Friday, April 16, 2021

2021 Reading Plans: First-Quarter Check-In

Three months of the year have already passed, so I wanted to take some time to see how things are going with my reading plans so far. First I'll take a look at my reading goals.

Goal #1: Stop tracking picture books and board books.
This is going fairly well, although I think I will go back to posting about brand-new picture books on Goodreads and just not put in a date, because otherwise I am having trouble keeping track of what I have and haven't reviewed, which makes it harder to submit feedback to publishers on time. But for other books that my kids read and that I read to them, I've just been making notes in my homeschool blog posts and that's working great.  

Goal #2: Read exactly 200 books, and no more.
Because I gave up audiobooks for Lent, I started April behind schedule, and as I'm writing this, I'm 6 books behind schedule on Goodreads. Since I tend to read a bit more in the summer, I imagine I will pick up this slack at some point well before the end of the year, so I'm not going to adjust my goal/limit of 200 books at this point. If things change by mid-year, I'll revisit the number then.

Goal #3: Read 50 e-books.
I have read 16 e-books so far. Considering I need to have read 25 by the end of June to be on track, it seems like I might even be a bit ahead right now. Reading three a month for the next three months seems doable. 

Goal #4: Cut back on audiobooks.
At this point last year, I had already listened to 24 audiobooks. This year, I've only listened to 15 so far. I've been able to get more into a few podcasts and sometimes watch shows on Hulu at night instead of always listening to books, so this level of cutting back seems just about right. 

Goal #5: Keep up with Goodreads reviews.
This went well in January and February, but I didn't write any of my March reviews until after the month ended. In this next quarter, I want to be more intentional about reviewing as I finish reading each book.

Goal #6: Write down more quotes from books.
I have been doing this with some books and not others. I'm fine right now with not being that stringent with this particular goal. 

Goal #7: Host a read-a-thon.
I actually forgot I had included this goal. I still want to do it, but as I said in my original reading plans post, it will be most likely be in the second half of the year.

Goal #8: Read the Bible in a year.
This is going so well. I am loving The Bible in a Year podcast and the most I have ever fallen behind so far is two days. I'm so thankful for Father Mike Schmitz. I would never have made it this far trying to read on my own.

Goal #9: Fill in Literary Listopia journal.
I haven't done much of this yet, but it seems like summer might be a good time to catch up on it.

Goal #10: Write 1200 words per week. 
This started out bad and got worse. Writing every day doesn't work for me, and apparently writing every week also really doesn't work for me. I probably should have either set a goal to do NaNoWriMo again, or to revise last year's NaNoWriMo novel. Or maybe I should decide it's time to give up on writing fiction. Either way, this goal is on hold at the moment, and I'm still thinking about how I might change it. 

As for my two challenges, The Unread Shelf Project and the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge, things are going very well. 

For my Modern Mrs. Darcy challenge, I chose 12 prompts, and decided to read 3 titles for each. As of today, I have read 22 of 36 books. 

I've completed five prompts: 

  • Three Newbery Award winners (When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller, Sounder by William Armstrong, The 21 Balloons by William Pene du Bois)  
  • Three books by the same author (The Late Show by Michael Connelly, The Black Echo by Michael Connelly, Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly)
  • Three Catholic nonfiction books (Mother Angelica by Raymond Arroyo, Be Bold in the Broken by Mary Lenaburg, Motherhood Redeemed by Kimberly Cook) 
  • Three general nonfiction books (Romance is My Day Job by Patience Bloom, Upstairs at the White House by J.B. West, And Then They Stopped Talking to Me by Judith Warren) 
  • Three books published in 2021 (Just Like That by Gary D. Schmidt,  Treasures: Visible and Invisible by Catholic Teen Books, Sunshine by Marion Dane Bauer) 

These prompts are in progress: 

