Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Holy Days

With the end of British Summer Time last Saturday the nights are drawing in and it finally feels autumnal after our long warm spell. Last week it would have seemed too summery for the Feasts of All Saints and All Souls; this week I'm ready for these great Feasts that spell the beginning of the end of the liturgical year. Another month and we will be into Advent.

This week also means Halloween, an occasion that is becoming ever more of a big deal here - largely promoted by commercial interests, judging by the way the space taken up by Halloween products in the shops increases annually. In my childhood Halloween was a bit of autumn fun if it was anything at all. Trick and treating was unheard of, and all our excitement was reserved for Bonfire Night (Guy Fawkes) on November 5th. Now not only is Halloween much more of an event, but the emphasis is heavily on all things spooky. We don't do spooky. We do, however, do fun and parties. Last year Halloween was cancelled due to pregnancy sickness (!) but this year we are having a small All Hallows Eve party. Thanks largely to inspiration from Joanna Bogle's Book of Feasts and Seasons this is the plan ...

  • Carve pumpkins
  • Darken the house and light with candles (downstairs) and small lamps (upstairs) - talk a little about what All Hallows Eve means and Jesus as Light of the World conquering death (I have a vague idea of illustrating this somehow with a skeleton and a cross. I'm after a short and visual way of making a point, not a catechism lesson)
  • Eat soul cakes as a reminder to pray for those who have died (we will use ring doughnuts as everyone likes those)
  • Play games - bobbing for apples, blind feeding, and anything else I can think up
  • Eat supper by candlelight - potatoes baked in jackets with cheese and baked beans, apple pies and parkin (if my attempt to follow Joanna Bogle's recipe works!)
  • More games, including hide and seek in the dark
  • Sweets (candy) to take home
Everyone gets to dress up, but not anything spooky. Angel is planning to be a cowgirl and Star a ladybird. They are trying to persuade me to dress Little Cherub as a pumpkin. The guests are J and A-next-door (evangelical Christians) and G and F, another pair of sisters (Catholic). Six is a nice manageable number - although Star, F and A-next-door are inclined to be over-excitable!

All Saints Day will be a holiday, with Mass in the morning followed by a trip out for a drink and a snack. In the afternoon we will be playing badminton with our local homeschool group, which I think can be counted as holiday-ish.

All Souls Day will mean morning Mass again, followed by a visit to a nearby churchyard to visit my Dad's grave and pray for those buried there.

Monday, October 30, 2006

A sticky situation

Over the weekend I spotted a deliciously ludicrous story in the newspaper ... a pasta factory at Great Yarmouth in Norfolk (East Coast of England) suffered a mishap. Something went wrong with the air pressure in a silo, blasting 2 tonnes of semolina over the town, where the inhabitants woke to find everything covered in a white "frosting". The point at which things went truly pear shaped was when some bright spark on the clean-up team decided the best plan would be to wash it away. Unfortunately they forgot one simple equation: semolina + water = pudding. (For those of you on the other side of the Pond, I think the translation of semolina pudding is cream of wheat.) Great Yarmouth found itself wallowing under a slippery glaze of pudding. Pavements had to be closed off; cyclists slithered off bikes; cars skidded. Pudding went down the drains. There were concerns that it was heading for the sewage works. Yikes!

Roald Dahl would have had a field day. Forget Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? How about Sebastian and the Semolina Sludge?

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Even though I didn't manage much scrapbooking on Friday it got me inspired and I did four pages yesterday - two with photos from a snowy day last Christmas, and two for Angel's 11th birthday. Star's rock-climbing expedition and First Communion next ... I'm hoping I might get them done this afternoon, then I'll be ready to start on Little Cherub's photos.

While I am on the subject of scrapbooking, I have to enthuse about my favourite scrapbooking resource ... Becky Higgins' Creative Sketches. A kind friend gave me one of her books (after I kept borrowing hers!) and I love it. You can take one of Becky's sketches as inspiration for a layout and then turn it into something individual. Just look up sketches for the number of photos you want to use, choose one that fits the size and shape of your photos and you are away. And there are a number of sketches available online too :). They help me to get over the initial creative hump with a page and give me something I can run with on my own. Love them!

A free day: retrospective

Here is what I actually did on Friday ...

  • Baked two cakes (Star baked one and I baked the other, which wasn't finished until 10pm)
  • Did half the pile of ironing
  • Looked at washing symbols on clothes with Star, who is working on her Home Skills Brownie badge
  • Cleared one clutter hotspot
  • Sorted out a bag of "stuff" that I liberated from my mother's house yesterday
  • Read lots of blogs
  • Finished off some almost done scrapbook pages
  • Snuggled Little Cherub (including an extra long bedtime cuddle with a cross baby who had napped too long and too late)
Star and Angel ...
  • Made a sweet gummy worm with the "Doctor Dreadful Food Lab". It took three attempts, a lot of stickiness, somewhat impatient help from me (I was trying to iron, and clean washing doesn't go well with sticky glop), and was more of a sticky mush than a worm once we got it out of the mould. However, we think we know where we went wrong, and have high hopes for the next revolting concoction.
  • Made Christmas cards
  • Played around with the Sibelius demo software on the computer - Angel helped Star to compose some music (interesting!)
  • Snuggled Little Cherub

Friday, October 27, 2006

A free day

Today is free ... nothing on the calendar, nothing that must be done, no school work (it is still half term), and no car so no temptation to go anywhere. It doesn't happen often. I have a few things I'd like to do ...

  • scrapbook
  • bake a couple of cakes for a brass band fundraiser tomorrow
  • clear out Star's drawers
  • deal with a large, accumulated pile of ironing
  • deal with some clutter hot spots
  • make plans for a small All Hallows Eve party next week
  • take a walk
Star wants to bake, make edible potions with a Doctor Dreadful kit she was given for her birthday (eek!) and play a board game.

Angel wants to use the computer and make potions with Star.

Little Cherub wants to snuggle.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Blog of the Week

This time my "blog of the week" is not a homeschooling blog, but one written by another English Catholic - Joanna Bogle, author of A Book of Feasts and Seasons (a great resource for families wanting to live the liturgical year). Hat tip to Rebecca of A Gypsy Caravan who pointed me in the direction of Auntie Joanna Writes. I have been thoroughly enjoying her accounts of her days and her commentary on Catholic life here.

