Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Mid-Year Book Freak-out Tag 2021

The year is pretty much half over, so it's time to check in on my reading life and see how things are going. Before I get to my list of goals (which I'll do in a separate post, possibly not until after the fourth of July weekend), I wanted to do a quick survey of the books I've read so far using the prompts from the Mid-Year Book Freak-Out Tag. This is typically a YouTube tag, but I think it's a good framework for taking stock of my reading so far this year, so I've adapted it to the written format. I also removed a few questions from the list that didn't apply to me. 

Best book you’ve read so far in 2021

I always do a top 25 at the end of the year, because it's so hard to narrow it down, but for this one I'm going to say Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. I read this in April, and I truly could not put it down. I have never been so motivated to read such a long book so quickly, and I still think about the characters and setting all the time.  A close second to this book would be Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy. 

Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2021

Back in January, I finished Elizabeth Goudge's Eliots trilogy when I read The Heart of the Family. It was a perfect ending to the three-book family saga and I loved looking back and seeing the growth and maturity of each of the characters.  

New release you haven’t read yet, but want to

I am waiting not very patiently for my hold on Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid to come in on Libby. I placed a hold on the ebook rather than the audiobook, which is kind of a let-down, but the holds list was shorter and I want to read it this summer.

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

I don't pay a lot of attention to new releases before they come out, but thanks to the Modern Mrs. Darcy summer reading guide, The Guide by Peter Heller is on my radar. It won't be released until the end of August, but it involves a pandemic and is a sequel to The River and I am super excited to see how it is. 

Biggest disappointment

I listened to My Life as a Villainess by Laura Lippman, whose series about private investigator Tess Monaghan I had previously enjoyed and whose To the Power of Three was one of my favorite books of 2091. I disliked her personal essays and worldview so much that I actually decided never to read another book by her again. 

Biggest surprise

I read Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang in January after seeing several rave reviews. I expected it to be a run-of-the-mill quick and easy graphic novel, but it was surprisingly multi-layered and emotional. My kids don't read graphic novels so I typically don't either, but I'm glad I made this exception.  

Favorite new author (debut or new to you)

I really enjoyed K.J. Dell'antonia's debut novel, The Chicken Sisters. It's a story involving family ties, fried chicken, and reality TV, but it's not a frivolous story at all. I'm excited to see what she writes next.

Newest favorite character

I really like Renee Ballard from Michael Connelly's Ballard and Bosch series (which is a spin-off from the long-running Bosch series.)  I especially like her relationship with her grandmother. 

Book that made you cry

Toward the end of People You Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry, I unexpectedly started to tear up. It's such a great love story in the same vein as When Harry Met Sally.

Book that made you happy

When I read A Place Like Home by Rosamunde Pilcher, I was thrilled not just because the stories were so cozy and uplifting, but also because they inspired me to start writing short stories again myself.  

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

Though I don't have an official TBR, I do have some books on my radar that I definitely still want to read this year. These include: Letters to Myself from the End of the World by Emily Stimpson Chapman, The Dearly Departed by Eleanor Lipman, Two Towns in Provence by M.F.K. Fisher, and The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher. 

Here is the original Mid-Year Book Freak-Out Tag.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Homeschool Update: Week of 6/14/21

Morning Read-Alouds

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), we read: "Mr. Snail" by Celia Warren, "Solitude" by Archibald Lampman, "The Intruder" by James Reeves, "The Moon" by Iain Crichton Smith, and "Cat" by Brian Morse.

This week's author/illustrator for our summer reading project was Paul Galdone. We read: Three Ducks Went Wandering (written by Ron Roy), The Gingerbread Boy, The Teeny-Tiny Woman, George Washington's Breakfast (written by Jean Fritz), and Three Fox Fables, and Grandma read The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse


We listened to The Stars and Stripes Forever by John Philip Sousa, Rhapsody in Blue: "Andante" by George Gershwin, William Tell Overture: "Finale" by Gioachino Rossini, and Symphony No. 5: "First Movement" by Beethoven. We learned to sing My Grandfather's Clock


This week we looked at The Last Supper by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo from The Louvre Art Deck: 100 Masterpieces from the World's Most Popular Museum by Anja Grebe and Erich Lessing. 


