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.


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?


The Short List: July

Holland Michigan

Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links.

I couldn’t let the last day of July slip by without sneaking in a Short List for the month! July flew by for us, mostly because it was packed with lots of summer fun. We fit in cookouts, s’mores, fireworks, lots of pool time, a trip to the beach, Symphony on the Prairie, and more. Tonight, though, is the night Elena and I have been looking forward to since last Christmas: we’re going to see One Direction! I’m just as excited as she is, and not the least bit embarrassed to admit it.

Pier Point Beach Michigan

Next week we’ll be celebrating a certain guy’s 8th birthday. It will be our last full week before school starts back up. Thankfully we did our back to school shopping last week, so we can spend our remaining days doing fun, carefree summer stuff, including a day at the Indiana State Fair.

Before I switch the computer off and switch full boy band celebration mode on, here are a few things I wanted to share with you this month!


We have two episodes left of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt … we love it, but we epically fail at binge watching anything! Unless I’m sick and wiped out on the couch, I can’t sit and watch more than two episodes of anything. Mike and I have been watching Ballers on HBO. It’s actually pretty terrible, but we can’t look away. Well, until the next season of Hard Knocks starts on August 11. We have high hopes for the new Netflix original series Wet Hot American Summer.


I just finished the sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Hollow City, by Ransom Riggs. It took me a few chapters to remember how the last book ended and to get my characters straight, but then I tore through it. I think Elena and I are going to have to give up listening to All the Bright Places and finish it by reading the book. We both love it, but we’re hardly ever in the car together alone to listen, and we’re dying to know how it ends! I’m just starting another book I originally picked up for her, The Aviary by Kathleen O’Dell. I was hoping it would be a book we could discuss together, but as I get into it I see why she wasn’t into it. I’m intrigued enough to finish it, though. Eli and I finished Masterpiece and have moved on to Wildwood by Colin Meloy. So far it’s a great read aloud for almost 8-year-old boys! Through Audible, I’m listening to We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas. I think I would’ve been turned off by the length and tediousness of it in print form, but I’ve enjoyed listening to the long, drawn-out pace of the family’s story while puttering about the house. My free Audible trial is over, but I’ve enjoyed it enough that I’m going to continue with it. I also downloaded the Kindle app on my iPad and have been reading some advanced reader copies of books via NetGalley. I love the feeling of always having something to read or listen to no matter where I am, and I’m reading so much more this year thanks to all of these options.


Mary's secret ingredients subscription box

I have a thing for grocery stores … not because I’m in love with grocery shopping, but because I love looking at food! One of my favorite things to do when we’re in a new place is to go to the store. I know I’ll find new-to-me, unique foods. I just love trying new flavors and ingredients. So when I was asked if I’d like to try Mary’s secret ingredients, a seasonal subscription box that features a curated collection of unique food products, I didn’t have to think twice. My summer box was delivered full of fun stuff.

Mary's secret ingredients summer subscription box

Eli tore into Love Grown Food PowerO’s minutes after the box was opened. I saw that it was made with navy beans, garbanzo beans and lentils and held my breath. He saw that it was made with chocolate and devoured it. The Rufus Teague barbecue sauce has been a hit on the grill. My favorite find from the box has been the Villa de Patos Maguey Sweet Sap. Made from the maguey plant (in the Agave family) native to Mexico, the Sweet Sap is an unrefined and unprocessed sweetener. I used it to sweeten our fresh watermelon lime margaritas last weekend and it was fantastic. Each box also includes some kind of kitchen gadget, which is a fun splurge for me. The summer box a pretty funky, yet useful, Speegee spatula. I appreciate that the purchase of each box helps support Feed the Children. I also like that there are only 4 boxes a year, one for each season, so as not to overwhelm you with the cost or the amount of food. It would make a fun and affordable treat for your own kitchen, or a unique gift for someone who loves food and cooking.


Have you heard of Rebrickable? If you have a LEGO fanatic in your house, it’s a great site to get even more play value out of your bricks. You tell it what sets you have, and it searches the database to show you new things you can build. So cool.

I’m taking this list of the 5 best wines under $10 to drink with pizza with me on my next Trader Joe’s trip. (In case you’re wondering, rosé is my unofficial drink of summer.)

