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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What I've Been Reading - September 2012

I've read some really good books this past month, and I'm anxious to hear if you've read any of them!
So, let's get started...

My daytime book group, As the Page Turns, is reading both A Girl Named Zippy and the follow-up memoir, She Got Up Off the Couch - And Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana for our October reads. 
I shared my love for Zippy earlier this summer.  The memoir of a 1970s childhood in small-town Indiana is both hilarious and touching.  The follow up about Zippy's mother Delonda is darker than Zippy, but similar in tone and topic.  Both are great reads, and I always enjoy meeting another Zippy fan!
One sentence synopsis from goodreads.com -  After years of languorous existence, this oversized couch potato emerged from the den to pursue a higher education.
 Loved  It

Several friends mentioned The Gallagher Girls series when talking of good Young Adult series that don't involve werewolves or dystopian dictatorships.  This series seems to be really loved by all - young adults, moms of young adults, critics, and other authors.  And it has been on the New York Times Bestsellers list for ages.
So, I had to check it out.  I read the first two in the series earlier this month and found them a refreshing change of pace.  The series is set at the Gallagher Academy that seems like a prep school for girls, but is actually a Spy School, training the young ladies for CIA positions after university.  The writing is sharp and the role models are refreshingly positive.  I'd recommend to any 11-15 year old young lady (not to mention this 41 year old!)
One sentence synopsis from goodreads.com -  Cammie Morgan is a student at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a fairly typical all-girls school-that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE and the latest in chemical warfare in science, and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes in computer class. 
Really Liked It

 Gone Girl has received a ton of buzz this year.  I see it on all sorts of Top 10 book lists.  I put it on my library reserve list and was #36!  I was thrilled when my time finally came.
This has got to be one of the more suspenseful mysteries I've read in quite awhile.  I was sorely tempted to peek and find out what happened, but I held off.  Thankfully!  It's the story of a disintegrating marriage, a psychological thriller because Amy disappears under mysterious circumstances on their 5th anniversary.  The twists were entirely unexpected and enjoyable to follow.  While the characters were loathsome, the writing was great. 
One sentence synopsis from goodreads.com -  With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.
Really Liked It
Pandemonium is the follow-up to last year's Delirium, another young adult novel set in a Dystopian world.  I did not care for the first half of Pandemonium, and almost stopped reading it.  It seemed almost identical to the second in the Matched series that I read earlier this year. 
I'm glad I did finish it though because the second half, and especially the ending, were worth it.  If you're new to the YA Dystopian world - I would recommend the Hunger Games or Divergent series over this series.  Although, I'm sure I'll read the follow up due out next year!
 One sentence synopsis from goodreads.com - This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.
Liked It OK


Deborah from As The Page Turns, chose The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty for our November read.  I had no idea what this book was about, but from the first page, I was hooked.
No wonder it's on a lot of "hot fiction" lists right now.  I had a hard time putting this book down!
While I knew nothing about the famous silent film star, Louise Brooks, I didn't need to know much.  This book is really about her (fictional) chaperone to New York City - Cora Carlisle - and Cora's life in the late 1800s thru mid 1900s.  A number of surprising turns kept me engrossed, stealing moments to read a few pages whenever I could.
One sentence synopsis from goodreads.com -  The Chaperone is a captivating novel about the woman who chaperoned an irreverent Louise Brooks to New York City in 1922 and the summer that would change them both.
 Loved It
And that's what I've Been Reading this month!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Music and Wine

Music and Wine...
Two of my favorite things!

Before we headed out to see Toad the Wet Sprocket a couple of weeks ago

While we were at the concert, Brennan went punk while hanging out with Amelia and Thomas.

Last weekend we went with friends to see Hoosier Beatles in town.
A number of Indiana bands, all playing Beatles favorites.  A really fun night!

On our way to the concert

There were lots of chairs set up for the concert, and a couple of tall tables, but Greg found these comfy love-seats for us all.  We had the best seats in the house!
With Alan the police officer in the background, it looks more like the holding tank.
Mary, Mike, Jan, Roger, Vinita, and Greg

David especially liked the group Harpeth Rising.  They were just back from a month-long tour in the U.K.  They were really great.

One of our local high schools has an amazing Jazz Choir that performs all over the state.
They did an a capella version of "In My Life" that was absolutely stunning.
I wish I had recorded it.  It was incredible.

Encore with all of the groups together

Our wine club was back on Saturday night with "Flat Rock Flat Bread Pizza and Sangiovese" wines!

Greg and Vinita hosted us in their beautiful screened porch.

Before everyone arrived.
We all brought Italian appetizers and desserts.

Love this porch!

And Greg's bar and man cave of course!

Ginger and John's olive tapenade. 
There is nothing better than appetizers!!

We did not do a formal tasting of Sangiovese's but we had several to sample.
I had never heard of this grape, harvested primarily in Italy.
A delicious red.

Neighbor Ben Fogt brought his wood-fired pizza oven for us to have pizzas with our Sangiovese.

John tests the temps.

