The vinal wall sticker was a little tricky to put up, buy with the help of my ever patient mother, we managed put on the wall without too much drama. I had planned to change it in a year or two, to a quote from St Catherine of Siena, but after the stress of getting it on the wall, I may rethink that plan!

Next to our sofa we is our book basket, featuring the very beautiful Treasure and Tradition book all about the Traditional Latin Mass.

In the wardrobe I have two of these great shelves from IKEA.

I know this is a terrible photo, but I wanted to include it to show the two images I have on our wall. The one on the right is our St. Anne and Our Lady, which I think is perfect for a homeschool room! The other is Our Lady of the Way, perhaps my favourite image of Our Lady. The crucifix was a gift to my husband when he entered the church. We have always had it in our bedroom, but the gold perfectly offset the blue of the walls, and this way I get to admire it several hours a day, rather than just a glance at bedtime!

So that is our school room. A tranquil little room away from the distractions of the rest of the home. I find that we get a lot more done when we spend our lesson time in this room. We are very blessed indeed.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

7 Quick Takes vol 5

We are at the end of term 3 school holidays. I have hardly seen my two eldest sons. In the first week of the holidays they attended a two night camp run by Youth Mission Team. During the this time Bilby called me to say there was another, longer camp running the following week in Canberra, which is a about seven hours south of us by train. I protested that they are already booked in to many Catholic camps this year, and perhaps they can't go to every wonderful thing on offer. In the end we relented, and they traveled by train with a local friend. I find it a little funny that my 17 and 15 year old sons aren't pushing to be allowed to go to parties, and concerts, but to as many Catholic camps as they can! We must have done somethings right.

Yesterday we caught up with friends from the upper Hunter. Roo has developed a friendship with one of their children, but at times it can be tenuous. I was a little worried that Roo would announce that he wanted nothing to do with said friend after a spat the last time they were together, when he repeatedly announced that the friendship was over. Thankfully it was all forgotten, and they had a great time together. We went to a trampoline park, home for a quick lunch, then a quick visit to the beach.
I've discovered that I can no longer eat potatoes. I suspected that I may have a problem with night shades, and have avoided then. After avoiding them for some weeks, I reintroduced them, and now know that they cause me trouble. I get an uncomfortable painful tender spot under my ribcage (liver perhaps?) and puffy eyes when I eat them.
Speaking of food, I have spent these holidays learning as much as I can about the GAPS diet. I've decided that Roo and myself, and hopefully Koala, will begin in the next few months. I am scared because its a big commitment, but also very excited because I know that it's going to help us in many ways. I'll be blogging about it when we begin.
Last month we attend the North Coast Catholic Homeschool Camp which was held in a new location near Coffs Harbour which meant we were able to drive there in one sitting rather than having to break it into two days of travelling. We had a lovely relaxed time. Koala had his first all nighter, which is a speciality of this camp for the older children. They even had the good fortune to see a wild platypus at 5am, which not many people can claim to have experienced.
Frances and Chris from The Culture Project spent the week with us at camp, which was a wonderful blessing! They have several sessions with the older children talking about chastity, abortion and so forth. Frances was homeschooled and attending the camp for many years with her family, so it was lovely to see her back witnessing to us all. She is an amazing young woman who is changing the world.
A few weeks ago I was pleasantly surprised when I asked Bilby if he would prefer to go to our local Novus Ordo Mass or attend the Traditional Latin Mass with Koala and myself. He chose the TLM. So much for traditional forms of worship not being engaging enough for modern young people!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Many Moods of the Family Rosary.

Years ago I would often ask families whose children still practiced their faith, what they thought the secret was. More often than not the answer was praying the Rosary together, and so I decided we would too.

We go through phases of piety when we pray the rosary consistently after dinner, but to be honest over the years we haven't been as routine was I would like. I expect we are not alone in this! I have noticed a pattern has emerged in that we are more diligent after returning from homeschool camps, and when I have noticed a potential crisis of faith.

In the beginning when the children were little we struggled with inattention, arguments, refusal, whining, and super fast hail marys! It was years before Roo sat through a whole rosary with us. He would sit nearby colouring in, and later looking through faith based picture books. He has recently graduated to leading the fifth decade!

I often wondered if it was worth all the angst, but we pushed on through, despite the challenges. In the early years I would position myself between, Bibly and Koala, in order to nudge then when they repeatedly failed to open their mouths. I felt as thought most of the time my arms were twitching as I gently reminded my sons with my elbows!

