a little obsessed with hamilton

Stuff We Like :: 2.3.17

home|school|life’s Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

Around the Web 

Guys, I’m having a difficult relationship with the internet right now. It’s important to me to stay connected and engaged with what’s happening—but it’s also important for me to stay upright and to hang out with my kids on occasion, instead of crawling under the bedcovers for the next four years or so, which is what I feel like doing every time I fire up Facebook or Twitter. Even my favorite non-political pop culture sites have almost daily WHAT THE @%*& IS HAPPENING posts, which I appreciate because we’re all in this together, but which makes it difficult to surf on those days when I just can’t handle another newsflash. So the web pickings are a bit slim this week, but I’m hoping that if we all share strategies and support each other, we can figure out how to stay engaged AND stay sane. Comment if you have suggestions! 

Here’s a great list of children’s and young adult books on refugees and what the refugee experience is like. I’ll be adding some of these to our bookshelf. (We also have a big list of immigration books, which includes books about the refugee experience, in the winter issue.)

If you’re in the middle of a comfort re-read of Harry Potter (and isn’t it always a good time for a comfort re-read of Harry Potter?), be sure to check out Sarah Gailey’s Women of Harry Potter series which is WONDERFUL and inspirational and may possibly make you cry a little bit (looking at you, Molly Weasley) but in a good way, I promise.

Thanks to the Boy Scouts of America for giving us some good news to celebrate this week! 


at home/school/life

on the blog: Obviously you're going to want to add all of Suzanne's Hamilton fan reading recommendations to your library list. Because you never know when you might get stuck in a library with Lin-Manuel Miranda.

one year ago: We kicked off Black History month with a great high school unit study on the Harlem Renaissance.

two years ago: Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda: Better Homeschooling After the Fact

three years ago: Quick ways to cut the stress on hard homeschool days


Reading List

I’m currently teaching a Hamilton History class (aka U.S. History 1765 - 1800), so I’m brushing up on my Revolutionary reading. I’m only a short way into Janice Hadlow’s A Royal Experiment: The Private Life of King George III, but it’s fascinating so far. 

In honor of the new Shirley Jackson biography ( Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin), I’m reading/re-reading my way through Jackson’s works. My favorite “discoveries” so far: the recently published collection Let Me Tell You: New Stories, Essays, and Other Writings, and her novel The Sundial, which I’m totally adding to my Apocalypse Lit curriculum. 

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a big fan of Lyndsay Faye’s Jane Steele (a Jane Eyre homage), and now I’ve moved on to her Timothy Wilde series, set in 1845 New York City—the first book, The Gods of Gotham, was excellent!—and have just begun her Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper novel, Dust and Shadow


At Home 

I know I talk about The Good Place every time, but the season finale was AWESOME and I’m now rewatching all the episodes on Hulu and you should watch them too because if it isn’t renewed for a second season it will be a small tragedy.

Big weekend coming up: Daughter #2 turns 14, Husband #1 turns 48, and the Falcons are in the Superbowl! I predict a lot of chips and dip and birthday cake in my immediate future. 

So, my Christmas tree is still up. Is that bad? Between “I just don’t have the energy for this” and “the twinkly lights are so soothing and friendly” we haven’t managed to dismantle it. (Family of asthmatics = artificial tree, so at least it isn’t a fire hazard.) I’m sure we’ll have it down by Valentine’s Day. Probably. Maybe.

Stuff We Like :: 8.12.16

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

around the web

Elephant and Piggie in Hamilton. Yes, please.

Being a regular reader may help you live up to two years longer. (So you’ve got plenty of time to binge-watch more television. :))

If you have ever gotten a letter from a Nigerian prince looking to make you a millionaire, you will appreciate this piece on letter-writing scams of the Victorian era.

It is really hard to see a crossword puzzle and NOT try to solve it, right?

Oh my gosh, I loved this group of children’s authors musings on whether fictional children should ever actually grow up. (I think I’m in the “no” camp, but I do like little flash-peeks into the future.)


at home | school | life

on the blog: How do you keep records for your homeschool? Shelli shares her method.

in the classroom: It’s a flash sale! You can save 10% if you register for your class today.

on instagram: A peek inside our weekly done list. 

on the podcast: Have you listened to the home/school/life podcast? We’d love it if you’d leave a review/rating on iTunes or share it with your friends.

from the archives: What to read after you finish all of Harry Potter?


reading list

on my night table:

I’m reading All the Birds in the Sky for the podcast, and I really, really like it, but I’m afraid to finish it because so many good books fall apart at the end.

