Thursday, March 2, 2023

Homeschool Update: February 2023

Group Activities

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

She wrote a narration about Marco Polo. 

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Physical Education

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


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


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


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

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

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

February Favorites 

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

From my own reading, my favorites were:   

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stand-Alone Books 

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

Series Books

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

Did Not Finish

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

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

Family Reading Lists

M. (girl, 9 years, 3 months) 

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

C. (girl, 7 years, 5 months)

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

E. (girl, 5 years, 3 months)

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


R. (boy, 2 years, 11 months)

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

A. (girl, 2 years, 11 months)

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

My husband 

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

Up Next For Me

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

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

Friday, February 3, 2023

Homeschool Update: January 2023

Group Activities 

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

E. is beginning to learn to print her letters.


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

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

Physical Education 

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


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


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


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

Thursday, February 2, 2023

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

Appropriately, in the first month of 2023, I read 23 books. These were a good mix of physical books on my shelves, ebooks from Netgalley, Edelweiss+, Kindle Unlimited and Scribd, and audiobooks from Scribd, Hoopla, and Libby. This year, I've decided to choose a few favorites to highlight each month, and then I'll just briefly list the other titles I've read. 

January Favorites


Arabella by Georgette Heyer (5 stars)
I have enjoyed some newer regency romances, but none half as much as this one published in 1949. A friend gave me this book as a gift over the summer, and I was excited to finally pick it up. From the start, I was hooked on Heyer's wit. So many lines of dialogue made me laugh and endeared me to the characters. I thought the story was clever, and the romance was very sweet.  I heard from lots of friends on Instagram that this is their favorite Georgette Heyer book, and I can completely see why. 

All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny (5 stars)
This series continues to get better and better with each new book. This was the next one in the series I had to read, and I devoured it over two days while I was sick in bed. I loved the Paris setting, and I am always excited to read more about the family dynamics among Armand, his wife, his son-in-law, and his children, and there was a lot of that in here. I was completely invested in the story from beginning to end and I loved all the twist and turns along the way. 

Roland West, Loner by Theresa Linden (5 stars) 
This is the first novel in a Catholc YA series about three brothers. Roland is the youngest brother and he is struggling. He has entered high school after years of homeschooling and there are lots of rumors about his family, and especially his late mom. He's also being bullied by his brothers while his dad is out of town for work. His only respite comes from his new friendship with Peter, a boy in the neighborhood who Roland wants to trust if only he can get over his fears. I was totally fascinated by these characters, and I loved how the author blends the ordinary and the supernatural. 

The End of the Affair by Graham Green (5 stars)
I read this for the first time last February and re-read it for the upcoming meeting of my local book club. It was even better the second time, and I just fell in love with the language all over again. This book is right up there on the top of my all-time favorites list, vying with Brideshead Revisited for the top spot. 

The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis (4 stars)
I suddenly decided I like historical fiction, and I really enjoy this author of books set in the 20th century. This one is about Grand Central Terminal in the 1920s and 1970s, and it involves an art school that used to be housed in the train station and a lost work of art. I loved all the details about the station and how it had changed over time. It was really fun to feel like I was visiting New York City. 

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson (4 stars)
This historical novel about Pack Horse Librarians and the Blue People of Kentucky was so emotional and so beautifully written. I can still imagine scenes from the story because of how strongly they stuck with me. I've heard mixed reviews about the sequel, The Book Woman's Daughter, but I'm hoping to read it at some point. 

Dear Henry, Love Edith by Becca Kinzer (4 stars)
A Christian rom-com full of quirky characters? Yes, please! This book starts with a case of mistaken identity and evolves into a love story the whole town can get behind. I loved the setting and the characters and found myself laughing out loud at the author's tongue-in-cheek portrayal of small-town life. I also feel a little connection to the author because our stories appeared together in Spark Flash Fiction's Spring issue in 2022. 

