Saturday, May 20, 2023

Book Review: And Now Miguel by Joseph Krumgold (1953)

Miguel Chavez is twelve years old, and he's not little anymore, like his brother Pedro and sister Faustina, but he's also not quite as mature as his older sisters, Tomasina and Leocadia and older brothers, Gabriel and Blasito, who have a big part in helping their father and grandfather with the family's sheep. This year, though, Miguel is determined to join them when they take the sheep to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains for the summer. He does his best to prove himself ready by stepping in to help with delivering new lambs, and he also makes a special prayer to San Ysidro. He doesn't realize, however, that with the privileges of growing up also come some of the heartaches. 

This was one of only 19 Newbery-winning books that I hadn't read, and one of the reasons I hadn't read it yet was that I had the idea that it was going to be a boring slog of a story. I could not have been more wrong. I read about half the book before stopping and realizing it was the kind book I really wanted to enjoy with my kids, and we ended up doing it as a read-aloud.

One of the most notable features of this book is the language. Joseph Krumgold, who wrote the book based on a film he created for the U.S. government, writes in English in a style that closely mimics Spanish. So even though English speakers are reading the story in English, they pick up the cadence of Miguel's native language and practically hear the story as though he is telling it. I adopted a hint of a Spanish accent when reading it aloud and the text made that fairly easy to maintain. 

I'm also amazed by how beautifully Krumgold writes about sheep. He made even the most mundane of sheep herding tasks interesting, and he uses beautful metaphors to express Miguel's family's religious beliefs and Miguel's own feelings as he comes of age. There are many beautiful passages in this book that I would never have expected to find when I first took it off the shelf. I especially loved a section late in the book where Miguel and his brother Gabriel discuss the role of prayer in their lives and work out for themselves why not every prayer is answered exactly as they wish. 

And Now Miguel has risen heads above the rest as one of my favorites from among all the Newbery winners. Now I'm really excited to read Krumgold's other Newbery winner, Onion John, which is another one I've been putting off for years, and which I will probably wish I had read sooner.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Read-at-Home Mom Report: April 2023 Wrap-Up

April Favorites

I read a whopping 36 books this month, and I had a lot of favorites across a wide variety of genres. All of the titles below I rated five stars. 

Diary of a Country Priest by George Bernanos
I tried reading this last fall and decided to DNF at that time, but I tried again with Close Reads and ended up loving it. The writing is beautiful, I loved the unique diary format, and there is so much in the story to think about and reflect on. I also really enjoyed the commentary on Close Reads, and it definitely enriched my reading experience.

The Cross and the Beatitudes by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
My local book club chose this one as our book for April, but then we all got busy and our meeting was canceled. I read it during Holy Week, one chapter per day, and I loved how much Archbishop Sheen crams into his little chapters. There were lots of quotable lines that really get to the heart of Christ's Passion. 

Ashes: Visible and Invisible by Catholic Teen Books
I read this during Holy Week as well, and it was great, as I expected it to be. These authors always inspire me and give me great ideas for my own writing. 

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
This was my fourth time reading this book, and I'm already looking forward to the next time. There is no book in the world I love more than this one. 

Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan
I liked this because it reminded me Evvie Drake Starts Over in that it's a romance that is written with a slightly more literary flavor than others of the genre. The characters were great, and I was completely invested in their relationship the entire time. 

It. Goes. So. Fast.: The Year of No Do-Overs by Mary Louise Kelly 
This memoir of an NPR news host who is also a mom was so well-written and the audiobook narration by the author was wonderful. I enjoyed her insights about motherhood as well as some of the anecdotes she told about reading the news. Reading this made me want to seek out her novels.

Wither and Bloom by Anne J. Hill, et. al. (including me)
I finally read this anthology that I and a bunch of my friends are in. I loved the variety of pieces and styles that were represented, and it was fun to see how my stories fit in with the rest.

These Precious Days by Ann Patchett
I don't have much in common with Ann Patchett in terms of values, but her essay about the onset of the Covid pandemic that gives this book its title is one of the best and most emotional pieces of nonfiction I've ever read. She also writes beautifully, so that I can enjoy her prose even when she's using it to express points of view with which I disagree.

Squished by Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter 
This graphic novel portrays a large, loving family where main character Avery sometimes feels a bit squished. I loved the overall positive outlook on big families, and the way the mom calls the kids to her by saying, "Every last Lee!" (It reminds me of the way I say, "Fitzgerald five!")

Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn
I could have done without the steamy parts, but they were skippable, and these characters stole my heart. I loved the small-town setting, the redemption arc for the male protagonist and Georgie's own journey toward figuring out her life's trajectory. 

