Why are NASA themed parties not a thing?

It’s official: NASA themed parties need to be more common.

NASA was the theme this year of my family’s annual Independence Day celebration, and we had way too much fun with it.

We had a space/astronaut training obstacle course, a solar system hanging from our shade tree and I’m even told one of my aunts was wearing a space cat shirt! (Pretty  devastated I missed it.)

Below is photographic evidence that space themed parties should be a bigger deal. [Note: We always seem to forget to take enough photos at these parties; but then it is a water gun, water balloon, jump in the pool kind of party – so I guess that keeps most of the cameras inside]

4th 2017 Invite

“Houston, we have a problem” – due to scheduling conflicts on the 4th of July we had to push the party back. Turns out it’s never too late to celebrate America’s independence.

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I always have high expectations when it comes to making the desserts – and I almost always fail to actually make the super cool dessert I saw on Pinterest. But THIS year, with the help of my mother, it finally happened:  Saturn cupcakes and moon landing brownies.

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My favorite part of our obstacle course was the “Find the Big Dipper” obstacle. We took an old trampoline mat, put it up like a tent and taped stars of all different colors on the underside. The kids had to find the big dipper, which was made of all yellow stars.

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The last obstacle was putting an American flag on the moon – the kids had to carry the flag through every obstacle, including an asteroid field.

So if you want to throw a NASA themed party, hit me up!

P.S. Now taking theme suggestions for 2018.

– L.H.

West Coast Adventure: Orchards and Forests

Sequoia National Forest, CA

Striking lines through goals on my “living list”– [I don’t have a bucket list, because the last thing on any bucket list is dying. I’d rather concentrate on living to the absolute fullest and have a never ending living list, because I’m always adding to it.]

Last month my family ventured to California. We’ve visited countless places out west; Glacier National Park in Montana, the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde, even John Wayne’s birthplace. But we’d never made it all the way to the west coast – Never crossed the state line into California – Never reached the Pacific Ocean.

After driving through the Mojave Desert, we made our way through miles of beautiful orange, lemon and olive orchards. We stopped at a few of the fruit stands that dot the highway, buying fresh oranges with insides the color of a harvest moon and a feast of other fruits. I’d have brought an orange orchard home with me if it was at all possible.

Oranges Orchard

Rather than trek all the way to the North West corner of California to see the massive redwoods trees, we opted for the equally enormous sequoias. While the sequoias are not quite as tall as the redwoods [the redwoods can reach 370 ft. while the sequoias top out at 300 ft.], they are twice as wide: up to 30 ft. in diameter.

The forest was absolutely magnificent. We had to drive up a winding mountain, around dozens of pin curves, through a dense fog. One moment we could hardly see the regular sized trees through the fog and the next the fog had lifted and the trees were giants.

The pictures I’d admired nearly all my life did no justice to the moment we broke through the fog and saw the domineering trees. My brother and I had been slightly skeptical the giant trees really existed: I think it was one of those “see it to believe it” moments for us. I’ve truly never felt so small.

[Typical Hoosier move: we packed for “California Weather” – or should I say what we thought was California weather. Once we were up in the mountains, where the sequoias are, the high was 45 degrees, which the park rangers said was completely normal. We were quite the anomaly: us in our shorts, while the rest of the tourist hiked in full winter gear.]

After seeing the sequoias we set off to see the Pacific Ocean – mainly so I could say I’d been from sea to shining sea.

Keep a look out for more entries about my west coast adventure!

~ L.H.

Ladies, Put Your Signs Down

[Brief update – I’ve been working full time as a communications intern for the Indiana House Republicans. I work under their communications director and her deputy, directly catering to the needs of the leadership legislators.]

For the last two months I’ve been working alongside some really great women at the Indiana Statehouse – Female legislators, women who are advising our highest state officials, and women who are going to law school in the evenings while working a full time job. This group of women – women excelling at their careers – are more inspiring to me than anyone protesting or sharing a Facebook post.

My point is, make it happen. You can wave your signs and have your protests; that’s great, do that. But I think sometimes we forget to take the next step. Stop shouting across the aisle. Educate yourself, excel in you field, and have a constructive conversation across the aisle instead.

I’ve had some great discussions with both male and female lawmakers and they all say the same thing. 1) We need more women in office and 2) Women wait to be asked to run for office.

That last point is very true. Most of the women I’ve met who are in office were asked and encouraged to consider running for office.

I don’t care what your career is. I think that’s one of my favorite things about working at the Statehouse; the assortment of careers. There are engineers, firemen, doctors, pharmacists and a variety of other livelihoods. It’s real people, with real careers, working on very real issues.

