The Birth of a Reader


Fritz finished read the Harry Potter series a week ago yesterday. The next day he started the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. He’s quite a ways through the third book now. He read the second book in two days. He read until very late last not and couldn’t put it down until he was done. There’s always a book or a series that grabs a kid, one they just can’t put down, and that’s when you know a reader has been born.

A Little Visit

There’s this author I like, Tony James Slater, and he and his wife, Roo, are currently on a trip around the US. Of course traveling in this country is rather expensive so they are couchsurfing along their way. I offered a place to stay (a little more than a couch… they got to stay in what we call my parents’ wing – their bedroom is gigantic and their bathroom is bigger than any I’ve ever seen before and then there’s a walk-in closet, too) and so San Antonio was added to their itinerary. They arrived on Sunday evening and went home yesterday morning. It was awesome!

Soon after they got here we had dinner and then we just sat and talked until 11. Tony is as funny in real life as he is in his book. He can seriously tell a good story. Roo is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. She’s just truly likable. Time just flies talking to them.

A Little Visit

Monday morning we went downtown. Only Adrian came with us. He loves museums and stuff like that. We went to the Alamo first. They had some living history stuff going on including a gun firing demonstration. We left there and headed down to the River Walk. I think it kind of blew Tony and Roo’s mind. We ate lunch at a really good barbecue place (bonus: they had a list of what was safe for Adrian and me). Then we went on the river boat tour. That’s the third time we’ve done it and it’s different every time. On the way home from downtown we stopped at SubZero and got ice cream made right in front of us with liquid nitrogen. Then Roo stayed at the house (she had a headache and needed to rest) while the rest of us went to our friends’ house for a Labor Day cookout.

A Little Visit

Last time we tested for new belts, the parking lot was pretty full when we got there so we parked in a place we don’t usually. Fritz looked across the road and saw a sign for Premier Escape Rooms. I’ve wanted to do an escape room ever since I heard Rider Strong talk about them on an episode of Literary Disco. So we decided doing one with Tony and Roo would be awesome (it was). We booked the Conspiracy Cure room. The storyline was a disease had been unleashed that was killing everyone and we were working on a cure. We walk into a lab and discover a tube of the disease open infecting us all. We had one hour to solve the puzzles, figure out which potential cure was the right one, and find the key to escape from the room. We found the escape key with 30 minutes to go, but we still needed to figure out which one was the cure. And so we spent the next 25 minutes trying and trying to figure out the final puzzle to get the answer. Once we found it, it was so obvious. I can’t believe we overlooked it all that time. But, we won with 5 minutes to spare. The last 5 or 10 minutes were pretty nerve-racking, though. We’ll definitely have to do another escape room in the future.

We stayed up until 11 again Monday night. Seriously, time flies talking to Tony and Roo. Ani and Cameron had to get up early for seminary on Tuesday. They were back in bed and the little guys were almost done with their on their own work by the time Tony and Roo were up and ready for the day so that worked out nicely. We had breakfast and chatted a bit more and then it was time for them to leave. Roo had fallen in love with our Little Ladies (aka our sugar gliders) and spent a lot of time just watching them play in their cage when the ladies got up for the night. It’s illegal to keep gliders as pets in Australia. So I asked her if she wanted to hold one. I pulled Filli out of the pouch and handed her to Roo (and gave Filli a yogurt drop which she loves – I picked Filli because she’s so much calmer than Kree and when you add in a yogurt drop, Filli’s not going to go anywhere). I think Roo was in heaven.

A Little Visit

I made sure to get Tony’s autograph before they left. I read almost exclusively on the Kindle and that’s how I read his books so it made sense to have him sign the back of it. I have a pretty old Kindle Keyboard and it’s in pretty rough shape (but it works and I love it so I haven’t felt the need to upgrade yet) so I know it’ll die before too long. I guess when it does, I’ll just have to pry the back off and keep it.

If you haven’t ever read any of Tony’s books, I highly suggest you do. As I read them, I’d laugh so hard and my family would say, “Tony again?” I’m so glad I gave that freebie (Kamikaze Kangaroos!) a chance last year. It’s not too often reading a freebie leads to buying a bunch of other books to read… and it’s never led to having the author come visit before. Here’s my reviews of his books (which include links to buy them on Amazon): That Bear Ate My Pants!, Don’t Need the Whole Dog!, Kamikaze Kangaroos!, Can I Kiss Her Yet?, and Shave My Spider!.

Les Mis Shirt

Last month I finished my 52nd book of the year, Les Miserables. I decided that reading a 1400 page book written in the 1860s deserved to be rewarded so I got a t-shirt from Litographs.