I really appreciated this post from Gabrielle at Design Mom about not stressing over picking a school. Ever since I wrote about our transition from Montessori to public school, I get emails from frantic and stressed parents about choosing the right school for their children and how to know when it’s the right time to move them. I try to be as reassuring as possible, but from now on I’ll include this post in my message as well.

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


The Big Summer of Small Adventures

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! In addition, this post contains affiliate links. Hope you enjoy!

In just three weeks we’ll be swapping our lazy summer mornings for early morning breakfasts, backpacks and the bus stop. I honestly have no idea where this summer went. It seemed like yesterday I was preparing for an anti-boredom summer, fretting about how to fill the weeks that lay ahead of us. Now? I’m fretting that there isn’t enough time left to do all the things I wanted to do.

There was so much buildup to last summer’s big European adventure, followed by the trip itself, that we spent the last few weeks of summer at home simply enjoying home. We were adventured out. This summer was tricky in a different way: how to have a summer that feels adventurous, without going too far away from home? We all crave adventure in our lives, whether we realize it or not. For some of us, figuring out a new route to the grocery store is adventure enough. For others, it’s climbing Mt. Everest. While you’ll never catch me climbing a mountain or jumping out of an airplane, I need to seek out adventure by exploring and pushing myself just a little bit outside my comfort zone. As much as I love to travel, both near and far, I have to push myself to leave my summer comfort zone: bed, home, library, pool, home. Rinse, lather, repeat.

Two-thirds of the summer is behind us, and as I look back I realize we’ve had lots of small adventures that, when taken together, form one big, happy summer of adventure. I can save the fretting for something else. (I’m genetically wired to always be fretting over something. If nothing seems obviously fret-worthy, then I fret about that.)

What does a summer of small adventures look like?

When going out on a Friday night means pulling your chairs and grill into the street ... love my 'hood.

It looks like block parties that start in the late afternoon and last through the wee hours of the night. It looks like kickball, circles of camping chairs, fireworks, and kids running around with flashlights.

Summer Concerts

It looks like summer concerts, and rejoicing in the fact that you can now enjoy live shows with your kid that isn’t The Wiggles.

Youth baseball

It looks like trying a new sport, and realizing that you actually enjoy watching your kid play certain sports (sorry, soccer).

Michigan Blueberries

It looks like picking something other than strawberries for a change, and discovering that every single supermarket blueberry you’ve ever had has been an imposter.

Girls Rock! Indianapolis 2015

It looks like rock and roll, and coming to grips with the fact that you now share a home with an electric guitar and an amp.

Elena Six is 13

It looks like having a teenager in the house, and coming to grips with the fact that there will be eyeliner. Lots of eyeliner which adds an additional 20 minutes to the departure timeline of any other adventures.

Praying Mantis nymphs

It looks like hatching praying mantises. In your habitat, not theirs.

Pier Point Beach Michigan

It looks like swimming in Lake Michigan, and realizing you’ve been horribly misguided in your disdain for any and all bodies of water that aren’t oceans.

Nicey Treat

It looks like finally trying that popsicle place, the one you’ve been avoiding because you hate trying to park in the neighborhood it’s in.

Paper Towns Tour John Green

It looks like standing in line for hours in the blazing sun to meet your kid’s favorite author, and being secretly glad for the excuse to do so, because you love him to death, too.

Rocket 88 Doughnuts

It looks like coming up with an idea like the Doughnut Tour of Indy, just so you have an excuse to eat doughnuts all summer long. It’s for the kids!

DollyBrook Resort Michigan

It looks like taking in sunsets while roasting s’mores, because there’s nothing more adventurous than saying no to the dirty dishes and the laundry and saying yes to sitting outside.

Are your kids fans of How to Train Your Dragon’s Hiccup and Toothless? This summer, Netflix is sending them on a new adventure in the brand new original series Dragons: Race to the Edge. Available only on Netflix, your favorite characters are soaring beyond the borders of Berk in search of new dragons. Did you know that How to Train Your Dragon was a book series before it was a movie and TV show? It’s fantastic summer reading, perfect for going on adventures in your imagination.


If you have kids that aren’t into, or have moved beyond dragons, stream these adventure-filled movies instead. For the elementary set we love Hook, National Treasure, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. For teens (I still can’t believe we’re there), try Jumanji, Stand by Me, or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

What adventures, big or small, have you been on this summer?

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