This Week -A tough one

It’s been a week of unsettling news and I’m still feeling very sad about Friday’s Supreme Court news. I don’t think the government has a say in ANY health decisions made between a woman and her doctor. And as someone who had a miscarriage at 6 weeks I can say that my experience reinforced my view that conception may mean possible life, but it doesn’t mean baby. I can’t believe we’re at a place that if my miscarriage happened now it would be considered suspect.

On a positive note, Jason and I went out to an actual restaurant without the boy for the first time in over two years last night. We ate outside which is really what I’m comfortable with at this point. We made it to the bottom of the strawberry daquiri 🙂

Gage finished up his third week of camp with his fourth starting tomorrow. This week he’ll be going with two friends and we’re going to carpool! As a stay at home mama I’m usually the one to trek the kids around if necessary, but this week those working moms have insisted on covering 3 days. I am grateful.

Books finished

To Marry and to Meddle by Martha Waters, 3.5/5 stars, 336 pages, 2022

Lady Emily has spent her life being perfect so that no touch of scandal could touch her cash strapped family. Lord Julian Belfry needed this pristine reputation to bring respectability to his theatre. It was a marriage of convenience. Will these two, both looking for acceptance from their parents, fall in love along the way? It is a romance after all!

My favorite character was Cecil, the kitten who brought bloodshed to their wedding night 😽. This is book 3 in the Regency Vows series and can be read alone, as I did. But I do wish I’d read the first two so I could have spent more time with Emily’s friends.

Read Dangerously: The Submersive Power of Literature in Troubled Times by Azar Nafisi, 4/5 stars, 256 pages, 2022

Read Dangerously: The Subversive Power of Literature in Troubled Times by Azar Nafisi is pure delight for lovers of literature and its power of illumination. My book club read her bestseller, Reading Lolita in Tehran, a few years ago and I loved it for all that I learned about Iran. In this book,as an American citizen now, she takes on current America.

What’s missing in our current discourse? Nuance and empathy. These are things that you can find in great literature, especially those books that go against the norm and force you to think about what’s being said. She takes on politics, democracy, freedom, and Trump by analyzing some of the greats like Morrison, Baldwin, Atwood, and Plato.

It’s a book to be loved by anyone who has spent time reading literature. I mostly listened but had my hard copy handy to mark up thoughts I wanted to revisit. She’s got some powerful stuff in here.

There are 5 sections and in section 3 I was so moved that I put one of the books she talked about, Places & Names: On War, Revolution, and Returning by former marine Elliot Ackerman, on hold at the library. He writes fiction now, but this is his memoir.

This was in my latest #gettbr box and it was just what I needed. It’s not an easy read, but one I’m glad someone chose for me.

I talked about Remember Whose Little Girl You Are by Ellen Nichols for a TLC Book Tour here.

On the Screen

We watched two little known movies this week.

I LOVED The Devil All the Time on Netflix.

American Hangman was interesting, but had some problems for me.

We’re in the middle of the mini-series, The Night Manager and are really liking it.

Plans for the weekend

Yesterday was so busy so I promised Gage a quieter day today. We’re going to visit a few houses on the Parade of Homes and he’s got to visit a home to get directions for his next pet sitting/plant watering gig.

What’s up in your corner of the world?

Remember Whose Little Girl You Are by Ellen Nichols

Remember Whose Little Girl You Are by Ellen Nichols. 4/5 stars, 129 pages, 2022

Remember Whose Little Girl You Are captures the flavor of the Deep South like no author since Eudora Welty or Flannery O’Connor. Ellen Nichols captures the tenor of small-town Southern life in the fifties and sixties, with its vicissitudes and hilarity. One is captured with her openness and drawn deeply into the dialogue-so much as to, according to one reader, sometimes feel guilty of spying.

Read it and see if you want those times back-or are just relieved they’re gone.

Remember Whose Little Girl You Are is a memoir of growing up in the South during the 1940s-60s as a preacher’s kid. Ellen Nichols tells her stories with an intimacy that make you feel like you’re sitting around the kitchen table with a girlfriend.

I loved her stories from her early childhood best as she moved every few years with her family, but her college years had the added layer of the civil rights era protests that she participated in in both small and large ways.

