Hooking Something I Hate

July 088In the back of my fridge in a small white Styrofoam bowl sits something I absolutely detest – a muddy muck of worms.

The saddest part is I bought them myself.

Why would I buy something I hate? Because my 6-year-old son typed up a list of all the types of fish he wants to catch this year. Then he taped it on the back of his bedroom door. And up until I bought that nasty cup of night crawlers, we hadn’t been able to check off any of those fish types.

Now we can mark catfish off the list.

My oldest son loves fishing. He would go all day everyday if I took him. But sadly we rarely catch anything.

A couple of weeks ago I actually looked up the local fishing report before we decided where to go. It said that the Kaysville Ponds were a real hot spot for kids. A fish called a wiper was really hitting on bits of worm. WORM!

I had a serious dilemma. I could take my son to the closest pond, use our usual Power Bait and once again catch nothing. Or, I could face my fear and disgust and purchase a bunch of worms. Let me tell you, you don’t check off fish from my 6-year-old’s 2013 Fishing Goal List by sticking with Power Bait.

I did it. I walked into a gas station, went back to the small brown night crawler fridge and picked out a bowl of worm-infested dirt. I nearly gagged when my son opened it up. Those things were HUGE. And the smell! It almost did me in.

But I took a deep breath as my oldest closed the lid and proudly carried the case to the cashier. I still can’t believe I let those things in my van.

When we got to the pond I didn’t know how I was going to wriggle a worm on a hook. Let alone a bit of a worm. Somehow we were going to have to detach pieces from one of the long snake-like creepers.

Thank heavens my oldest doesn’t hate worms. I actually think he loves them. He grabbed one right off and started cutting off a piece with a knife. Then, I talked him through baiting it on the hook. I have seen my dad do this a bunch of times so I tried to describe it to him the best I could. July 089

Luckily I also happened to have a bag of marshmallows in our diaper bag leftover from our church snack pile. I put the marshmallow on, he put the worm bit on, and we cast our pole. Not five minutes went by before we already had our first fish. It was thrilling.  (Keep in mind we don’t catch fish very often.)

July 091We were fishing on a hill, which made things a little more difficult since I happened to bring my one-year-old along with his stroller, but we made do.

I hooked the fish, then grabbed my baby, ran up the hill buckled him in his stroller, ran back down the hill and helped my 6-year-old finish reeling in. We did this little dance three times before my four and one-year-olds had had enough and needed to leave.

Each of the yellow-bellied catfish we caught was tiny, yet beautiful. It was one of the funnest, wildest fishing trips we have been on. It all happened because I was willing to try something new. Something new that I thought I would hate.

We went back to the same spot a couple of days later and took my husband. We caught four catfish that night. I think we could have keep catching all night if we wanted to stay longer. It was the best.

And to think we almost missed out.

Don’t get me wrong, I still can’t believe I have a bowl full of worms in the back of my fridge. But deep down I think it both disgusts and excites me. Part of me sincerely hopes they last through a couple more fishing trips. There are more catfish to be caught.

Melting Up Some Magic

My brother and his cute new wife just got back from a honeymoon to Florida. Where they visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Universal Studios in Orlando.

They stopped by and showed us photos of Hogwarts and Hogsmeade, where they bought their robes and wands.

Naturally, after they told us of their stop to Ollivanders and the amazing wands they bought, my boys wanted wands too.

They thought my brother should have bought them some.

I tried to tell my boys that “the wand chooses the wizard” so there was no way that their uncle could have chosen a wand for them, but they still didn’t understand.

My oldest son told my brother to go home and use his Elder Wand to do a spell to send him and his brother their own wands. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that no use of the word “accio” would ever be able to summon up wands.

The next day a small box was delivered to our doorstop while we were gone running errands. My boys ran to the porch to see what it was, but were sorely disappointed when the box contained my new year’s supply of contact lenses – not their new wands.

At that point they began to realize that they might not magically get their hands on some wands.