My children came up with many ways to show their displeasure: back turning,  needing to go to the bathroom, needing  a drink, playing with the dogs when we forgot to remove them, complaining that Roo didn't have to join in, and speed praying to such an extent that it would difficult to figure out exactly what was being said! We have used a Rosary app with beautiful art work, but we had to cast this aside after arguments over the volume level, and children playing with the virtual beads.

We have had tears over whose turn it is to blow out the candle, the candle being snuffed with fingers and dipping ones fingers in the hot wax to make a mold.

Whilst increasing age has resulted in more compliance, my children still have a way to go. A recent tactic was the Mexican standoff, when one child refused to lead, and one parent refused to accept  their decision. We sat in silence for quite a while that night!

More often than not the rosary became a time to exercise parent self control!

In some ways we have come full circle, as a now pious child has become rather upset that his brother prays too fast. This is the very same child who excelled in seeing how fast he could lead a decade.

Occasionally the parent is the one to cause trouble.

I like to pray the rosary using a card which has art work to depict each mystery of the rosary. This particular card worked best when folded in a triangle shape sitting infront of me. Bilby tried and succeeded in knocking my card down with a gentle breath of air. For some inexplicable reason I chuckled, and so did my son, but it didn't stop there. I could NOT stop laughing. The kind of laughter that makes no sense, when tears roll down your face and you have no idea why you are laughing. I kept telling myself to stop, I was being immature, we should be PRAYING, but all to no avail. It was totally inappropriate, but gee it was so much fun!

You may think it odd that I have decided to post about our apparent failures in family prayer, but I don't see it that way. More often than not things go smoothly despite my litany of challenges. I have learned so much through our attempts to pray together. I know beyond any doubt that all been worthwhile. I firmly believe that we receive many graces through the act of prayer, not based on how we feel whilst praying.

Would you like to share your family prayer challenges with me? I dare you! You might just make someone feel more normal.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

7 Quick Takes Vol 4

7 Quick Takes 

1. We have been blessed to have the Traditional Latin Mass once again offered in our Diocese. The more I have the opportunity to hear Mass in the extraordinary form, the more I fall in love with it. It is becoming easier to follow, and the beauty of the liturgy has captured my heart. This love of the traditional Mass hasn't come quickly. I think many people claim to not like Latin Mass because they do not give it time. Being a lover of history, I enjoy knowing that the traditional Mass I am participating in is the same one which countless people over the centuries, and across the world have celebrated. If only people would look beyond their unfounded assumption that the traditional Mass is somehow a rejection of Vatican II, and that going to a Latin Mass means that you are somehow stuck in the past. That kind of false thinking drives me nuts!

2. Term 3 beings tomorrow, and I feel totally unprepared! The first week of the holidays I was recovering from having two wisdom teeth removed under a general anaesthetic. The second week saw us catching up with friends, and camping on the final weekend, when I should be planning! I find that I really need a short amount of time to just collect my thoughts about the coming term, and to put my plans on paper, even when those plans are often just a continuation of what we have already been doing, with just a little tweaking. 

This term however, I feel a little extra pressure as Bilby only has two terms before I think he will finish his home education journey. We will start Sonlight 20th Century World History, even though we may not finish it before he may begin studying at TAFE. I want to lap up the time we have with all three children at home together.

3. This week end Koala is visiting a friend in Canberra, and Bilby, is visiting a good friend in Goulburn. They were able to travel on the train together most of the way, which eased my anxiety about Koala taking his first big trip away. It occurred to me that with the older two boys away, James, Roo, and myself should go away too. I picked James up from work on Friday afternoon with the camper trailer attached to the car, and we had a week end in Port Stephens. It certainly is different with just one child. We have a lot more space, and less squabbling!

4. Bilby has been considering working in an early childhood setting. Last term he did some work experience at his old preschool, where some of the staff remembered him! He has always had an affinity with little ones, and he has enjoyed his time at the preschool. Perhaps study in this area is something he may consider next year.

5. My study is finally finished! The final touch was a wall sticker quote from a Robert Frost poem. "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference."  I think this quote sums up our lives as Christians, and home educators. The other quote I nearly went with was from St Catherine of 
Siena, "If you are who you are meant to be you will set the whole world ablaze." I will definitely be using St Catherine's quote at a later date. I will post pictures of my beautiful study soon. It's my favourite room in our new home, and I just love having a dedicated homeschool room in which to put our books etc after years of schooling in our dining room.

