Guest Post: Children on the Line (or Fishing With Kids), by Mark McKay of Wicked Fishah

Today’s post – the last in our Summer Camp series – comes from my friend Mark McKay, a writer for WickedFishah.com, so you know that he is serious about his fishing! Today Mark shares with us what we need to start fishing with our kids. So pour yourself a cold one, settle back in your camp chair, and envision the fun you’re going to have catching fish with your kids!

Whether you’re a fishing aficionado, or a novice, getting your kids involved in the outdoors is a rewarding activity. Ensuring that the next generation will enjoy and respect nature and all it has to offer is something I strive to do as often as possible. This article will focus on fishing with children. We’ll discuss the basics and how to get your kids involved in an outdoor activity that will last a life time.

As you can probably guess, the basics of fishing are simple. A pole with a line and hook are a simple as one can get. For the basis of this article, we’ll keep it simple so you and your children can get out and begin enjoying fishing right away. You’ll need a few things to get started….

A fishing rod for you and your child.

A selection of small hooks.

Live bait or a selection of lures designed to catch your target fish.

A good pair of needle nose pliers or medical forceps.

A net (Certainly not required but it can be helpful).

Your fishing license. Depending on your state, a fishing license is not required for children. Be sure and check local laws.

Probably the easiest type of fishing, and the most rewarding for young kids will be fishing for “Sunfish”. Bluegills, Red Ears, or Shellcrackers, as they’re called are a small, easy to catch fish that inhabit almost every body of water in the country.

Bluegill

Fishing for Bluegills is, in it’s simplest form, as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. A small hook with a piece of earthworm will almost always be an irresistible snack for these voracious eaters. Attach a small hook (I use a #6 or #4 with my kids) directly to your line. Place a float about 6” up from the hook so the kids can see when a fish takes the bait. We prefer to use small pieces of earthworm, freshly dug up from the yard. There are alternatives to live bait if that’s something you don’t want to do. Berkeley Fishing makes a line of Power Bait that can be molded to your hook and should work just as well. Once your hook it baited toss your line into the water a few feet from shore. If the Bluegills are there, it shouldn’t take long before your bobber goes under! Gently “set the hook” by lifting the rod tip up in a swift motion, and it’s FISH ON!

You and your child have caught a fish. Now what? Here’s where the pliers and/or forceps come in. If you don’t want to handle the fish, which isn’t uncommon, you’ll use the pliers/forceps to safely remove the hook from the fish and return it to the water. Grab the shank of the hook with the pliers, and turn it so the point of the hook faces down. A slight jiggle over the water should be enough to get the fish off and swimming safely back to it’s finned friends.

These are the most basic instructions on how to fish with your kids. There are a myriad of resources available on the web if you want to take your fishing to the next level. I sincerely hope that this short article opens up a world of outdoors to you and your family.

Tight lines and tread lightly,

Mark McKay

Podcast 019: Raising Successful, Happy Daughters with Ashley Milne-Tyte of The Broad Experience

Welcome to another great Summer Camp episode! Today’s is more of an evergreen topic, because we care about the successes of our children in all seasons. It’s true that this interview is not solely about summer; but as we head back into the school year, it’s also a good time to think about how to help our kids in life. And maybe, not even just our kids – but us! I’m looking forward to sharing this great show with you, you’re going to love today’s guest.

Do you go through a daily struggle to balance your work time with your family time? Have you ever wondered if your gender plays a part in how successful you are at work, how much money you earn, whether you get a big promotion – or watch it go to someone else? Today’s guest and I talk about all things women and workplace, the subject of her very successful podcast with a great name: The Broad Experience.

Ashley Milne-Tyte grew up in London, riding public buses and then the London Tube, both by herself, to school. She spent her summers in rural Pennsylvania enjoying the kind of independence that kids used to take for granted, riding bikes or exploring the woods with friends and really only being required to “be back home for meals.” Our conversation starts with differences between childhood then and now, and progresses to where her expertise helps you – and your kids – enjoy successes both in work and life.

