Monday, September 11, 2023

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

August Favorites

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
I did a slow read of this book with a group on Instagram that took most of the summer. Because of trips and other summer activities, I fell behind a few times and went long stretches without reading, and I know the stopping and starting caused me to miss things, but I loved the main character, Isabel Archer, and the writing, and I liked knowing I was reading a novel that was loved by one of my favorite writers, Flannery O'Connor. 

Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
Though this is quite different from the other novels I've read by this author, I really enjoyed the reading experience. The way Greene incorporates religious themes into the story is similar to the approach he takes in my favorite novel of his, The End of the Affair, but in a totally different setting.  

Tom Lake by Ann Patchett
This was the stand-out book of the month. The audiobook is read by Meryl Streep, the story involves many references to Our Town, and the author manages to tell the story of two timelines in a single narrative. I have read a few other books by Ann Patchett and felt they were just okay, but this was truly delightful. 



Zero Days by Ruth Ware
Ruth Ware is an author who has always been very hit or miss for me, but this ended up being my favorite of hers. She builds suspense in such an organic and believable way, and I didn't want to put the book down. Imogen Church who reads the audiobook is also excellent. 

Share Your Stuff, I'll Go First by Laura Tremaine 
I gave this 5 stars not for the self-help angle, but because I enjoyed the memoir-style anecdotes the author used to illustrate the different areas about which she suggests women share with each other. 


Stand-Alone Books

  • Welcome to Beach Town by Susan Wiggs (4 stars)
  • Must Love Flowers by Debbie Macomber (4 stars) 
  • The Life Council by Laura Tremaine (4 stars)
  • Hello, Stranger by Katherine Center (4 stars)


Short Stories

  • The Girl in the Plane by Katherine Center (5 stars)
  • All Roads Lead to Here by Abby Jimenez (5 stars)


Series Books

  • Wishes (Heartbooks Book 1) by Brittany Eden (4 stars)
  • Well Matched (Well Met Book 3) by Jen De Luca (4 stars)
  • Below the Root (Green Sky Trilogy Book 1) by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (4 stars)
  • Positively, Penelope (Skymar Book 2) by Pepper Basham 


Read-Alouds

  • The Midnight Horse by Paul Fleischman (3 stars)
  • Friendly Gables by Hilda van Stockum (5 stars)
  • The Story of Science: Einstein Adds a New Dimension by Joy Hakim (3 stars)


Family Reading Lists


M. (girl, 9 years, 9 months old)

  • Americans to the Moon by Gene Gurney 
  • Reaching for the Moon by Buzz Aldrin
  • Moonshot by Brian Floca
  • The War in Vietnam by Don Lawson
  • Women of Courage by Dorothy Nathan
  • The Three Investigators in the Mystery of the Coughing Dragon by Nick West
  • The Space Shuttle by George Fichter


C. (girl, 7 years, 11 months old) 

  • More All-of-a-Kind-Family by Sydney Taylor 
  • Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar 


E. (girl, 5 years, 10 months old)

  • The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton
  • The Secret Staircase by Jill Barklem
  • The High Hills by Jill Barklem


R. (boy, 3 years, 5 months old)

  • Anthology of Aquatic Life 
  • Shimmer and Splash by Jim Arnosky
  • If You See a Kitten by John Butler 
  • A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle 


A. (girl, 3 years, 5 months old)

  • Bubble Trouble by Margaret Mahy
  • What Shall We Do with the Boo Hoo Baby? by Cressida Cowell 
  • Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle 
  • Owl Babies by Martin Waddell 


My husband 

  • Fingal's Quest by Madeleine Polland
  • Pictured Worlds: Masterpieces of Children’s Book Art by 101 Essential Illustrators from Around the World by Leonard Marcus 
  • Dexter by Clyde Robert Bulla

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Homeschool Plans: 2023-2024

This school year will be my fifth official year of homeschooling, and I will have three students - M., C., and E. Because these three girls have fall birthdays, they all did a year of kindergarten the year they turned five, so while the state of Maryland classifies them as 4th grade, 2nd grade, and kindergarten, we think of them as being in 5th, 3rd, and 1st, and they work at all different levels in all different subjects. 

Social Studies 

M. has completed the first phrase of the trivium, so she will be doing the Ancients at the logic level this year. E. will be doing the same time period at the grammar level. 