Take a trip to London and pay her a visit.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Rule of six

Mary of St.Athanasius Academy has kindly asked me to take part in her Rule of Six carnival and give a list of six things to include in my children's day, every day. My first thought was not a Rule of Six, but a Rule of Three. Everyday my children should have:

  • something to love
  • something to do
  • something to think about
Heard that somewhere before? It comes from Karen Andreola's Charlotte Mason Companion (I had thought it was from Charlotte Mason herself, but after rooting around on the internet and failing to find a reference I think it is Karen A's own interpretation - please correct me if I'm wrong!). And I think the Rule of Three can be quite neatly doubled into six ...
  • Love God
  • Love our family
  • Do something worthwhile
  • Do something fun
  • Read something worth thinking about
  • Discuss something worth thinking about

Loveliness of Babies

I sat down yesterday evening looking forward to reading through all the posts at the Loveliness of Babies Fair hosted by Elizabeth at Real Learning. And my internet connection wouldn't work!!!! How unfair is that!

It had come back to life this morning, so I have been sitting in bed with a snoozing Cherub on my lap enjoying a leisurely read. (Lucky it is our half term break!). There are some incredibly moving and heartwarming stories. If you haven't been there yet, don't miss them.

Monday, October 23, 2006

10 Random Facts

I've been tagged by Rebecca from A Gypsy Caravan for this meme ... so here are ten random facts about me, in entirely random order:

1. My favourite colour is pink.
So it is a good thing that I have three girls and can indulge in lots of pink things. Before having children my favourite colour was yellow, so perhaps I have simply been influenced by my surroundings!

2. I have black thumbs.
I can't garden. I can't grow things. I can kill plants without even touching them ... even when I water them, which isn't often. Most of the few things I remember to plant die of thirst. Sadly, I fantasise about having an allotment (a plot of land you rent from the local council) and growing my own vegetables. I once mentioned this to my neighbour, who laughed hysterically.

3. I like sheep.
I grew up on a farm, and my favourite animals were always the sheep. Cows were dumb, pigs were noisy, but sheep were kind of restful. I always used to get the job of bottle feeding orphaned lambs. And I like knitting ... which uses wool ... which comes from sheep ...

4. I am allergic to horses.
They make me sneeze and my eyes run. As a child I even used to get blisters round my eyes from being with them. I am allergic to animal dust generally - very convenient, that, when living on a farm! - but horses are much the worst. Perversely, cats rarely bother me, which is odd considering that they are so often an allergy trigger.

5. I once walked 120 miles from London to the national shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham.
On my own, to raise money for the Sue Ryder Foundation. I did it in a week, which for someone with no experience of long distance walking, turned out to be a rather ambitious pace. I have never ached so much before or since! I got up in the morning aching, started walking and just kept going ... stopping for a rest made me ache more, so I mostly just plodded on. Tevye, who was recovering from back surgery at the time, was mission control. He kept getting plaintive phonecalls along the lines of "if I ever suggest doing anything like this ever again, STOP ME!!!!".

6. I'm a roller coaster fan.
As are both Angel and Star, which gives me an excuse. Angel is now tall enough to ride serious rollercoasters, and I had promised her a trip to Alton Towers last spring to ride on Air and Rita: Queen of Speed. It had to be postponed due to pregnancy, but she is still on a promise. I can take any amount of being flung around upside down, but I find ferris wheels seriously scary as I'm not keen on heights. It is the being stuck at the top while the lower cars are loaded and unloaded that does for me!

7. I love trains.
If it were feasible and affordable, I would always choose to travel by train. I like being able to sit back, relax and watch the countryside zoom past. So much nicer than being in a giant tin can in the sky, or being stuck in a traffic jam in the car. There is a romance to trains - how could hoping on a plane to Venice possibly compare to the Orient Express?

8. I hate complaining.
I will put up with any amount of abysmal service or inconvenience rather than complain. It's an English thing. Tevye, being Jewish, doesn't have the same diffidence. He is on a one man campaign to eliminate the misuse of the apostrophe. He complains. I stand at what I hope is a safe distance away, trying to look as though I am not with him, in a state of mortified embarrassment.

9. I went to boarding school for 9 years.
From age 8 (only a few months older than Star) to age 17. My parents had what seemed very good reasons at the time.

10. I would love to live in Cornwall.
My great-aunt and uncle lived in Cornwall for much of my childhood. They were grandparents to me in all but name, so we visited often and I fell in love with the place. One day, when Tevye is retired and the children grown, I picture us living out our twilight years there.

Cottage Blessings

Doris's Deeds
Dumb Ox Academy
Family Centred Life
Karen Edmisten

... you're tagged! Apologies if anyone else has already tagged you.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Relaxed home schooling

Since realising last week that I was hitting overload I have been experimenting a little with the structure of our days. I'm feeling pleased with myself as I think I have it cracked. Next week is our half-term break, then when we start back we will be trying a new routine I think will keep our days simple and relaxed.

I'm going to split our days into three parts ...

  • Read alouds - relaxed and informal, reading to one or other or both in whatever order works best on a given day. If nobody is dressed at 9am when I aim to start "work" they can listen in pyjamas and get dressed as and when I am reading to the other girl. That way I will not get stressed because nobody is ready and I am behind. And I will also not get stressed about my failure to get everyone into a better morning routine. Everyone is enjoying read aloud time this year, after a bad run last year when we had a series of books that just didn't fly for one reason or another. (And yes, I have learned the lesson about not ploughing on too long with a book we are not really enjoying!)
  • Written work - the more formal stuff. Maths, English, French or Latin, and researching and writing notebook pages. The later part of the morning seems to be working best for this at the moment as Angel and Star don't switch their brains on very early, and we lose impetus in the afternoons.
  • Activities - after lunch and some quiet reading time, the rest of the afternoon will be free to do more hands-on things - science experiments, art, crafts, music practice, computer, cooking, trips out, walks, watching a DVD, playing games.
We will just "do the next thing" in each session, apart from the afternoons which will be more free-flowing - I'll keep a running list of activity ideas, but not plan in any detail. If we miss a session on a given day, we will get to it again on then next.

The not-at-all mysterious worshipper

Inspired by the mystery worshipper reports and shamelessly plagiarising the questions here is the low-down on our parish ...

