Thursday, August 27, 2015

Exploring in Jewell County.

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As I mentioned in the post before, the cloud cover moved through overnight and cooled off the farm. Perfect for our Saturday morning exploring we had planned! Kip and I grabbed a bite of breakfast and walked down the hill to take the Viking (ATV) out to wander the farm. We stopped first to visit with Uncle Keith. He was feeding the cattle and counting to make sure the whole group was still together. With so much rain this spring and summer, fences have been a problem. And cattle are sneaky anyways. Kip and I helped a neighbor's big calf back inside a fence later that day!
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After we followed Keith from one pasture to another, Kip and I ventured further north up by this pond. It was this point that Kip began to reminisce about days dove hunting with his dad. He explained to me how this little pond (very full for July!) would be a great spot to hunt. We later hatched a plan with my uncle to return for Labor Day and a round of dove hunting. Well, Kip will hunt. I'll probably hang out with my mom and grandparents. Sitting on a stool trying to shoot a bird that flies in an irregular flight pattern doesn't sound like a great plan for my skill set.
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Kip drove for the first half of the morning as we looked at places Keith marked on a map for us, counted cattle and enjoyed the views. Kip can point out everything as we go - trees and other features of the land, bugs and critters - and he really is so happy out here.
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I know that my uncle's complaint about this photo will be that it was such a wet spring and early summer that the weeds tended to be out of control in some places. I can easily overlook this with the waving grass, blue skies and road creeping over the horizon.
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My grandfather Lauren taught me to drive when I was eleven-years-old. He told me that either he would have to teach me how to drive or how to open and close the barbed wire fences. I'm glad he picked the driving because the fences can sure be tricky. About half way through our morning exploration, I switched to the driver spot so Kip could open and close the fences. He's much better at it than me, definitely more careful. We were headed into this pasture to check out another pond and look for a couple of gravestones.
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Here's the Viking! It was my first time driving anything like this, and I definitely loved it. No part of our adventure was super intense in a way that requires helmets and jumpsuits, but the Viking did make for a lovely Saturday morning drive in Jewell County.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Friday Night on the Farm.

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Mom, Kip and I were able to take off for Jewell County around noon in July for the Threshing Bee. We wanted to get there for dinner at the Buffalo Roam with my cousin Sasha, her husband Mike, Aunt Bethany and Uncle Keith. After dinner - which included ice cream in honor of Keith's and my birthday - we headed out to the farm.
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We listened to the Royals play for a bit before deciding to wander around on the farm. We walked down the hill to take the new fancy ATV out for a spin, and the three of us road comfortably around while admiring the sunset. At sunset, it was a bit dramatic but beautiful with clouds moving into view. A storm passed through overnight, dropping the temperatures for a cool Saturday morning in the middle of July.
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This was Kip's first time staying on the farm on a trip to Jewell County, but if you know my husband, you know he's perfectly content in the country. I loved having a good excuse to get the camera out and capture the same views on the farm that our family has loved for seven generations.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Fourth of July in Indy.

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We went to see my dad and family for the Fourth of July - and made a mini road trip out of it! Pretty much ALL of Tracy's family was going to be in Indianapolis for the holiday, and we were glad to be a part of the big group for the long weekend. All the nieces and nephews came from the East Coast, and Kip began to play with this group of guys pretty much as soon as we arrived. They invented a game throwing basketballs and frisbees into a basketball goal over the pool, and they ALL were entertained for a long while. My husband has a kid's heart.
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I've learned Mitchell's tricks, and I'm trying to shove him back down from standing on his tiptoes. He is not taller than me, there is no need to panic, readers. However, he is a high school senior. That is definitely crazy.
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Fred is the best. Did you know he gave me my copy of Devil in the White City? (It's going to be a movie!) Several years ago, he just thought I should have it and went to the bookstore as soon as it opened to buy it for Lauren and me. He also drove to Lauren's graduation so he could help deliver my sewing machine. We were glad to see him for the holiday!

Kip's holding Molly, the youngest little girl cousin from back in Maryland. She's days younger than our little buddy Maddie here in KC, but she FAR prefers the fellows. For example, she took a tumble and I scooped her up. As I turned around, she saw Kip and reached out for him. And then cuddled up for a long time. She did the same with Tracy's brother and my stepbrothers too! Kip looks pretty smug that she wanted him to comfort her. She has a new baby brother this week so I hope she loves him just as much.
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They were kind enough to get cake to celebrate my birthday early along with Tracy's brother and niece. I'm a BIG fan of this bakery in Indy, and I think I ate it for breakfast a couple days!
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On the Fourth, we were super lazy. Slept in, swam, ate a late dinner and watched the fireworks close to the house. We loved getting to hear about Gabby's first year of college, and she and I swapped book notes for a while. I borrowed (without asking, though I DID mail it back!) a book, and it will make its way into the July round-up.
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On the 5th of July, we continued to celebrate America by getting ready to cheer for the women's team in the World Cup. All the boys wore their official jerseys! Cooper took the best picture with Lu, and I didn't even pay him five bucks.
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You can tell that Spencer and I are related! Though I saw Spencer's first day of school photo, and it's possible he looks even more like Dad than I do. We ate at a tasty Mexican restaurant in Broad Ripple and then walked down a neat path for snow cones and ice cream. The root beer smell was so strong on their snow cones that people commented about it as we passed them walking!
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It was our first trip to Broad Ripple, and it's a cute town near where Dad and Tracy live. After we stuffed ourselves, we had one more night of food and relaxing, and then Kip, Lu and I drove back to KC on Monday. A nice long weekend with family, the Fourth and lots of pool time!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Mother Daughter Book Club 2015.

