Saturday, August 29, 2015

33/52 & 34/52: A Weekly Photo Series

I missed posting last week's 33/52 photo since Andi and I were fishing in Ontario with no access to phone or Internet. Though, I think I've shared enough pictures herehere, and here this week to meet my quota.

In other non-fishing news, Tory learned to ride her tricycle this week. An exciting milestone for my almost four-year-old!

Tory's been practicing riding her trike all summer without much success. One of the biggest challenges has been our slightly sloped drive-way. She'd cruise down the pavement gaining momentum too quickly and panic, sending her and the trike straight into the grass with a crash. So, I had an idea to take Tory and her tricycle to the neighborhood playground where there's a flat basketball court to ride.

Tory struggled riding her tricycle the few short blocks to the park, and I deeply questioned my brainiac idea as I tried to both push Tory and keep Aden contained in his push car. As soon as we made it to the park, though, Tory started to ride her trike on the flat basketball court and mastered pedaling and steering in no time.

The radiance of independence from a child who's just learned to ride a bike on their own ...

Watch out, world! Here comes Tory!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Canadian Fly-Out Fishing Trip: Day 3

Thursday, August 20

The second day of our fishing trip started around 7:30am when Andi hopped out of bed and hurried off to the kitchen to make breakfast for everyone. I woke up with a little less spring in my step, and snuggled in my sleeping bag for a few minutes longer. If I wasn't forced out of bed by small children, you'd better believe I lingered there for as long as I liked.

Meanwhile, chef Andi whipped together french toast, eggs and sausage for our cabin crew of four. We accessed the weather outside and it seemed cloudy and windy (but not raining!), which was better circumstances than the day prior. After breakfast, Joe, Lisa, Andi and I piled on layers of clothing and hit the water for a day of fishing on Lake Jeanette. Andi and I parted ways with Joe and Lisa and agreed to meet back at the cabin around Noon for lunch together.

Andi decided he and I would fish on the east side of the lake for the morning. The boat ride there was beautiful with thick rows of pine trees on each side of us. We picked a rock point and began to jig for walleyes, drifting along the shore in the wind. Within a few minutes, we hit a sweet spot and reeled in one fish after another. Over and again, we drifted along the same bit of shoreline with continued luck. I'd estimate Andi and I caught around 40 walleyes within an hour or so; the biggest fish going to Andi with a recorded length of 25 inches.

Having seen my fair share of walleyes during this trip, I now realize what a catch this was! The fish weighed an estimated six pounds, and felt and looked solid in his hands. I snapped a few pictures of Andi with his prized catch, and then he released the fish back into the water.

Later, Andi decided we'd anchor the fishing boat about 20 feet up the shoreline and bobber-fish for walleyes instead. To make an anchor, he pulled the boat up to the shore and hopped out to collect large rocks to fill into a rubber bag. Unfortunately in the process, Andi stepped too deep and filled his Bogs with water. I felt so badly for him! One wool sock and boot were completely soaked. I lovingly encouraged him not to be a tough guy and said it'd be fine with me to boat back to the cabin for clean socks and shoes, but Andi would have none of it. Instead, in chilly 60 degree weather, Andi sat in the fishing boat for the rest of the morning with one bare foot and zero complaints.      

Now with an anchor of rocks firmly planted in the water, Andi equipped both of our fishing poles for bobber fishing. Together we sat in the boat fishing for walleyes, and for once rain wasn't hammering us in the face or wind completely rocking our boat. The air was silent around us except for the sounds of a few birds in nearby trees and a Loon calling out in the distance. This fishing thing wasn't too shabby ... if only the air temperature would warm up a little!

As if it was even possible, the fishing was even better in this new spot 20 feet up from where we were before. As fast as Andi and I could throw out our lines in the water, fish would bite them. Sometimes, we'd both have a bite at the same time and laugh as we questioned who'd be the first to reel their catch into the boat. There was only one expert fisherman in our vessel after all (a.k.a: Andi) who was willing and able to take fish off the hooks. By the end of the morning, Andi and I had a stringer full of walleyes to bring back to the cabin. With our Canadian fishing licenses, each person could freeze and bring home four walleyes. The rest of the fish we kept that morning were cooked up for lunch alongside fried potatoes and toast. 

Speaking of toast, have you ever seen such a thing?

The world's first toaster. (I assume.) Good thing Andi was along on this trip, or I'd have likely starved.