The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty 
I read this with Close Reads, and it was so good. It reminded me a little bit of the things I love about Flannery O'Connor and other Southern writers, and I really admire the author's talent. I want to read more Welty now. 


I read more shorter works than normal in April, some with #ShortFormClassics and some just at random. 

  • Congratulations, by the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness by George Saunders (4 stars)
    I listened to this graduation speech because Mary Louise Kelly recommended it in her memoir. I didn't think it was as earth-shatteringly great as she did, but it reminded me that  I need to read A Swim in the Pond in the Rain. 
  • Better Than the Prom (Better Than the Movies 1.5) by Lynn Painter (4 stars)
    This was a free read from the publisher's website. I've been wanting to try a romance by this YA author, and this gave me a decent taste of her writing. I'll probably give a full-length novel a try sometime soon. 
  • Silver Blaze by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (4 stars)
  • The Final Problem by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (5 stars)
    I read these with #ShortFormClassics and enjoyed both. Somehome Sherlock Holmes stories don't seem as intimidating to me as they once did. 

Stand-Alone Books

  • Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney (4 stars)
  • The Dig by John Preston (4 stars)
  • The Golden Spoon by Jessa Maxwell (3 stars)
  • Meet Me by the Fountain: An Inside History of the Mall by Alexandra Lange (4 stars)
  • A Thousand Moments (ARC) by Kelly Moran (4 stars)
  • Picture Perfect Boyfriend (ARC) by Becky Dean (3 stars)
  • Something in the Heir (ARC) by Suzanne Enoch (4 stars)
  • Famous for a Living (ARC) by Melissa Ferguson (4 stars)
  • Heart Shaped II by Sheila M. Cronin (4 stars)
  • The Golden Ticket: A Life in College Admissions Essays (ARC) by Irena Smith (4 stars)
  • Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing by Jennifer Weiner (3 stars)
  • Kismet by Becky Chalsen (4 stars)


  • The Turf-Cutter's Donkey: An Irish Story of Mystery and Adventure by Patricia Lynch (4 stars)
  • The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way by Joy Hakim (3 stars)
    (Catholic homeschoolers, beware of this author. We had to skip some things and correct some other things.)

Series Books

  • Big Shot (Country Club Murders Book 15) by Julie Mulhern (4 stars)
  • Chaos (Kay Scarpetta Book 24) by Patricia Cornwell (4 stars)
  • Autopsy (Kay Scarpetta Book 25) by Patricia Cornwell (4 stars)
  • A Spoonful of Murder (Murder Most Unladylike Book 6) by Robin Stevens (4 stars) 
  • To Swoon and To Spar (Regency Vows Book 4) by Martha Waters (3 stars)
  • The Day We Met (The Men of Engine 17 Book 1) by Ash Keller (4 stars)
  • The Family Upstairs (The Family Upstairs Book 1) by Lisa Jewell (4 stars)

Did Not Finish 

  • House Mate by Leah Brunner
  • Ellie is Cool Now by Victoria Fulton & Faith McClaren
  • The Book of Delights by Ross Gay
  • In the Orchard by Eliza Minot 
  • Spring, Summer, Autumn, Us by Fiona Collins

Family Reading Lists

M. (girl, 9 years, 5 months)

  • The U.S. Frogmen of World War II by Wyatt Blassingame
  • We Were There at The Battle of the Bulge by David Shepard
  • We Were There at the Opening of the Atomic Age by James Munves
  • We Were There at the Normandy Invasion by Clayton Knight
  • We Were There at the Battle of Britain by Clayton Knight
  • We Were There at the Battle for Bataan by Benjamin Appel
  • Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr
  • The House of Sixty Fathers by Meindert deJong 
  • The Girl from Hard Times Hill by Emma Barnes
  • Pancakes-Paris by Claire Huchet Bishop

C. (girl, 7 years, 7 months)

  • Mattimeo by Brian Jacques 
  • The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards 

E. (girl, 5 years, 6 months)

  • Babe The Gallant Pig by Dick King-Smith
  • Twig by Elizabeth Orton Jones 
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia Maclachlan 

R. (boy, 3 years, 1 month)

  • In the Forest by Marie Hall Ets
  • Truckery Rhymes by Jon Scieszka 
  • Stanley series by William Bee 
  • Mama Cat Has Three Kittens by Denise Fleming 
  • Little Excavator by Anna Dewdney
  • Fabulous Fishes by Susan Stockdale 
  • All About series by Jim Arnosky 