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For the third year, we met with our moms for mother/daughter book club in June. We like the excuse to buy books for our moms and get everyone together. I already mentioned that we read The Red Notebook, and we gathered at Room 39 in Mission Farms to chat about the book.
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You gotta love a restaurant that serves both brunch and lunch at 11:30 am so that everyone can get what they want. We had about twelve of us for lunch which is challenging in most restaurants. They are happy to accommodate us - including separate checks - but it can be tough to hear everyone around a table! However, this time our conversation about the book was lively, and there was lots to say.
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I made everyone take a photo with their mom (but set up the lighting on my own the most poorly!) Baby Beckett was there too and slept in my arms for a good portion of our lunch. What a darling little boy with a great head of hair! It's fun to see this tradition live on for book club.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Ten Books of June.

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I participated in fifteen discussion boards over the five week course I took this summer. Each one required multiple posts, questions, follow-ups, and they had to be done on different days. So I didn't want to blog much while the class was going on, but I didn't mind burying myself in books. Anything to not look at the computer screen any longer.

Early Warning is book two in Jane Smiley's series following the same family from Iowa as in Some Luck. Book pal Ginny's review is here, and I mostly concur. I'm not sure I liked it better - Frank makes me crazy - but I can't wait till the third book comes out in October. My mom just started the series as well, and I'm looking for more people who want to talk about how it's so much better than Follet's latest series. I read the first book in the series is back in January.

The Red Notebook was the selection for the third annual Mother/Daughter book club. We had a lively discussion though I'm not sure everyone loved it. AND I'd like to add we had a great discussion without any discussion questions available on the internet. If you've been to Paris it is extra lovely to read, and it can be easily finished in one sitting.

Everything I Never Told You is heavy but beautifully written. I didn't know much going in about the book, but it follows a family before and after the death of their middle daughter. It has the right balance of suspense, heartbreak and excellent character development. I had only one minor complaint when I was done, and I definitely needed to talk about it with Kate when she finished it too. It's not a great beach read, but I think it would be good for book clubs.

Station Eleven has to be one of my absolute favorites of the year. I picked it up at an independent bookstore in Chicago, and I am in awe of the characters and stories Emily St. John Mandel weaves about life twenty years after a flu pandemic changes the whole world. It's a touching story, not a dystopia, and makes you really consider what matters and what will last. This is a good interview if you have read it and want to know a little bit about how she crafted the story.
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On to the young adult books of the month...

Roller Girl is a graphic novel and should be read by anyone who loves roller derby or stories about how middle school is just rough. I thought the illustrations were awesome, the story solid, and bonus points for a Hispanic main character and a single mom.

The Red Pencil is heartbreaking. A little girl and her sister live with her family in Sudan, where she is expected to learn to work in the home but not to read and write. She uses a stick to draw but her whole world is uprooted when her father is killed, and they escape to a refuge camp. There are few bright spots, but it's based in fact and the tough reality of the region. It is written in verse.

The Heir follows up with our beloved characters from The Selection series and is just not quite as good. It's mostly because the protagonist, Princess Eadlyn, is not as likeable as her mother. I'm sure teenage girls will like it just as much as the first series, and I thought the male suitors were mostly charming.
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Waistcoats & Weaponry is the third book in the Finishing School series. I love listening to the narrator, but the story is getting a bit old. One more book comes out this fall, and I'll probably finish up with Gail Carriger's books with the final book. Steampunk is probably not for me in the long run.

Feathers is an older book by Jacqueline Woodson (author of Brown Girl Dreaming) written for elementary school children. I loved the way she writes and tells the story so much that after listening to it, I ordered a used paperback copy for my own piles of YA books. Frannie is a darling little character with a brother who is deaf and a keen habit of observing everyone. So many beautiful passages in this one.

When Zachary Beaver Came to Town has been sitting around in my old building for a while, but I never picked it up. I needed an audio book for the last final weeks of commuting and grabbed it from the library. It's read by Will Patton (the white coach in Remember the Titans!) and an excellent Vietnam era story in a sleepy Texas town. Toby's mother has just left town to audition in Nashville and the "world's largest boy," Zachary Beaver, has just arrived in town as a side show attraction. I liked it, and I can see why teachers would chose it. I'm not sure it would appeal to our students, but I like how it pushes multiple perspectives.