I recently discovered Isabel Colegate, and I regret all the years of my reading life when I didn’t know she existed. I adored The Blackmailer (which has an Iris Murdoch-ish vibe and which is kind of darkly funny comedy of manners) and have moved on to The Shooting Party.

on my 14-year-old’s night table:

Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death

The Golden Compass (I have been leaving this series ostentatiously out for her for years, so I am thrilled she picked it up!)

Storybook Toys

on my 8-year-old’s night table:

Sideways Stories from Wayside School (He liked the math problems in Sideways Arithmetic so much he wanted to read this book.)


My daughter and I are reading The Letters of John and Abigail Adams together — the first of her official high school lit projects.

Magic or Not?, a lesser-known but still delightful Edward Eager book, is our current morning readaloud.


at home

My lovely sister-in-law is visiting from California this week, and we’ve had so much fun hanging out with Auntie Rach.

watching: Ugly Betty is streaming on Hulu now, so I am re-watching the series from start to finish. I’d forgotten how much I love Betty! I’m also obsessed with Inspector Lewis.

eating: I keep talking about tomato toast, but I can’t help it—I’m obsessed. 

knitting: I’m still in the middle of my baby knitting frenzy. On the needles: This freakishly cute little bear sweater.

listening: To John Malkovich reading me Breakfast of Champions. Talk about embarrassments of riches.

Stuff We Like :: 7.28.16

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

Around the Web

I’ve been enjoying the SDCC news (superheroes! movie trailers! superhero movie trailers!) on my favorite (and sometimes NSFW) movie site BirthMoviesDeath

I love Lynda Barry: When Heidi Met Carrie

Let’s face it: I was never gonna be able to afford to fly to NYC and see Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton, but I will miss watching him host Ham4Ham

But (speaking of Lin-Manuel) we’re all excited for Moana, right?  Have you seen the Baby Moana trailer?


at home | school | life

for subscribers: We added the Time Cat reading guide to the subscribers library!

on the blog: Don’t miss your chance to enter our fab weather book giveaway.

in the classroom: There’s lots of good stuff coming up on the fall class schedule.


Reading List

I finally made my way through The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman and WOW, now I understand what people have been talking about all these years.  Bonus, The Omnibus editions make a very satisfying THUMP when you bring them back to the library returns counter.

Favorite very-post-apocalypse-plus-Brazil-and-matriarchy! YA of the month: The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Favorite dutiful-daughter-and-her-doctor-fiance-and-the-squirrel-that-might-come-between-them fiction of the month: The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie

Favorite French-Revolution-historical-fiction-that-posits-that-Robespierre-was- maybe-not-that-bad-a-guy? of the month: A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel


At Home 

We ain’t afraid of no (female) ghost(-busters): The whole family loved the new Ghostbusters movie!  

Haven’t made it to Star Trek Beyond yet (yes, we’re nerds), but we’re busy watching the first two reboot movies in preparation.

Our new kitten is all of FIVE POUNDS now and has already transitioned from fuzzy bitty kitten to mini-cat.

If anyone wants to meet up for a strawberry margarita or two, I think I’ll need it after dropping Eldest Kid off at his COLLEGE ORIENTATION tomorrow.  Cheers!

Summer Reading: If You Liked Hamilton

This one’s a bit of a spin, but with all the Hamilton fans out there, we thought it would be fun to round up some read-this-next books for people who just can’t get enough Ham.


Don Brown always does a brilliant job distilling complex information for younger readers (have you read his Hurricane Katrina book yet?), and Aaron and Alexander: The Most Famous Duel in American History, a dual history of two of Hamilton’s key figures, is no exception.



Think Hamilton-adjacent and dive into the life of the most famous traitor in Revolutionary history with The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism, and Treachery. Arnold is as fascinating a character as Hamilton.



