January Reads

I read 11 books and 3800 pages during the month of January. I started with The Beast by Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs. That’s the second Darkdeep book. I gave it five stars making it a nice start to a new reading year. Everything went nuts in that book. Then I read Take a Load Off, Mona Jamborski by Joanna Franklin Bell. I gave that one four stars. It was a quick read and very enjoyable. Next I read Spilled Milk by KL Randis. I gave it five stars. I can’t say I enjoyed reading it, but it was certainly a good book. The author is amazing (her Tik Tok is excellent).

My next book was What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. Another five star book. I read it for my real life book group. I’d never read anything by that author. Now I want to read everything she’s written. After that I read Colony East by Scott Cramer. I gave it five stars as well. I read the first book in that series almost five years ago, but the author did great nutshelling and so I caught back up quickly. The five star book streak came to an end with Allegiant by Veronica Roth. I read that to the boys for their bedtime story. I gave it two stars. I forgot just how much that series annoyed me the first time I read it. After that was Bringing Up Girls in Bohemia by Michal Viewegh. That one managed to be even worse at only one star. It was truly terrible.

Then I read The Obelisk Gate by NK Jemisin. I gave it four stars. I was confused for pretty much the whole book but I still liked it. After that I read The Case of the Not-So-Fair Trader by Jim Stevens. That one got three stars. It was fine, just a forgettable mind vacation cozy mystery. My next book was Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. I gave it five stars. I’m looking forward to continuing that series. My final book of the month was Be More Chill by Ned Vizzini. That was a two star book and that rating might be too generous.

My favorite book of the month: What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

My least favorite book of the month: Bringing Up Girls in Bohemia by Michal Viewegh

Number of 5 Star Books: 5
Number of 4 Star Books: 2
Number of 3 Star Books: 1
Number of 2 Star Books: 2
Number of 1 Star Books: 1

11/100 book read for my goal of the year… 89 to go!

Fritz’s First Semester Grades

Fritz’s virtual school does grades a little differently. He gets progress reports and then final grades for the whole semester rather than two quarters averaged. He finished his first semester of tenth grade just over a week ago and did absolutely amazing.

Chemistry B (83%)
English II A (90%)
Geometry A (90%)
PE A (98%)
Principles of Business, Marketing, and Finance A (95%)
Spanish 2 A (90%)
World History A (95%)

GPA: 4.57

Mayci and Anthony’s Second Quarter Grades

Kindergarten and Pre-K do numbers for grades. 1 is lowest, 4 is highest, though generally they don’t give higher than a 3. A 4 would mean they’d pretty much mastered that subject for the next grade level. Both Mayci and Anthony did really well again this quarter.

Mayci got 3s in conduct, a 2 and the rest 3s in language arts and reading (she knows all her upper and lowercase letters and the sounds they make and is making great progress with reading, an even mix of 2s and 3s in math (she can rote count to 59), an even mix of 2s and 3s in science and social studies, 3s in health, a 2 and 3 in music, and 3s in PE. She got a 2 in the stage of writing (recognizable letter forms used and words represented by a correct beginning or ending letter).

Anthony got mostly 2s and a couple 3s in language arts and reading (he knows 5 uppercase letters and 5 lowercase letters), 2s in math (he can count five items in a group one count per item and can identify up to four items in a group naming the total all at once), 3s in science, a 2 and the rest 3s in social studies, an even mix of 2s and 3s in conduct, 3s in fine arts, 3s in technology, and 3s in PE. He can wrote count to 39 and he is in stage 1 of writing (spelling & writing consists of pictures, scribbles, and random symbols or mock letters).

Book of the Month for Me!

Ani gave me a three month subscription to Book of the Month Club for Christmas. I get to pick each month from a selection of five books (or pick a past book if none of them strike my fancy, and add up to two additional books if I want, or skip a monthly shipment if I temporarily lost my mind… it’s really flexible like that). My first box arrived a couple weeks ago.

I had no idea Book of the Month has been around since 1926. That’s close to a hundred years! I chose Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson for my first book. It won’t actually be released for a couple more weeks, but I’ve got it already. It’s a debut novel. I love the whole solve a puzzle inheritance thing. (Obviously given how much I loved The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes).

I can’t wait to get started reading this one and getting to see and pick my selections each month. Pretty sure I’ll be doing an annual membership before these three months are up! (Check out Book of the Month. So far it’s pretty awesome!)

Adrian and Zeke’s Second Quarter Grades

Adrian did very well again the second quarter of 8th grade. He loves school and works really hard. Crazy they’ve already had the 8th graders visit the high school and next week is an electives fair there. Doesn’t seem possible he’s nearly old enough for high school.

Spanish 1B C (79%)
Fundamentals of Computer Science A (94%)
PE B (85%)
Science A (97%)
American History A (90%)
Algebra I A (90%)
ELAR A (91%)

(He’s earning high school credit for Spanish, Computer Science, and Algebra.)

Zeke struggles a bit with school, but he works so hard. In addition to his letter grades, he got an E (excellent) in conduct, health, art, theater arts, music, and PE.

