My 30 Day Challenges is No More

When Jason and I started a blog together a few years ago we had some fun ideas.  What could you accomplish in 30 days?  We did a few together (a documentary a day being one) and Jason teaching himself the piano in 30 days was my all-time favorite.  My favorite personal challenge was my very first one and one I still do every September, read a book a day.  I also did write a novel in 30 days and haven’t looked at it since.

Anyway, it just never turned into what we had envisioned it to be.  It kind of sat there taking up too much space in my head.  When it came time to renew the domain name today I chose not to do it.  I don’t regret letting all of the good stuff go poof! in the night along with the rest.  It’s not where I’m at right now and it’s not how I want to be spending my time.

But, I will be moving some challenges over here, most specifically my September book a day challenge.  But now that I’m homeschooling Gage I don’t have time to read a book a day, not even a short one, so we’ll be posting reviews of the books we finish every day with Gage being responsible for most of the content.  These are mainly going to be picture books but they’ll be others too.  Going from book to blog is going to be a part of his homeschool this month so we’ll see how he progresses.  He excited to participate here, among friends.  See you in the morning with our first post!

This Week(s) – School has begun

Fave picIMG_E5658 We finished our first full week of homeschool and he still loves me.  I’ll take that as a win.

Highlights of the last few weeks…What a blur they have been!  We started homeschooling on Monday and it’s been an learning and stressful week for both of us.  He gets frustrated when I expect too much from him and I get frustrated because I’m not sure how much to push.

We had one morning that was a total bust with tears, but I put us both in time out and after lunch pulled out something I had saved for a rainy day.  We read The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon. We went online and learned about some of the things the Audubon society is doing for birds and nature today, bought a few things from their store in support, used the book How Many Guinea Pigs Can Fit on a Plane to figure out how many birds it would take to fly off with Gage (about 960 hummingbirds or 6 eagles) and how many twigs are in their nests.  And then I gave him the Lego set I had up my sleeve of three different birds to build.  We both had a reset and he had a great two days after.  Sometimes you just have to go with it.

Also, homeschool related because that’s what’s going on right now, I signed him up for his first Outschool class on Zoom and he loved it!  It was about the Titanic and it was 55 minutes every night this past week.  On Friday they had to give a short presentation on the passenger they chose.  It was good for him and I’d like to do one a month.  They have hundreds of class offerings and they’re very affordable.

I had planned the first 30 days of homeschool, but after the first week have decided to drastically alter how we’re doing things, lol.  As part of  this redo Gage will be providing a review of a picture book we read every day in September.

Books we finished in homeschool the last two weeks…IMG_E5659 I’m so glad that he loved Bunnicula as much a I did. IMG_5611 Water Protectors was great.

Currently readingThe Stone Girl Dance Away with Me

Currently listening61 Hours (Jack Reacher, #14)

Reviews postedEvvie Drake Starts OverGone Tomorrow, This Blessed Mess (my favorite of this list), H is for Homicide.

On the TV…We watched the first season of The Umbrella Academy on Netflix and really liked it.

Movies watchedDa 5 Bloods poster.jpeg Watched this mainly because it had Chadwick Boseman in it. I’m so sad that he is gone so young.  The Kissing Booth 2 poster.jpg

Plans for the weekend…since I’m switching things up for homeschool I’m swamped with planning yet again.  Gage has two doctor’s appointments this week, one virtual, one in person.  That should be fun.

Stay well, my friends.