So ladies, here’s your invite – Run for office; whether it be next year or twenty years from now. Stay informed and excel in your career; that’s where I see a true difference being made.

~ L.H.

Photo: Rep. Richardson, my brilliant mother, myself, and Rep. Lehman – My mom (aka my hero) came to visit me at work last week and got to meet two of the wonderful representatives I work for.

The last three books I started in 2016

I ended 2016 and started 2017 with some really sublime reads. I am usually working my way through three books at a time; sometimes more.  It’s a bad habit I don’t plan on breaking anytime soon.

It’s a bit of a miracle I had three, half read, outrageously good books stacked next to my bed as I rolled into the new year – The Great Divorce, The Fr. Brown Mysteries, and Belgravia.

I’m not going to give you a summary of each because I could never do the author’s works justice. So I’m going to tell you one reason why I liked each. And if these reasons aren’t enough to make you consider reading these books, I hope someday you read them anyways.

  • The Great Divorce: By C.S. Lewis

I didn’t think such a short book could be so beautiful. It answered questions I thought I knew the answers to, or maybe it just showed me the answers in a different light.

~And perhaps ye had better not call this country Heaven. Not Deep Heaven, ye understand.” (Here he smiled at me). “Ye can call it the Valley of the Shadow of Life. And yet to those who stay here it will have been Heaven from the first. And ye can call those sad streets in the town yonder the Valley of the Shadow of Death: but to those who remain there they will have been Hell even from the beginning.” ~

  • Fr. Brown Mysteries – G.K. Chesterton

Don’t get caught up in the Fr. Brown half of the title and think it’s a religious book. This book is full of intricate mysteries, rivaling the likes of Sherlock Holmes – maybe better (dare I say).

  • Belgravia: By Julian Fellows  

It’s official (if it wasn’t already) – Julian Fellows is too talented. I didn’t think he could come close to writing something else as good as Downton Abbey; shame on me for doubting his genius. He did and it’s just as good. You know when you can guess the ending of the book and it kind of ruins your appetite to read anymore? Well let’s just say I never knew which way the plot to Belgravia was going. And I love that in a book.

Here’s to hoping the next three stacked next to my bed are just as good!

~ L.H.

 

Crash Camaraderie – Slope Hope

It’s gotten a little chilly in the last week; just enough to send me gleefully scrambling to the basement to retrieve my snow skis. I may have jumped the gun a bit; especially for a mediocre skier.

I get it, I get it; Most people hate the cold and loathe the snow. But every time I go skiing I witness a rare camaraderie between complete strangers that isn’t always easy to find in the world.

Hear me out.

It happens to everyone. You’re lying in the middle of the slope like you’ve been hit by a truck; your poles are way up the hill, one ski is way over in left field, and the other is still miraculously attached to your boot. Your sunglasses and hat are missing in action and you’re praying your phone was in a zipped pocket.

You can’t figure out how to get your one ski off without one of your poles, but you can’t go up and get your poles without taking off the ski. And even if you were willing to ski without poles, you can’t ski on one ski – Essentially you’re trapped.

And then in a matter of seconds people see you and slow down. Maybe, depending on where you landed, a few people will act as human safety cones to make sure you don’t get run over. Then someone slides up and asks if you’re okay. The second you say you are they take off back down the hill. (Most of the time it’s your dignity that’s broke.) Before you can get your bearing, some complete stranger is taking the time to pick up your poles and drop them off to you. And another stranger is over in left field grabbing your lone ski. (Props to that person; carrying a ski while skiing is a bit of a trick.)

I’ve done my fair share of fetching poles and skis for people. I’ve comforted sobbing toddlers who took a tumble. And I’ve been the “garage sale”: slope slang for the person who took a spill and their gear is scattered up and down the slope.

This is why I’m so eager to get my skis out and one of the reasons why I miss ski season; not the crashes, but the unwritten code on the slopes – You help the guy that’s down.  Because we’ve all been there.

 

 

Opt Outside

I was recently told two things by a fellow student.

  1. Thanksgiving is entirely a consumer based holiday with no other purpose.
  2. People do not get together with their families anymore on Thanksgiving.

I disagreed – Strongly. But there was no reasoning with her. And I couldn’t help but feel bad that this was her impression of Thanksgiving. She was completely hopeless that there was any value in the holiday.

In response to her first point I say, join the hundreds of people opting outside.

REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.) is a company that sells outdoor gear. Last year, on both Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, they closed all 149 of their stores and didn’t process any online orders. Instead of shopping, they asked people to opt outside – to go hiking, biking, skiing – your choice.

Last year over 1.4 million people participated in opt outside. This year REI is encouraging people to do the same thing. It’s not uncommon for my family to hike on holidays and to see that companies like REI are promoting holiday hiking is beyond awesome.