Dig into a biography of Alexander Hamilton’s life that actually includes some of the best parts of the musical (including a reference to Angelica Schuyler who doesn’t show up in other Hamilton children’s lit). Jean Fritz’s Alexander Hamilton: The Outsider is the Ron Chernow equivalent for the elementary school set.



Fever 1793
By Laurie Halse Anderson

Fever 1793 tells the story of one girl’s experiences during Philadelphia’s yellow fever epidemic, which also affected Hamilton and his wife. This is gripping historical fiction based on real events.



Burr: A Novel
By Gore Vidal

Gore Vidal’s Burr isn’t just our next podcast read—it’s a complex, almost Shakespearean tale of the man behind one of history’s most famous duels. Read it with us!

Stuff We Like :: 6.3.16

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

Suzanne's back with lots of geeky goodness in this week's edition of Stuff We Like. 

Around the Web

JANE MY LITTLE SUNBEAM WHERE ARE YOU I NEED YOU BY MY SIDE: I know Amy already talked about how we’re going into mourning as The Toast closes its doors (fortunately, the archives will remain, so that we can catch up on Ayn Rand’s Harry Potter among other things), but I thought I’d take this opportunity to make sure that we’ve all got our copies of Texts From Jane Eyre by Toast co-founder Mallory Ortberg—we do, right? Yes? Excellent.

And while it doesn’t make up for the loss of The Toast, Mallory’s fellow co-founder, Nicole Cliffe, can now be found at The Guardian, writing about the Romanovs and Erma Bombeck (not together, but that would be an awesome fanfic).

In happier news, FILM CRIT HULK, my very favorite all-caps superhero/film critic has made a triumphant return to essay writing after a too-long absence (though I respectfully disagree with his take on Captain America: Civil War).

READER, I &*^%$ING MARRIED HIM: When Storytime Blows Kids’ Minds: The Power of the Plot Twist


at home | school | life

on the website: Amy and I recorded the first episode of The Podcast with Suzanne and Amy this week. Look for it next week!

on the blog: Apparently Amy’s obsessing over planning high school pretty much everywhere. (It’s going to be fine!)

on instagram: A little first-day-of-homeschooling nostalgia

in the classroom: There’s still time to sign up for my Hamilton class (and other great summer classes, too)!


Reading List

Obnoxious and Disliked: Although I adore Hamilton and have new love and appreciation for the man himself, my very favorite founding father is still John Adams, so I’m thoroughly enjoying David McCullough’s John Adams (yeah, I’m just now getting around to reading it — I’ve been busy!)

Just got The Mind Readers, the last Campion mystery written by his creator, Margery Allingham (though the series continues with books written by her husband); Allingham created Campion as a spoof of his contemporary, Lord Peter Wimsey, and he indeed comes off as Wimsey crossed with Bertie Wooster at the beginning, though by now I’ve followed him through several decades and he’s his own man, surrounded by an entertaining group of family members, old friends, and various detective inspectors, some of whom at least I’m hoping will show up in this final book

My current fantasy pick is A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab, sequel to the original and entertaining A Darker Shade of Magic, about a magician who can travel across worlds from Red London (his home) to Grey London (our London, during the Regency period) and White London (where evil magic runs rampant)

I’m reading Jane Eyre with the 13-year-old, which gives me another excuse to link to The Toast, with The Best Part of Jane Eyre Is Guessing What the French Is (for the record, as an non-speaker of that language, my read-aloud approach has been “...and then Adele speaks in French for a bit.”)


At Home

Lots of video games in my house for summer break: Right now the 18-year-old and the 11-year-old (not to mention the 47-year-old) are obsessively playing Uncharted 4, which is convenient for me, the non-gamer, as Uncharted is my favorite video game to watch and I can’t wait to see what happens to explorer/thief/treasure-hunter Nathan Drake (who should totally be played by Nathan Fillion in the live action adaptation) in this, the final chapter of the series

Haven’t had a chance to play it yet, but the family is also looking forward to some tabletop gaming with Ghostbusters: The Board Game, a cooperative game (my favorite kind!) with some of the cutest pieces I’ve ever seen, including a very large (comparatively) Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man

And I know it’s a week away, but don’t forget to set your DVRs for the 2016 Tony Awards on June 12th, where we’re sure to get at least one freestyle-rap acceptance speech from Hamilton-creator Lin-Manuel Miranda!

