#4: Read 15 New Books…

One thing I seem to forget and then discover all over again is that I love to read!  When life gets busy I don’t make the time to read, but I definitely had my share of down time last summer to dive into a few good books.  Between flying to Africa, driving to Iowa, Colorado, Nebraska and Arkansas and a nice reading spot on my front patio I have successfully read 15 new books beginning in January of 2014 and ending in October of 2014.  I started a little slow, picked up momentum over the summer months and finally finished a little over a year after I started.   This post has been awhile in the making.  I reached my goal almost a year ago, but obviously took a little longer to get it on the blog.  It has been a post in the making for quite some time as I added a book here and there as I completed them.


These are the books that I actually own that made the list.  On a side note, I discovered this really cool place when I moved to Greenville called the public library.  Seriously, they can order out almost any book I could ever imagine wanting to read from another library in the Illinois system.  The library’s actual selection is subpar, but the ability to order out has been amazing!

So, without further ado, here is the list…

1. Realer than Real by Ryan Wilkins

2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I think I read this book during middle school track season.  Me and the 8th grade girls had some good conversations.  I enjoyed the book much more than the movie.

3. Divergent by Veronica Roth

Again, I enjoyed the book much more than the movie.  Insurgent sat on my bookshelf for many months.  I finally read it and was convinced I wouldn’t read the final book in the series.  Until I finished it.  400 pages of eh and the last few had me eagerly turning the pages and wanting to pick up Allegiant. 

4. Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicky Myron

I absolutely loved this book!  Of course, it was about a cat so what’s not to love?  Even better, I got this hard covered gem at the used book store for one dollar.  Mint condition!  I read it on the plane during our Africa trip last summer and found myself laughing out loud at the stories only a cat lover would understand and then tearing up at the end of the book.  Spoiler alert…the cat lives a very long life, but all good things must end.  If you are a cat person I would definitely recommend it!


The library where Dewey roamed was in Spencer, Iowa, which just happened to be on the way to Okoboji  last summer.  Trent graciously allowed me to stop and see the shelves where Dewey once roamed.

5. MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche

I literally spent the first part of this book thinking MWF meant Monday, Wednesday, Friday.  Sadly, I was mistaken.  Suddenly it dawned on me:  Married, White, Female seeking Best Friend Forever.  My BFF Sara hooked me up with this book when she saw my 30 Before 30.  It is about a young 20 something who moved to a new city with absolutely no friends of her own.  She spent the next year going on one new friend date a week on a search for her new BFF.  Inspiring to say the least, given my current situation.  I am now accepting applications. :)  Oh, and I’m starting a book club and this just happens to be the first book I picked!

6. A Long Way Gone – Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

This book was another one that I came across at the used book store for one dollar.  It was a story about a boy soldier during the war in Sierra Leone.  I had heard many things about the war, but reading his story and all of the terrible things that happened gave me a new understanding and new respect for the county and the people.

7. Eggs by Jerry Spinelli

8. Palisades Park by Allen Brennert

A long, but easy read.  Next to memoirs, historical fiction is one of my favorite genres.

9. True (Sort of…) by Katherine Hannigan

10. Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster

This book came recommended by my friend, Sara.  I was looking for something new and different, but love memoirs.  This book was just what the doctor ordered.  As were her next three memoirs.  Jen Lancaster is my new favorite author.

11. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

The story took place in Omaha.  It had me at Omaha.

12. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker

This book had me wanting to try it all!  I kept telling myself baby steps.  So far I’ve taken no steps.  Maybe one day soon. 

13. Taking Flight by Michaela DePrince

Such an amazing story about an orphan from Sierra Leone who was adopted by a family in the United States.  She followed her dream to become a ballerina.

14. Wonder by R. J. Pilacio

15. Bright Lights, Big Ass by Jen Lancaster

Or as Sue Heck (and Megan Laune) would say, Bright Lights, Big Ay-ess-ess.  Jen Lancaster is the only author that made the list twice, and she didn’t disappoint.  Her bouts of verbal diarrhea (her words not mine) had me laughing out loud.   And telling anyone who would listen about what had me laughing out loud.

And a little bonus!  I finished up number 16 (and then some).  Seriously, this post has been almost a year in the making.

16. Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain

A Christmas gift from Jamie, it was a great read.  It jumped back and forth between two characters and their story.

Looking back at the list it is hard for me to believe that it has been more than a year since I read some of the books.  There is not a book on the list that I wouldn’t not recommend.  Some were better than others.  Some were wrote for the young adult audience (or the young at heart) and some were definitely for a more mature audience.   If I were really cool I would go out and buy myself and “I Like Big Books” bumper sticker.

