Feels Like Home: Indianapolis Colts Football is Back

Angie Six Colts Horseshoe

While it’s never been formally declared, not on this blog, not in a computer file taking up space on my desktop, not even hastily written on the back of grocery receipt, I have a Sports Bucket List. I keep it in the least secure place possible – my head – and it changes with the wind, but there are some things that have remained on the list for years.

A few have lingered on the list in hopes that one day I’ll be able to check them off: going to a Super Bowl, tailgating before an Ole Miss football game, and watching a game at Lambeau Field. Believe it or not, some are even non-football related. I’ve never been to a Cubs game at Wrigley. I want to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. I’d love to go to the Frozen Four (especially when Miami hockey plays in it again).

I’ve been lucky enough to cross a few things off the list as well. I’ve been to the Olympics (Atlanta, 1996). I’ve seen both the Lombardi Trophy and the Stanley Cup up close and personal. (Although I wouldn’t touch the Stanley Cup with a 10-foot-pole. I’ve heard the stories of where it’s been.) I’ve been to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. More recently, I got to cross a biggie off my list when I attended the NFL Draft in Chicago.

#ColtsBestTailgate

Earlier this summer I was asked to partner with the Indiana Corn Marketing Council and the Indiana Soybean Alliance as an ambassador for the Indiana Corn and Soybean Tailgate of the Year. They’re searching for the best Colts Tailgates around. Of course I said yes, because – hello! – Colts and football food. We’re doing some fun stuff together that I’m so excited to share with you. To kick off the campaign they invited a few bloggers to the Indianapolis Colts preseason game against the Chicago Bears, giving us a unique look at parts of the game most fans don’t get to see.

View from the Colts 20

Thanks to them, I was able to cross two things off my Sports Bucket List in one evening. One was something that I’d been dreaming about for years: to have an opportunity to photograph players on the field. Thanks to our Colts host, we were able to spend time on the field during warmups, player introductions, and the National Anthem.

Indianapolis Colts 4th Down Army

NFL Referee

Andrew Luck Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis Colts Frank Gore

Vontae Davis Indianapolis Colts

Now, I’m the kind of person that likes to write things I’ve done on lists just for the pure pleasure of checking them off. That’s exactly what I did next with my mental Sports Bucket List. We spent the first half of the game watching the action from the Press Box.

View from the Lucas Oil Stadium Press Box

I’m sure a few of my sports writer friends are rolling their jaded eyes at me right now. But when I walked into the press area my head exploded and my heart said “This is home.” Also, there was pie and unlimited Diet Coke. That might’ve had some influence on my head and heart.

The first thing I noticed (after the pie) was how incredibly quiet it is in the Press Box. It’s not a fan’s game up there, it’s a job. There’s no cheering in the press box, just stats and names and eyes on the field. Watching a game from this point of view, I could almost see the Xs and Os as the players moved down the field.

When we lived in Nashville and made attending Predators games a habit, I used to take a portable radio and headphones with me. I enjoyed the entertainment and antics in between plays for the first couple of games, but soon realized I preferred to focus on the game with the crowd noise erased. I wanted to watch the game with my own two eyes and with Pete Weber and Terry Crisp’s play-by-play directly in my ears. Until that evening in the Press Box, I hadn’t felt that focused on game since my early 2000 NHL days. I loved it.

As I left, I couldn’t help taking a quick photo of this fantastic sign. Can I have one to put on my bedroom door at nap time?

Instant Replay Warning

We also had the opportunity to spend a few minutes pre-game chatting with Kalen Irsay, daughter of team owner Jim Irsay and  Vice Chair/Owner along with her sisters of the Colts. I had no idea what to expect, but I walked away from our conversation thoroughly impressed and excited that the team I love has great leadership and vision through female representation. We talked about what it’s like being a female in a traditionally male-dominated League, and how exciting this year in particular is, with both the first female NFL official, Sarah Thomas, and the first female NFL coach, Jen Welter.

Angie Six and Kalen Irsay

I love the start of the NFL season so much – there’s the buildup of the off-season, the anticipation of what’s in store, of who will be the best story. I hope that whether it’s through food, stories, photography, or all of them together, I can bring some of that football excitement to you this season. Go Colts!

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The Short List: August

Disclosure: This post contains a few affiliate links.

Smashing pennies

Smashing pennies on the railroad tracks is one of those things that I’ve always wanted to do with the kids since I first came across it in 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do). My friend, Lisa, did it with her boys for The Risky Kids. We have railroad tracks near our house, but it’s only active once a year when the State Fair Train makes several trips back and forth from our town to the Fairgrounds. Our neighbors have a tradition of smashing pennies every year on the very last day of the fair, and this year they invited us to join them. Eli was amazed at what the power of a train can do to a penny. What a simple childhood pleasure!

While soaking up the last days of summer, here are a few other things that I’ve enjoyed:

Watching:

Hard Knocks is back! It really is one of my favorite shows of all time, and sadly it’s here and gone before I know it. This season the spotlight is on the Houston Texans. If there’s one thing I can tell you, it’s this: we could all use a little more J.J. Watt in our lives. Unless we’re playing against him, of course.

Our other favorite program to watch is Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Every week, without fail, I learn something I never knew about world affairs, while simultaneously busting a gut laughing. The language makes it inappropriate for kids, but every once in a while we’ll come across a segment that is so eye-opening or entertaining that we’ll save it for Elena to watch (the segments on school testing and U.S. territories are two recent ones that we watched with her).

