A blog where families who love and live the Catholic Faith can share, encourage and support each other.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The joy of learning!

Learning is fun! And if learning isn't fun for you or your children, then it should be! Think back to your school days (I know, it hurts!) Think of what you most enjoyed learning. Then think of what you least enjoyed learning. When I do this I come up with: favourite - Art. Least favourite- Mathematics.

When I think of Maths at school I think of monotone men in dorky shirts and ties. I think of a class I could easily sleep through if allowed. I think of how little attention I payed. It was mind numbingly boring and I understood very little of it.

Move over to Art. I think of a teacher who was a bit of an outsider and a little unstable. Who sometimes did "art theory" with us when the inspiration overtook or when he felt guilty - about once a year. And the rest of the time? He was, well, not there for most of the class. This was the great part! I could grab a camera and go take photos for 2 hours. Or I could spend that time in the dark room, which I frequently did. Sometime I stayed at the long table and worked on drawing murals with other students. Sometimes I painted.

Can you see the difference? One was formal instruction in a completely non passionate format. The other was free reign, and ultimately, bliss for a creative person.

So what is it I'm saying? Children, young adults, and adults alike need time to figure stuff out for themselves. They need time to follow passions and interests, even if they don't seem to lead anywhere. And if someone is not learning effectively, then the format may need to change.

Let me give an example. My 8 year old finds lessons from a writing or English textbook decidedly dull. But, left to her own devices, she is an avid story writer. One of her favourite past times currently is writing to pen friends. In essence, she can write for hours each day without opening a single textbook.

This is where the wonder of learning at home comes in. A child is not restricted by grades or timetables. If one of the children is immersed in an activity they love and they're learning from it, why on earth would I stop them right in the middle of it and tell them they need to do something more important, more academic. 

It is so important to me to not fall into the trap of holding "school at home". Yes, I think it's important that the children learn certain things but in the quest for knowledge we must never crush the joy of learning.

Post written by Kelly, please visit her at her blog.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Easy coconut rice pudding in the slow cooker.

5 handfuls of arborio rice
1/3 cup sugar (optional for sweetness)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon butter
250ml cup coconut milk
700ml milk
Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
Sultanas (optional)

Place all ingredients except sultanas in the slow cooker, stir and turn on low. Check every half hour or so and give it a stir. If it seems to have absorbed a lot of liquid, stir in a little more milk at a time. I didn't need to do this, but it's possible your slow cooker is different to mine. Leave it cook, testing the rice for doneness (I think mine took about 2 hours). When it seems nearly done, add the sultanas.
Serve warm to hot with ice-cream.

So easy!

Posted by Kelly of The Handmaden. Visit me for many more recipes, crafty tutorials, frugal Godly living and home education!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Catholic Homeschool Camp 2013 - Only Four Places Left

We warmly extend an invitation to all Australian Catholic Home Educating families to join us for our 13th annual Catholic homeschool camp!!.

When: 9-13th September
Where: The Lismore Diocese.  Camp Drewe, Lennox Head, NSW
Two hours south of Brisbane, nine hours north of Sydney.

Only three more months until our annual Catholic homeschool camp!!  Excitement is building and preparations are gaining monumentum.  Our annual camp is an integral part of our family life and the lives of many of our participating families.  A time to develop and renew friendships, to gain support and to participate in the wider Catholic homeschooling community.

At the core of our week is our shared Catholic Faith, our day begins with Mass (Extraordinary Rite), ends with the Rosary and Benediction and includes Spiritual Talks and the opportunity for Confession. This year Fr Terence Mary Naughtin is Camp Chaplain.

Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett of the Lismore diocese celebrates Mass(Novus Ordo Rite) on Tuesday offering the Sacraments of Confirmation and First Holy Communion.

The camp is in walking distance to the beach and every day we enjoy swimming at one of the beautiful nearby North Coast's beaches. Activities often enjoyed include icebreaker games, impromptu games of soccer, dancing, a sports day, sand castle building contest, a concert, and on the final night a bonfire.