Stand-Alone Books 

  • The Friendship Breakup by Annie Cathryn (4 stars)
    An entertaining story about drama in a group of mom friends. I did enjoy the easy-to-read writing style, but there was a lot of adultery so I wouldn't really recommend reading it, though I would try this author again. 
  • Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving (4 stars)
    I have read this before at some point in my life and re-read it for a short story book club on Instagram. I like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Better. 
  • The Rom-Com Agenda by Jayne Denker (3 stars)
    I loved the writing in this one, especially the way author depicted the hero's friend group. The romance plot was just okay.
  • Sometimes You Have to Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade Author of Harriet the Spy by Leslie Brody (3 stars)
    This is an objective "just the facts" style biography. It does talk about Fitzhugh's relationships with women, but not in a salacious way. 
  • The Dead Ex by Jane Corry (3 stars)
    This was an interesting thriller I found at Dollar Tree. It was somewhat predictable, but it helped me pass an afternoon when I was sick. 
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen (3 stars)
    I liked this better than Pride and Prejudice, but I think it's clear I'll never be an Austen fan. 
  • Lia and Beckett's Abracadabra by Amy Noelle Parks (3 stars)
    This was a YA romance set in the world of magicians and magic shows. I appreciated the book's take on magic, and its message that magicians shouldn't take advantage of the vulnerable by pretending to read minds or speak to the dead. 
  • The Trees Kneel at Christmas by Maud Hart Lovelace (3 stars)
    This was our final Christmas read-aloud. It was a re-read for me, and I didn't like it as much the second time but my girls seemed to enjoy it. 
  • Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon (3 stars)
    This YA romance with a hint of magic was well-written and very interesting to me as a writer, but it had some dubious messages about love and marriage. 
  • Talk Santa to Me by Linda Urban (2 stars)
    This book unfortunately includes a Catholic character who renounces her faith for no reason I could discern other than to be provocative and maybe to send the message that cafeteria Catholicism is fine. Very disappointing. 

Series Books

  • For Better or For Worse: The Complete Library, Vol. 2: 1983-1986 by Lynn Johnston (5 stars)
  • Dockside (Lakeshore Chronicles Book 3) by Susan Wiggs (3 stars)
  • The Twelve Holidates (Love Cliches Book 3.5)  by Emma St. Clair (4 stars)
  • Flesh and Blood (Kay Scarpetta Book 22) by Patricia Cornwell (3 stars)
  • Stork Raving Mad (Meg Lansglow Mysteries Book 12) by Donna Andrews (3 stars)
  • Roxy's Song (Love in Little River Book 1) by Ranee S. Clark (3 stars)

Did Not Finish

I had a record number of DNFs in January: 
  • Five Winters by Kitty Johnson
    The writing was good, the content was unsettling. 
  • The Sweetheart Fix by Miranda Liaason
    I was "currently reading" this for 2 months and decided it was time to admit I didn't like it.
  • A Guide to Being Just Friends by Sophie Sullivan
    I couldn't get into this one. 
  • Vinyl Resting Place by Olivia Blacke
    I had this from Netgalley but started the audiobook on Scribd and just never got invested. 
  • Reunion Beach: Stories Inspired by Dorothea Benton Frank 
    Just not my thing. 
  • Five Tuesdays in Winter by Lily King
    Too sexually explicit.
  • The Key to My Heart by Lia Louis
    I tried three times to get into this and gave up. 
  • Too Wrong to Be Right by Melonie Johnson
    The first line was so crude, I decided not to bother with the book.  

Family Reading Lists 

M. (girl, 9 years, 2 months) 

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

C. (girl, 7 years, 4 months)

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

E. (girl, 5 years, 3 months) 

  • Henry and Beezus by Beverly Cleary 

R. (boy, 2 years, 10 months) 

  • Once Upon a Potty: Boy by Alona Frankel
  • Mrs. Wishy Washy by Joy Cowley 
  • Jasper and Joop by Olivier Dunrea 
  • Whose Nest is Best? by Heidi E.Y. Stemple
  • Gemma and Gus by Olivier Dunrea
  • Gus by Olivier Dunrea 
  • Gideon by Olivier Dunrea 

A. (girl, 2 years, 10 months)

  • Once Upon a Potty: Girl by Alona Frankel 
  • What Shall We Do with the Boo Hoo Baby? by Cressida Cowell 
  • No, David by David Shannon 

My husband 

  • The Story of Appleby Capple by Anne Parrish 
  • A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus 
  • The Nightingale by Nancy Elholm Burkert 

Up Next For Me

  • The Likeness by Tana French
  • London Transports by Maeve Binchy 
  • The Netanyahus by Joshua Cohen 

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

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Homeschool Update: November/December 2022

Group Activities

We finished reading aloud Those Miller Girls, then listened to By the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson and A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus on audio. Before Christmas, I read aloud A Christmas Carol, and during the twelve days of Christmas, my husband read aloud This Way to Christmas by Ruth Sawyer. 