M. will be reading The World in Ancient Times textbook series, including the volume of primary documents, and we will discuss the material and supplement with related video series, including Between the Rivers, History of Ancient Egypt, History of India, From Yao to Mao, Ancient Greek Civilization, History of Ancient Rome, Maya to Aztec and Lost Worlds of South America. 

With E., I will be reading aloud A Child's History of the World by V.M. Hillyer and supplementing with  most of the same picture books and videos M. and C. read their first year.

C. is in year three of the grammar stage, and she will be studying the Late Renaissance and Early Modern periods with Daddy using books by Genevieve Foster and the same videos and supplemental reading M. used two years ago. 

Together, all three girls will learn about important geographical and architectural landmarks from The Book of Marvels


Science

We designed our own physics curriculum for Meg with Secrets of the Universe by Paul Fleisher as her spine. She will be watching video demonstrations starring Julius Sumner Miller and simulations from PhET at the University of Colorado, and doing experiments independently using Janice VanCleave's Physics for Every Kid. 

Though we are still technically using Building Foundations for Scientific Understanding as our science curriculum for C. and E., I wanted a change, so we chose The Golden Treasury of Natural History as our spine for learning about our main subjects of plants and animals. At the end of the year, we will do a quick unit on magnetism to finish out the two-year course we've been on. 


English

M. will continue her work with Rex Barks, as well as with Vocabulary from Classical Roots. She will also be writing narrations to accompany her history, with the goal of learning to identify and communicate the main ideas of the chapters she reads. 

C. will begin sentence diagramming this year. She will also do some narrations.

E. will work through Grammarland by listening to the lessons and completing the worksheets for each one. She will work on narrating her history and science lessons. 

Additionally, we will have daily read-alouds. The plan is to have one historical fiction and one realistic or fantasy title going at all times. We will also read one Shakespeare play per month and do a weekly poetry lesson from Poem Making by Myra Cohn Livingston. 


Latin 

All three girls will begin Latin together this year. We'll be using Getting Started with Latin. We will also continue to memorize prayers and psalms in Latin and to attend the Latin Mass once a month. 


Math 

The girls kept up with math all summer, so everyone is already well into their work for this year. 

M. is doing algebra on Khan Academy and will be doing the review sections of Singapore Primary Mathematics 5A. 

C. is working on third grade math on Khan Academy and Singapore 3B. 

E. is working on Early Math on Khan Academy and will be working on Singapore 1A. 

M. will move into Life of Fred: Decimals and C. will begin Life of Fred: Farming. M. and C. will continue to drill math facts using online flashcards, but we will be reducing the frequency from daily to weekly. 


Religion 

E. will begin her two-year preparation for First Communion using The St. Joseph First Communion Catechism. M. and C. who have received First Communion, will move into the New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism Volume 1, and we will take that at whatever pace they can manage it. 


Health

M. will be finishing The Body Book for Girls, and C. will begin to read it. 

E. will study human body systems using the resources from Kids Health. 


Art 

This year, art will mainly be covered by the material in The Book of Marvels, but the girls will also create art using how-to-draw videos, craft kits, and various media. 


Music

All three girls will continue playing piano and recorder and learning to sing. E. is using the Denes Agay Primer and Hands on Recorder, C. is using Denes Agay Book 2, 50 Graded Studies for Recorder, and Recorder Time, and M. is using Denes Agay Book 3 and The Recorder Guide.

Music appreciation will most likely include a mix of ballet, opera, and musicals.


Physical Education 

We got a good jump-start on PE with all three girls practicing their swimming at the pool this summer. They will continue to ride bikes and play on the playground, and hopefully they will get a chance to practice more with their basketball. We may also reintroduce the morning warm-up exercises they did a few years back. 


Preschool 

R. and A. are three and a half, so this year is preschool for them. We will be doing some good read-alouds and making sure to review their letters and numbers. I expect their learning to pick up a lot more in the second half of the year, as they are still quite young compared to their sisters when they were starting preschool. 

