Tuesday, 29 January 2008

It's Still Christmas and Epiphany in our house!!

Our fireplace is falling apart - our house was built in the 1940's so has what is known as a backboiler somewhere behind the open fire grate in the front room. As I was cleaning it out last spring, a big lump of metal fell off, consequently, we didn't know what to do with the fire, where the smoke would go etc., if it were lit. This year we haven't had an open fire; a shame, as our son bought a bag of chestnuts in order to roast them over it, as in the song he hears us try to sing around Christmas time. In our "second reception room", a.k.a. the dining room, the fireplace was blocked in a long time ago, but a peculiar little wooden alcove with a hidden light fixture was left just above floor-level. We decided we'd get a man in to estimate for fixing the fireplace in the front room.
I suppose people who have to enter other people's houses, for their work purposes, must be used to seeing some odd sights.

He did very well on entering our front room for he batted not an eyelid about the lovely Mexican crib we have above the fireplace, nor the Christmas cards festooning the walls.

We then took him into the dining room to quiz him about the possibilities of opening up the other fireplace. He again kept his cool, when confronted with our other crib nestling in the strange alcove -

Not to mention the Christmas tree in the corner!

He was very professional, and kept his mind on the job, and has since sent us a reasonable estimate, though we still can't really afford to have the work done. I do wonder what he was thinking though!

The Christmas tradition in our house is such - we put up our tree on Christmas Eve, and sing no Carols until then either (although the occasional silly song about chestnuts on an open fire does sometimes slip out). We try to maintain that spirit of anticipation and preparation for our Saviour's birth, which Advent was once all about, before the "shops" took it over.

Christmas day we celebrate with Mass in the E F, as one is now supposed to call it, if we can get to it. We don't really open presents on This day, although there's usually some small gift for each of us. (We've already celebrated St. Nicholas' day with sweets in our shoes). Then we have a lovely meal with whatever special meat we can afford to get - there are usually some good bargains on Chrismas Eve! We desperately wanted to try goose one year, but they were prohibitively expensive, we settled for duck this year, which we all loved. One day, maybe, we'll be blessed with a goose!

When we see people within the Christmas octave, and they say "did you have a good Christmas", although I usually try to politely answer, "yes, thankyou", I do think to myself, we're still having a good Christmas! - and it's not over for a long time yet! It saddens me to hear people moaning about it, and saying "thank goodness that's all over for this year"

Present opening comes at Epiphany for us. When he was little, our lad believed the 3 Kings brought the presents, as they did for baby Jesus. Now he still enjoys the thought of it, and understands that that feeling of expectation, mystery, and joy, all relate to the gift of Christ to us, and our longing for Heaven.

So, we keep our tree up as long as we can, usually it's shedding fast by the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, and often I take it down then, (which, I think, is when Epiphanytide ends, liturgically speaking). However, this year we were blessed with a lovely long-lasting, non-shedding, tree, so it's staying up, along with the cribs until the Feast of Candlemas, (which is when we always take the cribs down) as we celebrate the Presentation in the Temple of the Baby Jesus, as well as the Purification of Mary, on February 2nd. Then the remembrance of Christ's infancy and Divine Childhood gives way to our preparation for Lent, although since that starts so early this year, we won't have long to wait!

(Hans Holbein's Presentation in the Temple)

Monday, 28 January 2008

One for the resident Monkey

Hello there, monkey, this is a post just for you to read!
This is a post for my son, who is a Preston North End Supporter. (By the way, any experts out there, is there such a thing as Preston South End?). Here is their badge, and maybe one day I’ll get round to knitting its design onto a jumper for you, sweetheart!

This is where the badge comes from. The lamb is the symbol of St. Wilfrid, patron saint of Preston. The monks of Ripon, where St. Wilfrid had been abbot, held land around Preston in the middle ages, so St. Wilfrid became the their patron and his symbol was adopted by the town and, eventually, by the football club. (Thanks to Simon Platt for this information).

Well done for their win the other day, now let’s see if they can keep it up when they play Portsmouth!!

Friday, 25 January 2008

A Slow introduction

Well, it's about a week or so on since I last wrote anything, which proves to me that I am not an avid blogger. Some days one feels one has a lot to say, other days one thinks, why bother saying anything?
I homeschool an only child, a lovely lively boy of 10 years. It has been a privilege to watch him grow and develop, and at times, I have enjoyed teaching him, at other times it IS hard work. He is a boy, and so is reluctant to get on with his work. Girls just seem more diligent - but I could be generalising a bit too much here! He is bright, and imaginative, and learns quite easily. I often think back to when I was his age, and consider the amount of things I was taught, and realise that I didn't know half the stuff he already knows, so I'm not too worried about keeping up with the "National Curriculum" (I managed to go on to further education, and I'm sure he'll be able to, if and when the time comes).
My husband and I were just discussing one thing about our boy, the fact that, despite his bursts of obnoxiousness, he has maintained (by the grace of God) his purity, and modesty. He hates to hear swearing, and see immodest pictures, and he is still innocent when it comes to the things children aren't meant to know about - at least until they want to know about them! When we were being assessed to be approved to adopt, (over 5 years ago now - ho hum, but that's another story, one entitled "why are we waiting") I remember our social worker at the time asking me "does he know about the facts of life" (I'm sure she didn't use that phrase, but it was sooooo long ago, I can't exactly remember her words), and I told her bluntly, he hasn't asked, so I haven't told him anything yet, when he does, I will. I am still amazed that primary schools have disgusting books explaining what mummy and daddy do to reproduce, available from an early age. Talk about abusing children, our schools are doing it wholesale. Our lad's not stupid, when he wants to know something, he'll ask. And we're giving him the chance to do it when he's ready.
Thanks be to God that we have St Maria Goretti to intercede for our young ones (and ourselves).

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Catholic Homeschooling in the UK

My first posting.
What shall I say? the blog title seems to express it quite succinctly.
Homeschooling is a bit like this, most days I get up and - I don't know what I'm doing; I only know that my husband and I felt like it was the Right thing to do, that it was what the Holy Spirit was calling us to do, and maybe writing things down will help me to keep finding the way forward, even though I often feel stuck.
I've spent the last few months reading other people's blogs, on and off, and never felt like starting one myself, but the things some people write are so audacious that I felt I had to have some identity in order to comment on their blogs, so in trying to do that I seem to have accidentally created a blog of my own. If I keep at it, maybe one day I will be able to say I DO know what I'm doing, at last!
We are Catholic, unashamedly and gratefully Catholic. We want the Catholic faith to be experienced as something beautiful, and true in our children's lives, and we see the rapid decline in purity in the young as something that has to be countered.
But it is not easy. Children can not live in a vacuum, they have to engage with the world. It is a difficult fence top to be balancing on. How can we enable them to keep their purity, whilst still being a part of a world where impure images, and ideas abound.
How many parents really want their children to be exposed to the front page of the "Daily Star", or whatever it is, that always has some poor exploited woman being exhibited. Why are these papers being shown in Morrisons, Tescos, or Sainsburys at child's eye level?
All our children are precious. Homeschooling is just another way, that has been shown to us, in which we as parents can try to keep them precious, and unspoilt.