This Week – March Madness

March Madness is always a fun time around here. Since we first met Jason and I have always filled out the brackets and played for bragging rights and choosing the next 5 movies we saw at the theater. We just celebrated the 27th anniversary of our first date this week, so that’s a lot of years of competition. A few years ago Gage wanted to start joining in the fun so we made it a winner’s choice for what the prize would be. The first year Gage won he chose a YES DAY. Last year I won and we watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy in one day as a family (it was Gage’s first time seeing them).

This year I decided to follow our cat’s advice when filling out my brackets and I’m winning after the first round, hahahaha! If you want to see the video Gage made of our cats picking the Final Four, here it is. Time will tell how well this works out in the end. I’m guessing not very well.

On to the books!

I posted about the books we read for Norway week.

I finished only 1 BOOK this week! That is a record low for sure. At least it was one I really liked, Stacey’s Abrams political thriller, While Justice Sleeps. It looks like the heroine, Avery Keene, and her friends will be back for book 2 in a few months and I’m excited to pick it up.


Jason and I went to the movies last weekend and saw Creed III. I loved the storyline of his deaf daughter, but missed seeing Rocky.

We finally watched Joker last night. I knew it was going to be dark, but not that dark. Joaquin Phoenix was amazing.


Aren’t these pink flamingos gorgeous? And Sammi too!

Plans for the weekend

Tonight, as a family, we’re participating in a local Puzzle Wars. It’s our first time so I’ll have to tell you about it next week.

Tomorrow I head downtown for election training. Elections always need workers, so sign up if you can. I’ve been a poll worker since before Gage was born and he’s 12, so I do my part.

My cousin and her family are also headed to town tomorrow and will be here a few days so I’m looking forward to that.

Any fun plans for weekend?

Homeschool Norway Week

We took our Norway books out on a snowy day. Gage decided that he’s not cut out for the Norwegian weather!

We listened to the audio of Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan, a 1942 historical fiction book for tweens. A great story, based on stories never confirmed, about Norwegian children smuggling gold past the Nazis during WWII. 196 pages

The two troll books based on Noregian tales were fun. Sister Bear by Jane Yolen and Linda Graves is a picture book Christmas story sure to entertain the older elementary set. The troll illustrations alone are worth a look. 32 pages

The Heartless Troll by Oyvind Torseter is a graphic novel that will appeal to middle schoolers. 120 pages

Sniffer & Tinni by Breit Helberg and Torgeir Berge is the story of a true life friendship between a dog and a fox told with photographs. Sure to delight elementary school animal lovers. 40 pages

Norway looks beautiful, but not someplace I’m adding to my travel plans just yet.

This Week(s) – Lightning on YouTube

My to do list never seems to get shorter and what free time I have never really feels like free time with said list taking up space in my brain 🙂 So here I am with my weekly update a few weeks behind.

Exciting news for Gage fans. He started a YouTube Channel this week. I’d be much obliged if you’d give him a follow or even just view or like one of his photos. They are silly, but they are short 🙂 The process of him learning how to make videos and uploading them to a channel that he started all on his own while his parents were sleeping is the most initiative he’s ever shown and I want to support his excitement. We’ve had to put rules in place, including a weekly meeting where we approve all videos, but so far I love to see him creating stuff. He has like 20 videos but has only posted 3 so far.

I also love The Cottage Fairy videos. They are a relaxing and your mind has no choice but to slow down.

Books read since last update 20 (55 for the year)

A few standouts…

This past week I read SA Cosby’s first novel, My Darkest Prayer, and really liked it. The same narrator has done all three of his books and I would recommend giving it a try that way.

This was my favorite picture book of the week. King Sejong Invents and Alphabet celebrates learning in the biggest of ways. This is in preparation for studying Korea this next week.

We read the historical fiction Snow Treasure as we studied Norway this week. An inspiring book for 9-12 year olds.

Movies watched

Moxie! I really liked this coming of age movie and seeing Amy Poehler as the mom.

Solace was a good thriller for a date night.

I watched Bliss a few days ago and still don’t know what I watched 🙂

Puzzles finished

This 500 MasterPieces puzzle as so much fun!

Plans for the weekend

A date with the hubby tonight, but I’m not sure what we’re doing.

February Movies and Money for Charity

When I started this monthly list forever ago it was a way for me to track the movies I watched and to involve others on my blog. I’ve been less involved in the blogging community and some of my main participants around anymore, but I’m still going to plug along and hope a few of me will join me when you can.

