Home      About Me      Contact      My Family       Travels       The Kitchen       The Bar

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What I've Been Reading - August 2013

Hi, I have several books to share that I've enjoyed this summer.
Here are the ones I've LovedLiked, and Thought Were Just OK.

Loved These Books

I always enjoy a book that is smartly written, with a mix of mystery and heart.
This is a great example.  I read that Liane Moriarty's "The Husband's Secret" was the "book of the summer" in Australia (her home country) and in Europe.  I was pleased to find it at our library.
It is set in present-day suburban Australia and involves a number of families who are connected through a series of events.  I rarely get through a book in 3 days, but I did this one.  I connected with the characters and carved out time to get back to it as soon as I could!
One sentence goodreads.com description - The Husband's Secret is a funny, heartbreaking novel of marriage, grief, love and secrets.

Another great mystery, very well written, that had me carving out time to read any chance I could get.  This was on a lot of Top Reads of 2012 lists that I'm just now getting to.  A teen is killed, and the story is told from the District Attorney's point of view.  The DA just happens to be the dad of the accused. 
One sentence goodreads.com description - Award-winning author William Landay has written the consummate novel of an embattled family in crisis—a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also a spellbinding tale of guilt, betrayal, and the terrifying speed at which our lives can spin out of control.
Liked These Books
I never get on Twitter but one day I did because someone referenced something hilarious that Steve Martin tweeted and I wanted to check it out.  What I found were all of these references to Questlove's biography - famous and friends raving about it.  I know just a little about The Roots, but watch them on Jimmy Fallon.  Lo and behold, our library had a copy on order and I waited patiently for it to be my turn. 
I don't think I've ever read a musician's autobiography before, but I hear this one breaks the mold.  I especially loved his early years, how his fascination with music takes on a trance-like quality, and his deep, deep knowledge of the most obscure technicalities helped inform the thoughtful, sweet, gentle man that he is today.  The second half of the book was a deep-dive into the music industry as his group skirted stardom and held fast to making important, critically-loved, but not radio-popular music.  I really enjoyed this memoir, but it'll probably keep me from reading others because I can't imagine every musician who writes a memoir is this introspective, educated, and talented.
One sentence goodreads.com description - Mo' Meta Blues is a punch-drunk memoir in which Everyone's Favorite Questlove tells his own story while tackling some of the lates, the greats, the fakes, the philosophers, the heavyweights, and the true originals of the music world.
I can't remember why I didn't give this book 5 stars on goodreads, but I gave it 4 (a decision I take seriously upon finishing a book).  My friend Erin picked this up book a few days ago because of my recommendation and I was over-the-top excited for her.  I enjoyed it a lot. 
In summarizing this summer's books I see that the ones I probably enjoyed most all have a murder mystery as the background, but the stories are really character-driven.  This is a great example.  Set in Red Hook, Brooklyn this story could easily be true.  Some of the scenery exists in Red Hook, but not the disappearance of the teen.  Beautiful writing, great character development.
One sentence goodreads.com description - In Visitation Street, Ivy Pochoda combines intensely vivid prose with breathtaking psychological insight to explore a cast of solitary souls, pulled by family, love, and betrayal, who yearn for a chance to escape, no matter the cost.

David gave me this book a few years ago and I've been making my way through it for some time now.  This excellent book of short stories is clearly loved by many, as is the author who is now in his 80s.  I had not heard of William Trevor before, but I would say that if you love Irish literature, this book is for you.  While clearly different, I was reminded of Maeve Binchy's cast of characters.  Several of the stories are still vivid in my mind.
One sentence goodreads.com description - A marvelous collection from "the greatest living writer of short stories in the English language (The New Yorker).