A fun southern memoir that is brief enough to be finished in one sitting.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for including me and Claire McKinney PR for the book and 🧦.

This Week – Nature

Gage spent the week at a nature camp with a friend this week and had a great time. The Nature Center of Shaker Lakes is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Cleveland, even having made a half hearted attempt for us to move there a few years ago. It didn’t happen, but I loved that after dropping Gage off at camp I could walk and enjoy the neighborhood once again.

I visited two independent bookstores for the Zibby Books 22in22 challenge to visit and log 22 bookstore trips this year. Loganberry Books in Cleveland Heights and Appletree Books in Cleveland were visits 6 & 7. It’s never too late to sign up. There are prizes 🙂

What I read

I shared my thoughts about both here.

I’ve finished 161 books so far this year.

On the Screen

We finished season one of the comedy show Ghosts, so much fun. And we finished part one of season four of Stranger Things. So looking forward to the conclusion next month.

We also watched the Netflix movie The Wrath of God, an adaptation of the book The Book of Murder. Jason thought the psychological thriller was boring, but I really liked it.

Puzzle finished (with a bonus Sammi)

Plans for the weekend

We’re going to the toy store today to pick up a game and for Gage to spend some of his money. Tomorrow we’ll serve Jason breakfast in bed (he’s requested waffles) and go over to my parent’s for a bit to mark the day. What do you have planned this Father’s Day weekend? Or the long weekend if you also get Juneteenth off on Monday?

Some Quick Book Thoughts

In my attempt to get more of my thoughts on the books I read on here I’m going to share a few. I’ve had a great reading month so far!

Secret Identity by Alex Segura, 4.5/5 stars, 368 pages, 2022

Set in 1970’s New York City’s comic book publishing industry, this book wasn’t something that grabbed me right away, but I quickly got so sucked into this noir-ish mystery that I listened to the audio when I couldn’t be reading. I’m not a comic book reader and the comic world was fresh for me. The struggles of a woman, Carmen, trying to prove that she was worthy during that time was recognizable.

I never would have chosen this for myself and that’s why I love having someone picking books just for me. This was a thumbs up.

I’m not really doing any special reading for pride month, but with that in mind it’s worth noting that Carmen is a lesbian and it’s a part of her story. She’s a gritty and admirable heroine. Loved her.

The Patron Saints of Second Chances by Christine Simon, 4/5 stars, 304 pages, 2022

This is a zany Italian romp. I was enchanted even as I rolled my eyes at some of the antics.

Signor Speranza is the mayor (self appointed) of a small town in Italy, Prometta, population 212, and he’s just been told that they must pay an exorbitant amount of money or the water will be shut off to the whole town. Speranza comes up with one crazy idea that gets out of hand.

It’s a fun, summer read, especially for lovers of Italy. 

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, 4.25/5 stars365 pages, 2016

This was a delicious way to start the summer. I absolutely loved the snark and the sexual tension.

Lucy and Joshua share an office and an attitude of dislike for each other. Then Lucy has an erotic dream and things start to get fuzzy. Is it really hate she feels?

Although the hate/love relationship is a predictable one, this story started right where it needed to keep the story moving forward with no down time. This is not a high brow romance and it definitely falls into some issues with the physical aspects of the characters, but it was also a lot of fun. Perfect for summer.

I listened to this one and the audio was very good.

The Bat by Jo Nesbo, 4/5 stars, 369 pages, 1997

I listened to The Bat, the first in the Harry Hole series. I’ve always wanted to give this Norwegian Jo Nesbit mystery series a try and it was a great audio for puzzling and running errands. I look forward to more of this flawed character in the future.

This Week – Summer Break!

We have a 6th grader in the house! Woo hoo! We had a little party in the backyard. I reflected a bit on our two years of homeschooling and I’ll share here…

We fell into homeschooling at the beginning of Covid and I’ve discovered a whole new world, one with ups and downs, but ones we choose for ourselves. I love having relaxing mornings, walks at lunchtime, fieldtrips of our choosing, experiments that start because of an interest, Outschool for having quality led classes that I can choose at a moment’s notice if needed, flexibility to take trips when we want to, and more time together as a family. I even feel like my degree in education comes in handy.

