There’s something about October 16th that makes our lake magical.
October 16, 2018, was probably my favorite day at the lake since I moved here. The wind was super strong, and I think you have all learned my fascination with big waves! As I arrived at the beach that night, the sun was setting. The sky was on fire in the southwest with the golden glow of the fading sun. The rest of the sky was the most brilliant shades of pink, orange and hints of purple. There was a stark contrast between the bluish green water, and each wave was accentuated by a whitecap. The entire view was breathtaking, and it wasn’t just because the wind was so blowing so hard!
Fast forward to one year later— October 16, 2019. The landscape was completely different than one year prior, but the strong winds out of the northwest did not disappoint. Initially, I watched the waves from Silver Beach. I was amazed to see that the beach was pretty much gone. The water was being pushed so far up that there was only (maybe) 50 feet between the waterline and the yellow statue that is on the hill. (The hill is no longer a hill; now the statue is almost at the same level as the water.) As I tried to take pictures, it felt like I was in a wind tunnel.
I watched as the waves washed over the “Tiscornia” side of the lighthouse. The waves never hit that side of the lighthouse, and I was amazed to see water splashing far over the red portion. On the other side of the catwalk, the water was absolutely churning. There were multitudes of enormous waves. I have seen bigger waves at the lake, but I have never seen so many intense, large waves so close together. It was absolutely amazing to see the ginormous amounts of water that were engulfing the catwalk and outer pier light.
I almost headed home, but something inside me was pulling me toward Tiscornia. When I arrived, I could not be more impressed and in awe. As I pulled up, the sun was just peeking out from underneath a shelf of clouds. There was an intense ray of orange light broadcasting across the lighthouse and onto the churning water. There were a number of “wave lovers” like me there, and we all stood in almost complete silence, so impressed by the majestic view in front of us.
One of the reasons I love the lake much is because it has a way of making the small things seem small. I am always taken a back by the power and force of the water that I love so much. Something about those waves puts things into perspective for me. I am so grateful to live in a place I love so much. I am so fortunate to have daily access to something that invokes so much peace and happiness.
Pictures below: October 16, 2018, from Second Street beach (top). October 16, 2019, from Tiscornia (bottom).
The month of September was busy for The Stewart Family (or as Tori would say, "wicked busy"). When times get hectic and stress levels are high, it is so important to practice self care. One of the best ways to instantly make yourself feel better is to laugh. Not just a half-hearted chuckle but a full on laugh. It's amazing how quickly it can make you feel better!
This morning, I offer this picture in hopes that it will make you laugh. This is my oldest nephew, Jasper. His family has chickens, turkeys, ducks and goats. This spring, he had chicks on his farm. He was a pretty big fan of the chicks and liked to carry them around and hold them.
That is a real chick in that picture. Look at its face. And his. One of my favorite pictures of all time.
I am happy to transition into October and some routine. I am so looking forward to spending more time in your classrooms, collaborating with you and interacting with our kiddos. You all are a true blessing to our Stewart Family. Thank you for all you do, day in and day out. You are appreciated and valued. Have a wonderful, restful weekend.
My parents got married 35 years ago today. 35 years. Woah. That is such a long time.
My parents knew each other growing up as kids. They lived in different towns and attended very different high schools, but they went to the same church camp. My mom grew up in Marion, and my dad was raised on a farm in Converse, Indiana. My dad entered the workforce right after college, and my mom pursued her degree in Elementary Education.
My dad is a very gregarious, even-tempered kind of guy. He has his passions, but it takes a lot to get him riled up. My mom, on the other hand, is a little more fiery and tells it like it is. They are both incredibly hardworking (working 50+ hours a week) and have always sacrificed everything for my sister and me.
They are serious #relationshipgoals. Like any couple, they have had their struggles and hard times, but they have one of the strongest unions I have ever seen. They are best friends, each other’s biggest supporters and have a deep love for one another that is unwavering.
