Opening A Child’s Eyes

It is so rewarding to open a child’s eyes to something new and exciting. Our family recently had this opportunity again this past weekend when we stopped in for a visit with my inlaws. They had our niece with them for the weekend and we just happen to have two kayaks in the truck for a brief paddle on the lake near their campsite. (Yes, I know we have whitewater kayaks and this is a lake, but water is water when you can’t get to a river.)

We see our niece once, maybe twice a year so this was quite the treat. Although, we do not know her very well, she seemed very interested in the kayaks and asked a ton of questions on the way to the lake. (Yes, that is a winter hat and mittens on her head and hands. It was quite chilly this weekend.)

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When we reached the lake the boys suited up entered the water.IMG_1083

That is when she took her position at the docks edge, got comfortable, and watched closely.

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Even talking Uncle Terry into rolling his kayak. ( it was pretty cold on this particular day)

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Then the offer was made for her to try it. She was not too sure but said she just wanted to sit in a kayak next to the dock. This was done and it took only a few minutes until she asked for a paddle and gave it a try. I think you would all agree that the smile says it all.

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I think we may have a another paddler in the family.

It was such a pleasure to spend time with her and show her how our family has fun. We don’t get to spend much time if any with much of our family but the offer is always there for anyone to join us in our adventures.

 

 

 

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A Littel Girl’s Wishes Are Granted

Nothing makes me happier when I see a spark in the eyes of a child who loves to be outdoors. Even at a young age you can tell if you have one of these children or not. I have a family that I offer childcare to that has one of these children. She is just shy of three years old and often tells us that she wants to do the things we do, such as kayak, standup paddle, hike and go fishing. She helps me pack supplies every Friday for whatever it is that we have planned for our weekends and every single Friday she says she’s going to come too. I knew this past Saturday we were going to have a pretty low key day at the beach so our son could give paddling a try so I asked her parents if we could borrow her for the day. They happily granted us this request which meant her little wish was was going to come true. She was finally going to get to kayak, standup paddle and go to the beach with us.

We packed up our supplies as usual adding her water shoes, suit, towel and PFD right along side of our gear. We talked about what we were all going to pack for a picnic, who would all be coming along and so on. We made a list for her mommy and daddy of all the supplies she would need to bring Saturday morning. And, I also added, that she needed to go to bed like a good girl and sleep a long time because Saturday would be her big day.

She showed up Saturday morning and we all packed into the truck and off we headed…to the beach. Upon arrival, she could not change into her suit fast enough. We hauled all our gear to the edge of the beach, laid down some safety rules (no entering the water without a life jacket on) and then it was play time.

Her first wish was to try kayaking. We did bring our recreational kayaks for her to ride with one of us in but my husband was the first one in his whitewater kayak. She immediately ran to him and he just sat her on top of his kayak skirt and she was all smiles.

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We eventually got her to get into a recreational kayak with me and we paddled the lake for a bit before she said it was time for the standup paddle board. She wasted no time hopping on but was a little more unsure about this ride than the kayak. I think she expected sides on the board and obviously there are no sides to hold you in.

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Her biggest wish was to paddle by herself. She is three and it’s all about independence so my husband granted this wish but dropped down to his knees because she was not brave enough to stand.

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She was one happy little girl, doing all these big girl sports. After some time though, the little kid came back out in her, my husband and my son. They all joined her in building a sand castle together.

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We called this Addie’s Island and it even had a waterfall!!!!

About two hours into our day her little belly started to get hungry so it was picnic time. I knew exactly what she all asked for and most of it was granted along with a few of her favorites, like green peppers and hummus.

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We really all had the best time. She was a complete angel the entire day. She enjoyed playing in the sand, getting to ride alone in my husband’s kayak while we spun her in circles and even using her big muscles to paddle with me really fast to beat my son back to shore for our picnic. It was a wonderful day!

I should point out, this is typically not part of what I do for my daycare families. I don’t often see this spark in a child anymore and it is quite heartbreaking that many kids will never get to experience things like this in their lifetime. This is the same child that requested to come hiking with us one day and we also granted her this wish back in Spring. Since then, her parents have followed along and have taken her camping for the first time and also on a few hikes. I am so proud they are encouraging and granting her the opportunity of an active lifestyle in the outdoors.

I am also very thankful they granted us the opportunity to have this day with their daughter. The big hug, kiss and thank you I received when I went to put her into her car seat before leaving the beach for home made me so proud. I am quite sure she will remember this trip for a long time.

A big Thank You goes out to her mommy and daddy:)

 

Weekend Highlights: A Visit With Friends at Clark Lake

This weekend we made our way to Clark Lake to visit some friends and spend some time on the water. For awhile now we have been talking about checking out this lake and Saturday seemed to be perfect. Hot, humid and sunny in Green Bay meant my hubby would be miserable so we headed to Door County where it was sure to be cooler.