Homeschool Update: Summer 2023

Group Activities

The girls continued to work on memorizing Anima Christi. We also chose seven additional prayers to practice on a weekly rotation: 

  • The St. Michael Prayer (Sunday)
  • Memorare (Monday)
  • Hail, Holy Queen (Tuesday)
  • Come, Holy Spirit (Wednesday)
  • Apostle's Creed (Thursday)
  • Glory Be (Friday)
  • Domine Non Sum Dignus (Saturday)
Our June read-alouds were I Will Adventure by Elizabeth Janet Grey and Canadian Summer by Hilda van Stockum. Our July read-alouds were: Shadow of the Hawk by Geoffrey Trease, Summer at Buckhorn by Anna Rose Wright, and The Road to the King's Mountain by Margaret Ann Hubbard. Our August read-alouds were: The Midnight Horse by Sid Fleishman, Friendly Gables by Hilda van Stockum, and Bambi by Felix Salter. (E. had a very strong emotional reaction to a certain chapter in Bambi.)

Our June poet was Carl Sandburg. In July, we read American Poems from the Poetry for Young People series, and in August, we read Animal Poems from the same series.

We read children's versions of Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew, and The Tempest. The girls watched animated and live-action productions of the plays as well as Kiss Me Kate


History 

M. continued reading about the 20th century using The Century by Peter Jennings as a spine. She is ending August with the Reagan presidency. 

She has read many history and historical fiction titles: 

  • Ben-Gurion and the Birth of Israel by Joan Comay
  • Other Sandals by Sally Watson
  • The Garden by Carol Matas
  • Exploring the Himalaya by William O. Douglas
  • The Ark by Margot Benary Isbert
  • The Korean War by Tom McGowen
  • The Korean War Soldier at Heartbreak Ridge by Carl R. Green
  • The Shoes from Yang Son Valley by Yong-ik Kim
  • The Year of Impossible Goodbyes by Sook Nyul Choi 
  • Echoes of the White Giraffe by Sook Nyul Choi
  • Rowan Farm by Margot Benary Isbert
  • Alexander Fleming by Richard Tames
  • The School Segregation Cases by Janet Stevenson
  • Brown v. Board of Education by Diane L. Good
  • The Story of Jonas Salk and the Discovery of the Polio Vaccine by Jim Hargrove
  • You Choose: The Civil Rights Movement by Heather Adamson
  • Americans Into Orbit by Gene Gurney
  • Walk in Space by Gene Gurney
She also watched a variety of videos, including episodes of Days that Shook the World and the following documentaries: 
  • Korea: The Never Ending War 
  • Festival of Britain 
  • Planet Earth: Mountains (about Mt. Everest)
  • Exploring the Himalayas
  • Nine from Little Rock
  • Space Race 
  • Suez: A Very British Crisis
  • Cold War Roadshow 
  • The Man Who Saved the World 
  • Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment  
  • Martin Luther King and the March on Washington 
  • Dancing in the Street (part of episode 3)
  • A Hard Day's Night
  • Neil Armstrong: First Man on the Moon 
  • People's Century: Freedom Now 
  • Simple Justice: The History of Brown vs. Board of Education  
  • Polio Crusade 
C. finished her history in June with the printing press and Shakespeare. 

She read:  
  • Shakespeare: His Work and His World by Michael Rosen
  • The King's Beard by Leonard Wibberly
  • Crossbows and Crucifixes by Henry Garnett


Math 

M. continued Algebra Basics and Get Ready for Alegebra I on Khan Academy. She continued working through Life of Fred: Fractions and she drilled multiplication and division facts daily.  

C. moved into Singapore Primary Mathematics 3B and finished Life of Fred: Edgewood. She also drilled her math facts daily. 

E. continued working on Early Math on Khan Academy. 


Science 


M. and I finished reading  The Story of Science: Newton at the Center and then read The Story of Science: Einstein Adds a New Dimension. All three girls watched some episodes of Watch Mr. Wizard. 


English 


M. continued working in Rex Barks and Vocabulary from Classical Roots A. Everyone read independently all summer. 


P.E. 

The girls rode bikes and practiced their swimming. All three girls improved their swimming skills. M. and C. can now go in the deep end independently and E. is almost there. 


Art 

We finished reading A Child's History of Art. The girls made birthday cards for their aunt and a friend whose birthday party they attended. M. made paper cube animals. 


Music

Everyone practiced piano and recorder all summer, and occasionally did some singing. 

Thursday, August 17, 2023

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

July Favorites 

These favorites were all five-star reads. 


Shadow of the Hawk by Geoffrey Trease
This is a historical adventure novel in which two teens travel to a monastery to rescue the only known copy of an ancient play while pursued by nefarious forces who want the play only for monetary gain.  It has great characters, a compelling plot, and it was a great read-aloud. My kids loved it and kept begging me to keep reading.