The girls continued to work on their poetry memorizations. We've been delayed in recording their videos, but hope to get these done in early 2023. 

For Advent, we did our daily Jesse Tree readings from The Jesse Tree by Eric and Suzan Sammons and we used ornaments printed from Catholic Sprouts and other online sources. We also used The Catholic All Year Prayer Companion for the O Antiphons and the Christmas Novena. 

We continued reading aloud from A Child's History of Art and finished all the chapters about paintings and watched the relevant Smart History videos. We also continued reading poetry from the Poetry for Young People series, and we finished the titles about Edna St. Vincent Millay and Shakespeare. 

The girls started singing lessons with How to Sing from the Great Courses. All three practiced piano and recorder daily. 

For music appreciation, they finished the third part of The Ring of Nibelung, then switched to Handel's Messiah for Christmas. 

We started working on pronouncing the words of the Credo in Latin and picking out some of the nouns.


With E. I read aloud The Big Golden Book of Dinosaurs and The Golden Book of Cavemen and Prehistoric People.  

With C., I read aloud these sections from A Picturesque Tale of Progress

  • The Glory of the Byzantine Empire (Leo the Isaurian, the Defender of Christendom; The Height of Byzantine Glory; The Coming of the Turk)
  • The Crusades (The First Crusade; The Kingdom of Jerusalem; Later Crusades; The Children's Crusade; Results of the Crusades)
  • Europe After the Crusades (Knights and Troubadours; The Growth of Towns; The Great Gothic Cathedrals; The Heretics; St. Francis of Assisi and the Gray Friars; The Fall of Constantinople
  • United Christian Spain Expels the Moors (The Magnificence of the Moors; How Minstrels Sang the Story of the Cid; The Conquest of Granada)
  • The Development of the English Nation (Early Britain and the Coming of the Anglo-Saxons; The Anglo-Saxon Tale of Beowulf; Ireland Preserves Culture; King Alfred and the Coming of the Danes; The Norman Conquest; The Development of Parliament)
We also read aloud some sections in Rulers Of Britain by Peter Somerset Fry, and she read many supplementary books on her own: 

  • Walter Dragun's Town by Sheila Sancha
  • Cathedral by David Macaulay
  • The Duke and the Peasant by Wendy Beckett
  • Mosque by David Macaulay 
  • El Cid by Geraldine McCaughrean
  • Bayeux Tapestry by Norman Denny 
  • Magna Carta by Walter Hodges 
  • Good Masters, Sweet Ladies by Laura Amy Schlitz

M. continued moving through the twentieth century, finishing WWI and then focusing on the 1920s. She read: 

  • Guglielmo Marconi by Richard Tames 
  • Bring Out the Banners by Geoffrey Trease 
  • The Scopes Trial by Renee Graves
  • The Story of Albert Schweitzer by Anita Daniel
  • The Good Master by Kate Seredy
  • The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy
  • Homesick by Jean Fritz
  • Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze by Elizabeth Foreman Lewis
  • Winter of Spies by Gerard Whelan
  • Katie's War by Aubrey Flegg
  • The Story of Scotland Yard by Laurence Thompson 
  • The Story of the Secret Service by Ferdinand Kuhn
  • The Golden Pharaoh by Karl Bruckner 

She watched Inherit the Wind, Days that Shook the World, Men Who Built America, and a little bit of Century of Flight


M. finished the review sections in Singapore 4B, and she continued working on Challenging Word Problems 3, Life of Fred: Mineshaft (which she finished) and 6th grade math on Khan Academy.

