May’s Faves

I read 33 books this month, bringing my yearly total to 123. Did you have a favorite this month?

Here were my TOP 5

Seeing With Our Souls: Monastic Wisdom for Every Day by Joan Chittester. I read this every morning for several weeks and it was a perfect way to start my day. My copy is marked up with favorite thoughts. I will read anything she writes. “We’re not here to suppress the gifts of others in order to make room for our own. We’re here to put all the gifts of humankind into the great pool of humanity so that, because of the gifts of each of us, we can all live better in the end.” (page 27)

Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Penelope Baglieu. Don’t miss this biographical graphic novel that highlights some wickedly awesome women with whipsmart humor. “Delia finds herself at loose ends (after dicorce). She’s 50 years old. So, she decides to embark on her first solo African expedition. From the Indian Ocen to the Ehiopian desert, whether in a dugout or on the back of a camel, Delia roams the African continent and becomes the first American women to cross it.” (page 69)

The Bodyguard by Katherine Center. Throw this fun romance in your beach bag at once! She’s his bodyguard and must pose as his girlfriend. Need I say more? “You can’t make people love you. But you can give the love you long for out to the world. You can be the love you wish you had. That’s the way to be okay. Because giving love to other people is a way of giving it to yourself.”

You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When It Monsoons: The World on One Cartoon a Day by Mo Willems. This was so much fun. Mo Willems may be a household name to anyone who has little kids or grandkids now, in the early 90s he was finishing college and backpacking his way around the world. This is a collection of his almost yearlong trip with the daily cartoon image he drew of his experience every day. Loved every frame! “Modesty makes maidens swim fully dressed (Pangkor Island, Malaysia). (page 245)

James & Other Apes by James Mollison. I LOVE this overside hardcover with close up photos of 50 apes from sanctuaries around the world. I dare you to look through it and not feel a connection. “Each individual ape has his or her own tragic story of pain and trauma. Each one is different.” from the forward by Jane Goodall, page 7

Honorable mentions

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. “You know the greatest lesson of history? It’s that history is whatever the victors say it is. That’s the lesson. Whoever wins, that’s who decides the history. We act in our own self-interest. Of course we do. Name me a person or a nation who does not. The trick is figuring out where your interests are.”

Watching You by Lisa Jewell. “Because that’s the thing with getting what you want: all that yearning and dreaming and fantasizing leaves a great big hole that can only be filled with more yearning and dreaming and fantasizing.”

The Genius Under the Table: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Eugene Yelchin. “Life seemed an enormous puzzle to me then, and drawing helped order the pieces: Mom, Dad Victor, Grandma, Lenin, the Americans, even Baryshnikov. Each piece was a different shape. I was a puzzle piece, too, but I was made in such a wrong shape that I was convinced I would never fit in anywhere. The only place I fit in well was under Grandma’s table, drawing to the soft squeak of the stolen pencil.”

Inky’s Amazing Escape: How a Very Smart Octopus Found His Way Home by Sy Montgomery & Amy Shimler-Safford. “Inky was a real octopus.”

Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas by Lynne Cox & Brian Floca. “The boy, Michael, explained that Elizabeth was a very lovely elephant seal who had decided to live in Christchurch…I knew that one day I would have to pass Elizabeth’s story on to you.” (author’s note)

Circle by Jeannie Baker. “In its lifetime a godwit will usually fly farther than the distance from the earth to the moon.” (cover page)

Why the Sun and the Moon Live in the Sky by Elphinstone Dayrell & Blair Lent. “The story of how the sun and the moon came to live in the sky is told here as it might have been with African tribesman dressed to represent the elements and the creatures of the sea.” (endnotes)

My Night in the Planetarium: A True Story About a Child, a Play, and the Art of Resistance by Innosanto Nagara. “When I was seven I got to spend the night in a planetarium. This is a true story. Do you want to hear it?” (page 1)

The Last Snake in Ireland: A Story About St. Patrick by Sheila MacGill-Callahan and Will Hillenbrand.

The rest of the bunch. mostly all good!

First to the Top:Sir Edmund Hillary’s Amazing Everest Adventure by David Hill & Phoebe Morris.

Two at the Top: A Shared Dream of Everest by Uma Krishnaswami & Christopher Corr.

Race to the South Pole: Ranger in Time by Kate Messner,

The New Yorker Book of Mom Cartoons.

Where is the Kremlin by Deborah Hopkinson.

Anywhere Artist by Nikki Slade Robinson.

Barack Obama: First Afrian- American President by Jody Jensen Shaffer.

The Camel Club by David Baldacci.

