Six Years Of Sparkle



My Sparkling Gwen,

Sweetheart, I am sitting down to write this and thinking over the last year with you.  You change so much from year to year, but in some ways you stay the same.  I love watching your personality shine more and more as you grow!

Your favorite thing in the world is to laugh and make other people laugh, and you are such a fun-loving little girl!  Your laugh is perfect and unique - it sounds like a creek gurgling, bells ringing, and birds tweeting all at once.  I can pick it out of a crowd, only because it is such an incredibly adorable little girl laugh!

You are really getting involved in picking your own outfits, and I love to see the combinations you come up with.  Your favorite is to wear your skirt with jeans, and I think this reflects your sweet personality.  You love playing outside, climbing on things, hanging upside down on the monkey bars, but you are not content to just wear pants.  You have to add a little sparkle and girly-ness to everything you do!

You are such a little helper - whenever I ask you kids to do something, you are the first to jump up.  You are always looking for ways to assist me, and to help anyone around you.  I love this about you so much.

I've also seen a lot of deep thinking going on in your little head this year.  You ask me such good questions about Jesus and the Bible, and how exactly everything works.  I try my best to answer all your questions, but it brings me such joy to see you thinking things through and trusting the Lord more and more as you grow.

Lately you've been expressing that you want to be just like me.  You want to grow up to be a mama, just like me.  You are dying to get your ears pierced, just like me (we are doing this for your birthday!).  The thought warms my heart, but in so many ways, I want to be more like you.

I want to have a tender heart like you do.  I want to laugh and enjoy life with the same zest as you.  I want to have a heart to serve others like you do.

I hope you grow up to take the good things you can from my example, but always know too that I think you are completely delightful just for being you.  I'll never stop loving you, my Precious Girl.  I love you more than I could ever say.

Happiest 6th Birthday, My Sweet Darling!

Love Always,

Mama




The Reason I Bought That Sweater



When I was a teenager, my mom gave me a white sweatshirt with blue stripes on it.  I learned the story later, of how she was wearing it when my dad proposed to her.  He had given her the sweatshirt and hidden her ring in the pocket.

I don't know what happened to that sweatshirt.  Eventually I must have outgrown it or ruined it, because I don't have it anymore, and I don't think it's one I would give away.  But in my memory, the light blue stripes on that sweatshirt wherever similar to another shirt.  One my mom was wearing in a faded snapshot from the 80's.

I like to think my dad or someone else in our family grabbed the camera to document how beautiful my mom looked, because she looked so young and glowing.  When I first found that photo in an old album, my mom told me she was actually pregnant with me when it was taken.





I found a sweater with very similar stripes to the ones on the shirts my mom wore when she was close to my age.  I didn't even think about it, I just bought it.

I like this sweater a lot, partly because it's cute, but majorly because it reminds me of her.

There will always be that part of me that dreams of growing up to be just like my mama.




Where I'm From


"I'm from the front pew of a wooden white church..."

I heard those words through the speaker on the way home and immediately turned up the radio, because that first line could have come straight out of my childhood.  I listened as Jason Michael Carroll sang "Where I'm From".  I resonated with almost every line.

A friend asked me last week what the best part was about living where I live, and I thought about that song, and tried to think of how I'd describe where I'm from...

I'm from a wooden white church too, nestled in plains surrounded by mountains, filled with people more like a family than a church.

I'm from a place where the aspens in the autumn take your breath away and fill the air with spice, and people drive hours just to look at them from the highway.

I'm from riding our horses across clear mountain water, the coldest water you ever tasted, because it hasn't traveled that far from the peak of a mountain.

I'm from sweater weather, and wood stoves, and hot chocolate, and golden leaves sharing space with white snowflakes on evergreen branches.

I'm from a place where you can lay in bed at night with the window open and hear owls hooting from the lodgepole pines, and elk bugling from the meadow down the hill.

I'm from a place where fall means the sweet smell of fresh cut hay, tractors hauling bales on the highway and occasionally dropping one, trucks carrying neon orange-clad men and women to the back roads, country music on the radio, and people asking where your dad goes hunting.

