This Week – Snowy Days

It’s raining right now, but it’s been a snowy week in the Cleveland area. These are the steps down to the waterfall in the next town over earlier this week. I’ve started planning a roadtrip vacay for February and I’m hoping we can avoid the white stuff for a bit. Gage had a follow up with a cardiologist after covid and got the all clear. Jason got some new furniture for his home office. gage has art class once a week just a few minute drive from this picture, so I enjoy the time walking around the village, it even has a bookstore! It’s been a relatively quiet week otherwise.

Books read – 5 (22 for the year)


A Bowl Full of Peace

What a beautiful, heartbreaking, gut wrenching, hopeful picture book about Sachiko Yasui, a survivor of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan during WWII.

Sachiko and her family always ate out of her grandmother’s bowl, filling it with the delicacies of the region, until the war forced plainer fare. At 6, she was half a mile from ground zero. It killed all of her playmates and one of her siblings. Two of her brothers died soon after from radiation exposure.

When the family went back 2 years later they found her grandmother’s bowl in the rubble of their home, unscathed. Every August 9, first her mother and then she, put ice in the bowl to remember those last.

Gage and I are studying Japan this week and this is the only time I set aside to talk about the bombings but what a great discussion we had.

I cannot recommend this book enough for your middle schooler, but be prepared to talk about death and the ugliness of war. Gage knew the details of the war but this story really brought the people to life.

Sachiko outlived her family and died in 2021 at the age of 83. I’ll be feeling this book for awhile.

The Notebook Keeper: A Story of Kindness from the Border

The fictional story of a young girl from Mexico making her way to the US border with her mother. Once at the San Ysidro checkpoint in Tijuana, they are met with the kindness of the notebook keeper as they wait for their opportunity to enter the US.

It perfectly depicts the reason she leaves Mexico, the stress of getting to the border, and the worry of waiting for the elementary age set.

It also gives some additional information about the notebook keeper, a refugee chosen to keep track of those coming to seek asylum until their own number was called and the responsibility was handed to another refugee.

I loved the illustrations and the story. Highly recommended. 40 pages.

All About Japan: Stories, Songs, Crafts and More

We loved this book. It was a really an all-in-one curriculum for kids. 64 pages of stories, activities, songs, information giving in a fun way. I’ll definitely be looking for more of these as we continue our world travels.

These were so-so

More Than You’ll Ever Know had potential, enough that I made it through the 436 novel, barely. I did almost give up on it a few times, but liked it enough to see it through to the end. This would have probably been a better book if it had been 100 pages shorter. It’s about a woman leading a double life, married to two different men in two different countries. And then one of them is murdered. It’s dual storyline involved the reporter trying to unravel the truth. If the true crime nature of the plot interests you, give it a try.

Beyond Me I’m not a fan of books written in verse, but as a homeschool mom I decided to spread my wings a little and give Beyond Me by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu a try for Japan week.

This is a 304 page middle school novel about a girl in Japan and her experiences after the 2011 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that killed around 20,000 people. She was in a safe area, but didn’t feel safe as aftershock after aftershock and radiation fears from the nuclear plant left her feeling scared.

I read this to Gage this week and liked it well enough, but it didn’t make me love books written in verse any better 🤷🏻‍♀️. We tried.

When the Sakura Bloom was a pretty little book for elementary kids about the importance of cherry blossom trees in Japan and being mindful of the nature around us.

Reviews Posted The Personal Librarian, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

On the TV

Jason and I finished season 1 of The Recruit (not a fan, but I puzzled while watching, lol) and season 2 of Emily in Paris (which he claims to hate, but he’s made it through 2 seasons so you decide)

To All the Boys: Always and Forever I’m glad I finally finished the trilogy. The first one was still my favorite, but the conclusion was much better that than the second one.

Long Story Short A sweet romantic movie with an interesting premise. What if you lived one day every year of your life, seeing your life in snapshots? (tip-don’t overthink it)

Happy National Puzzle Day! I’m still working on the same 3000 piece puzzle. It’s coming along slowly.

Plans for the weekend

When there’s a stop in the rain, a family hike. What about you?

This Week – Sunny in January

January in Cleveland took a turn for the better as we were able to enjoy sunny day walks this week. It is currently snowing with an inch or so already on the ground 😦 I was able to attend book club for the first time in months and Gage went to a 3 1/2 hour birthday party yesterday, so both of us were able to charge our social batteries with friends. And Gage applied for his first passport!