  • Three books that are the last/most recent in a series (The Love of Friends by Nancy Bond, The Heart of the Family by Elizabeth Goudge) 
  • Three books of more than 500 pages (Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy)
  • Three books under 200 pages (Lucy Gayheart by Willa Cather)
  • Three books about books or reading (How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster)
  • Three books about writing (The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr) 
  • Three re-reads (Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien) 

And this is the only prompt where I haven't made any progress, because every audiobook I've listened to so far has had a different narrator: 

  • Three audiobooks with the same narrator 

For the Unread Shelf Project, I have read one book for each monthly prompt so far: 

  • A book with high expectations (January): Just Like That by Gary D. Schmidt
  • A book you got for free (February): Treasures: Visible and Invisible by Catholic Teen Books
  • A book you bought on a trip (March): In Cold Blood by Truman Capote 
I've read 13 books from my own shelves so far this year.

So that's where things stand for now. I'll check in again at the end of June! 

Monday, April 12, 2021

Homeschool Update: Week of 4/5/21

Easter Week Activities

To celebrate the Easter octave, we did a different craft or activity each day. These included: an Alleluia coloring page from Catholic Family Crate, Bunny Bingo, pom pom craft kits from Dollar Tree, Bunny Go Fish, spring sticker scenes, and a Brother Francis video about the Resurrection on Formed.org. I also rewarded correct answers to math flashcards with chocolate candies and jellybeans. 


Morning Time 

  • Poems from Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year selected by Fiona Waters, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon (Nosy Crow, 2018): "First Primrose" by Leonard Clark, "Blow,  breezes, blow!" by Anonymous, "Treading on the tail" by Yosa Buson, translated by R.H. Blyth, "When a fish..." by Anonymous, "Freckled fishes, flirting. flitting" by Anonymous 
  • Articles from Vol. 17 No. 2 of National Geographic Explorer (Trailblazer edition): "Tall Tales" by Lynn Brunelle, "Show Me the Money" by Brenna Maloney, "In Search of Pristine Seas" by Dr. Enric Sala
  • Art appreciation:  Snap the Whip by Winslow Homer from Come Look with Me: World of Play by Gladys S. Blizzard 
  • Catechism: Review of the first few lessons in The New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism
  • Singing: "The Happy Wanderer" (recording by the Stargazers)
  • Music Appreciation: Slavonic Dance No. 7 by Antonin Dvorak 
  • Memory work: 
    • C: "The Tiger" by William Blake, planets, four directions, 50 states, continents, oceans, months of the year, days of the week, marks of the church 
    • M: "Sea Fever" by John Masefield, countries of Europe, 13 colonies, books of the Bible, the 7 sacraments, countries of Asia  


Science 

This week's topic was Time and the Earth's Turning. On Monday, the girls went outside several times to mark the movement of their shadows. The rest of the week, we discussed sundials and time zones. We finished the week with a video: What is Time? from Sunburst Visual Media, available through the public library's subscription to Just For Kids Access Video. 


Preschool

E. did her letter flashcards several times and listened to several chapters from The Milly-Molly-Mandy storybook. 


History 

M. read India, Land of Wealth and Splendor in A Picturesque Tale of Progress, including sections entitled "Ancient India," "Buddha, the Enlightened," "The Development of India," "The Spread of Buddhism, "The Golden Age of Hinduism," "The Mohammedans in India," "Tamerlane," and "The Great Moghuls." C. continued reading D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths


Math

We started timing C. to see how many two-digit addition problems she could do on the soroban in 5 minutes. Her record so far is 6. M. did some two-digit multiplication and she started re-doing Review 5 and 6 from Singapore 3B because her answers were impossible to understand. 


Reading and Writing 

We finished reading aloud Dandelion Cottage. M. and C. enjoyed reading some of our Easter books. They also took advantage of nice days and read outside. M. wrote a story called "The Pirates" involving three pirates named Black Feather, Jim Dodd, and Sam Krickam who are sailing to the Philippines. 


Physical Education

We visited the playground by our house several times. The girls road bikes on Saturday morning.


