Saturday, October 19, 2013

Harry Potter party!

When our kids turn 5 and 10, we let them have a birthday party with friends.  So far we have had a tea party, a Putt-putt party, a pool party, a couple roller skating parties, a Star Wars party, and a couple Chuck E. Cheese parties.  We only have one more 10 year birthday party to go and I will highly encourage that it be somewhere else so that other people are doing the work ;)

Last night was Grace's turn and she picked a Harry Potter party.  She is such a big fan and has read each book more than once and I don't even know how many times she has seen the movies.  We had been planning for quite some time and Grace helped all along the way.  Thanks to other creative people and Pinterest, we found lots of great ideas.  People really are so generous to share their creations freely so that all moms like me have to do is print them off.  Love that!  The free invites came from this site and most of the potions ideas came from another website (I don't remember which one).  The baker's rack in the dining room was transformed to a potions shop. 

We invited the families of the invitees too so we had a full house :) 

First, the girls got Harry Potter glasses and then they all got a scar from the birthday girl.  They had a scavenger hunt outside for magical creatures and the seven horcruxes.  They had to use their wands to pop balloons to see who could find the piece of paper with 'Harry' written on it inside a balloon.  Then they played pin-the-sorting-hat-on-the-house. 

Grace picked Butterbeer cupcakes found here for the birthday treat.  Eric made most of the brooms and they turned out great!  It's always nice to try a Pinterest idea and have it actually turn out.  

Thanks for a fun party, Grace, and Happy 10th Birthday!!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Great controversial article

Warning: another soapbox post -

We are in the middle of getting ready for a Harry Potter birthday party tonight for Grace's 10th birthday, but I had to take some time to post this.  I had never heard of Phil Mushnick until yesterday.  I was hearing all this buzz on talk radio about Adrian Peterson and the article that Phil Mushnick wrote about him - read it here.  When I read the article myself, I decided I couldn't agree with him more.  I give him credit for writing about this issue that a lot of people don't have the guts to confront in such a public way. 

I have never enjoyed any professional sports really, but in the past 3-5 years that feeling has gone from a simple disregard to almost a passionate loathing.  There is something very basically wrong with supposedly gifted athletes making more money than people who choose to help save lives for a living (obviously this career could cover many different jobs).  Not only that, our country idolizes them as well.  There is no good, honorable, or reasonable explanation for it. 

There is an issue that runs so much deeper though, like Mushnick alluded to.  So many people in this country are very willing to become parents but with no intention of having a family.  Some estimates show that 60 percent of children born in the 90's have no father for a significant part of their early lives.  With 40 percent of marriages ending in divorce, this surely can't help that 60 percent statistic.  How many children are born out of wedlock?  30 percent.  These statistics are easy to find - for those that seek truth and not excuses.

Pope John Paul II spoke to the Pontifical Council for the Family in June of 1999 and his message revolved around fatherhood.

     "For some time now the family institution has been under repeated attack. These attacks are all the more dangerous and insidious since they ignore the irreplaceable value of the family based on marriage. They have reached the point of proposing false alternatives to the family and of calling for legislative recognition of them. But when laws, which should be at the service of the family, a fundamental good for society, turn against it, they acquire alarming destructive power."

You can read the entire piece here.  The breakdown of the family has had such far reaching effects, we will probably never realize it fully.  On the other hand, there are some very obvious things caused by this breakdown, but, in this culture of relativism, we want to excuse it away and further promote entitlement. 

Even still, we have to stay positive and remain hopeful.  In the words of St. Padre Pio, pray, hope and don't worry. 

I will read more of Phil Mushnick and see what other interesting things he has had to say. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pizza party

I'm not quite sure how it all started, but Meredith and Grace and Lyndsay have been helping two of the neighbors on our street walk their dogs every day.  The ladies that own the dogs go with them and they have started a great routine enjoyed by all.  The neighbors have nothing but good things to say about the girls and how much they look forward to their time with them.  Another neighbor girl, Kyria, sometimes goes with them.  Kyria is outspoken and outgoing so it was fitting that she planned a pizza party for the newly named 'dog walking posse'. 

Of course the pizza party ended up being at our house even though we were told it would be elsewhere, but no big deal!  The pizza was purchased by the neighbors and we provided drinks - other neighbors brought dessert and a huge salad.  We actually had a great time.  It was nice to talk for a while with people we normally only wave to. 

Meredith and Kyria put on a concert for us all with tickets and two separate showings complete with their own songs and a rap!  I wish I would have taken a couple of pictures or at least a video, but...I didn't...  Kyria's 4 year old brother is adorable and he came dressed as Batman and enjoyed himself - I think :)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Cow carousel?

We went on our first official field trip today - to Fair Oaks Dairy Farm in Fair Oaks, IN.  I first heard about this farm from an email that my dad sent, and seeing that it is only a couple of hours away, I was surprised that I hadn't heard of it. 