Each family is accommodated in their own dormitory and meals are fully catered.

Please consider joining us and contact me with any further questions or for a brochure with more details at

We warmly invite you to join us:) 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Get Moving!

Do you have little ones and think you can't exercise. Read the following post and be inspired!

Written by Shannan

I don't wear bikinis. My dear husband thinks I'm beautiful. My cholesterol levels are normal as is my BMI. I am, by medical standards, a pretty healthy person. Running, as everyone knows, is the height of torture! The times in my life when one coach or another forced me to run I thought that I might suffer a stroke. So why in the world would I choose to start running at the age of 33?

My biggest motivations are my girls. Ronan is 20 months and Brighid is 6 years old and they keep me on my toes! I want to be around with them for a long time. I want to be able to keep up with them for a long time. I want for them to be able to say that their mom has been active for as long as they can remember. Should I be blessed with grandchildren someday, I'd like to be able to keep up with them too. I'd like to instill a love of activity in my girls so that being healthy is as natural as breathing!

My second biggest motivation to start running was cost, both of money and time. I could have started running the very moment that I decided to be a runner. I didn't, but the point is, I didn't need anything special. I don't need fancy gear. I could run in my pajamas if the mood struck me. I don't, but I could! Before children, I enjoyed taking fitness classes but they are not cheap and they are not flexible. I NEED flexibility as a mother. I need to work out on my time when it works for me. I can not commit to a regular breakfast let alone kickboxing 4 times a week on their schedule. I run at any given opportunity. I plug it in whenever I can because life happens and I don't know what my "everyday at 9:30" might look like... a teething toddler doesn't care how much you paid for that spin class or even if it is the instructor that plays the best songs.

I have been able to keep up with it because I found a way to make it fun! I know, I know... What could possibly be fun about torture? I started slow. I did not want to injure myself or set my sites too high at first. I ran for 2 minutes and then walked for 2 for a total of 16 minutes. Once I could do that comfortably I upped my run time to 5 minutes but kept my walking at 2 minutes. Then running for 15 minutes straight. I did not concern myself with distance at first and I knew I was slow, but I didn't care! I was out there! I made a point to smile the whole run. 

I wave at every car that drives past. I wave or give high fives to all people out for a walk. I cheer for other runners that I run past. Most of the time I am pushing my girls in a stroller, I use my bike trailer with a stroller attachment, and I ask them to cheer for me. Now the mere sight of my running shoes gets my toddler hooting and hollering! I downloaded the Nike+ app for my phone which will alert you in your headphones at each mile or kilometre and I celebrate EVERY mile with obnoxious gusto! People stare, but they also smile. So my work out lifts more than my mood! It warms my heart to see how many people not only smile, but cheer me on when they see me enjoying my work out.

I never thought, not in a bazillion years, that I'd ever look forward to my next run. But I do! Now turn off this computer and go move your body!

Shannan is a guest writer from the USA. She's also a dear friend. Thank you, Shannan for contributing to our blog.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Big Hearted Excitement

Written by Sue Elvis

While my daughters and I were outside in the back garden the other morning, hanging clothes on the washing line in the bitterly cold wind, we were unaware that something exciting was happening at our front door. The mail man had arrived with a mysterious looking parcel. When we came back inside, rubbing our cold-numbed fingers together, there it was sitting on the kitchen bench. 

We were all eager to find out what the parcel contained. Sophie was quick to point out the ‘open’ tag to one side of the address label. I grabbed the tag and pulled and the cardboard unwound revealing another layer of wrappings. I pulled again and the parcel rolled over and over, and more cardboard came away.

“It’s like pass the parcel,” said Gemma-Rose with delight. “Loads and loads of wrappings. Do you think it’s all cardboard and nothing else?”

But by this time, I had an idea of what we’d find inside: “I bet it’s books.”