I'm from a place where you have your perfectly vague response perfectly rehearsed, because around here we guard our hunting spots like the Mint.

I'm from a place where my grandpa worked as a foreman for the water board, and raised his family in a tiny log house that they heated with a wood stove.

I'm from a boy who got payed a penny a log to chop wood for winter, and decided not to play football because it interfered with hunting season.

I'm from a girl who came here, fell in love with that boy in high school, and never left because she fell in love with the mountains too.

I'm from a mom who taught us how to weave wreaths out of willow branches and baskets out of pine needles, who kept the house smelling like cookies or stew, and feeling like love.

I'm from a dad who came home with cuts on his hands from hard work, whose flannel coat brought the autumn chill in with him, but somehow his hugs were still warm.

I'm from a place where people ask my maiden name and immediately know my people.

I'm from a place that pulls together after tragedy, and the speed limit signs are wrapped in ribbons for miles in remembrance.

I'm from a place where you know the names of the state troopers and which cars they drive, because they taught you driver's ed.  But you didn't have to learn to parallel park to pass, because no one does that here.

I'm from a place where the high schools feud by seeing who can paint the rock in their respective parking lots the coolest color.

I'm from tree forts, and hikes on an old railroad grade, and sleeping bags on the trampoline next to the best little brother and sister in the world, while bats flit across the stars.

I'm from a place where the wilderness is just a couple roads over.

I'm from a place that some people leave, but some people never will because they never would want to.

It's a place that gets in your blood if you stay here for any length of time.  And if you have the right kind of something inside to react to it, then it gets in your blood and stays forever, and you can never quite leave it behind again.  Maybe for a little while, but eventually you return one way or another.  Because there is no other place that feels as much like home.

I'm from a place that got in my husband's blood too, and we built a home and a family and a life up here where wild things grow.





That's where I'm from.  And like any place, some things change, things are always changing.  Some of what I've written is from my childhood and some is from now, and they are all mixed up and inseparable in my mind.  Some things don't change, and those are the pieces that have held me here.  I feel blessed that I get to raise my kids in the same place where our roots have grown so long.

So this can be where they're from too.

The Wednesday Five | Vol. 2



A Quote

"Our hope in Christ for the future is the mainspring and the mainstay of our joy here.  It will animate our hearts to think often of heaven, for all that we can desire is promised there...Nevertheless, let it never be said of us that we are dreaming about the future and forgetting the present, let the future sanctify the present to it's highest uses...The man who has this hope in him goes about his work with vigor, for the joy of the Lord is his strength...He can labour without present reward, for he looks for a reward in the world to come." -Charles Spurgeon


This is from Morning And Evening by Charles Spurgeon, which I've been loving as an addition to my Bible reading lately.  A little bonus book pick for you!


A Book

Dracula by Bram Stoker.  This book is really not my style at all, but so far I'm kind of enjoying it?  I never read horror, but I am in a classics book club with some friends from my college days, and Dracula is what we picked for this season.  It is a classic, so I figure it's worthwhile to read just for the cultural references, but I'm halfway through and now I'm rather curious to see how it's going to turn out!  The ending in the book is supposed to be good...




Sidenote:  I am reading my leather-bound copy from Barnes And Noble, because it's the prettiest and least creepy cover I could find...also, I know I'm pale.  I promise I'm not a vampire.

A Bit Of Nature


The aspen trees peaked this last week!  But there are still a few areas where they have yet to change color.  I should really record peak week each year so I can plan our fall hikes to coincide.

A Recommendation

I have attended a few of these homeschool summits in the past - this is basically a free online conference with encouragement for Christian homeschool parents!  This year there will be sessions with Ken Ham and Voddie Baucham, so you should obviously sign up just for that.  But there also other speakers I have appreciated in the past, like Hal and Melanie Young, and Todd Wilson.  I expect good things!  It's happening next week, if you are interested.