Mystery worshipper: The Bookworm
The Church: A Roman Catholic Church in deepest Bedfordshire that will remain anonymous!
The building: Single storey, brick-built, rather uninspiring 1950s building. Replaced smaller "tin hut" on same site.
The community: Mixed bag - mainly English, Irish or Italian, but with a sprinkling of other nationalities.
The neighbourhood: Older part of town, a few minutes walk from town centre.
The cast: Father J, parish priest
Date and time: Sunday October 22nd, 10.30 Mass
How full was the building? Almost full - I would guess about 180 to 200 people.
Did anyone welcome you personally? Yes - an extremely large teddy bear (space is at a premium so donations for a Christmas bazaar are being left in the entrance area), P, an older lady who is a regular welcomer for the 10.30 Mass, and N, a 14yo boy on the autistic spectrum who gives out hymnbooks and missals..
Was your pew comfortable? Standard wooden pew, as comfortable as any other wooden pew. Fold down kneeler a little narrow but adequate.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere? Low but persistent hum of chatter.
What were the exact opening words of the service? "Good morning everyone. During our Eucharist this morning we remember that Jesus came among us to serve ... " (can't remember the rest of the introduction, but it was highlighting today's Gospel). Strictly speaking the introduction was not part of the Mass, which started with "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit".
What books did the congregation use during the service? Hymn book (Laudate) and a missal for the second half of Year B.
What musical instruments were played? Organ - small pipe organ installed fairly recently. Nice sound but frustrating to play as it has only one manual, few stops and no swell box (which allows volume control).
Did anything distract you? Star and Little Cherub!
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what? Middle-of-the-road English Catholic. Sticks to the rubrics of the Mass, though not always to the strictest interpretation. Music a mixed bag - hymns ranged from Cardinal Newman to Graham Kendrick; main prayers of the Mass mostly sung, again mixed bag ranging from a traditional Alleluia, through modern-ish setting of Kyrie Eleison, to litany-style Lamb of God. Singing somewhere between tentative and moderately enthusiastic.
Exactly how long was the sermon? 5 minutes
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher? 7
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about? (A) Used references to a TV sit-com (Blackadder) to illustrate the inability of the apostles to grasp what Jesus was telling them, because it was so different to their expectations of the Messiah. (B). Ended by emphasising that Jesus came not to be served but to serve. Began with flippant humour, but overall the sermon was short, to the point and focused on the Gospel for the day. I'm not entirely sure how Father J got from A to B as I was distracted by a squeaking Cherub.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven? Reverently said Eucharistic prayer; receiving Our Lord in Holy Communion.
And which part was like being in ... er ... the other place? Kerfuffle of children coming back into Church from children's liturgy. One group got accidentally shut out, causing them eventually to collide with the offertory procession. Irritating clapping of children by congregation before they were sent back to their places.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost? Can't really answer that one. Too busy dealing with Star's friend F who had "lost" her boots - which, naturally, shouldn't have been off her feet in the first place. Suffice it to say that I was briefly in loco parentis while F's mother was taking grandma home ... and Star and F are two of a kind who need watching like hawks ... and Angel and her friend G (who happens to be F's sister) should know better!
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Basic but adequate - coffee or tea, orange squash for children, biscuits (or cookies, depending on your version of English!). Served in parish hall which is basic and inadequate - an old, prefabricated building, unheatable in winter and in dire need of replacement. Friendly and sociable. Children over-excitable.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10=ecstatic, 0=terminal)? 7½. I've had an off-and-on relationship with this parish, but it has grown on me over the years. It has some glaring weaknesses - the total lack of any input for over 8s being one - but nothing I can't live with. Overall it is a lot better than it was a few years ago and there is a good sense of community - it is easy to feel part of the Body of Christ.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian? Yes.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time? Seven days time? I have trouble remembering anything for 24 hours!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

History? I quit!

With the honorable exception of Usborne's Time Traveller which Star loved, my daughters dislike non-fiction history books in any shape or form. They have also developed to a high degree the ability to take in information through their ears and eyes and promptly eliminate it from their brains. The final straw was Angel yesterday, who proclaimed complete ignorance of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 despite the fact that we read about and discussed that very incident only two weeks ago.

I give up.

For the rest of this year we are just going to read historical fiction. I'm sticking with my plan to study 20th century history with Angel, but ditching Star's intended foray into the middle ages and having her listen in to Angel's books where they are appropriate - many are not, but if she does history-light for a year it won't ruin her entire future! She has voluntarily opted in to Angel's current read aloud, The Angel in the Square by Gloria Whelan, and I'll play it by ear from there. History should merge neatly with geography as we wander through Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

I already have quite a good book list, though I'll have to do a bit of pre-reading as there are some tough themes and some may be too 'young adult' for Angel ...

Women's Suffrage (British)
Bring Out the Banners by Geoffrey Trease
Miss Rivers and Miss Bridges by Geraldine Symons

First World War
War Game by Michael Foreman
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo
(though WW1 decidedly did not capture Angel's interest, so I think we may skip these)

The Angel in the Square
The Impossible Journey
(Stalinist era)
Burying the Sun (siege of Leningrad during WW2)
The Turning (end of Communist era)
- all by Gloria Whelan, an author we are very much enjoying

Spanish Civil War
Toro! Toro! by Michael Morpurgo

Second World War
Dolphin Crossing by Jill Paton Walsh
Carrie's War by Nina Bawden
Fireweed by Jill Paton Walsh
Number the Stars
by Lois Lowry
The Silver Sword (a.k.a. Escape from Warsaw) by Ian Serallier
When Hitler Killed Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr
Twenty and Ten by Claire Huchet Bishop
The Endless Steppe by Esther Hautzig
The Small War of Sergeant Donkey by Maureen Daly

Communist Europe
Song for a Tattered Flag
(Geoffrey Trease) - collapse of Ceaucescu regime in Romania

Bosnian War
Zlata's Diary by Zlata Filipovic

When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park
Year of Impossible Goodbyes by Sook Nyul Choi (and sequels Echoes of the White Giraffe and Gathering of Pearls)

Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind by Suzanne Fisher Staples (and sequel Haveli)

The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis (also sequels Parvana's Journey and Mud City)
Under the Persimmon Tree by Suzanne Fisher Staples

One More River by Lynne Reid Banks (and sequel Broken Bridge)
Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye

South Africa
Journey to Jo'burg by Beverley Naidoo
Out of Bounds: Seven Stories of Conflict and Hope by Beverley Naidoo

The Other Side of Truth by Beverley Naidoo

That should be more than enough to keep us going for a year ... and I'm sure I'll find more!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Sweet India

You learn something new every day when you homeschool. Today's gem was from Angel's notebook page on India ... "some of India is covered with hot dessert". Hmm ... are we talking chocolate sponge and custard, apple and blackberry crumble, or rice pudding?