We went with Lisa and Maria and, because of a change in work schedule, Eric was able to go also and provide a few cow puns at the start of the tour. :)

This place was quite an operation!  They have got this down to a science - not only the dairy and pig business, but the tourism phase as well.  They have around 30,000 acres and 36,000 cows.  Buses run to one of the cow barns and the pig barn every half hour.  A couple of the buses we were on today had standing room only.  The visitors center is laid out very nicely with all kinds of information about cows that is fun to read.  There is a section where you can time yourself hooking up cows to the vacuum pumps.  We learned that in the next five years they are adding about 15,000 more acres and are planning to build a new restaurant, a hotel, a water park, and add 4 more tours: beef, chickens, grain, and shrimp!  We all kind of chuckled at this.  A water park...and a dairy farm??  I guess if you're making a profit (and they obviously are) why not, right? 

The cows are milked 3 times a day every single day and each cow produces around 10-12 gallons of milk per day.  The buses drive part way through the middle of one of the barns and you are not allowed to get off nor open the windows.  It is a bio-sensitive environment (that's a new word for me).  The cows are herded in the same groups each day to a special area for the milking.  I mentioned that this whole thing is a Disney Pixar movie waiting to happen.  The are loaded onto a carousel and are hooked up to a vacuum machine that pumps the milk.  Once the carousel makes one trip around (it never stops) each cow knows it's her turn to get off.  She backs out and walks away and not too far away, more cows are stepping into their stall to get hooked up and go around. 

They have a separate birthing barn where all visitors can watch some of the 100 births they have every day.  We saw one and it was so beautiful.  The sad side of this is that after the mom cleans the baby, they are taken away pretty quickly.  The baby never gets to nurse from it's mother to prevent any kind of bonding.  The guide said that's something they wouldn't want to get into - it is a business after all, I guess.  From a maternal aspect I found this to be a little depressing.  The guide was quick to point out that the babies get the colostrum from other mothers, distributed in bottles, because that is so important in the first few days.  Since it is so important, why can't they just get the colostrum from their own mother?  Why would it be so bad if they bonded for a while?  Apparently, I wouldn't be successful in a dairy business.

The calf above was born today.  The calf below was born while we watched.  It is difficult to see the newborn calf - she is lying in the straw and looks yellow. The new calf to the left was very interested...

The pig side is run the same way.  There are huge rooms that hold pigs that are ready to give birth, giving birth, have piglets that are 1 week old and so on.  So many pigs!!  We also saw a midwife deliver one piglet.  Each pig delivers 12-14 piglets and they are rowdy when they want to eat!  Those poor mothers... :)

You can watch a video about it all here.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Notre Dame Culture

As the Notre Dame football team prepares to get beat by play Arizona State tonight, I can't help but be reluctant to watch or listen or even care.  Growing up, Notre Dame football was an important part of Saturday afternoons in the fall.  I have fond memories of hearing my family discuss all the ins and outs of the team and then analyze each game.  My dad would listen on the radio a lot because he didn't care for the TV announcers.  When Lou Holtz was coach, in my adolescent mind, he was the BEST.  Most everyone loved him and he was successful - everything a coach and their fans dream of.  He even took the team to a National Championship in 1988. 

When my husband reads this, he will probably be disappointed.  He no doubt knows how I feel, but I try to keep it fairly quiet because of his longstanding emotional admiration for this team.  He grew up heavily invested in Notre Dame sports, especially football.  He and his mom will still talk after the games to share their analysis, opinions and recommendations. 

In the past few years, Notre Dame has expanded their efforts to market themselves.  The year that Obama was nominated, they were the first university to invite him to be the commencement speaker which caused a huge uproar the likes I had not seen in this city before. 

In the years following that event, Notre Dame has been questioned regarding their true standing in terms of the Catholic faith in many ways - too many to list here.  Thankfully, there are those working tirelessly to make sure the Catholic tradition remains true on their campus.

Back to football - since Lou Holtz, there have been some tumultuous years with coaches and players, and it seems the whole program is on a slippery slope. 

At the end of the Michigan State game, the coach was talking to the news reporter on the field after the game and when the students and team started singing the Alma Mater (a tradition which was started in 2006), the coach didn't bother to stop his interview to be with his team...he just kept talking. 

The Notre Dame athletic director decided to change the 'policy' regarding the singing of the Alma Mater in 2011 to determine that it would only be sung after a win.  Even though they have experienced a few losses this year already, the students were still singing at the end of those games.  The students have recently spoken about their disappointment in the above policy change.  I think the administration is missing the point completely.  The song honors Our Lady and since she is the patron saint of the university, the student body and football team should come together to honor Our Lady at the end of every game no matter the outcome. 

We found out yesterday on campus that last week the coach cancelled a longstanding tradition of the team going to Mass before a game.  Turning away from their origins in the Catholic faith is at the root of some current Notre Dame issues (in my humble opinion) and the slope continues to get more slippery.

I'll get off my soapbox now.....

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Apple picking

Sunday was a beautiful day and we decided to go pick apples up in Michigan.  It was such a nice place and there weren't too many people there so we lingered after the apple bags were full.  There were so many picture opportunities, a collage was better this time...