The Read-Aloud Handbook

The Read-Aloud Handbook
The Read-Aloud Handbook

I had to stop many many times while reading The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trealease to take notes.  I have a ton of books I want to check out myself and an even longer list of my kids, but that is just the icing on the cake.  The real prize of this book is all the supporting details that let a parent who already reads to their children know that what they are doing is important and will help their children to learn to read sooner and then become life long readers for the joy of reading, which is a great gift to give your children.  I found a love of reading after college and I only regret that I didn’t find it earlier!  This is a great book.  If to don’t read to your kids, get this book.  If you do read to your kids get this book!

Veterans Day: Samantha’s artwork

A piece of her play kitchen


A person she made up. I can’t pronounce or spell his name.

Watts Family Online Newsletter August 2011

Wow! I have really fallen off the wagon now. I have not posted a Watts Family Newsletter since February. My apologies. So much has happened since February. It is a terrible excuse, but I guess I’ve just been too busy to post anything. Looking back to March was fun. The picture below was taken at a fiesta at the Balderrama’s home in Redlands. Michelle was actually looking at it last night and said that it always makes her laugh. Samantha was less enthusiastic and just looked at me like she was embarrassed and disappointed in me. Brother! My aunt Angela put it another way, “Good Grief, Pedro!”

I’m still reading a ton of books. Mostly listening, but I do get some real books in there whenever I can. I’m at 78 for the year. My original goal was 100 and it looks like I won’t have a problem hitting that number by the end of the year. Some of my favorites since February are: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson (3rd in the trilogy), Earth Abides by George R. Stewart, The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis, The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, Bossypants by Tina Fey, and Unbroken: A WWII Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.

We put our condo up for sale and it took a while, but it is now in escrow and Michelle and I are shopping for new homes in northern Orange County. I got an iPad 2, best purchase of the year so far.

Late in March, we all go sick. Wasn’t too bad, but turned out Samantha had an ear infection, so we had to get her some meds, but of course she is 110% now. Speaking of Samantha she is doing very well. She has been going to “Mommy and Me” classes all summer long with Gigi and is signed up for Pre-school in the Fall. She is learning so much. Last week she was commanding us around, “Daddy, play dollies with me! Mommy, get me my milk!” and I asked her, “Just who do you think the boss is around here?” And without so much as a moment of hesitation she said “Me!”.

Samantha is addicted to the Disney fairies and Barbie. She watches all the Barbie movies (yes, there are many of them) and Fairy movies (again, lots of movies) over and over again. And being the boss she demands that daddy sits next to her on the couch, while she watches the movies with a dolly in each hand. I am very thankful for the iPad!

Samantha and Gigi still go to the library a few times a week. Samantha enjoys story-time and there is a nice park near the library they like to go to as well.

We got to go to Disneyland in April. It is always a pleasure and we always have fun. Samantha’s favorites are King Arthur’s Carousel and Dumbo! This time we waited in line for about 2 hours to see Tangled! Samantha wanted to leave towards the end but we stuck it out and got to see her.

I enjoyed watching the Ducks in the playoffs in April…until they lost. Easter at my parent’s home was a great time, despite the rain during the Easter egg hunt.

In May we went to my new favorite fancy-dancy restaurant in Laguna Beach. It’s called Watermarc, and they have one killer martini! Speaking of great drinks, I’m still addicted to Starbucks but now I have a new partner in crime. Samantha loves the birthday cake pop they have at Starbucks and is continually asking for them. I don’t mind any excuse to go to Starbucks.

June was a great month and not just because that’s when my birthday is, although that was a great day too. I got to watch the Stanley cup games (Thanks Michelle) and my dad and grandmother from New Mexico came to visit. It was pretty cool to see my grandmother, it had been a very long time!

June was also the month that my brother-in-law William graduated from high school! We were so busy, we also had a great mini vacation in Santa Barbara in June. We stayed at our favorite place and got to hang out with my sister-in-law, Lisa. It was really a great vacation! Our vacation didn’t end in Santa Barbara though, we also too Samantha to Pretend City, it’s like a theme park for toddlers. It was pretty cool. We also hit the beach and the Aquarium of the Pacific. And last but certainly not least we went to Legoland down by my mom’s house.