Now, my list of want to read books is growing and growing.  I am soaking in every last possible minute of this nice outdoor reading weather before the cold sets in.  For whatever reason when I am inside I sit down on the couch and the next thing I know I have knocked out two (or ten) seasons of Friends, Parenthood, Gilmore Girls, Grey’s Anatomy, Parks and Rec.  You name it.  I’ve watched it.  I’m hoping that I can keep reading and that my brain doesn’t turn into mush over the winter months. 

Fingers crossed for good time spent reading in the coming months…

{The Launes}



Double Company…

This past weekend we had double company at our house.  Both were super short trips, but they were also super fun.  Trent’s parents and our nephew got into town Saturday morning in time for Trent’s football game and Kirsten’s volleyball games.  Then, after they left Sunday morning my mom and Jamie came into town Sunday night. 


Of course we made a trip to Dairy Queen…chocolate with sprinkles, yes please!


It was a super quick trip, but of course we found time for a sister run!


And it was a beautiful day so we enjoyed a picnic at the park!


It was only their second trip to Greenville…


Having company is lots of fun.  Except when they leave.  That is just sad.   But on the bright side, Jamie is c0ming back for another visit this weekend!  Thank you Southwest $44 flights back in June!!  On the list…running, Friends on Netflix, taco soup and cinnamon rolls and of course, coffee. 

Now, the countdown is on…one day until the Big Brother 17 finale, four days until Jamie comes and 12 days until the big 3-1.

Until then…

{The Launes}


Greenville’s Bicentennial….

200 years ago a little town in southern Illinois called Greenville came to be.  This year Greenville is celebrating its bicentennial.  Labor Day weekend was the main event so I made sure to take part in as much fun as possible!  Despite the 95 degree heat, I managed to take in the attractions up on the square, a parade, concert and fireworks. 

It amazes me that just a little farther east of Nebraska, how much longer the area has been established.  Greenville became a dot on the map more than 50 years before my hometown of Ashland.  Nebraska’s oldest town, Bellevue was settled in the 1830’s, but not incorporated until 1855. {Thank you Wikipedia for the facts}  There is so much history here that was interesting to hear and read about this weekend. 

A little history of Greenville…basically Greenville started after many early settlers moved east when an epidemic of milk sickness struck in the neighboring county.  Greenville College was founded in 1855 as Almira College, a Baptist college for women.  In 1892 it became Greenville College.

Now for the fun part of the bicentennial celebration…


Enjoying the bicentennial parade…


The Budweiser Clydesdales even made a stop in Greenville for the big parade.  Interesting fact…Bond County (where Greenville is located) was a dry county until just a few years ago (or so I’m told…Wikipedia neither confirmed nor denied that information and I couldn’t find an exact date).  It seemed a little ironic that Budweiser was a major sponsor of the entire event!


On Saturday afternoon Marissa and I checked out the attractions uptown on the square.  The lemonade shake-ups were full of sugary wonderfulness and we even got a chance to be our nutty selves and take a picture in front of the NUTmobile…if only Mr. Peanut himself would have been there!


Sunday night concluded with a concert by the Little River Band and fireworks.  And ice cream.  Of course there was ice cream!

  Fall is in full swing in this household.  Greenville had their first football game and we’ve been having players over for dinner.    We have a full house this weekend with two set of visitors and I can’t wait!!  Now, if I could just get my fall decorations out!

Until then…

{The Launes}


Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer…

Summer has officially come to an end in the Laune household.  Trent started back with two-a-days a week ago.   He’s exhausted and forty two episodes of Grey’s Anatomy later and I am officially bored out of my mind.  But summer was, as always, good to us.  We were lazy and a little crazy.  We did plenty of traveling with a little local fun thrown in there too.


3rd of July minor league baseball game followed by fireworks…


We had a low key 4th of July with fireworks in a teeny tiny nearby village of about 400 people.  Best. Firework. Show. Ever.


Later on in July we took a little trip to Nebraska to see some of my favorite people…


…and to play in a sand volleyball tournament.



We were able to hit up one Cardinal’s game this summer.  It was ridiculously hot, but we still had fun!


And we celebrated our last weekend of summer with a trip to the St. Louis Zoo.  It was fun to check it out.  It’s a lot different than the Henry Doorly Zoo, but it was still a fun afternoon in the city!


Did you know that World Elephant Day was August 12?  We just barely missed it, but these elephants were out and about entertaining zoo visitors in anticipation of their special day!