I don't think she will mispell desert again for a while!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Champagne Service

Still intrigued by the mystery worshipper reports ... I like the sound of this one. What a shame it is Anglo-Catholic and not Roman. Magnificent liturgy, and champagne instead of coffee after Mass!

The Mystery Worshipper

I've heard of mystery shoppers, but never of mystery worshippers. I stumbled on this site accidentally, and couldn't resist browsing. What would a mystery worshipper make of our parish Church, I wonder?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

In Eden

You know the way things suddenly connect and you find yourself somewhere you didn't expect to be? I am unexpectedly blundering around in Eden. (I'm sure Eden is a place where one should float gracefully, but I am built more for blundering than graceful floating.) At the weekend I finally picked up one of the unread books from my holiday reading selection - Eden by Tim Smit, the man who imagined and ultimately created Eden ... no, not that Eden, but the Eden Project in Cornwall, where the largest greenhouses in the world hold an astonishing array of plants in tropical and warm temperate biomes, providing both a stunning tourist attraction and a repository for the world's horticultural gene bank. I'm intrigued by the sheer scale of the achievement and the way in which a ridiculously impossible idea became reality.

At the library yesterday a new book jumped off the shelf at me, partly because it is published by the Eden Project and partly because it is by one of my favourite illustrators, Jane Ray. In Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden, unlike her other Biblical books (Creation, Noah's Ark and the Nativity), she does not use the original text but retells the story herself - well, I thought, though I only skimmed through quickly. One imaginative addition I rather liked was God giving Adam and Eve plant cuttings to take with them out of the Garden of Eden. I just love her illustrations!

And just to keep the theme going, Star and I are currently reading about Eve in Saint Patrick's Summer.

Postscript: I just browsed Jane Ray's website, which confirmed something I suspected. She is the daughter of my former organ teacher. Now I like her even more!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Chilling out

Our school routine is beginning to shake down and is getting more chilled out. Every year I start with a magnificent schedule from which I then proceed to deviate. This year I am both simplifying and allowing more scope for flexibility. The revised plan (I have to have a plan!) is to spend the mornings reading aloud, doing maths, English, French or Latin, and working on notebooks. After lunch we will do some quiet reading, then have the rest of the afternoon free to do hands on stuff - science experiments, art, crafts, games, cookery, gardening, or whatever takes our fancy. We won't get through everything listed on my plans, but we should still manage a fair chunk of it. And, I hope, enjoy more relaxed days.

One year ago

One year ago yesterday I celebrated my 45th birthday. When I turned 40, I still had small children; by 45 it seemed I was definitely in that mid-life stage of children growing older and no little ones coming up behind. I had accepted that much as I would have loved a larger family, my two precious daughters were as big as it was going to get. A few months earlier we had got rid of assorted car seats and pushchairs. That stage of life was gone.

One year ago today I began to suspect I might be pregnant. Over the next few days it became much more than a suspicion - though I put off doing a test, partly out of disbelief, and partly out of fear of disappointment. Finally I plucked up the courage. Sure enough, the test was positive. I asked everyone I knew (and many I didn't) for prayers. I have reason to be very grateful to those friends, both known and unknown, who prayed for us. Pregnancy never comes with any guarantees, and at 45 there was a significantly higher risk of miscarriage and complications. I made it to 12 weeks and a scan showed a perfect, tiny baby. The miracle began to seem real. Morning, evening and night sickness (fortunately afternoons were better) was replaced with a nasty asthmatic cough and breathlessness. I don't normally suffer from asthma but it is triggered by pregnancy. I had it mildly with Star. This time it was a six month battle, trying to keep ahead with an ever increasing pile of inhalers. People continued to pray. Our Little Cherub grew despite my poor health.

Two weeks before my due date I had a routine appointment with my community midwife. My blood pressure had begun to rise. The midwife felt the breathlessness was taking too much of a toll. Worse still, she was not happy with Little Cherub's heart rate. She sent us to the hospital for monitoring. During a brief stop at home to collect my bag I sent out emails asking for prayers. And they were answered. Little Cherub's heart trace wasn't good. Worse, she wasn't moving. The obstetrician decided on an emergency c-section. Within 15 minutes, Little Cherub was out and being resuscitated by a team of paediatricians. I discovered later she was born with an Apgar score of 2. After a short but heart-stopping wait the doctors started to smile ... and Little Cherub cried. Within a few minutes we were able to hold our new daughter. She was tiny - only 5lbs 7lbs - but in perfect health. All those prayers had been answered. Our miracle baby was with us.

What can I say about mid-life motherhood? Simply, it is a joy. I am aware in a way I wasn't with Angel and Star that every day with this little miracle is precious
and I savour each one. Even after four months I have to pinch myself to believe this is real. My heart melts each time I look at my Little Cherub; I snuggle her and I'm warmed to my toes. Even looking at the baby paraphernalia scattered round the house is a thrill. I have learned gratitude. I thank God constantly for this precious, unexpected gift. Having a new baby after an eight year gap is in some ways like being a first time mother again - I have that same sense of wonder and excitement - but with the benefit of experience. For Angel and Star, their baby sister is a wish granted. Both had longed for a new sibling. To see them cuddling, comforting and playing with their sister is an added joy.

I try to say Evening Prayer daily (though I'm afraid I miss it too often) and each time Our Lady's great prayer of praise resonates in my soul and hones th
at spirit of gratitude.
My soul glorifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour
... the Almighty works marvels for me, Holy His name ...

Deo gratias! And if you were one of those friends who prayed for us, thank you more than I can say.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Blog of the Week

It has taken me well over a week to get round to posting this, but better late than never!

I am not a crafty homeschooler. We rarely get around to the making, baking, painting and growing activities that I'm sure would enhance our studies if only I were better at making time for them and more organised at getting materials together. I love the idea of using crafts to celebrate the liturgical year, but I need inspiration - a lot of inspiration - to make it happen ... and I know just the place to find it.