A Moment Of Happiness

I took Clarice on a "mom day" last weekend.  We went grocery shopping, and I loved the feel of her dainty little hand in mine.  She insisted on riding in the cart until she was practically covered in groceries, and I remember doing the same when I was a kid.  I bought her a toy, a set of cleaning supplies.  "Mama, I can help you clean the house!" she declared excitedly.

We finished at the store, and I got her a happy meal as a special treat for dinner, since we never get happy meals when I have all the kids together.  She sat across the table, deconstructing her hamburger before she ate it, and every now and then she looked at me and gave me one of her dazzling grins.  Then she'd make a face at me to make me laugh.

She bounced along beside me as we left, like a little Tigger.  ON the way home she spotted the moon out the window.  "Mama, the moon is following us home!  He must be hungry!"  Then she laughed at her own joke, and I laughed too.

And I just kind of wish she could stay four years old forever.

Candy Corn And Hay Bales




In my memory, the air has a slight brisk feel to it.  It's late summer, but fall is just starting to whisper in the leaves, a rustling that sounds different than leaves do in the spring.  

My mom, siblings, and I are walking along rows of hay bales, wearing leather work gloves.  I stop at one and swing my arm to bring a hook down into a bale, and then I drag it across a mown field to the truck waiting at the end of the row.  Some bales are heavier than others, depending on how tightly packed they are or whether they hold wet hay.  If we think the hay might be wet, we cut the bale open and let it dry out more before my dad runs the rake and bailer over it again.

My sister and I work together on the heavy bales, double-teaming it with our hooks or rolling them over to my dad's white truck.  He is in the back, swinging his own bale hook and hauling each one up into the bed to stack.

Once the truck bed is filled with bales higher than the cab, my siblings and I climb up to the top.  We hang on to the hay bales as the truck rattles across the uneven field to the barn.  Even though the bales are fairly secure, it still feels a little like riding on jello, the bales swaying a bit with each bump.



We take them to the barn and start the stacking process all over again, this time going clear up to the barn roof.  My sister and I work together most of the time on the top of the stack.  My dad and brother launch the bales up a temporary staircase that we built in the hay stack, and we girls hook them and roll bales into their spots, 20 feet off the ground.  Later, my dad will get a ramp that works as a bale escalator, so we don't have to work so hard to get them to the top.

My favorite part is sitting in the gaps in the stack.  I always wish we could leave a little stair-step ladder of bales and a nook like this all winter, so I could come out to the barn sometimes and nestle into the warm hay with a book.  My own little secret place.

But there are always too many bales to leave any gaps, and we work all weekend to get the hay in before it gets rained on.  At the end of each long day we are bone tired, and we go inside to a hot pot of chili on the stove, candy corn, and apple cider in the crockpot.

My dad doesn't store the hay in bales anymore.  After we all moved out, he invested in a round baler. Instead of small rectangular bales to be stacked individually like Jenga pieces, the barn is filled now with round bales taller than I am.

But every time I taste candy corn, even now, this is what I think of first.  Long days in the late summer sun, trimmed fields next to a rushing mountain river, rustling leaves hinting at fall, diesel exhaust along with the sweet smell of fresh-cut hay filling the air, and learning how to work hard with my hands.





My Tips For Taking Your Own Family Photos

(Photos in today's post are from last year - I haven't been able to bring myself to sort through yesterday's disastrous photo attempts yet!)


Photos play a huge part in memory-keeping for me.  As I mentioned before, I am not great at remembering the smaller events of my life, but if I have a photo, I am able to immediately remember details that would otherwise be lost to me.

When I was pregnant with my firstborn, I realized how critical photos would be for me in my memory-keeping.  My babies all have grown too fast, and I am so glad I made sure we got some really good photos together to mark the passing of each year.  

For really big events, like maternity or newborn pictures, I've always outsourced and got my amazing photographer and dear friend to do some photos for me!  But for regular, run-of-the-mill family photos, I usually do them myself.

(Proof that I can sometimes take a good family photo with the tripod!)

Despite yesterday's photo struggles, I usually am able to get some pretty good photos each year, and I thought I would give you my best tips for taking your own family photos - or basically just tell you how I manage it.  I am still really just an amateur, hobby photographer, so your mileage may vary with these suggestions, but this is how I take our family photos.