To her second point – I’ve worked the last three Thanksgivings with a fantastic group of people at a local restaurant. We serve over 700 individuals on Thanksgiving Day – Dozens and dozens of families. I celebrate Thanksgiving on a different day with my family and as I sit here, I can’t think of a single friend that doesn’t in some way spend Thanksgiving with family.

Maybe I’m wrong. But if you don’t have a Thanksgiving dinner to go to, join my family. And if our consumer driven society bothers you that much, I encourage you to join the hundreds opting outside this holiday season.

~L.H.

 

That Toddlin’ Town

Chicago was kind of on my skip list; the city didn’t really call to me. But Lou, our summer roommate from Paris, France (believe me that’s a side story of happenstance), wanted to visit Chicago before she went back home. And here I was, having lived three hours from Chicago my entire life, and yet I’d never been there.

I had two conditions 1) I in no way whatsoever did I want to drive in Chicago. 2) I would be allowed to shamelessly sing Frank Sinatra’s song “Chicago” during our visit. (I resorted to humming it quietly.)

And so we went! One Parisian and two Indiana girls.

Chicago is Chicago. Millions of people have been there. But I want take note of a few things.

1. The Museum of Science and Industry has a mouse in their IMAX Theater.

2. Old St. Patrick’s Church – I don’t care if you’re a Catholic or an Atheist. Take a minute to step off the tourist attraction map trap and into Old St. Patrick’s. It’s the epitome of Celtic art.We only went to Sunday mass there because of my obsession with Ireland; but we really struck it lucky at St. Patrick’s.

The church is one of the oldest buildings in the city, having narrowly escaped the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. The windows, the ceiling, the statues, and every inch of the church represent the finest Celtic art in America. And it was all done by a Chicago artist named Thomas O’Shaughnessy. (I can’t get over how Irish his name is; the only thing that would make it better is if his first name were Sean.)

The parishioners at St. Patrick’s were so welcoming. I mean to the extent they had us take up the offering gifts in the middle of mass and announced we were visiting from Indy and Paris. After mass a half a dozen people came up to us to see if they had guessed correctly which one of us was from France. Each of them shared a little something about the history and architecture of the church they call home. (They do give tours of the church, so if you’re not going for mass that may be worth looking into.)

3. Thanks to Lou, I learned that in France it is the norm to have sweets for breakfast. We didn’t stay at a French hotel, but they opted for a breakfast spread of sweets. Sweets for breakfast are against my code. I stifled my longing for biscuits and gravy on the trip but I’d like to advocate mandatory complementary biscuits and gravy at all hotels.

Aside from that, I don’t understand the bean in Millennial Park; it’s the epicenter of vanity as far I’m concerned. I discovered I love calling on the hotel phone for the valet to bring up our car. And elevators can go a lot faster than I thought they could.

~L.H.

 

Belated Launch

Start a Blog was at the top of my to-do list. I mean it was underlined and in bold.

I was going to document my summer. I was going on a milestone vacation, had a pile of books to read, and school wasn’t there to distract me; there were so many things going on I could write about. It was an ideal time to start a blog.

But … I didn’t get the blog launched at the start of the summer like planned.

I might feel bad IF I hadn’t checked off so many other things on my list.

So here it is. The completed things from my summer to-do list and my very first blog post.

  • WENT TO DISNEY WORLD FOR THE FIRST TIME! My excitement matched that of my eleven year old sister.
  • My brother and I built an amazing fire pit/patio. (Way more work than we thought it would be, but was absolutely worth it.)
  • I worked three jobs.
  • Planned and succeeded in having a Caribbean themed 4th of July/graduation party for my brother; not without a Caribbean food feast and a treasure hunt with dangerous pirates hiding in the woods.
  • Had a press release, including photos, printed in the Plain Dealer and Son
  • Went to a Darius Rucker concert and enjoyed it far more than I thought I would
  • My planter, which I watered faithfully all summer, won a champion at the county fair
  • Hosted several bonfires
  • Got to go to a Cold Play concert (Thank you to my cousin Ethan!)
  • Finally watched In the Heart of the Sea AND Saving Mr. Banks! Two movies I’ve wanted to see for some time. Both fantastic!
  • Finished reading three books.
  • Completed half of my Disney scrapbook (5 pages! The goal is to have 10)
  • Tie Dyed (To my chagrin, most of the dye washed out in the washer. And I had purple hands for a few days. But at least I tried it out!)

I hope to add to this list in the twenty days between now and school starting. But for now I’ll close with what was the first item on my summer to-do list.

  • Launch a blog

~ L.H.

 

 

 

 

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