A. (girl, 3 years, 1 month) 

  • St. Joseph Picture Books 
  • Stanley series by Wiliam Bee 
  • Nini Lost and Found by Anita Lobel 
  • One Lighthouse, One Moon by Anita Lobel 
  • A Piglet Called Mercy by Kate DiCamillo 

My husband 

  • Hakon of Rogen's Saga by Erik Christian Haugaard
  • A Slave's Tale by Erik Christian Haugaard
  • The Little Fishes by Erik Christian Haugaard 
  • The Children of the Cave: A Tale of Israel and Rome by Zvi Livne Lieberman

Up Next For Me

I'm reading Out of the Silent Planet for book club, The Scarlet Letter with Close Reads, and The Habit of Being and The Maltese Falcon from my TBR. 

Friday, April 21, 2023

Homeschool Update: March 2023

Group Activities

The girls finished memorizing Psalm 133 in Latin and we recorded a video of them reciting it. Then they started memorizing Anima Christi. 

Our read-alouds were: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (audiobook), Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher, and The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes.  We also finished listening to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in the car.

We continued reading about sculpture in A Child's History of Art and watched related SmartHistory videos.

We finished reading the rest of the volumes of The Catholic Children's Treasure Box.

Our March poet was Emily Dickinson and we read the Poetry for Young People book about her. 

We read daily Scripture readings throughout Lent, and the girls colored in squares on a chart counting down to Easter. M. and C. started watching Jesus of Nazareth.  


C. continued working on memorizing the questions and answers The New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism.  


M. continued to study World War II, still with The Story of World War II by Robert Leckie as her spine. She also read World War II for Kids: A History with 21 Activities by Richard Panchyk, The Story of D-Day by Bruce Bliven Jr., From Pearl Harbor to Okinawa by Bruce Bliven Jr., The Flying Tigers by John Toland, and The Battle of the Bulge by John Toland. 

She also watched The Longest Day and Battle of the Bulge as well as several episodes of The World at War and Victory at Sea. 

C. continued learning about ancient Eastern cultures with Ancient China by Virginia Schomp and Ancient India by Virginia Schomp. She watched an episode of The Museum about the Terra Cotta Warriors. She also read Ancient India (Myths of the World) by Virginia Schomp, Seasons of Splendour: Tales, Myths, and Legends of India, Hanuman by Erik Jendresen, Rama and Sita by by David Weitzman, Columbus by Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire, The Columbus Story by Alice Dalgliesh, The Log of Christopher ColumbusLost Worlds by Anne Terry White (first half only) 

E. finished watching Liberty's Kids, and we started reading D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths by Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire. 


M. watched Magic Numbers: Hannah Fry's Mysterious World of Maths. In Khan Academy, she finished 6th grade with 87% on the course challenge. She is now working on Getting Ready for Algebra I and Algebra Basics. She also continued working in Challenging Word Problems 3 and Life of Fred: Fractions, and she drilled multiplication and divisions facts on 

C. continued working on Singapore 2B, 3rd Grade Math on Khan Academy, and Life of Fred Edgewood.  She drilled addition and subtractions facts on


In addition to history reading, M. read Across The Puddingstone Dam by Melissa Wiley. E. read Runaway Ralph by Beverly Cleary and Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  
M. and C. worked on their Treasures grammar books. M. continued working on exercises in Rex Barks. 


In Middle School Chemistry, M. and I completed these lessons:  
  • Why Does Water Dissolve Salt?
  • Why Does Water Dissolve Sugar?
  • Using Dissolving to Identify an Unknown
  • Does Temperature Affect Dissolving?
In BFSU, C. and E. covered these topics: 
  • How is a Candle Burning Like Living Things Using Energy?
  • Evaporation and Condensation 
  • The Water Cycle

Physical Education

The girls rode bikes on nicer days and played on the playground.


We finished reading about sculpture in A Child's History of Art. C and E. created animations using Flip Animation. (M. gave it up for Lent).  


M. had her well check at the pediatrician. 


The girls continued listening to The Ring of the Nibelung and they each practiced piano and recorder daily. We did some evening sing-alongs on Fridays after dinner. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Read-at-Home Mom Report: March 2023 Wrap-Up

In both reading and writing, March started out strong and fizzled out as the month went on. It was Middle Grade March, and I did get to listen to a lot of middle grade books, but the other books I picked up were largely poor choices, either because the books weren't well-written, or because I wasn't in the right mood for them. Reading books I didn't love made it impossible for me to get inspired to write, and the month ended on a sour note all around. But there were some great books in the beginning and middle part of the month, and I have seven favorites.

March Favorites

All of these books received a five-star rating from me on Goodreads. 

Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson
I listened to this because it was short and there were no holds. My senses were on high alert for heretical content the whole time, as this is a book in which a new student's classmates believe he might be Jesus, but it honestly remained very respectful, not to mention beautifully written, throughout. This was only my first or second time reading Woodson, and I understand why her writing is so beloved. 

Stick with Me by Jennifer Blecher 
I discovered this audiobook on Scribd, and it was everything I want a middle school friendship story to be. The writing was excellent, and the characters' thoughts and experiences felt very true to life. Jennifer Blecher is an author we should hear more about! 

What Hearts by Bruce Brooks
We have this on our shelves, but the audiobook is read by John McDonough, so naturally I decided to listen to it. This is basically a work of literary fiction for kids. The writing is excellent, and the subject matter is very introspective. It's a coming of age story involving a boy's relationship with his stepfather. The stepdad character is kind of an uncomfortable presence, but the way the author writes about him is impeccable. I really enjoyed this and I think I would also have liked it as a kid. 

Seven Percent of Ro Devereux by Ellen O'Clover 
This YA novel involves an app based on the childhood game of MASH and a slow-burn romance between main character Ro and an old friend. I thought this was a great look at the perils of fame and notoriety, especially for a young person, and it also explores the process for deciding what to do after high school. I need this author to write more books! This was also really good on audio. 

Welcome Back, Maple Mehta-Cohen by Kate McGovern
I picked up this audiobook based on the positive comments made by my friend Kris on Instagram.  It's the story of a girl who is told she will repeat fifth grade after it is discovered that a learning disability has prevented her from learning to read. Maple is a very well-developed and believable character and I could not tear myself away from her story. I would love more contemporary middle grade books like this one. 

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll 
We listened to this in the car driving to and from Mass for several weeks. My kids didn't understand why I was laughing so hard. I did read this as a kid, but I definitely appreciated it much more as an adult. It is very clever.  

A Novel Proposal by Denise Hunter 
This is the only book on my favorites list that I read with my eyes. I had an ARC from Edelweiss+. It was such a sweet, feel-good romance. It was sometimes a little bit predictable, but in a very comforting and cozy way, and I loved the way it incorporated a little bit of a mystery as well as a Little Free Library. This is my favorite of the books I've read by Denise Hunter.

Middle Grade March

These are the rest of the titles I read for Middle Grade March: 

  • The Wretched Waterpark by Kiersten White (3 stars)
  • M.C. Higgins the Great by Virginia Hamilton (3 stars)
  • Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko (4 stars)
  • Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher (re-read/read-aloud) (5 stars)
  • Odder by Katherine Applegate (4 stars)
  • The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera (4 stars)
  • What Happened to Rachel Riley? by Claire Swinarski (4 stars) 
  • Camp Famous by Jennifer Blecher (4 stars) 
  • Keep It Together, Keiko Carter by Debbi Michiko Florence (4 stars) 
  • Just Be Cool, Jenna Sakai by Debbi Michiko Florence (4 stars)
  • The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes (re-read/read-aloud) (5 stars)

Stand-Alone Books

  • Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw (4 stars)
  • The Silence of Mary by Ignacio LarraƱaga (4 stars)
  • I Love You S'more by Wendy Dalrymple (4 stars)
  • A Thousand Mornings: Poems by Mary Oliver (3 stars)
  • My Mechanical Romance by Alexene Farol Follmuth (4 stars)
  • The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis (2 stars)
  • Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing by Allison Winn Scotch (3 stars) 
  • Flipped by Wendy Dalrymple (3 stars)

Series Books

  • Depraved Heart by Patricia Cornwell (Scarpetta Series Book 23) (2 stars)
  • How to Kiss Your Best Friend by Jenny Proctor (Hawthorne Brothers Series Book 1) (3 stars)
  • The Real Macaw by Donna Andrews (Meg Langslow Mystery Book 13) (3 stars)

Did Not Finish 

I think I'm at 19 DNFs for the year... 

