What I’m into these days

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It’s September. After a busy summer where we traveled a bunch and played and overall enjoyed our summer break, we are settling into our fall routines. The end of summer marks birthday season for us: Caroline turned 4 on July 18, Savannah turned 7 on August 22, and Elizabeth turned 2 on September 1st.

We started school again around the beginning of August. We did take the summer off from school, but we read a ton thanks to the Give Your Child the World reading challenge. Now we’re shifting our focus to more academic things. Savannah is in 2nd grade this year, and Caroline is in Pre-K.

The weather is getting a little less hot, which is so nice. I have decided the air conditioning doesn’t really work in our car (it only blows cold air when we’re driving 55+), so I’m really ready to not be sweltering when stuck in traffic. I have a few of our annual fun things lined up… apple picking, Greek festival…

On my mind… Finally I have the desire to put effort into the home decor in our house. We’ve lived here 7 years and still haven’t hung pictures. I have been dissatisfied with the living room layout the whole time, but only in the past few days have I finally come up with a solution. I need to ponder it a bit longer, but I am excited to get it working.

On my nightstand… I finished “Prairie Girl”, the annotated autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Fascinating book and I highly recommend any Little House fans to read it. I started “The House That Cleans Itself”, in hopes to help me come up with a solution to keeping my house neater. I need desperate help in that area! I also have 3 other books that may or may not get read before I have to return the to the library… 

On my tv… I have been enjoying the Dick Van Clark Show, surprise surprise! I needed a new sitcom, and I was not expecting to enjoy this as much as I do. It’s amazing how relevant some of the story lines are, despite them being from the 60s.

On my phone… I’ve been playing around with the app Duolingo. I got as far as I could go with Spanish pretty quickly, so I switched to Italian. It’s pretty fun, though I’m not sure how much I’m retaining.

On my computer… I’ll tell you what’s not on my computer, and that’s Facebook. I took a little break from it… for at least a month, maybe longer. All the political stuff was getting to me, and it was causing more stress than it should have. I still am not used to not being on Facebook… I feel restless and miss that connection with my friends. But I also feel it’s a bit freeing. If you miss me, I’m still active on Instagram and Google Hangouts. :-)

On my radio… Okay, not really radio, but I didn’t want to repeat phone. ;-) I’ve been really into podcasts recently. My favorites are Stuff You Missed in History Class, Young House Love, and Read Aloud Revival. I probably will add more but right now those three are a good balance. I need to get some headphones so I can listen when I’m doing chores around the house. Right now, I mostly listen at night before bed or when I’m alone in the car. Which is almost never, ha!

I think that’s good for now. I do miss blogging… Though it’s hard to make time for it these days. Ah, well, such is life. 

Growing up in Atlanta

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Written by Savannah

Hi! My name is Savannah and today is my 7th birthday! I live in Atlanta, Georgia with my mom, my dad, my two younger sisters, and my cat. I love where I live! I have lived here all my life.

First day of school

We live just outside Atlanta in a house that is 55 years old! There are lots of big trees in my neighborhood, and the roads are a little hilly. I have my own room, but my two sisters share a room. My next door neighbor is named Maya. We play together a lot. Maya goes to a public school that is in our neighborhood, where most of the kids go. I am homeschooled, though. I have a desk down in our den for school, but we do school all over the house. We read a lot of books together. This year my middle sister, Caroline, is doing school with me for pre-k.

Homeschool room

I like to draw and play and watch tv. I like horses, unicorns, mermaids, and dolphins the most! I take swimming class at the Y and my sister is just starting martial arts. I really like swimming and pretending I’m a mermaid. My class doesn’t start again until September so I’m having to wait.

Savannah swimming

My Daddy works in downtown Atlanta and sometimes we go visit him. It’s really fun. He works next to a park that they built when the Olympics were in my city 20 years ago. Mommy likes to tell me all about that because she was living here and she remembers them. There is a fountain in the park that is fun to play in. The fountain is made out of the Olympics rings!

