Thursday, April 4, 2024

Read-at-Home Mom Report: March 2024 Wrap-Up

March Favorites

I had quite a few five-star favorites in March. 



This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett
This wasn't a memoir as the title suggests, but a retrospective collection of the author's essays, along with a couple of new ones. I disagreed with some of her thoughts on Catholicism (I bristled when she suggested divorce could be a sacrament), but I really admire Patchett's writing and there were quite a few pieces in this collection I would want to read again. 

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
I completely understand the hype for this book, and for the audio version narrated by Tom Hanks. I could not put it down. 

The Unselected Journals of Emma M. Lion Vol. 2 by Bethany Brower
I am trying to take this series slowly because I don't want it to end! I love the unique setting and characters and the diary format. 



The Confessions of St. Augustine
by Augustine of Hippo
I listened to the Catholic Classics podcast episodes which included readings from the Ascension edition of the book. I know I will get more out of it on a re-read, and I have another translation that I will try next time.

Betting on You by Lynn Painter
I had been meaning to try this YA romance author for a while, and this did not disappoint at all. This is an homage to When Harry Met Sally, and it works so well. The audiobook was also very well done.  

One Writer's Beginnings by Eudora Welty
I was reading the physical book along with the audio of the original speeches that make up this book and I realized they were markedly different! I ended up counting them as two separate books and gave both 5 stars. 



The Terrible Speed of Mercy: A Spiritual Biography of Flannery O'Connor by Jonathan Rogers
This is my new recommendation for anyone wanting an excellent introduction to Flannery and her work. 

I, Julian by Claire Gilbert 
This well-researched fictional biography of St. Julian of Norwich is beautifully written and it has a gorgeous cover, too.  

Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler
This is another hit from one of my favorite authors. The family at the center of the story is one of the most memorable from any other Tyler's books. 



The Hero and the Girl Next Door by Sophie Hannah 
Hotels like Houses by Sophie Hannah
I discovered this poet through an Instagram post and looked up some of her books. She's my new favorite!


Read-Aloud and Homeschool Books

  • The Cottage at Bantry Bay by Hilda van Stockum (4 stars)
  • James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl (5 stars)
  • Getting Started with Latin: Beginning Latin for Homeschoolers and Self-Taught Students of Any Age by William E. Linney (5 stars)

Middle Grade March

  • The Kate in Between by Claire Swinarski (4 stars) 
  • Annie's Life in Lists by Kristin Mahoney (5 stars)
  • Ferris by Kate DiCamillo (4 stars)
  • Smoky the Cowhorse by Will James (4 stars)
  • Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith (4 stars)
  • Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie S. Tolan ( 3 stars)
  • My Own Lightning (Wolf Hollow Book 2) by Lauren Wolk (3 stars)
  • Greenwitch (The Dark is Rising Book 3) by Susan Cooper (4 stars)


Sequels and Series Books

  • Meet the Malones (Beany Malone Book 1) by Lenore Mattingley Weber (4 stars)

Stand-Alone Books

  • Ashes by Anthony Mancini (4 stars)
  • Elodie's Library of Second Chances by Rebecca Raisin (4 stars)
  • Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke (3 stars)
  • What Now? by Ann Patchett (5 stars)
  • I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections by Nora Ephron (4 stars)
  • Prayer Primer: Igniting a Fire Within by Thomas Dubay, S.M. (2 stars)
  • Love in Tandem by Becca Kinzer (4 stars)
  • Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett (4 stars)
  • I Feel Bad About My Neck, And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron (4 stars)
  • Poetry Comics by Grant Snider (5 stars)


DNF

  • Just for the Summer by Melody Carlson 
  • How to Plot a Payback by Melissa Ferguson 


Family Reading Lists 


M. (girl, 10 years, 4 months old)

  • Yesterday's Daughter by Helen Fern Deringer
  • The Exploits of Xenophon by Geoffrey Household
  • The Spartan's March by Benjamin Hulme-Cross

C. (girl, 8 years, 6 months old) 

  • The Marquis de Lafayette: Bright Sword for Freedom by Hodding Carter
  • The Story of Thomas Jefferson by Earl Schenck Miers
  • The Story of Benjamin Franklin by Enid La Monte Meadowcroft
  • The Story of Martha Washington by Jeannette C. Nolan

E. (6 years, 5 months old)

  • Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill by Maud Hart Lovelace
  • Muggie Maggie by Beverly Cleary
  • Our Little Macedonian Cousin of Long Ago by Julia Darrow Cowles

R. (boy, 4 years old) and A. (girl, 4 years old)

  • One Lighthouse, One Moon by Anita Lobel 
  • The Greedy Sparrow by Lucine Kasbarian
  • Time for School, Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
  • That's Good, That's Bad by Joan Lexau (especially A.)
  • Curious George series by H.A. Rey
  • Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site series by Sherri Duskey Rinker (especially R.)
  • Sam and the Mitt by Leslie McGuire (R. only)
  • Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss (R. only, select pages)


My husband 

  • Sailing to Cythera, and Other Anatole Stories by Nancy Willard
  • The Island of the Grass King: The Further Adventures of Anatole by Nancy Willard 
  • George Washington's World by Genevieve Foster 
  • Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace
  • Greenwitch by Susan Cooper 

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Homeschool Update: January & February 2024

Group Activities 


Geography/Art 

From The Complete Book of Marvels by Richard Halliburton, Dad read these sections, and the girls watched accompanying videos: 

  • Carcassonne, City of Romance [video]
  • Mount St. Michael [video]
  • Reims Cathedral, Holy Monument [video]
  • Matterhorn, Tiger of the Alps [video]
  • St. Bernard Monastery [video]
  • St. Peter's, Church Supreme [video]
  • Vesuvius, Famous Volcano [video]
  • Pompeii, City of the Past [video]
  • Blue Grotto, Cavern of Loveliness [video]

C. also learned the locations of the continents using this game


Latin 

We continued our lessons in Getting Started with Latin: Beginning Latin for Homeschoolers and Self-Taught Students of Any Age by William E. Linney, which introduced the second declension. 