Language Arts B (87%)
Reading B (85%)
Math B (88%)
Social Studies A (99%)
Science A (98%)

Waffles for a Bunch of Us

Making waffles for our family is a process. There are twelve people living here including four adults, a teen who eats more than most adults, a teen who barely eats anything but can put away a LOT of waffles, and six kids who eat varying, unpredictable amounts but always seem up for waffles.

Because we need our waffles to be gluten free, and we need to triple our already doubled recipe, we have to start out by putting all the dry ingredients in three separate bowls. Gluten free recipes don’t multiply well. The wet ingredients don’t saturate the dry ingredients right or something. So mixing is done in three separate bowls.

We add the wet ingredients and mix. Doing the bowls assembly line fashion isn’t too bad. it really doesn’t take much longer than if we mixed all of it in one bowl all at the same time.

Once the individual bowls are thoroughly mixed, we let it sit for at least an hour. This plus using actual buttermilk instead of my usual cheat of milk + vinegar makes the fluffiest, most delicious waffles ever.

Gluten Free Waffles

1 cup Brown Rice Flour
1/2 cup Potato Starch
1/4 cup Tapioca Starch
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Sugar
1 1/2 cups Buttermilk
1/4 cup Oil
2 Eggs

1. Mix brown rice four, potato starch, tapioca starch, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a bowl.
2. Add buttermilk, oil, and eggs and mix thoroughly.
3. Let sit for at least an hour.
4. Pour onto a waffle iron and let cook until desired doneness.

Our waffle iron makes four square waffles all at the same time. We also have a waffle maker that makes big Texas-shaped waffles. When we’re having breakfast for dinner we use that one, but we use the four square one when we’re having chicken and waffles.

I like my waffles to be a bit paler and floppier than other people in the house do so I make a mix of lightly done and very done ones when I make waffles.

These gluten free waffles are always a hit in our house. They disappear so fast, and on the occasions there are any leftover, they heat up nicely in the toaster.

Twins, man

The other morning the twins went downstairs two minutes before I did. As soon as I heard a dining room chair being moved I knew I had better follow.

In that two minutes the got sharpies out of a drawer. The drawer they had broken the baby lock off of just a couple days before.

They scribbled on the end of the center island and each other. By the time I got downstairs they knew their fun was up and easily surrendered their sharpies when I asked them to.

Baby-proofing is neverending here. We’re constantly having to up our game (notice the duct tape belt around the top of their diapers). A new baby lock is now on that drawer. And thank goodness for The Pink Stuff.

My Precious

None of the kids were on Jamie for once so I took my chance and leaned up against him to read for a while.

Anthony especially thought we were “pweshish” and demanded that Fritz take our picture. All was going fine until…

Jamie said “My precious” in a perfectly Gollum voice. That set me off laughing while Fritz kept hitting the button to take pictures repeatedly.

December’s Literati Box

Last week we got Adrian’s fourth Literati box (see boxes one, two, three, and four). The artwork, as usual, is beautiful. Can’t wait to find out what book holds the reason why they used that particular art this month.

This month there was a folder labeled Kids Pack. That’s where the poster, bookmark, and bookplates were. I like that folder. It kept the things neater for shipping (the return label and price sheet and what not were in the bottom under the books).

Look at that fun picture and bookplate images! As always the bookmark is absolutely beautiful. The winter pictures make me want to just cuddle up under a blanket and read all day (even though temperatures here in south Texas have definitely not been cuddled up under a blanket weather).

This month there was a bonus gift. Even though snow is not likely (we’re gonna just pretend last February never happened), Adrian can build his very own (paper) snowman this year.

So the books. This month brought us five selections that all sound fabulous. Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Park Rhodes explores the racism and challenges related to colorism when one brother is dark-skinned while the other is light-skinned. Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman looks at what happens to friends and neighbors when a drought causes the taps to run dry. Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson wonders if it’s possible to bring a friend back from the dead, at least through his music. Influence by Sara Shepard and Lilia Buckingham reveals what life is really like for those in the spotlight where not all is as it seems. 1789: Twelve Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution, and Change looks at one year in the life of our country (sure to be a hit with my Hamilton-loving son).

December’s selections sound fabulous don’t they? They made the decision to click keep all 5 super easy. I can’t wait to dive into them myself!

(If you want to subscribe to Literati Kids – any of their many age group boxes, not just Club Titan – use my link and you’ll get $25 in Book Bucks and so will I!)

Fritz grew mushrooms!

Fritz has been watching YouTube videos on growing mushrooms for a while now so my parents gave him a kit to grow his own for Christmas.

He’s quite proud of the growth his little (er… big… they grew so fast!) oyster mushrooms. Who knew fungiculture could be so fun?

24 hours later…

About 18 hours after that…

And then about 10 hours later… HARVEST TIME!

He grew some very tasty mushrooms. They were crisp and tender in all the right ways and fried up in butter with some salt… absolutely amazing! He said growing his own mushrooms was everything he dreamed it would be and he can’t wait to do it again.