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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Weekend Fun and Emma Rose!

It's been a really busy weekend, full of fun fun fun.
I have a feeling my boys are going to be exhausted this afternoon, a sure sign of a life well-spent!

We attended Thomas's first tennis tourney on Friday night.

We were really proud of him and loved being up in the gallery cheering him on (quietly of course).
He was nervous on the drive over, but once he got down on the courts, he was fine.
This was the first time he'd ever played a match - we weren't sure he knew all the rules, but he did!

While he didn't win the best 2 out of 3 sets, he did advance to play again Saturday night, but he had to forfeit - he had another event Saturday and Sunday that conflicted.  We'll plan better next time there's a tourney at the racquet club!

The Youth Group had church had a lock-in last night and I'm anxious to get to church this morning to see how Thomas is doing. 
We also hosted a Sweetheart Dinner for couples and friends at the church, with the Youth cooking, serving, and cleaning up.  The High School Jazz Band played and the money raised will go to the Youth mission trips this summer. 

Thomas was a server and wore black dress pants and a white dress shirt. 
He did a fantastic job!  A lot of work went into the event and I'm glad they are relaxing now, enjoying the lock-in.

I remember lock-ins at church growing up.  They're so much fun and I'm so glad Thomas gets to experience that kind of camaraderie with his friends at church.  They were going to IHOP at 1 a.m. and watching a movie at 3 a.m.  I did not volunteer to chaperon.  I would never make it.

Instead we went with friends to visit a new baby late last night!
Our friends Dave and Rosann adopted baby Emma Rose this week.
She is absolutely gorgeous!

Mary and me "fighting" over holding Emma.

Oh, we love babies!
Emma is the 5th baby we've gotten to meet in the last two years.
They've all been girls.  Emma broke the trend with her name starting with a vowel, but not with an A.
Girls and vowel names are really popular these days and I love it!

I went to the coolest grocery store ever on Friday with Mary, over in Cincinnati.
It's called Jungle Jim's and is only in Cincinnati.
Every grain, vegetable, root, specialty item, and regular grocery item I had on my long, long list was there!  I was so excited to finally go.  Mary was a blast to travel with of course.

They have a huge international section - I mean huge.

Changing up my diet recently has opened me up to so many new foods.
Their produce section just amazed me.

I had no idea that this was how Brussels sprouts grew!
I guess I thought they grew like cabbages or something.

Thomas and Brennan cracked up the first time they saw carrots like these in the grocery store.  It's usually only around Easter time.  They thought carrots with the long greens on top were just in cartoons I guess.

While I won't get to visit with a friend in Indy later today, it feels like we took full advantage of this weekend and will need the afternoon to recover!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Birthday Celebration(s)

I had a great celebration this year, turning 41.

On my big day I went to lunch with a friend and then out with my 3 favorite men for Japanese that night.  We're getting a little silly at the end of the night here.

Beautiful flowers and a new iPod.  Thomas was thrilled to get my old iPod.
Now that I download books, I could only put one or two sections from the book on my old one.

Then I had a Pajama Party!
I got the idea from a magazine, and it was sooo much fun!

I had a number of friends over for a movie night - all of us in pajamas and it was so relaxing.

Thomas set up the plastic cups.  Isn't he clever? 

We had lots of food of course...

I had the cupcakes made at the bakery at our CSA.

I mixed in some healthy snacks

But it was a Valentine's themed party so lots of candy was in order...

This Feta Dip is really good

I got the girls water bottles with their initials, filled with water to go along with the Pomegranate Mimosas and wine.

The boys were happy to help me set up and enjoy Just Dance on the Wii before heading out to the Marriott with Dad for the night.  I got a great Groupon deal and they got to enjoy a hotel with an indoor swimming pool!  Hugs to David for giving us some girl time.

We didn't take many photos, but here are some of the ladies.
Such a sweet group of people.  I love them!

iPhone photo

We watched the cheesy romantic comedy Valentine's Day and it was awesome.

Because we were having a Pajama Party, I asked everyone to bring a pair of new pajamas instead of a gift.  I collected 27 pairs!! 
The boys and I took them to the domestic violence shelter in town. 
When kids (and moms) arrive at the shelter they are sometimes without a change of clothes for the night.  We know these will be used and greatly appreciated.