Shakespeare

We read the children's versions of Richard III and Othello from Shakespeare Stories by Leon Garfield and the girls watched the animated adaptations. For Richard III, the girls acted out part of Act 2 Scene 2 as a group, and then watched the film adaptation starring Laurence Olivier. For Othello, M. memorized Iago's speech from Act 1 Scene 1, lines 57-65, C memorized Othello's speech from Act 3 Scene 3, lines 267-279, and E. memorized Desdemona's speech from Act 1 Scene 3, lines 179-188. At the end of February, they were still working on finalizing those.


Read-Alouds

Dad read aloud this historical fiction title:
  • At the Hot Gates: An Account of the Battle of Thermopylae by Donald Sampson  

I read aloud these titles: 

  • The Animals' Christmas by Anne Thaxter Eaton
  • The Tough Winter by Robert Lawson
  • Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
  • Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce  


Catechism 

We did a little bit of work in our Catechism books, and then got ready for Lent with Ash Wednesday  coloring pages, Lenten paths to color in, and Mardi Gras masks (with hearts for Valentine's Day!), and we  colored and "buried" the Alleluia in a bookshelf. We attended the Latin Mass once in January once in February. 


Poetry

We finished reading Poem Making by Myra Cohn Livingston and then analyzed "The Pirate Don Durk of Dowdee" and "Barbara Frietchie" using what we learned.   


Science 

C. worked as far as I wanted her to go in the Classic Science student book by Scott McQuerry. Then she read Lili: A Giant Panda of Sichuan by Robert McClung. E. and I read The First Book of Bugs by Margaret Williamson together. 

Both girls started listening to me read The First Book of Plants by Margaret Wiliamson. They also watched Life on Earth: Plants and wrote narrations on the Venus fly trap.  

M. and I continued reading Secrets of the Universe, covering these chapters: 

  • The Law of Conservation of Matter
  • Pascal's Law - How Liquids Behave
  • Boyle's and Charles's Laws - How Gases Behave
  • Bernoulli's Principle
  • How the Elements Combine - The Law of Definite Proportions and Gay-Lussac's Law
From Physics for Every Kid by Janice Van Cleave, she did experiments 55 (Crash), 61 (Bonk), 79 (See Through), 89 (Hot Band), and 97 (Twang) and wrote reports. 


Health

C. had two visits to the orthodontist and read about puberty in The Body Book for Girls


History 

C. read with Dad from The World of George Washington by Genevieve Foster. She wrote narrations on  the Declaration of Independence and Benjamin Franklin.  

M. read The Ancient South Asian World, and watched episodes of the History of India from Great Courses, as well as The Story of India and What the Ancients Knew: India. She took notes on the Great Courses videos. Then she read The Ancient Chinese, and did a worksheet for each chapter, focusing on the Word Bank, What Happened When, Cast of Characters, and All Over the Map exercises. She did narrations on the Ramayana and Mahabarata and on Confucius. 

M. and E. read Virginia Schomp's collections of Indian and Chinese myths together. 

E. continued reading A Child's History of the World by V.M. Hillyer.  She also The First Marathon: the Legend of Pheidippides by Susan Reynolds and A Gift for the King by Christopher Manson. 


English

 M. switched from from Rex Barks, which was becoming tedious to Sentence Diagramming. She completed the Beginner level quickly and moved on to Level 1. She finished Vocabulary from Classical Roots A, but we realized there were earlier levels she would benefit from doing and gave her Level 6 next. 

C. continued working on the Beginner level of Sentence Diagramming

E. did several worksheets to practice identifying verbs. 

R. worked with me in The Ordinary Parents' Guide to Teaching Reading and practiced reading these Hooked on Phonics readers: Pig Wig, Pig Wig Can Hit, Tag, and Ann's Hat.  

A. practiced identifying her letters and started learning the sounds for short A and short E from The Ordinary Parents' Guide to Teaching Reading. 


Math 

M. continued working on Challenging Word Problems 3 and Singapore Primary Mathematics 6B. She needed extra work on fractions and area. In Life of Fred, she continued with Decimals and Percents and she worked on 7th grade math and Algebra 1 on Khan Academy.

C. -finished Singapore Primary Mathematics 3B and moved on to 4A. She finished Life of Fred: Farming and moved on to Goldfish. In Khan Academy, she is still in fourth grade math. 

E. continued working on Singapore Primary Mathematics1B, and she is 80% finished with early math on Khan Academy.


Music 

M. and C. have been working on the music theory exercises in Practical Theory by Sandy Felstein. All three girls did note identification and ear training on the computer and practiced piano and recorder daily.  M. and C. played recorder duets of "Rondo" and "O Come All Ye Faithful"; C. and E. are doing a recorder duets of "Rigaudon."  Occasionally, they watched episodes of How to Play the Piano with Pamela Pike from Great Courses.


