7 Quick Takes: All About The Kids

Seven Quick Takes

— 1 —

School started earlier in August, and I wasn’t entirely sure how things would go, since this is my first year having two official students, plus the baby is much more … troublesome … than she was when she was an actual baby. 😉

So far, I’d have to say that things are going fairly well. My biggest issue currently is that I wish I had a bigger bookcase on the porch where we do most of our schooling. Two students in literature-based curriculum = twice as many books. Turns out we’re overflowing with books and other materials.

Kindergarten Book StackPartial Kindergarten Book Stack

— 2 —

G had a Cub Scout introductory meeting last night. Since I’m writing the post Thursday afternoon he hasn’t had the meeting yet and I have no idea how it’s going to go, what they would do, if if he’ll end up joining. But by the time you read this we should know all of that. Ok, maybe we won’t have decided about joining yet, but we’ll at least have the info to make that decision! He’s really excited about finding out about it at least.

— 3 —

H wants to join scouts too, so I need to get moving on finding out about something for her. Cub Scouts made it easy with signs by the local elementary school. Girl Scouts hasn’t done that, but I have a couple of emails out asking for info. 😉

— 4 —

As I figure out how best to do school with two students and three kids, I’m tweaking things from last year. This week I’ve been splitting up their work into two groups, and doing mini sessions with each. That way they both get a break in the middle, and can do their own thing for a bit while I work with the other one. M also gets her school time – she knows to ask for it (her school time consists of sitting on my lap and listening to me read her books).

Things aren’t as polished as I’d like; I’m hoping we can to get a little bit faster with everything. My preference would be to finish all of school and have lunch eaten and cleaned up before M goes down for a nap at 1:30. We’re making it now, but we also haven’t added in everything I want to do for the year.

It’ll also be a change once the weather isn’t as nice to allow outside playtime. That’s been helpful right now, and I know we’ll miss it this winter. All the more reason to take advantage of it while we can!

School OutsideTaking Advantage of a Beautiful Day to Do Math Outside

— 5 —

The two big kids had dentist appointments this week, and luckily for me R ended up taking the day off of work, so I was able to leave M with him and just take the patients with me. So much easier than keeping her contained and out of trouble during their appointments!

G is going back next week for sealant on his molars and I’ve got my fingers crossed that R can take a longer lunch and come home and watch both girls while I run G over to that appointment. Assuming no crisis pops up that morning he should be able to do that, but I’m trying not to totally be counting on it.

— 6 —

We’ve had a super rainy start to soccer – they actually played their first game without having had a practice because of all the rain-outs. This week they had practice and once again I find myself amazed at my good fortune. Both practices are at the exact same time and location, and they even practice on back-to-back fields. I was able to set my chair in between the fields and swivel my head to watch both of them. I’m going to enjoy that this season, because I don’t imagine I’ll ever get so lucky again with concurrent practices. Or if I do they’ll be at different locations and I’ll be scrambling to get them both where they need to be!

Post Rainy Soccer GameAfter Her First (Very Rainy) Soccer Game

— 7 —

We had roughly a month-long break with chapter book readalouds, and now we’re back into the routine of reading them daily. We’ve recently finished up The Year of the Dog (we all loved it), Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew #1 (H loved it), and Gone Fishing (G & I loved it, and I’ve already gushed about it on Instagram I thought so much of it.).

I am having to pay more attention to library holds lists and pickup times, because adding an extra person I’m trying to intentionally select readalouds for, timed to school topics, is still something I’m getting used to. It’s one thing when I’m getting books for her but it doesn’t matter when they arrive, and another when I want them at particular times, or to be sure I’m getting a balance of topics.

Gone Fishing

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t The Lyceum!

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Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Book Review: Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster
Three years ago: Cooking the Book: Trader Joe’s Vegetarian Cookbook

Next Up: Staying in the US in Family Book Club

Apparently we all took the summer off, but you’ve got time to join in for the final months of our family book club as we look at books set in the United States! We’ve also got a new co-host, Kate of Moms’s Radius.