 These Books Were OK 
I wanted to love The Art Forger.  A friend, whose recommendations I always listen to, mentioned this book in passing one day.  It's jumping off point is the true-life 1990 theft of $500M in art at the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum in Boston - art that has never been recovered.  Sounded like my kind of book.  While considered Historical Fiction, I didn't find out until finishing the book that none of the storyline or references to Mrs. Gardner's life were true in this account.  That made it pretty disappointing.  Even the Degas masterpiece at the center of this story was not real.  This disappointment keeps me from giving it a better rating.
But, if you know all this going on, it's actually a good book!  I would have easily given it at 4 had I not been so shocked to find out that it was entirely fiction, with only the true-life robbery being true.  I learned a lot about the painting and art forgery processes, which I can only hope are accurate :)
One sentence goodreads.com description - It remains the largest unsolved art heist in history, and Claire Roth, a struggling young artist, is about to discover that there’s more to this crime than meets the eye.
Another book that I really wanted to love.  Not that I think my children take advantage of their blessed lives, but I know they could (and I could too) develop a less entitled viewpoint on life.  I was hoping that I would learn some great parenting ideas that would help me subtly shift our entitled thinking.  Unfortunately most of the suggestions here felt like common sense.  My kids already have chores.  They ask nicely for things they'd like.  They earn money to buy splurge items, they help out in the community, they don't take David and me for granted or roll their eyes at us (yet).  BUT... if you know a parent who might be struggling with any of these concerns, this might be a great book for him/her. 
I did follow the advice on allowance, but I'll share that in a different post.
One sentence goodreads.com description - With irresistible humor and refreshing insights, Kay candidly details the ups and downs of removing her own kids from the center of the universe.
So, what are you reading?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Running, Boating, and Swimming

That about sums up our last couple of weeks.
Photos to share!
David took Brennan out to dinner one night to Mark Pi's.  The chef was so nice!  David mentioned Brennan's interest in cooking and he came out and showed how to make a rose from a carrot.  Then he brought out beautiful cheesecakes for David and Brennan.  So thoughtful.  It was quite a treat!

Brennan got his cast off!  He was anxious about the saw they used for about 2 weeks.  Turns out, it was quick and painless!  After a day or two of getting used to his arm again, he's doing great.  You'd never know it was broken!
Grandma Carolyn, this photo is for you.  He's dressed and ready for his first meet this past Saturday.

We all headed north to a big middle school cross-country meet. 
We know so many of the families who participate.  Our school tends to dominate these meets because we have such a large, organized team.
A couple of photos before the race...
 Thomas passed us twice.  The first time I was looking for a shorter kid and he passed me right by!  Here he is at the end of the race though.  He did sooooo well, and definitely PR'd.  He ran 14.56 in the 3K (1.86 miles).  Awesome job!
Here we are heading into the gym for awards.  Brennan always seems to know when I've got the phone out for a photo - he can't resist bunny ears.
Our boys and girls teams won.

Thomas's team at the awards ceremony. 
Two of his coaches up front.

Got my hair pulled up for Wine Club Saturday night.  It never looks this good when I do it.  Took a photo to replicate later.
Our friends Roger and Jan, and Charlie and Jayne hosted a boating pirate-themed wine club Saturday night.  It was so much fun!

We started at Jan and Roger's for appetizers.
(Jayne and Rosann in back, Lora, me, Karen)

Karen, Roger, and Lora

The men!
(Dave, Mike, Jeff, Barry, Greg, Roger, Charlie, David)

The back of Roger and Jan's house as we headed down to the dock.  I love their home.

About to sail the lakes before heading to Jayne and Charlie's for dinner!

I've never been on these lakes.  They were beautiful!

We all sang Yo Ho (a pirate's life for me) a few times over the course of the night.  Charlie led us on trombone and we had sheet music.

Relaxing after dinner at Jayne and Charlie's
(David and Greg)

Mary, Lora, Jan, Vinita

A final round of Yo Ho before heading back to Jan and Roger's for dessert
Charlie, Jayne, Roger

What a FUN night! 
Thomas has had a cold or something for the last 2 weeks.  Finally a doctor friend suggested having him checked for a sinus infection.  Here we are at Walgreens waiting on antibiotics.  Just hanging out, ready to get home.

Because we were having a pool party! 
A bunch of the middle school (and a couple little brothers) youth came to our house for a youth group kick-off party.
Have I mentioned that David refinished the slide this year?  The fiberglass coating was coming up, scratching everyone as they went down.  He did a great job.  It's now a navy blue.

Little kids LOVE Thomas!

