Sunday, December 3, 2023

7 New Picture Books for Christmas 2023

Advent is here, and I am excited about new Christmas children's books! I have received 7 Christmasy review copies this year. 

Two are in board book format. 

Be My Reindeer
by Jeffrey Burton and Anna Hurley asks who will pull Santa's sleigh. Dinosaurs? Kittens? Robots? Each turn of the page reveals the face of a newly suggested character, and antlers glued onto the back cover appear to grow from each one's head. The silliness is perfect for the toddler age group, and I would have loved this for holiday story times at the library. We are sort of growing beyond the board book stage here, so I think Saint Nicholas is bringing everyone picture books this year, but we'll be sure to pass our copy along.

In the Holly Jolly North Pole by Joel Stern and Nancy Leschnikoff is a rhyming pop-up book designed in landscape format so that the book has to be turned sideways to be read. It's a pretty generic peek into life in Santa's workshop, but the fun pop-ups and cartoonish figures will appeal to little ones all the same.

The rest of these are picture books.

Merry Christmas, Strega Nona
is a reprint of a 1986 Tomie dePaola favorite. During Advent, Strega Nona has so much to do to get ready for her annual feast, but while she depends on Big Anthony to help her, he schemes with the neighbors to find a way to give back to Strega Nona. I love that this book mentions the Advent wreath and Mass. I plan to give this one to my eight-year-old from St. Nicholas.

In We Disagree About This Tree housemates Bear and Mouse are getting along mostly fine until they get a Christmas tree. By turns,  they each decorate the tree the way they believe it should look, each irritating the other until the tree finally falls down. This book has a grammar error, in which a singular hypothetical referee that Bear believes would help mediate their disagreement is referred to as "they." The rhyme is also a little bit awkward in parts. Still, it's a funny odd-couple style story that will make kids laugh. St. Nicholas isn't bringing this one to anyone, I'll probably just sneak it into the stack at some point. 

The Christmas Doll by Amy Sparkes and Katie Hickey is based on an episode of a British television show I've never seen or heard of, The Repair Shop. Evie and great-grandma Sue bring an old doll named Lizzy to the Repair Shop. Great-grandma tells the history of the doll from her own childhood, and then the "Teddy Bear Ladies" restore her so that Evie can have the doll. It's a really sweet story, and my 6-year-old who shares the doll's name will receive this one from St. Nicholas. 

Dasher Can't Wait for Christmas by Matt Tavares is a sequel to Dasher from a few years ago. On the eve of  Christmas Eve, Dasher wanders off, takes flight and has a little adventure with a human friend, and then has the opportunity to bring gifts to that child on Christmas Eve. The appeal of this book is the beautiful use of light in the illustrations. It creates a similar magical feel to The Polar Express. My oldest daughter received Dasher when it was first released, so this one is going to her.

Finally, How Does Santa Go Down the Chimney? by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen is a surprisingly sweet book from this duo. It explores all the various silly ways Santa might have of entering our homes on Christmas Eve. My 3-year-old daughter, who has been asking a lot of questions about how Santa gets into our house, will receive this one. 

Thank you to Candlewick Press and Simon & Schuster for the review copies!

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

November Favorites

I had a great reading month in November, and a lot of favorites. All of these were five-star books. 

Unleashed by Amber Kirkpatrick

My friend Amber wrote this fantasy romance, and I read the ebook from Hoopla before my paperback pre-order even shipped. I love the characters and the setting, and most especially the dialogue. There is some real sadness and brutality in the world of the story (many of the characters have superpowers and are persecuted for it), but the love story between grumpy, wounded Fen and bright, young Sara manages to be sweet and cozy even against such a backdrop. I also love the friendship between Fen and Marcel, and the fact that Marcel and his family are Catholic. I'm really excited for book two of the series! 

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman 

I already knew I loved Fredrik Backman's writing, and this book just further confirmed that opinion. This is such a hopeful story, despite how broken Ove is, and it points out the importance of community without becoming saccharine. 