Books read 7 (17 for the year), but only 2 adults. The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

Posted review of Lies She Told by Cate Holahan and kid/teen books we liked this week about the US/Mexican border.

On the screen

The Pale Blue Eye moved slowly, but I don’t mind watching Christian Bale in slow motion.


Some progress was made on this 3000 piecer this week, but, obviously, I’m going to need to pick up the pace.

What are your plans for the rest of the weekend? By the look of things outside, there could be sledding here.

This Week – Every Day I’m Puzzlin’

Gage broke the boards at his tae kwon do this week and got his yellow belt. We tried tae kwon do when he was around 4 and I think he got a yellow belt too, but he just didn’t have an interest so we stopped. But, never say never, he’s really enjoying this time around and goes 2-3 a week with no complaints. Hopefully that will continue.

Books read – 2 (10 for the year) Lies She Told by Cate Holahan and The Slippery Slope (A Series of Unfortunate Events #10) by Lemony Snicket

Reviews postedThe Honeys by Ryan Le Sala A bizarre YA novel that was perfect for my desire for something different.

On the Screen

Effie Gray was based on a true story and while I liked it I wish the ending had been a little more fulfilling. I had to look up what happened after!


I’ve started a Little Free Library for National Puzzle Month. It’s just in the local Buy Nothing group (for now) and it’s just shelves on our front porch, but all of these puzzles have turned me a little puzzle crazy this month. I finished these this week

And started this 3000 bohemoth that Jason gifted me at Christmas. No idea how long this will take, but protecting it from Sammi is going to be a problem, so the faster the better.

This weekend

Jason has tomorrow off of work and Gage and I are doing half day of school, so we’re going to the library to apply for passports. And, of course, I’ll be puzzling.

Are you a puzzler?

This Week – First Sleepover

Gage had his first sleepover with a friend this last week. He’s spent nights away from us before, but always with family, so this was a big step. We all went over there for dinner and were visiting over dessert when Gage says, “I thought you guys were going home.” Needless to say he had a great time and the boys are already planning their next night of fun.

All of the Christmas decorations have been put away, gluten has been avoided, homeschool has resumed and Gage is testing for the next belt in tae kwon do this week, so all is well so far this new year.

Books read this week – 8

Reviewed On Tyranny here. Loved and highly recommend.

Finished The Honeys and will get the review up soon. What a trip!

I already have a 5 star kids picture book, nonfiction.

Just Being Dali was a fantastic book with excellent illustrations. The recurring theme was no matter what people said Salvador Dali just kept being himself. This was one of those quick reads when we studied Spain this week.

On the Screen

Both were fun. My favorite quote came from detective Benoit Blanc, “It’s a dangerous thing to mistake speaking without thought for speaking the truth.”


January is National Puzzle Month and we’ve finished two so far, totaling 2000 pieces. Not bad!

Plans for the weekend

Tomorrow is the Friends of the Library Board yearly audit for my tine as treasurer. I have so much to organize and finish for that today. I can’t wait to hand over this responsibility. Numbers and money are just not my thing and managing non profit status and taxes on top of making deposits, writing checks and presenting monthly reports has not been fun. This year I’m the VP and in charge of book sales, both of which are completely in my wheelhouse.

What are you up to this weekend?

2023 and My Intentional Gluten Free Year

After last year’s whirlwind of reading, I found that I really missed blogging and connecting with all of you. I wanted to blog, but just didn’t have the time to do it. And when I was able to sit down and visit your virtual world my comments were being rejected so some of you never even knew I was there. And…I didn’t have time to figure out how to fix it. And I spent to much time on Instagram. I love taking photos for IG, but I don’t feel the same connection there as I do with my fellow bloggers. I miss the long form, intentional connection.

Just as I missed intentional connections I missed intentional reading. Too many books that I chose were fast reads or once read were too easily moved on from. So, I’m going to take a deep breath between books and I started a book journal with my first book of the year. I’m only writing quotes that touch me in some way, but just the pausing has been satisfying. And in the spirit of that I’d love to get back to writing about all the books I read. I’m not going to make that a hard and fast rule, because I’m trying to take any reading pressure off of myself this year to focus on my big goal. To that end, I set my Goodreads reading goal at an easily achievable 105. In my pre-homeschooling days this would have been a stretch, but not so much now.