Ben shared information about his pizza business and made a variety of delicious pizzas for us.

Mmmm...my favorite!

Zoe's sweet face says it all.
Good times with good people, good music, good food, and good wine.

Grandma Visit

We had a great visit with Grandmas Nan and Carolyn this past weekend.
Hurricane Isaac kept them from visiting us over Labor Day weekend, so they got to visit on a "normal" weekend and see our busy schedules.
We drove around looking at some sites on Saturday after Brennan finished up at Spanish School.
We stopped by a hotel to see Miles, the hotel dog.  Any time we visit downtown, we like to check in on Miles.
We went out to eat at a new Burger Bar in town.
Thomas really enjoyed the BBQ nachos.  They were fantastic!
We watched Thomas during tennis practice that afternoon.

On Sunday after church we headed out to lunch and then to an apple orchard/pumpkin farm/petting zoo.
It was a gorgeous fall day!

The boys love this slide, but we could find Brennan swinging on the rope swings inside more often.

Bamboo maze

We're about a month too early for pumpkin and apple picking, but we walked up to the orchard anyway.

 A fun, fun weekend.
We're looking forward to seeing the family at Thanksgiving!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pep Band & Choir

Thomas was so excited about playing trumpet in the Pep Band last week - his first time! 
His middle school football team played the other middle school in town in football. 
First the 7th graders played, and then the 8th graders. 
Thomas played for 4 hours and loved every minute of it!
He practiced for us the weekend before. 
These are not his very best examples - just the best I got on film. 
He loves the band and we're really proud of his school spirit!
Below are 4 short video clips of some of his songs. 
If you are reading this in email, you may not see the clips. 
Please click the link to the blog so you can watch his quick videos.  He'll really appreciate it!

Thomas's Middle School's Fight Song - "Hey Big Blue"

"Hey" Song
"School Spirit" and "Hard Rock Blues"
Learning "The Star Wars Theme Song" and little brother plugging his ears

Brennan is singing in the choir at our church and at his school.
He has a great voice, but was not too sure about singing in a group. 
He's doing great though, and I know the choir directors are thrilled to have another boy. 
They're always looking for more male voices! 
Here are two songs the children's choir at our church sang last weekend.
Again, if you're reading this in email, you may have to click over to the blog to see the videos.
In the second song, "How Majestic is Your Name", Brennan is also playing a Hand Chime - his first time out.
"Praise, I Will Praise You Lord"
"How Majestic is Your Name"
We're proud of our musicians!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

End of Summer

First month of the new school year is already behind us.
We're looking forward to having Mama and Carolyn up next weekend for a nice long weekend!
Just a few photos about our latest adventures.
Brennan surprised us this year by announcing he wanted to take Gymnastics. 
He's taken tumbling before, as a preschooler, but wanted to do gymnastics, so I signed him up for the boys' class through Parks and Rec.  He absolutely loves it! 
Here he is, ready to work on his dive forward rolls.

In addition to Gymnastics, Brennan is in piano again this year.
He also joined his elementary school's choir and had a great first lesson. 
Practices and concerts start to get serious starting this coming week!
And, he has become really active at church - in Sunday School and in the music program.
He'll also be starting to attend monthly Youth Group activities for the 4th-6th grade crowd.
Finally, Brennan also started Spanish School on Saturday!
Sponsored by our local Latino organization, it's an immersion program.
He loved the first day and is excited to go back.
Here's my view every afternoon and morning.  Brennan in the backseat with a pencil either starting on homework as we head to the middle school to pick up Thomas, or designing his "dream mansion" in the mornings on the way to school.  (It includes geothermal energy and a wine cellar.)

Our friends Dave and Rosann have an end of summer party every September.
Brennan and I went together yesterday.  Here's Brennan with baby Emma.  He took his wiggly-baby-holding responsibilities very seriously.  Emma is 7 months and a wiggler! And such a cutie.
We were so excited when Dave and Rosann announced that Emma will be a big sister in about 8 weeks.  We're so happy for their family!!

I got my hair cut on Friday.  I mentioned to Kristen that David and I were going to a concert that night, so she played with my hair.  It was so cute!  And it actually stayed up the entire evening!

David and I went to Indy to see Toad the Wet Sprocket (a favorite 90s band) - all original members, too!  We had such a good time, going out to dinner and enjoying the two opening bands and Toad at The Vogue.  A great, great night!!

Toad 2012, The Vogue

I found a squirrel trying his best to drink from our pool the other day.  I had to run out the door and I was concerned I'd find a floating squirrel when I got home so I shooed him away.  It's been raining plenty here, so I'm not sure why he wanted the pool water!

David was cleaning leaves out of the pool and found this very cute turtle though.  Luckily the chlorine hadn't gotten to him yet.  David released him in the woods near our house.

I had lunch with my old friends Kelly (standing) and Robin last week!
We hadn't all been together in such a long time - but now we're all living in the same state/country!
Top is 1998, bottom is 2012.
We had a great time catching up over lunch and are looking for a night to get together sometime soon!

I'm actually finally looking forward to Fall!