Listen for:

  • how the myth that “having babies” is the only thing that holds women back in the workplace is completely wrong; women have difficulty climbing as high in the corporate world as men for lots of reasons, and knowing these reasons can help women be more successful
  • what can be learned from two of my favorite books – and two books on my Fabulous Five list of books that help us be better parents – Free Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy, and Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein
  • a great piece of advice for anyone of any gender: develop the ability to advocate for yourself; to help with this Ashley recommends the book, Ask for it: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get what They Really Want, by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, which is winging its way to me from the library as I write 🙂

Ashley Milne-Tyte’s expertise lies in storytelling, and in today’s episode we really get a sense of that, as she shares stories from her own childhood, work experiences and setbacks. You’ll finish the episode with a huge smile on your face, both because you’ll have a better sense of how to be successful yourself and how to help your children be successful in the workplace when they are all grown up. You’ll also have a huge smile on your face because you’ve got so many Broad Experience episodes to listen to in your future!

Podcast 018: Build Community Outdoors with Landscape Architect and Mom, Jill Brown of mylandscapecoach.com

I’m so excited about this episode, part of our Summer Camp series in which we are setting aside our usual four themes (3R’s, Unplanned Adventures, Kids through the Ages, and Risky Business), pouring a nice tall glass of iced tea – or Long Island Ice Tea, depending on your age and what time of day it is – and going on vacation! We will return to our regularly scheduled programming in September, but for now… Let’s just enjoy summer!


Today’s guest spends her work days helping her clients love their outdoor spaces – and then along with her husband and their three young children, she spends her free time loving and improving their own outdoor space. Jill Brown of mylandscapecoach.com really practices what she preaches, cultivating not just plants but community in all areas of her life.

In the podcast, Jill shares about some really exciting projects she’s worked on! Click here to find out about the little libraries, and here to read about the poetry poles – a post amusingly called There Once Was A Man from Nantucket LOL.

And she has some great tips for us to do exactly the same! Listen for:

  • the value of hanging out, not in your backyard, but in your front yard – this is where friendships are made, trust and community are built, and fun is had
  • three fabulous ways to interact with your neighbors: putting a Little Library into your neighborhood, basically a small waterproof hut in which people leave books that they’re done with, or take books they’re interested in; putting in a Magazine Box similar to the Little Library; and using a utility pole as a Poetry Pole, a place for neighborhood poets of all ages to have their stuff exhibited
  • fun and inexpensive yard play equipment that you can build, like a simple disc swing or a fence made of electrical conduit

Jill’s blog at mylandscapecoach.com has examples and ideas for customizing these concepts for your own yard, plus it’s just a fun place to look for inspiration! I know you’re going to love our conversation today because Jill has many great ideas that you can use immediately to enjoy life more outside with your young children.

If you love something that we talked about in this episode, and went out and built something based on it, please let us know! Email me at Karen@weturnedoutokay.com, or just go to the contact page, weturnedoutokay.com/contact, and drop me a line. I’m going to be shouting about my favorites on the show, I hope yours is one of them 🙂

Great Summer Memories!

Us three in front of the trailer

When I was a kid, we used to have a camper, a 28-foot Coachmen Bunkhouse. Every August, we would take three weeks and go on vacation to the Lake George RV Park. Can you imagine? A three-week vacation. While we were there I remember:

  • that the blackberries were always in season, and my brothers and I would get ourselves hopelessly entangled in this huge thicket of blackberries at least once every year, while bringing back bowls full of blackberries to munch on
  • lots of great Dad memories: playing tennis with him and going on hikes together, watching him play Space Invaders at the campground arcade, singing around the campfire every night as he played the guitar
  • lots of great Mom memories: leaving the campground just her and me to go on shopping excursions and talking girl stuff, picking blackberries together, eating soft serve ice cream at the campground arcade, loving her amazing voice and harmonizing capability while singing around the campfire every night
  • we got the best dog ever, Kaida the Samoyed, while on vacation there one year… He was a total impulse buy at a local mall!
  • we used to have a great big station wagon (necessary for pulling the big camper) with back windows that rolled all the way down; when we got the RV park every year, my folks would let my brother and I straddle the back doors, each of us with one leg in the car and one leg hanging out, pretending we were riding horses… it was awesome! Can you imagine parents letting their kids do that today?
  • I had my first kiss at the Lake George RV Park, when I was 13 :-)… and then, when the kisser invited me back to his trailer for lunch, I remember that his mom made tuna fish sandwiches, which I totally hate tuna! But I ate it that day, with a smile on my face. The things we do for love.
  • our youngest brother said his first word, “hot,” while we were all together eating pizza in Lake George the summer he turned one… I love that we were all together for his first word

I could go on – about the huge big bonfires the campground had every night, about the friends we made and saw each year, about playing softball at the campground, about the feel of the wind on my face in the evening walking around … but I won’t.