  • Secrecy by Belva Plain
  • The Plus One by Mazey Eddings
  • Anatomy of a Meet Cute by Addie Woolridge
  • House Mate by Leah Brunner 

Family Reading Lists 

M. (girl, 9 years, 4 months)

  • World War II for Kids: A History with 21 Activities by Richard Panchyk
  • The Story of D-Day by Bruce Bliven Jr.
  • From Pearl Harbor to Okinawa by Bruce Bliven Jr.
  • The Flying Tigers by John Toland 
  • The Battle of the Bulge by John Toland
  • Across The Puddingstone Dam by Melissa Wiley 

C. (girl, 7 years, 6 months)

  • Myths of the World: Ancient India by Virginia Schomp 
  • Seasons of Splendor by Madhur Jaffrey
  • Columbus by Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire
  • The Columbus Story by Alice Dalgliesh
  • The Log of Christopher Columbus
  • Lost Worlds by Anne Terry White (first half only)

E. (girl, 5 years, 5 months)

  • Runaway Ralph by Beverly Cleary 
  • Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder 
  • Eric Loves Animals (Just Like You) by Eric Carle 

R. (boy, 3 years)

  • Stanley series by William Bee
  • Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson
  • Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld
  • Little Gorilla by Ruth Bornstein
  • Oceanarium by Loveday Trinick, illustrated by Teagan White
  • In the Forest by Marie Hall Ets
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  • There's a Nightmare in my Closet by Mercer Mayer 

A. (girl, 3 years)

  • Stanley series by William Bee
  • Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson  
  • I Want That! by Hannah Eliot 
  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mr. Rogers by Luke Flowers
  • Picture My World by Severine Cordie and Cynthia LaCroix
  • Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle 

My husband 

  • Red Falcons of Tremoine by Hendry Peart
  • Shadows in Flight by Orson Scott Card
  • Dido and Pa by Joan Aiken
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Up Next For Me

For Holy Week, I'm reading the Catholic Teen Books anthology, Ashes: Visible and Invisible and The Cross and the Beatitudes by Archbishop Fulton Sheen. After that, I'm hoping to knock out a few more series books on audio, and a few of my digital ARCs. 

I'm adding this post to the link-up for An Open Book at 

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Homeschool Update: February 2023

Group Activities

We continued working on memorizing Psalm 133 in Latin using these memory cards from Learn Church Latin.

Our read-alouds were: The Winged Watchman by Hilda van Stockum, The Time Garden by Edward Eager, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, and Bread and Butter Indian by Anne Colver. 

We continued reading about sculpture in A Child's History of Art and watched related SmartHistory videos.

We returned to reading The Catholic Treasure Box and finished Volumes 16 and 17. 

Our February poetry collection was Poetry for Young People: Robert Browning.

On Ash Wednesday, we began our daily Lenten Scripture readings. They are the readings that correspond to ornaments on the Jesus tree, but we're not doing the tree this year. The girls each have a path from Catholic Icing to color and track the days of Lent. Also on Ash Wednesday, we prayed the Daily Stations of the Cross that I picked up at Mass. We're also singing Ave Regina Caelorum and Stabat Mater Dolorosa every day and watching the daily Lenten reflections from Brother Francis. 


C. continues to memorize The New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism.  


M. continued to study World War II with The Story of World War II by Robert Leckie as her spine. She read several historical fiction titles:  The Moved Outers by Florence Crannell Means, Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, Twenty and Ten by Clare Huchet Bishop, the entire Fairmount Avenue series by Tomie dePaola, all of the World War II titles in the You Choose series, and The Battle of Britain by Quentin James Reynolds. 

She also watched various videos: Machine Gunners, Victory at Sea, Uranium (first part only), Race for the World's First Atomic Bomb, The Desert War, Wartime Farm, and Days that Shook the World (Guadalcanal and Kristallnacht episodes). 

C. began to study Ancient Eastern history in A Picturesque Tale of Progress. We covered these sections: 
  • Genghis Khan Conquers Asia (The Mongols in the Gobi Desert; Genghis Khan; The Conquest of Western Asia; Mongol Conquests in Russia and the West; The Invasion of Europe; The Beginnings of Russia; The Ravaging of Russia; European Conquests)
  • The Mongol Conquest of Persia (Travelers to the Mongols; The Attack Upon Persia; Bagdad, Glittering City of Caliphs; A Decaying Empire; The Assassins; The Conquest of Bagdad; The Empire of the Ilkhans) 
She also read: The Adventures of Marco Polo by Russell Freedman,  The Travels of Benjamin of Tudela by Uri Shulevitz, Sindbad by Ludmila Zeman, Sindbad in the Land of Giants by Ludmila Zeman, Sindbad’s Secret by Ludmila Zeman, as well as Arabian Nights: Three Tales by Deborah Norse Lattimore and the Illusrated Junior Library edition of Arabian Nights

She wrote a narration about Marco Polo. 

E. and I continued reading  History Can Be Fun , up through colonial America.  She watched more episodes of Liberty's Kids.


M. continued working on 6th grade and Getting Ready for Algebra I in Khan Academy. She also worked on Challenging Word Problems 3 and drilled multiplication and divisions facts on, and completed one chapter per week in Life of Fred: Fractions.  

