Hosting a Tournament of Books

Tournament of Books for Kids

Last month, one of my favorite British websites held a Doctor Who companion tournament. I printed out the bracket and asked my son one-by-one, “Her or him, him or her, her or her,” and he gave me his answers in between reading his latest book, Artemis Fowl. (He inherited my ability to do several things at once.) As I waited for him to contemplate his favorite sci-fi companions while contemplating the sci-fi antics in the book, it gave me a thought.

A tournament of books! 28 books that I got to choose and no matter how silly he thought they were, he had to read them and then vote. The tournament bracket is hanging on a living room wall and so far we have 5 winners, moving onto round 2, and 5 losers that were good books, but not good enough to beat their match-up.

Here were my 28 choices…

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Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry

We recently took a 4 day trip to Chicago (see my post that should have been titled The Things a Mom Will Do for Her Child.)

We met Doctor Who’s Matt Smith…


I flew on a plane for the first time…


We rode on a pirate ship…


We met some fabulous Doctor Who fans at the comic con…


And we explored this fabulous science museum in the heart of Chicago…Warning: this post is very photo heavy. I can’t help it, there is so much to show you from this amazing museum!


The moon landing.


This is the giant periodic table of elements, showing real life examples of all the known elements.


The eye-spy gallery – one of my favorites – Once Upon a Time.


A science themed eye-spy.


A 40-foot vortex that helps viewers understand how tornadoes are formed.


THIS was my absolute favorite in the entire museum. It was a very interactive motion-detecting display.


Like the sign says, “The more you move, the more they laugh.” It was a blast. They chose actors that had the most contagious laughs.


In 1893, the 999 Steam Locomotive became the fastest land vehicle when it reached a record speed of 112.5 mph.


The Great Train Story model railroad – a journey over 1400 feet of track between Chicago and Seattle. These little models were impeccably designed.



I was amazed by how realistic these scenes look!




The avalanche disk, a simulation that shows exactly what an avalanche looks like. Watching this was mesmerizing. Take a look!


United Airlines Boeing 727 and other smaller aircraft hanging from the ceiling. This was such an amazing sight to see (and stand under!) We were able to explore the inside of the Boeing 727.


30-foot tsunami wave tank.


Max and Lisa, two incredible tandem robots. You can choose a variety of activities for them to work together to complete. Here they are drawing a picture of a robot arm.



An incredible piece of history – the Apollo 8 command module. Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to orbit the moon.


This is part of ToyMaker 3000, an exhibit that will take you through the entire manufacturing process of creating a toy. The exhibit consists of eight interactive stations, 12 moving robots, and a 2,000-square-foot automated assembly line.


A replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer.

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Your Star Wars Fan Will Want This Book

Back in May, I showed off a massive Marvel visual encyclopedia. I live with two superheroes, so that book was a big hit. Seriously, I live with superheroes.

DK Publishing has an equally epic Star Wars version. This book would make a great Christmas gift, so keep it in mind when you start shopping. The book is called Star Wars Year by Year: A Visual Chronicle because it chronicles every year from 1973 to 2012, when it was published.  It is so jammed packed with history, Star Wars and non-Star Wars, that we’ve had this book for 2 months now and my guys are still not done reading it.


When the book arrived in the mail, I actually wrapped it up in this cute shirt that I had just made my son that day. A Stormtrooper, Boba Fett, Yoda, and Darth Vader – offset by their little LEGO counterparts.


The 328-page hardback book comes in a thick sturdy case that easily slides off.


Table of contents – beginning with Life Before Star Wars and ending with the Clone Wars and Beyond. I am sure this book will eventually be updated to include the upcoming sequels. It takes you on a month by month, year by year, very detailed journey through the history of Star Wars. 


I loved reading all about George Lucas’ inspirations for his galactic stories!


What was happening the month I was born! George Lucas completed his third draft of the Adventures of Luke STARKILLER.


Ah, the memories! My brother had every single Star Wars action figure made in the 80’s.


This brings back so many memories for me too. I used to love stealing my brother’s toys. My Barbies would ride around on this AT-AT.


What was happening the month my husband and I were married. First steps to the International Space Station!


This is one of my son’s favorite pages in the book. He loves light sabers.


This has to be my son’s ultimate favorite page in the entire book. LEGO Star Wars minifigures.


Wisdom from George Lucas. He certainly lived up to this goal.

You can purchase this book from Amazon for only $35.44, which is 29% off the cover price.

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Meeting Matt Smith

My son is a Doctor Who fanatic. Actually, fanatic may be an understatement. For crying out loud, we have a 6-foot tall TARDIS, 6-foot tall Cyberman, and a 5-foot tall inflatable Dalek in our living room. He has also successfully converted a dozen friends and family members into fans. It takes a die-hard fan to go that far.


When I found out that Matt Smith, the eleventh Doctor and my son’s favorite incarnation, was going to be in Chicago for the annual comic con, my husband and I immediately started making plans. The photo opportunity ticket was purchased just in the nick of time, because they were actually sold out the very next day. We decided to make it a 4 day trip so that we could spend time with my sister-in-law and her husband.