Alice at Cottage Blessings has a talent for coming up with wonderful Catholic crafts that work for a range of ages. Take a look at some of these. Only Alice could turn wooden ice cream spoons into a cavalcade of saints. And she does all this while homeschooling and mothering seven children.


Note to self: add ice cream spoons to shopping list. I think we could manage this one!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Beam me up Scotty ...

Hat tip to Alice (a.k.a. Alice-stotle) at Cottage Gardens ...

You Are Incredibly Logical

Move over Spock - you're the new master of logic
You think rationally, clearly, and quickly.
A seasoned problem solver, your mind is like a computer!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Geography books from Frances Lincoln

I have a favourite picture book publisher: Frances Lincoln. Over years of borrowing from the library I noticed that when I found a new book I particularly liked it often came from this publisher. The three non-fiction books on India I read with Star all come from separate "world cultures" series published by Frances Lincoln. Searching through their website I have come up with what I think is a full list of the books published to date:

Alphabet Books
A is for Africa by Ifeoma Onyefula
B is for Brazil by Maria de Fatima Campos
C is for China by Sungwan So
I is for India by Prodeepta Das
J is for Jamaica by Benjamin Zephaniah
W is for World: a Round-the-World ABC by Kathryn Cave

Child's Day Books
Bongani's Day by Gisele Wolfsohn (South Africa)
Boushra's Day by Khaled El Dash (Egypt)
Cassio's Day by Maria de Fatima Campos (Brazil)
Enrique's Day by Sara Andrea Fajardo (Peru)
Geeta's Day by Prodeepta Das (India)
Huy and Vinh's Day by Jim Holmes (Vietnam)
Iina Marja's Day by Jaako Alatalo (Lapland)
Nii Kwei's Day by Catherine McNamara (Ghana)
Polina's Day by Andrey Ilyin (Russia)
Yikang's Day by Sungwan So (China)

Child's Visit Books
Prita Goes to India by Prodeepta Das
Shan-Yi Goes to China by Sungwan So

I may not make it through all these with Star, who is at the upper end of the age range for them, but in a few years I can work my way through the list with Little Cherub.

Book Review: Prita Goes to India

Title: Prita Goes to India
Author: Prodeepta Das
Age Suitability: Approx. 4to 8

As you can tell from the number of reviews we have been making good headway with our study of India. This third book by Prodeepta Das rounded out Star's study of India. British-born Prita is taken by her parents to visit India and her family there. There are many photos of her Indian relatives, their homes and the places she visits which bring the text alive. The book gives a view of modern Indian life which nicely complements Geeta's Day. Star enjoyed Prita's story, though her verdict was that she slightly preferred Geeta's Day. I think her judgement was right - if I was to choose one non-fiction picture book on India to read to a child in this age group it would be Geeta's Day, but Prita Goes to India comes a creditable second.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Book Review: Homeless Bird

Title: Homeless Bird
Author: Gloria Whelan
Age Suitability: Older children and teens

Earlier this year we read and enjoyed Chu Ju's House by Gloria Whelan. Homeless Bird is another "living geography" book in the same vein, with a teenage girl facing and overcoming adversity. This time the location is India, and the premise for the story is that thirteen year old Koly's arranged marriage ends disastrously when her sickly bridegroom dies soon after the wedding. She is left a widow, giving her very low status in her Indian village society. Ill-treated by her bitter mother-in-law, she is eventually abandoned to fend for herself. Thanks to the charity of a rich woman she is ultimately able to build a new life.

Again we enjoyed this book, which is a good addition to a study of India. I rated it about equally with Chu Ju's House, but Angel liked Homeless Bird better. Koly is a sympathetic character, and Gloria Whelan a very readable author. The only red flag I can think of is that at one point Koly lies in order to visit a friend's room where she is given a drug-laced drink and narrowly escapes some unwanted advances. There is nothing graphic, and Koly clearly realises the mistake she has made.

Musical notes

As an enthusiastic amateur musician I'm so happy to see my daughters enjoying playing instruments. This year we have lots going on musically ...

Angel is still playing the cornet in our local brass band and is now lead second cornet after her previous second cornet partner was promoted to first cornet - quite a responsibility for an eleven year old playing in an adult band. I'm immensely proud of the progress she has made since she started in the senior band at the beginning of the year, and grateful to the band members for their enthusiasm and encouragement. She plays her trumpet in the music group at Church and goes to a Saturday morning Music School run by our local education authority where she sings in a choir and plays her trumpet in the junior wind band and orchestra. She hit lucky this term and squeaked into a music and computers class - right up her street as it combines two of her main interests. It is intended for older teenagers, but this year they had a few spaces left for younger children and she managed to get her name down quickly enough to get one. She has been learning to use this Sibelius software, and will get the opportunity to work on both arranging and composing. We downloaded the demo program and she has been playing around with composition at home. It isn't possible to save or print files from the demo, but she has still been having fun with it. She quit piano. It really isn't her instrument and she was losing interest, so she swapped piano lessons for tap dance classes.

Star is still learning the baritone horn with the junior section of the brass band and has just started Saturday Music School. She is playing in the junior wind band, goes to a rhythmic workshop, and has started a beginner guitar class that she is loving. She has ambitions to play tuba and electric guitar, which would be an interesting combination. Also both a loud and bulky one. She has enough trouble carrying both her baritone and a small acoustic guitar. She has also mastered playing the recorder with her nose. Trust Star to add an eccentric twist.

The Bookworm (yes, that's me) has taken the plunge and joined the South Beds Concert Band. (Beds, in case you are wondering, is the standard abbreviation for Bedfordshire.) Before pregnancy I played violin with a local orchestra, but their Thursday night rehearsals just won't work logistically as they clash with Little Cherub's bedtime and one of Angel's dance classes. The Concert Band rehearses on a Sunday evening which is much more manageable. It also gives me a chance to play my second instrument, the flute, for a change. I have only been once so far, and it was a challenge. All my technical weaknesses jumped out and bit me. I am also playing the flute in the Church music group. So far it has been working well with Little Cherub tucked up in a wrap or sling - until last Sunday when she woke up during the last hymn, hit her head on the flute and was (entirely reasonably) most displeased.