In a comment, give me your 5 words (or less!) and earn $1 for charity. Once we get to $100 the person with the most reviews will choose the charity. Click here to see the past winners, the charities they chose and the other reviews you can add to. Anyone is welcome to join in at any time. Click here to see past movie posts.

We’re at $85 right now.  Your charity could be next 

True Spirit, 2023 (Teagan Croft, Cliff Curtis, Anna Paquin, Josh Lawson) Grade A

Inspiring true life sailing adventure.

Luckiest Girl Alive, 2022 (Mila Kunis, Finn Wittrock, Jennifer Beals, Connie Britton) Grade A-

Overcoming trauma can be impossible.

Knock at the Cabin, 2023 (Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Abby Quinn, Rupert Grint) Grade B

Totally messed up and intense.

Your Place or Mine, 2023 (Reese Witherspoon, Ashton Kutcher, Wesley Kimmel, Jesse Williams, Zoe Chao, Tig Notaro, Steve Zahn) Grade B-

Predictable friends to lovers romcom.

Shotgun Wedding, 2023 ( Jennifer Lopez, Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Coolidge, Lenny Kravitz, Sonia Braga, Cheech Marin, Callie Hernandez, D’Arcy Beth Carden, Desmin Borges) Grade C

Destination romcom wedding goes awry.

You People, 2023 (Jonah Hill, Lauren London, Eddie Murphy, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Nia Long, David Duchovny) Grade C

Cringe and funny, heavy on former.

February Wrap Up with Favorites!

We had a lovely vacation to the DC, Charlottesville, Virginia and Lake Norman in North Carolina areas. I’m still trying to catch up, but I’m much less stressed 🙂

This was my slowest reading month in years with only 16 books.

Adults – 7 (3 romance, 2 fiction, 1 memoir, 1 spiritual)

Middle School – 3 (2 fiction, 1 non-fiction)

Elementary – 6 (5 non fiction, 1 fiction)

Highly Recommended

An American Story by Kwame Alexander and Dare Coulter – kids picture book

Book Lovers by Emily Henry – contemporary romance

The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd – fiction

The Love You Save by Goldie Taylor – memoir

Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught – historical romance – reread

If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane – contemporary romance

I watched 6 movies which I’ll post about tomorrow. My favorite was probably the one we watched together as a family, True Spirit.

On vacation we had Apple+ so we were able to finally see what all the Ted Lasso fuss was about. Loved season 1!

I finished 3 puzzles for a total of 4,500 pieces. That’s a lot of puzzling!

What was your favorite read of the month?

This Week- I’m already stressed

This week we celebrated my dad’s 76th birthday. Not bad for a guy who had a heart attack and double bypass at 37! The kiddo and the cats had various doctor’s appointments and Jason and I have continued our streak of weekly date nights, which we lost track of during these covid years. I met with a mom friend and we signed up our boys for 4 weeks of camps this summer. That’s nice to have out of the way early. This week is going to be crazy and I’m stressed, made worse by the sinus headache that woke me up at 3:30 this morning and is still lingering. Homeschooling during these kinds of weeks is always challenging and when I miss public school the most.

Books read 8 (35 for the year). Loved both Book Lovers by Emily Henry and If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane, reviews to come. I also want to give a shout out to this new picture book about slavery that I loved for the content as much as the outstanding artwork. Do yourself a favor and take a look.

An American Story by Kwame Alexander and Dare Coulter.

Reviews posted The Cartographers was excellent. Take a look at my review

At the Movies

Jason and I went to an actual theater last night and saw M. Night Shyamalan’s latest mind teaser. This was intense and totally messed up. A mom at the theater was there with her son, maybe 8 years old? Don’t do that to your kid. And if you’ve ever had nightmares of planes falling from the sky, consider this your trigger warning.

On the Small Screen

We watched this as a family and it gets three enthusiastic thumbs up!

Puzzling – The fact that I still have a sizeable part of the 3000 piece puzzle to finish is also stressing me out. I had wanted to get it done before we left, but it might have to be left to the cats. That’s not good.

Plans for the weekend First, dinner. Then getting stuff marked off my extensive to do list.

The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd

The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd, fiction, 4.5/5 stars, 392 pages, 2022

Nell Young’s whole life and greatest passion is cartography. Her father, Dr. Daniel Young, is a legend in the field and Nell’s personal hero. But she hasn’t seen or spoken to him ever since he cruelly fired her and destroyed her reputation after an argument over an old, cheap gas station highway map.

