Island Camping

It was my brothers idea and it wasn’t even a bad one. (As his sister I’m required to say stuff like that.)

As kids we had taken many summer trips island camping in the flowages of northern Wisconsin and now that our own kids were all out of the major diaper/nap/crying stages he suggested we do it again.

The weather was rather…

…uncooperative……but it didn’t matter.

There was still fishing…


…and canoeing…


… and kayaking..

… and games…

… and sand to play in…

…and boats to learn to drive…


…and general silliness with cousins…

… and one very happy, very tired, rather stinky dog.

As we packed up on Sunday that brother of mine had another idea.

He said we should do it again next year.

I agreed wholeheartedly.

Because sometimes that brother of mine has really good ideas.

For accuracy’s sake I feel compelled to note that while we started with seven people more family joined us throughout the trip until we numbered 12. I however took more pictures of kids, bumblebees and my dog than anything else and they are all highly underrepresented in photos. Sorry family! 

Shake It Off

How was your holiday weekend?

Were you as lucky as we were and able to turn it into a weeks vacation?

A trip with family and friends, canoeing and fishing,Canoeing

swimming, and running,three girls wading in the pond

kite flying and picnicking,

Yup, we picnicked with our Foosball table- cut the grilling operation out of the picture- everybody knows what that looks like!

Yup, we picnicked with our Foosball table- cut the grilling operation out of the picture- everybody knows what that looks like!

fireworks and all?firework

Are you still in the habit of lazy days, afternoon drinks and delicious dinners?Beautiful evening

If so, take a deep breath, savor the memory of reading in the sun and shake it off.Storm shaking

Because, if you are like me, you are home alone with kids used to constant company and entertainment and there’s nobody else around to help with dinner.

The vacations over – Trip shaking -just shake it off!


Perfection Pending

The Final River Run?

Every year, my friend Steph and I paddle the canoe race in Pewaukee known as the River Run.

Every year my Mom and her friend Donna paddle faster than us.

Every year the big sign for the River Run goes up in Pewaukee but this year a small handwritten sign was taped on top of it: “Final River Run”

To which all of us said: “WHAT?”

When we got our preregistration letter we found out more. The Kiwanis Club organizes the race as a fundraiser for the community and they feel they are bringing in too little money to make it worth while. To which I say… well, I say a lot of things to that, but it can be summed up in one short: “Huh.”

Saturday was the morning of the final River Run,  a lovely, 40 degree, rainy, April morning. Which was ugly to wake up to but not as ugly as the sleet that fell on us as we were getting our boats ready.

We all hid in our cars with the heaters running until the last possible minute, jumped out, threw the canoes in and started racing.

Fortunately it was no longer sleeting, just raining and really, it was fine. In fact by the time we were ten minutes into the race I told Steph not to worry I was doing great. I had improved to only not being able to feel two fingers on each hand. Things improved even more when the rain stopped and we warmed up enough to throw our winter hats into the bottom of the boat.

By the end of the race I was wishing I had time to rip off my rain jacket and we had only three boats in front of us. My Mom and Donna, just barely still in sight, a man racing a solo canoe and two guys in an aluminum boat.  I said to Steph that while I had become accustomed to getting beat by my Mom I was not OK with losing a sprint to the finish to a big ole aluminum canoe.

We dug in, chased them down and passed them by. And let me just tell you, it doesn’t matter that our canoe was a much faster boat then their aluminum beast, it’s still incredibly satisfying to pass up two men in a sprint to the finish.

Unfortunately even our final sprint wasn’t enough to close the gap to Mom’s canoe and they beat us again. It did however place us decidedly faster than John and his friend Steve, which helps makes up for that getting beat by old ladies thing!

A few hours later we showed back up at the finish for the award ceremony, and missed it. Which was surprising because we were only five minutes late and the award ceremony has never started until it was at least 10 minutes behind schedule.  Soon we discovered why. The lovely, unvarnished, pine board and plexiglass plaques given as awards had run out. In past years they had always been busily hammering the plexiglass over the fill in the blank paper that makes up the award. No plaques, no hammering, and they were right on time. We picked up our pieces of paper and headed home, completely miffed that the awards we had complained about for so many years had been downgraded to a piece of paper.