What books are we reading in September and October?


For the youngest readers, the picture book selected is Grace For President by Kelly S. DiPucchio, and illustrated by LeUyen Pham (can’t find it at your library? I’ll be back soon with a post on some other options, but do look for this one, as it is wonderful).

For September’s early elementary / middle grade title, we’re reading Dancing Home by Alma Flor Ada and Gabriel M. Zubizarreta.

October’s selection for teens / adults is Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman.

Chat about the books

We’d love to chat about the books with you in the Facebook group – tell us what you & your family think about the titles, or share additional ideas for books (or crafts, or food) that connect to the theme!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Book Review: The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner

2017 Planning: How We’re Selecting Our Book Club Choices for 2017

The last few weeks I’ve been obsessing over possible book club choices for next year.

I think sometimes I like the planning almost as much as the actual reading – all that potential, and the wonderful possibilities that there are!

Planning for Book Club Choices

Step One: Begin with All The Books

I started with the master list of book possibilities that we’ve kept for years (and a refresh about what books we’ve already read). Next we asked for suggestions from other members. Then I went digging through reference guides and book lists I’ve been compiling. I paid a visit to my own blog posts for fiction and nonfiction possibilities to refresh my memory as to books worth trying.

Step Two: Show Some Restraint, and Reduce it to a Reasonable Level

That’s when it became lots of fun for me. I started grouping possibilities into themed units, for voting purposes. Instead of having a list of 100 books, it becomes a more manageable list – here are a few classics; which one would you like to read? Here are a few historical fiction titles; which one do you like best?

I ended up re-configuring the groupings multiple times, trying to keep things fairly balanced between the groups, with a nice mix of themes and types of books.

One note of clarification: I still have the master list with all.the.books listed. We’ll look at that next year when it’s time to decide on books for 2018. Only if we decide that we are definitely NOT going to read a book does it get deleted off that list.

Step Three: Collect the Votes!

Ultimately I finished with 16 groups, with 3 or 4 choices in each group. Next up for me is to make the actual survey and send it out to the club members.

As part of the survey, not only am I asking everyone to pick their favorite(s) from each grouping, I’m asking them to select which groups they actually want to read. We don’t want to pick a fantasy novel (even if everyone votes for the same one) if no one really wants to read a fantasy novel!

Step Four: Make the Final Decisions

Once the votes are in, we’ll look over them all and see what the members requested. And at that point we’ll start figuring out when the books best fit in our book club calendar!

Next week (?) I plan to share the list of books I’m sending out to members for voting consideration. I’m excited about the possibilities and wish we could read all of them!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Bookroo: A Bookish Subscription Service

On Rereading Books: Still Life

Still LifeYears ago I read Louise Penny’s novel, Still Life. It introduced a new mystery series set in Canada.

And I was thoroughly unimpressed with it, and proceeded to ignore future books in the series as they were released.

Except. Friends whose reading tastes I trust kept saying good things about her books (especially on audio). They said that the first wasn’t her best, but that the series improves.

There’s so many things to read, it’s hard to justify rereading a book I didn’t like, in the hopes of it turning into a series I like, but I do trust my reading friends.

Last week I reread Still Life, with the plan being just to get it read to reintroduce myself to the characters, with the expectation of continuing on with the series.

And I don’t know if it was the (very) low expectations I had, or if it was a different stage of reading life, but I really enjoyed it. Now I’m left wondering why I thought so poorly of the book the first time through. This is when it would be helpful if I’d been blogging about my reads all along; all I have is that star rating, with no comments. Was it a mistake – had I meant to type 3 stars and my finger slipped? Was I in a particularly cranky mood when I read it and nothing would have pleased me? It’s a mystery, one that no detective will solve for me.

On the bright side of things, it means I have the entire Penny series to look forward to reading, thank you very much Jessica and Sarah and Janet and Anne.