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
I have been avoiding this book my entire life, but my husband put the audiobook on in the car, and I was totally hooked. Rawls's writing is impeccable. The scenes he paints with words completely stuck in my mind and have stayed with me for weeks. Yes, the book is sad, but there are few stories more beautiful than this remembrance of a childhood spent with hounds.  

Summer at Buckhorn by Anna Rose Wright 
This is another memoir-esque children's novel that I read aloud to my kids. Five siblings travel from the North to Virginia during the post-Civil War era to visit family and have a largely unsupervised summer in the great outdoors. When they arrive, they meet a sixth child who is reluctant to enjoy himself but soon learns how to have fun. The hijinks of these characters made my kids laugh out loud, and my middle child was tickled by the fact that the middle child in the story calls herself "the bookmark of the family." 



The Changeling
by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
My husband and I read this with our friend and discussed over Zoom. It reminded me a lot of one of my favorite children's novels, Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth by E.L. Konigsburg. It does a beautiful job exploring the dynamics between two friends who meet and part and meet again at different points in their lives, and it highlights the role imagination often plays in friendship and in coping with difficulties during childhdood.  

Borrow My Heart by Kasie West 
This YA romance follows Wren and Asher. When Wren sees that Asher is waiting at the coffee shop for a girl who has clearly been catfishing him, she steps in to help him save face by pretending to be the girl. Then, quite unexpectedly, she falls for him herself, and has to find a way to let him know the truth. This was a delightful summer read, and one of this author's best books. 

Charting the Course by Leslea Wahl 
I reviewed this YA romance/mystery for Catholic Mom. I loved the believable characters and the realistic and relatable discussions of faith in the story. My full review is here.



The Road to Roswell
by Connie Willis
This wacky sci-fi rom-com made me laugh and was so entertaining. The references to western and sci-fi movies were really fun, and all the quirky characters were so well-written. I couldn't put it down. 

Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard
I listened to this book because my book group on Instagram was focusing on books published in the year of our birth, and this came out in 1982. It ended up being a beautiful collection of essays, including one that intertwines worship at Mass with arctic exploration in a surprisingly satisfying way. 


Stand-Alone Books

  • Everything Sad Is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri (3 stars) 
  • Sparrow Being Sparrow by Gail Donovan (4 stars)
  • The Me I Used to Be by Jennifer Ryan (3 stars)
  • Ford County by John Grisham (4 stars)
  • Begin Again by Emma Lord (4 stars)
  • Gentle Writing Advice: How to Be a Writer Without Destroying Yourself by Chuck Wendig (4 stars)
  • Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson (3 stars)


Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading Guide

  • Once More with Feeling by Elissa Sussman (3 stars)
  • Summer Stage by Meg Mitchell Moore (4 stars)


Read-Alouds

  • The Story of Science: Newton at the Center by Joy Hakim (3 stars)
  • The Road to the King's Mountain by Margaret Ann Hubbard (4 stars)

Series Books

  • The Final Empire (Mistborn Book 1) by Brandon Sanderson  (4 stars)
  • A Cryptic Clue (Hunter and Clewe Mystery Book 1) by Victoria Gilbert (4 stars)

Did Not Finish 

  • As You Wish by Jude Devereaux

Family Reading Lists

M. (girl, 9 years, 8 months)

  • Alexander Fleming by Richard Tames
  • Newton at the Center by Joy Hakim
  • The School Segregation Cases by Janet Stevenson
  • Brown v. Board of Education by Diane L. Good
  • The Story of Jonas Salk and the Discovery of the Polio Vaccine by Jim Hargrove
  • You Choose: The Civil Rights Movement by Heather Adamson
  • Urchin of the Riding Stars by M. I. McAllister
  • Urchin and the Heartstone by M. I. McAllister
  • Meg and the Disappearing Diamonds by Holly Beth Walker
  • Americans Into Orbit by Gene Gurney
  • Walk in Space by Gene Gurney

C. (girl, 7 years, 10 months)

  • Little House in the Highlands by Melissa Wiley
  • No Flying in the House by Betty Brock
  • All-of-a-kind-family Uptown by Sydney Taylor
  • The Road to Oz by L. Frank Baum
  • A Pet for the Orphelines by Natalie Savage Carlson 