Stuff We Like :: 5.6.16

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

Happy May, everyone! And special thanks to Amy for letting me take over Stuff We Like this week! I’m busy getting ready for the summer Hamilton History class (register today!) so I’ll do my best to limit the number of Hamilton-related links, but I can’t help starting off with one (or two or three…) 

Around the Web

Awesome Hamilton Broadway Crossover Pt. 1: For when you’ve memorized the cast recording and start wondering how other great Broadway shows would sound Hamilton-ized, here’s the cast doing their version of “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd” (Demon barber Sweeney Todd/I am the demon barber Sweeney Todd…)

Awesome Hamilton Broadway Crossover Pt. 2: A conversation between my favorite Alexander Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and my favorite John Adams, aka the actor William Daniels, from the other great Broadway musical about American history (and my favorite July 4th movie-watching tradition), 1776

Speaking of politics, it’s time for my election-year rewatch of The West Wing (I’m also enjoying Joshua Malina’s new podcast The West Wing Weekly) and I was thrilled to see C.J. Cregg herself taking the podium at a recent White House press briefing (and was reminded of these two adorable West Wing PSAs from a few years back—walk and talk, anyone?)

And now that I seem to have established a theme, here’s #Ham4Ham in the West Wing with Cabinet Battle #1 (makes me wonder why I even bring the thunder…)


at home | school | life

in the classroom: Speaking of Hamilton, registration is now open for our summer classes

in the store: Also open: registration for our awesome Homeschool 101 workshop

on the blog: I think we can all identify with the messiness of homeschooling

on instagram: Any excuse to quote Umberto Eco

in the archives: What to read next if you loved Lemony Snicket


Reading List

My non-fiction reading at the moment is all Hamilton-related—my favorite so far has been Ron Chernow’s Washington: A Life (in which I learned that during his second term George Washington himself was challenged “to point out ONE SINGLE ACT which unequivocally proves you a FRIEND to the INDEPENDENCE of AMERICA,” proving that partisan political speech in this country has always been nasty and bone-headed, a fact I find strangely reassuring at this time of year). I’m midway through Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis, a much shorter book which focuses on several specific events of interest to Hamilton fans (the duel, the Jefferson-Hamilton-Madison dinner, etc.) in which Ellis memorably describes the secretary of the Treasury’s “dashing Hamilton-to-the-rescue demeanor.” (Now I want a Hamilton-to-the-rescue t-shirt.)

For lighter, non-Hamilton-related reading, I’ve been working my way through Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher mysteries (the racier inspiration for the also-very-enjoyable and exceptionally-pretty-to-look-at television series, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries) from Cocaine Blues to the latest installment, Murder and Mendelssohn, and am hoping that Greenwood will give us some more, now that I’ve become very fond of the indomitable Phryne and her household of devoted minions.

Current read-aloud: the final book of Catherynne M. Valente’s Fairyland series, The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home, which I confess to reading more slowly than usual, as I’m not ready to say goodbye to this world.

Is it weird that I pre-ordered Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter so that I would get it the day it came out, but haven’t actually read it yet? I like looking at it on my shelf, anticipating how much fun it will be to read, and taking it out every once in a while to admire its encyclopedia-like loveliness and maybe give it a little hug. That’s super-weird, isn’t it?


At Home

Superheroes, Pt. 1 (Marvel edition): We’ve already got our tickets for Captain America: Civil War (opening this weekend!) and family relationships are starting to break down along Team Iron Man vs. Team Captain America lines. (For the record, it’s Steve Rogers all the way.)

Superheroes, Pt. 2 (DC edition): Got to catch up on our DVR’d episodes of The Flash (this season is very stressful) and Supergirlcan’t wait to finally see the crossover.

There’s a new Mapp and Lucia on PBS! My well-read copy of E. F. Benson’s Make Way for Lucia is dog-eared and falling apart and I’m a huge fan of the 1980’s adaptation (starring Prunella Scales, Geraldine McEwan, and Nigel Hawthorne), so I’m very excited to return to the 1930’s and the seaside town of Tilling.

International Tabletop Day was last Saturday (mark your calendars for next year) and this year we tried out Cash N Guns and Last Night On Earth at a local game store. (Apparently we were feeling a bit violent. We’ll have to play a couple of rounds of Pandemic to save the world and make up for it.) 