Such a great birthday week!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Catching Up

I just downloaded photos from my camera and phone for the first time in a couple of weeks to share on the blog.

I had a great time celebrating my birthday last week and over the weekend.
I'll share some photos soon!

Today we are taking the boys and friends to see the 3D Star Wars movie and out to lunch for a little family Valentine's Day celebration.

Over Super Bowl weekend the boys and I did some fun things around town.

Downtown Fun

Each of the NFL teams had an Indy car designed for the weekend.
The St. Louis Ram's car was on display in our town for the 2 week festivities and we stopped by to see it.

Of course, no stop at the Commons would be complete without time to play in the playground area!

Laser Lights
Also in honor of the Super Bowl festivities, one of our high schools was hosting laser light shows in their planetarium.  I surprised the boys after dinner.

The one I took them to was called "Summer Jam" and had a lot of Beach Boys and other fun music.
We loved it.

iPhone photos by Thomas

Brennan took David back the next night for the Led Zepplin show. 
I'm sure Brennan has no idea who Led Zepplin is, but they had a good time.

Super Bowl Sunday!

We had a FANTASTIC time at a friend's Super Bowl party on Sunday night. 
It was so much fun to catch up with friends, meet a few new people, and let the kids enjoy the game and just playing together. 
No photos, but we had a really good time - thank you to Tricia for hosting!!
We stayed through the Half-Time show then headed home for bed. 
I wish the Super Bowl was on a Saturday night!  It starts too late on Sunday for kids and me!

Braving the Ravine
There is a huge ravine behind our house. 
We moved in when the boys were 3 and 4 years old and we always taught them not to go back in the woods because they could get hurt.  It's a steep drop directly behind the house.

This was sage advice back in the day (especially because Brennan was a wanderer who was known to take off).
Thomas had a friend (a serious Boy Scout) over the other day and it was gorgeous outside. 
He suggested they go check out the ravine.  My heart stopped.  David was at the gym.  What to do?
Poor Nathan looked at me like I'd lost my mind. 
I said OK but they had to stick together and Thomas had to take his cell phone. 
Thomas was seriously concerned about this idea but they took off.

And had a BLAST! 
They explored the entire length of the neighborhood, coming back repeatedly for new supplies to take with them. 
Several days this week they also went out to the ravine after school, coming back muddy, cold, and very very happy.
It's like a new playground has been built just for them!

Great Cleaning Tip!

Because of the first ravine trip (in their good tennis shoes), I got to use a tip I saw on Pinterest for drying wet tennis shoes without all the noise. 
I had to tape them down because to hold them in place, but it pretty well worked! 
Now we go to the ravine in our snow boots - since they're not getting any use this year for snow (it's been unbelievably mild this winter).

I got bangs last month for the first time in 10 years.  I really like them!  Here I am on my birthday, going out to lunch with a friend.

Cool App
Thomas and I discovered the Candy Hearts iPhone app and we've been having fun with it.

I made this one for my girlfriend whose son is in Brennan's class.  One week they had an unbelievable amount of homework (above and beyond the usual unbelievable amount).  Thomas liked this one as well.

Thomas made this one for me when we were at my birthday dinner the other night.  He's very sneaky and can get my phone/ipad/ipod away from me without my noticing.  He has a future as a pickpocket.

I responded...

His follow up...

Brennan wanted to get in on the fun.  Here was his candygram to me...
Ah, Brennan.

Hope you're having a great weekend!

Monday, February 6, 2012

What I've Been Reading

It's my birthday week, so even though it's cold outside right now, I'm really excited! 

I wanted to share all the books I've been reading and listening to on my iPod over the last month.
You can find all my book reviews here.
There's a lot of them, so let's get started!