On the not-so-bright side, what other books or series have I potentially been ruling out because of a bad first experience, when if I tried them again I might think quite differently about them?

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal. Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines, just north of the U.S. border, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more, but Gamache smells something foul in these remote woods, and is soon certain that Jane Neal died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter. Still Life introduces not only an engaging series hero in Inspector Gamache, who commands his forces – and this series – with integrity and quiet courage, but also a winning and talented new writer of traditional mysteries in the person of Louise Penny.

Book Details

Title: Still Life
Author: Louise Penny
Category: Fiction / Mystery
My Rating: 3 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Three years ago: Book Review: Poison

Birthday Books for My Birthday Girl

My baby turns 2 today, so it’s a perfect time to add favorite books to our own collection. We added:

The Pout Pout Fish

The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen, illustrated by Dan Hanna. She loves this book. She’s been missing it since I took it back to the library last month, and I’m sure she’ll be thrilled to have it back.


Moo! by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka. All the kids like this one – it’s so much fun.

Kitten's First Full Moon

Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes. I’ve been meaning to buy this since my oldest was a baby, and I finally am. He helped me open the box when these arrived yesterday and was so happy to see this one in the stack for her.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: For the Love by Jen Hatmaker
Two years ago: Blog Break, New Baby Edition

Snow Angels by James Thompson

Snow AngelsSnow Angels by James Thompson

Loved the setting, liked the premise and main characters, and the story showed a lot of promise early on. It went off the rails at the end – lots of coincidences and I was all but rolling my eye sat how everything resolved. I’m undecided about reading more in the series – I’m a bit intrigued by Vaara and his wife and their situation, but don’t know if I care enough to give the author another shot. There are just so many other books to read instead…

What really keeps me from recommending them without hesitation, even to crime fiction fans, is the amount of graphic detail Thompson includes. If you’re familiar with Nordic Noir as a subgenre, this won’t surprise you, but I’d hate for you to go into it thinking it’s going to be a gentler mystery than it is. It’s not. Be aware of this if you’re a sensitive reader. I’m not a particularly sensitive reader and I still found myself wincing at times. If you like that subgenre I still think there are stronger options, but perhaps his plotting improves in later books.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
It is called kaamos–two weeks of unrelenting darkness and soul-numbing cold that falls upon Finnish Lapland, a hundred miles into the Arctic Circle, just before Christmas. Some get through it with the help of cheap Russian alcohol; some sink into depression.

This year, it may have driven someone mad enough to commit murder. The brutalized body of a beautiful Somali woman has been found in the snow, and Inspector Kari Vaara must find her killer. It will be a challenge in a place where ugly things lurk under frozen surfaces, and silence is a way of life.

Book Details

Title: Snow Angels
Author: James Thompson
Category: Fiction / Mystery
My Rating: 2.5 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Relentless by Darcy Wiley

Cooking with Kids: What We’re Doing Now

Teaching My Kids to Cook Deliberate ReaderYesterday I shared about the books I tried in my attempt to teach my kids to cook, and admitted that I’m not using any of them currently, having found something else instead. And let me reiterate – it’s not that any of those books were bad; they’re not. They just weren’t what I was looking for.

I wanted something that laid out an entire cooking program to use with my early elementary aged kids. I wanted straightforward progression of skills, building on what had been learned previously, without asking for future skills before they were taught. I wanted it to be easy for me to use (have a prep list for each lesson, telling me what I’m going to have to do, and what ingredients and equipment we’ll need). I wanted it to include ideas on how to explain things well to young children (like how to use a knife safely). And if it wasn’t asking for too much, I wanted it to include ways to teach multiple ages/abilities.

I’d hoped I’d find this in a book, but after checking out all I could find from my library, and giving a real try to the best one they offered, I was still not completely thrilled with what I was using.