After the zoo we made a stop at Fitz’s for some floats.  This s’mores float was a little too much, but oh so good…and messy.  Very messy.


And just like that, our lazy, hazy crazy days of summer are over…but thank you Jesus for beautiful sunsets on beautiful evenings right in the middle of America.  Thank you for the summer days that will linger on into the fall.  We are now ready to take on football season in this household.


{The Launes}


Colorado Twenty Fifteen…

June was a busy month!  We put over 3,000 mile on our car and with a quick add up of travel times, we spent about 40 hours in the car.  Traveling can be exhausting.  I hate coming home from vacation feeling like I need a break.  However, long drives aside, it was a great month of vacationing.  And an added bonus…I am completely unpacked.  Not quite caught up on laundry, but unpacked.

This year for vacation we headed out to Colorado.  Our first stop was Denver for Marissa’s wedding.  Marissa and I lived together for two years right out of college.  We got to experience all the fun and stress that first year teachers have together.  It was so much fun getting to be part of her big day!  The venue, the weather and of course the bride were all beautiful.

2015-06-14 13.32.57

2015-06-14 20.08.342015-06-14 22.05.432015-06-14 22.09.11

After three days in Denver we headed into the mountains for a little camping.  Anyone who knows me knows that camping is not exactly my cup of tea.  I love being outside, but the idea of being outside all the time is a bit much.  No bathrooms, no showers, no thank you!  But, I put on a {mostly} brave face for Trent and mustered up the best attitude I could as we set up our tent.  (Trent may or may not disagree)

2015-06-16 09.29.04


Pikes Peak in the distance…


If you look carefully at the above picture you will notice the bear that was roaming around the lake we were fishing at.  Surprisingly I handled the situation quite well…even when he made it to our side of the lake!  I was scared to death to hike the rest of the trip, but I handled the actual situation quite well. :)


On Tuesday we drove up to the summit of Pikes Peak.  The original plan was to hike another 14er, but there was somewhere in the range of 200% more snow still on the peaks than normal.  We figured that our novice hiking skills probably weren’t up for that challenge this year.  So we made the twenty one mile drive, slowly winding and turning all along the way.  When we got to the top it felt like winter.  Cold, windy and snow all around.  However, we could still see for miles and miles.

2015-06-16 14.06.332015-06-16 14.06.57



On the way down from Pikes Peak we stopped off at a nice little reservoir and Trent did some fishing. 

2015-06-16 14.59.16-2


First catch of the trip!



On our final day in Colorado we decided to hike up the Manitou Incline near Manitou Springs.  It is an old railway that was used to help transport supplies up to Pikes Peak.  Now it is a climb that is one mile long, straight up 2,000 feet.  It was fun and challenging at the same time!



We made a quick stop in Nebraska on our way back.  I got to squeeze in a little Audrey time and hit up a College World Series game.  Nothing says summer like the CWS.


2015-06-19 21.26.28

Vacation was a success.  My favorite part about Colorado is that we go there almost every year, yet there is always something new and amazing that blows my mind.  

Until next time Colorado…

{The Launes}


The Windy City…

In all my thirty years, I have never been to Chicago.  I’ve been to the airport.  Both Midway and O’Hare, but never outside those walls.  Last Saturday, on a whim, I drove a little over three hours north to meet up with Trent who was working at a football camp at Olivet Nazarene University.  We spent the evening (and wee hours of the morning) with our friends, the DiSandros, who moved up there last winter.

Then Sunday morning Trent and I decided to take the train into the city and explore Chicago a little.  It may have been the shortest trip on record to Chicago, but we managed to squeeze in some fun.


Number one on my list was the Bean.  It was crazy busy around the Bean at Millennium Park, but I managed to snap a couple of pictures.



We stopped for lunch at Giordano’s for some Chicago style pizza.  If you are ever in the Chicago area, I would recommend Giordano’s at Navy Pier.  I think they were the friendliest wait staff I have ever encountered.  And the pizza was uh-mazing, too!


A view of the city from Navy Pier…a little gloomy and cool, but still a nice view!



And then came the rain.  Trent is clearly thrilled that I thought this picture was necessary.  Just as we were ready to head back to the train it started to rain.  Nearly thirty minutes in the rain left us riding back on the train most likely smelling like wet dogs.

With less than three and a half hours in the city we were able to see the bean, Navy Pier and eat at Giordano’s.  Like I said, it may be a record for shortest visit to Chicago, but we got to dip our toes into big city life for a few hours.  Now I just have to convince Trent to go back…

Until then…

{The Launes}