(If you want tips for taking photos of yourself with a tripod - I can't help you, ha!  That's one tripod skill I've never mastered.  If I'm the lone adult in the picture, then it's most likely one I had Derek take for me!)

What I use:

My DSLR (I have a Nikon D5200 and a 50mm f/1.5 lens)
A tripod (this one)
A remote shutter release (this one)
My iPhone 7+



1. Scout out a spot to take photos ahead of time.  

Every time I've taken photos that have gone smoothly, it's been because I found a spot I liked ahead of time and started putting the photo together in my head.  I think about where I'll put the tripod, how I'll arrange the family, where I'll run in to join, etc.  I try to think about light and shadows and whether morning or evening would be the best.  The couple hours right after sunrise or right before sunset are best, and try to stay out of direct or dappled sunlight!  Good lighting is everything.


2. Pack an emergency photo bag.  

I usually pack a bag with things like a blanket to sit on, extra memory cards and camera batteries, candy to keep the kids happy, hairbrush, makeup, extra diapers, etc.  I've been burned before when I didn't think things through, so I try to plan ahead for problems that might arise so I'm prepared.


3. Be meticulous about getting set up.  

When we arrive at the spot I've (hopefully) scouted out, I take a couple test shots first to make sure my settings are proper and the light is good (I didn't pay enough attention to this yesterday, hence why a lot of our photos are junk).  I get my camera and tripod set up and fidget with it until it's directed right where I want the family to stand, then I have my husband go stand where I want him.  My husband is usually my focus point, because he is the only one in the family I can trust to stand still!  I get the kids arranged around him, and keep in mind to leave a space for me to stand.  

Once everyone is arranged, I go back to my camera, set the focus point on my husband, and ask him not to move his head.  Then I switch the shutter setting to the remote, go over and rearrange children if necessary, stand in my spot, and start clicking with the remote!


4. Check the photos!  

I usually have to repeat this process a few times to make sure everyone is looking good in the actual photos and everything is in focus.  I'm always sorry later when I don't take breaks and double-check the photos in the back of my camera!  I've taken a whole group of photos before, only to realize later they were all out of focus.

5.  Take a lot of shots.  

Most likely most of the shots you take with a remote are going to be just okay, but if you take a ton, you are more likely to get one that might work.

6. Be a little silly.  

In the photos where everyone is smiling, it's usually because we all just got finished yelling "chocolate cake!".  Seriously, instead of telling my kids to say "cheese", I tell them to say other foods they like.  Usually there is more giggling and general enthusiasm that way, which translates well in photos!  This is my favorite strategy for when I'm trying to get a good shot of just the kids too.  My best trick is to be a goofball, balance a pinecone on my head and then let it fall off, throw some leaves, peek out from behind a tree and make a funny face...all with my camera at the ready to catch the laughs!  It helps that my kids are quick-laughers too.


7. Tell everyone to look at one person.  

I really like a good "candid" shot, so after we try a few smiling at the camera, I usually pick a person and tell everyone else to look at them!  It turns out well when everyone is looking at one of the parents, but you have to make sure you are not just smiling blankly at the camera.  Look at everyone else as they are looking at you, or laugh a little, and it turns into a great fake-candid shot!



8.  Try tickling someone.  

When we have a child (especially a baby or toddler) who is crying, we tickle that kid.  We could be really obvious about the tickling and get more of those fake-candid shots while the kid is being tickled, like I talked about above.  Or sometimes we are really subtle about the tickling, so it doesn't cause a ruckus but leads to some good smiles.  There is a blurry line between crying and laughing, especially in photos, and sometimes tickling is the best way to save the photo session!