And it was. Multiple copies of a book, with a red and white cover, were finally revealed:

Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families by Patti Armstrong and Theresa Thomas.

About a year ago, I received an email from Patti:

Dear Sue,

My co-author, Theresa Thomas, and I are compiling a book titled Big Hearted Families, for Scepter Publishers.   We are looking for contributions that will entertain and inspire readers to grow their family's heart and soul…

And so I wrote a story, and Patti and Theresa very kindly included it in their new book. That book arrived on my doorstep last week.

I have quickly flipped through the book and discovered there are 22 stories in this volume. My own chapter is there close to the end of the book. It’s called Moving in the Spirit. Did Patti have to do much editing of my story?  Did it need many changes? Does it fit in with all the other contributions? So far I haven’t had the courage to reread it and find out.

It’s strange seeing one of my stories in someone else’s book. I never worry about my stories when I publish them on my blogs. But to see one in print in someone’s book…  that’s totally different. I hope it's good enough.

Fortunately my story is only one of many. Here’s the Amazon description of this book:

Big Hearted gives you an inside look into the triumphs, struggles, joys and sorrows of ordinary families with generous hearts. It invites you to witness extraordinary love in ordinary moments like the simple cooking of a meal or the hug between a teenaged brother and his baby sister. Just like your family, these families experience pain, setbacks, and challenges. And just like your family, they also experience love and immeasurable blessing through their commitment and care for each other.

In this book, you will learn the story of:

• A father of seven healthy boys who struggled to love his Down syndrome baby girl

• A mother of twelve who learned an important lesson about Christmas from her children

• A special relationship between a teenaged brother and his infant sister

• Two grandparents in their final days who inspired their grandchildren in simple ways

• Two orphan children from Kenya who prayed for adoption by an American family and got what they asked for!

It has been said that God cannot be outdone in generosity. The stories in these pages will show you how big hearted families experience this truth in a myriad of ways, sometimes miraculously.

I can’t wait for a quiet moment to sit and enjoy the book. I am sure the other contributors have written some amazing and inspiring stories.

Thank you Patti Armstrong and Theresa Thomas for including my story in your new book, Big Hearted. I hope the book is a huge success.

I blog at Sue Elvis Writes and Stories of an Unschooling Family. Please feel welcome to visit!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Cocktail Queen

Father Ignatius was washing his car in the church’s car park one afternoon when he was approached by a young lady wearing a low-cut T-shirt, a short skirt, and knee-length boots.

“Are you the priest that works in this church?” she asked.

He was still wearing his white collar and replied, “I am the Parish priest. How may I help you?”

“Can we speak privately please?” she asked again.

Father Ignatius put down the bucket of water and invited her into the Parish house. He sat at his desk in his office and she made herself comfortable in the armchair by the window.

After a short silence she said, “This isn’t easy for me …”

“Take your time,” replied Father Ignatius gently.

“Don’t know where to start …”

“Start at the beginning … what can I do to help …”

“I serve drinks at the Bitten Apple Night Club … I’m a barmaid … they call me Cocktail Queen …” she interrupted.

The priest nodded and said nothing, encouraging her to go on.

“Have you been there? The Bitten Apple … just by the cinema?”

“No, I’ve never been there …” he answered calmly, and wondering where all this is leading to.

“If you ever want to go let me know … I can let you in without paying the entrance fee … get in at the back …”

“Well … that won’t be necessary …” hesitated Father Ignatius, still wondering what this young lady wanted.

“I’m not a bad person you know … people look at me and think I’m a bad person …”

“I’m not here to judge you,” he answered, still remaining calm to help her say what she had on her mind.

“This is very difficult, but I have to tell you because I believe in God and all that …” she stopped for a few seconds and sighed. He let her pause for a while until she continued, “I’m pregnant … there I said it!”

“That’s good news … isn’t it?” he said with a smile.