Instead, I want to hear about your summer memories!

What adventures did you have? What disasters befell you, and what did you learn from them? What friends did you make, and do you still see them?

Also, how are you vacationing now? How do you give your children the kind of summer memories you hope they’ll look back on happily all of their lives?

I can’t wait to hear your stories 🙂

Podcast 017: Our First Q&A, and 4 Ways to Help Your Child Cope with Challenging Situations

IMG_1169This week, we take a temporary break from We Turned Out Okay’s Summer Camp series so that I can help you know how to talk with your children when a challenge arises.

Sometimes, even in beautiful summer, bad things happen, and today I share about the tough situation my family and I have found ourselves in over the last several weeks. But rest assured – we’ve still got three lovely, golden August weeks left to enjoy summer and we will do so!

One last thing before we get into the notes, this show has an epilogue, so after I have said “thanks for listening, see you next time” you still want to keep listening – I have something to share about both the Q&A, and about our dogs.… Not exactly a Hollywood ending, but a better one then I had ever thought could happen!

A Breakdown of Today’s Show

Today’s show is split into two parts, but before I get to those there is a really neat thing I wanted to share – friend-of-the-podcast Muttaqi Ismael, an amazing whiteboard video artist, has turned a favorite part of We Turned Out Okay: episode 5 – Four Risks That We Take With Our Children’s Well-Being Every Day into a fantastic whiteboard video! He’s a very talented guy, and to see the video just go to weturnedoutokay.com/017, where it is embedded… My plan is to give the video its own blog post during this month of August. Meantime, enjoy! And thank you Muttaqi – you did a great job!

Our First Q&A!

And now on to the Q&A – Jill asks: “why are my three kids awesome at swim lessons when daycare brings them, but when mommy brings them I’m practically holding their hand in the water (and that’s if they actually get in the water) – we’ve been doing swim lesson since March BTW”

We’ve all noticed this at some point in our parenting lives, haven’t we? Why do they behave incredibly well for somebody else, and freak out for us? Jill, I’m so glad you asked this question because it is such a common concern. My answer dives (pun totally intended) into my experiences with how my kids behaved when they were small at Grandma’s versus how they behaved with me – and I recorded the epilogue because, almost as soon as I hit stop recording this episode, I realized that I had been in a very similar situation to yours!

I hope you find my answer helpful, and that it helps you think of other questions to ask. I love Q&A’s, I think they’re so helpful and also they help us know we are not alone. To submit a question, you can email Karen@weturnedoutokay.com, go to weturnedoutokay.com/contact, friend me on Facebook, find me on twitter@StoneAgeTechie, on instagram@weturnedoutokay… Heck, you can even snail mail me! My address is PO Box 61, Bellingham, MA, 02019.

4 Ways to Help Your Child Cope with Challenging Situations

The main part of this show focuses on the four ways you can help your child cope with challenging situations. This came up because my family has been in a very challenging situation: about six weeks before this episode aired for the first time, we adopted two amazing, awesome dogs… And then the stress of caring for them caused a relapse in tendinosis, this condition that I live with that, at times, has left me unable to walk (which I’ve since relearned) and with extremely limited upper body and hand use.

Long story short, these wonderful dogs entered our lives and within a very short time, we had to give them up. Truly, it was either them or my health and sanity.

In this episode, I share about how heartbreaking and difficult this has been. But I also share about how grateful I am to have had them in our lives, and how amazed I am by the strength and gentleness of both my husband and our two boys.

Most importantly for you, I share about how we got through this. Because when you are in a tough situation and you don’t know how to help your kids get through it as well, it’s really helpful to have a guide. I hope you will think of this podcast as your guide!