It’s not exactly what I thought it would be, even now two years later, but it’s been that dirt path, the one I always want to take when exploring a new place. I’ve learned as much as Gage, not just the academics, but how to a become more patient, flexible, and present person. Gage will be finishing up 5th grade tomorrow 🥹 and I’ve had the pleasure of being his teacher and his student.

Gage finished his first week of summer camp this week and it was good for both of us. He has five more weeks at different camps, three of those weeks he’ll be going with friends so that’s a plus.

I hosted my book club this week for the first time in two and a half years and it was great to get together and for me to host! We’ve only had people over for outside gatherings since Covid and this was the first time I actually had to prep the house, lol.

What I finished this month so far…

reviewed here.

I’ve read 159 books so far this year.

On the screen

I posted about my April and May movies here.

Last week, during a night of horrible insomnia, I watched these back to back to back. I have no excuse except I wasn’t in my right mind. And I’m more than a little miffed that the third, the supposed end of the trilogy, is only the first part so I didn’t even get the ending, however ridiculous it might be.

Jason and I are currently watching the latest season of Stranger Things. Anyone else binged it?

Plans for the weekend

Gage and Jason went swimming at a friend’s house yesterday while I went to the library to do some work for the Friends. As treasurer I have more to do today since our board meeting is tomorrow. I’m also hoping to do the fun job of clearing the homeschool bookshelf and starting fresh. Something that will look worse way before it looks better, but I will feel so much lighter when it’s done.

Hopefully you have something more exciting planned for the day.

In Search of the Magic Theater by Karla Huebner

In Search of the Magic Theater by Karla Huebner, 4/5 stars, 254 pages, 2022

Why, the rather staid young cellist Sarah wonders, should her aunt rent their spare room to the perhaps unstable Kari Zilke? Like the nephew in Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf, Sarah finds herself taking an unexpected interest in the lodger, but she is unable to stop at providing a mere introduction to Kari’s narrative of mid-life crisis and self-discovery, and develops her own more troubled tale of personal angst and growth, entwined with the account Kari herself purportedly left behind. Generational tensions, artistic collaborations, and even a romance steeped in Greek myth follow as Kari and Sarah pursue their very different creative paths in theater and music. And while Kari seems to blossom post-divorce, Sarah must grapple with the question of what the role of mothers, fathers, aunts, mentors, and male collaborators should be in her life as a young musician. from Goodreads

In Search of the Magic Theater 🎭 is a sophisticated story of two women, both creatives, whose lives change because of one person. Kari, a recent mid-life divorcée, rents a room from Sarah, a young repressed cellist, and her aunt. As Kari tries to find her way back to her passion, experimental theater, Sarah tries to find any passion at all.

Set sometime in the 1990s and told with alternating chapters between the women, it surprised me by having me more interested in one at the beginning and the other near the end. It’s heavy in mythology, art, and theater, as well as music. I felt educated and entertained.

I enjoyed the story of these women and the different ways that each approached life and found their own happiness. Anyone interested in mythology or theater should definitely pick this one up.

I want to thank TLC Book Tours for getting this book to me and for the author for sending a sweet card and additional information.

April & May Movies and $ for Charity

You know the drill, add your 5 words (or less!) to mine in a comment 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 $84 right now.  Your charity could be next 

Shows I binged these shows last few months… Ozark (second half of season 4), Bridgerton 2 (where were the naughty bits?), The Lincoln Lawyer (fun!), Survivor 42

Blade Runner 2049 (Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, MacKenzie Davis, Lennie James, Dave Bautista, Jared Leto) Grade B

Search for replicant baby ignites.


All Good Things, 2010 (Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst, Grank Langella, Phillip Baker Hall, Nick Offerman, Kristen Wiig) Grade B

Based on true murder mystery.


The Bad Guys, 2022 (Voices-Sam Rockwell, Marc Moran, Awkwafina, Craig Robinson, Anthony Ramos, Richard Ayoade, Zazie Beetz, Alex Borstein, Lily Singh) Grade B

Don’t ever judge by stereotypes.


2 Hearts, 2020 (Jacon Elordi, Adan Canto, Tiera Skovbye, Radha Mitchell) Grade B

Tears begrudgingly shed.


The Silencing, 2020 (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Annabelle Wallis, Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, Zahn Tokiya-ku McClarnon) Grade B-

Chilling and dark trafficking thriller.