6. Bilby has started to learn to drive. At first I had to push him to both get his licence, and to get behind the wheel, but now he is keen to get his hours up. Thus far it has been a pleasure, and much less stressful than I had been anticipating!

7. I am feeling very blessed at the moment as one of the children have come though a difficult period with his faith intact, and vastly strengthened. It has reminded me of how important suffering can be, and how we must lean into Our Lord when things get tough. I recall praying about this situation, when we were in the thick of it, and I felt God telling me that my son was still the same child despite the situation we were facing, and to not worry. Times when I feel God speaking to me are very rare, so this was precious. I held onto that knowing, when things were overwhelming. My prayers were answered, and my son, has emerged stronger, and with his faith renewed and redoubled! God is good, even in the midst of suffering.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Simple Woman's Daybook (vol1)

Here is my tweaked version of The Simple Woman's Daybook. I have borrowed a few of Erin's additions!

Outside My Window

The temperature has begun to rise, and the sun is appearing earlier which means I have started to walk again. I have really missed walking over winter, when it was too cold for me to go for an early walk, and when the motivation to go had evaporated by the time it warmed up.

I am thankful for

My level of energy. Now that my health has started to improve, I seem to be able to stay up longer when there is something to stay up for, and not pay for it all the following day. A few night ago I sat up until midnight researching a new history curriculum, and the next day I felt only slightly tired rather than wiped out.

I am going

This evening I am going to my friend Fiona's home to see a demo of the new model Thermomix.

I am reading

Postcard From The Volcano by Lucy Becket. I am enjoying it enormously. Wishing I had more time to devote to it though. I think it will take a another few weeks to finish.

I am looking forward to

Taking our new camper trailer away for 5 nights. We are only going local as James has no leave, so we are staying close to his work, which is close to the wonderful holiday location of Port Stephens. I'm planning to read a lot, both for myself, and to the boys.

I am pondering

How fast time goes, and how little time I have left to achieve all that I want to with Roo, before his formal education is over. Looking back to when the older boys were his age, I see that I let time slip away, and didn't get around to doing some of the things I wanted to, such as art appreciation and creation, living the liturgical year etc. I am trying to be more intentional with these things for Roo.

I am listening to

Conversations With Richard Fidler. This morning while walking I listened to an interview about great speeches. Right up my alley.

I am struggling

With patience. Both with the children, and with wanting to achieve more from my to do list.

Celebrating the liturgical year

Yesterday Roo watched the video Sunday Mass preparation video from Holy Heroes, and colouring sheet. I intended to make very simple crosses (Feast of The Exaltation of the Cross) made by cutting wafer biscuits, but we arrived home too late from Life Teen Mass to have dessert, so we did it today. It was certainly simple enough!

I am praying

For my Mother-in-law's companion who has been diagnosed with cancer, and for my sister-in-laws step daughter whose brain tumor has returned. We only found out today. We also continue to pray for Christians in the middle east.

A favourite quote for today

"Since Christ Himself has said, "This is My Body" who shall dare to doubt that it is His Body?" St Cyril of Jerusalem.

A few plans for the rest of the week

On Friday we are finishing the term by visiting fellow homeschool friends who are hosting a morning tea for Catherine Hamlin's hospital in Ethiopia. Roo is really looking forward to seeing his friend Joseph, and playing in their lovely garden which he is very fond of!

A peek into my day

This was taken two weeks ago at the North Coast Catholic Homeschool camp. We had a fantastic time!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