I’ve started my reading year with On Tyranny Graphic Edition: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century and am LOVING it! Exactly the kind of book I wanted to start my year with. And to start off the year with a winning hand in my one big resolution I also started The Ultimate Soup Cleanse, which is more than just recipes and a great read for winter.

I discovered a few years ago that when I ate too much gluten I felt terrible and it causes bloating. But I LOVE bread and pizza and fast food, and…the list is quite long. Gage is already gluten free, so this is the year I’ve decided to make it my goal to get through 2023 without gluten. I admit that I’ve gone without gluten for short periods in the past, but old habits are hard to break and I’ve never been able to maintain it long term. Hopefully, this will be the year I change that! Any other gluten avoiders out there?

I’m wishing you all a fantastic 2023 and hope to see you around here more often!

This Week- Covid and Christmas

On December 1, Gage started his yearly advent book tree. Luckily I had finished it a few days early because on that afternoon I started to feel awful and spend the next few days fighting fever and headache thinking I had the flu. I tested negative for covid that first night, but by December 4th I tested positive and the next day Gage fell ill too. So, I spent a week and a half isolated upstairs with Gage while the healthy man in the house was at our beck and call. I didn’t feel normalish until day 8 and it was about the same for Gage.

So, now we’re getting all of our decorating and shopping done a little late and we’re looking at a laid back season this year.

Cybils Awards I’ve been reading like a madwoman for the first round of Cybils judging. I’ve been a finalist judge the last few years, so the sheer number of books for the first round has been daunting. I’ve read 156 nonfiction elementary, middle, and high school titles. It’s been crazy. There are nine judges for this panel and we’ve met four times over Zoom to discuss the books and narrow down the finalists. We’re thisclose to finishing. For any of you considering applying next year, I recommend doing it, but be prepared for the time committment. I’ve had fun being a part of the process.

Posts this week

Birding Basics

Food Journeys with a Side of Covid

Plans for the week Gage has tutoring and a few online classes this week, but we’re not doing anything extra, so I’m counting them as half days. But that does give me a change to start my end of the year lists and I’m so excited. I’ve read 399 books so far and doing stats and choosing favorites is a happy place for me. I’m still in the middle of about six books so that number will go up.

Are you a stats person? Do you like doing yearly favorites lists?

This Week – Vampires, Michael Jackson and Very Tired Eyes

That’s my vampire and his friend Michael Jackson trick or treating on a beautiful Sunday night. As has happened the last three years, our street set up outside before the city trick or treating began to spoil the kids. Gage turned 12 a few weeks ago (So hard to believe. I’m still in denial) so I wonder how many more years we have left for this duo.

What I’ve read this week

I’ve been reading for Cybils judging, my first time being a first round judge, and it’s no joke! I’ve read 81 books in the last month or so, with 98 more to go this month. And I’m reading books with Gage for homeschool. No idea how long it will take for my eyes to recover, lol.

I posted about my favorite October reads here, but I’ll post about my Cybils reading after the judging is over.

On the screen

Jason and I watched Enola Holmes 2 on Netflix last night and it was fun to see the cast back on screen.

Plans for the week

I’m working at the midterms on Tuesday. Please be extra kind to your poll workers 🙂

This Week – Banned Books Week

It’s Banned Books Week. I hope to get at least oft challenged book read this week.

This past week my book club met in person and we were all there! I don’t remember the last time all 10 of us made it to the same meeting. We discussed two books, but I only finished one, The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki. It’s a very interesting historical fiction about a woman who inherited a fortune and had better business sense than men sense. I liked it quite a bit, but would have liked it more if there had been more of a focus on her as a woman outside her four failed marriages. I’d still recommend it to historical fiction lovers, I learned a lot!

I posted about how our homeschooling is going so far this year here. These are the books we read for Peru. The two picture books and Where Is books were great.

Sharuko: Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello by Brown and Chavarri is a fantastic picture book, with the story told in Spanish and English. Tello is still much beloved, even all these years after his death in 1947.

Fourteen Monkeys: A Rain Forest Rhyme by Stewart and Jenkins shows the 14 monkey species that live at Manu National Park, one of the most diverse parks anywhere in the world. 