We started working on Lesson 6, "The Son of God Becomes Man" in The New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism. We read about Saint Anthony of Padua, whose feast day was June 13. 

Memory Work

E. recited the months of the year, days of the week, four directions, marks of the church, and continents. She continued to practice "Happiness" by A.A. Milne. 

C recited the 50 states, planets, Great Lakes, countries of Europe, the oceans, the books of the Bible, and our address and phone number. She continued practicing "maggie and milly and molly and may" by e.e. cummings. 

M recited the 50 states, the countries of Asia, the books of the Bible, the Kings and Queens of England, and our address and phone number. She continued to practice Oberon's speech from A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act II, Scene 1 by William Shakespeare.  


In Builders of the Old World, M. read the sections entitled "From Superstition to Science" and "The Man Who Knew Too Much." She read about Roger Bacon in The Story of Science by Joy Hakim, and she read Blockhead: the Life of Fibonacci by Joseph D'Agnese. She also watched some YouTube videos about Fibonacci, fractals, and the golden ratio. 


M. didn't work on Singapore this week, but C. did some addition and subtraction without renaming. Both girls did Khan Academy.  


M. and C. watched several episodes of Mr. Wizard's World. 

Reading and Writing

M. is still reading The Borrowers. She also started reading Thee, Hannah by Marguerite deAngeli aloud to Gran on Skype. I also read Charlotte's Web aloud to her. She liked it so much, we finished it in just a few days. C. is still reading Little House on the Prairie, and I'm still reading aloud Baby Island to her. I finished reading aloud Winnie-the-Pooh to E. 

At lunch, I finished reading aloud The Four-Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright. At dinner, my husband read aloud from A Necklace of Raindrops by Joan Aiken. In the car, we're still listening to Anne of Green Gables. 

Physical Education

On Monday, we had a playdate where the girls bounced on a trampoline. On Thursday night, we went to an outdoor potluck at church, where the girls ran around with a ball and played on the playground. 

Favorite New Picture Books, January - June 2021

As the halfway point in the year approaches, I've been taking stock of all the new picture books that have been sent to me for review. Today I want to share a list of the top titles I have received in the first six months of 2021. 

Road Trip by Steve Light (Candlewick, February 2021) has distinctively intricate illustrations that portray a group of animals driving through their woodland community of Whiskers Hollow to Elephant's junk yard where they hope to find a new headlight for Bear's truck. It's hard to write a book about vehicles and tools that doesn't repeat established tropes, but this book is a unique take. The story is simple, but the illustrations provide so much detail to look at that kids can really get lost in them. We have quite a few books by Steve Light on our shelves, and they have been consistently of good quality. Road Trip is no exception. 

Baby Moses in a Basket by Caryn Yacowitz and Julie Downing (Candlewick, March 2021) is a charming retelling of the Biblical story of the infant Moses floating down the river to be discovered by Pharaoh's daughter. In this version, friendly animals protect and assist young Moses in his travels, ensuring his safe arrival at his destination. We read picture book adaptations of Old Testament stories every year during Advent when we have our Jesse tree. My second daughter (C., age 5.5) will also be studying Biblical times in school this coming year, and I plan to use a lot of picture books with her. This one will certainly be included to enrich her learning. I also just recently made the connection that the illustrator of this book is the same artist who created one of our all-time favorite picture books, Lullaby and Goodnight. 

Twenty-One Steps by Jeff Gottesfeld and Matt Tavares (Candlewick, February 2021) highlights the role of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This book, with its beautiful illustrations and poetic writing style, really inspires its readers to appreciate the sacrifices the members of the U.S. Military and their families have made for our freedoms. I want my children to grow up with a sense of gratitude for fallen soldiers, and I want them to have an emotional connection to the observance of Memorial Day. This book is a perfect stepping stone toward that goal.  

In Zee Grows a Tree by Elizabeth Rusch and Will Hillenbrand (Candlewick, March 2021), a Douglas fir tree is planted when Zee is a baby, and she and the tree grow up together. At each stage of Zee's development, the story compares Zee to her tree and also shows how Zee cares for it. Facts about trees are written in the margins of every page, making the book a fun hybrid of fact and fiction. This book is similar in many ways to Christmas Farm by Mary Lyn Ray and Barry Root, but I like having both books on our shelves as they complement each other quite well. 