After lunch, Joe declared it nap time so he went to lay down. Lisa, Andi and I sat in the living room and read our respective Kindles for a while until we heard sounds of a seaplane flying over. After residing in a remote location for a few days and hearing nothing but the sounds of nature around us, the three of us were immediately drawn to the window to watch the plane fly over. It's probably another outfitter dropping off or picking up other guests on the lake we assumed, thinking nothing of it. A few minutes later, we heard the plane again and it sounded close by. Lisa, Andi and I rushed outside onto the deck to get a closer look. The large orange seaplane landed on the lake and did a "drive-by" our dock narrowly missing Andi and I's fishing boat. We watched as the plane did another giant loop and looked as if it was coming back toward our dock again. "What the...?" we all wondered. "Does the pilot want to come in here? Why?" Andi asked aloud. The plane didn't have any markings on it and wasn't the classic red and white colors of our outfitter, KaBeeLo Lodge. We were so confused. I imagine it's how someone shipwrecked on an island feels -- somewhat bewildered and excited by contact from the real world.

Andi quickly moved our fishing boat out of the way, and we watched as the seaplane pulled up to our cabin's dock. Lisa ran back into the cabin to wake Joe up from his nap because he wouldn't want to miss this! Three people hopped out of the plane and onto our dock with an 'Eh there!" They identified themselves as employees of the Canadian Ministry (which we later gathered is equivalent to the United States' DNR).

The two Ministry employees and the seaplane pilot began to unload a serious amount of gear onto our dock while we peppered them with questions. "Why are you here? What will you be studying?" The people answered all of our questions as they unloaded more and more gear from the seaplane. It was like one of those clown-cars -- how much more stuff could they really pull from that plane?!

Soon, the seaplane bid farewell and flew off leaving the two workers and a pile of their stuff on our dock. "Where is their boat," I whispered to Andi, not sure what was happening before us. It turned out the people's boat was an inflatable watercraft they unfolded from their gear and blew up right there on site. They added a boat motor onto it and proceeded to load gill nets, a cooler of food, a chainsaw and more into their boat before they set off to work on the lake collecting research for the next four days.

After all that excitement, Joe, Lisa, Andi and I decided there was nothing left to do but go fishing. The sun was shining and the air temperature actually felt warm for the first time on our trip. The four of us decided to cruise down to the Sesikanage River flowage that connects Lake Jeanette to neighboring Betty Lake. Joe told us in past years, their group had trolled the river for Northern Pike and spotted all kinds of wildlife on the river banks - moose, caribou and bear.

At the mouth of the river, Joe deemed the water 'too weedy' and decided he and Lisa would split off to fish somewhere else on the lake. Andi voted against the river as well, and decided we'd troll for Northerns along the lake shore. We did so until the sun set and it was time to head back to the cabin for dinner where Joe treated us to homemade fish chowder.

After dinner around 9:00pm, Andi convinced me to go back on the water for some night fishing. We pulled on our rain gear (again!) and sported headlamps on our foreheads to see in the dark. Andi anchored our fishing boat near a rock point by the cabin and we fished for walleyes using glow-in-the-dark bobbers. It seemed like a good idea in theory, but we didn't catch any fish the entire time we were out on the water. ZERO - which was so different than our successes fishing during the day. Eventually, we called it quits and came back to the cabin to end our evening.

Next up -- Our last day on Lake Jeanette, and it was a nice one. Spoiler alert - the sun shined!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Canadian Fly-Out Fishing Trip: Day 2

Wednesday, August 19

Andi and I started the first full day of our Canadian fly-out fishing trip around 6:30am, after sleeping like rocks the night before. We might've spent the night cozied up in our respective sleeping bags, but it didn't seem to affect our level of comfort too much. The simple pleasure of waking up on my own time (and not Aden's -- Mr. Wake-Up-Before-The-Sun) was enough to get me excited.

Andi hopped out of bed while I lingered in my sleeping bag for a bit longer. Seriously, what a treat to wake up slowly. In the kitchen, I could hear Andi greet Joe and Lisa 'good morning' and set to work preparing breakfast for everyone. My husband thrives in smorgasbord cooking environments. Give him a few random ingredients and he'll cook you a feast. I'm all like, where's the recipe? And for that matter, where's my laptop to look up said recipe on the Internet?!

With red potatoes, onions, eggs and bacon, Andi made a fulfilling breakfast for everyone. He even made fresh coffee using a percolator on the stove-top (no electricity for a regular coffee pot, remember?). KaBeeLo Lodge supplied us with Canadian ground coffee, but Andi and I brought along Starbucks because we're coffee snobs like that. I can make a lot of scarifies, but not where my morning coffee is concerned.