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

This is a fascinating Catholic science fiction novel that I know I will need to read again to fully appreciate. I especially loved the first and last sections. 

Crowns anthology edited by Brittany Eden and Brigitte Cromey

I have a story in this collection, which is full of unique voices and beautiful prose, poetry and artwork. It's an honor to be included. 

Essays of E.B. White 

I listened to this essay collection, and I was just blown away by White's writing. It was interesting to view the issues of the day (1950s to 1970s) from his point of view, and also to hear his reflections on nature, farm life, and New York City, as well as on William Strunk. 

A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders

This was on my winter TBR, but I didn't pick it up until mid-November. I listened to the audiobook and read along in the hardcover, marking all my favorite passages with post-its and book darts. It was like taking a creative writing class, and made me feel inspired for my own writing.


Times Three by Phyllis McGinley 

I found this Pulitzer prize winning vintage collection of light verse by Catholic housewife Phyllis McGinley at the used bookstore, and it turned out to be such a gem. I love the author's wit, and her poems about saints were among my favorites.

Faking Christmas by Kerry Winfrey

This was my first Christmas romance of the season, and it was delightful! Just like this author's Very Sincerely Yours, this felt like it was written just for me. I laughed out loud multiple times listening to the audiobook, and I fell in love with the characters. I really want to own a copy of this one. 

Mind of the Maker by Dorothy L. Sayers 

I read this with the Literary Life podcast, and I loved the way Sayers thinks about the creative life in light of Christianity. This is one I would like to read again and annotate next time.

Read-Aloud and Homeschool 

  • The Ancient Near Eastern World by Amanda H. Podany (4 stars)
  • Mist on the Mountain by Jane Flory (4 stars)
  • Bread and Butter Journey by Anne Colver (3 stars)

Series Books

  • Fourth Wing  (The Empyrean Book 1) by Rebecca Yarros (4 stars)
  • The Parfit Knight (Rockliffe Book 1) by Stella Riley (4 stars)
  • The Horse and His Boy (Chronicles of Narnia Book 5) by C.S. Lewis (4 stars)
  • The Magician's Nephew (Chronicles of Narnia Book 6) by C.S. Lewis (5 stars)
  • The Firm (The Firm Book 1) by John Grishman (4 stars)

Stand-Alone Books

  • Awake, Not Woke by Noelle Mering (5 stars)
  • A Slipping-Down Life by Anne Tyler (4 stars)
  • Hey, Hun by Emily Lynn Paulson (4 stars)
  • Tenth of December by George Saunders (5 stars)
  • And So This is Christmas by Brian Bilston (5 stars)
  • The Lost Library by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass (5 stars)


  • Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros
    I just couldn't sign on for more of this series. The book was so long, and I couldn't handle all the sexual content. 

Family Reading Lists 

M. (girl, age 10)

  • My Family and Other Skaters by Fiorella De Maria
  • Staying Nine by Pam Conrad
  • Journey of the Eldest Son by J. G. Fyson
  • Hittite Warrior by Joanne Williamson
  • The Lost Queen of Egypt by Lucile Morrison
  • Fog Magic by Julia Sauer
  • Boy of the Pyramids by Ruth Fosdick Jones

C. (girl, 8 years, 2 months)

  • My Family and Other Skaters by Fiorella De Maria
  • This New Land by G.Wisler
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis
  • Ghost Light in the Attic by Pat Thomson
  • The World of Captain John Smith by Genevieve Foster 
  • The Puritan Revolution by C. Walter Hodges
  • Witch Dog by John and Patricia Beatty 

E. (girl, 6 years, 1 month)

  • Hickory by Palmer Brown 
  • Beyond the Paw Paw Trees by Palmer Brown
  • The Silver Nutmeg by Palmer Brown
  • Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne 
  • Ralph S. Mouse by Beverly Cleary
  • Carbonel, The King of the Cats by Barbara Sleigh

R. (boy, 3 years, 8 months)

*R has started sounding out words and has begun reading the Hooked on Phonics readers.