Bruno the Beekeeper by Aneta Františka Holasová (Candlewick, March 2021) looks like a story book, but is actually a nonfiction guide to everything a young reader could ever want to know about bees. The feel of the book is a bit quirky, but I have never seen so much information about any topic packed into a picture book in my life, and the diagrams of bee anatomy and the inside of a hive are just utterly fascinating. This one skews toward a little bit of an older audience; I think upper elementary readers will get the most out of it. 


A Midsummer Night's Dream retold by Georghia Ellinas and Jane Ray (Candlewick, April 2021) is a gorgeously illustrated Shakespeare retelling. It's a little bit disappointing that more lines from the actual play don't make it into the text, but if you're looking for a book to introduce the plot ahead of introducing the Shakespearean language, this is ideal. My oldest daughter (7.5) enjoyed the book because she was learning about Shakespeare in history at the time that it arrived, but my other kids were equally drawn to the fanciful and colorful illustrations. 

How to Apologize by David LaRochelle and Mike Wohnoutka (Candlewick, May 2021) is a fun, kid-friendly explanation of how (and how not) to make a sincere apology. Apologizing is often hard for my kids, and I like having this book on-hand to remind them in a gentle way how to make it right after they've done something wrong.  The examples of the wrong ways to make amends are also pretty funny, especially to the sense of humor of a 5-to-7-year old. 

Let's Play! A Book About Making Friends by Amanda McCardie and Colleen Larmour (Candlewick, May 2021) is another guidebook for kids, this time about meeting new people and developing new friendships. There are quite a few books out there that explore problems in friendships, but this one takes a positive, upbeat attitude and really emphasizes the joys that friendship can bring. 

Keeping the City Going by Brian Floca (Atheneum, April 2021) is the only picture book about Covid that I have accepted for review during the pandemic, and that was solely because I love the author. This is very much a snapshot of one person's experience in one place (New York City), but it surprised me by being very child-friendly and not at all political. I think it makes a nice souvenir of sorts that will one day remind us all of how odd of a year 2020 really was. It would also work as part of a community helpers themed story time, but probably only in the very immediate future.

Early One Morning by Mem Fox and Christine Davenier (Beach Lane Books, February 2021)  is a sweet tale for preschoolers about a little boy who goes looking for his breakfast on the farm. As the boy searches, the illustrations make it clear what he is seeking and where he can find it, but the text is careful not to reveal it so that the child reader has the chance to figure it out. This book reminded me a bit of the Minerva Louise books, but less silly. 

The More the Merrier by David Martin and Raissa Figueroa (Candlewick, June 2021) features a group of animals dancing through the forest. Because each animal is built differently, each one has different signature dance moves which he shows off when his turn comes. The message that everyone has something to contribute has been done many times before, but because of the incorporation of movement into the story, this one stands out as a bit different. If I host story time at all this summer, this is one of the books I want to use. 

In Noah's Seal by Layn Marlow (Candlewick, June 2021), a little boy named Noah wants his grandma to take him out on her boat to see seals, but she's not ready to go. Noah makes himself a seal out of sand instead, which he loves, and which breaks his heart when it is washed out to sea. Things turn around, though, with an almost magical surprise ending. This is sort of a summer take on stories that deal with snowmen who melt after the cold weather passes, but this friend disappears when the tide comes in. The atmosphere of the illustrations is perfect for hot summer days, and I'll be reading this one aloud before we head to the beach in August.  

Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon by Kat Zhang and Charlene Chua (Simon & Schuster, December 2020) is the sequel to Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao. In this second book, Amy is assigned to create a dragon at school, but instead of following her own creative thoughts about dragons, she tries to conform to her classmates' ideas instead. With help from her family, however, she realizes that the Eastern dragons of her culture are just as interesting and fun to create as Western ones. My kids love Amy Wu, and they are big fans of this book.

Finally, in Dakota Crumb: Tiny Treasure Hunter by Jamie Michalak and Kelly Murphy (Candlewick, June 2021), a mouse named Dakota prowls around the museum at night snatching up tiny objects, which she carries home for a very special reason. After the reader learns where the treasures go, there is an invitation for the reader to go back through the book and look for more hidden objects. This book indulges kids' curiosity about what goes on at places like museums after hours and behind the scenes, and it's also just the right blend of mystery and adventure for the pre-K to grade 2 audience. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Homeschool Update: Week of 6/7/21

Morning Read-Alouds 

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), we read: "The Sea" by James Reeves, "Busy Bugs" by James Carter, "Worm Words" by Tony Mitton, "The Song of a Mole" by Richard Edwards, and "The Snail's Monologue" by Christian Morgenstern, translated by Max Knight. 

