Friday, May 6, 2022

Homeschool Update: April 2022

In the interest of simplifying my record keeping, I've decided to switch to monthly homeschool updates. I'm also going to focus less on the routine of our day and more on the materials we use for each subject. From time to time, I might make some separate posts to record how we divide up our days, but I'm finding that these posts are most useful as an archive of what we used to teach certain subjects and at what grade level. 

April included Holy Week and Easter Week, as well as an abundance of playdates that required a lighter workload. It was also the month in which we submitted our homeschool review forms to our umbrella organization. Both M. and C. have "completed" this year in terms of paperwork, but we will press on regardless. 


From Favorite Poems Old and New, edited by Helen Ferris (Doubleday Books, 1957), I read aloud: "There are so many ways of going places" by Leslie Thompson, "To the Dandelion" by James Russell Lowell, "Stocking Fairy" by Winifred Welles, "On Easter Day" by Celia Thaxter, and "From a Railway Carriage" by Robert Louis Stevenson. 

Music Appreciation 

M., C., and E. continued listening to my husband read aloud Carmen: The story of Bizet's Opera by Robert Lawrence. When they finished the book, they watched a production of the opera on video. After that, they listened to Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture and Beethoven's  Eroica Symphony On YouTube M. and C. watched the Keeping Score documentary about the Eroica Symphony. 

Art Appreciation

During the final days of Lent, we looked at many of the paintings and sculptures related to Christ's Passion that are included in the Vatican Art Deck and the Louvre Art Deck. We also took a close look at da Vinci's The Last Supper, using this article from Catholic Icing to point out key features and to learn about the Apostles. We watched this video about Caravaggio's Deposition of Christ.


We finished our lunchtime read-aloud of The Golden Name Day and then read Carvers' George by Florence Crannell Means.  This was a fascinating book, and it also complemented our study of plants for science. After that, I started reading aloud The Secret Garden. 

C. read The First Men in the World and The Fantastic Flying Journey, and then moved on to Redwall. She is enjoying imagining the voice of Cluny the Scourge and has announced she would like to be him for Halloween. I also read aloud Floating Island by Anne Parrish to her, and we both really enjoyed it. It combines all the best elements of our other favorites: The Doll People and Baby Island. In Grammarland, C. worked on nominatives and prepositions. 

Independently, E. read Busybody Nora by Johanna Hurwitz, My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett, In a Dark Dark Room and Other Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz, and Warton and Morton by Russell E. Erickson. To her, I read aloud All About Sam by Lois Lowry. We have now started Here Come the Elephants by Alice Goudey. 

M. has been diagramming one sentence per day from Rex Barks. She creates the diagram in Google Drawings and then shares it with me so I can check it. She is also working on doing pages in the Macmillan McGraw-Hill Treasures grammar curriculum. 


M. finished The Year of the Horseless Carriage after reading these sections: Napoleon: Emperor; Beethoven; Richard Trevithick; Robert Fulton; James Madison; Napoleon: Defeated; and George Stephenson. 

Then she started Abraham Lincoln's World and read these sections: The Year 1809; Napoleon The Next Emperor; Because of England and Napoleonl; Young Creoles of Venezuela; Ships and Trips and Businessmen; Tecumseh, the Falling Star; Sam Houston Becomes the Raven; The Year 1812 in North America; 1812 in South America; To Moscow and Return; Don't Give Up the Ship; Andrew Jackson, the Indian Fighter; A Boy and a Fish; Napoleon Defeated; The Very Young William Gladstone; Just Before and After the End; Back to the Kings Again; Trails to the West; Abe Moves to Indiana; Robert Lee of Virginia; Harriett Beecher, the Preacher's Child; What About Missouri; Steamboats and the Law; Kit Rides to Santa Fe; Benito Juarez, a Boy of Mexico; Toda America es Mi Patria; Citizens of the World

She also read No Other White Men by Julia Davis Adams, Violet for Bonaparte by Geoffrey Trease, The Slave Who Freed Haiti: the Story of Toussaint Louverture by Katharine Scherman, The Pirate Lafitte and the Battle of New Orleans by Robert Tallant. She looked through The Incredible Journey of Lewis and Clark by Rhoda Blumberg.

