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?


The Short List: June

Disclosure: This post contains a few affiliate links.

I know I told you not to get too attached, but look what’s back! I wouldn’t go out and buy us monogrammed sheets or anything, but writing more than one post in a series is always a good step for me. Summer and blogging are always tricky for me. It’s when I seem have my best ideas and get the most fired up about topics … and yet it’s when I have the least amount of time to act upon those ideas and write about them. I think and write a lot of great stuff in my head … if only it automatically posted itself. I try to write ahead when I can, but that’s never been my best habit. And so I’ll have days like yesterday, when I tell myself I’ll get a few posts written. And then it’s 89 degrees outside, the sun is shining, and the kids are clamoring for the pool. The pool will almost always win.

Like May, June is a crazy month for us. We have two birthdays in June, and this year they happen to be milestone birthdays. Mike joined me in the 40 club. On Sunday, we’ll wake up with a teenager in the house. I can do the math, and it’s not like I don’t know what comes after 39 and 12, but it still blows my mind. In between, we celebrated Father’s Day. As much as we would love to be traveling the world again, it’s been nice spending June at home and filling it with our favorite summer activities: baseball, festivals, cookouts and strawberry picking. I hope your June has been equally as lovely. Now, feast your eyes on the Short List of things I’m into this month.

🎶 I always feel like some berry's watching me ... 🎶


Elena, Mike and I are still making our way through Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix. From now on we just want to say “Beyonce” in a French accent instead of thank you. Eli has discovered American Ninja Warrior. As a result he can’t pass through a doorway without trying to spider climb it. Mike and I were all excited to watch the premier of the new HBO series Ballers, until we realized neither one of us DVR’d it. Not very baller of us.


In fiction, I just started Motherland by Maria Hummel . I’m a few chapters in, and while I’m glad to pick it up each night, I’m not dying to read more throughout the day. I snagged a free 2 month trial to Audible and picked up The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri. I really enjoyed The Namesake, but this one isn’t quite as good for me. Still, I enjoy having something to listen to while I do menial household tasks. I need a new non-fiction read, as I just finished The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money by Ron Lieber yesterday. I tell you, the non-fiction books I’ve been reading lately are killing it. I’ll definitely be writing more about this book very soon. Eli and I are still reading through Masterpiece by Elise Broach. And Elena and I are still listening to All the Bright Places, and we are both loving it.


Two years ago we had the opportunity to participate in Camptown’s Camping for Rookies program. It’s genius for people like us, who had never been camping, but really wanted to try it out with the kids. The good people at Camptown know that lack of knowledge and access to camping equipment are a big barrier to getting families outdoors, so they started Camping for Rookies. For a very reasonable fee, they provide you with a location and a tent. Staffers are there to camp with you and show you the ropes, including the all-important setting up of the tent. They also provide meals and programming to share more knowledge of camping and the great outdoors. Camptown offers the program a few times over the summer at various locations in Indiana. I highly recommend it!

Chobani Flip Almond Coco Loco

I can’t get enough of these Chobani Flips right now. (Disclosure: I participated in a campaign with BzzAgent in which I received coupons for the product, but I’ve been obsessed with these long before now.) I’m sure all the flavors are fantastic, but once I tried the Almond Coco Loco that was all she wrote. If I have one in the fridge, it’s all I can think about.


We can worry about our kids (and we all do), but that worry doesn’t need to turn into a fear that holds them back. Love this essay “Worry Is Not Our Benchmark” from Life Your Way.

Jen Hatmaker explains the things she says yes and no to in parenting. And promptly advises that she wings it and second guesses 72% of her parenting, which gives me much comfort.

65% of kids entering grade school this year will end up working in careers that haven’t been invented yet. Isn’t that crazy? Eli will be happy to know that Minecraft and duct tape wallets can help him prepare for that yet-to-be-invented job.