Visiting Daddy at work

There are a lot of people who live in my city who are from other countries and speak other languages. The area of Atlanta where I live is especially diverse! There are lots of restaurants near my house that are food from other countries – mostly different countries in Asia and in Latin America. We go to a church near my house that is in Spanish and English. I am trying to learn Spanish but I have a hard time remembering the words. I love my church and my friends there!


Atlanta gets very hot in the summer, so we stay inside where it is cool. But it is very nice in the spring and the fall. Sometimes in the winter it snows! I have never gotten to build a snowman though. We so rarely get snow that we always have to take pictures when it does happen!


We like to go camping in Georgia. We are close to the mountains, where I have gone camping a lot of times. I share a name with the city of Savannah, and we have been camping there too.

Camping girls

My one set of grandparents lives in Florida and my other grandparents live in Massachusetts, so we drive a long ways to go visit them. They both live near the ocean and I like that we can go to the beach when we visit them.


My state, Georgia, is known as the peach state. I love eating peaches! They are so yummy. Also, in the fall my family always goes apple picking, and in the spring we go strawberry picking. I am glad we live close enough to do things like that.

Georgia Peach

One book about my state that I like is called P Is For Peach: A Georgia Alphabet.


I like living in Atlanta! You should come visit sometime. I bet you would like it too.

(Read all about our Summer Book Club books around the world here!)

Give Your Child the World: Week 8 – Australia, Oceania, & Polar Regions

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See this post for an explanation of this Summer Book Club. Check out the Australia, Oceania, and Polar Regions post at Simple Homeschool, for free printables and other ideas.


Our final week of our summer book club! This section seemed a little catch-all, going from the frigid polar areas to the warm Australia. :-) So I tried to choose books from all the different regions. And of course, as soon as I saw one of the books was titled “Elizabeth”, I knew I had to get that one. :-) I’m so glad our library had it!

(All italic descriptions from Amazon.com, and asterisks mark my own thoughts on the book.)

elizabethqueenoftheseasElizabeth, Queen of the Seas
by Lynne Cox

Here is the incredible story of Elizabeth, a real-life elephant seal who made her home in the Avon River in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand. When Elizabeth decides to stretch out across a two-lane road, the citizens worry she might get hurt or cause traffic accidents, so a group of volunteers tows her out to sea. But Elizabeth swims all the way back to Christchurch. The volunteers catch her again and again—each time towing her farther, even hundreds of miles away—but, still, Elizabeth finds her way back home.

** We loved this book, and it was especially fun to see Elizabeth turn every time I read “Elizabeth!” The girls thought the elephant seal was really cute (the illustrated one, that is!). They loved that it was a true story.

overinaustraliaOver in Australia: Amazing Animals Down Under
by Marianne Berkes

In the Down Under continent, baby wallabies learn to hop, brolgas learn to dance, and emus learn to zig-zag and children will want to hop, dance, and zig-zag right along with the amazing animals of Australia. As with all of Marianne Berkes award-winning Over books, children will also want to sing, clap and count to the rhyme of Over in the Meadow as they learn about wallabies, koalas, wombats, and more. What an easy, fun way to learn about these endearing, unique Australian animals! Jill Dubin’s cut-paper illustrations add to the fun.

** This book was so much fun to read! I had “Over in the Meadow” when I was growing up, which is in a similar cadence. We talked about how Australia is an island and so they have many unique animals. The book also has a lot of information in the end about the animals for people wanting to learn more, and a map of Australia showing the general regions and where the animals in the book are found. I also loved the collage illustrations. I think this book might be one I actually buy.

baltoThe Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto
by Natalie Standiford

It is one of the worst storms ever – the snow has not stopped for days and it is 30 degrees below zero. But somehow Balto must get through. He is the lead dog of his sled team. And he is carrying medicine to sick children miles away in Nome, Alaska. He is their only hope. Can Balto find his way through the terrible storm? Find out in this exciting true story!