C. finished with Ancient Greece and began studying Ancient Rome. In Builders of the Old World, she read The Wooden Walls Save Athens, The Golden Age of Pericles, Lovers of Wisdom, Greece Loses Her Freedom, and The Gifts of Greece to Civilization, followed by The City of the Seven Hills, Early Roman Heroes, Rome Becomes a Republic, How the Early Romans Lived, Going to School in Rome, Rome Conquers All Italy, Rome and Carthage, How the Later Romans Lived, and Cornelia's Jewels. 

We also read aloud In Search of a Homeland, the children's retelling of the Aeneid by Penelope Lively, and then started Detectives in Togas by Henry Winterfeld, and C. watched Virtual Rome and Ancient Rome 101


We finished BFSU Volume 1. The girls monitored the beans they planted in baggies, tracking their progress with drawings until they germinated. Only E.'s grew leaves and a stem, so we mainly focused on that one.  M. and C. also picked a few random weeds outside and we brought them in to identify and learn about them. We also read about some wildflowers from a Fandex Family Field Guide.  

M. and C. watched these videos: 

Our read-aloud of Carvers' George was also part of our plant studies, and we found this clip of his voice to listen to so we could better understand the author's descriptions of his distinctive speech.  


C. finished Singapore Primary Mathematics 2A and moved on to 2B. 

M. worked on Challenging Word Problems 3 and geometry proofs using worksheets found online and Geometry by Harold R. Jacobs.

E. used flashcards, rods and the soroban to learn about place value. 


M. and read the nutrition section from The Body Book for Younger Girls. She also came to the twins' check-up with me and watched their exam.

Physical Education

M., C., and E. rode bikes on most of the nice days. M. and C. went on a couple of bike rides with Daddy. All three girls played on the trampoline at our friends' house, and they visited the Adventure playground for a playdate.  


M., C., and E. did chalk designs in the driveway and colored Easter-themed coloring pages.


We attended the Novus Ordo Easter vigil and then Mass in the extraordinary form on Divine Mercy Sunday. We read aloud Catholic Children's Treasure Box volumes 1 and 2. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Read-at-Home Mom Report: April 2022 Wrap-Up

My Month in Books

40 Re-reads Before 40

I re-read five more books for my 40 Re-reads Before 40 project. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman (3 stars) was one of the few adult books I read when I was working as a librarian. The first time I read it, I thought it was brilliant. This second time around, with much more reading experience under my belt, it just didn't seem as remarkable. Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach (5 stars) is a YA novel about Felton Reinstein, whom puberty transforms into a high-performing athlete practically overnight. Herbach is a master of first-person narration, and this was just as good the second time around as the first. I read A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (4 stars) in eleventh grade and re-read it this month with Close Reads. I definitely got more out of it this time than I did as a teen - the emotions of the characters resonated much more strongly. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (5 stars) was a new favorite that I discovered in 2019. This time I listened to the audiobook. It's such a charming read for book lovers. Finally, after a friend asked me whether Avi would be a good author for one of her kids, I was reminded of Nothing But the Truth (3 stars). My memories of this one were very different from what is actually in the book. I usually don't like full cast audiobooks but I actually enjoyed the production of this one. 


I completed three read-alouds with my kids in April. The first was part of my 6-year-old daughter's history studies. In Search of a Homeland by Penelope Lively (4 stars) is an illustrated children's retelling of the Aeneid. I didn't love it as much as I loved the Rosemary Sutcliffe retellings of the Iliad and the Odyssey, but it was still good. I also read aloud Floating Island by Anne Parrish (5 stars) to the same child. This was like The Doll People meets Baby Island, with a clear vintage feel. I read aloud All About Sam by Lois Lowry (5 stars) to my four-year-old. She absolutely loved it and wants to read the rest of the series. 