Trying Something New

Finally, on a day when I was frustrated with trying to force what I was using into something it wasn’t designed to be, I went searching online for other options, expecting to find a different book that my library hadn’t had. Instead I found an online course designed to teach kids cooking skills. I had NOT been looking for an online course – I wanted a book! – but I was not having the success I wanted with the books I tried. So looked into it more closely and found that it claimed to offer everything I wanted.

On first glance, I was really impressed with how the course was designed. There are three levels, for beginner, intermediate, and advanced. My older kids are right on the bubble between beginner and intermediate, and I started them with beginner (mostly so I could teach them together; the 7 year old could probably go straight into intermediate).

Here’s a chart showing the skills taught at the three levels:


It all sounded like just what I wanted, so I decided to give it a try.

Why It’s Working

I love how the skills truly do build on each other, and nothing is expected from a recipe that hasn’t been taught.

I’m pleased with how it all ties in together – it’s easy to see a lot of thought has gone into it all, and if you’re working on more than one level at the same time, the lessons often are integrated so you end up with a complete meal. How awesome is that? (We’re not getting that benefit because of my kids ages, but I can still appreciate it and daydream about how it could work someday.) They’ve got a curriculum map that lays all of this out.

It’s easy because my kids enjoy watching the videos. No surprise, but getting to watch on the tablet gets their attention more than me reading from that other book did.

Looking Ahead

We’re in the middle of using the beginner level, but I am so pleased with it that I’ve purchased the All Access plan, and we’ll move onto the intermediate lessons as soon as we finish the beginners. The plan is then to continue on to advanced lessons once they’re ready for those!

I’m also excited to see about including my youngest in on the lessons as well. She can almost participate the the very first ones, and I know she’ll be thrilled to join in as well. She’s always asking to cook too, and loves to put on an apron like the big kids have.

If You’re Interested

The course is only open for new sign ups occasionally. I’ve heard that it will open again soon, so if it sounds good to you, sign up to be notified. You can also read their FAQ page for more details on what it offers.

I’ve been really happy with it, and I’m surprised with how much I like it, considering it’s not at all what I thought I wanted for my kids. Turns out what I thought I wanted and what I ended up liking were two different things.

(I still think I’m getting my kids those fun cook books for Christmas, and by then they should have the skills to really use them).

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored review, and I paid for the course myself. I did sign up to be an affiliate for it once I realized how awesome of a course it was though, and the post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Three years ago: New on My Bookcase (vol. 7)

Quick Lit: Kids’ Cookbooks

In my monthly recap posts, I’ve mentioned trying to teach my kids to cook or at least basic kitchen skills – they are only 7 and 5, so I’m not expecting them to start cooking dinner or anything, but they’re still ready to learn some things.

Because it’s what I do, I started with some books and checked a stack out from the library. These were my favorites:

New Junior CookbookBetter Homes and Gardens New Junior Cookbook

What I liked about it: My son really likes this as a collection of recipes – they’re appealing, and it’s colorful. He’s requested that I buy it for him as he wants his own copy, instead of just reading the library copy.

Why this didn’t work for me: it’s not really a cooking lesson book; it’s mostly recipes (with a little bit of extra info, but not enough for what I needed.

The Disney Princess CookbookThe Disney Princess Cookbook

What I liked about it: My daughter LOVES this book – it’s got princesses! I was actually fairly impressed with this one – I liked that the recipes were mostly really recipes, not just assemble a couple of items together. The recipes are cleverly tied to the princess theme, and they have an index at the back combining some of the recipes to have a themed meal. It’s very cute. She also wants her own copy of this, and it’s quite likely that both kids will get their preferred book for Christmas.

It’s a great cookbook, and really appealing for young cooks (ok, young girls; my son was unimpressed).

Why this didn’t work for me: it’s not really a cooking lesson book; it’s mostly recipes (with a little bit of extra info, but not enough for what I needed.

National Geographic Kids Cook BookNational Geographic Kids Cookbook: A Year-Round Fun Food Adventure

What I liked about it: Loved the format for this one – it follows the calendar year, and is filled with food traditions and facts from around the world.