** This is one of the books we’ll be reading this year in school, but at their request I went ahead and read it to them anyway. What an awesome story! I grew up reading this book a lot, and it never gets old. The idea of so much snow that you need a sled dog to get anywhere is beyond our comprehension, living in the Southeast US. As a side note, for adults who want to know more about the true story of the Nome Serum Run, I highly recommend the Stuff You Missed in History podcast episode on the topic. (I love that podcast! It’s a great one! You can listen from your computer if you don’t have a podcast player on your phone.)

antarcicanticsAntarctic Antics: A Book of Penguin Poems
by Judy Sierra

Dive, swim, and glide with this delightful pack of penguins as they slip and slide through their icy world.
Judy Sierra, Jose Aruego, and Ariane Dewey invite you into the world of an Emperor penguin family and their wild, slip-sliding, rhyming fun.

** As I suspected, Caroline especially enjoyed these fun poems of penguin life. (She’s really into penguins currently.) The books starts with the birth of a baby penguin and goes through the life of a penguin. I could have done without the “Regurgitate” poem though. ;-) It does approach things realistically, talking about predators and dangers.

mrpopperspenguinsMr. Popper’s Penguins
by Richard Atwater

A classic of American humor, the adventures of a house painter and his brood of high-stepping penguins have delighted children for generations. “Here is a book to read aloud in groups of all ages. There is not an extra or misplaced word in the whole story.”–The Horn Book. Newberry Honor Book.

** This is another book we’re scheduled to read in school this year, so I didn’t actually read it to them this week. However, I read this multiple times growing up and it was one of my favorites. Such a charming story about a man who adopts some penguins. I’m a little surprised to see it on the list for Give Your Child the World, since it doesn’t actually take place outside the US, but I guess it talks a lot about what kind of conditions are in Antarctica, so Mr. Popper can attempt to recreate them for his penguins. Either way, it’s a fun story and I’m so excited to share it with my kids!

Give Your Child the World: Week 7 – Latin America

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See this post for an explanation of this Summer Book Club. Check out the Latin America post at Simple Homeschool, for free printables and other ideas.


Hooray, Latin America! This is my favorite region, for obvious reasons. :) I love sharing my background with my kids. I wish I could have done a little more to celebrate the week in other ways, but we started school full-time this week and I’ve been distracted. Best intentions and all that. ;)

(All italic descriptions from Amazon.com, and asterisks mark my own thoughts on the book.)

poinsettiaMiracle of the Poinsettia
by Brian Cavanaugh T.O.R.

Recounts the Mexican legend of how the poinsettia became a Christmas flower when a poor girl, with no other gift for the Christ Child, brought an armful of plants to the Nativity scene.

** This book is one we own for our 25 days of Christmas books that I have been collecting over the past few years. (It’s not actually on Jamie’s list – she lists “The Legend of the Poinsettia” and I thought it was the same book until I sat down to write this post.) However, we do enjoy this book too. It’s written in both Spanish and English, and I love sharing with my girls their Mexican heritage.

pio-peep¡Pío Peep!: Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes
by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy, English Adaptations Alice Schertle

Here is a groundbreaking bilingual collection of traditional rhymes that celebrates childhood and Spanish and Latin American heritage. From playing dress up to making tortillas, and from rising at daybreak to falling asleep, these joyful rhymes are sure to delight young readers.

** We really enjoyed this book. I first started reading it in Spanish, but it was annoying me that the Spanish and English versions didn’t match, so I switched to just English. (That, and my voice is currently affected by a cold so I needed to not go overboard with reading outloud!) I really loved the illustrations, though – nursery rhymes that every child could relate to, but the pictures are very Latino and I love it.

thepotthatjuanbuiltThe Pot that Juan Built
by Nancy Andrews-Goebel

Quezada creates stunning pots in the traditional style of the Casas Grandes people, including using human hair to make brushes and cow dung to feed the fire. This real-life story is written in the form of “The House That Jack Built,” and relays how Juan’s pioneering work has changed a poor village into a prosperous community of world-class artists.

** This book is one of those double story books. The bigger text on one side of the page is a simpler story for younger kids, and the smaller text on the opposite page tells a longer, more detailed story for older kids. We actually only read the shorter one because of my voice, but I hope to read the longer one to Savannah later. I liked the rhythm of the words, and the building of the story so that kids can get a sense of what goes into pot-making. I’m glad we read this one.

moonropeMoon Rope/Un lazo a la luna
by Lois Ehlert

Fox wants to go to the moon. Mole does not–at least not until he hears about the huge worms waiting up there for him to eat. So the two of them set off on their adventure, with a little help from a rope of grass and their friends the birds. The bilingual text and bold art showcase Lois Ehlert at her captivating best.