Ice Breakers and Youth Group Games

And I always like to show recent gifts.  I have sweet friends.
Rebecca gave me this set.  How adorable!!  The high heel is cosmopolitan mix.  Can't wait to try it out sometime soon!
And aren't these the best wine glasses??
Mike had given Mary one of the red solo cup wine glasses, and I had seen the wine sippy cups online.
I was raving about them to my friend Christine, and lo and behold a package arrived.

Now that we are cast-less, on antibiotics, and well into school and Cross-Country season, life has slowed down a touch.  Hope you are having a wonderful end of August!


Monday, August 19, 2013

Recent Photos

Hi, I just wanted to share some of the latest photos before I get so far behind I can't think straight!
"Update Blogs" has been on my to-do list for a couple of weeks now.
August is starting to settle down some for me, so here goes!
Brennan attended Strings Camp earlier this summer and we received a bunch of great photos the other day.  While I've already shared a couple that I took, I wanted to share these as well.
Brennan with Logan and his class of first-year violinists.

Brennan's official Strings Camp 2013 Photo
While they learned a strings instrument all morning, they got to have a ton of outdoor fun during lunch and the afternoon - including swimming, putt-putt, playgrounds, and "free play".  A bunch of kids built a "bridge" across this little creek.  You see Brennan crossing the log.

During the end of week concert this was one of my favorite parts. 
The cellos learned to play the Darth Vader music and these little kids came out and reenacted a pivotal scene from Star Wars.  It was so cute.
During one of the mornings the kids learned about harmonizing and rhythm.  Here's Brennan performing with his former piano teacher and two of his kids.  Brennan won the "harmonizing star" for his excellent work.
Brennan tried out and was accepted into our city's Children's Choir this year.
It is run by the Indianapolis Children's Choir in conjunction with our local Philharmonic.
He has a couple of friends who are in it.  It's a big deal with lots of practices and concerts.
I think it'll be great for him!
Just into the school year we hosted the 6th Grade Breakfast - a great way to kick off the last year of elementary school.  Here are our school's 6th Grade Teachers.  Brennan's teacher is on the far right.  We love her.

6th Grade Breakfast (that's his sling around his neck)
Brennan got to trade his long cast and sling for a short cast a couple of weeks ago.  And HOPEFULLY this week he'll get the cast removed and move to a brace.  Almost there!
Our local Sprint and Olympic Triathlon took place a couple of Saturdays ago.  I signed the boys and me up to volunteer that morning with traffic duty.  Because they can't be woken up that early on a Saturday morning, I covered the shift by myself.  It was really inspiring to see all sorts of people in the triathlon.  Maybe I could do it???

After half a summer of not playing, Sachmo got his trumpet out and entertained us last weekend.  He's enjoying his 3rd year in band.
Thomas is also on the Cross-Country team at his middle school.  This is the first school sport he's been in and he's doing so well!!
His team has been running Monday-Friday for an hour and a half for 3 weeks now.  His first meet is on Saturday out of town.
The team regularly runs 2 miles.  His PR (personal record) for the 3K (1.86 miles) is 17.05 minutes.  He's determined to get below a 9 minute mile soon.  He's doing really, really well!

Last week Thomas and his mission trip buddies spoke to the adults at church about their summer mission trip.  We couldn't get over how poised and thoughtful Thomas's responses were.  We headed out to a new Cajun restaurant for lunch after church.

With me bathing Brennan in the tub each night (because of his cast), his long-ish hair was always looking rough (see photos of Brennan above!)  So at his last appointment I asked Miss Kristen to please help a Mama out.  Brennan loves his new short cut.  David says he looks like Tom Cruise from Top Gun.

Friday night we headed to Indy for the Indians baseball game.
Also downtown we ran into all sorts of people in cool costumes who were at the Convention Center for Gen Con (comic convention).  I think the boys would have preferred to check out Gen Con than the baseball game!
We met up with our friends Jackie, Matt, and son Tom (in Brennan's class) for a really fun night of baseball and fireworks.
We were all exhausted Saturday morning!


Saturday night we played poker and watched a movie.
Here little brother is picking on big brother by sitting in his chair.  You see Brennan thinks he's hilarious.  Thomas is not giving up his chair though, but still very patient with little brother.

Always suspicious when Brennan says he doesn't need any more cards in 5 Card Draw.  Well, no wonder.  Look what I dealt him!
Hope you're having a great August!