The weather was terrible on Wednesday. Temperatures were in the high 50's that morning, and it was windy and rainy. But - we came to Lake Jeanette to fish, so that's exactly what we were going to do. Joe, Lisa, Andi and I pulled on our rain gear (which Joe said he's never used in all his years coming to this lake) and every other piece of clothing we brought along with us. T-shirts layered with sweatshirts, vests, jackets, wool socks, rubber boots, stocking hats and gloves. It's a good thing we had no one to impress on the lake because this was not my best look! Prior to the trip, I wondered how I'd survive without my hair dryer and straightening iron. Now, I quickly realized this trip wasn't about being fashionable.

Andi and I hopped into our fishing boat and Joe and Lisa hopped into theirs. We bid farewell to one another and agreed to meet back at the cabin around Noon-time for lunch. Andi decided we'd check out the west side of the lake, so we navigated our way over there. He asked me to keep my eyes open for sleeper rocks hiding just below the water's surface, and I wondered how I'd be able to. I couldn't see anything with rain pelting me in the eyes and with the hood of my jacket pulled tightly over my head. I pulled on my sunglasses for rain protection, and that seemed to help. Though, there was no need to block the nonexistent sun underneath the blanket of cloudy gray sky.

Having had a refresher course on fishing techniques the evening prior, I was ready to roll. Andi and I found a spot near a rock point and jigged for walleyes, drifting along in the wind. It felt like a scene from Deadliest Catch! Rain beat down on our faces and wind whipped around us creating white caps on the lake. Big waves splashed alongside the boat rocking us every which way. We were catching fish though, and still having fun despite the rain. Andi and I reeled in walleyes one after another. Fish would bite the minute our lines hit the water.

After a few hours, my fingers were so cold I started to lose feeling in them. I could barely clasp a minnow in my wet, slippery hand to bait it on my fishing hook. The rain subsided enough to pull out the camera so Andi wanted to snap my picture with a 20 inch walleye I caught. We couldn't stop laughing when he tried to hand it to me and my hands wouldn't cooperate to hold it!

Around 11:45am, Andi and I decided we'd had enough of the weather for the morning. We took one more beating from the wind as we trekked all the way back across the lake. Joe and Lisa were back at the cabin and Andi started a fire in the wood-burning stove. The guys cleaned the fish we'd just caught, then Joe battered and fried them for lunch. Lisa and I scoured the cupboards for food to pair with the fish, and settled on a box of Rice-A-Roni. Understandably so, there aren't many perishable food items like fruits and vegetables stocked in the cabin. Our meal options consisted of meat, potatoes or canned green beans and corn.

Sick of the wet and cold, the four of us decided to lounge around after lunch. Andi stoked the fire and we all settled in for nap time. I can't remember the last time I took a nap and didn't think it'd be possible to fall asleep, but 10 minutes into reading my book I was fast asleep. Andi and I were out cold for about an hour and a half. We woke up around 4:00pm, ready to hit the water again.

This time, Andi and I decided to find a break from the wind. We'd had enough of that business earlier in the morning, thank you very much. Much of the rain had stopped by this time of the evening, leaving party cloudy skies and a mist in the air. We settled into a spot on the lake shielded by an island of trees and jigged for walleyes at first. Andi was on fire reeling up fish after fish.

After a while, Andi decided to switch things up a bit and troll for Northern Pike. Jigging for walleyes required constant movement and concentration whereas trolling for Northerns allowed us to kick back and sight-see along the lake shore. Andi switched us to more heavy-duty rods, then we positioned them in rod holders on each side of the boat. We putzed along for a bit without much action, then suddenly the sun peeked through the clouds and the fish started biting. I immediately liked fishing for Northerns because they were exciting to catch. The fish hit hard causing the rod to nearly bend in two. It felt like snagging a shark! Just when I'd kick back in my seat and think, "I could really go for a cold beer..." Andi would scream, "Fish! Fish! Fish!" and I'd scramble to unlock my fishing rod from the holder. I had an obnoxious-looking silver spoon lure on my line that the fish were going crazy for. At one point, Andi looked back and saw a Northern Pike jump up with his head out of the water as it took a bite of my hook.

Now that the rain stopped and the sun started to peek through the clouds, Andi and I were blessed with the most beautiful sunset view. The sky warmed to a wonderful shade of orange on one side of our boat and a full rainbow appeared on the other.

