Sunday, August 18, 2013

Books to Read Aloud

My wife and I have read to each other for years, character voices and all. Since our core interests diverge a little we decided to stick to mystery or YA fantasy. Quite often we read them on long trips, like the drive from Texas to Ohio and back. Here are a few of our favorites over the years.

  1. Harry Potter series
  2. Sue Grafton's ABC series
  3. Twilight
  4. Hunger Games
  5. Vampire Academy series
  6. Julie Garwood's Buchanan crime series
  7. Nora Roberts crime romances like Northern Lights and Witness (although we've had to switch to books on iPod for these in front of the kids).

Since our children listen now, too, and both are avid readers (ages 9 and 11), we have included them in the reading. The trick is finding something for both boys and girls. Aside from the obvious repeat of Harry Potter, I recommend:

  1. Percy Jackson series 1: is a winner for boys, but
  2. Percy Jackson series 2 with Roman gods: is a winner for girls, too.
  3. Sisters Grimm books by Michael Buckley are hilarious, as are moments of
  4. Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins.
  5. Fablehaven has a few plot contrivances, but the kids don't care.
  6. Lillian Jackson Braun's The Cat Who series (if you have any animals)
  7. Shakespeare plays like Midsummer Night's Dream and Much Ado About Nothing.
We only show them the movie after we finish the book. In addition to helping them enjoy reading, they do better in English/Reading classes. Both my children are also lectors at church.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

vacation 17 - Ireland

We skipped most of Northern Ireland because the rental car place took so long. There were no posted limits, but that's okay because our speedometer was in km not miles. We just took the road called "the North" until we hit the shore, and followed the coast west and south till Galway. The park land was gorgeous, lots of really narrow roads and green hills. Driving on the left didn't bother us a much as the fact that the roads weren't a uniform width. The M and N roads weren't bad. On the R roads, the yellow line was right on the edge and sometimes disappeared into the potholes.
On our drive, we saw a lot of sheep with castles or boats in the background. Then we turned into the center to see Bunratty. For all its fascinating history, we spent more time in the gift shop.

Really old, crumbling castles like Cashel are on rocks that are fun to climb. But watch out for the broken beer bottles everywhere. Here, we all tried a Guiness at the local pub. Emily said, "Tastes like chocolate." She made the barkeep spit out his drink laughing. "You'll have to watch that one," he warned.
Waterford Crystal was a fascinating tour, the kids' favorite in Ireland. They show the entire process from glowing liquid to the finished etchings. It was a bit pricey, though, for company PR. I was nervous about getting to Dublin in time to drop off the rental. It worked out well, as Tammy and I got to walk back to the hotel alone, hand in hand.
Dublin was equal parts churches and pubs. The churches closed at 5, and the dress code changed drastically. Food was interesting here. I liked the Guiness pie, Irish stew made with dark sauce. We went on the Guiness tour and the kids had fun seeing the hops, barley, and old style barrel making. After the process and ads, Mom got to learn how to pour a pint, and we took a lot of photos from the seventh floor.
On the last day, they closed Dublin Castle for EU meetings, so we had to take our kids to the prison to play. Tammy and I learned a lot of history. The kids like shutting the cage doors on each other.