You Had Me At Hola by Alexis Daria.

All Around the World: New Zealand, All Around the World: Nigeria, All Around the World: Indonesia, all by Kristine Spanier

Exploring Countries: Nigeria, Exploring Countries: Indonesia, both by Lisa Owings

Great Explorers by James Buckley Jr.

Cool Printmaking: The Art of Creativity for Kids by Anders Hanson

The Perfect Moment by Andy Andrews.

Catch that Chicken by Atinuke & Angela Brooksbank.

Honeyky Hanukah by Woody Guthrie & Dave Horowitz.

Homeschool Happenings – New Zealand

Last week was New Zealand week and we read some fantastic picture books. So many I just had to share. I love to use picture books as a teaching tool, even as I teach my middle schooler. They garner interest for further learning and can be used as a part of the lesson themselves.

Circle by Jeannie Baker. 48 pages.

I am in love with the illustrations in this nonfiction book about the godwits migration from New Zealand (and Australia) to the Arctic and then back again. Great for learning about migration in general.

Inky’s Amazing Escape: How a Very Smart Octopus Found His Way Home by Sy Montgomery and Amy Shimler-Safford. 32 pages

Such a fun and colorful story about a real octopus who was rescued and then freed himself. The story was fantastic as were the end notes. Your kid will learn so much about octopus and will most likely want to know more. This was my favorite book of the week.

Elizabeth, the Queen of the Seas by Lynne Cox and Brian Floca. 48 pages.

Elizabeth was an elephant seal who made her home in the Avon River in Christchurch. She became a problem when she started sleeping in the middle of the road in the afternoon. Three times they captured her and took her far away to live, but each time she came back. The solution they found will make you smile. I loved the picture of the real Elizabeth in the middle of the road at the end of the book.

**For school, Gage had to write a paragraph comparing the two animals and their journeys.

First to the Top: Sir Edmund Hillary’s Amazing Everest Adventure by David Hill and Phoebe Morris. 32 pages.

Why is a book about Mount Everest on this list? Because that’s where Hillary was from! This was full of information, even with a timeline of his life at the end. Don’t let the page count fool you. Excellent resource.

Two at the Top: A Shared Dream of Everest by Uma Krishnaswami and Christopher Corr. 32 pages.

I didn’t love the illustrations, but did love the concept. Sir Edmund Hillary didn’t get to the top of Everest alone and yet he always gets the credit. This book tells the story of Hillary but also the story of his sherpa Tenzig Norgay on each opposing page. By telling their stories side by side, it is giving Norgay the due he deserves.

**For school, Gage made a Venn diagram comparing the information featured in each book.

Anywhere Artist by Nikki Slade Robinson. 40 pages.

This is not a book about New Zealand, but one created by New Zealander. This is most definitely geared toward a younger audience and it was Gage’s favorite. It’s all about making art wherever you are using what nature has provided. The only fictional book (except for Ranger which is only half fiction)

**For school, Gage and I set the timer for 20 minutes and each created art from whatever we found in our yard. His was super cool with big branches sticking out of theground to look like trees and stones making a circle around it. I’m not embarrassed to say it was way better than mine!

Race to the South Pole (Ranger in Tme Series) by Kate Messner. 160 pages.

This was our longer read and I love this series! The journey starts in New Zealand aboard the Terra Nova and, while obviously fiction since it’s based on a time travelling dog, only Ranger and the boy he was there to save were fictional characters. All the other characters were based on real life people and a real life race to the Pole. The end notes were the best part even though they were sad.

**We read this aloud as a family, each taking a chapter each night.

3+ Titles, 1 Word – YOU Choose My Next Book

I saw this challenge over on IG (OliviaReadsFiction) and tried it last month. You all voted to have me read All the Light We Cannont See by Anthony Doerr. I finished it and really liked it, thank you!

New month, new word. YOU can easily see what word I found on my TBR shelves the most. Which one should I read next. I’ll tally up the votes this weekend. You don’t have to have read the book to vote for it.

Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness by Kristen Radtke. “When I started writing this book in 2016, rates of loneliness had already been increasing exponentially for decades, yet it wasn’t a subject I heard people talk about very often, at least not in relation to themselves.” this is a graphic novel.

Watching You by Lisa Jewell. “Dear Diary, September 20, 1996, I don’t know what to think.”

Now You See Us by Balli Kaur Jaswal. “Breaking News. A woman was found dead in her home in the east of Singapore on Sunday evening.”

Regretting You by Colleen Hoover. “I wonder if humans are the only living creatures that ever feel hollow inside.”

Which one should I start next week?

The Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket

We did it!!! We finally finished the whole series of very, very unfortunate events. We read the first last July and finished the last one in April. The series is perfect for road trips with upper elementary and middle school kids. The audio production is fantastic and how we experienced the series after reading the first book out loud together. The series can get repetitive, especially the first few, but kids will love it.

Three orphans get passed from one cluless adult after another, all the while trying to escape the evil clutches of Count Olaf who is after them for their huge fortune.

I couldn’t tell you who my favorite character was at the beginning (besides poor Uncle Monty), but by the end it was the youngest, Sunny, who could do it all, even as she was just learning to walk and talk.

We’ve started watching the Netflix series, but I confess I’m not a fan so far. We’re only 4 episodes in and they’ve changed some very important things. It’s disappointing.

1 The Very Bad Beginning (Count Olaf shows his intentions)

2 The Reptile Room (Uncle Monty was my favorite of the series!)

3 The Wide Window (Poor Aunt Josephine)

4 The Miserable Mill (the reason unions were formed)

5 The Austere Academy (Sunny makes paper clips fom scratch)

6 The Ersatz Elevator (I had such high hopes for Jerome)

7 The Vile Village (It takes a village to abuse 3 orphans)

8 The Hostile Hospital (the kids realize no adult can help 😦 )

9 The Carnivorous Carnival (Still trying to wrap my head around Violet and Klaus passing as a two headed person and Sunny as a wolfbaby)

10 The Slippery Slope (Violet finds time to fall in love)

11 The Grim Grotto (Horseradish to the recue!)

12 The Penultimate Peril (Are the Baudelaire children blameless? Are any of us?)

13 The End (Needed way more information, but Lemony told the reader repeatedly to stop reading so we have only ourselves to blame.)

Have you read the series? What did you think? I loved that Gage loved every one and was always excited for the next one. That’s NEVER been the case before so for that reason alone this series will always have a place in my heart. And I repeatedly thank my friend who gifted Gage the whole series at once, giving him something to strive to finish.

This Week – Elections, Doctors, and Friends

What I read in April

It’s been a few weeks since a proper update, so we’ll see if I can wrap it up in a shortish post. This week I worked as a poll worker at the Ohio primary. There was only one choice, of judge, so turnout wasn’t good. But we still had to be there at 5:30 am and stay until it was done. I got home at 9:15 pm. On Thursday Gage had an initial appointent at the Cleveland Clinic Functional Medicine offices. Three clinicians, labs and 3 hours later we left only to have to go to his orthodontist because one of his cheeks was swollen from his mouth device. We stopped at 5 Little Free Libraries between the two offices to distribute leftover books from our book sale, lol.

We had to do something to our computer because of a suspected virus and now I can’t log into half of the things I need to, including this blog’s email. I’ll prbably spend too much time on that today.

As a reward we had friends over for a game night. Two of them will be taking their citizenship test soon so we played an American trivia game. Lots of laughs and a nice end to a stressful week.


Since my last update I’ve read 13 books and they have been very diverse. 4 kids picture books, 2 kids nonfiction, 2 adult fiction, 2 adult nonfiction, 1 graphic bio, 1 romance, 1 kids fiction.

Seeing With Our Souls: Monastic Wisdom for Everyday by Joan Chittester. I just finished this morning and it was such a fantac way to spend 10 minutes every morning these last few weeks. Hopefully I’ll get to a proper review eventually. Some that sttod out…

Mad Honey by Jodi Piccout and Jennifer Finney Roylan was our April book club read and I highly recommend it for book clubs eveywhere. You won’t lack for issues to discuss.

The Pear Tree by Luli Gray and Madelyn Goodnight is a great folktale about when Death comes to visit. I’m a sucker for a these folk retellings and this was well done. 40 pages

Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Penelope Bagieu is a fantastic graphic novel about 30 bold women from across centuries who really stand out. I knew most, but certainly not all. I checked this out of the library but may buy a copy because it’s a beautiful book.


We haven’t had time to watch any these last few weeks! But we did finally finish LOTR: The Rings of Power, season one . It was fun revisiting a favorite place.


We did ‘finish’ a 500 piece Fred puzzle this week and while I liked the art, I didn’t like the puzzle. In both the top and the bottom, the blues would fit together but not be right, they would fit ‘better’ somewhere else. Having to redo chunks of puzzle more than once was very frustrating.

Plans for the Weekend

Catching up and prep! Gage’s 2 hour tutoring sessions for homeschool ends tomorrow and that leaves me 2 hours of schooling to fill EVERY DAY!

What are you up to today?