H is For Homicide by Sue Grafton

H Is for Homicide H is For Homicide. Finished audio 8-12-20, 3/5 stars, mystery, pub. 1991

Kinsey Millhone series 1-A is for Alibi, 2-B is for Burglar, 3- C is for Corpse, 4- D is for Deadbeat  5-E is for Evidence 6-F is for Fugitive 7-G is for Gumshoe

It started with the murder of Kinsey Millhone’s sometime drinking buddy, an insurance claims adjuster. But before long Kinsey stumbles onto a massive insurance scam. Going undercover as a wisecracking vamp, Millhone descends into the Los Angeles nether world of machismo and gang hideouts. Her companion, terrified at having crossed the violent crook Raymond Maldonado, is Bibianna Diaz — no Girl Scout herself.   from Goodreads

I love Kinsey and this one was okay, but she did seem to reach beyond her talents by going undercover, inadvertently really, for the police.  I was worried for her, but also questioned why she didn’t just walk away from a very dangerous situation.  I really like this series, even though some of it feels dated.  Kinsey is ahead of her time so she remains just right for any time period.


This Blessed Mess: Finding Hope Amidst Life’s Chaos by Patricia Livingston

This Blessed Mess: Finding Hope Amidst Life's Chaos This Blessed Mess. Finished 8-7-20, inspirational, 5/5 stars, 141 pages, pub. 2000

This is a book about struggle. It is about how struggle overtakes us without our permission. It is about what lies within struggle and beyond it. It is about what we can do with struggle and what it can do with us. Material for this book has been gathering in me for thirty-five years, since I first faced reality as a young adult and strained to comprehend the dynamics of life’s difficulty. I write out of my experience, recognizing clearly that my life has been far less painful than the lives of so many around the world and across time. This book is simply an expression of my effort to understand my own events, shared in the hope that it might speak to the lives of others. A collection of what is especially meaningful to me is offered here–insights and images from my own life, from study and conversation, from songs and books. Mostly there are stories. All of them point to the same thing: Life is filled with struggle. Struggle is filled with Love. Life is, as the title says, “This Blessed Mess.”   from Goodreads

I used this as my morning devotional and it is a perfect read for this time in history, even though it was published in 2000.  I mean it’s all about dealing with chaos and it speaks to the crazy times we’re living in.  Livingston tells stories about her own chaos and how that led her to new discoveries and insight.  This would be beneficial for any woman, but especially those who like their inspirational stories told from a Christian viewpoint.

Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child

Title: Gone Tomorrow (Jack Reacher Series #13), Author: Lee Child Gone Tomorrow. Finished 8-7-20, 3.5/5 stars, thriller, pub. 2009

#13 of the Jack Reacher series (1-Killing Floor2- Die Trying, 3 – Tripwire, 4 – Running Blind5 – Echo Burning6 – Without Fail, 7 – Persuador, 8 – The Enemy, 9 – One Shot, 10 – Hard Way, 11-Bad Luck and Trouble.  12-Nothing to Lose )

Suicide bombers are easy to spot. They give out all kinds of tell-tale signs. Mostly because they’re nervous. By definition they’re all first-timers.

There are twelve things to look for: No one who has worked in law enforcement will ever forget them.

New York City. The subway, two o’clock in the morning. Jack Reacher studies his fellow passengers. Four are OK. The fifth isn’t.

The train brakes for Grand Central Station. Will Reacher intervene, and save lives? Or is he wrong? Will his intervention cost lives – including his own?   from Goodreads

I’m a Reacher fan and I loved the hook.  He identified a suicide bomber but tragedy still struck.  What came after was a war-time backstory and a senator ready to run for President.  I listened to this one and there were some very disturbing images that will be stuck in my mind forever and I’m not happy about it.  This was not even close to being a favorite even with the subway scene and NYC and Washington DC setting.


Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

Evvie Drake Starts Over Evvie Drake Starts Over. Finished 7-14-20, 4.25/5 stars, fiction, pub. 2019

In a small town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth “Evvie” Drake rarely leaves her house. Everyone in town, including her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and she doesn’t correct them. In New York, Dean Tenney, former major-league pitcher and Andy’s childhood friend, is struggling with a case of the “yips”: he can’t throw straight anymore, and he can’t figure out why. An invitation from Andy to stay in Maine for a few months seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button.