Here are my four steps to coping with challenging situations, and helping your kids cope as well:

1) communicate with your kids; they WILL know that something is wrong, and consequently you will notice, if you try to keep everything from them, an uptick in bad behavior, anxiety, and tears; sharing with them what you can on their level reassures your kids and helps them trust you

2) help them understand that you are all in this together; be there for tears, questions, reassurances

3) find a way for them to help; children need to be needed, and when you give them a job – a truly meaningful job that truly helps you, however small – they become part of the solution

4) cherish the time we have with our loved ones; because challenging situations often include the absence of a person that they used to see a lot – whether through divorce, or death, or a cross-country move – it is really helpful to talk with our kids about how people come in and out of our lives; sometimes, people are not meant to be with us for long, or not without long intervals between seeing them, and the most important thing is to appreciate the time we have with our loved ones, and cherish the memory of them when we are not with them

Giving up our dogs due to my illness is one of the hardest things we’ve faced as a family. I’m sharing this experience with you today because I really hope it will help you with the challenges that inevitably come up in your life. Kids are amazingly resilient, and cope well with life’s challenges, especially when we grown-ups take the time to communicate with them, share in grief together, find meaningful ways for them to help, and above all teach them to enjoy the time we have with the people we love.

Summer, Time To Unplug

IMG_0072

Here’s what my 10-year-old did with our dining room table one recent morning: he built a battlefield for his Star Wars figures. I love that it’s built out of books and Lego…

And check out that book in the middle! It’s called Unplug and Play, and I highly recommend it for the games and silliness inside (in addition to its usefulness as part of a Star Wars set 🙂

How are you unplugging and playing with your kids this summer? Leave a note in the comments – it’s still July, we are all going to need inspiration from each other about how to keep everyone happy as August rolls around. You’ll be helping all of us with your ideas!

Podcast 016: Overcoming Obstacles with Voiceover Artist Anna Vocino

I’m so excited about this episode, part of our Summer Camp series in which we are setting aside our usual four themes (3R’s, Unplanned Adventures, Kids through the Ages, and Risky Business), pouring a nice tall glass of iced tea – or Long Island Ice Tea, depending on your age and what time of day it is – and going on vacation! We will return to our regularly scheduled programming in September, but for now… Let’s just enjoy summer!

Though you may not know it, you have heard the voice of today’s guest. Anna Vocino can be heard on networks like CBS and Fox Sports, in commercial campaigns for Canada dry, Disney Princess bikes, on The Young and The Restless and Jimmy Kimmel Live! and in many other places… but my favorite place to hear her voice is at the beginning and ending of my very own podcast!

Also an accomplished comedic actor, Anna was a series regular on Free Radio on Comedy Central and performs sketch and improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and at FunnyorDie.com. In today’s show, we learn that, along with a group that includes her now-husband, Anna started a theater company in Atlanta, Georgia which is still going strong 18 years later.

In addition to all of the above, my guest today has celiac disease, and as a result has relearned how to feed herself and her family, created GlutenFreeAnna.com to share her learning, and has a cookbook coming out soon.

Listen for:

  • her inspiring perseverance through the many obstacles that have been tossed in her path; from the “surprise” pregnancy and birth of their daughter while starting the theater company all those years ago, to cultivating the super thick skin required to make it in Hollywood and right on up to how Anna dealt with the autoimmune disease known as celiac, she has cheerfully taken on every unplanned adventure – and won
  • great summer memories (this show airs during We Turned Out Okay’s visit to Summer Camp, when we set aside our usual themes and just enjoy summertime) that Anna has, from going to Methodist Camp as the daughter of a minister, to attending a really great arts summer camp in Michigan with a delicious mystery dessert that she remembers well, even if she can’t recall exactly what it is now 🙂
  • the importance of a strong family bond, both in the family she was raised in and the one she is building with her husband and daughter, in Anna’s life; while she never comes out and says “family is and always has been super important to me,” this love comes through in every memory she shares, every situation she describes

If you take one idea away from today’s show, I hope it is this: autoimmune diseases come in many varieties, and if you or someone you love has peculiar symptoms that are painful and debilitating, yet no one can place, the problem might be autoimmune based, or possibly food -related. But as Anna Vocino shares with us, these problems do not have to be the end of your world; instead, they could be the beginning of a new and better existence!

Conquering Family Clutter and Disorganization: Miriam Ortiz Y Pino of morethanorganized.net Answers Listener Questions

Are you tired of all the sandals, flip-flops, sandy shovels and wet towels that clutter up your home in summer? Do you, like me, still brush past the snow pants and winter coats by the front door, even now in July? Well, then you are going to love today’s post! Because even when we are all away at Virtual Summer Camp, as We Turned Out Okay is, we need to be organized, right?

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Miriam Ortiz Y Pino of morethanorganized.net; our interview will air in September, and I know you’ll want to listen because Miriam is an expert at helping parents just like you and me organize our stuff!