C. worked on Khan Academy 3rd grade, Singapore 2B, addition and subtraction drill on, and she started Life of Fred: Edgewood

E. continued working on Khan Academy Early Math, using the soroban and rods to assist with addition and subtraction. She drilled "big friends" using  


In addition to their historical fiction reading, M. read Stella Batts: Broken Birthday by Courtney Sheinmel and started Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling and C. read Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz by L. Frank Baum, The Wishing Chair Again by Enid Blyton, and Stella Batts: A Case of the Meanies by Courtney Sheinmel.  

E. read Meet George Washington, Annie Pat and Eddie by Carolyn Haywood, and Nathan Hale by Virginia Frances Voight 

M. and C. finished reading aloud The Half Sisters by Natalie Savage Carlson to Gran over Skype. 

M. completed the exercises in Rex Barks 3-13. C. named the parts of speech in sentences taken from a 3rd grade workbook.  

All three girls wrote Valentine messages to their siblings. C. started writing two stories:  "Max and Maria: The Magical Adventure" and "The Unicorn and the Magical Garden." E. started writing "Victoria and Tim." 


In Middle School Chemistry, M. and I completed these lessons:  
  • Represent Bonding with Lewis Dot Diagrams
  • Water is a Polar Molecule
  • Surface Tension
In BFSU, C. and E. covered these topics:  
  • What is Air Pressure?
  • Air Pressure Inside and Outside
  • Air, Atmosphere, and Wind
  • Air is a Mixture of Gases 

We also went on a walk to do some birdwatching for the Great Backyard Bird Count.  

Physical Education

The girls rode bikes on nicer days and also went to the playground a couple of times. M. and C. both mastered the monkey bars. 


M. and C. worked on Flip Animation. M. started using PaintZ to create digital drawings. C. and E. followed instructional videos on Art for Kids Hub.  


R. swallowed a chicken bone and visited the ER and we all learned about digestion. C. asked about how the nose works and watched a Dr. Binocs video to find out. 


The girls continued listening to The Ring of the Nibelung and they each practiced piano and recorder daily. We did one evening sing-along. 

Read-at-Home Mom Report: February 2023 Wrap-Up

February was a weird reading month. I had several DNFs and lots more books that were just okay. At the start of the month I was unexpectedly asked to come back to my old library and give a workshop presentation and a lot of time and attention went to that. (It was nice to be back in the saddle.) I also made the decision to abandon most of the reading challenges I started in January because they were already getting too tedious. But I still finished a total of 17 books, which is definitely not bad. 

February Favorites 

This month I read aloud three old favorites to my girls: The Mitchells by Hilda Van Stockum, The Winged Watchman by Hilda van Stockum, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. They were all delightful and the girls absolutely loved them. I cried at the end of The Winged Watchman, but it was worth it. 

From my own reading, my favorites were:   

The Likeness by Tana French (5 stars)
This is every bit as good as the first Dublin Murder Squad book, In the Woods, and I lingered over it just as long, savoring every word. Absolutely no one writes like Tana French, and this was so suspenseful, and emotional, and intriguing on every level.  

The Nineties by Chuck Klosterman (5 stars)
I really enjoyed this nostalgic nonfiction book about the 1990s. It was interesting to revisit world events I'd only heard about as a child with the benefit of adult understanding. It was also really fascinating to think about how much the Internet has changed our culture. 

The Netanyahus by Joshua Cohen (5 stars)
This was the book the Close Reads podcast read in February, and though I know I didn't get everything out of it, I found it hilarious as well as well-written. The audiobook is exceptionally well done. 

My Phony Valentine by Courtney Walsh (4 stars)
I loved the characters in this feel-good rom-com about a fake relationship between a hockey player and a restaurant owner. I especially loved the family members of the two protagonists. 

Love and a Little White Lie by Tammy L. Gray (4 stars)
This Christian novel is more of a conversion story than a romance, but I absolutely loved the writing and the characters. I'm looking forward to the other two titles in the series.

Tacos for Two by Betsy St. Amant (4 stars)
Spark Flash Fiction's book club read this You've Got Mail inspired rom-com this month. I loved all the details about food trucks and the surprising ways the story didn't quite match the original movie. 

Stand-Alone Books 

  • Bread-and-Butter Indian by Anne Colver (4 stars)
    A fun vintage read-aloud about frontier living based on a true story. 
  • London Transports by Maeve Binchy (3 stars)
    A largely forgettable short story collection bogged down a bit by its heavy emphasis on women's issues. 
  • The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen [ABRIDGED] (3 stars)
    I'm so irritated that the Libby app didn't label this book as abridged. The sexual content was too much for me to ever want to read it again, but I don't feel I can count it as read either.  
  • The Valentine's Hate by Sidney Halston (2 stars)
    This was very boring. I only finished it because I didn't have anything else in mind to listen to. 
  • Maizy Chen's Last Chance by Lisa Yee (2 stars)
    Another predictably preachy and mediocre Newbery honor book. 