Little Cherub has her first musical instrument. A soft piano thing that ties into her cot for her to kick and bash. I found it at a "nearly new" sale last week. I usually avoid noisy electronic toys like the plague, but this one looked rather fun. I'm not sure she has yet worked out that she is responsible for the noise, but hey! one has to start somewhere. When she is older Angel and Star want her to play trombone to fit in with their own brass instruments. I'm sure she will have her own ideas!

Tevye, who is not musical, cheers from the sidelines. And occasionally gets exasperated by the debris of instruments, music stands and music left strewn round the house.

It seems that music is definitely turning out to be a family charism.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Much better day

Phew! We had a much better day today. To start with I managed to get a load of washing done and hung up to dry by 9.30, which made me feel ahead of the game and more positive. (Sometimes it only takes small things!) Star was under par and spent the morning in her pyjamas, Angel was tired and slept in until 9.30, so I kept things light. During the morning I read to Star from A Life of Our Lord for Children and The Wizard of Oz, and to Angel from Mother Teresa and World War I. Angel and Star then both did maths, with Angel sailing through the exercise that was our downfall yesterday. This afternoon we all played musical instruments while Little Cherub batted at her toys, and then read quietly for a while. One of those days when I went with the flow and everything was nice and relaxed. I like those. We all like those :)

Water baby

I was too busy feeling sorry for myself yesterday to post about Little Cherub's new adventure ... we took her swimming for the first time on Sunday. The Cherub has very decided opinions and has recently been complaining about her bath, so we were not optimistic that she would enjoy joining a family swim. We would have bet on a maximum of five minutes before she became disenchanted with the idea, and would not have been surprised by instant indignation and a hasty retreat. Wrong! She loved it! She stayed happily in the pool for half an hour being swished and towed and "swum" from one person to another. Afterwards she was one seriously exhausted baby. She went out like a light for two hours, and would have slept longer if we hadn't woken her up to feed and get ready for bed. Both Angel and Star were early swimmers, and it looks as though we may have another water baby on our hands.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Autumn loveliness

Just when I needed something to cheer me up ... the Loveliness of Autumn fair is up at Family Centred Life. Lots of lovely posts to read on my favourite season. Good job, Michele!

A fragile day

You know those days when everything feels as though it is going against you? When life catches up on you and grabs you by the ankles. When perspective and reason go out of the window. Fragile days when your coping mechanisms fail. Today was one of those.

I posted before about trying to declutter my mother's house so that she can move nearer to us. Her mobility is getting worse so I am doing it single handed (with baby attached). Her arthritic hip has deteriorated badly and she is now waiting for hip replacement surgery. Unfortunately this may take some time as the National Health Service has a waiting list, and there is no way we can afford to pay for a non-NHS private operation. I can cope with the decluttering and packing up by taking it one step at a time and not thinking about the scale of the task. I can cope with helping her through the surgery. Just.

My mother phoned at the weekend to say that my brother has been diagnosed with testicular cancer. The doctor is optimistic that surgery will fix it, and it is one of the most curable cancers. It sounds as though he will have surgery sometime over the next couple of weeks. However, my brother tends to be uncommunicative when things are not going well, and has gone to ground (switched off his phone) so I haven't been able to find out more. I can cope with this extra worry. Just.

Homeschooling Star can be a struggle because her attention span and concentration are terrible. (I've been pondering a post on the "habit of inattention".) Usually I can cope with this, though I yell more than I would like. (Sometimes yelling is the only way to get Star to notice something. Sometimes she is just plain exasperating.)

Homeschooling Angel has its ups and downs, but so far this term has been pretty good. Until today when she went into a major sulk over her maths. Yes, that's right. The maths I just said was going so well. Usually I can cope with Angel's sulks, which mercifully happen much less often than they used to, but today it was just the final straw. Everyone ended in tears. The temptation to simply give up and send her to school - tomorrow if possible - was almost overwhelming. Unlike many families we have never homeschooled because we have an issue with the local schools, but because we feel home education has advantages that outweigh school. These include the ability to spend time together as a family, and to spend more time on things that interest the girls. Ending up with tears and damaged relationships over maths was never meant to be part of the deal. Angel has recently begun to talk about going to school to be with her friends. We think school is likely to be part of her future but when we reach that stage we want it to be a positive choice, not an opt-out clause because home education has become a burden or a cause of resentment.

We quit. We turned the TV on and watched part of a zoo programme. We ate lunch. Equilibrium was restored. We spent the afternoon playing Anatomix, a human body quiz game, and making Little Cherub giggle.

Time for a reality check, I think. My plans for the year looked ambitious but manageably so. But I reckoned without the other factors. Reality is ...

  • I have a sick mother who is going to need a lot of help over the next few months.
  • I have a sick brother who may also need help.
  • I have a four month old nursing baby.
  • I am still recovering from a tough pregnancy.
  • I want my daughters to enjoy being at home.
  • I want to enjoy time with my daughters.
I know from experience that without a plan we will do little or nothing, but I also know I can make a plan flexible enough to work for me. Time to lighten up on the plan and use it as a springboard and not fall into the trap of letting it be a straightjacket. Also time to read Elizabeth Foss's article on burnout in Real Learning. I may not be there yet, but I can see we could be heading that way.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

No more Monthly Medley

I set my Monthly Medley blog up as a way of keeping posts on particular topics together and getting round the lack of labels in Blogger. Now I have labels I will just post everything here at The Bookworm. I have copied the reviews of books about India I did last week, and will do the same with older posts later. I will not be posting anything new on the other blog.

Book Review: Premlata and the Festival of Lights

Title: Premlata and the Festival of Lights
Author: Rumer Godden
Age Suitability: 7 and up

Rumer Godden is a favourite author of mine, and any book of hers is guaranteed to be well written. The author lived in India as a child and her familiarity with and love for the country brings it to life in this book. Premlata is a seven year old girl whose family has fallen on hard times after the death of her father. Such hard times that her mother has been forced to sell the lamps they used to celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. To Premlata, no lights for Diwali is unthinkable. Thanks to a rich man's generosity, it look as though she will get her lights ... but all does not go as planned.