Today, Miriam answers the questions of two listeners and friends, Kristeen and Sheramy.

As you’ll read, their concerns are very different, but they’re concerns that just about all of us have. I’ll turn it over to Miriam, and as you read her responses I hope you get as much out of them as I did!

Kristeen says: Ask Miriam to pretend she spends 24-7 with her six children ages 14 to 2 yrs and she would like a fool proof system to not fall behind with laundry, dishes, toy and homeschool book clutter, keeping fresh fruits and veggies in the house washed prepared and ready to serve to the always starving children and to have the kids always get along cheerfully. I’m not being sarcastic. If she has any tricks up her sleeve I’ll try them:) 

Hi Kristeen!

Sounds nightmarish to me… Not because of all the kids you have, but because it doesn’t sound like you have routines set up to help you run your household and engage the resources of your family. Here are my ideas:

  • define the spaces in your home and what they are used for
  • create a plan of action that is repeatable for each of your frustrations: a laundry plan, a kitchen plan, a schoolwork plan, a pick-up-your-stuff plan
  • yours is not a situation where a quick tip or two will solve the issues; it will require time, work, and dedication

Here’s the link to a free article at my website, about developing a system for clutter control, that will help you get started. Hope that helps!

Sheramy says: So my issue is all my time is devoted to constantly picking up what we have, with no time to declutter. I know decluttering will help with the amount of time I spend cleaning each day. Any insight on how to declutter when you have no time? 

Hi Sheramy,

Let me turn your decluttering question around, and start by stating the obvious: if you have less stuff, there is less to pick up. Everything you can get rid of will give you more time, and so your question really becomes, “how do I stop stuff coming in?” Here are my suggestions:

  • do not buy anything for 30 days (of course perishables aren’t counted); use up what you already have
  • instead of focusing on decluttering, because no one wants to deal with that, plan what you want your life to be and choose the things that help you get there… EVERYTHING else goes!

There are lots of free, specific how-to-gain-control-of-your-stuff resources on my website; I would recommend starting with this article, about controlling clutter as you go. I even offer a course called The Streamlined Clutter Solution which you may want to consider. Hope that helps!

Podcast 015: Top 11 Ways to Tire Out Your Kids

Podcast 015: Top 11 Ways to Tire Out Your Kids

For This Summer Camp episode of We Turned Out Okay, I asked you about your favorite ways to tire out your kids… And you sure responded! Special thanks to Doug Gray, Aisha Newton, Nancy Marsh, Miriam Ortiz y Pino, De Osborne, Shannon Criscola, Amy Blake, Erica Chick, John Winchenbach, my own Jason Kolp, and Deb Petrella for coming up with our most popular ways to tire out your kids.

Here they are!

  • Number 11: Go take a hike
  • Number 10: Dance Party!
  • Number 9: Have a field day
  • Number 8: Flashlight tag
  • Number 7: Indoor and rainy day games
  • Number 6: Ride bikes
  • Number 5: Noncompetitive games
  • Number 4: Obstacle course
  • Number 3: Wacky golf
  • Number 2: Nerf wars
  • (drumroll please…) Number 1: Swimming

Did we miss any of your favorites? Tell me about it! Tweet me@StoneAgeTechie or post to twitter at #oldschoolsummervaca, shout about it in the We Turned Out Okay group on Facebook, or just get in touch with good old-fashioned email to Karen@Weturnedoutokay.com.

Virtual RV Trip!

Have you ever wanted to jump in an RV with your family and take a trip, or does the idea of that make you want to run in the other direction? Right now, you can ride along with my friend Heather Kempskie of baystateparent.com as she and her family cruise the eastern seaboard in their rented Winnebago!

I love the idea of hearing about her adventures as they’re happening, and as Heather and her family are on this trip right now and she is updating her blog frequently, I can’t wait for my next fix!

Best of all, I got to interview Heather pre-trip, and she’s coming back for a postmortem interview in August, and then I will podcast the whole kit and caboodle in September. So you’ll have the live trip now, and get to hear all about it from Heather at the end of it!

In fact, do you have any questions for Heather about the RV trip? Post them here into the comments, or contact me at Karen@Weturnedoutokay.com and I will make sure they are part of our postmortem interview.

Here’s the link to Heather’s blog, RV Outtakes. I hope you enjoy it as much as I am 🙂