Challenges and Book Clubs

I read The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene (4 stars) throughout Lent with a small group of Close Reads listeners. I liked it, but I didn't love it the way I loved The End of the Affair. My local book club chose The Seven Last Words by Fulton Sheen (5 stars) for our April book. I struggled to get into Fulton Sheen's writing in the past, but I absolutely loved this book and will probably read it again during some future Lent. The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman (5 stars) was my pick for the Buzzword Reading Challenge, the April prompt for which was  big and little. I have never read a Waxman book I didn't love, and I especially enjoyed this one because of the child characters. For the Read Your Bookshelves Challenge, I needed to find a book with my initials in the title.  I ended up reading a romance novella set during Thanksgiving, Thankful for Love by Kristen Ethridge (4 stars) which does include K, R, and F.

The #WorldFullofBooks group on Instagram read poetry in April, and I ended up getting really into the theme. I finished The Divine Comedy (5 stars) on Easter with 100 Days of Dante. Then I listened to Three Simple Lines by Natalie Goldberg (3 stars), which is her memoir about discovering and attempting to write haiku. Then I read a novel in verse, The Lightning Dreamer by Margarita Engle (2 stars), which was too heavy-handed with its feminist message, but which I decided to finish anyway because it counted for the Goldberry books challenge prompt of a biography of a non-American. I finished out the month will three poetry collections borrowed from the public library: Felicity by Mary Oliver (4 stars), The Rain in Portugal by Billy Collins (3 stars), and And Short the Season by Maxine Kumin (3 stars).

Review Copies

I read three review copies this month. Birdie's Bargain by Katherine Paterson (3 stars) had some questionable theology in it that would keep from me giving it to my Catholic kids even though I like the writing. All the Right Reasons by Bethany Mangle (5 stars) was an unexpected 5-star read about a mother-daughter relationship that is challenged when they go on a reality show to find a new love connection for the mother. To Marry and to Meddle by Martha Waters (4 stars) is the third book in a regency romance series. I haven't read the first two yet, but this one was so funny and well-written that I'm planning to go back and listen to the others. 

Nonfiction Mood Reading

My mood reading was very eclectic during April. I picked up three nonfiction titles. This Beautiful Truth by Sarah Clarkson (5 stars) is a great spiritual read about how to find God in our lives in times of darkness. Clarkson isn't Catholic, but this book is very Catholic-friendly. I saw a lot of praise for it on Instagram and it was absolutely well-deserved. I think this is Clarkson's best book to date. I borrowed Present Over Perfect (3 stars) on audio from the library after hearing Shauna Niequist on What Should I Read Next? There were some good little nuggets to be gleaned from this, but I felt like I always had to be on guard against all the self-help rhetoric, some of which is contrary to Catholic teaching. I chose to listen to Bomb Shelter by Mary Laura Philpott (4 stars) based on how much I enjoyed her previous book, I Miss You When I Blink. I enjoyed this one as well, but it wasn't a 5-star read like the earlier title. 

Fiction Mood Reading

Friendshipped by Savannah Scott (3 stars) is a clean romantic comedy I learned about on Instagram. I have been trying out a few different authors and series, and this one was a fun palate cleanser.  Billy Miller Makes a Wish by Kevin Henkes (5 stars) is the sequel to The Year of Billy Miller. I listened to the audiobook to preview it for my kids, and I'm pleased to say I have no qualms about letting them read it. I listened and read along to Snow in April by Rosamunde Pilcher (5 stars). I had one false start with it where my mind wandered and I had to start over, but it ended up being a 5-star read. I just love Pilcher's writing style. I ended the month with the next book in a favorite series I have been neglecting, Stayin' Alive by Julie Mulhern (4 stars). As is often the case with mysteries, I loved the setting and characters but have already forgotten everything about the murder. 

