A Tale of Two Pages

Books, life, motherhood, and more!

Juggling the home-school headache — 2018-08-30

Juggling the home-school headache

Home-school headaches, for real! Well, I finally did it. I FINALLY ordered the books that we are going to need to get this school year started. I really hesitated when it came to buying a curriculum this year. I struggled with what I wanted to get, what would be best for the boys, and what would be best overall.

I did some searching, did a lot of digging, and after making several phone calls decided to go with Rod and Staff this year. I was able to customize the subjects! Some I needed to go up a little bit, while others I needed to take it back a notch. The gentleman that helped me over the phone was more than patient with me all over the place in thoughts and with questions.

When it comes to education, I am an outside the box educator. I want my kids (and the college students I teach) to start forming their own opinions. I want them to really LEARN and understand what it is we are going over. I don’t just want them to learn what they have to and then forget it after the test is over. I have been working on different ideas for them, and really trying to help them gain the deeper understanding. Of course, we have the subjects we hate, but we also have the fun ones. Finding the right mixture and the right balance to everything is what is getting us through the days.

The school year will start back soon enough. College classes have already begun, and I have a great group of students this year. The boys and I will start the school year sometime in mid-September. I am in no rush to push them through, and we are going to take it slow and easy this year. I mean, we want our kids to want to learn, not dread it. After all, learning is something that we do all our lives, we should embrace it!

If you home-school as well, what are you using this year?

Where is August? — 2018-08-20

Where is August?

Good day, all!! I am sitting here looking at the calendar and trying to figure out how in the world we are this far into the month.  I am not entirely sure where the days have gone, and what I have done with all of my time!

Reading is massive for me, but my reading time has gone completely downhill this summer. I read over 100 books already, but July and August have been slower months in the reading department. To date, I have finished 110 books, but in July and August, I have read less than 20 books total. On a good month, I can read 20-30. What in the world!? I need life to seriously slow down!

I have been starting to figure out what we are going to be doing for school this fall. I am so far behind on that too! Generally, by this time of year, everything is set, the copies I need of exams are made, and the lessons plans are made out.

AHH!! Does anyone else feel this way? I can’t be the only one who feels completely overwhelmed at times, right? I have been looking at the massive to-do list that is in front of me. I have begun to set a list of what I can accomplish each day and check it off as I go through. Making records that are easy to follow and laying it out by the hour, it helps. I have begun to make a list for each day, and look forward to accomplishing what I can every day. I add what I need to get through for work, personal, and outside activities.

What are your tips for staying on top of what you need to get done? Do you have a system that you have found that works better? Share your ideas with me! I love to see the ideas that are worth keeping, and anything that can help to stay on top of everything is fantastic!

 

With summer winding down, I am ready to really embrace the fall and entirely get everything back on track. I do not like the feeling of unfinished or unaccomplished tasks. Anyone else prepared to tackle the feelings of stress and get life back on track?

 

 

Author Interview with Eleanor Herman — 2018-08-13

Author Interview with Eleanor Herman

If you loved the review for The Royal Art of Poison, then you are going to really enjoy this! I got an interview with the author!! Author interviews are thrilling!! I love being able to talk with the authors and get a little insight into the writing. I hope that ya’ll enjoy these few questions that I asked! If you have questions for the authors, please leave your questions in the comments! I will pass them onto the author!

Happy Sunday!

 

Interview with Eleanor Herman

 

  1. Is there one area of poisoning that you enjoyed researching more than the others?

I’ve enjoyed working with doctors and researchers all over the world to understand fully not only natural illness but also the forensic techniques currently used to discover what may have killed someone years ago. For instance, scientists can study a random skeleton and determine where the person was born based on the chemical make-up of its teeth. And arsenic or mercury in human remains might not necessarily mean the person was poisoned. The poison could have been used in embalming or in medications or cosmetics. Scientists have ways of determining how it got there, and if the intent was murderous or benign. I worked with a scientist in Copenhagen who dug up famed astronomer Tycho Brahe, and a professor in Italy who found the long-lost intestines of a sixteenth-century grand duke, riddles with arsenic!