It was the perfect ending to an action-packed day on the lake.

After sunset, Andi and I cruised back to the cabin where we met up with Joe and Lisa. Joe pan-fried steaks for dinner and Lisa made wild rice and green beans to accompany them. Andi cleaned the walleyes we'd caught earlier in the evening and made walleye cakes (crab cakes' tasty relative). I pulled my weight as part of the clean-up crew. The four of us sat around the table and talked until 11:00pm or so, before calling it a night.

With a lay of the land (or more like the lake), Andi and I discovered a super secret fishing spot on Day 3 ... more to come.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Canadian Fly-Out Fishing Trip: Day 1

Tuesday, August 18

A few months ago, our lake cabin friends Joe and Lisa asked if Andi and I would be interested in joining them on a fly-out fishing trip in Ontario, Canada. They've made the same trip in various forms -- with other couples, their kids, or just the guys -- over the last 20+ years, and it sounded like fun to us. An outside-the-box adventure, and the chance to visit somewhere new?

Yes, please! Sign us up.

Our trip to Lake Jeanette in N.W. Ontario took place last Tuesday - Saturday. I didn't ask many questions upon our initial sign-up, so it was only a few weeks ago I learned the four of us would be flown in by seaplane to a remote cabin without any access to the rest of the world during our stay. There are only two cabins on Lake Jeanette and zero roads leading to it. Talk about an isolated getaway!

Fortunately, our 'home away from home' for the week was a newly remodeled cabin built in 2011 comfortably equipped with a refrigerator, solar lights, gas range, bunk beds and pots for cooking. That's right, bunk beds! Andi and I were paying to vacation in a place where we'd sleep in separate beds. I questioned our logic on this one several times, but it all turned out okay. There's a shower with hot and cold running water in the cabin, but no power outlets (a.k.a.: no hair dryers on this vacation!) and the toilet is an out-house in the back woods. Now having visited, I'd say it was the perfect combination of 'roughing it' for me.

Our cabin on Lake Jeanette - living room with wood-burning stove,

large kitchen,

and, our modest sleeping accommodations. Each couple had their own bedroom, and we brought our own bedding. 

Tuesday morning, Andi and I met up with Joe and Lisa in the Twin Cities at 5:45am to get a jump-start on our drive to Canada. With stops for food, gas and the U.S. / Canadian border crossing in International Falls, MN, it took us about 11 hours to get to KaBeeLo Fishing Lodge, north of Ear Falls, Ontario. 

Minutes after we arrived at the main outpost, we hopped into the seaplane and flew to our cabin on Lake Jeanette. All of our personal bags and fishing gear were loaded directly onto the plane with us. We each were allowed 40 pounds/per person for weight allowance. We stopped at a LCBO for alcohol just before Ear Falls, and it was kind of a gamble what to bring. The goal is not to run out too quickly, but not to bring anything back on the plane at the end of the trip either. Together, we brought two bottles of wine, two cases of beer, three bottles of booze and one case of water for four people. Food (eggs, potatoes, bread, onions, burgers, hot dogs, steak, bacon, canned fruit and vegetables) is included in the rate.

The 20-minute flight to Lake Jeanette was the perfect ending to a long day of car travel. We were all so excited to get there and start our vacation! Already, the scenery was gorgeous and what a sight to see it all from the air.

Joe, Lisa and Andi

I was lucky enough to snag front seat with the pilot.

Once we dropped our bags in the cabin, the four of us immediately set out for fishing. Joe and Andi selected which fishing boats they wanted to use for the week from the line-up of five boats available. Boats and unlimited gas were included in the price of our stay, but we brought everything else needed to fish including our poles, tackle, life jackets, depth finder, etc. 

Each couple had their own fishing boat, and I loved the one-on-one time I got to spend with Andi everyday. He and I were a team on this crazy lake adventure.

Andi spent most of the first evening on the lake giving me a refresher course in fishing. I've fished a few times at our own lake cabin, but I'm hardly an expert. I needed a crash course in casting and reeling, a lesson on how to jig the rod for walleyes, and how to hook my own live bait minnows. Andi, on the other hand, is fairly knowledgeable having grown up fishing with his dad. In no time, Andi and I were catching big fish and having a blast doing so. He was a very patient teacher and I didn't envy him for a bit in all he had to do -- driving the boat, setting up our fishing poles, humanely taking our fish off the hooks and letting them go back into the water ... all while assisting his wife in getting the hang of things. We laughed a lot, and it felt so good to be outdoors in this beautiful place.  

