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

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 🙂

Summer, Time To Unplug

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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!

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!

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 🙂

Picture Preview!

Welcome to We Turned Out Okay: Summer Camp Edition! All summer, I am highlighting not just my favorite things about summer, but yours! Every podcast and blog post during July and August 2015 shares our favorite summer activities, memories, and pastimes. If you have a summer favorite to share, well, that’s easy! Shout about it here in the comments, Tweet me@StoneAgeTechie , email me at Karen@Weturnedoutokay.com, or go to weturnedoutokay.com/contact. I’ll be bringing my favorites into the podcast, so you might just hear about yourself on the show!

My interview with Andre Nguyen of iPhoneographyinsiders.com drops into your phone – if you’re subscribed to the We Turned Out Okay podcast in iTunes or stitcher, that is – this coming Tuesday. Andre shares some really great ideas and apps for taking amazing pictures with just your iPhone, and before our interview he gave me some great advice for taking pictures of this amazing thing, the net on the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston. With his advice, I really took some fabulous pictures… Here are two of my favorites!

IMG_1037 Isn’t it amazing?

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For people who just need to be under the net checking it out, the city provides Adirondack chairs! I sat under the net for an hour, with my toes in the grass, on a beautiful summer evening. And then I left to catch my train home – and came upon this group of buildings:

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The difference between these two pictures was just a simple piece of advice given to me by Andre!

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Same buildings, sunlight coming from the same spot, one was taken an instant after the other… Andre’s tip was to tap on the iPhone at the light source. That is the only change! For more awesome advice, listen to Tuesday’s We Turned Out Okay podcast, when he talks not just about landscapes and sunsets but great family pictures too!

Campfire Cooking is The Best!

Welcome to We Turned Out Okay: Summer Camp Edition! All summer, I am highlighting not just my favorite things about summer, but yours! Every podcast and blog post during July and August 2015 shares our favorite summer activities, memories, and pastimes. If you have a summer favorite to share, well, that’s easy! Shout about it here in the comments, Tweet me@StoneAgeTechie or with #oldschoolsummervaca, email me at Karen@Weturnedoutokay.com, or go to weturnedoutokay.com/contact. I’ll be bringing my favorites into the podcast, so you might just hear about yourself on the show!

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To kick off summer, here’s a Kolp family favorite: put something on a stick and roast it. For years, we have roasted classic s’mores in our backyard, or while camping, but three or four years ago my husband Ben invented a different kind of s’more when he stuck not a piece of chocolate into the melty-marshmallow-and-graham-cracker-sandwich – but a peanut butter cup!

And so began a new era of invention with s’mores, always including marshmallows (of course!) but with every other ingredient varying according to the whim of the maker. Leaving out the graham crackers and instead making a melted chocolate sandwich, stuffing chocolate or peanut butter cup inside the marshmallow before roasting, layering graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallow before roasting in a rack… there are a lot of different ways to make s’mores it turns out.

It’s also been fun to branch out into non-sweet foods. Roasting hotdogs over a fire, spearing asparagus and roasting it, wrapping potatoes in aluminum foil and placing them on the coals are all really delicious treats, and somehow better because they were cooked with fire.

And then a few weeks ago, the book shown above, Easy Campfire Cooking, fell into my lap! It is a great resource for all things campfire cooking, and if you’ll notice from the picture I got out of my library, so it cost me absolutely nothing (except overdue fees…) and we get all the benefits of the recipes and ideas for cooking with fire.

What do you like to cook using fire? Whatever it is, I hope you get the chance to enjoy it this summer 🙂

We’re Going to (Virtual) Summer Camp!

My brothers and I, toys to attack with water :-)
My brothers and I, toys to attack with water 🙂

We Turned Out Okay is spending the month of July and August on vacation – and we’re taking you with us! Each blog post, every podcast during the next two months will be spent sharing great memories, making great memories, and soaking up the sun. We are talking with some amazing guests and hoping to hear your stories too – share here at the website (in the comments below or at weturnedoutokay.com/contact), friend me on Facebook (Karen Lock Kolp), or share with me on twitter @StoneAgeTechie or #Oldschoolsummervaca

Cheers to a great summer!