On the front is the Elephant of the Bastille with Gavroche and his two little brothers climbing into it.
Les Mis Shirt

On the back is a close-up of the three boys.
Les Mis Shirt

The design is made with actual words from the book.
Les Mis Shirt

I love this shirt. It is so soft and so unique. Definitely the perfect way to commemorate reading Les Mis!

Books Referencing Other Books

One of the things I love most about reading – and I tend to read a really eclectic mix of books (the only thing I don’t like at all is romance) – is noticing references to other books in the books I read. For example, I read The Hundred trilogy this week. The second book, Day 21, has a flashback scene where one of the characters says she just wants the book so she can know if “she ends up with the boy who called her carrots.” I laughed when I read that because a week or so ago I read Anne of Green Gables and that’s the book that scene is referencing. It’s like some books have word easter eggs just waiting to be discovered. Finding them makes me want to read even more to find the ones I’m missing!


Over the last few months I’ve been pre-reading the books Fritz and Cameron will read over the course of the school year. I finished Fritz’s during the summer. I finally finished Cameron’s last week.

The last few weeks I have read a LOT. In addition to reading to the little guys and reading on my own for fun, I read Robinson Crusoe (hated it), Gulliver’s Travels (loved the first two parts – the two parts Cameron read – but didn’t love the rest), The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle (felt something was missing which is weird because it was the actual stories as written by Washington Irving – I suppose what was missing was things filled in in movies based on the stories), A Christmas Carol (loved it – and it just so happens Cameron will finish reading it just as we finish up school before Christmas break), Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (excellent and fascinating), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did), Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (loved it; had forgotten it’s actually a pretty short book), and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (extremely surprised I enjoyed it as much as I did!).

Along with those, I read The Iliad along with Ani. That was very, very long. I’m still not sure what I actually think of it.

Most of the books I had never read before. Homeschooling older kids definitely is expanding my reading world. Now that I’ve finished this school year’s books, I can’t wait to pick and get started on next year’s!

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Homeschool Style

The Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales I got excited over this year were homeschool related. We still got a few “regular” deals. Like we needed a Christmas tree (half price at Hobby Lobby – and I actually found one I liked a lot that didn’t come with lights already on it!) and Jamie needed a new suit (incredible deal on that at Kohl’s, plus Kohl’s cash to spend this week) and we got Disney Infinity 2.0 and some characters for a great price, too.

But the majority of my shopping was for our next school year. And all digital because that’s how I like my curriculum purchases.

On Black Friday, I got Alpha Omega LifePACs for Ani. She’s really struggling with geometry. She went through grades 7, 8, and 9 and picked 4 individual LifePACs each from 7th and 9th and two from 8th that she feels she needs help on the concepts. I got those and the complete geometry set for 20% off. I also got History Odyssey Modern Times 1 from Pandia Press for, I think, 30% off.

On Cyber Monday, I got Elemental Science Physics for the Grammar Stage for 20% off. I’m not totally sold on that one, but it was cheap, and made cheaper with the sale, so I went ahead and got it. The biggie for me came from Peace Hill Press. 30% off all our language arts for next year. I got First Language Lessons 2 and 4, Writing With Ease 1 and 3, and Writing With Skill 2. I realized that the following year (when Adrian is a 3rd grade) I’ll no longer have to buy grammar or writing for Adrian since he’ll use what Fritz has already used.

I’m almost done pre-reading the last book Cameron will be reading this year (finished Fritz’s over the summer and I read Ani’s as she does). Is it sad that I’m already excited about getting started pre-reading their books for next year?

I read a lot

A friend of mine posted on Facebook about how few people read books after they complete their formal education. That just boggles my mind because of the number of books I go through and how much I enjoy reading. Last year I read 88 books. That was actually a low year. Most of the last few years I’ve read more than two books a week. So far this year I’ve read three books. And I’ve started Mama Reader, a blog just for reviews of the books I read.

But I’ve also got a ridiculous book addiction. I realized the other day that if I read 100 books a year and buy no more books, I have enough unread books on my Kindle to last me three years. Yes, I have a three year supply of books. Most of them I’ve gotten free or for $2 or less. Really, the books I pay more than that for are usually books I want to read right away. So my three year supply hasn’t cost very much, but that’s a crazy number of books. And I keep getting more (granted, I’ve pretty much limited myself to free books now unless it’s something I’ve been waiting to go on sale). I think I have a book problem (thank goodness Kindle books don’t take up space, right?).