That’s when the constant begging began for me to help them make some wands. My sister-in-law found an easy way to make authentic-looking wands on Pinterest and my boys wouldn’t let me forget it.

Finally when I could take it no longer, I found the Pinterest pin and we gathered up some supplies to make our own magic.

First off we headed to the local oriental market for a package of chopsticks. We bought a 20-pack for $3.99.

Then we came home and gathered up brushes, some acrylic paint, hot glue sticks, a glue gun and a bunch of different sized beads.

The boys took turns looking through and choosing their own beads and we worked carefully to glue them on to the bottom end of the chopsticks. The instructions I saw online said to cover the beads in glue then, after the glue was cool, to mold the wands’ handles with your hands.

That didn’t go so well for me. I ended up nearly melting my palm to a few of the wands trying to mold the ends before I decided it wasn’t worth it. Instead I ran the end of the wands under some cold water until the glue was almost all set. Then I squeezed the end with my hand to make sure the beads would stay.

The beads and glue made the handles of the wands look real. We even added a feather into a couple of the wands so that they had a “core.”

Once we had the wands molded to our liking, we needed to finish them off with paint.

The painting part was probably the fastest, but most stressful part.  I don’t know why I ever think I am a patient enough mom to paint with my children. Even though I make them wear some of my really old t-shirts I am still a nervous wreck that they are going to end up with paint everywhere.

But we survived and I am really happy with how the wands turned out.

They were really easy and my boys have been playing with them ever since. You can check out the website we looked at for instructions here.

My boys wanted to be done after we made only two wands. But after I had strewn crafting supplies all over my kitchen, I wasn’t going to stop with only a couple of wands. I made them help me finish ten. That way when we lose some (which I know we will) or when friends come over, we will have extras.

They are definitely not as fancy or as authentic as the ones my brother picked up in Florida, and I am sure they aren’t nearly as nicely made, but don’t tell my 4 and 6 year olds, to them they are still pretty magical.

Oh What Do You Do In the Summertime?

ImageSummer. The time when we don’t eat breakfast ’til 9 a.m. and don’t get dressed until noon. The time when I get my 5 year-old back and he plays happily with his younger brother – most of the time.

The time when I have to find at least one thing to do each day to get us out of the house or I’ll go crazy!

I’ve heard other moms talking about how excited they are to have their kids home again during the summer. I’m dying to know what those moms do with them all day.

I love having my boys home together, but I am always interested in ways to entertain all of us – ways that don’t include Netflix or Wii Games.

We have done a bunch of fun things during the first month of summer, and have made a pretty good list of more activities we want to do, but I want to know what you guys are doing.  How are you spending your summer?

Check out all of the fun, inexpensive things we have done so far and let me know what other things appear on your list. That way I will know what else to add to our Summer Bucket List.

Here’s what we’ve done:

1.    Wild Wednesday at The Ogden Nature Center: This is one of my boys’ favorite activities. We went the last week in May and learned about Raptor birds. At Wild Wednesdays kids are taught about a specific topic in a classroom setting, then they get to go out on the grounds and learn about it hands-on. My boys are major nature geeks so they eat those type of activities right up. Here is a link to the center’s website: http://www.ogdennaturecenter.org/

2.    The Ogden Eccles Dinosaur Park: There are a handful of things to do at the Dinosaur Park. My boys like to dig for fossils and watch employees glue dinosaur bones together. I got an email this week saying that this summer they have story time in the education center Monday through Saturday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and on Sundays at 2 p.m. They are also having a different summer project featured in the education center each week. Here is a link to their website: http://www.dinosaurpark.org/

3.    Treehouse Museum: We love the Treehouse Museum. The museum staff is always changing and improving the hands-on activities. Normally when we go, there is a craft the kids can do in the art garden and in the afternoon there is a partici-play going on where they can help act out a story on the stage. It’s a great place to go for a couple of hours. Click here for more information: http://www.treehousemuseum.org/