Instrumental Music

M. and C. both practiced piano and recorder daily.

Homeschool Update: Week of 3/29/21

Holy Week Activities

For each day of Holy Week, we did a different printable activity. Coloring pages came from Catholic Family Crate's free kit  and from a free digital download from Shining Light Dolls. We also did several paper crafts: Palm Sunday Procession from Joy in Their Eyes and 3-D Temple and Judas's Money Pouch from Drawn2BCreative.com. On Good Friday, the girls and I prayed the Stations of the Cross in the basement and then venerated our crucifix. On Saturday orning, we dyed eggs, and at night, we attended the Easter Vigil. M. and C. had booklets to follow along. C. also followed the readings in a children's Bible.  


Morning Time 

  • Poems from Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year selected by Fiona Waters, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon (Nosy Crow, 2018): "Froggie, Froggie" by Anonymous, "Black Dot" by Libby Houston, "Daffodils" by William Wordsworth, "The First of April (Extract)" by Anonymous, "After the Rains" by N.M. Bodecker
  • Articles from Vol. 17 No. 1 of National Geographic Explorer (Trailblazer edition): "Lively Lizards" by Lana Costantini, "Passport to Wonder" by Marylou Tousignant, "A-maize-ing Grain" by Susan Goodman (M. especially loved the second article, about the new 7 wonders of the world. Many of them she guessed based on their descriptions, and she was excited especially for the Taj Mahal and Chichen Itza.)
  • Art appreciation: Archery of the Mandan by George Catlin from Come Look with Me: World of Play by Gladys S. Blizzard 
  • Catechism: Lesson 20, "The Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Commandments of God" from The New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism
  • Singing: "The Happy Wanderer" (recording by the Stargazers)
  • Music Appreciation: L'Arl├ęsienne Suite: Farandole by Georges Bizet
  • Memory work: 
    • C: "The Tiger" by William Blake, planets, four directions, 50 states, continents, oceans, months of the year, days of the week, marks of the church 
    • M: "Sea Fever" by John Masefield, countries of Europe, 13 colonies, books of the Bible, the 7 sacraments, countries of Asia  


Science 

We talked more about heredity, and I showed the girls What is DNA? from Dr. Binocs, Twins & Quadruplets from Operation Ouch,  and Why Do I Have Freckles? from SciShow Kids. We finished the chapter with a review video from Just For Kids Access Video via the public library: "Investigating Heredity." 

History

C. continued listening to me read from D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths. M. read Around Africa to India in Picturesque Tale of Progress, which includes sections called "The Polos Return to Venice," "The Closing of the Caravan Routes," "The Negroes of Africa," and "Vasco da Gama Reaches India."  

Math 

C. worked on two-digit addition with the soroban. M. worked on two-digit multiplication. They both did Khan Academy, and M. did another chapter in Life of Fred: Honey.


Reading and Writing 

C. is still reading Betsy-Tacy. She also re-read Elisa in the Middle. M. wrote a reply to her bookseller pen pal, and she started reading On Tide Mill Lane by Melissa Wiley. 


Physical Education

It was spring break for M.'s friend who attends public school, so we had a nice long morning playdate at one of the neighborhood playgrounds early in the week. 


Instrumental Music 

M. and C. both practiced piano and recorder daily.


Monday, April 5, 2021

Read-at-Home Mom Report: March 2021 Wrap-Up

My Month in Books

In March, I read 16 books, 8 of which were middle grade titles I chose for #MiddleGradeMarch on Instagram. I gave up audiobooks for Lent, but I did allow myself to finish listening to the Lord of the Rings trilogy since I was already more than halfway through my re-read of the series by Ash Wednesday. Here are the 16 titles: 

Sounder by William H. Armstrong
[reviewed on Instagram]
I'm not a dog person (or a dog book person), but this is a truly beautifully written children's novel about a young black boy whose father has gone to jail, leaving behind his hunting dog who was injured during the arrest. 