Finding You, 2020 (Rose Reid, Jedidiah Goodacre, Katherine McNamara, Patrick Bergen, Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Tom Everett Scott, Vanessa Redgrave) Grade B-

A lovely trip to Ireland.

Sonic the Hedghog 2, 2022 (Jim Carrey, James Marsden, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, Adam Pally, Shemar Moore, Voices- Ben Schwartz, Idris Elba, Colleen O’ Shaughnessey) Grade B-

Sonic finds family and friends.


Can You Keep A Secret?, 2019 (Alexandria Daddario, Tyler Hoechlin, Sunita Mani, Kimiki Glenn, Laverne Cox) Grade C-

I’ve already forgotten the secret.


Senior Year, 2022 (Rebel Wilson, Sam Richardson, Zoe Chao, Mary Holland, Justin Hartley, Chris Parnell, Angourie Rice, Avantika Vandanapu, Brandon Scott Jones, Alicia Silverstone) Grade D+

Coma stole cheerleader’s Prom crown.

This Week – Sunny Days Ahead

This Memorial Day weekend feels more somber than celebratory after 19 4th graders and 2 teachers were gunned down in their classroom this week. I am choosing to keep some of the sadness there as a reminder that change will not be easy and it will take a lot of people just as heartbroken as I am to make change happen. This photo is from the church just up the street from us.

We have a picnic with friends planned today and the Memorial Day ceremony and parade in our town tomorrow and then 4 days left of school! The days will be easy as he finishes up his online Outschool classes and his last days with his reading tutor with no difficult work with his mama, just some fun little projects.

My computer now shuts down randomly around a dozen times a day, which is why posting and commenting hasn’t happened. Hoping to make this quick and get it posted before I see the evil blue screen.

Read

How To Draw Cool Stuff: A Drawing Guide for Teachers and Students by Catherine V. Holmes. 4/5 stars, 255 pages, pub. 2014

I loved it and will be using it with our homeschooling next year, something that Gage and I can do together for art. There are lesson plans and detailed instructions. The first section was all about defining and practicing the elements of design with lessons on shading, foreshortening and more. I love how each of the cool things to draw is broken down and perfect for easy, no planning, lessons. This is the first of a series and plan on checking out some of the others too.

I was on a TLC Book Tour with this book this week, but my computer frustration stopped me from posting here.

Three fantastic kids books this week! We loved all of these. I included one shot of each book in the order they’re pictured.

Rock by Rock: The Fantastical Garden of Nek Chard was a great picture book biography about the Indian Chard who secretly changed the landscape in his town. We watched some of the videos on YouTube since it is still a thriving tourist attraction in India. He died in 2015.

Colors in Nature is such a beautiful book about color. Definitely one to have on the bookshelf.

Wait, Rest, Pause: Dormancy in Nature. Fantastic photos and short, easy to understand information. Perfect for every classroom.

We’re trying to read our way through the Dewey Decimal system (by 100s), so when we browse the shelves the number one thing we’re looking for is length, the shorter the better. This is not something I normally recommend, but when your challenge is 100 books you do what you have to do 😁

I’ve read 155 books so far this year.

Watched

We watched the new Lincoln Lawyer series based on the Michael Connelly books on Netflix and really liked it.

All Good Things, 2010. We watched this knowing it was based on a true story and by the end we were wondering how the movie makers were sued. So, we spent some time reading about it after the fact. Interesting story with great actors.
Senior Year, 2022. I watched this during a night of insomnia. Silly.

Puzzled

Loved this dual puzzle from Galison. They are both so beautiful and worthy of being gifted to wine loving friends. Or a perfect summer activity with a friend over a glass of Rose. They were both individually bagged and around 250 pieces each. 
Another fabulous piece of art from Art & Fable. I’m in love with anything trees and this puzzle with the matte pieces was a joy.  This was from my puzzle subscription service, Completing the Puzzle, and they’ve not let me down yet. 

This Week – Teacher Work Days

After almost two years of homeschooling I discovered something this week. We need teacher planning days too! I reached a breaking point on Tuesday and cancelled all of Gage’s mom school time for the rest of the week. He still had a few Outschool classes and his reading tutor two days, but I disconnected from the school day completely and we’re both so much better off for it. The plan is to homeschool next year and, rest assured, there will be a scheduled teacher planning day once a month so that a another breaking point isn’t reached. There are so many posts I finally feel like writing about homeschooling, but I’ll save them for another day.