E. (girl, 5 years, 9 months)

  • Jenny Goes to Sea by Esther Averill
  • The Hotel Cat by Esther Averill
  • Betsy and Billy by Carolyn Haywood
  • Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary
  • The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton
  • Lulu and the Duck in the Park by Hilary McKay
  • The Rackety-Packety House by Frances Hodgson Burnett

R. (boy, 3 years, 5 months)

  • Great White Shark by Claire Saxby
  • The Dinosaur Book by the Smithsonian
  • National Geographic Dinosaur Atlas 

A. (girl, 3 years, 5 months)

  • No David by David Shannon
  • Monkey Puzzle by Julia Donaldson
  • All Better, Baby by Sara Gillingham
  • What Shall We Do with the Boo Hoo Baby? by Cressida Cowell
  • Lake Life with You by Cindy Jin

Monday, August 7, 2023

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

*I am very late in posting this! We had back-to-back trips in July, and this post has been sitting in my drafts for weeks.  But here, finally, is everything I read in June! The July round-up should be ready soon too. 


June Favorites



I Will Adventure by Elizabeth Gray Vining
I read this aloud to my girls at the same time that my 7 year old was studying Elizabethan England and Shakespeare. The story follows a teen boy to London as he takes on a position as a page for his cousin. He has several chance encounters with members of a theater troupe, including William Shakespeare himself, and he learns to overcome his homesickness and rise to the challenges of living in a new place. We all really enjoyed this one, and it was really easy and fun to read aloud. 

The Labors of Hercules Beal by Gary D. Schmidt
I wasn't sure at first how I would like this latest novel from Schmidt, but it was excellent. The plot requires some suspension of disbelief as some things do come together too neatly, but the writing is so beautiful, it truly doesn't matter. I loved all of the characters, and some scenes made me tear up. 

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler 
This book had a rocky start for me due to a bit of a red herring on the first page as to what the story is about, but it ended up being another wonderful portrait of a family from the author who is best at writing those.



No Two Persons by Erica Bauermeister
This novel follows the life of a manuscript, from the imagination of the author, through the publishing process and into the lives of some of its readers. The structure of this novel seemed like it could be gimmicky, but it isn't. Each of the characters has an interesting backstory, and some of them are connected to one another. The author did a great job executing this concept without making it cheesy. 

The Spectacular by Fiona Davis 
This novel about a Radio City Music Hall Rockette dancer and a bomber in 1950s New York City was so fascinating. It's a historical fiction book, but in parts it read more like a thriller. I've read a few books by this author, and this one is my favorite so far. 

Same Time Next Summer by Annabel Monaghan
This is the perfect nostalgic beach read for summer. The writing is delightful, and I loved the characters and the looks back into their past. Annabel Monaghan is a new favorite author for me this year.

The Happy Life of Isadora Bentley by Courtney Walsh
The socially awkward science-minded protagonist of this romance is such a great character. I loved her journey toward not just romance, but toward widening her social circle and learning that she doesn't have to be alone to be happy. 


Stand-Alone Books

  • Everyone Hates Kelsie Miller by Meredith Ireland (3 stars)
  • The Firefly Summer by Morgan Matson  (4 stars)
  • The Gauntlet by Ronald Welch (3 stars)
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (3 stars)
  • Just the Nicest Couple by Mary Kubica (3 stars)
  • The Words We Lost by Nicole Deese (4 stars)
  • It's Better This Way by Debbie Macomber (4 stars)


Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading Guide

  • Above Ground by Clint Smith (4 stars)


Read-Alouds

  • Canadian Summer by Hilda van Stockum


Series Books

  • Gathering of Pearls (Year ofImpossible Goodbyes Book 3) by Sook Nyul Choi
  • Perelandra (Space Trilogy Book 2) by C.S. Lewis (5 stars)


Did Not Finish

  • The Museum of Ordinary People by Mike Gayle 
  • Watch Us Shine by Marisa de los Santos 
  • The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
  • Wait for It by Jenn McKinlay 
  • If We're Being Honest by Cat Shook 
  • The Secret Book of Flora Lea by Patti Callahan Henry 