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

A. (girl, 2 years old) 

  • E is for Easter by Greg Paprocki 

R. (boy, 2 years old)

  • Ollie's Easter Eggs by Olivier Dunrea
  • National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Animals
  • Home for a Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown and Garth Williams 

E. (girl, 4 years old)

  • Dan Frontier series 
  • Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same by Grace Lin 
  • The Golly Sisters Go West by Betsy Byars 
  • Hooray for the Golly Sisters by Betsy Byars 
  • The Skeleton Inside You by Philip Balestrino
  • Hot as an Ice Cube by Philip Balestrino 
  • Snakes are Hunters by Patricia Lauber 
  • The Pig War by Betty Baker 

C. (girl, 6 years old)

  • The Fantastic Flying Journey by Gerald Durrell 
  • Redwall by Brian Jacques 
  • Lulu and the Rabbit Next Door by Hilary McKay 

M. (girl, 8 years old)

  • No Other White Men by Julia Davis Adams
  • Violet for Bonaparte by Geoffrey Trease 
  • The Slave Who Freed Haiti by Katherine Scherman 
  • The Pirate Lafitte and the Battle of New Orleans by Robert Tallant 
  • Andrew Jackson by Clara Ingram Judson 
  • Make way for Sam Houston by Jean Fritz 
  • Cody and the Secrets of the Universe by Tricia Springstubb

My husband 

  • The Fort of Gold by Eilis Dillon
  • Dan Frontier Goes to Congress by William Hurley
  • The King's Beard by Leonard Wibberley
  • People of Pineapple Place by Anne Lindbergh 

Up Next For Me

My big focus for May will be on reading Gone with the Wind for the Goldberry reading challenge where the prompt is to read my mother's favorite book. I also want to read The Black Moth by Georgette Heyer which a friend gave me for Christmas, and I need to read Captain of Dragoons by Ronald Welch for  a discussion with my husband and that same friend. I'm also doing a short story read-a-thon hosted by Chantel Reads All Day on YouTube. 

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

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Homeschool Update: Week of 3/28/22

Lent Activities

Each day, we added a Jesus tree ornament to our clothesline display, prayed a decade of the Rosary, read a quote from a saint, colored a square on our Lenten path, and watched a meditation from Brother Francis. We sang "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say."  We also looked at some of the paintings in The Louvre Art Deck and The Vatican Art Deck connected to Jesus's Passion.

Morning Time 

Poems: From Favorite Poems Old and New, edited by Helen Ferris (Doubleday Books, 1957), I read aloud "Written in March" by William Wordsworth, "" by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and "Swallow Tails" by Tom Robinson. 

Music appreciation: My husband continued reading aloud Carmen: The story of Bizet's Opera by Robert Lawrence and played recordings of pieces from the opera.


From The Year of the Horseless Carriage by Genevieve Foster, M. read these sections: 

  • Napoleon: Conqueror 
  • Thomas Jefferson 
  • Toussaint L'Overture 
  • Lewis and Clark 
  • Napoleon: Emperor 
  • Beethoven
She also started reading The Louisiana Purchase by Robert Tallant. 

C. read these sections from Builders of the Old World

  • The Athenians at Marathon
  • The Spartans at Thermopylae

She also started reading The Athenians in the Classical Period by Leonard Weisgard. Independently, C. read The First Marathon: The Legend of Pheidippides and continued reading Our Little Athenian Cousin of Long Ago. She watched this video walking tour of the Acropolis of Athens.


We began working on BFSU Lesson B-11, Plant Science II: Germination, Seedling Growth and Responses. M., C., and E. each planted four beans in a plastic baggie and began drawing them each day to chart their progress. M. and C. also watched these videos: 


E. began to work with rods. She made a double staircase and practice making the various two-rod trains that added up to particular larger rods.  

C. continued working in Singapore 2A, finishing division. 

M. worked on geometry proofs with my husband. 


At lunch, we continued reading aloud The Golden Name Day.