9.  Take it slow, and bring candy.  

When a photo session is devolving, I try to let the kids have a break to explore a little.  Often if they have time to get some energy out, they are ready to try taking another photo.   I try to take a breaks too so that we can also enjoy the experience, instead of being stressed about getting the photos done!  (Note: It's best if you start earlier than you think you need to so time is allowed for this sort of thing before you lose the light - another mistake I made yesterday.)  This can also be a good time to get more casual shots, or wider-angle shots of your kids exploring nature (I use my iPhone for this - maybe someday I'll get a better lens for scenery shots).




I have also been known to break out the candy to improve moods.  This is not normal parenting...this is parenting while trying to take photos.  Normal rules surrounding bribery do not apply.

10.  Know when to let it go.  

As I shared yesterday, sometimes photos just don't work.  I've been known to break our family photo sessions up into two shorter attempts, because little kids only last so long before they are ready to be done.  I've tried before to persevere when I could tell everyone was losing focus, and it's never gone well.  If everyone is crying and miserable, it's better just to call it quits.  You can always try again another day.  

Or you can do what I'm doing this year, and resort to getting your photographer friend to help, ha!  Some stages are just hard (ex: when you have an almost two year old), and reinforcements may be in order.  But don't let a bad attempt make you think you can't take your own family photos - it happens.  Just try again another day.


Have you ever tried to take your own family photos?  How did it go?






That Time It Just Didn't Work



I've been debating with myself on how to handle Sundays during my 31 days challenge.  I thought I might write about what our pastor's sermon was about each week, or maybe part of my testimony.  But Sundays are typically restful family days, and I didn't want to put a burden on the day, so I thought I would just play it by ear.

This morning we went to church, and the plan was to visit my mom and dad in the afternoon, and take some quick family pictures in the fall colors.  I thought I would be able to whip together a brief but insightful summary of what I learned in church once we got home and finish with plenty of time left for a TV show with Derek.

Easy as pie, right?

Not so much.

I have never had such a hard time taking good photos of my family!  The light faded too quickly, my camera wouldn't focus or my settings were off, and the kids were not cooperating.  A couple of hours, multiple crying children, and a bag of M&M's later, and I got a very small handful of usable photos.  I couldn't even get a really good one of Georgie at all.

I was fighting a grouchy mood all the way home, and even now I am just shaking my head wondering what in the world went wrong!  So if you've ever told me "I don't know how you get such great pictures of all your kids!"...well, today I'm not sure how I've ever done that either.

I'm sure I'll always look back at this year's family photos as the year it just wouldn't work.

But I hope I also remember a little bit about how cute they all looked, despite the lack of documentation.  How tall and handsome Wyatt and Clyde were in their bomber jackets.  How Gwen and Clarice beamed when I told them how ladylike they looked.  How Georgie pronounced "I wook pwetty!" in her baby voice.



I hope I remember the way all the kids breathed a sigh of relief when I finally called it quits.  How suddenly the tears turned into laughter as they threw leaves in the air, on top of their heads, into the water.

The way it felt when Georgie leaned her forehead against mine and relaxed into my arms, a tear drying on her cheek and her chubby little fingers clutching a blue M&M.

How Derek let me vent all the way home about what a disastrous attempt at photos that was and sulk for a little bit, but didn't hold it against me.  How he wrapped his arms around me and assured me we could try again.

I don't have much energy left in me to be briefly profound about anything at the moment.

But I am so thankful for my sweet family that I didn't get any good pictures of today.




Four Years Of Sunshine



Note: I have written each of my kids a birthday letter and shared it here for years, but this year I am behind...no better month to catch up than memory-keeping month, right?  So I'm going to share one of my kids' birthday letters each week until we are caught up!

Dear Clarice,

Darling, you are four years old!  The last year went by so fast, and it was a highly adorable year.

You have grown and changed so much between three and four.  This year will forever be marked in my memory as the year when we arrived home to our still new-to-us house at night, and you looked out the dark car windows and declared nervously "Mama, I sceered a' behrs."

("Mama, I'm scared of bears," if you need a translation.)

It was achingly cute, and your dad and I repeated it whenever we needed a smile.  Last year you still had something of a baby lilt to your sentences, and now you are sounding more like a big girl.  Your voice is still tiny and cute though, and you hardly speak without smiling.  Your face has lost some of it's baby roundness.

