Friday, May 15, 2015

End-of-the-year homeschool thoughts

Halfway done with the month and still haven't crowned Mary

More than one person has asked lately when school is over for my family.  Quite oddly, the question caught me off guard.

I did not have an answer.

Last year, I had an almost five-month-old this time of year and just up and quit at the end of May. I hadn't planned on when to end our school year, and I finally realized I could.  If I remember right, I might have hoped to school a bit through the summer, in a reduced capacity (e.g. math games, reading, handwriting).  Instead, I let go.  (Good call.)

But then we just stopped.  Full stop.  It helped that it was husband's birthday and Memorial Day Weekend.  The time period certainly encouraged me.  It was a good time to stop.

A particularly long game of Corners
This year, I could do the same and might very well still.

However, I would like to finish two things:

1) listening to and doing the map work for Story of the World, Volume One, the Ancient World. We also enjoy interlibrary loaning lots of the literature suggestions in the companion activity guide; so, we might go ahead and do that, too.

2) Right Start Math Level B.  We are approximately ten lessons from the end.

So, maybe we'll stop when that's all done.  Sounds pretty good.

Are you about done with the homeschool year? Do you have a favorite date you like to end on?  Or are you like me and want to complete something first?  Tell me in the comments!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What I've been reading (May 2015)

Real-life dresser stack waiting to fall over

It's the fun time of the month again: time to share what I've been reading with the Modern Mrs. Darcy Quick Lit linkup!  

I had brought home a big stack from the library a while ago, and I just couldn't gain traction with some of the titles.  I'll share what I abandoned farther below, but here's what got shaken out of the stack:

When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago.  I've been on a memoir kick since my college days when my sociology professor had us write our autobiographies.  She introduced some of us to titles that would help us realize our projects more vividly and illuminate lives different from our own.  This book made me think of her and our projects.  I appreciated the candid look into big family life in rural Puerto Rico.  Santiago's mother continues to stand out to me as quite the figure: just busting tail to support her family, keep her kids safe, and encourage them to make better lives for themselves.  The book's summary in various places online made references to her journey to Harvard; so, I kept waiting for the narrative to speed up.  Eventually, I realized this is a series of memoirs, and this first book in the series only takes you to her high school years.

Dear Pen Pal, the next book in The Mother-Daughter Book Club Series by Heather Vogel Frederick, affectionately imitates Jean Webster books, especially Daddy Long-Legs.  I needed something easy and breezy, and this book-themed book provided a nice break.  That being said, I couldn't shake an adolescent lit professor's comments about Daddy Long Legs being kind of creepy from my mind because of who Judy's benefactor turns out to be and what that means for the story.  I should read Daddy Long Legs again with a critical eye for I can't remember much about it except its epistolary format and that I liked it well enough.  A bonus about the Mother-Daughter series?  The Concord setting is fun and pleasant.  I've been to Boston a couple of times but never Concord.  I'd love to visit!

Besides these two books, I've also been moving through the last Well-Read Mom selection for the year at a respectable pace, but you probably won't hear about that until July.  Reading an electronic version of that book is undoubtedly helping me not be overwhelmed by its heft, though I don't enjoy staring at the smartphone that long.  I also thumbed through Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey for some interesting factoids about the various schedules and routines of famous creatives.

This month, I abandoned:

Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead because the storyline just wasn't grabbing me after a chapter or so, as well as

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert despite its killer description and title, and finally,

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.  I read it in high school but wanted to read it again.  I had to let it go after a while.  I needed a lighter read that the book couldn't provide.  I will return to it eventually.

What have you been reading?

P.S.  Read more bookish posts!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What I've been reading (Quick Lit - April 2015)

Happy Easter, friends!  And welcome to another month rounding up what I've been reading and when I link up with the lovely Anne Bogel over at Modern Mrs. Darcy.  Some great reads this month!

Scary Close by Donald Miller.    This is full of short essays revolving around searching and taking the risk for true intimacy.  I appreciated Miller's honesty, insight, and how he sought out the advice of men he respected.

Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin.  I've really grown to enjoy Rubin's writing, and once I started my pre-ordered copy, I went right through, except for the part where I stopped and shouted with glee. Rubin (I really want to call her Gretchen since I'm so familiar with her work) conceptualized a nice framework to elucidate those notions about habits that you've sorta kinda noticed but hadn't fully sank in yet.  I imagine I will be writing more about this book.

Geekpriest: Confessions of a New Media Pioneer by Fr. Roderick Vonhogen (with the umlaut over the second o, I have to figure this out, will update).  It was so fun to read about the life of this priest after years of hearing about his podcast from my husband.  If you like new media, Hobbits, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Catholicism, and memoir, this book is for you.  If you like only one of those things, this book is still for you.  Fr. Roderick's winning personality comes shining through this book. Check it out.

What have you read lately?  Any of these?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The day I realized I am in a Gretchen Rubin book.

I'm in here!

Yes, readers, you read that correctly!

I am in a Gretchen Rubin book.

I was merrily scooting along in her newest book, Better Than Before, when I let out a whoop during the transfer from page 196 to page 197.

"I'm in Gretchen Rubin's book!  Oh, my goodness!  I'm in the book!"

But wait, I thought.  I can't be sure.  Maybe someone else failed to continue her rosary habit after Lent and commented on Gretchen's blog about it.  I looked myself up on Disqus (and I usually kind of dislike how transparent Disqus makes all your comments) and followed it to Gretchen's blog post on the finish line and how it affects a new habit.