** This book was actually given to me a very long time ago (thank you, Emily!) because it is a Peruvian story. It has bilingual text, and I’ve read both the Spanish and the English to the girls many times over the years. If you’re a new Spanish speaker wanting to practice, this is a great option because the story and words are on the simpler side. The artwork reminds me of ancient Peruvian civilizations. I can’t say the story itself is my favorite (it’s a little too unrealistic for me – I know, I know, says the girl who loves watching the adventures of a time-traveling man with two hearts whose spaceship is a blue phone box), but I of course always love ties to Peru.

newshoesforsilviaNew Shoes for Silvia
by Johanna Hurwitz

Silvia can’t wait to try on her present from Tia Rosita: new shoes as red as the inside of a watermelon. The shoes are too big for Silvia to wear — but that doesn’t stop her from [finding] lots of ways to enjoy them while she waits for her feet to grow!

** This book was Savannah’s pick, and she really loved it. A sweet story of a little girl who got new shoes and has to wait until they fit. Our favorite part is that her mother has a new baby girl throughout the course of the story, and illustrations are just darling. (We love babies here. ;) ) I liked how this book used the natural story and images to show daily life for this little girl in Mexico (“many years ago”). It was very fun and creative!

Give Your Child the World: Week 6 – Asia

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See this post for an explanation of this Summer Book Club. Check out the Asia post at Simple Homeschool, for free printables and other ideas.


This past week we read about Asia! (My girls didn’t feel very cooperative for the picture, haha!) I am so behind on this, but getting closer! ;-) This post is going to be shorter I think because I need to just finish it… it’s been sitting here half a week and I’ve just not had the motivation or time to finish it.

(All italic descriptions from Amazon.com, and asterisks mark my own thoughts on the book.)

papercraneThe Paper Crane
by Molly Bang

Business returns to a once-prosperous restaurant when a mysterious stranger pays for his meal with a magical paper crane that comes alive and dances. The Paper Crane is illustrated with cut-paper collages and paintings. It is a wonderful book to use with children learning about patterns in storytelling.

** This wasn’t an obviously Japanese story, though it does feature origami. But, we enjoyed the story nonetheless. I also really liked the artwork. I can’t say it was my favorite book, but the girls aren’t as bothered by stories where nothing really happens. ;-)

monkeycrocodileThe Monkey and the Crocodile: A Jataka Tale from India
by Paul Galdone

Twice the clever little monkey foils the attempts of the crocodile to capture him.

** Caroline absolutely adored this book. She spotted it when I checked it out from the library, and carried it around for several days before we read it. In fact, you can see in the picture at the top of this post that she didn’t even want to pose with the book – she just wanted to read it. Ha! She loved the monkeys and had me read it to her twice in a row, cracking up about the silly monkey and silly crocodile. So, I guess it was a hit. :-)

silentlotusSilent Lotus
by Jeanne M. Lee

Although unable to speak or hear, lovely Lotus learns to perform the intricate story dances of the Cambodian court ballet.

** This story is about a little deaf girl who is lonely because she is unable to communicate with the other children. Her parents take her to the Cambodian court, and the little girl learns the art of expressing herself through dance. It’s a cool story about disabilities and also about traditional dances. My girls loved the pretty costume that Lotus wears at the end.

rubyswishRuby’s Wish
by Shirin Yim Bridges

Ruby is unlike most little girls in old China. Instead of aspiring to get married, Ruby is determined to attend university when she grows up, just like the boys in her family. Based upon the inspirational story of the author’s grandmother and accompanied by richly detailed illustrations, Ruby’s Wish is an engaging portrait of a young girl who’s full of ambition and the family who rewards her hard work and courage.

** I really liked this story, and I always appreciate chances to show my girls how being able to get an education and a career, if they want, is not always something that women have been able to do. Savannah doesn’t seem to quite understand this concept, but I am sure she will someday. The girls did enjoy seeing the Chinese calligraphy, which reminded them of the Baghdad calligraphy we read about last week.