Series Books

  • Snowfall at Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs (Lakeshore Chronicles Book 4)
  • Battleshipped by Savannah Scott (Getting Shipped! Book 2)
  • The Time Garden by Edward Eager (Tales of Magic Book 4)

Did Not Finish

2023 is shaping up to be the year of the DNF. I'm up to 15 after only two months. Here are the ones I abandoned in February: 

  • The Invisible Husband of Frick Island by Colleen Oakley
    Beautiful writing, but way too much about climate change.  
  • Today, Tonight, Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon
    I almost stuck with this one, I just couldn't read descriptions of a teenage girl reading sex scenes alone in her bed at night. I did love this author's adult rom-com The Ex Talk so this was really disappointing.
  • Heartbreakers and Fakers by Cameron Lund (ARC)
    Too much teen drinking in the first chapter. 
  • I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski
    This was a new adult romance that started out cute but then devolved into a lot of description of characters smoking marijuana. I was so bored I gave up. 
  • Love, Comment, Subscribe by Cathy Yardley
    I got a little bit into the audiobook and it just wasn't grabbing me.
  • Reclaiming Motherhood by Samantha Stephenson
    The author made it sound like feeding babies formula and using pain medication during labor were against the teachings of the Catholic church, which of course they are not. This book would be so damaging to a vulnerable new mom.    
  • Not that Kind of Ever After by Luci Adams
    This has such a sexually suggestive first page I couldn't even get through it. 

Family Reading Lists

M. (girl, 9 years, 3 months) 

  • The Moved Outers by Florence Crannell Means
  • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
  • Twenty and Ten by Clare Huchet Bishop
  • Fairmount Avenue series by Tomie dePaola
  • All World War II titles in the You Choose series
  • The Battle of Britain by Quentin James Reynolds
  • Stella Batts: Broken Birthday by Courtney Sheinmel
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling 

C. (girl, 7 years, 5 months)

  • The Adventures of Marco Polo by Russell Freedman
  • The Travels of Benjamin of Tudela by Uri Shulevitz
  • Sindbad by Ludmila Zeman
  • Sindbad in the Land of Giants by Ludmila Zeman
  • Sindbad’s Secret by Ludmila Zeman
  • Arabian Nights: Three Tales by Deborah Norse Lattimore
  • Illustrated Junior Library edition of Arabian Nights
  • Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz by L. Frank Baum
  • The Wishing Chair Again by Enid Blyton
  • Stella Batts: A Case of the Meanies by Courtney Sheinmel
  • Stella Batts: Who's in Charge? by Courtney Sheinmel   

E. (girl, 5 years, 3 months)

  • Meet George Washington by Joan Heilbroner 
  • Annie Pat and Eddie by Carolyn Haywood
  • Nathan Hale by Virginia Frances Voight
  • John Billington, Friend of Squanto by Clyde Robert Bulla 


R. (boy, 2 years, 11 months)

  • I Wheelie Love You by Hannah Eliot and Denise Holmes 
  • Little Blue Truck's Valentine by Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry 
  • Fire Truck by Peter Sis 
  • Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherry Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld 
  • Dinosnores by Sandra Boynton 
  • I Want That! by Hannah Eliot and Ana Sanfelippo 

A. (girl, 2 years, 11 months)

  • All Better, Baby! by Sara Gillingham 
  • Go Away, Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley
  • The Three Bears by Byron Barton
  • A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker and Kady MacDonald Denton
  • Little Sleepyhead by Elizabeth McPike and Patrice Barton
  • All About Alfie by Shirley Hughes 

My husband 

  • James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  • The Time Garden by Edward Eager  
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • George's Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl
  • Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan  
  • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry 

Up Next For Me

March is Middle Grade March, so I have lots of middle grade books ready to go. My local book club is reading The Silence of Mary by Ignacio LarraƱaga. I'm also planning to read Pygmalion and Diary of a Country Priest with Close Reads. 

I'm adding this post to the link-up for An Open Book at 

Friday, February 3, 2023

Homeschool Update: January 2023

Group Activities 

In January, we started working on memorizing Psalm 133 in Latin using these memory cards from Learn Church Latin. 

I read aloud The Trees Kneel at Christmas by Maud Hart Lovelace and The Mitchells by Hilda van Stockum. The girls listened to A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck on audiobook. 