C. continued working in Singapore 2B and Life of Fred: Dogs.  She also worked on 3rd grade math in Khan Academy. 

E. continued working with the soroban and did a few pages of Singapore 1A. 


All three girls read independently throughout November and December. C. named the parts of speech in assigned sentences, and M. continued diagramming sentences in Rex Barks. 

M. finished a story called "Hildegarde" and C. finished writing "The Unicorn and the Wolves." 


C. and E. covered all the lessons in BFSU Volume 1 about energy and did some worksheets and watched some related videos from Crash Course Kids.

M. did these lessons in Middle School Chemistry: 

  • Changing State - Freezing
  • Changing State - Melting
  • What Is Density?
  • Finding Volume - The Water Displacement Model
  • Density of Water
  • Density - Sink or Float for Solids
  • Density - Sink or Float for Liquids
  • Temperature and Density
We finished our read-aloud of Romance of Chemistry.

Physical Education

While the weather stayed warm, the girls rode bikes as much as possible and played on the playground. They got a basketball for Christmas and had a little lesson on dribbling, passing, and shooting. 

Friday, January 6, 2023

2023 Reading and Writing Plans

Writer First, Reader Second 

I've been easing into this new year and getting a sense of what I really want to focus on before making too many plans. After several days of thinking it over, I've finally decided that what I really want to do this year is to think of myself as a writer first, and a reader second. This is a big shift toward a mentality I haven't had in 20 years, but I think it's necessary if I want to carve out time for writing projects and not feel guilty about it. 

There is no chance that I will not be reading this year. Given that I read 325 books last year in the midst of writing and submitting multiple pieces of fiction, I think it's safe to bet I will read at least 100 books in 2023 (which is my Goodreads goal) and that there will be weeks where I still read more than I write. But if there is a choice about where to put limited free time and energy? This year, writing will take the priority. 

Analog Tracking 

In the interest of freeing up time to write, one thing I'm doing differently this year is tracking all my reading and writing in my Bookworm Life planner that my sister gave me for my birthday. Instead of keeping graphic trackers on Instagram and text-based trackers on my blog, and also trying to keep up with both Goodreads and Storygraph, I'm going to focus on just the planner and Goodreads. I also want to start posting a weekly reading and writing update to Instagram. I follow a couple people who do that, and I really enjoy seeing what they share each week. I will keep monthly statistics for myself, and I will still wrap up each month here on the blog for An Open Book, though perhaps the posts will feature fewer books. 

Reading Goals

In terms of reading goals, I'm trying to keep things simple and open-ended. I'm going back to the Unread Shelf Project this year, along with the Buzzword Reading Challenge and the Read Your Bookshelves Challenge. I'll also be reading along with Close Reads and the #WorldFullofBooks group on Instagram. All the prompts for these are on my challenges page for this year. I expect books for these challenges to comprise the bulk of my reading. 

I also want to be more intentional about reading with my eyes and not just always defaulting to audiobooks, and I'm planning to read more short stories as research for writing as well as for my own enjoyment. I'm also bringing TBRs back into my reading life in 2023, but instead of a monthly stack, I'm planning to pull out ten books per season and make a goal of reading those ten within a three-month span. 

Finally, along with Father Mike's wonderful podcast, I'll be reading The Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Writing Goals 

I think I'm starting a novel this year. 

I've been dragging my feet, trying to decide what I want to work on, and then I started the year by writing 800 words about two of my favorite characters that I've created and I realized that if I'm ever going to write a novel, this is the one I will write. I don't plan to start immediately, and I don't have any expectation that I will finish it this year, but it's probably going to happen. 

On top of that, I have a couple of other loose goals I want to work toward. I'd like to write one short story of a more substantial length during each quarter of the year, and I would like at least one of those to be a mystery. And I want to try to participate in Flash Fiction Magic every week, or at least enough weeks that I don't fall out of the habit.  Ideally, I will also submit to Spark and Havok again, and maybe to an anthology or two, but that will depend on the themes and the ideas that come to me. 

I am going to track my daily word count in my planner, but I don't have a target word count goal in mind. 

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

Books of the Year

If you like end-of-year favorites lists, don't miss my top 25 books of 2022

My Month in Books 

I read 44 books in December! 44! This is not at all a normal pace, even for me, and it will probably never happen again. I'm not going to be able to say much of anything about each book if I want to get this post done, so this month's wrap up is basically just a list, organized by star rating.