 

  1. Given that many royal bodies have been destroyed over the years, do you think that the notes alone from the doctors of the time will help to narrow down more cases of poisoning?

They already have. By the nineteenth century, for instance, the copious notes taken by doctors attending royal personages helped determine the cause of death of Edward VI in 1553 (tuberculosis) and Henry, Prince of Wales, in 1610 (typhoid fever.) Other cases are less clear. In his final illness in 1791, Mozart’s alarming symptoms, carefully recorded by those in the sick room, have resulted in a current list of 118 possible natural causes of death. No one can say for sure what killed the greatest musician of all time, just that it wasn’t poison but an epidemic that was killing a lot of people at the time.

 

  1. Are there other cases that you feel could fall into this list, that did not make the cut in this book?

I would like to pursue ancient poisonings among the Roman emperors: Caesar’s heirs dropping dead at banquets, and Nero’s poisoning school set up in Rome under the direction of a renowned sorceress named Locusta. Exploration of those stories didn’t make it into the Royal Art of Poison as there was a huge time gap between them and the next poisonings we know about in the fourteenth century, and less documentation to really do a deep dive.

 

  1. Which royal did you enjoy researching the most?

I enjoyed researching the mistresses of Louis XIV in the 1670s and 1680s and the Affair of the Poisons. Beautiful, witty, sexy, these women threw themselves at the king and then clawed each other’s eyes out. Stories of poisoned gloves poisoned gowns; a teenager wasting away at the hand of an older, jealous mistress; love potions of baby’s intestines and bits of bats and frogs slipped into the king’s wine… It was an almost unbelievable story.

 

  1. New information is discovered all the time, and it is possible that a cache of documents may turn up one day that would lead to more interesting cases. As historians, we have to view each document with discernment. I wonder at times if doctors did not “edit” their notes to save their own skins. What do you think?

There wasn’t just one doctor in a royal sickroom. There were several, in some cases a dozen or more. And the doctors were all watching one another and writing down what was done for (or to) the patient, and who did it, and what the symptoms and results were. After the death, they would often sit down and write up an in-depth report and all sign the document. Doctors took careful notes to protect themselves from charges of incompetence or intentional murder. Fortunately for the doctors, people of the time knew medical treatment often didn’t work and chalked the death up to either God’s will or some nefarious poison no physician could successfully treat.

 

  1. Is there one case in the book where you felt as though the person really deserved to be poisoned?

Yes! Russia’s Joseph Stalin, a mass murderer who threw shade on Hitler. Not only did he kill his political enemies, but millions of hapless citizens. There is some debate among historians and scientists as to whether he had a stroke—the official cause of death—or had been poisoned. His initial autopsy referred to extensive bleeding in the stomach, not a symptom associated with stroke but with the use of the drug warfarin, odorless and tasteless and easily concealed in food or drink. All mention of stomach bleeding was removed from the official autopsy report. Clearly, Stalin had many enemies, some of whom had dinner with him the night before he died.

The Royal Art of Poison ~A Book Review~ — 2018-08-06

The Royal Art of Poison ~A Book Review~

Good day, dear readers!! It has been a little bit since I have brought you a new book to peruse through. This summer has been super busy, and we have been on the go, but there is always time for reading! I have some fabulous reviews to be bringing your way.

I don’t know about ya’ll, but there are some book companies that I watch like a hawk. St. Martin’s Press is one that I have on a watch list. They are always rolling out fantastic reads, and I always get excited to see what they have upcoming. Let me tell you that this fall, they will have a slew of books that are going to have you parked on the couch reading your heart out. I have been working on a handful of books from St. Martin’s Press, but I am so excited to share this one with you!

Hang on for a fabulously fantastic book!

Book Review:

Eleanor Herman takes us on a tour of one of the areas in history that are talked about, yet not. While that sounds a little weird – it is. Poison is something that we read about it books, suspected deaths and uses, but not really discussed and brought to the forefront.