Physical Education 

This winter, they ran outside when the weather was nice and played with a sled on the hill with neighbor kids in the snow.


Typing and Handwriting 

All three girls practiced typing on Typing.com. M and C. also did Ten Fast Fingers and C. also did some typing on Keybr.com. E. practiced cursive daily; the other girls wrote their narrations in cursive. 

Read-at-Home Mom Report: February 2024 Wrap-Up

February Favorites

These were some of my five-star reads in February: 



Silas Marner by George Eliot
I read this with the episodes from the Literary Life podcast, and they were very illuminating. I never would have recognized the Rumpelstiltskin references without help. I also loved the writing and found the story very satisfying. 

Lunar New Year Love Story by Gene Luen Yang and LeUyen Pham
I don't read many graphic novels, but I love this author and illustrator, and I couldn't pass up a graphic novel YA romance! There are some wonderfully authentic Catholic details in this book (which I expected, since Yang taught at a Catholic school) as well as lots of fun information about the lion dance and really interesting, layered characters, including adults. This will probably make my favorites list at the end of the year.

Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley
This is a delight for anyone who loves books. I enjoyed the humor and love story as well as all the bookish commentary.



The Road by Cormac McCarthy
I expected this to be brutal, but it was actually quite hopeful despite the bleak setting and circumstances. The writing is also beautiful. 

The Funeral Ladies of Ellerie County by Claire Swinarski
This is a novel immersed in Catholicism, and I absolutely loved it. There is a little bit of language I wouldn't have included if I were the author, but otherwise great writing and wonderful characters.

A Swarm in May by William Mayne
This vintage UK middle grade book about a boys' choir school was an excellent read-aloud. I loved all the details about beekeeping and the way the boys teased each other and their teachers.

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis 
I know I missed a lot in this book because it makes so many literary references, and it felt a bit slow for  me, but it was so clever and such a fun concept. I know I'll want to read it again someday.

Read-Aloud and Homeschool Books

  • Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper (5 stars)
  • Poem-Making: Ways to Begin Writing Poetry by Myra Cohn Livingston (4 stars)
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (5 stars)
  • Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce (5 stars)


Sequels and Series Books

  • Date with Malice (The Dales Detective Series Book 2) by Julia Chapman (5 stars)
  • The Crow Trap (Vera Stanhope Book 1) by Ann Cleeves (3 stars)
  • Kissing for Keeps (Sheppards in Love Book 1) by Martha Keyes (3 stars)
  • Per My Last Email (Wells Family Book 1) by Juliana Smith (4 stars)
  • The Dark is Rising (The Dark is Rising Book 2) by Susan Cooper (5 stars)
  • Holmes, Marple & Poe (Holmes, Margaret & Poe Book 1) by James Patterson (4 stars) 


Stand-Alone Books

  • The Eyes and the Impossible by Dave Eggers (5 stars)
  • Elf Dog and Owl Head by M.T.Anderson (5 stars)
  • A Saint Squad for Teachers: 45 Heavenly Friends to Carry You through the School Year by Amy J. Cattapan (4 stars)
  • Do You Mind If I Cancel? by Gary Janetti (4 stars)
  • Start Without Me by Gary Janetti (4 stars)
  • 1000 Words: A Writer's Guide to Staying Creative, Focused, and Productive All Year Round by Jami Attenberg (5 stars)
  • If Morning Ever Comes by Anne Tyler (3 stars)
  • Little Moments of Love by Catana Chetwynd (4 stars)
  • 1776 by David McCullough (4 stars)
  • Love, Unscripted by Denise Hunter (4 stars)

DNF

  • The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett


Family Reading Lists 


M. (girl, 10 years, 3 months)

  • The Five Brothers: The Story of the Mahabharata by Elizabeth Seeger 
  • Tales of the Chinese Grandmother by Frances Carpenter 
  • The House with a Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs
  • The Figure in the Shadows by John Bellairs
  • The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring by John Bellairs


C. (girl, 8 years, 5 months)

  • Catherine the Great by Katharine Scherman
  • The Secret Diary of Jeb & Abigail by Jean Fritz


E. (girl, 6 years, 4 months)

  • Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse by Ursula Moray Williams
  • Jason and the Bees by Brom Hoban


R. (boy, 3 years, 11 months)
A. (girl, 3 years, 11 months) 

  • Eloise Wilkin Treasury (A.)
  • More More More said the Baby by Vera Williams (A.)
  • Hope is a Hop by Katrina Moore (A.)
  • Sleepy Time Tales (R. and A.)
  • Animal Tales (R. and A.)
  • Mr. Putter and Tabby series by Cynthia Rylant (R. and A.)
  • Owl Moon by Jane Yolen (R. and A.)
  • My Big Book of Outdoors by Tim Hopgood (A.) 
  • Sheep in a Jeep series by Nancy Shaw (R.)
  • Sweet Dreams: 5-Minute Bedtime Stories (R. and A.)
  • Nini Lost and Found by Anita Lobel(A.)
  • Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina (R.)


