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!