There I was!  I was right!  Edited for the book, but there I was.

I scooped up my laptop and book and ran to my husband to show him.  He smiled, congratulated me, and perhaps wondered if I was a loon.

What a thrill.  

Gretchen's so fun.  I love reading and talking about all the things she writes about in her Happiness books and, now, her newest book.  She's great at interacting with fans on social media and on her blog, which I enjoy.

Sadly, my inclusion in the book recounts a failed attempt at keeping up a daily rosary habit a few Lents ago.  I hit the finish line and dropped the habit.  Womp, womp.

Now, my husband, on the other hand, he set the same goal for Lent one year and kept it up.  And do you want to know why?  He attached praying the rosary to his car ride to and from work.  He gets two or three decades in on the way and the other decades on the way home.  Sometimes, he walks into the house still praying to himself.  (I like that- the kids get to see him in action.)  He laments not praying the rosary on the weekends, and we have talked about how he doesn't do it because it's not attached to anything else.

I did not attach the rosary to anything during my Lent.  I just white-knuckled it through, forcing myself to pray.

I've finished Better Than Before now, and I just loved it.  I'm going to go through it again and do some freewriting to her questions that help us know ourselves.  I'm sure the book will come up again here.

Until then, I am just enjoying this little thrill.

Have you read Better Than Before?  I recommend it!  Any new insights on a particular habit of yours?  

Sunday, March 15, 2015

What I've Been Reading (Quick Lit - March 2015)

I've only read one book this month, and I've nibbled at others.  I restrained myself from reading books I really wanted to dig into because I was trying to read my Well-Read Mom selection for this month: The Betrothed by Alessandro Mazoni.  But then sickness invaded the house, and I am abandoning The Betrothed for now.  Instead, I will order the next WRM selection and institute a schedule of "read some of this, get to read some of that."  Hopefully, this will allow for some recreational reading in addition to the usually tougher books prescribed in WRM.

Before I started The Betrothed, I read one book after vacation.  It was:

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (paperback, library) - I was a bit disappointed in this book after reading all the good reviews.  I mean, I enjoyed it.  I did.  But I think the ending spoiled reading it for me. I didn't buy into the ending at all (the very end, if that makes sense to those who have read it).  I didn't really buy into one of the main relationships in the story either, which I realized a moment ago.  But the writing was lovely; Patchett has an observant eye.  I even took two book pictures with my phone to capture two passages!  I thought my favorite character was Mr. Hosokawa, but truly, I was most touched by the Frenchman with the scarf.  

Have you read Bel Canto?  What have you read lately? Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit linkup! Check it out for book reviews and recommendations. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

I need some inspiration....for a new blog title.

I started this blog almost a year ago out of the sheer need for creative expression, an outlet.

I've outgrown the title.

But I don't know what to move towards.

I could use my first and last name, but I am not sure I want such search ability on the web. (But don't I?  I secretly pine for a by-line on a magazine article, newspaper column, or website. There! I said it!)

So, what's the difference? 

Somehow, a blog with my name seems quite different from being published somewhere....legit. Ouch, that doesn't seem fair, but if I'm being honest, that's what I was really thinking.  I suppose I just mean publishing somewhere already established and respected.

I want to write more here, but I am still getting comfortable with what exactly I want to write about.  Maybe if I just write more, I'll gain some inspiration for a new title.  There's an idea.  Ha.

I'll have some inspiration instead of being in need of it.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Quick Lit - February 2015

It's time for another Quick Lit post, even if I am a little late to the linkup.  I was able to read a bit more this month due to supplying myself with more books I actually want to read and going on vacation.  A little road reading, if you will.

Since we met last, I have read:

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.  (interlibrary loan, hardback) I wanted to see what the fuss was all about, and I did, indeed, find out.  I've never read a book quite like this, and though I was disturbed by a couple of choice scenes, I found this book enjoyable for its fine characters, plot, romance, and history.  (This was my copy's cover.)

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. (hardback, interlibrary loan)  Wow, does this author ever know how to weave a story.  I could not put this down.  I knew the risks to not putting it down, but the story was so driving, I just kept on going.  However, I couldn't stand the characters for the first 50 pages.  I thought: this is vapid!  Why are people giving this such high reviews?  I stuck with it for all the high marks I'd seen, and it paid off.  

The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederickson. (hardback, library) Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy (where this linkup is hosted) has mentioned this series several times on her blog, and the idea of mothers and daughters reading treasured novels together warmed my heart so much I had to get the first two books.  Easy, fun read, though the fat jokes seemed gratuitous.

Much Ado About Anne (The Mother-Daughter Book Club) by Heather Vogel Frederickson. (paperback, library)  I couldn't just grab one MDBC book, especially since #2 revolves around my beloved Anne of Green Gables.  I liked it for its theme.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. (hardback, library) I was so excited to read another Rowell selection after my beloved Eleanor and Park.  I really enjoyed reading about Cath and her first year at college.  She was a well-developed character with a talent I loved reading about (writing).  I know nothing about fanfiction; so, this was a nice introduction to that world, despite that I found Cath's fanfic (and the Gemma T. Jones excerpts) distracting and a wee bit forced.  Engaging read, authentic heroine, nice capture of family drama.

These books were definitely on the lighter side of reading (save Outlander, whew!), and I am gearing up for some tougher book club reading.  My spiritual reading selection is slow-going.  Good but slow-going.  I'll share it when I'm done with it this time next year.  Ha!

Tell me what you've been reading.  Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit linkup!