From germs that were unknown and illnesses that today could be cured with simple remedies – life was not that simple back in the medieval ages. Doctors killed as many patients as they saved. Dirty hands and instruments were some of the leading killers, yet, their concoctions were just as unsafe. Now, there are going to be times within this book, that you might not want to eat before, during, or after… these “recipes” for medicines were NASTY. I have a very strong stomach, and there were a few times that I felt a tad queasy just reading through the ingredients that would go into a balm or drink for a cure.

Doctors though were not the only ones to blame. Cosmetics were also a leading cause of death. Women have always been very vain about their looks, and it was no different 600 years ago. Lead-based products, mercury, arsenic… the list goes on and on. Arsenic was used in just about everything! From clothing, cosmetics, fruit washes, and more. There was no test to see how deadly the many uses were at the time, and these were seen as agents that could “help” and “preserve” items. Little did they know that they were killing themselves slowly.

Mercury was used as a medicine, although in small doses. One of the main uses was for the treatment of syphilis, yet it would kill you just as quickly as the actual disease. It could be used though to kill someone if that was your intent. The Medici family perfected the art of poison and used it most effectively to eliminate many of their rivals. Yet, they were not the only ones to do so. While they are most commonly associated with poisoning – it was used on a far wider scale than many realize. England, France, Germany and many of the other world powers at the time had their own ways of poisoning a rival. Lady Francis Howard was convicted of murder in England, after removing a rival for her lover’s affections.

Kings, queens, ambassadors, and many others were liable to fall victim to poison, just as easily as they could fall victim to the many germs that were rampant. Cleanliness was not as prevalent as it is today, and bathing was seen as opening the pores of your body too bad humor. They would bathe just a few times per year (depending on the person, they might never bathe). King James I was known to boast that he had never bathed in his life, and the smell that his body emanated certainly backed up that fact.

I absolutely LOVED this book! From murder to daily products that could kill you, ancient to more modern times, I was hooked! I love a good mystery, and these cases draw you in. Eleanor Herman really draws you in and takes you down the many facets that made up the known world at the time, from famous figures to some lesser known ones as well. You can read about Napolean, Mozart, and so many more.

This book is now available! You can search for it at your local library or favorite book spot! I give this book 4/5 stars!

Links for Book Purchases:

A Little More Summer Reading For Kids —

A Little More Summer Reading For Kids

Good day, dear readers! Summer is winding down, but there is still more time to get some reading in before school really starts back into full swing. While we enjoy these last few days, why not spend some time reading some fun little books, and learn a little more too!

If you are planning to take a road trip any time in the future, check out the book I Spy The 50 States by Sharon Rosart:

This book is fun and one that can help keep kids occupied in the car. While you are driving through many different states, there are things that they can search for. Forget taking electronics and other items to keep kids busy. This book is full of little facts and fun snippets of information. Kids will enjoy searching for the items on their list as you travel through different areas. Fun places to stop, find and more!

Available now!!

Anne Frank by Isabel Sanchez Vegara

Anne Frank is one of the saddest stories to come out of the Holocaust.  A young girl who wanted a better world, and who lived in secret. After her family was discovered and sent to the concentration camps, her father was the only one who came out alive after the war. The rest of the family was lost. Her father published the diary so that the rest of the world could read her story.

This book has a great timeline at the back. This is perfect for beginning readers!

Available now!

 

Mother Teresa by Isabel Sanchez Vegara

Mother Teresa is a well-known figure in the world, however, many do not know where she got her start.

In this book, kids will get a short look at the life of Mother Teresa, and how she got her start in the world, becoming one of the most well-known nuns in the modern age. Great for beginning readers and those who are wanting a jumping off point for learning more about Mother Teresa.

Available now!

 

Jane Austen by Isabel Sanchez Vegara

Jane Austen is a well-known author. This little book gives beginning readers a look into the life of Jane Austen, and how her books really got started.