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


(NFL) Combine Life

NFL Scouting Combine Tweetup 2015 with Peter King

Photo by Todd Rosenberg

I love following my favorite NFL media on Twitter and Instagram, especially during the NFL Scouting Combine week. It’s interesting and entertaining, both to peek inside the parts of the Combine that are off limits to non-media folks, as well as to see my hometown through their eyes. (Note to media for next year: No more TwitPics of the shrimp cocktail at St. Elmo’s. Unless you tote yours around the city like your own spicy Flat Stanley, everyone’s seen it before. Stop taking pictures of it and just eat the damn thing.)

So when the MMQB’s Jenny Vrentas posted a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #CombineLife, I couldn’t resist clicking on it. More insight into the coaches and athletes? Yes, please! Instead, it was a clear example of  “I don’t think that word/hashtag means what you think it does.” Lots of farmers, a plethora of actual combines, not so much football.


The Combine is officially over, and I’m thrilled to say that the Combine Tweetup I organized was a big success. The event sold out, which I was a tad nervous about since it was the first year we asked attendees to pay. Between ticket sales and on-site donations, we raised nearly $2000 for Thrive360. That feels so incredibly good, and makes me want to give each and every one of you that came out on that ridiculously cold night a big hug. Unless you’re not a hugger, then I’d settle for shaking your hand. The good people at Sun King kept everyone hydrated and happy. To top it all off, we had an incredible panel of NFL media answering every kind of question under the sun for two hours. Many, many thanks to Albert Breer, Ian Rapoport, Mike Tanier, Alex Marvez, Doug Farrar (Sports Illustrated), Aaron Schatz (Football Outsiders), and Hal Habib (Palm Beach Post).

NFL Scouting Combine Tweetup 2015 Albert Breer

Albert Breer (NFL Network)

Photo by Todd Rosenberg


Alex Marvez (Fox Sports, Sirius XM NFL)

Photo by Todd Rosenberg

NFL Combine Tweetup Alex Marvez Albert Breer Ian Rapoport

Peter King, Alex Marvez, Albert Breer and Ian Rapoport (NFL Network)

Photo by Todd Rosenberg

Most importantly, thanks to Peter King – for coming up with this crazy idea in the first place and for continuing to make it priority when he returns to Indy every year.

NFL Combine Tweetup Angie Six Peter King Thrive360

Peter, myself, along with Shane Scarlett and Jill Madinger of Thrive360

Photo by Todd Rosenberg

I’ll leave you with my favorite snapshots of #CombineLife. Peter graciously invited my family to dinner with the MMQB team on Saturday evening. It ended up just being Elena and me. Mike was trying to get over a cold before flying out to party work in New Orleans on Sunday evening. And at this juncture in parenting, I’d rather have a root canal than sit through a 2-hour dinner at a nice establishment with a 7-year-old that can barely make it through a private meal in our home without farting or shooting milk out his nose. So Elena and I it was. Even though she’s not a sports fan, I really wanted Elena to come so she could meet and spend time with people who have taken a passion and turned it into a really fun career. And I especially wanted her to meet Jenny, who I would very much like to be when I grow up. We had a fantastic dinner, and I only had to kick Elena under the table twice for sneaking peeks at her iPod. Eventually the conversation turned to Elena, and what she was into these days, which turned into this:

Jenny Vrentas Peter King NFL Combine

Elena happily giving Peter and Jenny an impromptu audio demonstration of what the kids are listening to these days (it’s All Time Low, if you’re as uninformed as the rest of us).

Or this. I have no idea what Elena and Robert Klemko are doing, but I’m a fan of both.


Photo by Todd Rosenberg

I’d tell you that I’m done writing about sports for a bit, but that would probably be a lie. I have a Fuel Up To Play 60 event coming up next week with Pat McAfee, and that guy is nothing if not treasure trove of things to write about. The NFL Draft is only two months away, in Chicago of all places, which has me seriously contemplating a road trip. Free agency and trading periods open up in less than two weeks. Let’s face it, I’m a junkie and I can’t quit. I guess that’s the #NFLLife.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...