  • Rag by Barney Saltzburg 
  • Dad and Sam by Leslie McGuire 
  • The Animals' Santa by Jan Brett 
  • All About Alfie by Shirley Hughes
  • I Love You, Little Shark by Jeffrey Burton 
  • In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
  • Truckery Rhymes by Jon Scieszka 

A. (girl, 3 years, 8 months)

  • All About Alfie by Shirley Hughes 
  • Truckery Rhymes by Jon Scieszka

My husband

  • Mist on the Mountain by Jane Flory 
  • Heartsease by Peter Dickinson 
  • The Blood-Red Crescent by Henry Garnett 
  • The Winged Girl of Knossos by Erick Berry (read aloud)
  • The Winged Cat and Other Tales of Ancient Civilizations by Deborah Nourse Lattimore

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Homeschool Update: October 2023

Group Activities


From The Complete Book of Marvels by Richard Halliburton, Dad read the sections about the Boulder (Hoover) Dam, Niagara Falls, New York City, and Washington, DC. Then we watched these videos: 


We continued working our way through Getting Started with Latin: Beginning Latin for Homeschoolers and Self-Taught Students of Any Age by William E. Linney. After we learned a few verbs and how to conjugate them, we took a break from the book to make sure all three girls were solid in their understanding of how to identify and translate each verb. E. took a bit to catch up. C. is our strongest Latin student right now. 


The girls spent October memorizing some of the three witches' lines from Macbeth. They recorded a performance on Halloween. 


In October, Dad read aloud The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis Mcgraw and Egyptian Adventures by Olivia Coolidge. I read aloud A Lemon and a Star by E. C. Spykman and we played the audiobook of The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury. 


M. and C. continued to memorize answers to questions in the New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism Volume 1 and E. continued to memorize the answers to questions in  The St. Joseph First Communion Catechism


We are reading Poem-making: Ways to Begin Writing Poetry by Myra Cohn Livingston on Fridays. 


C. and E. read about birds and insects in The Golden Treasury of Natural History. In Secrets of the Universe, M. and I read three chapters: "Planetary Motion," "Pendulums and Falling Objects - Galileo's Laws of Motion," and "Newton's Three Laws of Motion." She watched several demonstrations by Julius Sumner Miller, and did two experiments from Janice VanCleave's Physics for Every Kid, one about buoyancy and one about gravity. 


E. watched the episodes of How the Body Works about the tongue and the nervous system. M. visited the orthodontist. 


E. and I read about Egypt in A Child's History of the World by V.M. Hillyer. We also read Pharaoh's Boat by David Weitzman and The Great Pyramid by Elizabeth Mann. On her own, she read: 

  • Mummies Made in Egypt by Aliki
  • Pepi and the Secret Names by Jill Paton Walsh 
  • Hatshepsut, His Majesty, Herself by Catherine M. Andronik
  • Zekmet, the Stone Carver: A Tale of Ancient Egypt by Mary Stolz
  • Seeker of Knowledge by James Rumford 
  • The Shipwrecked Sailor: An Egyptian Tale with Hieroglyphs by Tamara Bower
  • Sokar and the Crocodile by Alice Howard 

She also acted out an Egyptian burial using a homemade paper mummy and a shoebox sarcophagus she decorated herself using drawing instructions from Ralph Masiello's Ancient Egypt Drawing Book

M. and I finished The Early Human World and read most of The Ancient Near Eastern World. She watched most of the episodes of the Great Courses class, Between the Rivers. She wrote a narration about Hammurabi and read The Three Brothers of Ur by J. G. Fyson. 