The Biggest Loser Quick & Easy Cookbook

If you follow my cooking blog, you know that I received this book for Christmas from a friend and I tried out several of the recipes.  I was happy to hear that I am not the only person who sits down and reads cookbooks from cover to cover.  I found some good healthy recipes in the cookbook, and I'm mailing it off to a bookmooch.com requester today.
Liked it

Harry Potter The Prequel

I had NO IDEA that J. K. Rowling had written a prequel to the Harry Potter series.
She apparently wrote this 800 word short for charity. 
Someone on goodreads.com mentioned it so I had to look it up and read it.
It's a cute little story about Sirius and James as teenagers.
You can find The Prequel in several places on the Internet.  Here's the link to one site to read it online.
Really liked it

The Tale of Desperaux
I lead the "Literature Circle" in Brennan's 4th grade class each month.
The kids read several chapters a week and do a lot of short answer and essay questions in prep for our hour-long discussions.
I had never read this book but saw the movie and didn't care for it.
Now I understand why - this book is not typical children's reading!
With themes of courage, forgiveness, abuse, death, love, and disillusionment, we had quite the discussion. 
It's very well written and the kids especially enjoyed the 2nd person point of view (the author speaking directly to the reader from time to time).
Liked it

Crossed is the follow up to the very popular Matched that came out last year.
It's a young adult read set in dystopian U.S. as is extremely popular these days.
I liked the light touch of Matched, but this follow-up crossed over into a darker, desperate quest.
It was still good, but I'm hoping the 3rd book is a return to the original feel.
Liked it

The Kitchen House
As I mentioned last month, I recently joined a new book club and we discussed The Help at our first meeting in January. 
It's a great group of ladies, many of us don't know each other well yet, but we had a great time together.
We are "As the Page Turns" - a light-hearted nod to the fact that we are a bunch of ladies meeting at 1:00 in the afternoon before picking our kids up from school.
For February we read The Kitchen House.  Actually I listened to it on my iPod, downloaded from the library.
It is a story set in the early 1800s about an Irish girl who is indentured on a Virginia tobacco plantation.  She lives in the kitchen house with the black slaves, but as she grows up she moves into a more white world.
It's a good book, and I'd highly recommend it if you liked The Help or Southern literature.
Really liked it

Three Men in a Boat
(To say nothing of the dog)

David surprises me for many holidays with a book that he's heard of that he thought I'd like.  It's always fun because I've never heard of them. 
For our anniversary he gave me this gem that was written in the late 1800s.  He heard a reviewer on NPR saying it was the funniest book he'd ever read and he reads it every Christmas.
It is written by a British author and if you like dry humor, you'll enjoy this book.
I couldn't believe it was written so long ago - the humor is relevant, even if the setting is clearly 1800s on the Thames.
The best part (and I'm so glad I saw this suggestion on goodreads.com) - listening to Hugh Laurie (of the tv show "House") reading the abridged version.  He is perfect to narrate this book.
Really liked it

Throw Out Fifty Things

I have discovered that I really like audiobooks - they're great for house cleaning, the elliptical, running errands, sitting in the car rider line, etc.  I'm amazed at how quickly I can go through them.
I was looking at our library's audiobook list the other day and came across several self-help type books that I downloaded.  This is the first I read.

I was drawn to this book because I was finishing up my Spring Cleaning.  It starts out as a de-cluttering book with personal and client anecdotes peppering the book, but then it becomes much more of a self-help personal re-evaluation guide with some really good advice.
Liked It

The Levity Effect
I downloaded this book as well, having no idea what it was about, but thinking it might be interesting.
This is a business guide on how levity serves to increase employee engagement, employee retention, and customer satisfaction. 
I can see how someone in the business world who struggles with connecting to their employees could really benefit from this book.  I skipped through it rather quickly but didn't take away much.
It was OK

The Kind Diet
I really, really enjoyed this book. 
If you are interested in losing weight and would consider eating a more plant-based diet, then I highly recommend this book.  While the diet certainly is not for everyone, I think just about anyone would think it's a good read.  I plan to incorporate a lot of the guidance in the book in my own diet.
Really Liked It

How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less
Another library download that I thought I'd look into (hey, they're free!).
In my goodreads library I added a new shelf for "didn't finish" and this is the first book I put there.
The passionate author is a former fashion and advertising photographer (Vogue, Coke, Paris fashion week...) who became really interested in how some people are more charistmatic and engaging and if it's learned or innate.  He became certified in Neural Linguistic Programming and has written several books on how this can be taught. 
The reviews are terrific (Harvard, London Business Schools, The Economist, New York Times) but I only listened to a few chapters.
I'd recommend this book for those who would like to improve their first impression.
Didn't Finish

And that's what I've been reading this past month!
What have you been reading?