Great for beginning readers and those who love Jane Austen! Available now.

 

Get out and get some more reading in this summer! If you read these books, let me know what you think of them! My boys and I enjoyed going through these together, and my youngest was excited that he could read them on his own.

Stay tuned for more fantastic reviews…

 

 

Prince of York: A Story of Reginald Pole ~A Book Review~ — 2018-07-21

Prince of York: A Story of Reginald Pole ~A Book Review~

The story of Reginald Pole is one that I have long been interested in! I have always enjoyed reading what history has to say about him. He had a rather unusual family dynamic. They were related to the ruling family, but that did not ensure that you were safe – or even in favor with that family. Henry VIII was a rather difficult king, and after the many failures of his marriages and the inability to get a male heir, there was distrust and upset. While the King failed to see that the destruction that he was causing, many continued to thrive and grow their own ambitions.

Reginald was educated at the sponsorship of Henry VIII, but he did not always agree with what the King did, and when he refused to help him justify his divorce from Katherine of Aragon, it was viewed as a betrayal.

Samantha Wilcoxson has undertaken to write a novella on Reginald. As soon as I saw the book, I knew I had to read it. IT WAS AMAZING! I loved it!

Book Review

Reginald Pole was an enigma. He dared to defy a King.

The story of Reginald Pole is a sad one. Educated by Henry VIII, he rose within the Catholic Church. As he continued his rise, he dared to defy the King’s wishes. Refusing to be cowered by the threats and assassins sent after him, he was protected by the Pope.

When King Henry realized that Reginald would not conform to the new church that he had started, his mother and brother were arrested, and eventually executed for treason. The execution of an elderly woman was something that not only shocked England but was seen as barbaric throughout the known world. Through trial and tribulations, Reginald continued to seek comfort within the Church, and the many friends that he had. Though his earthly family was largely eradicated, he still had one brother left alive, who had given evidence against his mother and brother, but his eyes were on things not of this world…

Great novella on Reginald Pole! This man has always interested me, not only with his relationship with Queen Mary of England but because of his refusal to bow to the wishes of a mortal king. Reginald deserved to have his story told, and Samantha Wilcoxson has done a fantastic job with it! Her books never disappoint, and I was thrilled to be able to read this one as well!

If you want to read it on Kindle, you can grab the link here: https://amzn.to/2LAP8W3

Summer Vacation and the Book Dilemma — 2018-07-17

Summer Vacation and the Book Dilemma

Summer vacation is upon us, and the time for reading has become slimmer. I try to read for an hour every night before going to bed, but this last week that proved impossible. My sister stayed with me while I was at my parents for a week, and so instead of reading – we talked and listened to CreepyPasta stories.

Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely LOVE the time that I get to spend with family! It is wonderful getting caught up and making new memories. Books are my relaxation tool. I read to forget stress and frustration. I realized as I was packing up to leave, that I had not cracked open one of the books that I had brought to read. I read several stories to my nieces and nephews, but my reading was put on the back burner. Ya know, I am okay with that! I would rather have the memories of snuggling with the littles and sharing some of my favorite stories with them, then sitting there going, “I read four books this week.”

Now that I am back home, and the quiet of the house has settled around me, I find myself looking through my list of books trying to decide what to read next. There are so many books that I need to read, want to read, or have planned to read – however, nothing is grabbing me! I cannot find the want to read now. I missed it while I was away, but now that I have the time – nope!

Summer is always an enigma in our house. We tend to become busier than normal. Schedules are filled with activities, fun, and everything else in between. There are days I am not sure exactly what day it is, but as long as everything is on the calendar, I am good to go.  Right now, I am kid free! My kidlets are spending time with their grandparents. I have more time on my hands, and I am not sure how to fill it! I have had the time to sit back and evaluate how things are going in my life, my house, and work on figuring out a plan to get through the remainder of the summer and into the fall.