C. and Dad continued reading The World of Captain John Smith by Genevieve Foster, covering these sections: 
  • John Smith, Sightseer in Italy (1600)
  • Galileo
  • A Royal Wedding (1600 - Henry IV & Maria de Medici)
  • Grand Opera and the Violin
  • John Smith and the Terrible Turks (1601-1603)
  • John Smith, Slave (1603)
  • Cervantes and Don Quixote
  • Boris Godunov
  • The Queen Is Dead (1603)
  • King James I
  • The Globe Theater
  • Ben Jonson
  • Sir Walter Raleigh a Prisoner (1603)
  • Sir Francis Bacon Rings the Bell
  • The King James Bible (1604)
  • Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot (1605)
  • A Meeting in Scrooby Village
  • A Frenchman Reports on New Spain (Champlain)
  • Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Champlain Visits Canada
  • Off to Virginia (1606)
  • New France, the First Colony
  • The Great Chief Powhatan
  • John Smith at Jamestown (1607)
  • A Compass and Talking Paper
  • Pocahontas and John Smith
  • John Smith Draws a Map of Virginia (1608)
  • Half Moon on the Hudson River
  • French and Indians on Lake Champlain
  • President John Smith (1608)
  • Starvation and Shipwreck
  • (Tobacco to the Rescue)
  • A Synagogue in Amsterdam
  • At Home in Leyden
  • (The Telescope (1608))
  • Galileo and the Planets
  • Henry IV is Dead
  • Galileo in Rome (1611)
  • French Missionaries in Canada
  • Pocahontas Is Married
  • The Royal Couple
  • King Gustav Adolf
  • Russia's New Tsar, Michael Romanov (1613)
  • The Naming of New England
  • In Memory of Shakespeare (d. 1616)
  • Pocahontas in England
  • The Law vs. the King?
  • Raleigh's Last Adventure (1616)
  • The House of Burgesses (1619)
  • Servants and Slaves (1619)
  • They Knew That They Were Pilgrims
  • John Smith, Unhappy Admiral
  • The Mayflower Sails (1620)
  • Anchored at Plymouth

C. also read Puritan Adventure by Lois Lenski. 


M. continued working on Vocabulary from Classical Roots A and Rex Barks. E. continued working in Grammarland. C. continued working in the Beginning book of Sentence Diagramming

R. started sounding out consonant-vowel-consonant words. 


M. continued working on Challenging Word Problems 3. She finished the reviews in Singapore 5A and moved on to 5B. She also continued with Khan Academy 6th grade math, Life of Fred: Decimals and Percents and drilling math facts with flashcards online every Friday. 

C. continued with Singapore 3B, Khan Academy 3rd grade math, and Life of Fred: Farming.

E. continued with Singapore 1A and Khan Academy early math. 


All three girls practiced piano and recorder daily. 

Physical Education

The girls rode bikes and played on the playground. They also did an exercise video from the Ten Thousand method once or twice. 

Friday, November 3, 2023

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

October Favorites

A Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler
Anne Tyler's talent for characterization never ceases to amaze me. I became totally immersed in the life of her main character, Barnaby Gatlin, and was fascinated by his every move, no matter how mundane, from beginning to end of this novel. Absolutely no one writes like Anne Tyler, and every book of hers so far has been a delight. 

The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin
This was an enjoyable book not for the mystery plot, but for all the literary allusions and witty repartee between characters. I read this with Close Reads, and it's one of my favorites of the books they did this year. 

It Was an Ugly Couch Anyway by Elizabeth Passarella
I loved this memoir about the trials and tribulations the author and her husband endured trying to buy an apartment in Manhattan from an elderly woman. The author read the audiobook, and that made me feel like I was having a chat with her whenever I listened. There is also a charming interview at the end of the audiobook with the lady who sold her the apartment, and I loved hearing that. 

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
The dark humor in this is spot-on. I figured out the big reveal at the end pretty early on, but that in no way spoiled the reading experience. Eleanor is a one-of-a-kind character and seeing her come into her own years after significant trauma was heartwarming in a quirky way. 

The Puppets of Spelhorst by Kate DiCamillo
Kate DiCamillo's latest is the perfect example of why I read everything she writes. Her prose is beautiful, and there is a depth to the story beyond just entertainment. I'm so excited to know this is the first of a trilogy because I want more! 

My Family and Other Skaters by Fiorella de Maria
I'm reviewing this for Catholic Mom, and it is a delight. It absolutely would have been my favorite book if it was around when I was 9 or 10, and my girls are eating it up as well. 