Family Reading Lists 


M. (girl, 9 years, 7 months)

  • Ben-Gurion and the Birth of Israel by Joan Comay
  • Other Sandals by Sally Watson
  • The Garden by Carol Matas
  • Exploring the Himalaya by William O. Douglas
  • These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • The Ark by Margot Benary Isbert
  • The Korean War by Tom McGowen
  • The Korean War Soldier at Heartbreak Ridge by Carl R. Green
  • The Man who made Time Travel by Kathryn Lasky
  • Newton's Rainbow: The Revolutionary Discoveries of a Young Scientist by Kathryn Lasky
  • The Shoes from Yang Son Valley by Yong-ik Kim
  • The Year of Impossible Goodbyes by Sook Nyul Choi 
  • Echoes of the White Giraffe by Sook Nyul Choi
  • Rowan Farm by Margot Benary Isbert


C. (7 years, 9 months)

  • The King's Beard by Leonard Wibberly 
  • Crossbows and Crucifixes by Henry Garnett
  • Shakespeare: His Work and His World by Michael Rosen


E. (5 years, 8 months)

  • Skylark by Patricia Maclachlan
  • Caleb's Story by Patricia Maclachlan
  • Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary 
  • Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace 
  • Betsy, Tacy, and Tib by Maud Hart Lovelace


R. (3 years, 3 months)

  • Little Kids First Big Book of Dinosaurs by Catherine D. Hughes
  • National Geographic Dinosaur Atlas
  • The Dinosaur Book by John Woodward 
  • Oceanarium 


A, (3 years, 3 months)

  • Babybug magazines (old issues)
  • What Shall We Do with the Boohoo Baby? by Cressida Cowell
  • Eloise Wilkin Stories

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Homeschool Update: April/May 2023

Group Activities

The girls worked on learning to pray the Anima Christi. 

Our read-alouds in April were The Turf-Cutter's Donkey by Patricia Lynch, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, and Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. In May, we read ...And Now Miguel by Joseph Krumgold, Soup by Robert Newton Peck, and Time at the Top by Edward Ormendroyd.  

Our April poet was William Butler Yeats and our May poet was Walt Whitman. We read the Poetry for Young People volumes for both. 

In the final days before Easter, the girls watched the Witnesses trilogy on Formed.org and M. and C. watched Jesus of Nazareth. For the Easter season, they each colored in a map from Catholic Icing counting the days until Pentecost.  

In early May, C. had her first Confession at our parish and her first Communion at a Latin Mass.


History 

M. continued studying World War II and its aftermath. She read a ton of historical fiction: 

  • 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 60 Fathers by Meindert Dejong
  • The Girl from Hard Times Hill by Emma Barnes
  • Pancakes-Paris by Claire Huchet Bishop
  • The Treasure Trove of the Sun by Mikhail Mikhailovich Prishvin
  • Little Girl From the City by L. Voronkova
  • The Impossible Journey by Gloria Whelan
  • Burying the Sun by Gloria Whelan
  • Winston Churchill by Quentin Reynolds
  • Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot by Margot Theis Raven
  • To Build a Land by Sally Watson
  • Teammates by Peter Golenbock

She also watched a variety of history documentaries: 

  • A Walk Through the 20th Century
  • Berlin Airlift
  • Candy Bomber
  • Berlin Airlift - 1st Battle
  • Days that Shook the World 

C. studied the Spanish explorers, and the history of the civilizations they discovered, followed by Martin Luther, King Henry VIII, and Queen Elizabeth I. 

In A Picturesque Tale of Progress (the last volume of which we finished), we read: 

  • Ancient America (The Peopling of America, The Basket Makers,  The Cliff Dwellers, The Mound Builders, People of Plain and Forest)
  • The Brilliant Civilization of the Mayas
  • The Conquest of Mexico (Aztec Conquerors, The Empire of the Aztecs, The Spanish in America, Hernando Cortez Leads the Spaniards to Tenochtitlan, The Conquest of Mexico)
  • The Indians of the Southwest (Spanish Exploration, The Pueblo Indians and Their Dances, The Poetry of the Indians, Arts of the Indian,  Acoma, the Sky City)
  • The Conquest of Peru (Explorations of Central and South America, Ancient Peru, Conclusion)

We read about Martin Luther and Henry VIII from the Catholic perspective in The Story of Civilization.  We read about Henry VIII and Elizabeth I in Rulers of Britain. We also read Martin Luther by May McNeer and Lynd Ward, which is heavily biased but has beautiful illustrations. 

