Monday, August 31, 2015

The Seven Books of July.

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When we had mother daughter book club in June, I actually purchased two books to consider. The group thankfully chose The Red Notebook instead of The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe. It was like a bad Katherine Hiegl movie. Faulty character development and a pretty unbelievable plot. I don't recommend it, but instead want to steer you in the direction of either of Hiegl's best movies, 27 Dresses or Life As We Know It. I can watch those on cable all the time.

You Should Have Known was our July book club pick and man, did I love it. I carried this book everywhere with me until I finished it. It was a bit of a suspense novel as we watch Grace's marriage and life transform. She's made a living giving other couple's advice, and now she has to take care of herself and her kiddo after a shocking murder and one exposed secret after another. We all found ourselves rooting for Grace and loving the pace of the story.

I listened to this podcast about The Royal We and convinced Erica we should buy it before her beach vacation. We both tore through it, and several of our other friends have picked it up now. An American college student studies abroad at Oxford and FALLS IN LOVE WITH THE PRINCE. It has the perfect blend of "what-if" with just enough behind-the-scenes Will and Kate drama as well. I am pretty sure they based the princess transformation on the gossip surrounding Kate becoming the Duchess of Cambridge but made it about an American instead. Surprisingly not that predictable, it's chick lit at it's very best, and we're all really hoping for a sequel with the babies!
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My cousin Sasha instagrammed The Antelope in the Living Room and was so surprised that I hadn't read it yet. I actually do live with an antelope (but he's in my office). This book and The Sparkly Green Earrings are by blogger Melanie Shankle. I don't read her blog and just know her through these books. They are darling, easy reads that blend faith with humor and small life lessons. I read parts of both books aloud to Kip and laughed so hard that I cried while reading the antelope book. Her husband is just enough like Kip to make it a perfect read for me. I keep meaning to pick up her third book about friendship because I think I would really enjoy it too!
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I borrowed/stole All the Bright Places from Gabby when we were in Indy. I feel like I have written at length this year about young adult literature for high school kids that is VERY heavy. Both All the Bright Places and Vanishing Girls fit this description. Tragic accidents that destroy families and lives is the theme in both books. My mother listened to Vanishing Girls as an audio book, and we had plenty to discuss afterwards. However, I'm still looking for the next book to recommend to people who loved Eleanor & Park, and I don't think I've found it yet. These are both beautifully written, captivating stories and definitely heartbreaking.

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!