In July, Michelle and I had our 8th wedding anniversary. Also in July was Comic-Con. It was hot and crowded. We (Duane and I)waited in line for 4 hours and finally got in to see the panels for Eureka (cancelled a month later), Warehouse 13 (great show) and True Blood (adults only!). It was a funny, but exhausting day! Before the month was out Samantha graduated to a toddler bed. She had no problem moving from the crib to the bed. She loves it, sleeps in it all night without problems and thinks to the Disney princess sheets that we got her are awesome! On July 30, we went to my father-in-laws company picnic. Free food and lots of fun. He and Lauren, my sister-in-law joined me for a quick game of disc golf at the really nice course they have at El Dorado Disc Golf Course in Long Beach.

August was Michelle’s birthday. We went to Yardhouse with Samantha. Samantha was so tired she fell asleep at the restaurant. If you have ever been to a Yardhouse, then you know it is so loud, you can hardly hear yourself think. It’s virtually impossible to carry on a conversation without the use of sign language and Samantha feel asleep and stayed asleep. She woke up after we left the Yardhouse and entered a Sees candy shop for a snack. Just like her mother! A real Sees lover.

I think that catches us up pretty well. It’s been a fun few months, and we are excited about what is to come in the next few.

August 2010


We had Michelle’s official birthday dinner at Elephant Bar.

Later that week we went to the Spectrum where they had these really cool playhouse.  They were all custom built.  They had all kinds of different ones.  About a dozen in all.  They had sound systems, lofts, fireplaces, flatscreens, pretty much anything you can think of they had.

Of course we did our usual shopping and errands around Irvine.  Here is some video of Samantha at Trader Joes shopping.  I finished playing Uncharted 2 for the PS3, great game!

My time capsule died on me this month, so I had to buy a new one since it was past its manufacturer’s warranty.  Good news was that I was able to save the hard drive out of the old one so now I have an extra 1TB external drive.

We survived a very hot two weeks without air conditioning and our hunt for a new house is still dependent on us selling the condo we are in now.  No news on that front.

Michelle’s friends Tony and Jen got married at the Skirball Center.  They had a wonderful ceremony and reception.  They even had a photo booth at the reception.  Out scanner is packed so I can’t share those photos just yet.

We went to Disneyland and had a great time.  Samantha got her picture taken with Mickey mouse and Tigger.  She seemed to have a really good time.  All the adults had a blast too.  It was pretty crowded as it was the summer and a weekend.  But at least the weather was pleasant.


Leatherheads – 3.5 out of 5 stars.  One of Michelle’s picks.  Pretty funny and all around a good story.

Timetravler’s Wife – 4.5 stars.  Another one of Michelle’s choices.  I wanted to watch this but not until I read the book.  We watched it anyway and it was really great.  Can’t wait to read the book, two of my Facebook friends have already commented that the books is really good.

Life or Something Like It – 2 stars.  This was a flop.

Lost City Raiders – 2 stars.  B movie.  Don’t waste your time.

Post Grad – 1.5 stars.  Really bad!

Outlander – 2.5 stars.  Another bad movie.  We’re really on a roll now!

Legion – 0.5 star.  Lower scores not possible!  Terrible!  Didn’t finish this mess.

War of the Worlds – 3 stars.  Finally an acceptable movie.  Not great, definitely not as good as the book.  It doesn’t follow it very closely either.

Valentine’s Day – Didn’t watch all of this.  Went to Samantha’s room and colored with her.  0.5 star.  Total chick flick from what I saw.

Death at a Funeral – 4 stars.  Really funny British comedy.

Bangkok Dangerous – 3 stars.  Meh.  Nothing much hear, semi-ok assassin flick.

Robinson Crusoe – 2 stars.  Not very good.  Nothing like the book.


Michelle’s Birthday 8/2

Barbara Black Maxey’s Birthday 8/30


This months books gets me to 27 books for the year.  Only three more to reach my goal of 30.  I’m hoping to get to 40 now, but we will see as hopefully, we will be moving soon!

War of the Worlds – 3 stars.  I think I had this built up in my head so much that when I actually read it I was disappointed.

Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1 – 4 stars.  Cool alternative look at the first three books.  I will be reading volume 2 when it comes out.  Anyone know when its coming?

Nano Comes to Clifford Falls: And Other Stories – 3 stars.  A collection of science fiction stories.  Some better than others.