I have begun the planning segment for the upcoming school year. Lists are in progress of how I want certain things to go, and finances are being looked at. But there is something missing – the ordinary insanity in my house has come down to the dog, and she is content to lay on my feet and snooze the day away. In the insanity of feeling like I am forgetting something, I have started the massive MUST READ LIST – and adding it to my calendar. I love being able to plan everything out and look ahead to see what is upcoming.

How is your summer shaping up? Do you have any fun plans? Share your plans and summer reading goals with me!

 

Keep the kids reading this summer! — 2018-06-30

Keep the kids reading this summer!

I have some great books to share with you! Some are currently out, while others have yet to be released. These are some really fun kid reads, that are sure to keep your child engaged during the summer. I have been sneaky with my kids so far this summer. I am giving them fun books to read, and they are learning at the same time! Talk about a win-win situation!

 

Outside: Discovering Animals by Maria Ana Peixe Dias

What a fun book for kids! They will learn, without realizing it! I sat and read through this book, and plan to get a copy that my kids can use this coming fall.

There are so many interesting facts here, and I found myself learning while reading through it! Kids of all ages will have fun reading this book! Add this to your must-have list! This is a book that they can use again and again!

This book releases on 5 July 2018.

 

Amazing World: Bugs: Get to know 20 crazy bugs by L.J. Tracosas

Do you have a little bug lover in your life? This book is a great guide to the world of bugs. What they eat, where they live, and SO MUCH MORE! It is a quick read, and kids 5 and up will enjoy reading through and learning new little tidbits about some of their favorite critters.

Jump in and get to know the bug world just a little bit more this summer, and then head outside to find and watch your new little friends.

This book is now available for purchase!

 

The People Awards by Lily Murray

Get to know a little bit about some of the biggest names in history. From Abraham Lincoln to some of the most popular rockstars – this book has a lot of different facts and is chalk full of information.

Okay, parents – I love giving rave reviews, but this book had a few entries that rather raised my eyebrows. I would suggest that if you are thinking about getting this for your kids, that you take a look at it first. There are some things that I am not quite ready to discuss with my boys yet. Overall, I agreed with the majority of the people included, but there are always a few that you have to wonder about. On a star rating, this would get 4 stars from me.

This book releases on 7 August 2018.

 

Outside: Exploring Nature by Maria Ana Peixe Dias

This was a really fun book to read through. I loved the many different facets of nature that were discussed and illustrated in this book.

I have shared this with my kids, and they really enjoyed it as well. For kids ages 5 and up, this is the perfect gateway into understanding nature and getting to know the many different aspects that make up what we view in the natural world.

Get ready for a fun-filled adventure and enjoyable time reading with your kids.

This book released 5 July 2018.

 

Ranger Rick’s Guide to Hiking by Helen Olsson

If you love to spend time outdoors, then this is the perfect book for you! We love to hike, and this book is chalk full of awesome ideas and tips for all your hiking adventures.

We spend a lot of time outdoors with the Boy Scouts, and this is one book that I am going to recommend to the parents of our new scouts to look into. From clothing to food, and more, this book outlines and shares information on a level that kids 8 and up will easily understand.

Get ready to learn all the safety tips and fantastic ideas for hiking! Then get outside and enjoy nature!

This book is available now.

 

There are a few more books that you can look into:

  1. 10 reasons to love a penguin – Catherine Barr. This book is now available.
  2. 10 reasons to love a lion – Catherin Barr. This book is now available.
  3. Grandad Mandela – Ambassedor Zindzi Mandela. This book is available now
  4. The Know-Nonsense Guide to Space – Heidi Fiedler. This book releases 3 July 2018.
  5. The Bug Lab for Kids – John W. Guyton. This book is available now.

 

 

New Ideas and Upcoming Blog Changes — 2018-06-28

New Ideas and Upcoming Blog Changes

Good day! I hope that this summer is treating you well so far! It has been a really busy one here already! Working on the blog has taken a backseat to many of the adventures that kicked off the start of summer. We took some time off from home-schooling, as we were all needing a break. We are going to enjoy a little downtime before we dive back in. I am hoping that the boys enjoy the break as much as I am. They are going to get a little traveling in, and of course, I am getting a much-deserved break.