When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller
[reviewed on the blog]
I set a goal to read three Newbery medal winners in 2021, and since this was the most recent winner, I decided to just knock it off my list. I was really not a fan. 

Lucy Gayheart by Willa Cather
[reviewed on Goodreads]
While there are Cather novels I prefer over this one, I still really liked this story of a young music student and her misguided, broken heart. 

The House on the Point by Benjamin Hoff
[reviewed on Goodreads
This is a retelling of a Hardy Boys book. It was fun to read a new take on an old series. 

Sunshine by Marion Dane Bauer
[reviewed on the blog]
This was an ARC from Candlewick Press that wound up being a big disappointment. I couldn't get past the message that it's heroic for a woman to abandon her child. 

The Green Poodles by Charlotte Baker
[reviewed on the blog]
I read aloud this vintage children's novel to my three big girls, and they loved it. It had a lot of, bordering on too many, details about raising and training poodles, but my kids didn't mind. 

Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy
[reviewed on Goodreads]
This was my first Binchy and my favorite book of the entire month. I loved all the characters as well as the central setting of a new heart clinic in Ireland. 

The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois
[review coming soon on the blog]
This was another read-aloud with my big girls, and it was a huge hit, even with my 5-year-old who is usually not into this kind of story.

Trace by Patricia Cornwell
[reviewed on Goodreads]
I go up and down with how I feel about this series, but this one was okay, so I'm going to keep reading through them for now, since I own used copies of all the rest of the titles. 

It's Like This, Cat by Emily Neville
[review coming soon on the blog]
I first read this in library school before I had Goodreads or a blog, so I counted it as unread on my list of Newbery winners until re-reading it this month. I will post a review soon. 

Death Takes Up a Collection by Sister Carol Anne O'Marie
[reviewed on Goodreads]
This series of murder mysteries starring an amateur detective who is also a nun is a fun palate cleanser every now and then. I picked up this book to read after realizing it was set in mid-March.

The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
[reviewed on Goodreads]
I left this book unfinished years ago and never knew how the ending differed in the book and the movie. Now I know, and I was not disappointed.

Glass Houses by Louise Penny
[reviewed on Goodreads]
This is the first book in this series where I've seriously questioned Gamache's behavior. I think my ultimate opinion on this one will be determined by the trajectory of the series in future books. 

Motherhood Redeemed by Kimberly Cook
[reviewed on Goodreads]
I read this for an upcoming post at Catholic Mom. Stay tuned!

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
[reviewed on the blog]
The writing in this book was really excellent. It wasn't a good choice when I wanted a whodunit or a more typical true crime book and I had set it aside, but it was great when I went into it with no expectations.  

The Next Great Jane by K.L. Going
[reviewed on the blog]
This was a nice, light middle grade read to close out the month. 


The Best of the Bunch

My favorite book this month, without question, was Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy. I immediately bought two more of her books that are related to this one and I can't wait to read them. I'm also keeping this book, which is basically unheard of. 



As for the rest of the family's reading...

My husband finished reading The Ramsay Scallop by Frances Temple, and he insists that I need to read it next so I can warn people away from it. Apparently its treatment of Christianity leaves much to be desired. He is now reading The Summer Birds by Penelope Farmer which is enjoying much more.

My seven-year-old daughter M. is reading On Tide Mill Lane by Melissa Wiley, book 2 in the Charlotte series spun off from Little House on the Prairie. 

My five-year-old daughter, C., is still plugging along in the Betsy-Tacy series. She has also read Elisa in the Middle and Rip-Roaring Russell, both by Johanna Hurwitz, which my mom bought in response to C's request for books involving babies. 

My three-year-old daughter, E., has started listening to me read aloud from The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook, and she is hooked! 

My one-year-old twins, son R. and daughter A. are not getting as much read-aloud time as I would like, but they recently enjoyed looking through First 100 Words by Roger Priddy. 