I hunted around the web for more fun things for kids, planned a day at the Chicago Science Museum, booked a pirate ship ride on Lake Michigan, mapped out a route to the famous American Science and Surplus Store, and then my husband said…

Hey, let’s fly.

I knew it was a good idea, but my sinking stomach screamed no. I have a deathly fear of heights and have never been on a plane. He reminded me that when we go to the United Kingdom in a few years (for our 20th anniversary) we need to fly and I need to take a few short trips before then to get used to a plane. Plus, the flight is only 45 minutes, compared to a 6 hour drive.

So I bought some plane tickets. I might have cried too.

By the way, Matt Smith was very, very nice to my son. According to his attendants, he has a no hand-shaking/no hugging rule, but he gave my son two “man hugs” and called him Doctor several times. I cannot get over the fact that my son looks so tall in that photo, because of his fez and the fact that Matt Smith bent down a bit for the photo.


Turns out that I was afraid for nothing. The flight was a breeze and I absolutely loved it. My son sat next to the window, but I looked out the window almost the entire time. This is a photo that he took on our flight home.


The costumes at this comic con were amazing. Here is my son with 2 Weeping Angels and a Silence, characters from Doctor Who. He felt like a celebrity for a few minutes because when he stopped to pose with these people, about 10 photographers jumped out of nowhere and took advantage of the photo opportunity.


Here he is again with an Ood.


From the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. This is the giant periodic table of elements, showing real life examples of all the known elements.


The Tall Ship Windy. My son even got to help hoist the sails once we were on board. This was an amazing experience for him.

Chicago is a crazy, bustling, noisy city with non-stop traffic that made me want to hide in the hotel the entire trip. We had a lot of fun though and I am very thankful that we were able to spend so much time with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law.  I miss her dearly since she moved away. I am happy that we experienced all the new adventures on the trip – first plane ride (for my son and I), first ship ride, meeting Matt Smith, a new science museum – but I am thrilled to be home.

It wasn’t until we got home that we discovered there were 22 shootings in Chicago just that weekend alone and that there are also about 2000 wild coyotes roaming the city at all hours of the day. Eeek! I love how completely fearless my sister-in-law is!

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Doctor Who Decor

Hanging spice jars

You know you’re a fan of Doctor Who when it decorates your house. Above is a small shelf that hangs in my kitchen. I adore this shelf. The mason jar lids are screwed into the bottom of the shelf and the jars easily remove for access to 1. flax seeds 2. dried garlic 3. dried onion 4. chia seeds and 5. sesame seeds.  My husband made it for me.

I like to change what is sitting on the shelf, so sometimes it looks like the one above, but this week it looks like this…

Doctor Who decor on shelf

The little photo of River and Doctor 11 was created by Linda Kindt. The minifigures are not LEGO, although they are the same size. They are made by Character Building in the UK and can be found on Amazon.  The Silhouette of Doctor 11 was my own creation, using Photoshop. He is filled with random words from Doctor Who such as Raxacoricofallapatorius, Stormageddon, mummy, and wibbly wobbly timey wimey.

Doctor Who silhouette filled with words from the show

Click the photo to download a larger version.

Doctor Who Clock

This is a clock that I made for my son’s room. It was very easy to make using Photoshop, an old clock and a screwdriver. I love the TARDIS and K9 on the ends of the clock hands.

From my archives: more items around my house

Doctor Who TARDIS Bookcase

TARDIS bookcase in 7 easy steps

Hopeless Romantic or As You Wiiiiish: Some of my favorite couples

Favorite couples. Some real, some not.  As you wiiiiish.

6' Cyberman and TARDIS from Oriental Trading. Only $35 each.

6′ cardboard cut-outs for the ultimate Doctor Who party.

Doctor Who TARDIS minifigure display

Doctor Who TARDIS minifigure display

Typography canvas - Doctor Who theme

Typography canvas with a Doctor Who theme

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Doctor Who in the Kitchen

Doctor Who Rehydrate tumbler

I bet you read that in a Dalek voice, didn’t you!

I admit, I am not a fan of water. Give me sweet tea instead. However, I know that I am far more likely to drink water when it is sitting next to me in one of these lidded tumblers with a straw. I don’t know why, it just is.

Doctor Who snack platter

This is one of my most favorite items that I have made since buying the Silhouette Cameo. Most of these foods came from the episode The Eleventh Hour, when the newly regenerated Doctor 11 raided young Amy Pond’s kitchen. My favorite line: “You’re Scottish, fry something.” Doctor Who fans will know the significance of these foods. Most of them, including fish fingers and custard, can be explained in this absolutely hilarious clip. If you’re not a Doctor Who fan, there is a strong chance you will be after watching this clip. This was Doctor 11’s very first scene.

More Doctor Who fun from my archives

Doctor Who party food

The ultimate Doctor Who meal.

Doctor Who cup and bowl set

Two of the many party favors from the Ultimate Doctor Who party.

DIY Doctor Who Apron

My DIY Doctor Who apron. (See my Hobbit apron too.) The 5 foods are an apple, a banana, a stalk of celery, a slice of bread, and a cup of custard with 2 fish sticks sticking out.

River Song is my Patronus tea mug

River Song is my Patronus tea mug. Surprisingly, I’ve actually sold a few of these to random readers who emailed me asking if I had a store.

*Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links.