They truly care for each other in the good times and bad, in sickness and health. My dad has taken care of my mom when she lost part of her finger in a boating accident and had an episode of strokes. He sat right by her side, in the scariest times, making sure she was ok. My mom has encouraged my dad to take better care of himself, reminds him to take his medicine and pushes to figure out exactly what’s wrong when he’s not feeling well.
I could only be so fortunate to find a love like the one my parents share. They are a true inspiration, and I feel very fortunate to have such a solid example of what a relationship should be. Day in and day out, we see the impact of unhealthy relationships on our kiddos. I have so much respect for their dedication, patience and care for one another.
A kindergarten student and I have been taking walks. The intended purpose was for his benefit, but it has been a nice reset for both of us. Yesterday morning I was able to share breakfast with one of our little learners, and it set both of us up for a successful rest of the day. There are a number of students who enthusiastically wave in the backseat of their cars and yell, “Good morning!!!” each day. I love the moments when a smile lights up a student’s face after they are given a compliment or made to feel special.
When I was feeling a little under the weather last week, I received a number of emails and texts from you all checking in on me. Your smiles, hugs, laughs and jokes (even Quinn’s bad ones) brighten my days. The little surprises you leave and notes of encouragement mean the world to me.
The weather has been AMAZING this week. On Wednesday night, there were tons of monarch butterflies flying around at the beach. It was absolutely breathtaking. I was positive my evenings at the beach were over, but we've had a number of "bonus days".
Early morning snuggles and a selfie with my pup. Hearing my little Kermit bark and wag his tail after he’s not been feeling well, and seeing my Lapua Westeros chase his Kong in the backyard brighten my day. I was able to FaceTime with my nephew a few nights ago, and it warmed my heart to hear him say, “I love you, Aunt Sam.”
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the things that bring us down— in the things that are hard. When we take the time to recognize the little things- a snuggle from a pup, a child holding your hand after having a struggle in the classroom, a hug from a friend- we fill ourselves up a little more. It gives us the positive energy to keep going.
Summer is, by far, my favorite season. I am always pretty sad when it draws to an end, but each fall I look forward to football season. In particular, I look forward to Baltimore Ravens football.
I always hear the same question when it comes to my team, "How did you become a Ravens fan?!" I have always been a fan of the NFL. When I was a kid, I would watch whatever team was playing on the local channels that week-- sometimes the Colts, the Bears, the Browns or the Cowboys. I just love the game of football and the intensity of the sport.
The Baltimore Ravens have always been known for the tenacity of their defense. Guys like Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis, and Ed Reed used to light up other teams every week. I loved watching them whenever I could. When my boy Joe Flacco and John Harbaugh joined the Ravens 12 years ago, I decided I had to be "all in". The team was so much fun to watch and played at such a high caliber... well, most of the time.
For the last 12 years, my love for my Ravens has continued to grow. I own a ridiculous number of Ravens jerseys, and a large Maryland flag hangs on my fence. When I went on vacation to the East Coast, I was sure to plan to go to Baltimore (even though it was in the middle of July). I listen to Ravens podcast and keep up to date through social media.
When I was a classroom teacher, my kids were known as "Miss Berglan's Ravens". The tables in our classroom were named after players, and we celebrated Purple Friday together every Friday. They would draw the Ravens logo on basically everything, and many kiddos (from my class and others) loved to talk to me about the games each week.
I absolutely love watching my Ravens play. I have been described as "animated" during the games, whether my boys are playing well or not so well. (For this reason, I now have the Sunday ticket. haha) The 16 games (with the hopes of a few more in the playoffs) each year are some of my favorite times. Everyone that knows me well knows how excited I get for game days.
As you know, my cell phone died on Monday around 1 PM. The screen went black, and it proceeded to flash the apple symbol for days. There was no way to revive it; no chance of recovery.
Initially, I panicked. How would I wake up in the morning without using the alarm? I wouldn't be able to receive emails, text messages or phone calls. How would I connect with the outside world? What about social media? How would I know what the weather will be like? And no access to Apple Music or Spotify? The horror!