A Book You’ll Love

Author Mark Brown and illustrator Amy Brown's new book!
Author Mark Brown and illustrator Amy Brown’s new book!

Gratitude has been a huge part of my recovery from my mystery tendon illness. Listeners to the podcast, especially episode 000, will know that for nearly 4 years I’ve kind of randomly had limbs that just stop working; I spent some of 2011 and 2012 needing a wheelchair when I left the house, stopped being able to use my elbows in 2013, and then devastatingly lost almost all the use of my hands in 2014.

But it turns out that it wasn’t really random, that I’ve had trouble with tendons where the muscles around them are weak. Tendons, for those of you who’ve never had to think of them, are what hold our muscles to our bones. Unhappy tendons scream with pain, as anyone who’s ever had tennis elbow knows. Also, unhappy tendons take a really long time to heal, sometimes years. That is certainly been the case with my tendons!

So what you do when you lose the ability to shave your legs standing up, or walk, or twirl your spaghetti?

You learn.

You learn patience, teamwork, that you are valuable for more than what you are physically capable of.

You learn gratitude.

Of course, we do not want our children – we don’t even want our worst enemies – to learn lessons this way! It really sucked.

So then the question becomes, how do we teach gratitude?

Well, here is what the husband and wife team of Mark Brown and Amy Brown did: they wrote a book about a pig. And not just any pig; this guy has a lot to teach about patience and gratitude, and being in the moment… My 10-year-old called the book “awesome” and especially loved the pictures. I love those, and the sweet poetry that accompanies them.

Additionally, Mark and Amy have partnered with a charity called Know. Think. Act., And through this charity every copy of Zen Pig sold provides 10 people with clean water for a whole year.… So in purchasing this book, not only are you helping teach these principles that, as parents, we really care about. You are helping people in need of clean water get it.

As the pig says: “care for each other/as much as yourself.” I’d love to hear your stories of how you are teaching your children this! Leave a note in the comments, or email me at Karen@weturnedoutokay.com. And then, go hug your little ones and be grateful together 🙂

What’s Really Important In Your Life?

I want you to drop everything and go watch the following YouTube video, which is kind of long but really worth it:

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.

Go ahead, I’ll wait for you.

Back? Great.

I blogged about The Last Lecture in my homeschool blog, The Stone Age Techie, years ago – before I had my run-in with mystery tendon problems.

Then, as now, I felt that Mr. Pausch was the universe telling me to really think about the most important aspects of life. I love his concept of building a safety net, and really thought about my blog as part of that safety net, because, when my boys are all growns up, they’ll be able to look back on that blog and realize how very much I loved them and strived (strove? well, anyway, worked really hard) to support them as they grew.

But now, having been through these years with the mystery tendon problems, I recognize something else in Mr. Pausch’s lecture: a sense of gratitude. He is so vibrant and full of life that idea of gratitude is communicated through everything he does, there is just the sense of a real zest for life, even as he is dying. It’s clear that he is thankful for every moment he’s had and will have, that he’s grateful to have had the chance to fulfill his dreams, and especially that he’s grateful for the chance to help other people fulfill their own dreams.

I feel like that is the essence of gratitude: it’s not just about me, it’s about what I can do for others.

So that’s this week’s homework, friends and folks: answer one of these two questions.

1) What are you grateful for? What has someone done for you, or given to you, that you feel a true sense of gratitude about?

2) How are you helping others achieve their dreams? And, who are you helping achieve their dreams?

Tell me about it here at the website (in the comments below or at weturnedoutokay.com/contact), by friending me on Facebook (Karen Lock Kolp), or sharing on twitter, where I’m @StoneAgeTechie… Who knows but that we can help each other achieve our dreams? The universe is a funny place.