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.


On Writing and Ignoring the Squirrels.

It’s becoming somewhat of a comical ritual around here, these sessions where I sit down to write. Every morning begins with the best of intentions. I’m going to write today! I say, in my best go-getter voice. And for the most part, I do.

I write a lot for other people. Whether it’s freelance work or for The Risky Kids, I’m often writing content nearly every day. But writing good content isn’t the writing of the soul. I miss that. You know what else I miss? Writing pointless banter. Writing about stuff like the time last I took Gus through the drive-through of Starbucks with me.

“I like your pit bull!” the barista chirped, as I pulled up to pay for my chai tea latte made without full-fat milk or Oprah in it.

“Oh, this dog? You mean this lab-husky mix?” That’s what I want to say, anyways, in a feeble attempt to cover up for our dog’s unpopular breed line.* I’ve given up saying it, though. It’s come up often enough, and whenever I counter with the lab-husky response, I get the look. The one that says, “Mmm-hmm. And that purse I bought in Chinatown is a Louis Vuitton.”

Anyhow, before I can recover from the pit bull comment, the unfazed barista wants to know if Gus wants a “pup cup.” I’d never heard of such a thing, but after confirming that it wasn’t going to cost me another $4.95 to go along with my overpriced beverage, Gus was treated to his very first Starbucks. And I will treat you with this:

I miss writing about my kids. Writing stuff like the time a few weeks ago when Elena said she was going to “make it rain.”

Elena speaks cow

I learned it from the cows, Mom! I learned it by talking to cows!

(If you’re too old for the Just Say No campaigns, this will make no sense to you. That, or if you friend your brain on drugs. Or it just won’t make sense, but I really wanted to use this picture of Elena conversing with cows.)

“Do you know where that phrase comes from?” I asked. Thankfully, she didn’t. But that didn’t stop me from telling her to ask her father. Or when Gus got into her room and ate a $20 bill, leaving only Andrew Jackson’s face as evidence of the crime. “Congratulations, Elena!” I said the next day. “You’re now the proud owner of a dog that shits money.” In neither situation was she amused … can’t say the same for myself. Or that time in the car last week, when Eli told us he had a girlfriend in the neighborhood. A girl who just happens to be his best buddy’s best girl.

“Is this a problem? Are you guys going to fight over her?”

“No,” he said. “We’ve got it all worked out. The first one to kiss her gets to have her as his girlfriend. Cuz, you know, you can’t share love.”

Father and son fishing

I miss writing that stuff just as much as I miss writing from the soul. But for whatever reason, every time I sit down to write either one, I close up. Suddenly, my coffee needs refreshed. The clothes need folded. That picture on the wall looks a little crooked. What was that noise on the deck? I should investigate.

I don’t know why it’s that way (although I’ve never been so caffeinated or so well-stocked in clean underwear, and my house looks fabulous!), but I do know the only way to fix it is to write straight through it. And so I’m just warning you, things could get ugly around here. There might be a lot of pointless banter about dog escapades. Or my fantasy football team. Or about that time we got walked in on the other week (and why you’ll continue to see sponsored content on here now and then, to pay for Elena’s therapy after witnessing that). I don’t even know, but I do know that no matter what comes out, I need to just write.

In my heart, I know it’s not pointless. It’s why I started in the first place, for one. To record, to remember, and to share my voice. But mostly I know it’s not pointless because I read so many other blogs. And while my Pinterest boards appreciate all the recipes, tips, and crafty ideas, the stuff that really inspires me is the same as it’s always been: the words. Not the content … the stories. It’s not pointless to me, and somedays it’s that one thing you wrote that makes me stop in my tracks and catch my breath. Somedays it’s that one funny story you shared that took my mind off that thing that was killing me with worry.

I hope every once in awhile I can do that for you. And so, I wrote today.