We also read the last two articles from the digital edition of Vol. 20 number 4 of National Geographic Explorer (Pathfinder edition): "Newfoundland Wildlife" by Justine Ammendolia and "The Wonder of the Falls" by Libby Romero.  

We're also doing a summer reading project with Grandma. Each week, Grandma and I choose an author or illustrator to focus on. I read books by that person during the week, and Grandma reads one aloud on Skype on Saturday. This week, we chose Roger Duvoisin, and I read Veronica,  Nubber Bear (written by William Lipkind), and Donkey - donkey by Roger Duvoisin and my mom read The Camel Who Took a Walk (written by by Jack Tworkov). 


We attempted to learn to sing "Little White Duck" but it was too difficult, so we switched to "Polly Wolly Doodle." On Friday, we did a sing-along of all the songs we've learned so far. 

We listened to Piano Sonata No. 11 in A: "Turkish Rondo" by Mozart, Pictures at an Exhibition: "The Gnome" by Modest Mussorgsky,  and Háry János Suite: "Viennese Musical Clock" by Zoltán Kodály. 

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


This week, we studied Reader at the Window by Adriaen van Ostade from The Louvre Art Deck: 100 Masterpieces from the World's Most Popular Museum by Anja Grebe and Erich Lessing. 


We reviewed lessons 1 through 5 in The New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism

Memory Work 

E. recited the months of the year, days of the week, four directions, marks of the church, and continents. She recorded her video recitation of "First Fig" by Edna St. Vincent Millay and started to learn "Happiness" by A.A. Milne. 

C reviewed the countries of Europe, the oceans, the books of the Bible, and our address and phone number. She recorded her video recitation of "The Owl and the Pussycat"  by Edward Lear and started to learn "maggie and milly and molly and may" by e.e. cummings. 

M reviewed the countries of Asia, the books of the Bible, the Kings and Queens of England, and our address and phone number. She recorded her video recitation of "The Goat and I" by Robert Service and started learning Oberon's speech from A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act II, Scene 1 by William Shakespeare.  


For M., this week was all about Shakespeare. In Builders of the Old World, she read the sections called "Education Spreads Among the People" and "Great Poets and Playwrights." She also read Bard of Avon by Diane Stanley;  Shakespeare: His Work and his World by Michael Rosen (part of which she read with Gran on Skype), and William Shakespeare and the Globe by Aliki, as well as A Midsummer Night's Dream retold by Georghia Ellinas and illustrated by Jane Ray and William Shakespeare's Macbeth by Bruce Coville and A Midsummer Night's Dream from Shakespeare Stories by William Garfield. 

She also watched Shakespeare's Globe (Films for the Humanities and Sciences, 2006) and a recording of a 2016 performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the New Globe Theater. (I've never seen her laugh so hard).  

C. and I continued reading Norse myths from D'Aulaires' Norse Gods and Giants


M. and C. watched several episodes of Mr. Wizard's World during the week. 

Reading and Writing

E., C., and M. all wrote thank -you letters to Gran for the fun things they did on their visit to her house. 

In the car we continued listening to Anne of Green Gables. I started reading aloud Charlotte's Web to M. and Baby Island to C. and continued reading aloud Winnie-the-Pooh with E. At lunch, we continued reading aloud The Four-Story Mistake. 

Physical Education

On Tuesday, we went to homeschool field day. E. ran around on the playground and M. and C. participated in traditional lawn games: egg toss, wheelbarrow race, sack race, relay race, tug-of-war. M. made a new friend who shares her first name, and we had another playdate with her on Thursday, followed by another playdate with the neighbors' grandkids that same afternoon.  

Friday, June 11, 2021

Homeschool Update: Week of 5/31/21

This week we did school at Gran's! This was a bit more of a relaxed schedule than we have at home, but we still hit all of our subjects. 