Now, let me do a quick re-cap for you. The Kiwanis have declared this to be the last River Run because they don’t have enough participants bringing in enough money to make it worth while.  Meanwhile, we woke up early on an extra cold wet, sleeting day, paid our race fee, despite freezing fingers managed to paddle faster than almost everyone else and were given a piece of paper that I’m not even sure I can hang in the chicken coop for our efforts.

Huh, I think sums it up nicely.

Don’t Forget to Pack Your Straw!

This past weekend we went up to the Superior area for a long weekend full of: train rides, birthdays, fathers day, swimming, fishing, boating and friends.

We’d love to visit the area more often except for the tiny problem of the 6 hour drive. And that is only the driving.  Peeing, eating, diaper changes, leg stretching, and waiting out a large thunderstorm with lots of tornadoes that just happens to be hanging out over the road you need to follow to get home, are all extra.  Once we added those in our drive home was about nine hours!

Now before someone says, how its not so bad , “just jump in the car pop a movie in and you’ll be set,” lets just set something straight.

We do not have a TV in our home.

We do not have a DVD player or anything like it in our car.

It is likely to stay that way indefinitely.

I like to think this is a good thing.  I might be wrong, it may be unreasonable, but I’ve been known to cling stubbornly to unreasonable ideas before. I have kept up my own personal ban of the Harry Potter movies for many years now, and lived most of my life in a TV-less environment.  I think I can swing keeping movies out of my vehicles.

For now both of our girls are very good in the car, and really the only problem is I keep forgetting to pack my earplugs…

Have I ever mentioned my oldest daughter’s ability to talk?

Have I mentioned that she LOVES the captive audience a car creates?

So, knowing that we had a big car ride, and that if a certain someone uttered the phrases “What?” or “What kind of…” or “Hold it on it’s BACK Mom!”  too many times I’d lose the last of the sanity I had remaining after a frantic day of packing, I tried to be well prepared.

We  had a bag of toys:

We had a pile of books:

And then we had the most sought after item, the most played with item, the item that literally kept Ivy busy for two hours, the item that made all the rest of the things I brought along pale in comparison….

the straw.

Who needs a princess movie when you can play the trumpet with a McDonald’s straw?

Syttende Mai and The Portage

Last night was the Syttende Mai Canoe Race. It’s a short 3.5 mile race into Stoughton with one little portage. That tiny little around a bridge and back into the water portage is by far the most interesting (and in my view completely horrible) part of the entire race!

Before we get into that here are some other facts you might want to know.

-My mom and John have never raced together before.
-Tyler and I have never raced together before.
-John and my Mom were in one boat.
-Tyler and I were in another.
-Tyler has never raced in a canoe before.
-We all paddled together once last Sunday, to teach him how.
-Mom sat with some lead shot in her end of the boat in attempt to trim it out.
-The start is a mass start, first come, first served on good starting spots.
-Always worried we’ll get there too late, we outdid ourselves this year with an hour long sit in our chosen good spot.
-The spot was a good one, we were all out in the first pack by the time we got to the first bridge and the river narrowed.
-Tyler and I spun out a boat of guys and sent them into the bushes.
-I maintain that I was going straight and that they got a bit sideways.
-We beat them.
-Tyler had a bit of technical I-don’t-really-know-what-I’m-doing-what-did-I-get-myself-into-I’m-not-paddling-quite-right-and-it’s-breaking-my-back problems just after that.
-While that was going on I had a bit of I-can’t-keep-us-in-time-when-you-can’t-decide-how-to-paddle-is-he-going-to-hate-me-at-the-finish problems.
-Those thoughts entered my head when I asked how he was doing and he said “Tired!”
-We were only half way at that point.
-Lily pads have great renewing powers for my brother.
-Out of the lily pads and on our way into town we hit our stride and caught back up to the pack in front.

Then came the portage.

All you have to do is jump out of your boat, pick it up, run around a bridge, put your boat back in the water, jump in, and keep paddling in a quick sprint to the finish.