Up Next For Me

Heading into April, I've started Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. I had planned to read this later in the year, but there were so many lovely tributes to the author when he died that I decided to move it up. I'm also reading And Then They Stopped Talking to Me: Making Sense of Middle School by Judith Warner and I just started listening to American Royals by Katherine McGee. Beyond these, I have no solid plans yet, other than to read The Appalling Strangeness of the Mercy of God by Ruth Pakaluk for book club. 

Linking Up

I'm sharing this post to four link-ups: 

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Homeschool Update: Week of 3/22/21

Morning Time 

  • Poems from Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year selected by Fiona Waters, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon (Nosy Crow, 2018): "Spring" by William Blake,  "Six Little Ducks" by Anonymous, "Riddle" by Anonymous, "Two Wrens" by Anonymous, "Crows" by David McCord, "In the Fields" by Anonymous, "Pippa's Song" by Robert Browning, "If Once You Have Slept On an Island" by Rachel Field 
  • Articles from Vol. 18 No. 1 of National Geographic Explorer (Trailblazer edition): "Extreme Animals" by Lynn Brunelle, "Amazon Adventure" by Cynthia Overbeck Bix, "Wedge It" by Glen Phelan 
  • Art appreciation: The House of Cards by Jean-Simeon Chardin from Come Look with Me: World of Play by Gladys S. Blizzard 
  • Catechism: Lesson 20, "The Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Commandments of God" from The New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism
  • Singing: "Waltzing Matilda" (recording by Slim Dusty)
  • Music Appreciation: The Four Seasons: "Spring" by Antonio Vivaldi 
  • Memory work: 
    • C: planets, marks of the church, continents, days of the week, months of the year, address, phone number, "The Tiger" by William Blake
    • M: seven sacraments, books of the Bible, 13 colonies, countries of Europe, address, phone number, "Sea Fever" by John Masefield 


Science

M. and C. started BFSU Lesson B-4b: What is a Species? I read aloud from The Kingdoms of Life: Classification by Bridget Anderson. We also watched a fun video about Carl Linnaeus.  M. and C. also worked with Snap Circuits together.


History 

M. read about the Mongol Conquest of Persia. C. read more Greek myths and colored more pictures.


Math

M. did some work in Singapore math. She continued practicing two-digit multiplication. C. continued practicing two-digit addition with renaming on the soroban.


Reading and Writing

M. received a letter from her bookseller pen pal and started drafting a reply. She and C. both listened to me read aloud Dandelion Cottage. C. read Elisa in the Middle and Rip-Roaring Russell by Johanna Hurwitz.  


Other Activities

The girls did a Crayola Craft Fingerprint Paints kit and played with play dough. The HOA also finally opened the neighborhood playgrounds this week and they were able to play there three times. 

Homeschool Update: Week of 3/15/21

Morning Time 

  • Poems from Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year selected by Fiona Waters, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon (Nosy Crow, 2018): "Wind Song" by Lilian Moore, "March Weather" by Tessa Ransford, "Silent Song" by Roger Stevens, "If You Find a Little Feather" by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers, "Dayflight" by Geoffrey Summerfield, "Brooms" by Dorothy Aldis, "Pigeon and Wren" by Anonymous 
  • Articles from Vol. 18 No. 5 of National Geographic Young Explorer (Scout edition): "Puffin Parents,"  "A Giant Cactus," and "Looking in a Mirror" 
  • Art appreciation: Archery of the Mandan by George Catlin from Come Look with Me: World of Play by Gladys S. Blizzard 
  • Catechism: Lesson 20, "The Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Commandments of God" from The New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism
  • Singing: "Molly Malone" (recording by the Dubliners)
  • Music Appreciation: The Four Seasons: Spring by Antonio Vivaldi 
  • Memory work: 
    • C: planets, marks of the church, continentsl days of the week, months of the year, address, phone number, "The Tiger" by William Blake
    • M: seven sacraments, books of the Bible, 13 colonies, countries of Europe, address, phone number, "Sea Fever" by John Masefield 


Science

We continued working on BFSU Volume 1 Lesson B-4a. We finished Birds in their Homes and read Discovering Trees by Douglas Florian. We watched Home Sweet Habitat from Crash Course Kids. We also watched "Classifying Living Things," a video from Visual Learning that I accessed through the library's subscription to Just for Kids Access Video. 