Morning Read-Alouds

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) we read "May" by John Updike, "Finding Magic" by Eric Finney, "All in June" by W.H. Davies, "Bee! I'm Expecting You!" by Emily Dickinson, and "Bedtime" (Extract) by Thomas Hood. 

We read all of the articles in the digital edition of Vol. 20 number 5 of National Geographic Explorer (Pathfinder edition): "Curing What Ails You" by Alex Greene, "Nature's Mysteries" by Lynn Brunelle, and "Lake Tour" by Beth Geiger. We also read one article from the digital edition of Vol. 20 number 4 of the same magazine: "Mishmash Mammal" by Lynn Brunelle. 


Each morning at breakfast, we listened to a piece of classical music. The selections were:  La Gioconda: "Dance of the Hours" by Amilcare Ponchielli, Symphony No. 94, "Surprise": Second Movement by Franz Joseph Haydn, Aida: "Triumphal March" by Giuseppe Verdi, and The Firebird: "Infernal Dance" by Igor Stravinsky. 

With Gran, M. and C. read The Magic Flute retold by Anne Gatti and illustrated by Peter Malone, and listened to selections from the opera. They also watched the OperaVox adaptation together. 

M. and C. both practiced their piano lessons on Gran's piano, which was a fun change from the keyboard at home. 

On Friday night, we had a sing-along on Gran's deck featuring all the songs the girls have been learning to sing. 


For art appreciation, we studied The Beggars (or The Cripples) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. M. and C. also discussed Monet with Gran and looked at some of his paintings in one of her books.

They also created some chalk drawings in the driveway. 


We continued working on the questions and answers in Lesson 5 of The New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism


Gran has her own copy of D'Aulaires' Norse Gods and Giants and she read to C. several stories: "Loki's Monstrous Brood," "Balder, the God of Light," "Heindall, the Watchman of Asgard," and "Njord, Frey, and Freya." 

M. watched The Machine that Made Us  and read From the Good Mountain by James Rumford, as well as several sections from Builders of the Old World: "Block Books," "The Printing Press," "The Making of Many Books" and "How Printing Helped Men to Be Free." 

M. also got a taste of family history by asking Gran questions about her school years. 


For science, M.and C. watched episodes of Mr. Wizard's World

E. and C. also brought their Kiwi Crates to do with Gran. C. made a treasure chest and treasure map and E. made farm animal finger puppets, a vegetable garden, and a cardboard barn. 

The girls also spent quite a bit of time exploring the garden behind Gran's house, and one evening they caught and studied some fireflies. All three girls also had the chance to bake cookies with Gran. 

Reading and Writing

In the car on the way to and from Gran's, we listened to the audiobook of Anne of Green Gables.

We started reading aloud The Four-Story Mistake at lunchtime. This turn out to be one of Gran's favorite books from childhood. 

E. practiced sounding out consonant-vowel-consonant words in The Ordinary Parents' Guide to Teaching Reading and also started listening to a read-aloud of Winnie-the-Pooh

M. started reading The Borrowers and C. continued with Little House on the Prairie. 


M. and C. did some work on Khan Academy daily at Gran's. They also did their math flashcards a couple of times.

Physical Education 

M. and C. spent a lot of time running around outside. They also ran in the sprinkler, took a walk with Gran through her neighborhood, and played hopscotch. 

Special Activities

We all watched the original animated Disney movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs together. The girls also ate ice  cream and played with their dolls that live at Gran's house. Each night when her siblings went to bed ahead of her, M. also played a make-believe game with Gran in which she pretended to be the mother of a young baby and had Gran play the role of great-grandmother. C. enjoyed playing Uno with Gran.  

Monday, June 7, 2021

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

My Month in Books

I read 12 books for my own enjoyment during May, and read aloud 4 more to my kids. First, my own reading: 

Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy (4 stars)
[reviewed on Goodreads]
This was a wonderfully twisty thriller that tricked me not once, but twice. The audiobook narration contributed to the suspense and the elements of surprise. It wasn't quite five stars, but it was a very enjoyable four-star read. 

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott (5 stars)
[reviewed on Goodreads
I listened to this collection of essays on the writing life and loved everything about it except the author's insistence on referring to God using female pronouns. 

Good Company by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney (3 stars)
[reviewed on Goodreads
The writing in this audiobook was good, but the plot felt thin. I made it to the end, but had I known how disappointing it was going to be, I probably would have skipped this one. 

