Best Doggone Tradition Comes Back

Netflix Stream Team Mini Milestones

When Elena was around 4, we started a family tradition of Fridays being family movie night. It was a wonderful way to reconnect as a family after a week of work, school and errands, and a fun way to kick off the weekend. We always ate pizza on the family room floor and had a special treat as well. Sometimes we let Elena pick the movie (is there a special award for suffering through those Barbie movies?), other times we picked out classics we’d loved as kids, and some Fridays we’d finally get around to seeing a new release. I really cherish those memories.

Then Eli came along, and in the chaos of having a new baby, movie night fell by the wayside. Elena probably watched a lot of movies on her own, or with me glued to the divot I’d made on the couch from endless hours of nursing, but we got away from movie watching as a family.

I’ve tried to revive it from time to time, but having kids with a 5-year age span in between them made it difficult. Choosing titles that appeal to a preschool boy and an older elementary girl is hard! But I really, really missed those Friday evenings when we all sat in one place, enjoying the same movie and bumping hands in the big popcorn bowl.

Last month I was asked to be a member of the Netflix Stream Team, and it was like they read my mind and knew I needed that last little nudge to bring movie night back to our family. Each month for the next year I’ll be writing about a family-related theme and sharing ideas for ways you can connect in your own families. I’m very excited about it, and hope you’ll enjoy the series as well.

The theme for October is Mini Milestones. Some families are so good about celebrating milestones, whether it’s as big as a first birthday or as small as a first goal in soccer. I’d say we fall somewhere in the middle. I know Mike rolls his eyes sometimes when I make a big deal about our quirky milestones. But in my mind, why pass up an opportunity to celebrate, especially if it means an excuse to go out for ice cream!

Old Yeller Movie Night

Our special milestone isn’t so mini, though, at least not like he was when we first got him in August! I thought it would be fun to celebrate getting our first dog. Gus might have been mini at one time, but he’s growing like crazy! I don’t know exactly how much he weighs compared to when we got him, but I do know he used to fit in his beanbag like a baby bird in a nest. And now? He hangs off the edges!

Gus

I wanted to make our first movie night extra special, so I chose a dog-themed movie that neither of the kids had ever seen before: Old Yeller! It might be nearly 60 years old, but it stands the test of time. I guess the story of boys and their dogs never gets old.

Halloween Puppy Chow with Nutella

You can’t have movie night without a proper snack. And if you’re going to be watching a movie about a dog, how can you night snack on puppy chow? My friend Rachel, of A Southern Fairytale, has the perfect twist on puppy chow for the fall: Halloween Puppy Chow with Nutella! Once you try it, you’ll be celebrating many more milestones with a batch of it.

What milestones are you marking off this month? And how do you celebrate them, big or small?

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Insta-September

SeptemberIG

1. Aren’t my parents the cutest? They’ll celebrate 55 years of marriage at the end of this month. Every day I count my blessings to have them so near and in good health. And, of course, for the wonderful example they set for me when it comes to honoring your marriage vows.

2. I rarely treat myself to pedicures and never treat myself to manicures, so I jumped at the chance to check out the new Beauty Bar at Geist. It’s a gorgeous, full-service salon, but even better? You can enjoy an adult beverage while getting pretty. It was 11 am, so I stuck with coffee, but trust me, I’ll be back!

3. I had so much fun partnering with Comcast Xfinity to host a viewing party for the Colts home opener against that one guy named Peyton and the Broncos. I made my friend, Will Carroll (better knows as injuryexpert), take a selfie with me to distract myself from the losing score. If you have SiriusXM you can catch him weekday afternoons on Bleacher Report Radio from 3-6 pm.

4. I took Eli to meet Colts’ tight end Coby Fleener. I was hoping we’d be BFFs after I casually mentioned that we’ve both written for the Monday Morning Quarterback, but sadly he was not impressed. Or maybe he was just distracted by Eli’s choice of a Detroit Lions hoodie in a sea of Colts gear. And to answer my sister’s question, I am not standing in a hole. Coby is enormous.

5. We ended up at Culver’s on kid’s night. Eli asked if he could get his face painted and I said, “Sure!” and sent him on his merry way. He came back to the table 15 minutes later and I nearly choked on my cheese curd. It was the most terrifying example of face painting on a kid I’ve ever seen. Of course, he loved it.

6. I came across this Dr. Who calendar by a local Indianapolis artist at the Twisted Sisters shop. I know a certain 12-year-old girl Whovian that would love it for Christmas!

7.  On a gorgeous fall evening I hosted some of my favorite people for my first ever attempt at paella. I’m happy to report it turned out great and we didn’t have to order pizza! I’m not so happy to report that the reason for the gathering was to say goodbye to Katy. Did you know we met on a blind date? It’s true! Now she’s off to Boston and I’m terribly sad and stubbornly in denial.  Thanks for a wonderful evening, Sacha, Suzanne and Erin!