Of Mice and Men – This one is one of the classics that I wanted to read.  I didn’t remember reading this in high school, until I had already finished it.  No loss though as this was a GREAT read! 5 out of 5 stars!

Robinson Crusoe – 2 out of 5 stars.  Disappointed again.  I think I had built this one up in my head again.  I had looked forward to reading this for so long that when I did, I was bummed.  It wasn’t enough for me.

Four Quartets – 5 stars.  Excellent!  Loved it.  Can’t wait to read more of T.S. Elliot’s works.

The Call of the Wild – I had never read any of Jack London’s books.  This is the first one I chose to read, and I was not disappointed.  I loved it! 5 stars!

June 2010

June was a busy month for us. We went to Ruby’s for one of our first Kids Eat Free Tuesdays.  It was a huge success, Samantha loves French Fries!  While Google was switching from Windows to Mac, we were celebrating my sister and brother-in-laws anniversary on June 3.  I made the mistake of watching two very bad movies the first week of June too, Mall Cop and Pitch Black.  Samantha however, was having better luck and she scored a very cool Elmo shirt as a gift from Grandma Gigi.

Needless to say, the kids at the park are very jealous!  The next week I had better luck with movies.  I saw M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village, which I really enjoyed.  By the 9th I was feeling better and starting to get over a cold I had had since May.  Well enough to watch the last match-up of the Stanley Cup Final game.  I read and watched Hamlet in June as well.  I liked both the book (very much) and the movie adaption that Gibson did. I had a great birthday.  On the 13th this year the whole family drove up to Santa Barbara to watch as my brother-in-law Philip graduated.  On the way up we stopped at the Santa Barbara mission for mass.

I also discovered that I share my birthday with 27% of the world’s population about 17,995,207 people.  Just after noon on that day we watched as Philip graduated.

Congratulations to Philip!  Afterwards, we had my favorite pizza at Rusty’s by the beach.  With full stomachs we went back to our motel called the Eagle Inn, which was AMAZING.  Michelle picked it out and I have to say it was an amazing place that I hope we can go back to soon!  I would highly recommend it if you ever find yourself in Santa Barbara.  The next morning we took Samantha to Chase Palm Park, a very cool park with a playground made to resemble a huge ship.

When we got back on June 14 we were welcomed home to a small shaker well, small by the time it got to us.  Always nice to be reminded that we live in earthquake country.  Later in the month I learned how to spell my name in Elvish.  I just know that will come in handy some day 😉

On the 19th I had a great birthday celebration in Carlsbad.  I hope everyone had a great time.  Plenty of food and good times.

I know Samantha had fun!  It was a celebration for a lot of people actually.  It was my mother’s birthday on the 16th and that weekend was Father’s day as well!  We had four dads there:  Duane, Jim, Tommy and myself.

We also managed to watch the new Alice in Wonderland film which I think we all liked, but then I tried to watch Pan’s Labyrinth, which I had heard good things about, but I didn’t like it at all.  On June 27th, we were lucky enough to be invited to Disneyland by my sister-in-law Lauren.  She works at Disneyland so she was able to get us in for free.  We met my parents when we got there and had a great time on the rides and watching the street parades.  While there we also celebrated my other sister-in-law’s birthday, Lisa!

Samantha wanted to visit Pooh, so we went on the ride and afterwards we were lucky enough to meet the bear in the flesh or fur as it were.

The shot above is right after she gave Pooh a kiss on the nose.  Everyone in line erupted in a instantaneous “AWWE!”  It was pretty adorable!

By the end of month I watched two more movies. Inglourious Basterds which if you can get past the strong language and gore, was a pretty good movie.  Lastly I watched Zathura, which is really like Jumanji, but in space.  I thought Zathura was really good.  In June, I also finished reading The Book Thief and Animal Farm.  The Book Thief was a recommendation from my friend Tim, and he was right on with this one.  I really like it.  I had never read Animal Farm in school, like most other people, but I did really enjoy this book as well.  Great month for books, not so much for the movies though.

Lastly, we took another Higson over to the dark side in June by purchasing David a Macbook Pro for his 8th grade graduation and birthday!  He was really surprised and we are very happy to have given him a gift that he will use in high school playing Mafia Wars and surfing Facebook, or I mean writing reports for school.

Speaking of Facebook, if your a friend of mine or Michelle’s there are a ton more pictures on our profiles.  Have a great day.