Glass Helix by Katee Stein
My friend Katee wrote this sci-fi romance, and I could not put it down. I loved the world of the story, and the way the love story unfolded within the difficulties the characters faced. 

Where Darkness Dwells by Andrea Renae
This fantasy novel by my friend Andrea is a beautiful meditation on good and evil, darkness and light. Images from this book are lingering in my mind days after I finished it.  

Read-Aloud & Homeschool 

  • A Lemon and a Star by E.C. Spykman (4 stars)
  • The Early Human World by Peter Robertshaw (4 stars)

Series Books

  • Fool Moon (Dresden Files Book 2) by Jim Butcher (4 stars)
  • The Princess Diaries (Princess Diaries Book 1) by Meg Cabot (4 stars)
  • Townshipped (Getting Shipped! Book 3) by Savannah Scott (5 stars)
  • In the Company of Witches (Evenfall Witches B&B Book 1) by Auralee Wallace (4 stars)
  • Until the Celebration (Green Sky Trilogy Book 3) by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (3 stars)
  • Losing the Field (Field Party Book 4) by Abbi Glines (4 stars)
  • Can't Help Falling (Sweater Weather Book 3) by Courtney Walsh (4 stars)
  • Meet Me on Love Lane (Hopeless Romantics Book 2) by Nina Bocci (3 stars)
  • Grave Peril (Dresden Files Book 3) by Jim Butcher (4 stars)
  • A Spoonful Of Spice (Seasons of Love Short Story 2) by Liwen Ho (4 stars)

Stand-Alone Books

  • Howards End by E.M. Forster (5 stars)
  • The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare by G.K. Chesterton (4 stars)
  • St. Francis Society for Wayward Pets by Annie England Noblin (4 stars)
  • Snow Place Like Home by Lacey Baker (4 stars) 
  • Truth on Trial: Liberal Education Be Hanged by Robert K. Carlson (4 stars)
  • The Unfortunate Side Effects of Heartbreak and Magic by Breanne Randall (3 stars)

Family Reading Lists 

M. (girl 9 years, 11 months)

  • The Three Brothers of Ur by J. G. Fyson
  • The Heir of Mistmantle by M. I. McAllister

C. (girl, 8 years, 1 month)

  • Wayside School under the Cloud of Doom by Louis Sachar
  • Then Came Adventure by Emma L. Brock
  • The Far Side of The Loch by Melissa Wiley
  • Ramona Quimby Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
  • Stella Endicott and the Anything is Possible Poem by Kate DiCamillo
  • Eugenia Lincoln and the Unexpected Package by Kate DiCamillo
  • All-of-a-kind-family Downtown by Sydney Taylor
  • Catwings by Ursula K. LeGuin
  • Catwings Return by Ursula K. LeGuin
  • Wonderful Alexander and the Catwings by Ursula K. LeGuin
  • Jane on her Own by Ursula K. LeGuin
  • Puritan Adventure by Lois Lenski
  • The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden 

E. (girl, 6 years) 

  • The Book of Hob Stories by William Mayne 

R. (boy 3 years, 7 months)

  • The Monsters on the Broom by Annemarie Riley Guertin
  • Knock Knock, Trick or Treat! by Amy E. Sklansky
  • Thomas the Tank Engine: The Complete Collection by Rev. W. Awdry 

A. (girl, 3 years 7 months)

  • All About Alfie by Shirley Hughes 
  • Babybug magazines
  • Thomas the Tank Engine: The Complete Collection by Rev. W. Awdry

My husband

  • Jane on Her Own by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Past Eight O'Clock: Goodnight Stories by Joan Aiken
  • The Winged Colt of Casa Mia by Betsy Byars 

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Homeschool Update: September 2023

Group Activities


Dad is reading aloud geography this year from The Complete Book of Marvels by Richard Halliburton. This month, he read the sections about the Transbay Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon. After each section, the kids all watched a related video. The videos were:  

The architectural landmarks covered in this book are our focus for art this year.