4.    Fishing at a community fishery: My boys like fishing whether we catch anything or not. But, I don’t like driving far and hauling a bunch of stuff with us. So, local community fisheries are perfect. We normally go to the Roy Pond – where we have actually caught some fish. Here is a link to a list of Utah’s fisheries: http://wildlife.utah.gov/dwr/fishing/community-fisheries.html

5.    99 cent miniature golf at Fat Cats: Fat Cats has an amazing deal this summer. Bowling, shoes, miniature golf and bumper cars are all 99 cents each this summer – Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. I took the boys miniature golfing and it was a blast. We plan on going back for bowling and bumper cars. Find out more info. here: http://fatcatsfun.com/

6.    Splash Pad: I think I love the splash pad more than my boys do. We have been to a couple of splash pads, but I particularly like the Riverdale one with its mature trees that provide great shade. I get to sit and visit with other moms while keeping an eye on my boys. We don’t normally stay very long, but it is definitely a great place to cool off. And it’s free! Here is a link to info. about the Riverdale Splash Pad: http://www.riverdalecity.com/meetings_events/special_events/Splash_Pad.html

7.    Matinee Movie: There are so many theaters with summer movie deals for kids with shows as little as $1 each. We went and saw Madagascar 3 (which wasn’t part of a movie deal) but hope to go see more movies, particularly if they are only $1. Normally the movie deals are for older shows, but some of them we still haven’t seen. Here are links to information on the summer programs at a few local theaters:

Megaplex Theaters: http://www.megaplextheatres.com/KidsMovieMagic

Syracuse 6 Theater: http://www.syracuse6.com/index.cfm

Cinemark Theaters: http://www.cinemark.com/summer-movie-clubhouse-2012

8.    Discovery time at the local library: My boys LOVE to read. So they love discovery time. But I like it too because they get to sing, dance around, make a craft and more! Here is a link to the Weber County Library Website: http://www.weberpl.lib.ut.us/ and the Davis County Library Website: http://www.co.davis.ut.us/library/

9.    Neighborhood Treasure Hunt: My creative neighbor put together a pirate-style treasure hunt a couple of weeks ago. It was great! She hid clues at different spots around the neighborhood and we all went loose looking for them. The kids ran around the block getting out some of their excess energy and they loved finding a box full of bracelets, rings, temporary tattoos and chocolate.

10. Water Balloon Fights/running through the sprinklers:  Summer would not be complete without my boys chucking water balloons at their poor, innocent mother. They love both filling them up and throwing them down. This is the first year they have wanted to run through the sprinkler. I’m all for it – especially on a hot day.

Our Summer Bucket List – we hope to make it to the following places:

  1. Bingham Canyon Mine – http://www.kennecott.com/
  2. Old Springs Trout Farm – http://www.coldspringstroutfarm.com/
  3. Union Station Train Museums – http://theunionstation.org/
  4. Tracy Aviary – http://www.tracyaviary.org/
  5. Hogle Zoo – http://www.hoglezoo.org/

Derby Time

My boys are 3 and 5. Well below the typical Cub Scout age. And yet this past week I found myself whittling away at a rectangular block of wood, trying desperately to make it resemble a racecar.

All because my church is putting on a Pinewood Derby Party tonight for people of all ages.

I heard about the party months ago but brushed it aside. It wasn’t until church leaders started talking it up to my 5-year-old that I had any desire to participate. He got so excited at the idea of making a racecar that I couldn’t tell him “no.”

I tried to get my dad to help him. I remember him and my brother working on their Pinewood Derby cars for hours when I was younger. I think they actually won the grand prize a couple of times.

But time ran out and we needed a car. Fast.

So I spent two afternoons hacking at two awkwardly shaped pieces of wood transforming one into a “shark car,” the other into a “fire jet.”

If it weren’t for my friend Heidi, I don’t think I would have ever thought I could do it. But after I saw the awesome Ghost Buster van and Mermaid mobile she made with her two young kids, I was inspired to grab a hack saw and try making our own cars.

