It’s a Fail, It’s a Win, II


Beyond the cell service range is where the real summer fun started- where kids played in the woods, built forts, swam all day long,  and their parents replaced their phones with fly rods and gathered merrily around the fire each night for smores. This summer, more than ever, I did not want to come back to civilization. So with every free moment we had, we made it out to catch our breath and remember what this crazy life is all about. When I measure the summer, I can think of several ‘wins’, but of course there are always the ‘fails’ which naturally come with being a parent in search of an outdoor adventure. Here’s a few ‘fails’ that keep me humble and make me second guess my grand ideas of rive-time, followed by a few ‘wins’ that make me keep coming back for more.


When your middle child says he ‘doesn’t want to go to the river’ so you get him excited about gold panning, just so he’ll be manipulated into going, and then you never see one tiny speck of gold all summer so you keep telling him he ‘needs to keep trying’……………………………Fail


When you decide to add one more child to the mix and then everyone decides they have to go #2 throughout the day; you’re in the middle of nowhere, taking children to the trees, instead of fishing all day (Does anyone ELSE have to go? Third cast out, ‘mom, I’ve got to…’)………………Fail


When you don’t feel pain while wet wading and you’re legs end up looking like you escaped from a deep-jungle prison camp, so you decide to put cover up on them before a meeting………Fail

When you hear about a river so you pack your kids up and drive 3 hours on a winding road, and two kids end up throwing up and you end up yelling at your spouse like it’s their fault, and you fish angry for a half hour and decide to just go home………….I don’t know who did this, but it’s a total…………………….Fail

When you hear about a creek so you get google maps out and drive with your fly fishing buddy, in your mom car, to the middle of nowhere and end up at a dried-up mud bed; then realize the creek is most likely a hike into the mountains so you laugh really hard and get a picture with a ‘steelhead’ and go out to eat instead…….Fail


When you get back from a day of fishing with the same friend and you pull into a parking lot to find someone  getting into your friend’s car; you park behind it, start yelling at the people and then realize your friend’s car is actually on the other side of the parking lot………you’re getting old………but it’s still good to know you would fight someone trying to steal your friend’s car…..’I thought it was strange they hung an air freshoner from the mirror’, she later says………….Fail

When you hear about a T-Rex skeleton found in a creek in Montana and you tell your kids, ‘we need to go to Montana asap to hunt for T-rex!’…in the creeks….or the rivers….I think there was one spotted near that lodge……And your husband shakes his head at you………Fail

When your dog is a neurotic rock hunter and he takes 200 rocks out of the river, so you have to lock him in the truck and throw them all back for a half hour……………….Fail


When you catch a beautiful cutthroat trout and carefully let it go and it goes belly up for no good reason at all. So you swim with your net and get it again, provide life saving mouth to mouth reccessitation, and spend about 10 minutes on your knees in the river, moving water through it’s gills, at it swims off strong……………………..Fail/Win


When your plants all die in the front of your house because you choose to not be a home-body, and value experiences more than a perfect house…………….Fail/Win

When you try to teach safe fish handling techniques and conservation efforts, and your child wants to take a turn letting a fish go and they do an overhand throw/chuck into the water……………………..Major Fail (2x, 2 separate children, videos on My Mammaflybox Facebook Page)

When your daughter gets hurt every ten minutes on a camping trip so you get a picture of her complaining and show it to her and you both end up laughing…………….Fail/Win


When, after a long day fishing and bike riding, you tell your kids you’re going to THE SNAKE PIT for dinner (a restaurant), and one of them actually believes there are snakes in the walls and despite trying to change their mind, they are waiting  for the snakes to come out of the ground…………….Parent Fail


When you end up fishing through nap-time because there is a great hatch happening, so you carry your children because you are that addicted……………….Fail.


When you put your kids on a treasure hunt so you can fish and then realize you have to follow through and bring it all home………..then it ends up in your car for a few days…..Fail



When your son asks to learn how to fly fish again and he catches a westlope cutthroat all on his own………….Winning


When your daughter grabs your hand and says she loves going on adventures with you and she jumps into the water next to you and you’re kids are swiming and you’re fishing and all is right with the world………………….Winning

When you tie flies together then head to the lake to fish them and swim, and it all works out well…………….Winning


When your littlest starts singing your favorite song every time he sees a river, ‘Rivers and Roads, Rivers and Roads, Rivers Till I See You’-The Head and The Heart-…….so cute how he sings it…………….Winning

When your husband teaches your daughter how to make a grilled cheese sandwich using the sun……………terrifying……but still…………..Winning.