2 Stars

  • The Guilt Trip by Sandie Jones 

3 Stars

  • To Get to the Other Side by Kelly Ohlert 
  • The Other Family by Wendy Corsi Staub
  • Eight Winter Nights by Liz Maverick (Audible original)
  • Sun of York by Ronald Welch 
  • The Rewind by Allison Winn Scotch 
  • Merry Ex-Mas by Courtney Walsh
  • The Upside Down Christmas by Kate Forster (Audible original)
  • Resting Scrooge Face by Meghan Quinn 
  • The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis 

4 Stars

  • A Holly Jilly Christmas by Emma St. Clair 
  • Later On We'll Conspire by Kortney Keisel 
  • Let It Snow by Michelle Stimpson (Audible original)
  • Foster by Claire Keegan 
  • The Pursuit of the Pilfered Cheese by Haley Stewart 
  • The Curious Christmas Trail by Haley Stewart 
  • A Not-so-Holiday Paradise by Gracie Ruth Mitchell
  • A Newport Christmess by Jess Heileman 
  • Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris 
  • A Christmas Spark by Cindy Steel
  • This Year It Will Be Different by Maeve Binchy 
  • A Quiet Life by Ethan Joella 
  • Faking Christmas by Cindy Steel 
  • Evil Woman by Julie Mulhern 
  • Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena 
  • Once Upon A Christmas Carol by Karen Schaler (Audible original)
  • Christmas Baggage by Deborah M. Hathaway
  • Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney 
  • Look Closer by David Ellis
  • Find Me by Alafair Burke 
  • Musical Tables: Poems by Billy Collins 
  • The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue by Karina Yan Glaser
  • The Vanderbeekers Lost and Found by Karina Yan Glaser

5 Stars 

  • The Hero of This Book by Elizabeth McCracken 
  • A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas 
  • The Romance of Chemistry by Keith Gordon Irwin
  • Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan 
  • The Jesse Tree by Eric Sammons 
  • Twelve Great Books by Joseph Pearce 
  • Host for the Holidays by Martha Keyes 
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens 
  • The Vanderbeekers Make A Wish by Karina Yan Glaser
  • The Vanderbeekers on the Road by Karina Yan Glaser 
  • A Jury of her Peers by Susan Glaspell 

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

A. (girl, 2 years 9 months)

  • All Better, Baby by Sara Gillingham 
  • Santa Mouse Bakes Christmas Cookies by Michael Brown 
  • I'm a Little Snowman by Hannah Elliott 

R. (boy, 2 years, 9 months)

  • The Animals' Santa by Jan Brett
  • Countdown to Christmas by Roger Priddy
  • Bizzy Bear: Snow Sports by Benji Davies 

E. (girl, 5 years, 2 months)

  • A Very Mercy Christmas by Kate DiCamillo
  • Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary
  • The School for Cats by Esther Averill 
  • Lulu and the Duck in the Park by Hilary McKay

C. (girl, 7 years, 3 months)

  • The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder 
  • Our Little Norman Cousin of Long Ago by Evaleen Stein 
  • Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! by Laura Amy Schlitz

M. (girl, 9 years, 1 month)

  • The Great Depression: An Interactive History Adventure by Michael Burgan
  • The Dust Bowl: An Interactive History Adventure by Allison Lassieur
  • Kathleen's Shaken Dreams by Tracy Leininger Craven
  • Kathleen's Unforgettable Winter by Tracy Leininger Craven 
  • Kathleen's Abiding Hope by Tracy Leininger Craven 
  • Leah's Pony by Elizabeth Friedrich 
  • Hannah and the Perfect Picture Pony by Sara Goodman Zimet 

My husband 

  • The Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O'Shea
  • Sun of York by Ronald Welch
  • Pirates of Samarkand by Rita Ritchie 
  • Tom Whipple by Walter D. Edmonds
  • Emerson Lake & Palmer by Carl Palmer
  • Keith Emerson Classic Edition by Chris Welch

Up Next For Me 

I've had a slow start to the new year, but my current reads are Arabella by Georgette Heyer (paperback), The Rom-Com Agenda by Jayne Denker (digital ARC from Edelweiss+), and The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis (audio).  