Of course the boys wanted to “help” but their poor little arms couldn’t make the old-school saw move up and down. They mostly played on the lawn while I sawed until my sides hurt.

For double what I paid for the wooden block, I could have bought a precut car at the store. But this frugal mom wanted to save $4.

Thank heavens for my parent’s electric sander. It helped smooth out and camouflage the rough and uneven saw marks. If you look closely you can tell that one side of the shark’s fin cuts in more than the other, and you just may see fire jet’s curves in its slant, but it’s the best we could do.

And my boys LOVE their cars. They have been carrying them around ever since we made them. We probably won’t win any type of award tonight, but we had fun working on our first cars.

Luckily the party isn’t an official Pinewood Derby race so there aren’t any official rules. We didn’t have to worry about design or weight restrictions. Who knows what we will do when we enter a real race.

My Artistic Son Update

Several months ago I wrote about my artistic son who was drawing me out of house and home. I am happy to announce I have finally finished putting together a crafty way to keep his masterpieces. Well, most of them.

After my original blog post I had several great suggestions on what to do to keep his work. I decided to bind his best work into three books – his big book of artwork, his medium book of artwork and his little book of artwork.

I am so thrilled at how the books turned out I decided I’d share what I did – just in case you too are living with a mini Picaso.

I had hundreds of pages with sketches of Megaladon sharks, monsters, dragons, dinosaurs and more. If I would have hung his work up on my home’s bare walls, the pages would have made a wall paper several layers thick.

He has drawn hundreds if not thousands of pictures during his lifetime.

I gathered up his work from all corners of our house. There were stashes of his drawings in my bedroom, hall, closet, kitchen, van and any baby bag we have ever used. I had armfuls of pages that I laid out on our kitchen table.

I sorted out his best work and recycled the rest – yes I did let go of a few of them.

Then I placed them into three different piles based on page size. I trimmed each page’s edge to make them all uniform in size.

My good friend Jolene let me borrow her do-it-yourself binding machine. After getting each pile in an order I liked, I used the machine to punch the sides. My boys were so excited about he books they wanted to help. (It probably took twice as long with their “help” and I know I lost my temper a couple of times, but oh well.)

I bought thick comb-style binding and plastic covers from my local office store’s copy center. When all the pages were punched, I laced the binding through and voila! Instant art books.

I made six total – three for my 5-year-old and three for my 3-year-old.

It took me several weeks to get all of this done and of course my sons haven’t stopped drawing, so I’ll have to do this all again in a year or so. But I love flipping through the pages and seeing their talent grow.

I also love that my oldest has moved past his mom’s-always-angry-in-my-artwork phase. He has now started drawing me straight-faced. It’s not a smile, but it’s a vast improvement.

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Lucky Gems

Some people are born lucky. We make our own luck around here. Or at least we did a couple of weeks ago. We made “lucky gems” to help my son deal with his stressful kindergarten life.

My oldest started school the last week in August and was super excited for his first day. But after a couple of days, he started complaining of a tummy ache.

I am pretty sure that tummy ache was a direct result of him being thrown off by a new schedule and new surroundings. He was getting nervous and anxious and that not only made him sick to his stomach, but it broke my heart as well.

One day he said he needed something lucky to take with him. We were rushing to get out the door and all I could find was a shark-imprinted penny that we made at Sea World. He  popped it into his pocket and we rushed him to class.

But I was nervous all day that he was going to come home empty handed and we wouldn’t be able to replace the coin we got on vacation earlier this year. That’s when I decided to help him make some “lucky gems.”

When he got home from school, we gathered up small, pocket-sized stones and put them in one of his collection boxes. A couple of days later we transformed those “stones” into “gems” by decorating them with craft paint.

He was so excited.

I told him that he could pick one out each day to take to school with him. And, because they are just stones from our flowerbed, if he accidentally loses one, it won’t be the end of the world.