“A nuisance more like … it’ll interfere with my work … and my boy-friend is mad about it. It’ll be Christmas soon … and a right present he’s given me …”

“I see …”

“Well he said we should get rid of it … he is willing to pay and all … I was wondering whether God would forgive me if I got rid of it … because I can’t give up work you see …”

“You’re asking me to condone the killing of a living human being; because that’s what it is you intend to do,” said Father Ignatius sternly.

“I’m asking for forgiveness” she said, “I was brought up Catholic years ago as a child, although I don’t go to church now … I’m too busy you see … I was told if you confess your sins the priest has to forgive you …”

“It doesn’t work quite like that …” he said hiding his temporary loss of patience.

“You can’t ask for forgiveness for something you’re about to do. Something which you know is wrong; and yet you intend to do it all the same.”

“It's either that or I lose my job and lose my boy-friend. Then where will I be?”

“You do realize what abortion is Miss, do you not?” he asked gently trying to calm down the situation before it got out of hand. “It is the ending of a life. It is not a matter to be considered lightly and in a cavalier way as you and your boy friend seem to think. I do not believe that it is right, and I must advise you against it in the strongest way possible. I urge you to re-consider what you’re intending to do …”

She looked at her watch and interrupted him once again, “Do you think if I go to another church the vicar there would forgive me?”

It was obvious that she was not listening and that her mind was made up. All she needed was re-assurance from the church, or any representative of a Deity she happened to vaguely believe in, that what she was doing was right.

“I doubt that you will find any vicar or priest who would …”

“I’ll have to go now,” she said looking at her watch again, “I’m on at the Bitten Apple in half-an-hour …”

“Before you go, just wait a second … I’d like you to get in contact with these people if you can. They may be able to help you. They will talk to you about your pregnancy, but I must tell you, they will never agree to you having an abortion. On the contrary, they will help you see what a gift you have living within you right now …”

“Whatever … I’ll think about it … I don’t think they’ll help … I just have to get rid of it … I’m not into having babies and all that …” she said taking the card from his hand and making her way out.

As he saw her leave Father Ignatius prayed silently for that living human being threatened with death before breathing his first breath.

All that happened some months ago and the priest never met the young lady again … until yesterday.

He was at the supermarket and about to pay for his purchases when the cashier recognized him. She told him that the baby is six months old now, and that she gave up work at the night club and was now working at the supermarket and living with her boy-friend, the baby’s father.

As he drove away the priest praised God for saving the unborn-child and prayed that maybe … one day … this young family may get to know and love the Lord.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Baking for Sundays

Our family has developed the Lenten tradition of baking for Sundays. No baked treats are to be had during the week, so the excitement builds as the week progresses and ideas fly around for exactly what will be baked on Saturday to be consumed on Sunday.

This has to be my favourite chocolate cake recipe because it's simple enough, but a great deal tastier than your every day, run of the mill recipe. The recipe makes quite a large cake, so it would be suitable for dividing into round pans and sandwiching with cream or pour into a large square fruit cake tin.

2 cups sugar
3 eggs

           1 cup plain yoghurt

3/4 cup cocoa
200g soft butter
1 & 1/2 tspn vanilla extract
1 tspn bicarb soda
1/4 tspn salt
3 cups SR flour
1 cup of hot, strong espresso OR 1 cup hot water with 3 heaped tspns instant coffee

Place all ingredients in this order in a food processor for 1 minute. Place in greased baking tin (2 loaf tins or 1 20cm tin)
Cook at 160 degrees (C) for about 1 hour, use a skewer in the middle to test for readiness.

This goes really well in the freezer.

Tastes great with or without icing.

Buttercream icing:

I usually beat a couple of tablespoons of butter until creamy, then gradually beat in icing sugar (and cocoa if you want chocolate icing- food colouring if you want it coloured) until it starts to get very thick. You can also add a small dash of milk to make it more creamy or to make a larger quantity so you can add more icing sugar without it being too dry.


Kelly @ The Handmaden.