Reading:

Despite the controversy, I plan on reading Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman when I can get my hands on a copy. In the meantime, I just finished Marja Mills’ The Mockingbird Next Door. For months, Mills lived next door to Harper Lee and her sister, Alice. During that time, the fiercely private Lees opened up to Mills, allowing insight into their lives that has never been documented before. It helped me to understand why Lee retreated from the spotlight after the success of To Kill a Mockingbird. It was a fascinating read.

I need a new non-fiction read. It will be hard to follow up on my last non-fiction selection, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. It’s a fascinating look at a part of our culture that didn’t exist 10 years ago. I highly recommend it to anyone who spends any part of their life on social media.

As of now, I’m listening to All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I just started it the other day, so I can’t really tell what I think of it yet. The other books taking up space on my nightstand right now are Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (available September 1)  and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.  Eli and I are still making our way through Wildwood.

Loving:

We had our neighborhood block party a couple of weekends ago, and some evil person brought a bag of pickle-flavored popcorn from Trader Joe’s. Evil, I tell you! I would probably eat pickled shoe leather, so maybe I’m not the best judge, but I loved it so much and I made a special trip to TJ’s to buy my own bag.

Pictli

I’m awful at getting pictures framed … almost as awful as I am about giving good gifts. Pictli is a godsend for people like me. Pictli takes pictures from your Facebook, Instagram or hard drive, places it in a frame of your choosing, and then mails it beautifully wrapped to your recipient. You can do it from your computer or your phone, and the price is fantastic – no more than you’d spend driving around, printing out photos, picking out frames, and shipping them from the post office. I had this lovely photo framed for Mike for Father’s Day. Pictli is offering Just Like The Number readers a discount code to give them a try. Just use code AS1507 for 20% off now through September 30, 2015!

Pictli gift wrap

Surfing:

Sarah Bessey’s essay, Somewheres, caught me off-guard with how much it spoke to me. Is there a space between sharing every little detail of your life and keeping other things completely off limits? I’m blessed to have a handful of Somewheres in my life. I hope you do, too.

Is Marie Kondo’s book coming up in countless conversations in your life, too? I swear, she’s everywhere! I Kon-Mari’d my closet last spring, and while I wouldn’t call it life-changing, it was freeing. I’m bookmarking this post on The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up for Kids from Modern Mrs. Darcy for when I tackle the kids’ closets this fall.

Does just the thought of poison ivy set you off in a panic? When I get it, I get it bad, and I’m absolutely miserable. I’m going to use Design Mom’s trick to stop poison oak and poison ivy the next time I’m raking leaves or doing yard work.

What’s on your short list of favorite things right now?

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Fummer

Disclosure: This post is part of a yearly series in partnership with Netflix. As a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I’ll be sharing ideas throughout the year on some of the best Netflix titles to stream with your family. The content, as always, is whatever streams through my own mind! Hope you enjoy!

August is always such a strange month for me.

Zinnia

At the beginning of the month I feel the burnout coming on strong. We’ve done so many fun things, and yet the funnest things – the pool, long stretches of evenings with no plans, free reign on the popsicles in the freezer – have lost their allure. We’re bored of the pool, we’d rather spend our evening indoors than endure one more mosquito bite, we hate all the popsicle flavors. The energy I had at the beginning of the summer to throw myself into projects and adventures is long gone. I just want a few minutes of quiet. And a nap. A nap would be very, very nice.

The day or two before school starts I’m excited. I’m ready for a new routine, ready to be done presiding over snacks and lunches. I’m giddy to know that for 6 1/2 glorious hours, I will not have to negotiate screen time or remind someone that we don’t ride the dog and we do shut the door when we pee.

Indiana State Fair Midway

And then a few days of school pass and I realize that we are not ready for summer to end just yet. The weather has been near perfect lately – in the low 80s and sunny. These are days that were made for the fair, for bike rides to the ice cream shop, for picking apples.

Summer Sunset Swim

I can feel a little bit of fall creeping in through the air. Teeth chatter when little bodies come out of the pool on a late August night swim. I dash out the door to walk Eli to the bus and dash back in, realizing I need a jacket. My geraniums wilt and my mums stand a little taller, their bright jewel tones livening up the faded and tired summer blooms of June and July.

We’re ready, but not ready. What we need is a new mini-season to get us through the end of summer and gracefully into fall, a gentle mix of summer and fall. We need Fummer. Fummer would be fully recognized as a transition between the lazy days of summer and the full-on crazy of school. We’d start gradually. A day or two of school for the first couple of weeks, then three days, then four. Somewhere in mid- to late September we’d finally be able to accept the cruelty of five days of early morning alarms, of homework and paperwork and lunch boxes. Doesn’t that sound lovely? Show me someone campaigning on the pro-Fummer platform and I’ll gladly throw my support behind them.

The kids may be back in school, but Mike and I are taking advantage of earlier bedtimes to relive summer by watching Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp. It is 100% not appropriate for kids and completely absurd, but it’s fantastic fun. The cast is a comedy dream: Kristen Wiig, Molly Shannon, Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, David Hyde Pierce, Jon Hamm, Janeane Garofalo, Josh Charles and Bradley Cooper, just to name a few. Mike and I never spent any summers at sleepaway camp, but I’m pretty sure Camp Firewood is a little, um, different from your typical camp.

The upside of the nonexistent Fummer is that I have more time to collect my thoughts and write in peace, so you can expect a more consistent posting schedule once again. Next week I’ll be sharing a few ways you can keep the summer spirit alive throughout the school year. In the meantime, I’d love to know: how do you make the most of the last lovely days of summer?

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