My husband 

  • The Ramayana by Elizabeth Seeger (with M.)
  • Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley 
  • Fancy Free by Betty Cavanna
  • At the Hot Gates: An Account of the Battle of Thermopylae by Donald Sampson (read aloud)

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Read-at-Home Mom Report: January 2024 Wrap-Up

January Favorites



In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden
My book club picked this for January, and I re-read it and took notes and everything only for book club to be canceled due to illnesses among the members. So now it's the book for our February meeting. I loved it the first time I read it, but I loved it even more the second time. 

Rosie and the Dreamboat by Sally Thorne
The Exception to the Rule by Christina Lauren 
These two short stories from the Improbable Meet Cute series were the best of the bunch by far. I have never been able to get into any of Sally Thorne's books, but this story was adorable. The Christina Lauren story wasn't 100% clean, but I loved the epistolary format and slow burn trope. 

Designed to Fail: Catholic Education in America by Steven L. Kellmeyer 
I loved this not so much for its indictment of the failures of many Catholic schools, but for its unapologetic statement that parents are the primary educators of their children, and that religious ed. programs and similar roadblocks rob parents of the task that only they can properly accomplish by virtue of the graces of the sacrament of marriage. 



Dungeons and Drama by Kristy Boyce
This is exactly what a YA romance should be. I loved all the characters, even the parents, and the gaming store setting. 

Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers
This introduction to the Lord Peter Wimsey series was delightful. I especially loved the dialogue. I can't wait to read more from this series.   

Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot
The Poems of T. S. Eliot: Read by Jeremy Irons
I read Four Quartets aloud to myself and then listened to Jeremy Irons read all of Eliot's poetry. I didn't understand a lot of it, but I loved it anyway. 


Read-Aloud and Homeschool Books

  • The Animals' Christmas by Anne Thaxter Eaton (4 stars)
  • The Tough Winter by Robert Lawson (4 stars)


Sequels and Series Books

  • Summer Lightning (Blandings Castle Book 4) by P.G. Wodehouse (4 stars)
  • Mercy Watson is Missing! (Tales from Deckawoo Drive Book 7) by Kate DiCamillo (4 stars)
  • Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike Book 1) by Robert Galbraith (4 stars)
  • The Civil Prisoners (Warstowe Saga Book 2) by Meriol Trevor (4 stars)
  • Worst Wingman Ever (The Improbable Meet-Cute Book 2) by Abby Jimenez (3 stars)
  • Drop, Cover, and Hold On (The Improbable Meet-Cute Book 4) by Jasmine Guillory (4 stars)
  • With Any Luck (The Improbable Meet-Cute Book 5) by Ashley Poston (2 stars)
  • Royal Valentine (The Improbable Meet-Cute Book 6) by Sariah Wilson (3 stars)
  • Retying the Knot (The Fab Forties Book 1) by Liwen Ho (4 stars)
  • Head Over Stilettos (The Fab Forties Book 2) by Liwen Ho (4 stars)
  • Death in the Spotlight (Murder Most Unladylike Book 7) by Robin Stevens (3 stars)


Stand-alone Books

  • A Christmas Resolution by Anne Perry (3 stars)
  • The Getaway List by Emma Lord (4 stars)
  • That Wintry Feeling by Debbie Macomber (2 stars)
  • Courting Mr. Emerson by Melody Carlson (3 stars)
  • The Relaxed Home School: A Family Production by Mary Hood (3 stars)
  • A Winter in New York by Josie Silver (4 stars)
  • Antigone by Sophocles (5 stars)
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare (5 stars)
  • The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg (2 stars)
  • Daniel Boone by James Daughtery (5 stars)


DNF

  • A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy 
  • The Warden by Anthony Trollope 


Family Reading Lists


M. (girl, 10 years, 2 months)

  • The Five Sons of King Pandu: The Story of the Mahabh├írata by Elizabeth Seeger
  • The Ramayana, adapted from the English translation of Hari Prasad Shastri by Elizabeth Seeger 


C. (girl, 8 years, 4 months) 

  • Isaac Newton by John Hudson Tyler
  • The Courage of Sarah Noble, by Alice Dalgliesh
  • The Matchlock Gun by Walter D. Edmonds
  • The Witchcraft of Salem Village by Shirley Jackson 
  • Daniel Boone by John Mason Brown. 
  • Benjamin West and his Cat Grimalkin by Marguerite Henry 


E. (girl, 6 years, 3 months)

  • In the Grip of Winter by Colin Dann


R. and A. (boy and girl, 3 years, 10 months)

  • Mercy Watson series (mostly R., on audio)
  • Bink and Gollie series (mostly R., on audio)
  • Frances series (both)
  • Rag (R., for reading practice)
  • Owl Moon by Jane Yolen (both)


My husband 

  • Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Benson Boy by Ivan Southall 
  • Foster by Claire Keegan



Monday, January 15, 2024

Homeschool Update: November & December 2023

Group Activities


Geography/Art 

From The Complete Book of Marvels by Richard Halliburton, Dad read these sections, and the girls watched accompanying videos: 

  • Fort Jefferson, Coral Outpost [video]
  • Popocatepetl, Smoking Crater [video]
  • Chichen Itza, Mayan Capital [video]
  • Christophe's Citadel [video]
  • Panama Canal, Mammoth Ditch [video]
  • Machu Picchu, Inca Fortress [video]
  • Iguazu Falls [video]
  • Rio de Janeiro, Glittering City [video]
  • Gibraltar, Rocky Sentry [video]


Latin 

We continued our lessons in Getting Started with Latin: Beginning Latin for Homeschoolers and Self-Taught Students of Any Age by William E. Linney. 