My Life as a Villainess by Laura Lippman (1 star)
[reviewed on Goodreads]
I have enjoyed this author's detective novels, but the essays in this book were so angry and hateful (especially toward men) that I found myself completely turned off to her worldview altogether. After finishing the audiobook, I added all the books by her that I owned to our donation pile. 

A Place Like Home: Short Stories by Rosamunde Pilcher (5 stars)
[reviewed on Instagram
I love this cozy collection of domestic love stories. It renewed my interest in short stories and inspired me to want to write some of my own as well. I received a digital ARC of this book from Netgalley; it comes out in July. 

When I Was a Child I Read Books by Marilynne Robinson (4 stars)
[reviewed on Goodreads]
This collection of deeply philosophical essays included many pieces that went right over my head, and others with which I disagreed, but I really appreciated the depth of this author's thinking about the writing life and the spiritual life. 

The Appalling Strangeness of the Mercy of God by Ruth Pakaluk (4 stars)
[reviewed on Goodreads
This was my book club's pick for May. I liked the section of the book that collected Ruth's letters, and the biography was interesting, but the talks at the end were kind of repetitive. I also don't love reading about mothers dying of cancer and leaving behind small children and probably would not have chosen this book on my own. 

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz (4 stars)
[reviewed on Goodreads
I listened to this thriller on audio as well, and even though I figured out what was going to happen long before the end, I still loved the writing enough to read eagerly to the end. Still, I would have liked just a couple of red herrings. 

Southern Lady Code by Helen Ellis (2 stars)
[reviewed on Goodreads]
This audiobook was ostensibly a collection of funny essays, but it was more crude than amusing. I think only one or two out of the whole set actually made me laugh. 

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry (5 stars)
[reviewed on Goodreads]
I really loved this When Harry Met Sally esque romance, and it was especially great to listen to the audiobook read by Julia Whelan. The ending unexpectedly made me cry!  

We Are the Baby-Sitters Club: Essays and Artwork from Grown-Up Readers by Marisa Crawford (3 stars)
[reviewed on Goodreads]
This was interesting to me as a piece of nostalgia, but I didn't particularly like the way the essay writers read so much into a series of books for children. 

The Fortunate Marriage by Meriol Trevor (4 stars)
[reviewed on Goodreads]
Meriol Trevor is one of my all-time favorite Catholic authors. This Regency romance doesn't include as many references to the faith as some of her other books, but its views on marriage are 100% compatible with church teaching even if the characters' behavior isn't always. There are three more in this series, and several other similar series on my Kindle that I still plan to read. 

And here are the read-alouds, which I'm planning to review here on the blog at some point: 

Away Goes Sally by Elizabeth Coatsworth (3 stars)
This was a simple historical fiction story about a family moving their house over land to a new home. The writing was a little simplistic for me.  

Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright (4 stars)
This one was a re-read for me, and I have already reviewed it. M. (7) liked it the most, but C. (5) and E. (3) were mostly invested in the story as well.  

The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook by Joyce Lankester Brisley (5 stars)
I read this one aloud to E. as part of her daily preschool time, and she really liked it. The small adventures Milly-Molly-Mandy has in her village are just perfect for her age. 

Old Mother West Wind by Thornton Burgess (3 stars)
This was another read-aloud with E. She didn't love it that much to start with it, but really warmed up to it by the end. (Animal stories aren't my favorite, but I'll read them aloud if necessary.)


I abandoned quite a few books in May as I struggled to find my new reading rhythm heading into summer. 

First, I decided not to read anymore cozy mysteries and abandoned the one I had been struggling with, Deadly Edition by Victoria Gilbert, then removed the others I had from NetGalley and on my Kindle from my to-read shelf.

I also DNF'd That Summer by Jennifer Weiner (I was bored and bogged down in too many characters and timelines), Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books by Nick Hornby (it was slowing me down because it's so long), The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams (I didn't like the writing), and Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann (great premise, but again I didn't like the writing). 

The Best of the Bunch

My favorite books this month were...

People We Meet on VacationA Place Like Home

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

On our trip to Gran's house last week we finished listening to the audiobook of The Hobbit and then started Anne of Green Gables.  

