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?

This Week – Do Good Deeds

This week Gage had the top part of the Herbst appliance put in and it’s been tough. There is a bar across the top of his mouth that makes talking, eating, and swallowing are a struggle. And there is so much drool and sores on the cheeks. It’s been a week for the little man and he gets the bottom half and connectors in two weeks 😦 *The white coming out of his mouth is nor part of the appliance, just the only pic I took.

The day after he got it ‘installed’ he was especially miserable so instead of school we spent the day doing good deeds like trying to remove graffiti that had been spray painted on trees and rocks at a local park and using the Little Free Library app to find LFLs to drop off books. The app itself wasn’t the best navigator for us, but being able to see where they were was very useful.


I’ve read 7 books, all of them kids! Five non-fiction and two fiction. Here are a few standouts…

The Other Side: Stories of Central American Teen Refugees With Dreams of Crossing the Border by Juan Pablo Villalobos. 160 pages

This is labeled as a teen book, but most stories could be shared with younger kids. So important for kids (and adults) to understand the why of the kids that are coming to America. I liked the individual stories. told in the voices of the children. Want to work on empathy with your kids? This will help them see through another kid’s eyes.

Journey through Ash and Smoke (Ranger in Time series) by Kate Messner. 160 pages

We read a few Iceland books this week, but this one, geared toward ages 5-8, was so well done. It’s our first Ranger in Time book and I was happily surprised at how well Messner incorporated historical facts into the story with additional info and pictures of her visit there.

Full disclosure, I’m not a fan of the Magic Treehouse series 🤷🏻‍♀️ But this series I can get behind! When we did our additional reading, so many of the things she included ended up in our timeline and fact sheet.

Varenka by Bernadette Watts. 32 pages.

This was first published in 1971. It’s a lovely Russian folktale and the illustrations were fabulous.

I’m currently reading a lot of books, too many really but they’re all so good! Stay tuned.

Books read this year- 81


Jason and I both really liked this one. It definitely brought back the 1980s for those of us of a certain age 🙂


A little video of the one fun puzzle we did as a family…here

Plans for today

I’m the coordinator for our library book sale and it starts this Thursday and runs through next Sunday. I love it and will work pretty much the whole time plus Wednesday set up. Today will be spent emailing reminders to volunteers, redesigning our receipts, and getting though all of our signage and seeing what needs fixed and what we’re missing.

What are your plans for the day?

This Week – Rest and Relaxation

It was my husband’s birthday this week so I surprised him by whisking him away to a spa and inn for a night. I booked the big suite, reserved him 2 spa treatments, and we ordered room service a few times. We only had one night, but it was perfect (and all we could afford, lol). And, during his 4 hours at the spa, I spent time reading and drinking wine. A win for everyone!

Gage recovered from last week’s bug after a day but it took a few more days for his appetite to come back. He was more than a little excited about seeing the Super Mario Movie today. I even enjoyed it and I’m no Mario fan. This morning he made a game of tic tac toe for our cats for his YouTube channel 🙂


I only posted once this week about March’s movies.

I also tallied the votes from IG and this post and started All the Light We Cannot See.


Broken Girls by Simone St. James.

Broken Girls was such a haunting read that takes place at a creepy boarding school for girls. It has a 1950s storyline and a current day one, both equally good, a rarity. A found body, a missing girl, a dead sister, a corrupt police department, and old prejudices make this one a fast read.

Oh, did I mention the ghost? I’m not into ghost stories, really, but this one was good!

I Will Find You by Harlan Coben.

I’ve read all of Coben’s books and he’s one of my few auto buys. This one was not my favorite because too many over the top things happened right from the get go. And it was too short. I needed more. But a good Harlan Coben is still better that what most author’s can produce. 

I read a few books on Antarctica for homeschool, bringing me yearly total to 74.


It was cute and Jack Black as Bowser was perfection. By far my favorite scene of the movie was this song, being recreated here.

Chaos Walking was such a disappointment for such a great trilogy.


This 100 piece puzzle is gorgeous!

Plans for the weekend

Happy Easter!

I’m linking up with The Sunday Salon.

This Week – Sick Kid in the House

I stayed up until 3:30 this morning finishing this ridiculous 1000 piece puzzle.

It’s one of our rented puzzles from Completing the Puzzle and I just wanted to be done. But sometimes when you make bad decisions, like staying up until 3:30 am, they come back to bite you. As I was getting my water to take to bed I hear Gage getting sick in his bathroom. So, I was up all night with him. When Jason got up at 8:15 I was able to nap for an hour and a half. The boy is still sick with vomiting and fever so it’s been a long day.

We’ve had a good week though. His friend had Spring Break so he spent a night here and they spent a day having fun together. One of the perks of homeschooling is being able to take days off for important things, like time with good friends.

Posts this week

March Stats and Faves – I read 28 books in March.

3+ Books 1 Word – Pick My Next Book – Please Vote for the book I start tomorrow.

Other Birds by SAA – Fun Book Club Choice

Currently reading

On the Screen

We finished up season 3 of Emily in Paris on Netflix last night. I always want to go buy new clothes after watching.

Plans for the Weekend

Getting the boy healthy and SLEEP!

What are your (hopefully) more exciting plans for the weekend?

This Week – Puzzle Champions

Last week’s post mentioned a local puzzle competition and I’m happy to report that we won! Here we are with the 500 piece donut puzzle and the basket full of goodies we won. There were only 5 other tables and it was a fun family night for all.

The rest of the week was crazy busy. Election training and family in town for two days happened over the weekend and into the Monday. Gage got spacers in his mouth in preparation for an expander and, eventually, braces. I hosted book club for Other Birds and I WILL get a separate post up because it was a great book that led to a fun themed menu.


Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen. A comfort read. Look for a post this week.

Blackwater Falls by Ausma Zeharat Khan is the first in a series about Detective Inaya Rahman and I really liked it. It’s politically relevant and I’m looking forward to the next one.

I’ve read 5 picture books about China that will show up in a post soon.

Read 7 books. 62 for the year.


Nope, 2022. If you’re looking for something different this is the movie for you.


Sammi is turning into quite the puzzle model lately.

Plans for the Weekend

A friend started a virtual Romance Book Club and today is the first meeting. The sun is out so I’m hoping for some time outside.

What about you?

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?

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.

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.

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?

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. 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?