Why this didn’t work for me: it would be better for older kids, as it’s not a beginning book. I did really like the year theme, and it would be fun to work through it in the future, but it’s not right for us at this stage.

How to Cook in 10 Easy LessonsHow to Cook in 10 Easy Lessons

What I liked about it: This was the best I found at giving cooking instruction – it’s structured to actually teach, not just be a book of recipes. The ten lessons work very well to address specific skills – using knives, peeling & grating, etc.

Why this didn’t (perfectly) work for me: What was less successful was the fact that we couldn’t just start at the beginning and work through the book – some recipes ended up referring to skills that hadn’t been taught yet. I wanted it to be open-and-go for me, and I ended up having to rearrange things more than desired.

It’s also written originally for a UK audience, and not everything was translated/adapted for a US audience. Most of it was, but there were some things that were not the same for us. A minor quibble, but when it was something my son was reading carefully, it added an extra layer of complication.

The Results

Since it was the closest to what I wanted, I bought a copy of How to Cook in 10 Easy Lessons, and used it for about 6 weeks, with varying degrees of success. The Key Lime Pie was delicious, the Chocolate Cake was dreadful, and everything else was somewhere in between.

Mostly it ended up not working that well as an actual cooking lesson, and it really wasn’t easily designed to take beginners in a sequential way through things, let alone beginners of different ages and abilities.

So it’s not so much that it was a bad book, just that it wasn’t everything I wanted it to be. I think it will work better once my kids have those basic skills, and they can practice them more with this book.

What We’re Using Now

Tomorrow I’ll share about what I ended up finding, and what we’re using instead. It’s not what I thought I wanted or intended to use, but it’s working really really well so far.

For more peeks at what people are reading, head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Two years ago: Recent Cookbook Reads, Twitterature-Style
Three years ago: Recent Reads, Twitterature-Style

The Book Itch by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

The Book ItchThe Book Itch: Freedom, Truth, and Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

An engaging and accessible way to tell the story of Lewis Michaux, founder of the National Memorial African Bookstore in Harlem. The illustrations help bring the era and setting to life, and are a reason to not get the book in the electronic version – I originally borrowed the book for my Kindle and couldn’t really see the illustrations well enough to appreciate the book. Get the print version!

Although it’s a picture book, it’s not one for toddlers, and even my new kindergartner wasn’t interested in listening in for it. The second grader was a better fit for it, and I think it could easily be read to or by children through fifth or sixth grade, up until they’re ready for Micheaux Nelson’s middle grade book about Michaux, No Crystal Stair.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
In the 1930s, Lewis’s dad, Lewis Michaux Sr., had an itch he needed to scratch—a book itch. How to scratch it? He started a bookstore in Harlem and named it the National Memorial African Bookstore.

Book Details

Title: The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth, and Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore
Author: by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
Category: Juvenile nonfiction
My Rating: 4 Stars

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from NetGalley, but I actually read it as a library book (the illustrations were impossible to see in the advance copy I had). I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Book Review: The Tarantula in My Purse by Jean Craighead George
Two years ago: New on My Bookcase (vol. 24)

Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch

Midnight RiotMidnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch

Jessica (Quirky Bookworm) shared about this title and made it sound so appealing that I immediately looked for it at my library. Happily for me, I was able to get a copy right away and dove into it. I love mysteries and when someone adds a twist to it it’s extra fun. In Midnight Riot the twist is the paranormal element, and I really enjoyed it.

It’s the first book in a series, and I’ll be getting the next, Moon Over Soho soon(ish). If they all stay at this level, I’ll likely read the entire series.

While I wouldn’t say it’s a must-read, if it sounds interesting to you and/or it’s the sort of book you enjoy (an urban fantasy/crime fiction mashup) then it’s worth trying.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.

Book Details

Title: Midnight Riot
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Category: Fiction / Mystery
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Cover Love: The Princess Bride