I wish that I could say that there has been a lot of reading going on. Things have really been slow in that department lately. There are so many fantastic books, and yet, so little time. Sleep has to happen once in a while. I think I might have slept once or twice this week – I think… that is still rather open for debate. My book list continues to grow, and there might be a slight issue when we eventually move. I mean – how many books are TOO MANY? There is no real answer to that, but in my view, there can never be enough books. At this point, I could open a small research library in my upstairs closet. We can all just hope that the shelving holds together and not come crashing down in the middle of the night! While I was looking over my to-read list for this year, I realized that I still have 131 to read and blog. As of today, there are 86 finished books that have been added to my pile. What an epic year it has been!

I have been looking over the blog, and formulating new ideas. I have to say, I absolutely LOVE having each and every one of you here with me! Books and life tidbits are always fun. But I am ready to start branching out a little more and adding some new content and ideas to the blog. When I first started my own personal blog, it was with the intent that I would grow it to include a lot more than just books, and the little random stories about my kids. While my life is fascinating to some, I know that it is not everyone’s cup of tea – and that is okay! I am a very unique person and a very fluid person. There are so many things that I enjoy – books are just a small portion of that.

History is another love of mine. I enjoy reading, writing, and even debating history. I have been teaching college courses for the past 8 years, and I will probably be doing it for another fifty to come. I enjoy the many aspects, small hidden areas, and even the mysteries of history that have left people scratching their head. Ancient history has held me in fascination since the fourth grade when I read a book on Cleopatra. After that, it was game over. I could not get enough Egyptian history, and I still do a lot of reading on it today. I am also fascinated with Serial Killers. True crime has a rather morbid hold. Not that I would ever think about harming another human being, but I enjoy looking into what makes people tick, and what might go through their head during the execution of a crime. Crafting, Scouting, outdoor activities, and so many more – there are many pages left unturned on this blog as of yet!

That is not to say I am going to overload you with a million things. I actually want to hear from you! What do you enjoy, and what might you like to see included here? There are many untapped areas that we can go into and add. While books are one of my main loves, and the book blogging will most definitely continue – tell me what you would enjoy coming here to read or learn.

I have so many different ideas floating around in my head right now, that I am working on putting them all on paper, and eventually moving them into reality. This year is so full of promise. I look forward to sharing quite a bit more, and of course, getting to know each of you better!

Let me know what you think, and share some of your summer plans!

Ranger Rick Kids’ Guide to Paddling ~A Book Review~ — 2018-06-19

Ranger Rick Kids’ Guide to Paddling ~A Book Review~

Summer is finally here, and its time to get some water fun and sports in. If your family is anything like mine then you spend the majority of your summer around water of some kind. I insisted that my kids learn to swim early on, but that is still not enough sometimes. Depending on the water sports that you are going to be doing there are other things that kids are going to need to learn and of course, master before they set foot on the water.

I got a copy of the Ranger Rick Kids Guide to Paddling, and I have to say – this is one of the best books that kids can get their hands on. Pictures, advice, tips and more are all laid out in this easy to read book. I love that my boys can get the tips through a fun to read and easily laid out book. Mom can tell them all day long what they need to know, but sometimes, you have to look at things from another angle.

Some of the things that are talked about throughout the book are life vests, what to do in certain situations, and how to avoid disaster. It even tells you to PRACTICE some of the issues that you might run into, so that you know how to respond if a situation arises that you need to get yourself out of.

I loved Ranger Rick magazine as a child. I remember being so excited to get them in the mail each month, so when I see something with the Ranger Rick name on it, I know its going to be something worth the money.  This book is available now, so if you have summer birthdays – here is the perfect gift! I might be looking into these for my nieces and nephews for just because presents!

Have you read anything by Ranger Rick? Share them with us here!