My husband read aloud Tal: His Marvelous Adventures with Noom-Zor-Noom by Paul Fenimore Cooper and also read a Choose Your Own Adventure story with the girls one night. He finished reading The Peppermint Pig by Nina Bawden, and also read The Book of Hob Stories and Underground Alley, both by William Mayne.  He is now reading The Serial Garden by Joan Aiken. 

M. (7 years, 6 months) read Rinkitink of Oz and started The Borrowers.

C. (5 years, 8 months) finished Ramona the Pest and moved on to Little House on the Prairie. We've also started reading picture books together in the evenings. She has enjoyed all my choices, but she  absolutely loved One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey.

E. (3 years, 7 months) is into a series of lift-the-flap books that includes Sophie's Seashell Scramble, which we recently received from the publisher for review, and the companion books of which my mom sent for her. She also just started listening to me read aloud Winnie-the-Pooh. 

R. and A. (14 months) have been enjoying ABC Cats and 123 Cats by Leslea Newman, which we received from the publisher for review.  

Up Next For Me

I'm currently listening to Fox's Earth by Anne Rivers Siddons, which is my first big book for Sue's Big Book Summer Challenge. I'm also listening to The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave, which was recommended in the Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading Guide. 

With a friend, I'm reading Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner, for book club I'm reading The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder, and for a buddy read on Instagram I'm reading The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. 

Linking Up

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

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Homeschool Update: Week of 5/24/21

Morning Read-Alouds 

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) we read "The Poultries" by Ogden Nash, "The Way Through the Woods" by Rudyard Kipling, "Queen Anne's Lace" by Mary Leslie Newton, "Whispering Leaves" by Julie O'Callaghan, and "Buttercup" by Mandy Coe.

We read all the articles in Vol. 8 No. 4 of National Geographic Explorer (Pathfinder Edition): "Nature's Solutions" by Leslie Hall, "Gold Fever" by Ruth Kassinger, "Spectacular Seahorses" by Twig C. George, and "Icebergs" by Luc Desjardins. 


We listened to The Firebird: "Infernal Dance" by Igor Stravinsky, Album for the Young: "The Happy Farmer" by Robert Schumann, Tritsch-Tratsch Polka by Johann Strauss, Jr., L'Arlésienne Suite: "Farandole" by Georges Bizet, Brandenburg Concerto No. 2: Movement 1 by Johann Sebastian Bach.

We practiced singing "Sweet Betsy from Pike", using the music from Go In and Out the Window: An Illustrated Songbook for Young People and had a sing-along of all the songs we've been learning on Friday night. 

M. and C. practiced piano and recorder daily.

Art Appreciation

This week we studied "Portrait of Anne of Cleves" by Hans Holbein the Younger, which complemented M.'s history reading about King Henry VIII. 


We read about Saints Philip Neri and Madeleine Sophie Barat on their feast days. We reviewed Lessons 1 to 4 in The New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism, and I introduced the questions and answers in Lesson 5, "Our Own Sins."

Memory Work

C. reviewed the planets, four directions, 50 states, and marks of the church, worked on the countries of Europe and books of the Bible, and continued learning "The Owl and the Pussycat" by Edward Lear. 

M reviewed the countries of Europe and 13 colonies, the books of the Bible, and the 7 sacraments, worked on the monarchs of England,  the countries of Asia, and continued learning "The Goat and I" by Robert Service. 

E. continued learning "First Fig" by Edna St. Vincent Millay, and she started working on memorizing the continents, oceans, months of the year, and days of the week.  


We finished all the BFSU work we had planned for this school year and also spent a little more time on cicadas. At the end of the week, we watched a few Operation Ouch videos just for fun. We won't start formal science time again until September, but we will do some informal nature study, read-alouds, and videos through the summer. 

E. and I started reading Little Kids First Big Book of Reptiles and Amphibians by Catherine D. Hughes (National Geographic Kids, 2020). We read about snakes and lizards. 


C. continued reading D'Aulaires' Norse Gods and Giants

M. has switched  her history text to Builders of the Old World and she read sections called "The Struggle for Freedom to Worship" and "Men Create New Forms of Beauty," which involved King Henry VIII and his wives and the Protestant Reformation. She also read Good Queen Bess by Diane Stanley and some of Rulers of Britain by Plantagenet Somerset Fry. 