Your favorite clothes to wear right now are tutus and any items with sparkles.  You are about to start a ballet class, and you are so excited.  You've been practicing your ballet moves ever since your big sister took a class last year, and your little motions are so graceful.  I can't wait to see you all dressed and with your ballerina bun.  You're going to love it!

Your favorite toy is still your "Baby", the pink bear you have carried with you since you were an infant.  I found a back-up last year, the same bear only a white one.  You found it in my closet one day and ran up to me with your face all lit up.  "Mama, it's a white Baby!"  Now you carry around "Pink Baby" and "White Baby" everywhere (even though White Baby isn't exactly white anymore).  But I notice that Baby is with you less often than it used to be.

You started drawing in earnest this year, and your attempts at drawing our family are my favorite.  We are a jumble of round heads and stick arms and legs, with big smiles drawn on.  In one version, your brother is jumping on Daddy's head.  Sometimes you draw a picture of me and you together, and it melts my heart.

You are my child with the biggest emotions.  You either give me your brightest smile, or you come to me with the saddest little tears in your eyes.  When you are sad and I pick you up, you still curl into my lap, and I remember what it was like to hold you when you were brand-new.  I kiss your little wet cheeks and hold you until that sunshine smile comes back to your face, and it never takes long.

You are a joy, my sunshine girl with sky blue eyes and golden hair.  I thank the Lord every day that He made you mine.  You are a gift to me, Little One.  I have loved you at three, and I can't wait to see what new fun four will bring!  I am blessed that I get to be the one to watch you grow.

I love you always!


Mama




A Fall Scavenger Hunt (& Thoughts On Memory-Making)



"Mom, do you remember when we did that fall scavenger hunt?"

I have to be honest, when my son asked me this on our mountain drive yesterday, I was totally drawing a blank.

"Um, no?" I said, puzzled.

"Yeah, we had to find like a red leaf, and a spider's web, and stuff, and you gave us candy corn afterward."

I honestly have no memory of this event ever happening.

See what I mean when I say I have a bad memory?

My son insists we did this scavenger hunt though.  After searching in the far recesses of my brain, I may have a vague recollection, but I have no idea where I found scavenger hunt inspiration the first time.  In an effort to duplicate something that clearly made an impression on my kiddos, I decided to put together a scavenger hunt for them today.

I considered putting together my own list of items to find, but did some quick googling first, and boy, I'm glad I did.  There are not just fall scavenger hunts online, there are lists of fall scavenger hunts online.  I found these papers for us to try out on this website, but thought I'd share the ones that stood out to me!



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I don't think you could complete this scavenger hunt list in a day (or at least we couldn't, since it includes some items we would find in the city or plains), but it would be great to do over the course of a week or two!  I like the pictures of the items for younger kids who can't read yet, but the actual things to find are good for older kids too.

This fall scavenger hunt is great for older kids who can read, or to do together as a family! My oldest son (eight years old) is working on this one.

This is an ideal fall scavenger hunt for younger kids because it has really simple items accompanied by pictures!  I gave this one to my four year old today.

This nature scavenger hunt has pictures and words, so I think it would work well for a variety of ages!  My middle two (six and five) are doing this one as I type.

If you kids in early elementary who might be up for a nighttime scavenger hunt, this one looks fun!

This is not really a scavenger hunt, but I love these kind of identification guides.  This one is a leaf identification guide that would be handy!

And if you are in a pre-Thanksgiving mood (or just want to bookmark this for November), I liked this gratitude scavenger hunt, a Thanksgiving Day scavenger hunt, and this Thanksgiving Reading challenge!

If none of these are interesting, or if you just want to see way more options than the ones I picked out here, check out the post 18 Fall And Autumn Scavenger Hunts For Kids - they had a bunch to sort through, these were just a few that I ended up saving!

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What was interesting to me about this whole scavenger hunt conversation was how different things stick with us, and so many things just slip away.  I can barely recall (maybe?) doing a nature scavenger hunt with my kids.  I feel like it would have been when my son was in kindergarten.  But here we are a few years later, and he still remembers that we did that.