Sunday, January 1, 2023

2022 Reading in Review


This year, for the second year in a row, I tracked only novels and children's chapter books (and some short stories and novellas for adults), no picture books or board books. I set my Goodreads goal arbitrarily at 52 knowing I would surpass it, but having no inkling that I would complete it more than six times over. In a lot of ways, this was an odd year, because I spent a lot of time walking the twins in the stroller to keep them from destroying the house. I was also able to increase my listening speed for most books to 3x, so there were weeks where I was completing more than one book a day. I don't expect to keep this pace in 2023. 

I averaged 27 books per month. My slowest reading month was June, in which I read 17 books. I read the most books (44) in December. 

I read 235 books for adults, 18 for teens and 72 written for children.

The adult books included: 18 literary fiction, 83 romance, 32 nonfiction, 43 mystery, 21 classics, 5 poetry collections, 5 plays, 5 fantasy, 7 historical fiction, 2 comics and graphic novels, 9 women's fiction and 5 general fiction. 

Among these 325 books, there were: 
  • at least 188 audiobooks, including 16 Audible originals
  • 5 short story collections 
  • 27 read-alouds with my kids 
  • 37 from my physical TBR
  • 13 from my digital TBR
  • 56 from Hoopla
  • 42 from Scribd 
  • 19 from Kindle Unlimited 
  • 27 review copies from publishers 
The breakdown of star ratings was as follows: 
  • 5 stars: 121 books
  • 4 stars: 108 books 
  • 3 stars: 83 books
  • 2 stars: 13 books
  • 1 star: 0 books 
 I marked 24 books as DNF. 

Goals Review 

Goal #1: Re-read 40 books before I turn 40. 
This was really fun and fairly easy to complete. I made it last right up until the week leading up to my birthday and got them all read. It was really interesting to see how my opinions of each book changed or didn't.  

Goal #2: Read 22 classics.
I did this relatively easily for the second year in a row, but after reading along with a lot of older Close Reads episodes (and some newer ones about classic books) I burned out a bit on classics, so for 2023, I'm not going to devote a specific goal to them. 

Goal #3: Read 6 historical fiction books.
This was really touch and go all year, but with the help of one middle grade title, I made it! I actually found a bunch of historical fiction I'm interested in through The Book Bumble podcast, and I have a feeling it will become one of my regular genres in 2023.

Goal #4: Try 12 new-to-me authors.
This wasn't a challenge, so I'm not sure why I bothered making it a goal. I think what I might do next year is what Krista from Books and Jams on YouTube does and choose a few authors to focus on in 2023 instead of leaving the goal so open-ended.

Goal #5: Finish 2 series.
I set this goal with some longer series in mind,  (Armand Gamache, Scarpetta, Mitford) but while I made progress on those, I ended up completing (or catching up to the most recently published title of) some shorter ones: 

  • Vanderbeekers series by Karina Yan Glaser
  • Maple Falls series by Kathleen Fuller
  • Bird Face series by Cynthia T. Toney
  • Aurora Teagarden series by Charlaine Harris
  • Library Lover's Mystery series by Jenn McKinlay

I also made huge progress on the Country Club Murders series, and the only one I have left just came out on audio this week, so I will probably read it to kick off the new year. 

Goal #6: Write something 4 days per week.
I mostly did this, but I don't think this goal will serve me well going forward. I'm working on figuring out what will motivate me to write in 2023 without becoming overwhelming. 


I wound up participating fully in three challenges hosted elsewhere, and I created two challenges of my own for a total of five. 

I enjoyed the Goldberry Books Reading Challenge, but I didn't love some of the very snobby posts I read from other participants, and it made me feel like I had to choose books that were "good enough" for the Close Reads audience instead of what I wanted to read. I ended up reading: 

  • Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
  • The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • The Lightning Dreamer by Margarita Engle
  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco
  • The Patron Saint of Second Chances by Christine Simon
  • Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler
  • Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr
  • The Clock Winder byAnne Tyler
  • The Long Loneliness by Dorothy Day
  • The Hero of this Book by by Elizabeth McCracken.
I haven't heard whether this challenge is happening in 2023, but if so, I think it's unlikely that I will participate.