Shakespeare 

We read Twelfth Night from Shakespeare Stories by Leon Garfield and watched the animated adaptation.  The girls each memorized a speech from the play. E. had Orsino's "If music be the food of love..." from Act 1 scene 1. C. had Olivia's "O, what a deal of scorn looks beautiful" from Act 3 scene 1, and M. had Malvolio's "Daylight and champaign discovers not more" from Act 2 scene 5. 


Read-Alouds

Dad read aloud these historical fiction titles: 
  • "The Winged Cat,"  "The Prince and the Golden Ax," and "The Demon Pazuzu" by Deborah Nourse Lattimore
  • The Winged Girl of Knossos by Erick Berry 
  • A Song for Gilgamesh by Elizabeth Hodges 
  • Mara of Old Babylon by Elizabeth Witheridge 
I read aloud these titles: 
  • Mist on the Mountain by Caroline Flory 
  • Christmas, edited by Alice Dalgliesh
  • The Best Christmas by Lee Kingman 
  • The Lion in the Box by Marguerite deAngeli

Catechism

We did our regular lessons from the Catechism books in November, but in December, we focused mainly on Advent. We did the Jesse Tree and our morning Advent prayer service and in the evenings we lit the Advent wreath and prayed using Lisa Hendey's 5 Minute Prayers Around the Advent Wreath. We also attended the Greccio Living Nativity at the Shrine of St. Anthony, carols in the church at our parish, and Mass for the Immaculate Conception and Christmas Eve in addition to the Sundays of Advent. We also read Hanna's Christmas for St. Lucy Day and watched Juan Diego: Messenger of Guadalupe on Formed, as well as the Christmas specials of Story Keepers, Brother Francis, and Benjamin Cello.

Poetry 

In November, we continued reading Poem Making by Myra Cohn Livingston. In December, we read Christmas poems from the Dalgliesh Christmas book in lieu of poetry lessons. 


Science 

C. and E. finished the animal sections of The Golden Treasury of Natural History, but I felt we needed further study. C. started working on the Classic Science student book by Scott McQuerry and E. started Animals: A Science Workbook for Ages 4 to 6. After a couple weeks, we weren't happy with E.'s book so I told her to stop and we started reading The First Book of Birds by Margaret Williamson together. My plan is to continue studying animals separately, then bring the two girls back together in February or March to study plants.

From Secrets of the Universe, M. and I read: The Law of Universal Gravitation, Conservation of Momentum, and Optics - the laws of Light. From Physics for Every Kid by Janice Van Cleave, she did experiments 39 (Balancing Act), 41 (Paper Flop), and 45 (Ramp) and wrote reports.


Health

In December, we had several health-related appointments. C. had a visit to the orthodontist. E. visited the optometrist and ended up with glasses. All 5 kids went to the dentist. 


History 

M. read The Ancient Egyptian World and staretd The Ancient South Asian World. She watched Great Courses lectures from History of Ancient Egypt and History of India as well as episodes of Ancient Lives and Story of India. Independently, she read The Lost Queen of Egypt by Lucile Morrison,  Boy of the Pyramids by Ruth Fosdick Jones. 

With Dad, C. read these sections from The World of Captain John Smith:  Indians and Thanksgiving (1621); Trouble in Bohemia; Of Kings and Brides; Massacres, Indian and White; Hugo Grotius; A Painter Goes to Paris (Rubens); Buckingham Finds a Bride for Charles; Enter Cardinal Richelieu; Broken Promises; La Rochelle and the Huguenots; New France Again; On the Way to China; Inside the Great Wall; Japan's Closing Door (1622); In and Out for Christian IV; John Winthrop of Groton Manor; Neighbors, New Amsterdam and Plymouth; Velazquez; Velazquez Sees Rome; Galileo's Final Visit to Rome; Gustav Adolf (d. 1632); Plans for Massachusetts; John Smith Is Not Invited; Governor Winthrop;  Pilgrims and Puritans; The Bell Tolls (1631)

They also read The Puritan Revolution by C. Walter Hodges, and The World of William Penn by Genevieve Foster, which includes these sections: 
  • William Penn, 1660-1684 
  • Three French Explorers (Marquette, Joliet, La Salle, 1672, 1682)
  • Louis XIV, 1643-1715
  • Two Moghul Emperors (Shah Jahan & Aurangzeb Alamgir, 1658-1707)
  • Sir Isaac Newton, Edmund Halley
  • William Penn, 1684-1699
  • James II
  • William and Mary, 1688
  • K'Ang-Hsi, 1662-1722
  • Peter the Great, 1682-1725
  • William Penn, 1699-1718
In A Child's History of the World by V.M. Hillyer, E and I read these chapters: 
  • Fairy-Tale Gods
  • A Fairy-Tale War
  • The King of the Jews
  • The People Who Made Our ABCs
  • Hard as Nails
  • The Crown of Leaves
  • A Bad Beginning 
We also read Life Long Ago: The Athenians by Leonard Weisgard, Archimedes Takes a Bath by Joan Lexua and The Iliad and The Odyssey by Jane Werner Watson. Independently, she read Lysis Goes to the Play by Caroline Dale Snedeker, The Spartan Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins, Our Little Athenian Cousin of Long Ago by Julia Darrow Cowles, and Our Little Spartan Cousin of Long Ago by Julia Darrow Cowles. 