Where is Machu Picchu? by Megan Stine not only told of the country’s favorite destination, but also of some of the history of the Incas and the Spanish conquistadors.

Gage and I are also listening to The Series of Unfortunate events series and finished 3 and 4 this week. He’s addicted. Fiction isn’t his favorite so to see him excited and wanting to talk about them makes me very happy.

I’ve read 220 books of my 300 yearly goal.

On the Screen

Jason and have been watching the Sandman series on Netflix when we’ve had time, but hat hasn’t been often so I think we’re only halfway through.

We watched the first episode of Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power with Gage.

This gave us all of the laughs we needed last night!

Plans for the weekend

Jason is staining our deck and then we’re headed to Lake View Cemetery at Gage’s request. Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree 🙂 What’s going on with you this weekend?

This Week – NYC

I tagged along with Jason to NYC this past week and had a great time, even though I came home a sneezy congested mess. I tested negative for Covid on Wednesday night and yesterday, but still being careful around the kid. I don’t feel like I’m getting worse so I’ll just assume I came home with the big city crud that my body isn’t used to, lol.

I was able to visit The Strand, my favorite NYC bookstore, for visit #12 in Zibby Books 22 in 22 bookstore challenge. I love this place. Eighteen miles of books makes for a magical morning.

Charles Dickens writing desk.

I also visited the New York City Public Library Treasures collection, a perfect activity for a rainy afternoon.

We did more of the usual NYC things and a few that were new to us. We’d never taken the tram over to Roosevelt Island so that was fun. From there we took the ferry to downtown and we’d never done that before either. We lived there in 2000 for almost 6 months and we visit every 5 years it seems. The last two times we’ve taken Gage so it was kind of fun to just make it the two of us this time.

I never posted about my August favorites. I read 26 books, but only 5 adult books. Homeschooling has begun so it’s been a J book parade over here!

My 6 favorites were
When You Are Mine by Michael Robotham
Year One by Nora Roberts
Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle
Walking To School by Eve Bunting
The Mutter Museum by Anna Dhody
A Giraffe Goes to Paris by Mary Tavener and John Harris

In the next few weeks we’ll be learning about Peru, Australia, and Egypt, so if you have any book or movie recommendations please send them my way.

We’re headed to a battle of the high school bands tonight since it’s right in town at the football field. What are just up to this weekend?

This Week – School Days

From last week’s travels to Michigan.

Summer is effectively over as Gage started 6th grade this week. As his teacher, I’m giving him an A for the week! There are a few things I still need to put in place, but feeling good about where we are right now.

We’re doing things a little differently this year and part of that is structuring an hour or so of our day with a focus on a country of his choosing. This last week we learned about France. We read books, tried a few French recipes, drew landmarks and colored classic paintings, learned a few French words, played with maps, listened to music, watched a few videos, and, of course, the more time consuming things like writing out timelines and facts. He picks the country of the week and I do the research, lol. Next up, the UK so feel free to leave me any great recommendations for the week!

Books I read this week

50 French Phrases. *****stars. Did a great job of making learning fun with games on each spread.
Love Warrior. ****1/2 stars. Glennon Doyle’s earlier memoir of the breakdown of her marriage. Her vulnerability and honesty always draw me in.
A Giraffe Goes to Paris. ****1/2 stars. A super cute picture books for younger kids based on the true story of Zarafa the giraffe.
The Mutter Museum. ****1/2 stars. If your kid likes a little bit of gross this is the book for you!
Coco and the Little Black Dress. ****stars. A fun picture book for the little fashionista.
The Paris Apartment. ***stars. ho-hum thriller.
Playing at the Border: A Story of Yo-Yo Ma. ***stars. The day he played at the US-Mexico border.
France: Enchantment of the World. ***stars. It was textbook-like.
France: Country Insights. **stars. Outdated.

I read 9 books this week. I’ve read 205 books of 300 yearly goal.

Movies & TV

Jason and I have watched the first 3 episodes of The Sandman on Netflix. We also watched The Age Of Adeline last night.

Plans for the weekend

Well, it was going to be school planning, but I just saw on the news that it’s One World Day at the Cleveland Cultural Gardens and I LOVE this event so I may have to go. Do you have plans for the day?