Star and I both very much enjoyed this book. There are a few caveats, though. Premlata makes mistakes. She takes matters into her own hands, causes anxiety for her mother, and spends money that does not really belong to her. She is an appealing little girl, and it is clear why and how she comes to do these things, but we still needed to have a chat about the rights and wrongs. As a Hindu festival is at the centre of the story there are obviously many references to Hindu gods and worship. If you would rather avoid dealing with non-Christian religions with a younger child, then this book is not for you. These caveats aside, this book is a great addition to a study of India.

Book Review: Geeta's Day

Title: Geeta's Day: From Dawn to Dusk in an Indian Village
Author: Prodeepta Das
Age Suitability: 4 to 8

This book follows six year old Geeta through a typical day in her village in eastern India, from early morning prayers through to falling asleep to the sound of music at the nearby temple. The book is nice to look at - each page is illustrated with a photograph and has an attractive coloured background - and the text is clear and interesting. It was a hit with Star when we read it yesterday. Tomorrow I plan to have her make a "day wheel" - a circle divided into segments showing the different parts of Geeta's day.

Book Review: I is for India

Title: I is for India
Author: Prodeepta Das
Age Suitability: 4 to 8

Another picture book by the same author as Geeta's Day, from the same publisher (Frances Lincoln, who have a track record of publishing beautiful and informative children's books), and with the same lay out. We did not like this one as much as Geeta's Day, finding the alphabet format rather bitty ... jumping from "alphabet" to "bullock cart" to "cinema" seemed artificial, and Star learned less than she did from the more coherent sister book. It does make a light and easy introduction to India, and I think younger children would particularly enjoy the pictures. The book shows the religious diversity of India - not just Hindus and Muslims, but also Christians. The picture for "X is for Xmas" shows what is clearly an Indian Catholic family.

More on Beta Blogger

This is an answer to Mary's comment on my last post asking about Beta Blogger, but I thought it might be useful to turn it into a post rather than leave it in the comments.

Beta blogger is being made available gradually. You can only switch if you get a "switch to beta blogger" button on your dashboard or on the blog publishing page. Mine appeared yesterday so I took advantage of it - mainly because the one thing about blogger that frustrated me was not having labels. Switching is very straightforward, though you do have to take out a Google account. Once you switch you have the option of switching your template to a "layout", which is really just a template that you can fiddle with much more easily by changing colours and fonts, and by adding extra elements (links, lists and so on). The only downside I have found so far is that you lose any html changes you made to your original template - though as I had only made one or two I can live with that. Oh, and you can end up spending far too much time playing with blog colours, only to decide you don't like any of them!

Editing and publishing both posts and sidebar elements is much easier. You get a little edit button on the screen next to each post and page element. Everything is more instant, posting directly to your blog without having to wait for it to publish. One other small improvement is that when blogger notifies you that a comment has been posted, it tells you which post it applies to. There may be more that I haven't noticed yet.

Now to go through my old posts and add labels ...

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Beta Blogger

I switched! I am now using Beta Blogger, which lets me play with templates, add links and lists more easily, and categorise posts with labels. I know there are still a few bugs, but hopefully none of them will affect me as I have no intention of trying to do anything complicated.

As I was bored with the old template, I have changed to a new one. I wanted nice autumnal colours, played with various templates, decided nothing worked and ended up with this one on the grounds that it was less bad than the last few tries.

Two weeks in

Two full weeks into our school year and we already have a few hits and misses.

Premlata and the Festival of Lights by Rumer Godden (Star)
The Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan (Angel)
- both girls have been begging for me to read more of these
Saint Patrick's Summer by Marigold Hunt (Star)
- catechism the enjoyable way
Maths 2XL CD-Rom (Angel
- two weeks without so much as a squeak of complaint from Angel. She likes using the computer. She likes the teacher's Australian accent. She understands the lessons. She does the worksheets happily. Can this possibly last? I wondered if this was just because the first few lessons were simple, but she whizzed through an exercise on powers of ten, a topic new to her - and new mathematical topics are usually a recipe for disaster.

Art - I like the Artistic Pursuits books, the girls like the Artistic Pursuits books, but somehow we just never get round to them. Either we run out of steam or end up doing something else.
Mother Teresa by Elaine Murray Stone (Angel) - nothing specific wrong with it, but it just hasn't captured our imagination. We are ploughing on, but without much enthusiasm.

Jury's out
Adventure of the Amethyst by Cecily Hallack (Angel) - I love this, but I knew the style would be a stretch for Angel. After a rocky start she's hanging in there, so I have hopes it will take off.
Story of the World vol.2 by Susan Wise Bauer (Star) - when I read to her she just wasn't interested enough to focus, so I switched to having her read it herself. She is only reading a small chunk at a time, but is narrating what she reads quite happily, so again, I have hopes!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Bookworm's First Law of Homeschooling

The Bookworm's First Law of Homeschooling: all things tend towards disorder and chaos.

Lest you labour under a misapprehension that I have model children who sit at my feet eager for the pearls of knowledge that drop from my lips (or from the pages of the books I read), who have perfected the habit of attention and who apply themselves enthusiastically to their studies, while I flow effortlessly through the day, calmly and softly directing their education while maintainly an orderly household (I wish!) ...

This morning started badly. Little Cherub woke just after 6am, early enough for her to go back to sleep, but too late for me to do the same. It was also one of those days when I would have been tired if I had woken at 8, yet alone at 6. By 9am we had all eaten breakfast (sugary cereal because I didn't have the energy to cook eggs), and were all dressed except Angel. Somehow morning prayers got forgotten. Bad start. I decided to begin by reading to Star while she did her hair, giving Angel time to dress. Good plan, except Star insisted she had to do her hair in the bathroom as she needed water to get it tied back tidily. Could I please read in the bathroom? Not such a good plan, especially as Little Cherub was getting hungry. I decided to leave Star for the time being and read to Angel despite her being still in her pyjamas. We sat on my bed so I could nurse the Cherub and she could use the mirror to do her hair. We read for some time, so after finishing her hair she decided to paint my toenails. (Tevye, for some reason I can't understand, thinks painting toenails while reading schoolbooks is bizarre. I don't get this. It leaves less mess than painting anything else.) Star finished her hair and I asked her to go and read to herself for twenty minutes. She pleaded to be allowed to draw for a while - I agreed on condition she promise to read straight afterwards. She did. In the bathroom. When I had finished reading to Angel and sent her off to get dressed it was Star's turn. Could she please get something to do while I read? Yes, if she could get it by the time I counted to twenty (Star is the most distractible child imaginable). By the time I got to fifteen she was dragging a large box of soft toys into my bedroom. I just managed to pre-empt her emptying the entire box over the floor.