Our portage:

We hit the shore, getting in the way of another boat that wasn’t exiting the water very fast. As planned Tyler hopped out grabbed the canoe and started running with it. I had hopped out and watched Tyler and the canoe run away from me. I’m certain I was running, but I was having a REALLY hard time catching him. I think it was only fear of my boat being dragged across the road that got my legs to sprint enough to catch him and pick the boat up. I managed to hang onto my end of it until just before we got into the water. The bank at that point is pretty steep, Tyler threw his end in and started getting in. No doubt he was assuming that I was doing something with my end. But I wasn’t, I was trying to catch up again. Somehow I got into the boat just as Tyler almost tipped it, (not totally his fault note, the part where I was doing nothing with my end) managed to help him get his paddle which was starting to fall into the river and we were off… the next bridge we went under a little boy said “WOW look at all the water in their canoe!” Fortunately after sucking air and wondering how on earth we could possible paddle after running, we stayed in our groove, had a great sprint to the finish, and held off the boats around us. We Sloshed all that water in our boat down the river for an 8th place finish overall and third in the mixed. Not bad for Tyler’s first race and our first race together!

John and my Mom’s portage:

They hit the bank and jumped out. My mom claims that John forgot the plan was that he was supposed to pick the boat up and run with it and she had to yell at him to get it as it continued to float down the shore without them. John says, he was “just getting my footing”. Whatever the holdup, the canoe was snagged and John took off running. My Mom also had a bit of a time catching her canoe and managed to catch it just before the road as well. The difference is she dropped it when she reached the other side. This is reported to have earned her a very dirty look from John. She claims he was pulling her and figured just dragging the canoe would be easier for him. John has no comment. They had a nice smooth entry and a great sprint to the finish in their attempt to catch the first place mixed boat. They couldn’t quite do it, but were sixth over all and second in the mixed.

We met up with our cheering section of Grandpa’s cousin George and wife Lois, Katie (the best short notice, Help I forgot I have children that need watching! Want to watch a canoe race? friend around) Ivy and Clara. We all celebrated by eating, hot dogs, jumbo hot dogs, brats, pulled pork sandwiches, corn on the cob, strawberry shortcake, fried cheese curds, lefsa, cotton candy and a walking taco. Did I mention there is a whole Syttende Mai festival in Stoughton? Did I mention all the food stands? Did I mention that it might be the best part of the race?

Today we’ll hang up our plaques we won, in the house!

River Run

Yesterday was the 37th Annual Pewaukee River Run. I have no pictures of it because, well, I’m usually the one with the camera and I was busy with a paddle. Lets just say it was cold and rainy, we still managed to have fun and predictably my mom and Donna came in first (8th year in a row) and Stephanie and I came in second (seventh year in a row).

The awards given for placing in your division are about as predictable as where we placed, you get an unvarnished pine board that has a fill in the blank award tacked under Plexiglas to the front of it, and no hanger on the back. A few years ago I was trying to figure out what to do with my pile of pine boards. Not quite fancy enough for the living room, but I didn’t really want to throw them out, after all I paddled hard to get that pile! So this is what I came up with…Steph and I both hung the last seven years worth of our plaques on the wall of my brooder house. It adds a little festivity and gives the chicks something to read… . After I hung the most recent additions up this afternoon I got this questioning look from a chick, I’m pretty sure she, and a good number of other people I might add, wanted to know why we haven’t beaten those “old ladies” (those were the chick’s words not mine!) yet. And chicken (and the rest of you) here is what I have to say about that:

1) I picked the wrong boat for the race. Really wrong, stupid wrong, blaming it on a complete lack of sleep kind of wrong. (Did you know that if you only get 5 hours of sleep for a week it’s like having a blood alcohol level of 0.1 percent? That’s my newest fun fact. I’m not sure how to calculate 6 hours of broken sleep but I think it’s bad. Wait, was I talking about boats?)

2) Those ladies are fast!

And so in the tradition of my very speedy mother I’d like to talk smart while I still can.

We won’t be bringing the slow boat to the rest of the races this year, so those two better watch out, I’m running now after all!