I finished 3 non-picture books this week. I’ve read 150 total books this year.

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Bauxbaum, 328 pages, 2016

I loved this book. Jessie has recently lost her mother and her father remarried and moved them across the country to LA. A new stepbrother and ultra rich private high schoolers is a lot to take, especially with no friends and mean girls targeting her.

Enter SN, who begins anonymously emailing her with encouragement and tips on how to navigate her new life. Suddenly it all becomes bearable. But who is he and why can’t they meet?

Such a rich story, full of the drama and insecurities of youth. I’m a little late to the party on this one, but happy to recommend it. Just make sure you make the waffles 🧇 .

The Cricket in Times Square by George Seldon, 134 pages, 1960

Originally published in 1960 it’s the story of a cricket from Connecticut who accidentally finds himself in the Times Square subway station. He’s taken as a pet and makes friends with a mouse and a cat. Oh, and he becomes a famous musician and hundreds of people crowd around while he makes beautiful music.

Gage and I read the first half together and then finished independently (yes, I did! I needed to know what became of Chester Cricket). It was a sweet, silly, old-fashioned story about friendship and I’m glad to have read it. I’d say this is more geared to a 3rd grader. 134 pages (with some illustrations).

It’s an oldie but goodie. Did you read this as a kid?

Edutoons: A Jumpball Melee of Editorial Cartoons About the Politics of Public Education by Ron Hill, 138 pages, 2016

We were lucky enough to get a few new board members for the Friends of the Solon Library, and one of them is the author of this book, Ron Hill . This is a few years old and a compilation of his editorial cartoons about public education in Ohio and more specifically our region. I’ve always enjoyed his cartoons in the paper and this a quick, fun read about the state of education.

This book just happened to come in with donations, but I know he has a new one out that I’ll have to check out soon.

Movies watched

As part of my teacher ‘break’ I took my student to the theater, lol.
I came for Jacob Eldori and and left with tears. (watched on Netflix)

On TV

We started the new series, The Lincoln Lawyer, on Netflix. We’re over halfway through.

What’s your favorite burnout solution?

This Week – What day is it?

I took this on our family walk last night. Beautiful, right? Life is crazy busy right now, but taking ten minutes to check in feels like a necessity for my sanity. My to do list is 15 very important, all a bit time consuming, things that need to happen in the next few weeks, all while trying to finish up Gage’s 5th grade year strong. I know I’m not the only one with a crazy May.

The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day, 4.25/5 stars, 408 pages, pub. 2017

The Day I Died is one of those dark thrillers that has as many secrets as revelations. We know the main character is hiding and moves around with her son for that reason. We don’t know exactly why, but do get plenty of hints. She’s a handwriting expert for the FBI so she gets drawn into a missing child case, an entanglement that makes her itch to flee yet again. It was a nicely paced thriller with a complicated main character. Great combo!

The Summer Deal by Jill Shalvis, 4/5 stars, 384 pages, 2020

The Summer Deal by Jill Shalvis is a beach read with some serious issues. Brynn is recovering from an embarrassing life choice when she runs into Eli, a camp crush from her teens, who offers her a place to live. He forgets to mention that her frenemy, Kinsey, also lives there and she is also seriously ill.

I loved Brynn’s moms. They were most definitely the best characters, full of love and spice. The story of the three roommates coming together was good, even if it ended a little too simplistic for me, but hey, that’s what summer reads are for! And the cover will look good at the pool or beach.

I’ve read 143 books so far this year.

On TV the last few weeks

We finished Ozark. I didn’t dislike the end to this series, but it lacked some of the punch the rest of the seasons had.

We watch Harlan Coben’s Hold Tight on Netflix. It was solid, like most of his book adaptations are.

Movies

Dark.
Silly.

Plans for the rest of the day

We’re planning a hike in the park after dinner, but right now I need to spend a few hours pulling out homeschool year together and getting it ready to be assessed. This is required by Ohio. We can choose taking a standardized test or having a teacher assessing progress. It’s time consuming, but a good way for me to personally assess what worked and what didn’t.

What about you? Anything fun this weekend?