The Short List: August

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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:


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).


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.


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.


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


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?



If that title doesn’t have you thoroughly confused, then I haven’t done my job well. What it translates to is the fact that I forgot to post InstaOctober last month, but I’m too OCD to actually skip a month. As if hordes of you will show up at my front door and say, “HEY, lady. What gives with the missing Instagram highlight reel?” But just in case any one of you are en route, here it is. And I certainly couldn’t handle missing November, or moving every post back two months, because that just doesn’t make any sense. (But this line of thinking clearly does.) I should probably stop talking.


1. We took a little road trip up to Chicago in November for the Chicago Toy & Game Fair. When I realized Eataly was just a few blocks from our hotel, I knew a visit was in order. If it wasn’t totally disgusting and against every health code, I’d want my ashes scattered here. I’ve never had any inclination to climb cheese, until I saw this intriguing sign in the cheese department.

2. Obligatory Bean photo every tourist takes in Chicago.

3. As part of the Toy & Game Fair, Mayfair Games held a very serious, very competitive Settlers of Catan tournament. The winner earned him or herself a trip to Gen Con to compete in the Catan World Championship. I promise I’m not making that up. Mike is the King of Catan in this house, as evidenced by his very official Catan crown the kids made him last year. He wore it to the tournament, right up until he lost in the semifinal round.

4. You know how you have the strictest rules and best advice about parenting … until you actually become a parent? The same holds true about being a pet owner. I swore up and down I would never let a dog sleep in bed with me. And then Gus gave me that look, and I said, “Okay. Just this once.” And then I realized happiness really is a warm puppy. The couch is still off limits. I swear (for now).

5. Elena and I have dreams of one day entering a gingerbread creation into Conner Prairie’s annual Gingerbread Village. We inched one step closer by taking a Gingerbread 101 class together at Conner Prairie. This is one of those traditions that I realize now I started waaaaaaay too early with my kids. Twelve is good. Twelve and in someone else’s space, where they clean up after you is even better.

6. Have I mentioned Eli is in Cub Scouts this year? He begged us to let him do it, mostly because he’d heard a rumor there would be BB guns. At this point it’s more like herding cats, but he did manage to earn his Bobcat badge.

7. I took my sister and my mom on a day trip to Cincinnati for some IKEA and Jungle Jim retail therapy. On the way home I introduced them to the best fried chicken in Indiana. If you find yourself near Oldenburg, Indiana, make sure you stop at Wagner’s and have some pan-fried deliciousness.

8.  Elena played volleyball this fall. It was 2% her wanting to try it, and 98% me wanting her to find a sport (any sport!) she might like. She ended up being the only one on her team who hadn’t played volleyball for multiple seasons. You’d think that would be a recipe for disaster, but she did great. She didn’t complain (much) and she improved drastically through the season. This particular photo is her serving to get her team into the championship game.

9. I had the opportunity to work alongside Future Farmers of America from around Indiana at the Colts annual Million Meals Marathon. The Colts partner with Thrive360 (formerly Kids Against Hunger of Central Indiana) to pack a million meals that will find their way to families facing hunger in Indiana. I packed for 2 hours, along with a couple of Colts cheerleaders, blogging pals, and the Colts Defensive End Cory Redding. It was such a cool experience, and I can’t wait to do it again with Mike and the kids.

10. What every parent’s floor looks like if they have a LEGO fan in the house … just kidding. It’s actually a sea of LEGO bricks for kids to play in at LEGO KidsFest. Super fun and a cool photo op, if you don’t think about how many germy little hands have been all over those bricks.

11. Mike and I have been able to go to two Colts games this year. This picture is from a home game against the Bengals. Incredible seats and lots of fun for us. Not so much for the Bengals fans we took with us. The weekend before last we went to the Colts game in Cleveland. The horse head did not make that trip with us. We’re not stupid.

12. My friend Sacha clued us into a KaBOOM! playground build that was happening in our community. I’m a big fan of KaBOOM! and their passion for making play accessible to kids in every kind of community, so it was a very special thing to be able to help. I hauled mulch for a bit and Elena helped paint signs for the new playground.

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




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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