7 Quick Takes (vol 3)

I know it's been a year between posts, but this time I am determined to get back into blogging. I've cleaned out my Face Book friends and pages, and I am intending to spend my net time in the blogosphere.
We have just returned from the North Coast Catholic Homeschoolers camp, and I am feeling refreshed, and energised. I love that I always feel enthused and ready for change, after I return from camp. Having time away to pray, ponder, and connect with like minded families, allows me the time to reassess where we are headed, and to make a few changes. I am feeling that there are not enough free hours in the day at the moment to accomplish all that is on my to do list!
We are building a house, which we should be moving into by the end of November! After a VERY slow start it is taking shape, and we are starting to get excited about this new time on our lives. I'll blog about this in more detail later, as what we are doing is somewhat unconventional.
In preparation for said house, we have started to look at new furniture. Last night we put a deposit on our very first new lounge, which is rather exciting! The house will also have a dedicated study, for us to put all our educational supplies and curriculum rather than our dining room doubling as a work space, as it is now. I am sooo excited about this room! Its the only room in the house that I know EXACTLY how I want it to look. I have started to look for a lounge and desk for this study (I don't like the word study, but schoolroom isn't right either. Any suggestions?).
In the last few months I have removed dairy from my diet, and I am loving the results. I no longer get a runny nose in the morning, headaches, or find it difficult to get moving in the morning. I has been VERY difficult to give up cappuccino, yoghurt, and cheese, but I just love the way I feel. I recently did a trial, and my eye puffed up, I had a headache, and felt terrible for most of the morning, so I know that I can no longer eat dairy. I small price to pay for feeling great!
I've discovered Jo Witton's Quirky Cooking cook book, which as made the whole dairy free process so much more enjoyable. Macadamia "cheese" is fantastic, as is her dairy free custard made with coconut milk.
I am just loving life at the moment! The challenges faced by one of the boys this time last year have mostly been resolved which is a huge load of the family shoulders. Everyone is in a good place, and life is good. Feeling extremely blessed!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

7 Quick Takes (vol. 2)

Recently I took Roo off to get a haircut, which is always an interesting experience! I can't help but remember the time, not too long ago when a hair cut was a traumatic experience for both Roo and myself. These days a little discomfort shows on his face for only a few minutes before he settles in for a good long chat with Dave the barber. This time, one of the many topics Roo covered was his favourite ABC3 TV show,  Splat-A-Lot. Roo suggested that Dave should watch it. Roo informed Dave that it would make his life better! He also told him that he would have to watch it after attending Mass, as it begins at 11am! Listening to Roo chatting away in the barber's chair always brings a smile to my face.
This week we finally made a pilgrimage to St Mary of the Cross' tomb at Mary MacKillop place. I believe that when one goes on a pilgrimage there are meant to be crosses, or little sufferings to offer up. Our little trip was no exception. Let's just say that we experienced a little difficulty with one of our modes of transport. Some of us alighted the train at a particular stop, others of us did not! We eventually arrived at North Sydney, and were able to spend some time in prayer before the tomb of Australia's first canonized saint.

On the way home I mentioned to one of the children that as I knelt down to pray (with said child), I became overwhelmed with emotion and began to cry. This surprised me, as I had prayed with one of the others boys a few minutes before, and was underwhelmed, but this time bam, tears began to flow, which is very unusual for me. My son quickly looked at me, and said that he had experienced the same thing, and had been crying too!

I would love to go back again soon as our visit was rather short. It's such a beautiful setting with the lovely gardens , and old buildings in the heart of the city, yet set apart from it.
The day we left for our holiday my beloved coffee machine broke down! It had served us faithfully for 6 years. Every day at morning tea time I would stop and make myself a cappuccino.  I am not a huge coffee drinker, but love a well made cappuccino once a day.

We have upgraded to a more fancy model, which has required a little more skill than simply pressing a few buttons! I am beginning to understand why it is so difficult to get a truly good coffee. After many failures, I am on my way towards figuring out how to pull a 30 second shot of espresso every time. Having a streak of perfectionism (especially in regard to coffee) is proving to be a time consuming business, but an enjoyable one all the same.
Yesterday Bilby came home from the Aspect Siblings camp. I'm sure he had a great time, but as he didn't get to sleep until after 2am on the final morning he hasn't been able to give me much information as yet!

While we were picking him up, and watching the little presentation put on my the children, we saw the first teacher Roo had when he went to the Aspect school. It was so lovely to see him chatting to her, and reminiscing about the good old days in Blue class!
Every time we attend a Catholic Homeschool camp I come home with a case of baby envy, or more accurately large family envy! James came with us to the last camp, and he came home with a dose too. I just love watching how the children in large families interact with one another.
Today Roo finished book 1 of All About Spelling. He has really enjoyed this programme, and feels a great sense of achievement at having finished the book. Before we went on holiday, I had to convince him not to take it away with us so that he could finish quicker! Book 2 here we come.
In an effort to strengthen my back, which keeps going out resulting in my having to spend 2-3 days lying flat, I have decided that I need to do some exercise. I tried Pilates with a physiotherapist, which was great, but is very expensive, so I am looking into other options. My motivation is lacking. It's just not my thing, but better than the alternative I guess!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!