What does all this have to do with memory-keeping?  I guess this post is more about memory-making.  You can't have one without the other.  So often I think that I have to orchestrate elaborate plans or make an elaborate effort to make a memory for my kids.  But this was so simple.  It required so little effort from me that I hardly remember it the first time, but it was really fun to my son.



My kids are running around outside right now as I type this, searching for spider webs and deciduous trees and pinecones.  I found a couple printables to hand out and basically said "have at it".  I promised them "corn candy" (as they call it) if they found as many items they could.  They are laughing and exploring and shouting every time they spot something on the list.



So I guess the point I'm trying to make with memory-making is to encourage you to take heart.  You don't have to try very hard.  Do something out of the ordinary now and then.  Mix in some candy.  They most likely won't remember that it wasn't perfect. They'll just remember the fun.








Gone Fishing (And 3 Reasons You Should Go)



I have a vague memory of my parents taking us fishing once when I was a kid.  My dad's cousin knew a spot.  I remember walking there in the evening, mosquitos hanging in the air, the purple shadows and blue water.

I don't remember if we caught anything that time, but I remember the feeling of being out there at night, hoping we would catch something.

That fishing experience is largely eclipsed in my memory, however, by a Canadian fishing trip when I was twelve.  We drove for days up to Canada, then took a float plane to finally arrive at a little fishing lodge.  Sportsman's Lodge, it was called.  We woke up early, put on our rain gear, and ate Red River hot cereal for breakfast.  Then our native guides, Cecil and Roger, took us out on the water in two boats.

Now that was fishing.

We caught so many fish we had to throw some back before lunch each day.  When the sun was high, Cecil would pull our boat up onto some sandy island, start a fire, and cook up the walleye we caught.  If you have never had fresh-fried wallet on a Canadian shoreline, have you really fished? I've never tasted any other fish that was so good.

I still think of that trip and hope that I can take my kids on a fishing trip like that before they are grown.  

But in the meantime, we try to fish down here, where it's a lot harder to catch something.

Wyatt has been dying to go fishing for a couple summers now.  This was a classic case of saying "We'll try to go soon," until the summer was over and we realized we still hadn't gone.

We finally decided last Sunday was the day.  We packed up some fishing gear, packed a lunch, and went out to attempt fishing in a bright blue sky, in the middle of the day.  Actually not the best fishing strategy,  at all.  But it was just for fun, after all.















The wind was blowing something terrible, and the water was low at the lake.  But we trudged down to the shore anyway.  The kids tore off their shoes and stuck their toes in the water while Derek threaded the fishing line.  We were casting into the wind, the waves were lapping at the shore, and we only got one small nibble.  But we were outside in the sunshine, watching the pelicans having more luck than we did, playing in the sand, enjoying the quiet.

It was pretty magical.

If you've never tried going fishing, you really should give it a go.  Here are a few reasons to go fishing with your family:

1.  You really don't need that much gear.

We did most of our fishing with a $13 fishing pole, taking turns.  We also had to purchase a fishing license, fishing line and bait, and we had a net we had previously, but that was it.  I don't think fishing has to be too expensive, especially starting out.  You don't need top-of-the-line gear to have fun. It's more about the experience, in my opinion.

2.  It's a great way to get outside.

Fishing is a really relaxing way to enjoy nature.  You only have to walk as far as you decide, and then the rest of the time you are sitting or standing on the shore, so there is minimal physical exertion.  But you still get to see the beauty of God's creation up close and personal.  I think it's one of the easiest ways to do something "outdoorsy", especially with kids.  Fishing from the shore is even better with a family, because if the kids get bored, they can run around  a bit.

3. You'll make memories even if you don't catch anything.

Whether you catch anything or not, you still had a chance to enjoy nature and just be together in the outdoors.  And those near misses can be just as bonding as catching something.  All the way home our kids bemoaned the fact that some fish nibbled on our line and stole our bait, and I know they'll remember that.

Have you been fishing lately or ever?  Did you like it?





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