8. We had very few requirements when we started looking for a dog. What we did know for sure was that having a dog that didn’t do car rides was a deal breaker. We once had a dog that would start foaming at the mouth at the sight of a car, then proceed to vomit the entire trip (super fun on a 8 hour car ride to Cleveland). As you can see, Gus likes the car, which means he can stay.

9. We spent the last Saturday in September with the lovely blogging community behind Indiana’s Family of Farmers. After a tour of a local cattle farm, we spent the evening in this beautiful little corner of rural Indiana. We feasted on pulled pork from a hog that had been roasted earlier in the day, stuffed ourselves with s’mores, fished, and chatted with friends. As if it wasn’t already a perfect evening, I won a quarter of beef from the Mahan’s cattle!

If you’re not already following me on Instagram already, please do! You can find me there as (the one and only) AngieSix.

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It’s a Fantasy Football Fantasy Up In Here

As I shuffled into the bathroom last Monday morning, groggy and not quite awake yet, I gave Mike the most romantic thing I can offer at 6:20 am: a peck on the cheek along with a few minutes of semi-coherent conversation while he gets ready for work and I sit on the toilet. (TMI? Welcome to married life, folks.) Half the time I don’t know what comes out of my mouth, but on this particular morning I was grumbling about the 15 points I’d left on my bench by not starting Sammy Watkins and my critical need for a running back. Spitting out his toothpaste, Mike shook his head. “In seventeen years of marriage, I never imagined that we’d start our mornings off talking about fantasy football.” Mike has to laugh at this new twist in his ever-surprising marital life. Fantasy football comes up often in our conversations these days. While we never tell each other how we should set our lineups, we talk about our players a lot, and trade fantasy tidbits as we hear them.

In the spirt of don’t-knock-something-till-you-try-it, I gave fantasy football a go a couple of years ago, in a friendly, free league with other local female bloggers. It didn’t end so well. Turns out, much like my husband, I need some cold hard cash to grease the gears of my competitive engine. So this year, when talk surfaced at one of our cookouts in the cul-de-sac of a neighborhood league with money on the line, I was all in.

We got together over Labor Day weekend and held our draft. We made a little party out it, ordering pizzas and demolishing a vat of buffalo chicken dip. We decided to make it a keeper league, which means that when the next season rolls around, you can opt to keep up to three of the players on your team. You know what I love about this? It means that we intend for this to become a neighborhood tradition. I already get a little weepy thinking about the fact that, more than likely, we’ll attend the weddings of these kids I watch playing kickball in the court. Add to that the fact that I can keep Andrew Luck as my quarterback and continue whomping these kids year after year? Yeah, I get a little verklempt.

Neighborhood Fantasy Football Draft

It’s nothing crazy. Each person had to put in $10 to play, giving the neighborhood kids a fair opportunity to participate. So far it’s been a blast. Of course, that helps when you start the season 3-0 (Let’s not talk about Weeks 4 and 5). It’s just one more thing to bind this fun little community of ours together, one more thing to chat about at the bus stop. It’s a good excuse to throw around some friendly trash talk while taking out the trash. We joke that it’s going to be such an enduring tradition that, God forbid, should anyone move? You’ll have to write the terms of the fantasy league into your contract agreement. I can see it now, on the MLS listing:

Charming 4 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath brick home on a beautiful lot with mature trees. Lovely cul-de-sac location in a wonderful neighborhood. Includes all-new appliances, as well as standout wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and franchise quarterback Andrew Luck.

In all seriousness, though, having this friendly little wager over football with the neighbors is just another reason why I love the game so much. I used to give Mike a hard time over his fantasy football obsession. I couldn’t understand how you could root for other teams and other players. Oh, naive newbie football fan that I was. Now I get it. I root for my team the same as always, but I watch the games differently. I’ve always cared about the stories behind the players. Now I care about what  players from other teams are doing on the field as well.

And in a season of our relationship when it’s easy to forget how to be with each other without everything revolving around the kids, fantasy football season gives Mike and I a way to connect. Having a wife that loves football and cares about Matthew Berry’s flex rankings? That’s Mike’s own fantasy football fantasy right there.

Football is a crazy sport. You just never know what’s going to happen week-to-week. And as a young bride, I certainly never would’ve predicted fantasy football would be something that would bring me closer to my husband*, let alone my neighbors. But you know the old saying, the friends and family that gamble on sports together stays together! And like that sleeper player that lights up your scoreboard, I’ll always be grateful for it.

*Except for Week 9, when we play each other. And I crush him like a little bug.

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