I'm not going to lie, it has been extremely difficult. I have caught myself wondering, "How do I do this without my phone?" multiple times. I legitimately did not go to the gym on Tuesday, because I could not listen to music! But it has also been really great. Randomly, I will realize that I haven't heard a single buzz from a text or email in hours. I have had moments where I've realized how calm this has allowed me to feel. I went to the beach and read a book instead of listening to music or a podcast. I have been more focused on the "in the moment" instead of what's ahead.
I am definitely not prepared to totally go off the grid, but the death of my phone has served as a not so gentle reminder of the importance of distancing myself from that constant connection (and distraction) device. It has prompted me to think more about my own self care and what changes I should make moving forward. I have also been reminded that not everything is urgent and requires and immediate response.
My parents have lived in the same home for my entire life in Fox, Indiana. Their house is situated on five acres, with a huge backyard and four livestock areas. There are so many parts of the land at this house that I love. I have fond memories of playing in the front yard, catching lightning bugs below hundred-year-old trees. An old, weathered barn used to stand in the front of the house, where I would play basketball for hours. I spent countless hours with my sister on the playground equipment my dad built for us.
My favorite part about their land, however, is under a large tree in their backyard. Every year, right around Mother’s Day, the most beautiful patch of poppies blooms. Poppies are the most breath-taking flowers. They grow so tall and have curvy, furry stems. The petals are the most vibrant orange, and the center of the flower is seedy and purple. Their strange, unique appearance make them stand out, no matter where they bloom.
As you might know, poppies are very fragile flowers. Their petals are beautiful but seem to begin to wilt as soon as you remove the flower from the ground. As my mom always told me, “They aren’t meant to be taken from their home”. To enjoy the poppies, then, you just have to admire them where they bloom. As a kid, I spent hours playing near (and in) the poppies- smelling them, touching their furry stems and inevitably picking one or two.
As I have gotten older, I have tried multiple times to get poppies to grow at my house. I planted poppies I have uprooted from my parents’ house, poppies I had bought from Lowe’s and tons of poppy seeds. None of them took hold. My goal someday is to have a huge patch, like the one my parents have in their backyard.
This year was the first year I did not get to see the poppies while they were in bloom. Due to our weather this spring, the poppies bloomed after Mother’s Day for the first time ever. My mom sent me a picture of the poppies, and I instantly thought of all the positive memories I had in their backyard.
The Indianapolis 500 is the single-largest sporting event that takes place (and it takes place every year!). The Indianapolis Motor Speedway does not disclose how many people attend the race each year, but the permanent seating alone can hold 250,000 people. It is estimated that over 400,000 people attend The Greatest Spectacle in Racing every year!
As you know, I am one of those people. I lovegoing to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but nothing beats Race Day. Thirty-three cars, starting in 11 rows of 3, for 500 miles. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.
Race day is a long day. My family stays in a hotel in Indianapolis the night before. We get up at 3 AM, leave the hotel by 4 or 4:30, and get to our parking spot by 5 or 5:15. If you don’t go that early, you will be sitting in traffic on 16thStreet for hours.
The track opens to the public at 6 AM. After we get inside and get our stuff situated in our seats, my mom and I generally go exploring. We go down to Turn One, where you can actually stand on the track and look down the front stretch. I have included a picture from the spot from last year. It’s amazing to think that just a few short hours later, the drivers are going 228 mph+ right where you stand.
After snapping some pictures on the track, we check out the merchandise stands. I always end up buying something at the track, even though I always say I’m not going to. Then we watch the Parade of the Bands at our seats and talk to each other until the fanfare of the race begins.
We sit directly under the flag stand at the yard of bricks. We have a front row seat (literally) to all of the excitement that takes place before the race. We watch the servicemen and servicewomen travel the track in trucks, cheer on drivers from previous eras during the parade laps, take a moment of silence after “Taps” and sing along to “Back Home Again in Indiana” and the National Anthem.
When the famous words are spoken (Ladies and Gentlemen- start your engines!”) it is impossible to contain your excitement. The environment of 400,000 waiting anxiously for the race to begin is electrifying! When the green flag drops, the entire crowd is up on their feet, cheering over the roar of the engines!