We completed the first 20 lessons of Getting Started with Latin: Beginning Latin for Homeschoolers and Self-Taught Students of Any Age by William E. Linney, and it's going well so far. E. (almost 6) struggled at first, but she is holding her own. The girls take turns translating the exercises each day, and we use the audio recordings to help with pronunciation. Even the twins have picked up a little bit. 


Our play this month was Macbeth. We read the children's version from Shakespeare Stories by Leon Garfield, and the girls started to memorize the "double, double toil and trouble" passage in parts. 


We are doing two read-alouds at a time this year. Dad reads a historical fiction novel and I read an additional novel. September's books were Attar of the Ice Valley by Leonard Wibberley, The Axe of Bronze by Kurt Schmeltzer, The Crystal Tree by Jennie D. Lindquist, and Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson (which we finished on St. Francis's feast day owing to his role in the end of the book.) 


M. and C. memorized the answers to the questions in Lesson 1 of the New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism Volume 1 and E. memorized the answers to the questions in the first few lessons of The St. Joseph First Communion Catechism


C. and E. are having science with me every morning before breakfast. We're reading The Golden Treasury of Natural History, and we have covered the formation of rocks, early animals (such as trilobites), and creatures of the seashore (including mollusks). 

M. and I read two chapters from Secrets of the Universe: "What is a natural law?" and "Archimedes' Principle." She watched a Demonstrations in Physics video with Julius Sumner Miller and did two experiments from Janice VanCleave's Physics for Every Kid, one about electricity and one about magnets. 


E. watched the KidsHealth How the Body Works videos about the ear, nose, eye, and teeth. M. read some of the later chapters in The Body Book for Girls (she's almost done) and C. started reading it. C. and M. also both had orthdontist visits. 


E. and I read the first four chapters in A Child's History of the World by V.M. Hillyer. We also read They Lived Like This in the Old Stone Age by Marie Neurath and The First Farmers by Leonard Weisgard, and she created some cave art with crayons on brown paper. 

M. and I read all but the final 5 chapters in The Early Human World. She wrote a narration about archaeologist Mary Leakey. She also watched supplemental videos: 

  • Science Odyssey: Origins 1
  • First Peoples - Africa
  • Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life
  • Becoming Human Episode 1
  • Science Odyssey: Origins 2
  • Dr. Leakey and the Dawn of Man
  • Life on Earth Episode 13
  • Becoming Human Episode 2
  • First Peoples - Europe
  • Becoming Human Episode 3
  • Neanderthals: Meet Your Ancestors 
  • Lapedo Child 
  • First Peoples - Australia
  • Cave of Forgotten Dreams
  • Lascaux: How to Save 18,000 Years of History
  • Ice Age Art
  • First Peoples - America
  • Prehistoric Animals of the Tar Pits

C. and Dad are reading The World of Captain John Smith by Genevieve Foster. They have covered these sections: The Queen's Little Pirate; Queen Elizabeth; Philip II; A Declaration of Independence; The Virgin Queen and Her Frog Prince; Mary Stuart; The Three Henrys and the Queen Mother of France; Young Walter Raleigh and Virginia; No Gold - But Tobacco; Little John Smith; To and From Holland; Mary Stuart and the Honest Man; James; Lord Roanoke and Virginia Dare; Spanish Armada; War of the Three Henrys; The Lost Colony; John Smith, Schoolboy; The Faerie Queen; The Upstart Crow (Shakespeare); The White-Plumed Henry (of Navarre); El Greco and Philip II; John Smith, Would-Be Knight; El Dorado, City of Gold; Akbar of India; Mr. Pilot in Japan; Entrance to China; Sun, Moon, and Stars; A Star Gazer, Tycho Brahe and His Dog; Gustav Adolf, Star of the North. 

Independently, C. read The Lost Colony and she wrote a narration about Roanoke as well. 


M. worked on Vocabulary from Classical Roots A. C. started working in the Beginning book of Sentence Diagramming. E. did the first three chapters of Grammarland and the corresponding worksheets. 

All three girls read independently pretty much every day.