I think the Buzzword Reading Challenge was my favorite because the prompts were so fun and open-ended so I could always find somethig to suit my mood. For this challenge I read:
  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
  • As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  • Biloxi Blues by Neil Simon
  • The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman
  • Up Island by Anne Rivers Siddons
  • All in Good Time by Carolyn Astfalk
  • How to Write a Mystery by Lee Child
  • Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  • Under the Lights by Abbi Glines
  • Sleeping Tiger by Rosamunde Pilcher
  • The Most Perfect Thing in the Universe by Tricia Springstubb
  • Eight Winter Nights by Liz Maverick
I am planning to join this one again in 2023. 

For the Read Your Bookshelf Challenge, I didn't always own a book that matched the prompt, so I did supplement with audiobooks and ebooks from the library. Here's what I read: 

  • The Other Side of Silence by Margaret Mahy
  • Must Love Books by Shauna Robinson
  • In Bloom by Fern Michaels
  • Thankful for Love by Kristen Ethridge
  • The Treehouse on Dog River Road by Catherine Drake 
  • Meet Me in the Margins by Melissa Ferguson
  • The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe 
  • My Big Heart-Shaped Fail by Cindy Callaghan
  • Morse's Greatest Mystery and Other Stories by Colin Dexter
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  • The Broken Spine by Dorothy St. James
  • Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney
This challenge is doing something different in 2023, and I'm planning to join in again!

My big personal challenge was to re-read 40 books before I turned 40 in mid-November. These are the titles I chose: 

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  2. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
  3. The Rainmaker by John Grisham
  4. A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton 
  5. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
  6. Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
  7. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate Dicamillo
  8. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead 
  9. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
  10. T-backs, Tee shirts, COAT, and Suit by E.L. Konigsburg
  11. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
  12. Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach
  13. A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
  14. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
  15. Nothing But the Truth by Avi
  16. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
  17. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  18. That Summer by Sarah Dessen
  19. Empire Falls by Richard Russo
  20. Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
  21. Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson  
  22. On Writing by Stephen King 
  23. The Tenth Justice by Brad Meltzer 
  24. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger 
  25. The Library Book by Susan Orlean 
  26. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  27. The Professor's House by Willa Cather 
  28. One More Thing by B.J. Novak
  29. Very Sincerely Yours by Kerry Winfrey
  30. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  31. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte 
  32. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
  33. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
  34. Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass
  35. There's a Girl in my Hammerlock by Jerry Spinelli
  36. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving 
  37. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury 
  38. Book Girl by Sally Clarkson
  39. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens 
  40. The Rose Round by Meriol Trevor
My other personal challenge was a collection of different categories of books I wanted to read from. I read: 
  • 3 Book of the Month books
    1. Bomb Shelter by Mary Laura Philpott
    2. Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez 
    3. The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd 
  • 3 books about reading and/or writing
    1. Three Simple Lines: A Writer's Pilgrimage into the Heart and Homeland of Haiku by Natalie Goldberg
    2. Dear Reader by Cathy Rentzenbrink 
    3. Word by Word by Anne Lamott 
  • 3 Catholic books
    1. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
    2. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
    3. Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
  • 3 books in the same series
    1. The Scarpetta Factor by Patricia Cornwell
    2. Port Mortuary by Patricia Cornwell
    3. Red Mist by Patricia Cornwell
  • 3 Newbery medal winners
    1. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
    2. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
    3. Amos Fortune Free Man by Elizabeth Yates 
  • 3 books under 200 pages.
    1. I Can't Complain by Elinor Lipman
    2. Alexa, What is There to Know About Love? by Brian Bilston
    3. The Seven Last Words by Fulton Sheen
  • 3 books published in 2022
    1. Made in Manhattan by Lauren Layne
    2. Must Love Books by Shauna Robinson
    3. Looking for Leroy by Melody Carlson 
  • 1 book over 500 pages
    1. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell 
I'm still working on my plans for 2023, but I expect to have them up in a day or two!