When Dean moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie’s house, the two make a deal: Dean won’t ask about Evvie’s late husband, and Evvie won’t ask about Dean’s baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken–and what starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more. But before they can find out what might lie ahead, they’ll have to wrestle a few demons: the bonds they’ve broken, the plans they’ve changed, and the secrets they’ve kept. They’ll need a lot of help, but in life, as in baseball, there’s always a chance–right up until the last out.     from Goodreads

What a great summer read (or listen, in my case)!  What at first seemed like a fairly standard rom-com turned into something so much more authentic.  Evvie was leaving her husband, her bags were in the car, when she got a phone call from the hospital telling her to come right away.  As she played the part of the dutiful widower she felt like a fraud.  Enter Dean.  Once a star pitcher his career had stalled and he was not sure what to do about it.  I really liked that the friendship came first and that they didn’t hold back truth to be polite.  And the ending?  Not what I was expecting and I loved it.

This is a good one!

This Week – Swamped

Fave Pic JYKZ0180 (2)

The highlights  It’s been a few weeks.  I was swamped with reading and researching to prep for homeschool.  I’m excited to say that we’ve made it through our first two weeks with a shortened schedule.  The first week we worked 2-2 1/2 hours and this past week 3-3 1/2 hours and I feel pretty good about it.  This week we’ll shoot for 4-4 1/2 until we ‘officially’ start 4th grade next week with 5-5 1/2 hour days.  I keep meaning to start a post on the homeschool journey.  Maybe I can make that happen this week.

Last weekend I was a last minute participant in the Dewey’s Reverse 24 Hour Read-a-thon and made it around 19 hours.  I was able to get through a lot of the books I had checked out of the library to possibly use with Gage.

We went creek walking last week and to a local metro park this week.  Since we’ve so far skipped vacation this year Jason has taken the last few Fridays off for our outdoor adventures and that’s been really nice.

I’ve been doing my thing at the library and still selling for the Friends of the Library on our Facebook page.  I sent out a notice saying that I was willing to pick up donations (and store them in my garage since we can’t accept them at the library yet) and have had a great response.  One day this week I did 5 pick ups and 3 deliveries.  Two pickups were with old friends and it was nice to do a socially distanced outside catch up.

Books finished ERDT5832 I used these week 1 of school and loved Noah Webster & His Words best. IMG_5563 (4) This week we read through these and liked Barnum’s Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur in the World the best.  Here are the 23 books I read during the read-a-thon IMG_5507 (2) the ones you can see were my favorites.

I also finished Book by John Agard Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child This Blessed Mess by Patricia H. LivingstonH Is for Homicide by Sue Grafton

Currently reading The Stone Girl

Currently listening 61 Hours (Jack Reacher, #14)

Reviews posted A Desperate Fortune A Desperate Fortune. Title: Tales From the Arabian Nights: Stories of Adventure, Magic, Love, and Betrayal, Author: Donna Jo Napoli Tales From the Arabian Nights. Title: They Called Us Enemy, Author: George TakeiThey Called Us Enemy.

On TV We finished season 2 of Hanna on Amazon Prime.

Movies Acts of violence.jpg Human trafficking in Cleveland 😦

Puzzles finished IMG_5528_Moment (2) For a 500 piece puzzle this took what seemed like FOREVER.

Plans for the weekend  Planning this week’s lesson plans while the boys go swimming at our friend’s pool.  Stay healthy everyone!


They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

Title: They Called Us Enemy, Author: George Takei  They Called Us Enemy. Finished 8-8-20, 5/5 stars, graphic memoir, 208 pages, pub. 208

Co-authors Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott.

Illustrated by Harmony Becker

Long before George Takei braved new frontiers in Star Trek, he woke up as a four-year-old boy to find his own birth country at war with his father’s — and their entire family forced from their home into an uncertain future.

In 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the west coast was rounded up and shipped to one of ten “relocation centers,” hundreds or thousands of miles from home, where they would be held for years under armed guard.