English 

M. switched from Rex Barks to the Beginning book of Sentence Diagramming and continued with Vocabulary from Classical Roots A

C. continued with the Beginning book of Sentence Diagramming. 

E. switched from Grammarland to Treasures Grammar Practice Book Grade 1 

R. (age 3.5) worked with me in The Ordinary Parents' Guide to Teaching Reading and practiced reading Dad and Sam.  

A. (also 3.5) is slowly working on learning letters.

Math

M. continued working in Challenging Word Problems 3. She finished all the review sections in Singapore Primary Mathematics 5B and 6A and moved on to the final book, 6B. She started Life of Fred: Decimals and Percent and worked on 7th grade math and algebra basics on Khan Academy. 

C. continued with Singapore Primary Mathematics 3B and Life of Fred: Farming. She moved into 4th grade math on Khan Academy. 

E. finished Singapore Primary Mathematics 1A and started 1B. She continued with Early Math on Khan Academy.  


Music

All three girls practiced piano and recorder. They sang carols at church and at the Greccio Living Nativity. 


Physical Education

When the weather is good, the girls have been running on the hill and playing on the playground. Indoors, they have done some exercise and dancing videos.  

Monday, January 8, 2024

2024 Reading and Writing Plans

Reading Plans

I'm not making any drastic changes to my reading life this year. I set my Goodreads goal to 200 books, but I won't be surprised if I exceed it, and I decided to stick with seasonal TBRs. 

I have just a few goals: 

  • Read at least one short story per week. I intended to read more short stories last year, and I did read a few anthologies, but I often found it tedious to stick with one theme or author for too long. By committing to one story per week, I can feel free to jump around between different collections and authors without worrying about finishing a book.
  • Read 30 minutes on Kindle app daily. I'm finding this somewhat difficult to get in every single day, but I'm still going to try to get into a routine for at least the weekdays. The true goal here is to read more books from Kindle Unlimited, Netgalley, and the books I own on Kindle. 
  • Read 40 books that I own in some format. Books from my physical TBR, Kindle TBR, and Audible library will all count toward this goal.
  •  Take notes on some books. The books I have in mind for this are the ones I read with the Close Reads and Literary Life podcasts as well as with my book club and any other classics or "serious" books I pick up.


Writing Plans 

When I first decided on this list, I didn't quite have a vision for how I wanted my writing life to look this year, but a week into the year, I have figured it out. This is the year for reclaiming the fun of writing. The past two years have mostly been about proving to myself that I can write fiction and submitting to a variety of places to see what I could get into. This year, I still have plans to submit, but only to things that I'm actually excited about. 

Here are my writing goals: 

  • Skip Flash Fiction Magic at least once a month. Since I first joined in April 2022, I have never missed an FFM prompt. I have decided to intentionally break that streak so that I don't feel endlessly compelled to keep it going.  I also want to feel free to skip multiple weeks if I'm devoting my writing time to another project. 
  • Submit to 4 Reedsy Prompts contests. I get the emails about this contest every week but have yet to ever write a story for any of the prompts. This year I'm aiming to do one per quarter, as long as there is a theme that interests me.  
  • Submit to Woman's World 15 times. I am determined to increase my chances of getting published in Woman's World by submitting more often. I think, without a lot of anthologies, and with less pressure to do FFM every week, this should be doable. 
  • Submit to one anthology. Right now, I'm leaning toward having this be another Dragon Soul Press anthology but that could change. 
  • Write a short story collection. I have an idea in mind for this, but I'm still working out the details. I'd like to start in February. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Read-at-Home Mom's Top 23 Books of 2023

It's that time of year again! In 2023, I read 294 books, and from those I have chosen a top 23 plus a bonus list of my favorite children's and teens books I read this year. Books that were published in 2023 are marked with *. 

My Writing Community 

This year, several of the friends I have made through Flash Fiction Magic on Instagram have published novels. Though these are not necessarily in my preferred genres, it was wonderful to be able to read their work and share my thoughts with them in real time. 



Unleashed* by Amber Kirkpatrick is a fantasy romance with a grumpy coffee-addicted hero, Fen, who lives in a futuristic world where some people have super powers and are persecuted (and sometimes killed) because of it. There is great Catholic representation in this book, and Fen is a beloved favorite character in my writing group who stole my heart right along with everyone else's. 

Glass Helix* by Katee Stein is a young adult dystopian romance also set in a fascinating futuristic world. I fell in love with Mae and Khai and I was completely invested in the world of the story from beginning to end. There is darkness in this book,  but also so much light and hope. 

Where Darkness Dwells* by Andrea Renae is the first book in a fantasy trilogy set in a world immersed in darkness. A variety of points of view give us glimpses into different aspects of this world, and there is something for every reader, including family dynamics, romance, and adventure. I'm excited for book two!

Favorite Nonfiction 

I didn't realize how much nonfiction I was enjoying this year until I sat down to make this list and found so many five-star ratings.



The Habit of Being by Flannery O'Connor is the best book I read this year, and probably in my top three books of all time. These letters about her writing, her friendships, and her faith are such a treasure, especially for a Catholic writer. I felt as though I was getting to know this beloved author intimately, and I wanted to highlight every single bit of writing advice. I will definitely be re-reading this at some point. 

