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Friday, May 31, 2013

101 Places to See Before You're 12 - A Greenhouse

A Greenhouse
Truth be told, the boys have been to plenty of greenhouses over the years - but apparently never when I've had a camera with me, or thought to snap a photo.  I remember the impressive one at Epcot that we rode through. 
I wanted to get some flowers for a pot on the front porch so we stopped by one of our local nurseries & greenhouses yesterday after school/running at the gym/errands.
This is not one of the largest greenhouses in our area, but they have great plants and produce, and they use it all year long, growing plants from seed.
My sweet helpers

I got a bunch of different blues and greens for my front porch.
Brennan chose peaches and a grapefruit to make a fruit salad tonight.
Yes, they have other shirts, they just wear these two all.the.time.

From the Book:
#99 - A Greenhouse
Outside the weather is cloudy and cold, the trees are bare, and there's not a speck of green to be seen.  But step inside the doors of a greenhouse, and a rush of warm tropical air and a riot of colors greet you.  You've been transported, not just through space, but also through time; it's another season in here.  Greenhouses can expertly re-create the climate of a place that may be very far away, indeed: the Amazonian rain forest, an arid desert, or a plant bog.  You can see rare orchids, spiny cacti, and even carnivorous plants as bright topical frogs leap over your path and macaws squawk in the trees above you.  When your visit is over, you probably won't want to go back outside into your own environment.  But you can always return for a little blast of summer when you've got the winter blues.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

May Photos

Prepare yourself.  May is a busy month around here. 
And I couldn't be happier about it.  I love, love this time of year.
Lots of photos ahead.
I went to my friend Christy's wedding at Vanderbilt at the beginning of the month.  It was so beautiful!  It was great to catch up with former local and Memphis colleagues too.
Christy worked for me as an intern for a year in the late 90s.
Here we are at Halloween 1998 - rocking our Gone with the Wind attire.
Gorgeous church on the Vanderbilt campus

Mr. and Mrs. Christy and Chip!

At the reception - gorgeous old building on the river - we had a blast!

Wheeler and Bonnie
Our parks foundation raised money and awareness of several parks in lower income areas that they wanted to revitalize.  I attended one of the "opening ceremonies" with the Service League.  Several local dignitaries including Mayor Kristen (second from left) and other celebrities who donated funds and were very involved in the process - DIY/HG Network celb Carter Oosterhouse, actress Amy Smart, Subway Jared (from Bloomington, IN), and local boy/race car driver Tony Stewart.  This event is in Tony's old neighborhood where he grew up.  It was a lot of fun and a gorgeous day.

 It has been exciting around the house as well with all sorts of home improvements going on.  More on that in a later post.
While the gutters were off, David fixed several drains that weren't working just right, and we got the pool open only to find out the pool drain wasn't working right.  David spent a few days sorting out that issue.  Here's the main culprit - a busted drain pipe.
Brennan's 5th grade spring photo - I believe he's worn this sweater in 3 school photos :)
Speaking of Brennan, on Mother's Day he served as Lay Liturgist and did a fantastic job! 

David reminded me of the days when we would squeeze each other's hand in concern when he would go to the front of the church for "Time with Children".  We never knew if he would pull a stunt or act silly.  It was always a relief to get through that portion of the service.  Now here he is - serving as a leader!
My favorite part (and everyone else's if you saw it on facebook) was that he learned about "sportcoat etiquette" and would unbutton his coat every time he sat down, and would button it back up before approaching the podium to speak.
David and the boys took me to brunch after church for Mother's Day.  I had a great day.

 I went through architecture and Miller House tour guide training earlier this year and am finally ready to give tours.  It was a ton of learning, lots and lots and lots of information and I absolutely loved it.  I showed up for my tour one day and had our former Senator's brother (a noted Methodist minister from Indy) and several architects and other members of his congregation signed up for my tour.  No pressure there.  AND - the paper photographer wanted to tag along.  Here I am giving a tour.  He must have taken 2000 photos.  Surely there was one of me without my mouth open.
There were several other photos of me on the paper online but I can't link you to those unfortunately.

 I spend lots and lots of time at the kids' schools. 
This was the 5th grade Revolutionary Fair day.  I shepherded this group of really terrific 5th graders all day through various activities.  I learned a lot!

Brennan's amazing teacher, Mrs. Logston.  We are so lucky that both boys had her for 5th grade, and they'll both have her for 6th grade math as well.  She's wonderful, just wonderful.

The SAME day as the Revolutionary Fair was TyroMAYnia - a hugely important program in the life of a 7th grader in the academic challenge program in our town.  The program starts in mid February and consists of tons and tons of responsibilities, papers, speeches, science projects, social studies projects, etc on a global topic.  Thomas chose unique Australian wildlife.  I know more about marsupial and placental mammals that I ever thought possible now.  We were so proud of him.  The event culminated in a night of presentations at the middle school. (BTW - David and Thomas built the PVC stand that you see.)
A big event in our town is "American Pie".  Led by one of the high school history teachers, the program explores a decade through music and political/historical narration.  Any high school student can try out to be a part of the 32 musical acts (yes, it's a long night), set design and building, AV, historical narration, etc.  They have more than 300 high schoolers involved and it's a huge deal.  We've never been and decided to go this year to celebrate the 80s.  It is absolutely amazing to me how much talent these kids have.  Singing, dancing, accompaniment, etc.  Former students who are professional musicians in Nashville, LA, and NY come back each year to play in the band.  Side note - the teacher who spearheaded this effort for the past 25 years is also the boys' piano teacher's husband, and a church friend.  Small town.
Parents sit in the auditorium.  Students who are not in the program form the "mosh pit" down front.