They Called Us Enemy is Takei’s firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the joys and terrors of growing up under legalized racism, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.   from Goodreads

George was a small child when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and we entered WWII.  He lived in Los Angeles with his parents and younger brother.  As they were sent off to their first camp in Arkansas it was a scary adventure as they were forced to leave all of their possessions behind (except what they could pack).  They lived as a family in makeshift barracks with guards and fences surrounding them.  They were forced to make decisions, intimidated and misled, that have no place in a free society where one was born a citizen.

I knew of the Japanese internment camps during WWII but it was in passing with little knowledge of what really happened to those rounded up and held against their will.  By their own country in most cases.  I think this relatively short graphic memoir should be required reading for everyone.  I see there is an expanded hardcover version edition coming out this month and I plan on purchasing it since I checked this one out of the library.  Do yourself a favor and do the same.

Tales from the Arabian Nights by Donna Jo Napoli

Title: Tales From the Arabian Nights: Stories of Adventure, Magic, Love, and Betrayal, Author: Donna Jo Napoli Tales from the Arabian Nights. Finished 8-8-20, 4.5/5 stars, 208 pages, pub. 2016

Stunning illustrations by Christina Balit

Classic stories and dazzling illustrations of princesses, kings, sailors, and genies come to life in a stunning retelling of the Arabian folk tales from One Thousand and One Nights and other collections, including those of Aladdin, Sinbad the Sailor, and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. The magical storytelling of award-winning author Donna Jo Napoli dramatizes these timeless tales and ignites childrens’ imaginations.    from Goodreads

I loved everything about this book.  The 25 Arabian folk tales were beautifully told and illustrated.  There were stories within stories within stories.  The main story, even though it is only a few lines each page is one of a woman who expects to be killed every night by the king.  Her plan is to tell him stories that will buy her another night in his bed, and then another, so that she may save herself and all of the other girls he would have killed in her place.  It was surprisingly addicting.

The stories themselves were so much enchanting.  Sinbad the Sailor and Aladdin make appearances, but there were others I loved more.  Do yourself a favor and check it out of the library like I did and sit down for a few hours of happy reading.


A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley

A Desperate Fortune A Desperate Fortune. Finished 7-6-20, 3.75/5 stars, romance, 528 pages, pub. 2015

For nearly 300 years, the mysterious journal of Jacobite exile Mary Dundas has lain unread-its secrets safe from prying eyes. Now, amateur codebreaker Sara Thomas has been hired by a once-famous historian to crack the journal’s cipher.

But when she arrives in Paris, Sara finds herself besieged by complications from all sides: the journal’s reclusive owner, her charming Parisian neighbor, and Mary, whose journal doesn’t hold the secrets Sara expects. As Mary’s tale grows more and more dire, Sara, too, must carefully choose which turning to take… to find the road that will lead her safely home.      from Goodreads

Sara, as explained early on, has Asperger syndrome.  Her best friend is her cousin, who is offering her a chance at a code breaking job in Paris.  A famous writer wants her to decipher an almost 300 year old diary and she accepts since she is between jobs.  She gets put up at a nice home with a cook and with a good looking man who catches her eye as a neighbor.  She begins to uncover Mary’s story, one that could easily be called a thriller, and it’s there that this book finds its heart.

I liked Sara and enjoyed the honest portrayal of a character on the autism spectrum, but it was Mary that had me turning the pages, hoping that she would get her happily ever after.  For a girl abandoned by her family and then used to curry favor, she was easy to love.  In the 1700s a trek from Paris to Italy was fraught with danger, especially when you were caught with a man who recognized the bounty on the head of her travel companions.  I won’t spoil Mary’s end, but I will say that it was fitting.

Kearsley is a master at the dual storylines set in different time periods.  Usually the storylines match up a bit better than they do in this one and there is most often more of a mystical aspect, but I was still happy to be reading.  Her books are most definitely comfort read for me…and very much needed at this time.