Coming up in May: We’ll soon be celebrating my eldest’s 18th birthday AND his high school graduation! I couldn’t be happier to reach such major milestones. I also may be having a small nervous breakdown. Clearly, it’s time to pour a glass of wine and listen to Hamilton.

Have a great week!

Suzanne’s Favorite Books of 2015

Fun list of best books of 2015 created by home|school|life magazine's awesome book columnist. #homeschool

I love this time of year! New beginnings and new resolutions­­—plus all the Best-­Of booklists come out, so I can restock my to­-read list. In the spirit of celebrating last year and looking forward to some seriously good reading in 2016, I thought I’d share some of my favorites of 2015.

Favorite Young Adult

By Julianna Baggott
The Raven Boys
By Maggie Stiefvater

Favorite First Book of a Post­-Apocalyptic Trilogy Where I Didn’t Love Books Two and Three but Book One is So Good That I Can’t Help Recommending It and You Should Probably Read the Others And Make Up Your Own Mind :: Pure by Julianna Baggott

Favorite First Book of a Contemporary Fantasy Series With Clairvoyants and Ley Lines and Cute Boys Which I Stopped Reading After the First Book Because the Fourth and Final Book is Coming Out in March 2016 and I Want to Read Them All in One Glorious Binge :: The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater

Favorite Fantasy Heist Novel Which I Didn’t Even Know Was a Thing But Which As a Big Ocean’s Eleven Fan I Was Thrilled to Discover and Even More Thrilled to Learn That It’s the First of an On­-Going Series (NOTE: Maybe Don’t Get Too Attached to All of the Characters in the Heist Crew) :: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch


Favorite Reading Inspired by My Obsession with the Broadway Musical Hamilton

(Because we’re all obsessed with Hamilton, right? Even those of us who live nowhere near New York and couldn’t afford tickets even if we did and so are forced to make do with listening to the cast album over and over again and singing along while our children mock our hip-­hop skills? If you are not yet obsessed with Hamilton , you have my permission to stop reading briefly to immediately check out the album. As a bonus, it totally counts as a homeschool history lesson.)

Alexander Hamilton
By Ron Chernow
Fever 1793
By Laurie Halse Anderson

Favorite Biography That Inspired it All and At 800-­Some Pages is Maybe Not a Quick Read but Still a Great Book About Our Ten­-Dollar Founding Father Who Just Like His Country Was Young, Scrappy, and Hungry ::Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

Favorite Upper­-Elementary/YA Historical Fiction That I Had Been Meaning to Read For Years And Finally Got Around to Because It’s About the 1793 Yellow Fever Epidemic in Philadelphia That Also Sickened Alexander Hamilton :: Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

Favorite New Sarah Vowell Book About America’s Favorite Fighting Frenchman and Alexander Hamilton’s Best Bud the Marquis de Lafayette Which Has, Disappointingly, Not All That Much Hamilton But Which is Wildly Entertaining Nonetheless As Are All of Sarah Vowell’s Books of History :: Lafayette in The Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell


Favorite Readalouds

Favorite Series That I’m On My Fourth and Probably Last Time Through Reading Aloud Until I Have Grandchildren Many MANY Years From Now :: The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Favorite Series That Just Keeps Getting Better and Is Giving Narnia a Run For Its Money As My Favorite Kids’ Fantasy Series of ALL TIME Where We’re Currently Reading Book Four (The Boy Who Lost Fairyland) While Anticipating the Release of the Fifth and Final (Sniff) Book (The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home) in March 2016 ::the Fairyland series by Catherynne M. Valente

Favorite Series by My Favorite Kids/YA Fantasy Author Diana Wynne Jones Where We’re Currently Reading The Magicians of Caprona Which is Turning Out to Be One of My Daughter’s Favorites Because It Has Magical Italian Cats :: the Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones


And finally:

Favorite Memoir That Examines the Author’s Life in Terms of Her Favorite Literary Heroines (Including Elizabeth Bennett, Anne Shirley, and Jane Eyre) Which Also Has the Best Title of Any Book I’ve Read This Year :: How to Be a Heroine: Or, What I’ve Learned From Reading Too Much by Samantha Ellis