We met Joe and Lisa back at the cabin around sunset for dinner, just in time to snap a picture at this gorgeous view from our dock. 

Joe fried some freshly-caught walleyes for appetizers, and then the four of us enjoyed roast beef, rice and homemade bread sent from the lodge to-go for dinner. Our first cooking challenge was to heat up our roast beef dinner without the option of an oven or a microwave. The available pots and pans for stove-top cooking came in handy. 

By 10:00pm, I was exhausted and I think the rest of the crew was, too. We headed to bed for our first night at the cabin shortly afterwards. I got the giggles when I looked over and saw Andi snuggled up in his sleeping bag with his head lamp on, reading a book. There wasn't much else to do without phone or internet access. Three minutes into reading, we both clicked off our lights and fell fast asleep.  

Quite an experience this trip would prove to be, and we were only getting started. Day 2 - Wednesday (a.k.a: our audition for Deadliest Catch) - coming soon... 

Monday, August 17, 2015

32/52: A Weekly Photo Series

Aden is changing so rapidly these days. He's a walking running, talking little boy who constantly keeps me on my toes. Nothing is more evident of his recent maturity than his verbal communication with us.

Well, and that hair.

Nothing says I'm not a baby anymore like a head of hair like that. Or, maybe it's more like Pardon the hair / I just rode a jet ski for the first time / NBD hair. 'Cuz, you know, big kids do those type of things.

Like the crazy obsessive mom I am, I've been recording Aden's first 100 words. I did this for Tory, too (here's her first 100 words), and I find it interesting to keep track and remember what they first said. Surprisingly, both kids were very different in their first words of communication with us. I always thought Tory was verbal at a young age (and I think she was/is!), but Aden is even more talkative. I'm sure it has something to do with being a second child and hanging around his big sister all the time.

Aden loves to sing and mumbles the tune to many children's songs including ABC's, Wheels On The Bus, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Baa Baa Black Sheep. He even sings the tune to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse's "Hot Dog" song and Tory's Strawberry Shortcake movie theme song. Aden counts 1-10 and says some letters, but can't say or identify any of his body parts or colors. This fascinates me! We'll continue working on those basics and I'm sure he'll get them eventually.

Anyway, without further adieu, here are Aden's first 100 words:

(age 12 months)
1. Uh-oh
2. Dada
3. Mama

(13 months)
4. Hi
5. Ball
6. All Done /or Done

(14 months)
7. Bye
8. Hello

(16 months)
9. Catch
10. Roll
11. Eat
12. See
13. Peek
14. Chlo (Chloe the Dog)
15. Pat (i.e.: pat-a-cake)
16. Poop
17. Two
18. Three
19. Bubble
20. Throw

(17 months)
21. Look
22. Set
23. Go
24. Hot
25. Owie
26. See Ya
27. Tory

(18 months)
28. Wawa (water)
29. Cracker
30. No
31. Wash
32. Dog
33. That
34. This
35. Uppa (up)
36. Down
37. Beep
38. Potty
39. Nite-Nite
40. Apple
41. Thank you
42. Blankie
43. Paci (pacifier)
44. Baby

(19 months)
45. Shoe
46. Hat
47. Popsicle
48. Snack
49. Flower
50. Ready
51. Eight
52. Nine
53. Ten
54. Fruit
55. Mickey (Mickey Mouse)
56. Lucy
57. Car
58. One
59. Four
60. Five
61. Six
62. Waffle
63. Help
64. Tickle
65. Toot Toot
66. Lime
67. Fishie
68. Elmo
69. Pretty
70. Neigh
71. Moo

(20 months)
72. Papa
73. Knock Knock
74. Side (outside)
75. Play
76. Cube
77. "I Get It"
78. Stick
79. Rock
80. Rollers (i.e.: waves during boat rides)
81. Cow
82. Kick
83. Please
84. Welcome (i.e.: you're welcome)
85. Rain
86. Chicken
87. Cookie
88. Corn
89. Hog Dog
90. "There It Is"
91. Quack
92. Look
93. Hug
94. Lambie (Tory's favorite stuffed animal)
95. Bless You
96. Airplane
97. Grandma
98. Hold
99. Boat Ride
100. Oh Cool!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Annual Neighborhood Parade

We've lived in our house for four years now, and I'm still struggling to find "my people" in our neighborhood community. Andi and I were drawn to the more established residences of our particular Twin Cities suburb, with its mature trees and big backyards, but what we didn't realize when buying our home is that very few families with young children follow suit. Most of the neighbors on our street are original home owners (aka: older people) who's children have long since moved away from home. I suppose we do have a network of neighborhood friends at our lake cabin, but it'd be lovely to have that same support system here at home, too.