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We arrived and it was 10 degrees cooler, no humidity and quite windy which meant my hopes for a nice time on the water quickly faded. I was bummed to say the least. We arrived at their cabin and not long after that the sun decided to come out. (I was getting happier) We decided to drive the short distance to the other side of the lake where the small beach area was and to my surprise it was much calmer and gorgeous. (I was now very happy again)

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We had a great time with the kayak and SUP we brought and really enjoyed chatting on the beach. Both my friend and her husband tried out kayaking for the first time and one even got brave and tried the SUP. However, kayaking seemed to be her preferred paddled watercraft of choice.

After a few hours at the beach we loaded everything back up, had a nice lunch at their cabin and then they took us for a tour of the lake on their pontoon.

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It was a wonderful end to a gorgeous Saturday with friends. I know we will be returning again to play on this lake in the near future and hopefully spend some more time together away from the big city we live in.

We are very grateful to have had such a wonderful day at a cozy cabin on a wonderful lake.

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Kayaking With A Newbie- A Guide’s Checklist

It’s almost time to start thinking about dusting off our kayaks and going for a paddle. I thought I would give you all some good information we have learned over the years about taking a newbie kayaking with you. I remember clearly all my fears as a newbie and think this could benefit many others.

I will never forget the first time my husband begged me to try kayaking with a friend of his. I was not willing and said I never would be. So he took our son and the three of them went. Our son tipped over the first paddle stroke he took and they arrived home raving about the experience. I just shook my head in mom fashion and said I was glad they had a good time. End of discussion!

However, that was not the end of my husband trying to get me to go. It’s all I heard about, everyday, for days on end. Then one night he arrived home from work and waited patiently for my last child to be picked up and my work day to be over. He told me to go change, and get in the truck, we were going kayaking with his friend and he was not taking no for an answer. I spoke my mind, said I was not going and that was that. Well, about 20 minutes later I found myself in the truck, not speaking to my husband and very unhappy. I finally just gave in, because I figured it would just be easier. I assumed I would hate it and I would never have to hear about it again. Little did I know how wrong I was.

We bought our first two recreational kayaks that next weekend. One more a few weeks after that. One year after having those, we bought our first two whitewater kayaks and a year after that I purchased my whitewater kayak. Which left us with two recreational kayaks for friends to join us. And we sold the third recreational kayak to my brother.

We wasted no time learning the ropes of this sport. We took a rescue class in a pool setting during winter one year, we purchased all the proper gear and also made sure to read up on the rivers we wanted to kayak. We knew this would all be very important if we ever wanted to have friends join us. A great book we find very useful for our area is:

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Since then, we have taken friends and family along for some paddling fun. Many really have no idea what to expect and others are into trying everything the first time in a kayak. When you are the one guiding the trip of the day,  there are a few important rules you should follow. Like everything in life, their first time in a kayak can be whatever they wish it to be. It can be an adventure, a wild ride, a relaxing paddle, a way to connect to nature or quite the workout. However, it can also be a terrible, dangerous, miserable experience if they are not prepared for what could happen on a river in a kayak. That is where you, as the “guide” comes into play. A good guide can really make or break any trip. Here are some important pointers as a guide of a newbie:

#1 Check that everyone has the proper gear before leaving home. Examples:PFD, helmet, spare keys, water, sunscreen, portage shoes, snacks etc. Also, make sure their PFD fits them.

#2 Let someone (neighbor, friend, parent) know what river you are doing, from what point to what point and when you expect to return home. Just in case!

#3 Get the current weather forecast. If possible, try and take a newbie on a nice day. It’s not so cold and miserable when they decided to swim instead of paddle:)

#4 Give details of the river they will be paddling. Some of the most common questions for us when we are guiding a trip is: How do we portage? How many portages are there? Do I have to portage? Is there a place to change? What should I wear? (These last two are normally asked by females) Letting them know what to expect always seems to help.

#5 Stress proper hydration/nutrition throughout the day. Tell them to bring water and somehow secure it into their kayak. Remind them throughout the day to drink. You would be surprised how many people forget to drink. Also, ask them often how they feel. Would they like to stop for a snack? Are they comfortable?

#6 Assist them on paddle strokes and the feel of the kayak upon entering the water. Before you even start paddling, make sure they understand how to hold the paddle, what strokes do what, make sure their seat is adjusted correctly, and they are comfortable with their kayak. Making adjustments mid river is not always easy or possible for that matter.

#7Make sure you take them to a river you are familiar with. I cannot stress this enough!!! They are depending on you to know what is coming next. Especially with a river that has rapids. If they change their minds when they start to hear the rapid around the corner, you know where and how much time you have to get them out to portage before they are committed. Be a knowledgeable guide about the river you are on.