For some reason the stones make him feel less stressed. He honestly believes they make him lucky. It reminds me of when Ron drinks “liquid luck” in Harry Potter 6.

Since we painted the stones, I haven’t heard one complaint from my son about his tummy. Who knew that having a hand-painted stone resting inside your pocket would mean all the difference in the world? It’s amazing what a little “luck” can do.

Fishing Up Some Fun

Here are the six beauties we caught at the trout farm.

I have been fishing more times this year than I have ever been in my entire life. Not because I have found a new love for the hobby that lets you bait innocent swimmers hook line and sinker, but because my boys have.

They have asked me to take them fishing more times than I can count this summer. And although I was reluctant at first to take them on my own, my feelings have changed.

We absolutely love fishing. Who wouldn’t love spending time with her little boys enjoying nature and doing something they enjoy?

Most of the time we stay close by, fishing in a local community pond. When we do actually catch something, I rely on the mercy of nearby fishermen who help us scoop up and unhook our kill. I think they take pity on the helpless housewife who is trying to support her sons.

I love to support them and do things that they enjoy, but don’t get me wrong. I am not always the perfectly patient fisherman’s mother.

Sometimes I am stressed out of my mind trying to keep my little one from wading in as well as sending every fish within a 50-foot radius scrambling as he chucks giant pebbles into the pond from the shore. It’s hard to watch him from the corner of my eye while trying to help my oldest cast without hooking any live objects on its way into the water.
There have been some memorable trips this summer.

Like the time we brought a box of Legos along for my 3-year-old to play with on the shore while my oldest cast out his line. A couple of the Lego instruction sheets caught air as the wind blew by and they ended up floating several yards away in the pond. There was no way I was wading through the fish-infested murky water to save a couple of Lego design sheets.

But my boys were devastated so I tried my best. I was able to scoop a couple of the sheets up with our fish net, but one page drifted to the pond’s center island and is probably still sitting there, waiting for the seagulls to build something amazing.

Then there’s the time we invited the neighbors to go to the trout farm in North Ogden. I don’t know what possessed me to think I was brave enough to go there by myself, without my husband. Not only did I think it was a good idea, I thought it was a good idea to take three neighbors who had never been fishing along.

I had to unhook each fish – and after the first one was hooked in the eye, I nearly gave up. But we did it. Luckily a couple of the fighters actually flung off the hook on their own. Then all we had to do was grab their slippery, slimy bodies with our bare hands and chuck them back into our water bucket. It was an adventure. We caught 11 fish between the two families that day and the kids had a blast. I was splashed with fish pooh and blood, but I wouldn’t trade that day for anything.

And I don’t think any of us will forget the day the Department of Natural Resources planted 1,000 albino rainbow trout on the bank next to where we were fishing. We all stood mesmerized as the fish flew from the back of the truck down into the pond.

My boys still talk about those albinos.
Last week was another highlight. I made my husband and boys go with me to the Utah State Fair. I love the fair, having worked there during a public relations internship in college. I thought I knew everything there was to see and do at the fair. But I didn’t know there was a fishing pond south of the DNR building.

You should have seen my oldest son run around in circles when the DNR representative told him he got to catch and release a catfish. He has dreamed of catching a catfish for nearly his whole life.

I never knew that I myself would be so excited to see an ugly slimy, slippery fish with facial whiskers. And although we didn’t get to take the nasty-looking guy home (my boys don’t like eating the fish we catch anyway) it was awesome.

We’ve had a lot of awesome moments fishing this year and we have a lot of stories to tell. We aren’t pro fishermen by any means, many times we go and we don’t catch anything, (I wish we could find more of those planted albinos,) but fishing has become something we all love.

Yes I said “we.” I can honestly say that I love it too. Not because I love catching the “big one” but because I love being with my boys and doing something they love.

I hope we get to go on many more fishing trips, and that one day my boys get old enough to unhook their own fish.

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