These Precious Days by Ann Patchett has stuck with me for months. It's an essay collection, and the most memorable piece in it is the essay she writes about quarantining with a friend who had cancer during the pandemic. There is a lot of Covid-related stuff I can't stomach even nearly four years later, but this managed to capture both the personal and universal experience of 2020 and I don't think a more perfect piece of writing about that time period exists.

The Nineties by Chuck Klosterman was a great nostalgic throwback to many of the fads and pop culture figures of my late childhood and teen years. It was interesting to view all these things with the benefit of hindsight and to look at how certain phenomena shaped the lives of people my age. 



It Was an Ugly Couch Anyway* by  Elizabeth Passarella is ostensibly the story of how the author and her husband nearly lost their minds trying to buy an apartment in New York City, but it's also just a memoir of New York City living that I really enjoyed. 

The Mind of the Maker by Dorothy L. Sayers is a book I'll need to reread to get the full impact, but it's a beautiful, philosophical reflection on how we, creatures made by God, ought to create. I read this with the Literary Life podcast, and it has converted me to a full-time listener. 

A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders is a college-level short story writing class in a single volume. I had a set of book darts on hand when I read this one, and I ran out and had to switch to post-its. There is so much valuable insight in every section, and I know I will want to revisit it. 



Times Three by Phyllis McGinley is a poetry collection by a 1950s housewife who enjoyed being a housewife. Her poems are very funny, and this collection is a Pulitzer winner. 

Finally, Credo* by Bishop Athanasius Schneider was a gift from my husband. It's a great explanation of the teachings of the Catholic faith explained in a no-nonsense and straightforward tone. 


Mysteries 

I feel like I didn't read that many mysteries this year at all, but these two were excellent. 



The Likeness by Tana French involves an undercover investigation, which I always love. 

The Appeal by Janice Hallett is told entirely in documents and I was so pleased with myself because I figured out one aspect of the story before the characters did. 


Romance 

I wrote a lot of romance this year, and I read a lot of romance to keep me in the right mindset. 



Yours Truly* by Abby Jimenez stood out because of its believable male protagonist whose introversion and social anxiety felt very real. 

The Road to Roswell* by Connie Willis is a hilarious sci-fi romance involving an alien and a road trip. It was delightful.  

Brynn and Sebastian Hate Each Other* by Bethany Turner is an enemies-to-lovers small-town romance with an important message about the price of fame. 



The Happy Life of Isadora Bentley* by Courtney Walsh features a quirky heroine who struggles to make friends but finds love when she begins to step out of her comfort zone. 

Arabella by Georgette Heyer is a Regency romance that made me laugh out loud with clever turns of phrase. 

Faking Christmas* by Kerry Winfrey is a hilarious and festive holiday romance that I loved almost as much as my favorite by this author, Very Sincerely Yours. 

Other Fiction 



The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty has stuck with me for months after reading it with Close Reads. I love the way Welty observes and comments upon human nature. 

Tom Lake* by Ann Patchett is a beautifully written family story set during the pandemic and involving a mother, her daughters, and stories of her past. The audiobook narration by Meryl Streep is impeccable. 



A Lot Like Christmas by Connie Willis is a wonderful collection of Christmas short stories that I will definitely revisit in future holiday seasons. 

The Unselected Journals of Emma M. Lion Volume 1 by Beth Brower is a delightful historical novel told in diary entries and the last book I read in 2023. I can't wait to read the rest of the series!


Top Ten Favorite Children's & YA Books  

  • Seven Percent of Ro Devereux* by Ellen O'Clover 
  • Borrow My Heart* by Kasie West 
  • Roland West, Loner by Theresa Linden 
  • ...And Now Miguel by Joseph Krumgold 
  • Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
  • Shadow of the Hawk by Geoffrey Trease 
  • The Labors of Hercules Beal* by Gary D. Schmidt 
  • My Family and Other Skaters* by Fiorella de Maria 
  • The Lost Library* by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead 
  • Squished* by Megan Wagner Lloyd 
Reading plans for the new year are coming in a day or two! 

Monday, January 1, 2024

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

December Favorites 

I'm late with this month's post, so I'm going to skip adding book covers or commentary so that I can get this done quickly and jump into a new year of reading! These were all five star reads: 

  • A Lot Like Christmas by Connie Willis 
  • The Appeal by Janice Hallett 
  • Credo by Bishop Athnasius Schneider 
  • Gifts: Visible & Invisible by Catholic Teen Books 
  • The Holiday Stand-In by Kortney Keisel 
  • The Mind of the Maker by Dorothy L. Sayers 
  • Date with Death by Julia Chapman
  • Pop Sonnets: Shakespearean Spins on Your Favorite Songs by Eric Didriksen
  • 4:50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie 
  • The Unselected Journals of Emma M. Lion Volume 1 by Beth Brower 
  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church 


Read-Aloud and Homeschool Books

  • The Ancient Egyptian World by Eric H. Cline 
  • The Lion in the Box by Marguerite de Angeli 


Sequels and Series Books

  • Jeeves and the Yule-Tide Spirit by P.G. Wodehouse (from The World of Jeeves)
  • The Christmas Appeal (The Appeal book 1.5) by Janice Hallett 
  • We Grant You a Merry Christmas (Save the Date short story sequel) by Morgan Matson 
  • Solo for the Season (Gift Wrapped Romance) by Martha Keyes 
  • Merry Kismet (Gift Wrapped Romance) by Anneka Walker 
  • Cabin Crush (Gift Wrapped Romance) by Kasey Stockton
  • The Clause in Christmas (Poppy Creek book 1) by Rachael Bloome
  • It Happened One Christmas Eve (Museum of Literature Romance Book 3) by Jenn McKinlay