We began reading the section of A Child's History of Art focused on sculpture and watched related SmartHistory videos. 

Our poetry collection for the month was Poetry for Young People: The Seasons


C. began to study The New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism. The twins learned to make the Sign of the Cross and say the blessing before meals. 


M. continues to study the 20th century. She watched the 1982 film Gandhi. She watched some of A Walk Through the 20th Century with Bill Moyers about the world's fair, as well as a newsreel on YouTube about the event. She also watched some episodes of The World at War and the episodes of Days that Shook the World about Pearl Harbor and The War of the Worlds.  She watched the 2017 film Dunkirk with my husband and he also showed her Dunkirk-related clips from War Walks and The Making of Modern Britain

She read a lot of historical fiction, as well as some nonfiction: 

  • Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan
  • The Chestry Oak by Kate Seredy 
  • The Little Ships by Louise Borden
  • Dolphin Crossing by Jill Paton Walsh
  • Hitler Youth: Growing up in Hitler's Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
  • Doodlebug Summer by Alison Prince 
  • Katy Parker and the House that Cried by Margaret Mulligan
  • The Exeter Blitz by David Rees 
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt for Kids by Richard Panchyk
  • Gandhi by Leonard Everett Fisher 
  • Balto and the Great Race by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel 
  • China's Long March : 6,000 Miles of Danger by Jean Fritz
  • Snow Goose by Paul Gallico 

C. learned about the founding of the countries of France, Germany and Italy and then learned about Marco Polo. We read these sections from A Picturesque Tale of Progress: 

  • France Becomes an Absolute Monarchy (The Beginnings of France; Joan of Arc; Louis XI, the Spider of France) 
  • Germany and the Holy Roman Empire (Early Germany, The Investiture Struggle, The Failure of German Unity)
  • Italian City States and the Renaissance (A Divided Italy; Venice, City of the Sea; Rome, the Eternal City; Florence and the Great Painters of the Renaissance)
  • Marco Polo Explores the East (The Lure of the East; Marco Sets Out for China; The Land of Kublai Khan)

She watched a video about the Investiture Conflict and read a lot of books:  

  • Leonardo, Beautiful Dreamer by Robert Byrd 
  • Leonardo DaVinci by Diane Stanley 
  • Michelangelo by Diane Stanley
  • Joan of Arc by Louis-Maurice Boutet de Monvel 
  • Joan of Arc by Josephine Poole 
  • Mont St. Michel for Young People by Lucien Bely 
  • The Apple and the Arrow by Mary and Conrad Buff 

E. read about Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Greece in History Can Be Fun and started watching Liberty's Kids


M. is still working her way through 6th grade math on Khan Academy and Challenging Word Problems 3. She is reading Life of Fred: Fractions. I started having her drill multiplication and division facts on 

C. is still working on 3rd grade math on Khan Academy and she is working her way through Singapore 3A. She finished Life of Fred: Dogs. She is drilling addition and subtraction facts using  

E started working on Early Math on Khan Academy. She drills "big friends" (numbers that add up to ten) using


The girls have been doing a lot of independent reading and lots of writing for fun. 

E. is working on memorizing "The Arrow and The Song" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. C is learning "Night" by William Blake and M. is learning "Hope is the Thing with Feathers" by Emily Dickinson. 

M. diagrams two sentences from Rex Barks each week. C. identifies parts of speech in a daily sentence. 

M. wrote Christmas thank you notes on behalf of all the kids. 

E. is beginning to learn to print her letters.


M. did these Middle School Chemistry lessons about the periodic table: 

  • Protons, Neutrons, and Electrons
  • The Periodic Table
  • The Periodic Table & Energy Level Models
  • Energy Levels, Electrons, and Covalent Bonding
  • Energy Levels, Electrons, and Ionic Bonding
C. and E. covered these topics using  BFSU: 
  • What's the Difference Between Plants and Animals?
  • All Matter is Made of Particles
  • The Difference Between Solids, Liquids, and Gases
  • Reversible and Nonreversible Changes
  • Distinguishing Materials

Physical Education 

We were sick a lot of this month, but there were a few impromptu living room dance parties in lieu of exercise. 


M. and C. have been making animations using E. has started following drawing videos from Art for Kids Hub. 


M. and read about the menstrual cycle in The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Younger Girls and we had a discussion about how babies are made. 


All three girls practiced piano and recorder daily. They did one lesson from How to Sing and started listening to the fourth opera of The Ring of the Nibelung. For Epiphany, they watched the 1996 version of Amahl and the Night Visitors