M. continued working on Challenging Word Problems 3 and started doing the reviews in Singapore Primary Mathematics 5A. She is also working on Life of Fred: Decimals and Percents and she drills math facts with flashcards online every Friday. 

C. is working on Singapore Primary Mathematics 3B and Life of Fred: Farming, and she also does flashcards online. 

E. is working on Singapore Primary Mathematics 1A as well as Khan Academy Early Math.

M. and C. also continue to work on Khan Academy.


All three girls practiced piano and recorder daily. 

Physical Education

The girls rode bikes many afternoons and played on the playground across from our house. 

Monday, October 16, 2023

Read-at-Home Report: September 2023 Wrap-Up

September Favorites

I only had two five-star reads in September, and both were 2023 releases. 

Brynn and Sebastian Hate Each Other by Bethany Turner 
This enemies-to-lovers small-town celebrity romance has great characters and a charming setting. I had an ARC from Netgalley but ended up listening to the audiobook, which was excellent. I'm looking forward to the companion book coming out next year!

Fire and Rain (Country Club Murder Book 16) by Julie Mulhern
This series is always fun, and it never stops making me laugh. This was another great installment. 


  • Old Mother West Wind by Thornton Burgess (3 stars)
  • The Crystal Tree (Golden Name Day Book 3) by Jennie D. Lundquist (4 stars)


  • Death Checked Out (Larkspur Library Mysteries Book 1) by Leah Dobrinska (4 stars)
  • Commit by Kortney Keisel (The Sweet Rom"Com" Book .5) (3 stars)
  • Compared (The Sweet Rom"Com" Book 1) by Kortney Keisel (4 stars)
  • In the Company of Others (Mitford Book 11) by Jan Karon (3 stars)
  • The Madness of Crowds (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Book 17) by Louise Penny (2 stars)
  • Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good (Mitford Book 12) by Jan Karon (4 stars)
  • And All Between (Green Sky Trilogy Book 2) by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (3 stars)
  • Come Rain or Come Shine (Mitford Book 13) by Jan Karon (4 stars)
  • Just Don't Fall (Sweater Weather Book 1) by Emma St. Clair (3 stars)
  • The Vanderbeekers Ever After (The Vanderbeekers Book 7) by Karina Yan Glaser (3 stars)
  • The Fall Back Plan (Sweater Weather Book 2) by Melanie Jacobson (4 stars)
  • Faithful Place (Dublin Murder Squad Book 3) by Tana French (4 stars)

Stand-alone Books

  • Paradise Lost by John Milton (3 stars)
  • Frederica by Georgette Heyer (4 stars)
  • Counting the Cost by Jill Duggar (3 stars)
  • When Sharks Attack With Kindness by AndrĂ©s J. Colmenares (4 stars)
  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (3 stars)
  • The Only Purple House in Town by Ann Aguirre (2 stars)

Family Reading Lists

M. (girl, 9 years, 10 months old)

  • The Fall of the Soviet Union by Miles Harvey
  • Three Margarets by Laura Richards
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
  • The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards
  • Every Bone Tells a Story: Hominin Discoveries, Deductions, and Debates by Jill Rubalcaba and Peter Robertshaw

C. (girl, 8 years)

  • Pollyanna Grows Up by Eleanor H. Porter
  • More Wishing Chair Tales by Enid Blyton

E. (girl, 5 years 11 months)

  • The Animals of Farthing Wood by Colin Dann 

R. (boy, 3 years, 6 months)

  • In the Sea by David Elliot, illustrated by Holly Meade
  • Little Blue Truck's Valentine by Alice Schertle 

A. (girl, 3 years, 6 months)

  • Old Babybug magazines 

My husband 

  • Attar of the Ice Valley by Leonard Wibberley
  • The Axe of Bronze, a Story of Stonehenge by Kurt Schmeltzer
  • The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford 

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 


  • 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


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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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


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


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. 


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. 


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


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. 


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. 


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)


  • 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)


  • 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 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.


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. 


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.  


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. 


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


The girls rode bikes and played on various playgrounds. 


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. 


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


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)


  • 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.