When we finished reading I put the now-sleeping Cherub in her bed. She immediately woke up. I gave her to Star to look after while I went downstairs to load the crockpot. A few minutes later Star appeared downstairs, dragging the box of soft toys. Where was Cherub? With Angel, who was teaching her to play the keyboard. With her feet. I finished making dinner. By this time I was beginning to feel pressed for time as I had arranged to go to my mother's for another bout of decluttering. Being short of time makes me stressed. I asked Angel to do a notebook page on the Christmas Truce in World War I. Angel groaned. Could she please do a page on St.Francis instead? I weighed up the likelihood of World War I turning into a battleground (ouch!) and decided St.Francis sounded a reasonable option. I reviewed addition with carrying with Star and gave her a few sums to do. I then gave Angel brief instructions for a very simple French exercise. Angel decided it was much too hard (!) and looked mutinous. Uncooperative children make me stressed. I turned round just in time to see Star tip the entire box of soft toys over the floor. Large, unnecessary messes make me stressed. I yelled at Star. I snapped at Angel. Star returned the toys to the box at record speed. Angel slunk off to the computer to work on St.Francis, still clutching Little Cherub. I retired upstairs to get ready to leave. Little Cherub suddenly decided she was being starved and complained loudly. I fed Cherub and shot out of the door clutching baby in one hand, bag in the other, leaving Tevye in charge for the afternoon. This meant he got the very dubious pleasure of ensuring that the French got done.

Not one of our better mornings!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Brownie Star

Star was enrolled tonight as a Brownie Guide (the equivalent of Girl Scouts for seven to ten year olds). She recited the Brownie Law and Promise, was given her Brownie pin and welcomed to the Pack. Now she is officially a Brownie she can start working for badges. She is planning to begin with Cook and Dancer.

Brownie Guide Law

A Brownie Guide thinks of others before herself and does a Good Turn every day.

Brownie Guide Promise
I promise that I will do my best:
To love my God,
To serve the Queen and my country,
To help other people
To keep the Brownie Guide Law.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Little Cherub made a friend

While we waited at the dance school during Star's ballet lesson yesterday Little Cherub enjoyed herself with another dancer's small sister. It was the first time Little Cherub had met another baby old enough to be both interested and interesting. They sat together on a sofa (with a little help from me on the Cherub's part!) while C poked experimentally at Little Cherub, and Little Cherub stared at C and drooled in excitement. Very cute, they looked! Also something of a contrast. C, aged almost 12 months, is already in age 2-3 year clothes; my petite Little Cherub, aged 4 months, is still wearing a mix of newborn and 0-3 month outfits.

Name dropping postscript: C has been keeping interesting company. Last weekend she went with her family for afternoon tea at a top London hotel ... where much to their surprise they met Bill Clinton. Yes ... that Bill Clinton! Small world, isn't it? He not only signed a birthday card, but stopped to chat and to give C a cuddle. He went up in my estimation, not because of the cuddle per se - politicians can be expected to have practice in baby-cuddling - but because he gracefully ignored the fact that she had been eating jam and was distinctly sticky!

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Angels of Mons

Today's Feast of the Guardian Angels was marked with a neat touch of serendipity when we came across two angelic stories in our history reading. Angel (oops! a rather confusing pseudonym for this post!) is learning about World War I, and we read a story in Usborne True Stories: World War I that was new to me - the legend of the Angels of Mons. Briefly, the story goes as follows. During the early stages of the war the British Expeditionary Force was being heavily pressed by the German Army at the Belgian town of Mons, when one of the soldiers appealed to St.George. An army of angelic bowmen appeared and fired against the Germans, leading the British forces to victory. The tale spread rapidly, boosting British morale by proving that God was, indisputably, on the side of the allies. For many years after the war the story was believed to be true. Sadly (I love a good miracle!) there are no contemporary eyewitness accounts of any supernatural occurances at Mons, and it seems there is no basis for believing the tale is anything more than legend. The most likely explanation seems to be that a fictional story was published in a British newspaper. It spread through reprints and word of mouth, and grew in the telling. Within a short space of time the fictional "Bowmen" of the story had mutated and the Angels of Mons were widely accepted as fact. You can find more detail here.

To add an extra layer of coincidence, angels also appeared in Star's history reading. She read about St Augustine of Canterbury and the blond-haired slave boys in a Roman market who were "not Angles, but angels". I must confess this part of the story sounds suspiciously more like poetic license than a genuine quick-witted play on words by Pope Gregory, so should probably be put into the same legendary category as the Angels of Mons. St Augustine, of course, was most definitely not legendary!

Sunday, October 01, 2006


I loved the idea of the fridgeschooling that has been taken up by various homeschoolers whose blogs I frequent, but our English-style fridge just isn't big enough - particularly given that it already displays our calendar, menu plan for the week, shopping list and assorted photos - and isn't located conveniently for family viewing. Never one to be daunted by practicalities in the face of a great plan (how I love plans!) I made a noticeboard instead. I used thick artist's mounting board in a dark blue, and added card "frames" in lighter colours. Each week I am changing the contents of the frames by sticking new printouts on with bluetack. I am using the board to display:

  • the main feast days for the week
  • a quotation
  • a Bible verse
  • catechism questions and answers or other items for our Fruits of the Spirit study (often but not always the Bible verse and quotation will tie in with this.)
  • a work of art
  • a multiplication table
  • a prayer
  • two British Sign Language signs
  • anything else that takes my fancy
This is how our noticeboard looked last week.

Next week it will be displaying:
  • Feast Days - Guardian Angels, St.Francis, Our Lady of the Rosary
  • A quote by St Josemaria Escriva on guardian angels
  • Matthew 18 v.10 ("See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my father in heaven.")
  • The Ten Commandments (we are focusing on love for God, so will use the first four commandments for copywork)
  • List of the nine choirs of angels
  • Guardian Angel prayer
  • Five times table
  • St.Francis and the Birds by Sir Stanley Spencer (painting)
  • Signs for "bath" and "sleep"
I haven't yet found a permanent home for the noticeboard. So far it is being propped up against a table or the sofa and put away under a shelf in the evening. Not ideal ... and not practical once Little Cherub gets mobile!