On her own, C read:

  • The Ancient Maya by Lila Perl 
  • One Day in Aztec Mexico by G. B. Kirtland 
  • Good Queen Bess by Diane Stanley 
  • The Spanish Armada by C. Walter Hodges 
  • The Queen's Progress by Celest Davidson Mannis and Bagram Ibatoulline

She also watched Armada: Twelve Days to Save England and Macchu Picchu. 


Math 

M. worked on Khan Algebra Basics and Get Ready for Alegebra I on Khan Academy. She continued working through Life of Fred: Fractions and she drilled multiplication and division facts daily.  

C. worked on 4th grade math on Khan Academy and long division in Singapore 3A. She continued working on Life of Fred: Edgewood and she drilled addiiton and subtraction facts daily. 

E. worked on 4-digit addition on the soroban using rods and she started Early Math on Khan Academy.  


Science 

C. and E. finished the BFSU lessons we planned for this year. 

M. finished the rest of the lessons in Middle School Chemistry. Together we continued reading Story of Science: Newton at the Center by Joy Hakim. 

M. also undertook some research on ravens. 


English 

In addition to reading independently, M. worked on chapter 4 of Rex Barks and C. continued to work on the Treasures grammar curriculum. 


P.E. 

The girls rode bikes and played on various playgrounds. 


Art

All three girls created animations using Flip Animation for various occasions including Mother's Day. They also created Mother's Day cards. We continued reading A Child's History of Art. We're in the architecture section.  C. and E. also did some drawing videos from Art for Kids Hub. 


Music 

The girls practiced piano and recorder daily. They finished listening to The Twilight of the Gods. 


Health 

M., C., and E. went to the dentist and began a new flossing regimen. C. got a new orthodontic appliance and learned to care for it. M. had her braces removed.

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

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

May Favorites 

I read a lot of books this month, but a smaller number of five-star titles than in recent months. These six were my five-star books in May. 



The Habit of Being by Flannery O'Connor
This collection of letters is now tied with Brideshead Revisited as my favorite book of all time. I have always liked Flannery, but reading all of these letters made me appreciate her writing talent, her faith, and her sense of humor on a whole new level. I will definitely read this book again and again. 

The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica 
I picked up this thriller at random and it was such a twisty rollercoaster ride. I didn't guess at all what was going to happen, and I loved how clever the author was at both hinting at the twist and keeping me in the dark until the reveal. 

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
My dad always talked about this one, and I know he would be happy that I finally got around to reading it. I was really surprised  by the literary quality of the writing. I think this is the only book I've ever read in the noir genre, and I really liked it. I love The Thin Man movies and want to read that book too.  



Yours Truly by Abby Jimenez
This author is just such a great writer. I don't always like the vulgar humor in the dialogue and I skip the steamy scenes, but her character development is so spot-on. The male main character in this romance is an introvert who has anxiety and I just found him so relatable. He also makes an unbelievable sacrifice to help the female main character's family that was just so heartwarming. 

Until the Rising by Amber Kirkpatrick 
My friend Amber wrote this medieval-style fantasy story set in a distant future. It's the coming-of-age story of Tristan, who longs to reconnect with the family he lost as a young boy. I couldn't put this book down, and I just know that if all fantasy books were like this one, I would read many more of them. 

...And Now Miguel by Joseph Krumgold
This is one of the Newbery winners I had been putting off, and I am kicking myself for waiting so long! This is a great story about a boy from a sheep-herding family in New Mexico who longs to go with his father into the Sangre de Cristo mountains for the summer but has never been deemed mature enough. The most remarkable thing about the writing is the way it infuses English prose with the flavor of the Spanish language. 


Stand-Alone Books

  • Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins (3 stars)
  • The Blue Bedroom by Rosamunde Pilcher (3 stars)
  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett (3 stars)
  • Almost Everything by Anne Lamott (4 stars)
    This one's not fully aligned with Catholic teaching, so it's good to be cautious, but I do love her writing.


Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading Guide 

  • The Half Moon by Mary Beth Keane (4 stars)
  • Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld (4 stars)


Read-Alouds

  • Martin Luther by May McNeer (We had to make sure to balance this one with the Catholic perspective. It was a bit over-the-top in its portrayal of Luther as a hero.)
  • Time at the Top by Edward Ormondroyd (4 stars)
  • D'aulaires' Book of Greek Myths (5 stars)


Series Books 

  • Naked in Death (In Death Book 1) by J.D. Robb (4 stars)
  • Out of the Silent Planet (Space Trilogy Book 1) by C.S. Lewis (3 stars)
  • Falling For Your Boss (Love Cliches Book 2) by Emma St. Clair
  • Legends in Exile (Fables Volume 1) by Bill Willingham 
  • Animal Farm (Fables Volume 2) by Bill Willingham 
  • Glory in Death (In Death Book 2) by J.D. Robb (3 stars)
  • Storybook Love (Fables Volume 3) by Bill Willingham 
  • T is for Trespass (Kinsey Millhone Book 20) by Sue Grafton 
  • The Road to Waterloo (Carey Family Book 13) by Ronald Welch 


Did Not Finish

  • Happy Place by Emily Henry
    I'm too old for this book. I just couldn't relate to the immaturity of the characters. 
  • Funny Feelings by Tarah Dewitt
    I couldn't get into this one. 
  • Peg and Rose Solve a Murder by Laurien Berenson 
    This was a DNF because one of the main characters is a former nun who ran off with a priest and I just couldn't put up with it. 
  • The Book Proposal by K.J. Micciche 
    This one had a lot of sexual innuendo and a lot of anti-religious comments. Nope.
  • Unraveling by Peggy Orenstein
    I'm not reading books written in 2023 that scold people for not "following the science" in 2020. It's both too late and too soon.


Family Reading Lists 


M (girl, 9 years, 6 months)

  • The Treasure Trove of the Sun by Mikhail Mikhailovich Prishvin
  • Little Girl From the City by L. Voronkova
  • The Impossible Journey by Gloria Whelan
  • Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators in the Mystery of the Talking Skull by Robert Arthur
  • Burying the Sun by Gloria Whelan
  • Winston Churchill by Quentin Reynolds
  • Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot by Margot Theis Raven
  • To Build a Land by Sally Watson 
  • Teammates by Peter Golenbock
  • Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators and the Secret of the Crooked Cat by William Arden


C (girl, 7 years, 8 months)

  • The Doll Shop Downstairs by Yona Zeldis
  • Cats in the Doll Shop by Yona Zeldis 
  • The Conqueror by Margaret Leighton 
  • Doctor Dolittle's Garden by Hugh Lofting 
  • The Spanish Armada by C. Walter Hodges 
  • Good Queen Bess by Diane Stanley


E (girl, 5 years, 7 months) 

  • Jenny and the Cat Club by Esther Averill
  • Jenny's Midnight Adventure by Esther Averill 
  • Captains of the City Streets by Esther Averill
  • Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary 
  • Back to School with Betsy by Carolyn Haywood 
  • The Happy Hollisters and the Ghost Horse Mystery by Jerry West 
  • On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • D'aulaires' Book of Greek Myths


R (boy 3 years, 2 months)

  • The Three Bears by Byron Barton 
  • Oceanarium by Loveday Trinick
  • Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin 
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  • Go Away, Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley
  • Fire Truck by Peter Sis 
  • I Love You, Little Shark by Jeffrey Burton 
  • Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion
  • Mama Cat Has Three Kittens by Denise Fleming 


A (girl, 3 years, 2 months)

  • Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin
  • Eloise Wilkin Treasury 
  • Hope is a Hop by Katrina Moore 
  • Henry's Pizzas by Robert Quackenbush 
  • Henry's Duckling Days by Robert Quackenbush 
  • Stanley series by William Bee 
  • Lake Life with You by Cindy Jin 


My husband 

  • The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell 


Up Next For Me

In June, I'll be discussing Perelandra at book club, finishing The Scarlet Letter with Close Reads, and focusing on thrillers for #WorldFullofBooks.

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. 


Shorts  

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)


Read-Alouds 

  • 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.  

Religion

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

History 

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. 

Math 

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 Math-Drills.com. 

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

English 

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. 

Science 

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.

Art 

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).  

Health

M. had her well check at the pediatrician. 

Music 

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 CatholicMom.com. 

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. 


Religion 

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

History 

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.


Math 

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 Math-Drills.com, 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 Math-Drills.com, 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 SnappyMaths.com.  


English 


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." 


Science 

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. 

Art 

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.  

Health

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. 

Music 

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 CatholicMom.com.