My favorite part of the 500 is the tradition. The entire race (and Speedway itself) is grounded in its rich history. My family has created our own traditions, which I cherish. I always say, Race Day is my Christmas. (And you all know how much I love Christmas!)
Enjoy the long weekend! Take some time to rest, and, if you feel the urge, tune into the race. It is well worth it!
I have already lamented my deepest concerns to some of you about Michigander’s lack of knowledge regarding the Indianapolis 500. I am a Hoosier, and we are born and raised to know the sheer AWESOMENESS of The Greatest Spectacle in Racing. I find it devastating that many of you do not know about/understand this event. Prepare for two Thursday Thoughts about The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indianapolis 500. :)
Qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 takes place the weekend before for the race. The format and schedule of qualifying has changed over the years. The main thing about qualifying you need to know is this: the fastest cars will be at the front of the starting grid, the slowest cars will be at the end of the starting grid. Every year, no matter how many cars attempt to enter, only 33 cars make it into the Indianapolis 500. Some years, cars get bumped. Other years- like last year- the superstars of the series do not even make it to the biggest race of the year. Qualifying weekend is fast-paced, thrilling and always has unexpected twists. You can always count on a wreck, a malfunction with a car, driver error, or a wild event to take place that changes the entire landscape of the race for that year.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is enormous. It is a 2.5 mile oval, with a 9 degree bank in each turn. The layout of the track has not been altered since its original design in 1909. It is so large, you could “place” Yankee Stadium, The White House, Rose Bowl Stadium, the Roman Colosseum, Liberty Island, the Taj Mahal, Churchill Downs and Vatican City INSIDE the track. (Don’t believe me? Check out the picture below!) It is beautiful, breathtaking and grounded in 100 years of exciting history and tradition.
My love for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway started years ago as a young child during qualifying weekend. My mom used to take my sister and me to qualifying every year. When my mom was a little girl, she used to go to qualifying with her mom and her brother. The tradition of the 500 is one thing that makes it so great. As a kid, we didn’t actually go to the race. Race day is a long day, it costs a lot of money, it’s generally scorching hot and my parents probably thought my sister and I couldn’t sit through the event until we were older.
We could go to qualifying, however, and have an amazing day. We always went on the Saturday of qualifying weekend. My sister, mom and I cheered enthusiastically for our favorite drivers and teams. Helio Castroneves, who is a three-time Indianapolis 500 champion, is my mom’s favorite (current) driver. We would be cheer so loudly for him after every qualifying attempt. As he would exit his car after his qualifying run, we would yell (HELLLLLLLLLLLLLIO!!!!) and wave to him. As we made a spectacle of ourselves, we would always get his attention. He would smile from ear to ear and wave back enthusiastically at us.
The drivers are extremely accessible during qualifying weekend. If you know what the drivers look like, you can pretty much meet any of them. As a big fan of the IndyCar Series, this is a huge deal to me. Last year, I was able to meet my favorite driver, Will Power. After years of trying to meet him or see him out and about, I finally had the chance to interact with him. He ended up winning the race last year, and I truly felt like I had won the race myself (cue all the tears). It is awesome to have access to such amazing athletes, and they are all very personable. To be honest, I think they are just as excited as the fans to be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway each year.
As the years have gone by, and life’s responsibilities have changed, my mom, sister and I do not to go to qualifying together anymore. My mom stopped going to qualifying after my family started going to the race. My sister hasn’t been since her days in college at Ball State. I keep the tradition alive, however! I go every year, no matter what, to you see my drivers and to be at one of my favorite places on the entire planet. It makes my heart sad and yearn for the time that the three of us used to spend together. Those were good days, filled with lots of laughs, enthusiasm, and bonding. They are days I will never forget, and ones that I will treasure until the day I die.
This weekend I am heading to the track. The weather forecast for Speedway, Indiana, is 85° and partly cloudy for Saturday. It is going to be an amazing, exciting day full of what I love the most.