#8 Don’t push them too hard. Ask if they are tired and would like a break. Remember you paddle often, they do not. If they want to try something new, let them. On the other hand, if they need to think about it for awhile or watch someone else first, let them do so.

#9 Stress what to do in a roll over. This is usually the scariest thing for newbies, but let’s face it, it sometime happens. Tell them exactly what to do. Tell them in what position to float downriver, never to get between their overturned kayak and a rock and to swim to the rivers edge when possible. Explain to them how to wet exit their overturned kayak.  Remember it’s all about priorities. Rescue order should be people, boats, equipment.

#10 Bring First Aid. This is what dry bags are for. Accidents happen. You don’t need much, but when you need it, you will be glad you had it. We have used our first aid a couple times. From simple bandaids to gauze wrapped with duct tape. (Yes, duct tape! Holds great in water)

These are the basics for taking a newbie kayaking. Just keep in mind, a great guide can really make a great trip. If you want your family and friends to join you, show them you can be fun and knowledgeable all at the same time.

Safe and Happy Paddling Everyone!

 

 

Hey Dad, We Should Go Kayaking…

Hey Dad, we should go kayaking! This is exactly what I heard last night!

Oh boy, I believe it’s going to happen. My boys were discussing at dinner last night taking the kayaks for the first paddle of the year this weekend.

Temps are suppose to hit 50 degrees, which means there is nothing I can say to stop their plans. I will keep you posted with pics if this all happens.

Myself, I am digging out my hiking boots and planning hike. I know it will be muddy, wet and predicted to be windy but nothing will keep me indoors this weekend. We have not had a temperature of 50 in months…. I am almost giddy with excitement.

Plus, today we have a birthday celebration planned that is bound to be exciting. I will try and post some pics tonight.

Have a Great Weekend Everyone!

 

Smoked Fish, Tennis and Another Boating Activity

On the 4th. of July we decided to hang around home and get to some things we have been meaning to accomplish for some time. My husband has been meaning to smoke some fish but it’s a timely process, and let’s face the facts, who has enough time on the weekend? Not us! So he did what he needed to do, and a few hours later we were the lucky taste testers.Yum, Yum!

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While he did that, I went shopping for graduation party supplies, washed both our vehicles, and started packing for the two upcoming days worth of water activities.

Later in the afternoon, it was hot,humid and sunny. Which gave me the strong urge to play tennis. I love to play when it’s hot, the hotter the better. I was amazed when I did not even have to beg for him to play, he was ready and willing. So, to the court we headed.

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We arrived at our favorite court and found that one side of the court was nicely shaded(his side)

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and one side was nice and sunny(my side)

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So, we battled it out for about an hour. It was a great game, and I couldn’t have been happier playing with anyone else. Thank you honey!

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That pretty much ended our day. Only to wake up this morning bright and earlier to hit the road.

He had asked days ago if we could all go fishing as a family on Friday, since we all had the day off. This may shock you, but yes, we do own another piece of water craft that you all have not heard me mention before. We hitched up our fishing boat, and headed to a lake my husband grew up fishing on with his grandfather. We started our day with a beautiful sunrise.

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This lake is actually three lakes all connected together by a swamp like area that you can maneuver your way through if your careful.

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It’s like a turtles little piece of heaven, with logs and lily pads everywhere.

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It’s a beautiful area. When we arrived it was so peaceful.

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As usual, it did not take long for my husband to catch the first fish.

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And the second fish…

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Then my son decided it was his turn to catch one.

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Let’s just say, he had nothing to brag about to his buddies, but a fish is a fish.

I, on the other hand, did not catch a single fish the entire day. Maybe I was a bit too relaxed enjoying the piece and quiet.

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The fact that I had fun, is enough for me.

After some hours of fishing, we arrived home to unload and repack for our kayaking adventure tomorrow. We are headed to a river we have not been down for two years because of low water levels. There is a good sized group of us going, and should be fun. Time will tell….

Until then…

A Father’s Day Paddle

There were no gifts exchanged in our home for Father’s Day. My husband’s wish for today was a great paddle down our favorite river, and he received just that.

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Father and son side by side on the surf.

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Mother nature cooperated perfectly, blessing us with beautiful blue skies all day.

We even had the pleasure of introducing my husband’s work partner to the river we wanted to a week ago, but had to go else where because of high water levels. This is always exciting for us. Either they love it and try everything or they hate it and never return. He was very willing to try just about everything. From sliding down the big rock using my kayak,because it was just safer than his for this stunt.

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To getting his first surfing lesson. Instructions coming from our son, and the rescue boat being my husband. (I was just the picture person)

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Then it was boogie board time. This was the first time this year in the water playing. Temps had finally warmed up to tolerable,and it was terrific.

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We ended the day with a smiling kayaker, which for us means success.

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Then it was time for our tailgate Father’s Day dinner and the very tired drive home.

Hope you all had a great Father’s Day!