But when Dr. Young is found dead in his office at the New York Public Library, with the very same seemingly worthless map hidden in his desk, Nell can’t resist investigating. To her surprise, she soon discovers that the map is incredibly valuable and exceedingly rare. In fact, she may now have the only copy left in existence… because a mysterious collector has been hunting down and destroying every last one—along with anyone who gets in the way.

But why?

from Goodreads

The Cartographers was in my TBR box last fall and I’m sad that it took me this long to get to it. I didn’t really know much of anything about it and went in blind. Finding some maptastic magical realism along the way made me happy 😁

Nell was estranged from her father and her college boyfriend for 7 years because of a disagreement at the NYPL map division, where they all worked. When her dad is found dead in his office it sets off a hunt that Nell can’t quite quit even at great danger to herself.

I really liked this one. There are a lot of characters, but one storyline. I liked learning more about map making. The mystery was good and told at just the right pace to keep me hooked. If you don’t like bits of magic in your book, you might try a different title.

This Week- Pinball, Hot Dogs & Tennis

Jason and I actually went out to someplace new last night. It’s been awhile since we’ve done that. We found a pinball arcade with an all you can play fee, $6, and had lots of fun before it got a little too busy. We headed down the street to The Happy Dog, a hot dog place where you could get pretty much anything on your hot dog and tater tots. Surprisingly, the blue cheese slaw and pulled pork hot dog was delicious, lol.

We also hit up the Cleveland Open Tennis Tournament with Gage this week. It was fun to be so close to the action.

Books Read – 5 (27 for the year)

Posts – 3 (January Favorites) (The Love You Save by Goldie Taylor) (January Movies)

On the Screen

Much better than I expected.

The ending was ridiculous, but overall the movie was fun.

It had a few lol moments.

Puzzling – I’m still working on the 3000 piece puzzle. There’s progress, but it’s slow going.

Plans for the Weekend – Meeting up with a friend so we can discuss summer camps for our boys. What about you?

The Love You Save by Goldie Taylor

The Love You Save. Memoir, 4.5/5 stars, 288 pages, 2023

Aunt Gerald takes in anyone who asks, but the conditions are harsh. For her young niece Goldie Taylor, abandoned by her mother and coping with trauma of her own, life in Gerald’s East St. Louis comes with nothing but a threadbare blanket on the living room floor. 

But amid the pain and anguish, Goldie discovers a secret. She can find kinship among writers like James Baldwin and Toni Morrison. She can find hope in a nurturing teacher who helps her find her voice. And books, she realizes, can save her life.  

Goldie Taylor’s debut memoir shines a light on the strictures of race, class and gender in a post–Jim Crow America while offering a nuanced, empathetic portrait of a family in a pitched battle for its very soul. from Goodreads

The Love You Save by Goldie Taylor is a memoir you’ll not soon forget. Growing up in East St. Louis Goldie’s childhood was full of trauma, strength, and ultimately survival. The journalist lays bare a period of her life that will surely inspire others to hold on or to reach out. Aided by her love of literature and a teacher who pushed her to excellence, Goldie saw a way to overcome.

Her ever changing relationships with her Aunt and Mother were beautifully told and some of my favorite parts of the book. The way that her Aunt and Uncle took in anyone who needed a place to stay, even with its hardships and tragedies, ended up being a place that she needed to be.

If you’re a fan of memoirs, like the Glass Castle or I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, then you need to pick up this gem.

The writing pulled me in and her honesty did the rest. Thanks to TLC Book Tours for sending me a copy. I’ll be recommending this to many people, but I’m not sure I want to run the risk of loaning it out and not getting it back!

January Favorites

It was a 22 book month. Not a bad start to the year.

Adults-5 (Thriller-2, Historical Fiction-2, Non-fiction-1)

Teens-2 (Fiction-1, Non-fiction-1)

Middle School-3 (Fiction-2, Non-fiction-1)

Elementary-12 (Non-fiction-9, Fiction-3)

Highly Recommend
*The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
*On Tyranny Graphic Edition by Timothy Snyder and Nora Krug
*The Personal Librarian by Marie Bededict and Victoria Christopher Murray
*A Bowl Full of Peace by Caren Stelson and Akita Kusaka
*Just Being Dali by Amy Guglielmo and Brett Helquist
*The Notebook Keeper by Stephen Briseno and Magdalena Mora

*The Honeys by Ryan La Sala
*Little Audrey’s Daydream: The Life of Audrey Hepburn by Sean Hepburn Ferrer
*The Slippery Slope by Lemony Snicket
*Beyond Me by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu

What was your favorite January read?