M. and C. both worked on Khan Academy. M finished fourth grade math and was allowed to take a break after that. C. and M. also both worked on Singapore Math in their respective workbooks. 

Reading and Writing 

We finished our read-aloud of Gone-Away Lake and my husband finished reading aloud Tal

E. and I finished Old Mother West Wind. C. and I read some picture books at bedtime, just the two of us, and she absolutely loved my choices: In the Middle of the Night by Aileen Fisher and Adrienne Adams, Town and Country by Alice and Martin Provensen, One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey, and The Great Blueness by Arnold Lobel. C. is also still reading Little House on the Prairie. M. finished Rinkitink of Oz

Physical Education

We were getting ready to go to Gran's house, and she asked us to quarantine the kids, so we stayed home from playdates for the week. M. did get a chance to take a bike ride with Daddy one afternoon.   

Homeschool Update: Week of 5/17/21

Morning Read-Alouds

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) we read: ""Only My Opinion" by Monica Shannon, "The Heron" by Gregory Harrison, "Sneezing" by Anonymous, "O Dandelion" by Anonymous, "Yellow Weed" by Lilian Moore. 

We read all the articles from Vol. 7 No 5 of National Geographic Explorer (Pathfinder edition): "Doctor Bugs" by Mark W. Moffett, "Rock Stars" by Beth Geiger, and "Wild Cats" by Dana Jensen 


We listened to Appalachian Spring: "Variations on a Shaker Tune" by Aaron Copland, Lt. Kijé Suite: "Troika" by Sergei Prokofiev, Aida: "Triumphal March" by Giuseppe Verdi, Nutcracker: "Dance of the Reed Pipes" by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and Comedians: "Galop" by Dmitri Kabalevsky. We continued practicing singing "The Ash Grove."  

Art Appreciation

We looked at St Francis of Assisi Receiving the Stigmata by Giotto di Bondone from The Louvre Art Deck: 100 Masterpieces from the World's Most Popular Museum by Anja Grebe and Erich Lessing. We also watched the video about it that is posted on Khan Academy. 


We reviewed Lessons 2 and 3 in The New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism and moved on to Lesson 3, "The Blessed Trinity" and Lesson 4, ""The First Sins." 

Memory Work

C. reviewed the planets, four directions, 50 states, continents, oceans, months of the year, days of the week, and marks of the church, worked on the countries of Europe and books of the Bible, and continued learning "The Owl and the Pussycat" by Edward Lear. 

M reviewed the countries of Europe and 13 colonies, the books of the Bible, and the 7 sacraments, worked on the monarchs of England, thirteen of the countries of Asia, and continued learning "The Goat and I" by Robert Service. 

E. continued learning "First Fig" by Edna St. Vincent Millay. 


We started BFSU Lesson B-8: How Animals Move III: Coordinating Body Movements (The Nervous System). using EESE as our guide. We read Use Your Brain by Paul Showers and watched an Operation Ouch video about the nervous system. On Friday, we took a break from this topic to go on a cicada hunt. We found a bunch and M. collected some exoskeletons to examine under the microscope. She is working on writing about her experience and observations. 


M. read "The Great Awakening" section of A Picturesque Tale of Progress, which included these topics: "The New Spirit," "Religion Takes New Forms," "A Monk Brings Changes in Religion," and "Reforms Within the Catholic Church." 

C. started reading D'Aulaires' Norse Gods and Giants. We read five sections: "Introduction," "The First Gods and Giants," "The Creation of the World," "The Creation of Man," and "Yggdrasil, the World Tree."


M. worked on more time exercises in Singapore 3B. C. worked on greater and less than in Singapore 2B. Both girls did flashcards and Khan Academy. M. also did a chapter in Life of Fred: Honey.

Reading and Writing 

M. is now reading Rinkitink in Oz by L. Frank Baum. C is still reading Little House on the Prairie. Our read-alouds of Gone-Away Lake and Tal are still ongoing. E. is still hearing Old Mother West Wind. She also began working in The Ordinary Parents' Guide to Teaching Reading, sounding out consonant-vowel-consonant words. 

Physical Education

M. went on a long bike ride with Daddy. We also had two playdates with friends, one of which included jumping on a trampoline.