* We don’t actually know Gus’ exact breeding. I  mean, he’s a rescue dog, which means he’s a hodge-podge of everything, most likely. Everywhere we go, though, people think he’s a pit bull. Honestly, he could be part badger and we’d still love him. He’s one sweet pup.


No FOMO on Football, Taylor Swift, or Supernatural: Sprint’s Upgraded Service Gets 3 Thumbs Up

Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation Program with Sprint on behalf of Influence Central. I received a sample device to facilitate this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sprint HTC One M8

In this day and age, we depend on our phones for so much more than just making calls. In any one day, my phone is my personal computer, GPS, entertainment center, cookbook, coupon resource, camera, texting device, and oh yeah, sometimes it’s simply a way to make a phone call. Because, like me, it’s such a multi-tasker, it depends on good cell service to make it function well. Otherwise? It’s likely to become a missile as well, as I’m tempted to throw it out the window if it’s not keeping up with me.

Sprint knows that we lean on our cell phones more than ever, for a variety of uses, and made improved cell service in Indianapolis a priority, by upgrading cell towers and replacing equipment at cell sites throughout metro Indy. The result? Faster speeds and better call quality. Sprint also runs on Sprint Spark and uses an LTE service uniquely built for data. Those two features combined give users improved performance in video playback and online gaming applications.

In order to put these new features to the test, I was provided with an HTC One M8 cell phone with Sprint service for a couple of weeks. In order to truly test out the phone’s capabilities and the promise of better, faster cell service, myself, Elena and Eli all took turns with the HTC One.

We all depend on top-notch cell service in a smart phone for different reasons. Eli is into the gaming aspect. He loves playing both Minecraft and Plants vs. Zombies on my cell phone. Elena is all about the videos. She’s hooked on a few shows, and her preferred method of watching is through Netflix on any device other than an actual television. We also depend on a cell phone to keep in touch with her when she’s out with friends or penny boarding through town. And me? I need a phone that takes great pictures. I also need a data plan that works, and quickly. I’m often live-tweeting and Instagramming at events, or while watching NFL games. Bad photos or tweets that are 20 minutes behind are no bueno.

So how did it do? Very well, I’m happy to report. Here’s what we liked about it:

Speed: It is, indeed, fast. In the nearly 3 weeks that we used it, we didn’t experience any lag time at all in downloads. I especially appreciate it during football games. I can easily keep up with scores, manage my fantasy team, and live-tweet during the games without missing a beat.

Sprint HTC One M8

If only my fantasy players had been as fast and furious as my Sprint LTE service this week.

Video quality: Again, fast and good. Elena watched a marathon of “Supernatural” episodes the other weekend, all in the comfort of her bed. The picture quality is excellent and the videos load very quickly. Eli and I were pleased with our multiple viewing experiences of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” video. Man, oh man, do we love that video (and do we secretly wish we could do that finger trick)>

Sound quality: Maybe this is because we tested the Harman/Kardon edition, but the sound was fantastic. We especially appreciated this when using the phone to stream our Spotify playlists.

Call quality: While I don’t currently have a ton of dropped call issues with my provider, we do have issues with reaching Elena at times on her cell phone. She never missed a single call on this phone. This is by far the biggest frustration for me with other networks. Dealing with slow load times is a hassle at times, but clearly a #firstworldproblem. Not being able to reach my kid because of poor cell service? That’s a safety/peace of mind issue for me, and one I’m not willing to skimp on. I’d feel much better with her out and about using the upgraded Sprint network.

In Indianapolis specifically, Sprint has made network improvements at the Indiana Convention Center, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Children’s Museum, and the Zoo. While we didn’t get to test the phone out at any of these specific venues, I imagine it will be a welcome improvement. I’ve had some frustrating moments myself at the Children’s Museum, struggling with poor cell service.

Whether it’s for individuals, couples, or families, Sprint is determine to deliver the best value in wireless, and they want Indianapolis customers to enjoy faster data speeds and better call quality with these network upgrades. Find out more, and check out special pricing plans for families, by visiting Sprint’s website.


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