E. and I continued reading books by Beatrix Potter. 

Physical Education 

The girls rode bikes most nice days. 

Instrumental Music 

M., C., and E. practiced piano daily.

M. and C. practiced recorder daily.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Read-at-Home Report: March 2022 Wrap-Up

First-Quarter Reading Reflections

In each of the first three months of this year, I have read more books than I read in any single month of 2021. Interestingly, this has not meant that I can't take days off from reading, or read some books slowly, or listen to podcasts when I feel like it. Somehow giving myself the freedom to read as much as I want to has also ramped up my productivity in other areas.  I've already surpassed my Goodreads goal of 52 books, but I still have plenty of unfinished challenges to add variety to my reading life as the second quarter begins. 

40 Re-reads Before 40

This month was Middle Grade March so I took the opportunity to re-read some of the middle grade titles I have been wanting to revisit. 

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (5 stars) is one of my favorite books that I was assigned to read in library school, and it held up so well. The audiobook is read by Cherry Jones, who also narrates the Little House on  the Prairie series. She is phenomenal, and she definitely did justice to Kate DiCamillo's writing. 

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (5 stars) is the book I correctly predicted would win the Newbery back in 2010, and I'm so happy to say that it was still a five-star read the second time around, even though this time I knew the ending from the start. The audio for this one was good, too. 

I owned a paperback copy of T-Backs, T-shirts, COAT, and Suit by E.L. Konigsburg (4 stars) when I was in middle school, but only remembered the ending. The story makes some interesting and timely points about free speech, but unfortunately it uses immodest and child-inappropriate clothing and some anti-religious commentary to make them. We're keeping the book to keep our collection intact, but I won't be handing it to my girls.

Finally, for #WorldFullofBooks, I decided to re-read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (3 stars). The book is divided into 5 chapters, and the chapter about sin and death was the most memorable for me. What I missed on my first reading, though, is that the author intended this to be a very negative representation of the Catholic faith. It made me want to go to Confession the first time I read it; it was less spiritually stirring the second time. I do still want to re-read Dubliners someday, but otherwise I'm pretty much done with Joyce.


Emil and the Detectives

March was a pretty read-aloud-heavy month. I finished reading Follow My Leader (3 stars), about a young boy who is blinded in an accident and gets a seeing eye dog, to my six-year-old. Then we switched over to Rosemary Sutcliff's versions of the Iliad (Black Ships Before Troy - 4 stars) and The Odyssey (The Wanderings of Odysseus - 5 stars) to complement her history studies. Then we finished the month with Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner (4 stars), which she was unsure about at the start but ended up mostly enjoying. 

The Golden Name Day

I read aloud Happy Little Family by Rebecca Caudill (5 stars) to my four-year-old, and she enjoyed having a chapter book involving a girl her age with older siblings. The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz (4 stars) and The Golden Name Day by Jennie D. Lindquist (5 stars) were our family read-alouds at lunch. The girls loved both books and were really invested in them. There are sequels to The Golden Name Day that we are planning to read together soon. 

Challenges and Book Clubs 

For the KingBrighton Beach MemoirsBiloxi Blues

My husband and I and a friend from Goodreads have an informal book club where we talk about Ronald Welch's Carey family books. I never read the first book, Knight Crusader, so I went back and did that this month and also read For the King, which is the next book we will discuss. My husband and our friend have consistently said Knight Crusader is their favorite, but it was only a three-star read for me, whereas For the King got 5 stars. 

1984 by George Orwell (3 stars) was the book featured on the Close Reads podcast this month, and I also counted it as my book from a genre I don't usually love for the Goldberry books challenge. This one was rough. It's not the kind of book you can really fall in love with because it's just so dark and depressing, but I do think it's something everyone should read once. 

The March prompt for the Buzzword Reading Challenge was a book with a location in the title. I read two of Neil Simon's Eugene plays: Brighton Beach Memoirs (5 stars) and Biloxi Blues (3 stars). I loved Brighton Beach Memoirs, partly because it reminded me of old friends who acted in it in high school. Biloxi Blues was just okay. 