History 

M. read about China and Japan in A Picturesque Tale of Progress. C. continued listening to me read D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths and she did some coloring pages of the gods and goddesses she heard about. 


Math

M. and C. both did Khan Academy daily. M. also worked on two-digit multiplication and C. also worked on two-digit addition with renaming on the soroban. M. did two more chapters in Life of Fred: Ice Cream.


Reading and Writing 

We started reading aloud Dandelion Cottage by Carroll Watson Rankin at lunchtime. C. is still reading Betsy-Tacy. M. did some grammar pages in Comprehensive Curriculum of Basic Skills Grade 3.


Physical Education

We had a playdate at the playground on St. Patrick's Day and our regular weekly playdate with the neighbors' grandkids on Friday.


Instrumental Music

M. and C. both practiced piano and recorder daily. 


Other Activities

M. and C. worked with modeling clay and E. used play dough. C. made a birthday card for my grandma's boyfriend. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Homeschool Update: Week of 3/8/21

We had four days of increasingly warm and beautiful weather this week, so we lightened the school load a bit to be able to spend more time outside. Basically, this meant we didn't do Catechism or much memory work and no one did any Singapore Math. 


Morning Time

  • Poems from Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year selected by Fiona Waters, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon (Nosy Crow, 2018): "Spring Song" by William Blake, "After Winter" by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey, "Cat and Crocuses" by Eva Martin, "Rabbit" by Caryl Hart, "Spring" by William Blake 
  • Articles from Vol. 18 No. 6 of National Geographic Explorer (Trailblazer edition): "Parrots in Peril" by Christine Dell'Amore, "Pulley Power" by Glen Phelan, and "Food for the Future" by Joe Levit
  • Art appreciation: Blind Man's Bluff by Kitagawa Utamaro from Come Look with Me: World of Play by Gladys S. Blizzard 
  • Singing: "Tom Dooley" (recording by the Kingston Trio); "Molly Malone" (recording by the Dubliners)
  • Music Appreciation: Polonaise in A Major: No. 1, "Military" by Frederic Chopin 


Health

M. had her cast removed on Monday. We are planning to have her record one final video about the experience.


Science

Lucky for us given the nice weather, this week's science unit about animals and their habitats called for outdoor nature walks. I took M. and baby A. on Tuesday and C. and baby R. on Thursday for a long walk to the Adventure Playground and back. On Wednesday, E. did an outdoor scavenger hunt here in our neighborhood. We also started reading aloud Birds in Their Homes by Addison Webb and Sabra Mallett Kimball and looked up the calls of each bird we read about on AllAboutBirds.org.

On Wednesday, C. did the Capillary Action Kiwi Crate, which involved dyeing paper flowers and playing a balancing tree game.

 

Physical Education

M. and C. both had the chance to play on the Adventure Playground 


History

M. studied medieval Russia. C. started listening to me read aloud D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths. (We're laying some foundation for next year's history studies.)


Math

M. and C. both did Khan Academy. C. practiced two-digit addition on the soroban, but not every day. M. started Life of Fred: Ice Cream


Reading and Writing

Our read-aloud was The Twenty-One Balloons. We read the entire thing in one week. M. loved it. C. eventually got interested about three chapters before the end. 

C. continued to read Betsy-Tacy and Tib and M. continued reading The Boxcar Children. E.'s audiobooks of choice were Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw, Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. She also continues to love Frances. 


Instrumental Music

C. practiced piano and recorder most days. M. began to ease back into playing.


Other Activities

On Friday, I went on Instagram live for Catholic Mom to lead a decade of the Rosary and M. and C. prayed along. That same day, we had our playdate.