Anyway, there are families with young children in the greater vicinity of our neighborhood, so I always make an effort to strike up conversations with fellow parents I see at the nearby park and to be an active participant in our neighborhood mom's group. There aren't many of us -- maybe five or six mothers who attend the group's monthly meetings? -- but it's something. No one I really hit it off with just yet, but I keep trying!

Every August, the mom's group plans a kids parade for our neighborhood. This is the 29th year of the parade! We print and distribute flyers to 600 houses in the area, and encourage families to take part by decorating their bikes and walking in the parade together. We invite the local police and fire departments, and have an ice cream truck meet everyone at the park afterwards for refreshments. It's a fun and simple way for the neighborhood to get together.

Andi was suppose to be traveling for work on the night of the parade this year, so I invited Janie (Andi's mom) to join the kids and I in attending. I took them last year by myself so I could've done it again, but it's more fun (and easier with crazy Aden!) to have company. At the last minute, Andi came home earlier than expected so he was able to join us, too!

Last year Tory dressed up like a princess and I decorated our Radio Flyer wagon to look like a carriage, but this year I never made it happen. So, Tory decided to roller skate in the parade, and Aden drove his blue car.

The kid's parade route is a four-block square, so it takes about 15 minutes from start to finish. Easy-peasy for older kids on bikes or adults pushing strollers. Tory is a very new on skates, however, so we moved along at a snail's pace and quickly fell to the end of the pack. No problem - we weren't in a rush! I could've pelted the elderly neighbor on the parade route who yelled to Tory from her drive-way, "You have to skate, not walk in 'em!" Give her a break, lady. She's three. 

I, for one, thought Tory was adorable.

Since we fell so far behind the pack, we let Aden out of his toy car. All this boy wants to do these days is RUN! Remember when he wasn't walking less than three months ago? He's more than making up for it now. 

Eventually, we made our way back to the the playground with the rest of the neighborhood. Tory and Aden took turns climbing around in the police car and the fire truck. We talked with a few neighbors and then made our way home. 

Great little evening with our neighborhood. I haven't found our perfect neighbors just yet, but I'll keep trying ....

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Weekend Recap: Last Minute Cabin Visitors

Last weekend at the lake cabin, Andi and I had pretty laid back plans until our friends Josh and Sarah called to invite themselves over for a visit.

Josh: "Hey, I heard your three-year-old asked my one-year-old if she wanted to come up to the cabin. Does that offer still stand?"

Andi: "Sure, when are you thinking?"

Josh: "Uh, this weekend?"

It is true. Tory, Aden and I get together with Sarah, Charlie (3) and Ingrid (1) quite a bit on weekdays in the Twin Cities, and last time we saw them Tory shouted as we parted ways: "Do you want to come to my cabin sometime?!" Quite the social butterfly, that one.

Sometimes the best plans are the ones that happen last minute, so Josh and Sarah's visit to the cabin was perfect. Their crew arrived early Saturday morning and our families spent the day together boating, drinking and hanging out. It's awesome how well we all get along.

The weather on Saturday was quite strange. It was cloudy and cool at times, and warm and humid the next. We took our friends for a pontoon boat ride around the lake mid-morning and dressed in hoodies to keep warm. By the end of the ride though, we shed the extra layers and threw on our swimming suits.

I find myself snapping as many photos as I can of those adorably bouncy blond curls because I know someday, they'll be nonexistent.

Tory was keen on showing Charlie the ropes of fishing from our dock. It was constant entertainment for those two, reeling up sunfish after sunfish -- one of which, they affectionally named Pam.

Tough life, Dog.

It truly brings me so much happiness to see pure joy shining through the faces of these kids at the lake cabin. Isn't this the life?

Josh and Sarah brought the makings for s'mores, so of course we had to build a bonfire after dinner. Summer and s'mores go hand-and-hand. So do: sticky fingers and faces, lots of laughter, good conversation, and a fair amount of parental stress (keep away from the fire, kids!).

Still. So fun!

Josh and Sarah departed the cabin early Sunday morning, then our family spent the rest of the day tooling around the lake -- playing at the beach, doing chores, laying low.

Great little cabin weekend.