The prompt for the Read Your Bookshelves challenge was growth. I read In Bloom, a collection of novellas by Fern Michaels, Carolyn Brown, and Lori Foster which I got from Netgalley. It was fine, but I didn't like it as much as the Christmas novellas headlined by Fern Michaels that I read in December. I gave it 3 stars. 

Mood Reading

Looking for LeroyRunning MateI Hated You First

My big reading mood of the month was a romance mood, and I read 5 romance novels. 

Much Ado About a Latte by Kathleen Fuller (4 stars) is the second in a series. It wasn't quite as good as the first one but I enjoyed revisiting the setting. Looking for Leroy by Melody Carlson (4 stars) is a Christian romance about former teen sweethearts who meet up again in their late 40s. I had a little bit of a hard time believing the female protagonist was that old, but I loved all the supporting characters and the plot. Running Mate by Leah Brunner is about a Libertarian candidate for Congress who marries a woman in order to make himself more appealing to voters and ends up falling in love with her. I loved the author's writing style and her sense of humor. I listened to I Hated You First by Rachel John on Hoopla. This one is a friends-to-lovers romance involving a family business. I was really invested in the main relationship and the family relationships. Heart Smart by Emma Lee Jayne is the only romance I read this month that had sex scenes. I listened to it on Scribd and just skipped past the graphic parts. The characters - especially the grumpy hero - felt so real and the academic setting reminded me of The Love Hypothesis

Mom Milestones: The Highs, Lows, Surprises, and Joys of Early Motherhood Red MistI Can't Complain: (All Too) Personal Essays

The other books I picked up on whims were a hilarious poetry collection (Alexa, What Is There To Know About Love? by Brian Bilston - 5 stars), a poignant graphic-novel-style reflection on the early years of motherhood (Mom Milestones by Grace Farris - 5 stars), the next book in the Kay Scarpetta series (Red Mist by Patricia Cornwell- 3 stars) and a collection of essays by Elinor Lipman (I Can't Complain - 5 stars). 

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

A., (girl, 2 years old):

  • Ten Little Babies by Gyo Fujikawa
  • Babies by Gyo Fujikawa
  • Baby Animals by Gyo Fujikawa
  • Here We Are: Book of Numbers by Oliver Jeffers  

R. (boy, 2 years old) 

  • Drive the Fire Truck by Dave Mottram 
  • National Geographic Little Kids First Board Book: Birds
  • Here We Are: Book of Animals by Oliver Jeffers

E. (girl, 4 years old)

  • The King, the Mice, and the Cheese by Nancy Gurney
  • Meet Abraham Lincoln by Barbara Cary 
  • Six Silver Spoons by Janette Sebring Lowrey
  • Sarah's Unicorn by Bruce Coville
  • Poppleton by Cynthia Rylant 
  • Houndsley and Catina by James Howe

C. (girl, 6 years old)

  • Our Little Athenian Cousin of Long Ago by Julia Darrow Cowles
  • Marco Polo, Brave Explorer by Cynthia Lord
  • Magical Animal Adoption Agency series by Kallie George
  • Freddy and his Cousin Weedly by Walter Brooks

M. (girl, 8 years old) 

  • The Slave Who Freed Haiti by Katharine Sherman
  • Robert Fulton and his Steamboat by Ralph Nading Hill
  • Amy and Laura series by Marilyn Sachs 
My husband 

  • For the King by Ronald Welch
  • Mystery at St. Martin's by Judith St. George
  • The Glorious Conspiracy by Joanne Williamson
  • Adam and the Golden Cock by Alice Dalgliesh

Up Next For Me 

My priorities for April are to finish The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene, to read A Raisin in the Sun and start Tess of the D'urbervilles with Close Reads, to finish The Divine Comedy, and to read The Seven Last Words by Fulton Sheen for my local book club.

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