This is during Footloose.  One of Thomas's youth group buddies is doing the dance in the spotlight, and another is videotaping in foreground.  You see the line dancers lining the aisles.  The choreography, music, vocals, etc. are just amazing.
 It was a long night of fun - but Brennan took it very seriously :)
David and I attended the Philharmonic's "Lerner and Loewe" event at the Irwin Gardens - one of my favorite spots in town (now a bed and breakfast).  The music was from 4 of their most popular Broadway musicals - Gigi, Brigadoon, Camelot, and My Fair Lady.  The Philharmonic choral group performed select songs from each show in costume.

Then they had refreshments set up, following the theme from each of the musicals.  Ale and meat pie for Camelot.
It was such a beautiful night - in the beautiful 1910 garden.
Thomas had his spring 7th grade Band Concert at the high school last week.  Isn't he grown up??  David gave him that tie for his concerts.  I think it may have been an early interview tie that David would have worn in college. 

We're so proud of David's cousin Daniel who graduated with his Doctorate of Dentistry last week!
Here he is with his mom, Nina.

Brennan and I attended the Philharmonic Salute!  Memorial Day concert Friday night on the courthouse/Veteran's Memorial plaza.
This is the city children's choir.  Brennan will be trying out next year for it.  They went to Spain last year!

Back of the Courthouse and the Veteran's Memorial

Brennan loves to explore the Veteran's Memorial.  It's a somber and moving tribute.

Brennan chose all-American snacks, he said.

The boys took some golf lessons last weekend.  Thomas wants to continue.  Brennan wants to become an expert putt-putter instead.
And, the house.  As I type this the gutter guys are here with our new gutters and the saws are going like crazy.  Here are before and afters.  Chimney work done last July, new roof last October, paint just finished last week, broken garage door panels fixed.  Gutters should be done today.
Phew, and that's our May!
Boys get out of school on Friday - yippee!!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

101 Places to See Before You're 12 - A Migration Path

A Migration Path
As we get closer to the end of our 101 Places adventures, I shared with the boys and David that there are some we just probably won't see - like A Migration Path.
The book shares lots of examples like Stinkpot Turtles migrating at the Shawnee National Forest in Illinois in the fall, Mexican Free-Tailed Bats migrating in Texas in the spring, Manatees in Florida for several months in the winter, and Garter Snacks in Manitoba in the fall and spring. 
Then David reminded me that we were right in the middle of a migration here in Indiana - Canadian Geese.  Oh, right.  How could I not have put two and two together.  The Canadian Geese are everywhere!
The boys and I were talking about this in the car one day as two geese slowly made their way across a main thoroughfare in our city.  Headed to a little pond behind a bank.
And they had their babies with them!

The geese are sort of a joke in our area because they don't appear to be the brightest of animals, and have no fear of humans whatsoever.
Our friends that live on lakes in town remark that they used to make a pit stop in our community on their way to more northern points this time of year, but there's something about all the lakes and rivers in our area.  They now nest here, and apparently make big messes out at the lakes.
All I know is that this time of year, they are serious driving hazards, but it's really fun when we can get up close and see them.
A few years ago I thought it would be fun to take old bread to the geese and have the boys feed them.  David just shook his head since these are not domesticated animals in any way.  They looked at me like I was crazy and completely ignored the bread we threw to them.

Here is a map that one of the science teachers at Brennan's school sent me. 
Apparently much of  the U.S. is on a Canadian Geese migration path!
From the Book:
#4 - A Migration Path
It's kind of like an invisible superhighway for animals.  No one knows how they know when to start and where to go, but millions of animals return all together to these paths at the same time every year as they journey from their winter to summer homes and back again.  If you're in the right place at the right time, in one day you can see more birds, butterflies, bats, frogs, and even snakes than you've ever seen in your whole life!  The animals load up on food, conduct elaborate mating rituals, make big piles of guano, then go on their way.  Being outnumbered by animals 10,000 to one is an awesome experience!

Newest Member of the Band

6th grade band tryouts were last night at our school.
Brennan, who enjoyed a great 5th grade year in choir, is ready to join the 6th grade band.
We saw most of his classmates at testing.
6th graders at our school have the option of band, guitar, or music in the 6th grade.
Most choose band, and they are fired up!
The kids experimented with the instruments all last week in prep for testing.
They're encouraged to come in with two instruments they think would be their favorites.
Ha - Brennan wanted to try them ALL.

Not enthused about the baritone/euphonium - was looking already to see what was next.

He was leaning towards percussion, trumpet, and French horn.

In the end, French horn won out and he is so excited!  Because of his great pitch and ability to read music, the middle school and high school band directors were excited to hear him do really well on the horn.

The instrument is rented and will be waiting for him on his first day of Summer Band Camp!
Here's Thomas two years ago trying out for his instrument! 
Oh, so little!
(It's as if I dressed them in matching clothes for tryouts!)