Standalone Books

  • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  • So This is Christmas by Tracy Andreen 
  • A Christmas Legacy by Anne Perry 
  • Bright Lights, Big Christmas by Mary Kay Andrews
  • A Cross-Country Christmas by Courtney Walsh 
  • Leaf by Niggle by J.R.R. Tolkien 
  • On Fairy Stories by J.R.R. Tolkien 
  • Simon Sort of Says by Erin Bow 
  • The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman by Louise Plummer 
  • The Christmas Guest by Peter Swanson
  • The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson
  • Christmas in Winter Hill by Melody Carlson 
  • The Christmas Spirit by Debbie Macomber 
  • You Make It Feel Like Christmas by Toni Shiloh 
  • Starstruck by Amy Clipston
  • The Velvet Room by Zilpha Keatley Snyder  


DNF

  • My True Love Gave To Me: The Costa Family Christmas Romance Series Box Set by Ellie Hall 
  • Baggage Claim by Juliana Smith


Family Reading Lists


M. (girl, 10 years, 1 month)

  • Call of the Wild by Jack London 


C. (girl, 8 years, 3 months)

  • The Flight and Adventures of Charles ll by Charles Norman
  • Fire on the Wind by Geoffrey Trease
  • The King's Day by Aliki
  • William Penn, Quaker Hero by Hildegarde Dolson
  • The Puppets of Spelhorst by Kate DiCamillo
  • The Explorations of Pere Marquette by Jim Kjelgaard

E. (girl, 6 years, 2 months)

  • Lysis Goes to the Play by Caroline Dale Snedeker
  • The Spartan Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins
  • The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner 
  • Our Little Athenian Cousin of Long Ago by Julia Darrow Cowles
  • Our Little Spartan Cousin of Long Ago Julia Darrow Cowles
  • Archimedes Takes a Bath by Joan Lexau 

R. and A. (boy and girl, 3 years, 9 months)

  • Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Life (mostly R.)
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss 
  • Mercy Watson series by Kate DiCamillo 
  • The Kingfisher Young People's Book of Oceans
  • The Lorax by Dr. Seuss 
  • Oliver Elephant by Lou Peacock
  • The Lost Gift by Kallie George 


My husband

  • Mara of Old Babylon by Elizabeth P. Witheridge  
  • The Animals' Christmas by Anne Thaxter Eaton 
  • The Lion in the Box by Marguerite  de Angeli 
  • Christmas by Alice Dalgliesh 
  • The Flying Classroom by Erick Kastner  
  • Anson's Way by Gary D. Schmidt

2023 Reading in Review

Stats

This year, as has become the tradition, I tracked mainly novel-length books, with a handful of short stories and novellas thrown in (but no picture books). My Goodreads goal was originally set to 100, but I changed it to 200 fairly early on, and then read 294 books total. 

I read an average of 24 books per month. I read the most in April (36) and December (37) and the least in June (18) and August (18). 

I read 200 books written for adults, 27 written for teens, and 67 children's books. 

The adult books included: 15 literary fiction, 61 romance, 13 nonfiction, 23 mystery, 7 classics, 5 poetry collections, 1 play, 13 fantasy, 6 sci-fi, 8 historical fiction, 5 comics and graphic novels, 10 women's fiction, and 8 general fiction. 

Among these 294 books, there were: 

  • at least 197 audiobooks
  • 14 books from my Kindle library
  • 82 books from our home library 
  • 16 books from Netgalley 
  • 32 read-alouds 
  • 49 books from Hoopla 
  • 37 from Scribd/Everand 
  • 12 from Kindle Unlimited 
  • 15-rereads

The breakdown of star ratings was as follows: 

  • 5 stars: 102 books
  • 4 stars: 121 books
  • 3 stars: 62 books
  • 2 stars: 9 books
  • 1 star: 0 books 

I had 32 DNFs.


Goals Review 

My big goal for the year was to focus on writing first and reading second, and I think I did quite well with that. By giving myself permission to prioritize writing, I was able to put the work in on a longer short story without feeling guilty, and obviously my reading life has not suffered. 

I had originally planned to do more analog tracking of my books in 2023, but I only made it through half the year because the system I was using wasn't working for me. I have a new set-up established for 2024, and I think I will have more success.

Another goal I had for the year was to read more with my eyes. I can't tell whether I did this or not because I didn't come up with a method for tracking it. I did still listen to an awful lot of audiobooks so this may not have been a success. 

I also wanted to read short stories throughout 2023, but I didn't have a plan, so I didn't read as many as I could have. I will have a new short story goal in 2024. 

The other two reading goals I had were to use seasonal TBRs to choose some of my books, and that worked great, and to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church with the Catechism in a Year podcast, and I did that as well. 

At the start of the year, I did choose some reading challenges, but I decided two weeks to just abandon them and I have no regrets. 

In terms of writing, nothing went according to my plan, but it all turned out for the best. I did keep up with Flash Fiction Magic every single week without missing, and I submitted to Havok twice and Spark three times. But I did not write a long short story every quarter (I only wrote one, in the fall), and I determined this was not the season in which I want to write a novel, if I ever do. I have something new in the works for 2024 that I hope will go better. 

Favorite books of the year and 2024 goals are coming soon!