When your son learns to Kayak and he’s addicted…………Winning


When you catch a huge fish and your daughter is there to net it………………Winning


When your life is crazy so you pack for a week of camping in a few hours and you remember everything……that take skills…….I over-packed, but still….skills…Winning

When you look back at summer, and all the wonderful moments together, and remember that, even though some people think that we ‘go too much’, we know how to have fun and we are giving our children much more than just fun experiences. I want my kids to be able to go to these places to find refuge, to feel connected with nature, and to be able to find perspective in their years to come. We’ve had some serious fails, but I’d say we’re doing ok………………………Winning



(When you’re too busy with work, life, fishing, kids, to have time to blog…..#fail…sorry😉

Fly Fishing Moms Vs. Camp Kids


13962571_10208599379093379_4782208319662394635_n.jpgWhen you don’t tell anyone what you are planning because you’re sure they would think you are crazy, you may be a fly fishing adventure mom. You let people know you will be gone for a week, but only share the details in short snippets you estimate they can handle. For example, “Ya, we’re going camping for a few days.” Then, “In a tent.” Then, “With 5 children and just moms”. But you don’t share that last part until you are almost out of cell service so they don’t have time to talk you out of it.

But to get out of cell service, winding down the river roads, kids jolly in the back (or usually car sick), and nothing planned besides trying to keep your prodigy alive and catch some Westlope Cutthroat with some other humans that have similar ideas of fun, the kind that you say ‘ we should camp with all of our kids on a river in the middle of nowhere’ and instead of laughing they respond, ‘ya, tell me when you can go’, it’s worth appearing crazy.


What I love about fly fishing moms is that we have an unspoken language, and understanding of each other- that we are still parents, but we are also fly fishing addicts. We take turns making sure the children are alive while also trying to match the hatch out of the corner of our eyes. It’s not always graceful, actually it’s usually not even a tiny bit graceful. When we pull up to the fly fishing spot of the afternoon, most people literally run as far down stream as they can. Kids, water guns, fly rods, snack bags, a pile of chips where the kids can’t seem to fit enough in their mouths. A cloud of sunscreen and then mothers dispersing in all river directions, with out any communication what-so-ever. I am actually not even sure I had a full conversation with any of the moms on our trip. We feed, we clean, we feed, we fish, we try to make good memories, we each have our moments of either physically holding a child down in their sleeping bag or throwing a picky eater’s sandwhich off the cliff, and we get that.

13895564_10208599151647693_149698864476284855_nIt’s a very fine balance for fly fishing moms- making sure the kids are having a good time so they like these trips and remember having a cool mom, but then also finding moments to ourselves to de-stress and catch fish, without losing our cool and tying our children to a tree.  The picture above was a great moment, the fish were hitting hard so the kids were excited to help me net. Apparently this fish was not approved by all in the group.

Meagan Newberry letting a cutthroat go.

There were several moments of laughing under my breath, thinking how funny we looked or noting the hilarious things we had to say, like, ‘don’t dip your hot dog in the dirt’, but one of my favorite awkward-river moments of our recent fly mom trip was at one of the most beautiful stretches of river I had seen all summer, on the upper Saint Joe river in Idaho.

13900326_10208599152367711_520843256989583681_n The children were equally excited by the prospects of fun at this section of river because the slate rock and several garnets found initially in the sand. With their gold panning stuff from grandma Lulu, they headed all over to find treasures. Meagan went up, Holly went down, and I stayed center in order to be closest to the smallest of explorers, my little four year old. The battle of selfish time, meets fishy riffles, meets needy four year old, started out rough. With only a few casts away I knew there were some majestic fish, but I couldn’t go there…. He fell once so I scooped him up and sat with him for a bit, trying not to drool at the water. He wanted to go explore with the other kids so I took a heavy exhale and grabbed my fly rod, while watching him toddle over rocks towards the treasure gang. One cast out, I hear crying again. He fell again. Fly rod down, cuddle, exhale…repeat. Repeat at least 5 times. On the fifth fall, one of the treasure seekers threw a huge rock across the river…. and then one of my other children had to go potty, the not fun in the woods kind. *sigh* *scream inside*. Then one after the other, had to use the “outdoor toilet” (a hole). I felt divided, wanted to be present and also wanted to be far off down the river…But then the little voice from the day before crept into my mind, ‘Mama, I want to be near you’, my little explorer yelled out to me. So this happened, again….:)

Once the kids settled down, I fished as hard as I could, switching from dries to nymphs to streamers, with not one fish. After that, I realized we needed to re-organize our days to meet the demands of bathroom time and to make sure we hit the river at the prime times…and to bring lots of food to throw at them when the fishing was good (which was pretty much every other time we fished over the weekend).


I want to fish because I love seeing fish and sharing this with my children, even my middle child, Cayden, caught a trout on his fly rod all by himself, but it’s much more than just fishing to me. If you look at the entire week from fly fishing perspective, it may have caused you so much anxiety, all of that fishy water right there in front of us, all conveniently not in kid-friendly spaces. But even though it was chaotic and often stressful moving these little humans around and keeping them fed, I felt so at home out there with them. Maybe it was the lack of cell service, or the fact that they could just dig into the dirt, or that we didn’t have to race off to any appointments, whatever it was, I did’t want to leave. I am actually still there in my head, wondering if I can re-organize my life in order to live out there permanently.

Holly Dixon fishing above kids swimming #flymoms

I’m making my loved ones nervous though. They have asked how my camping trip was, with a smug grin, waiting for a terror story about camping for that long with kids, and I have to be honest and tell them that it was a great time and I actually don’t want to be doing real life. Something may be wrong with me, but I think maybe I have just found the place where I feel like I’m mostly me and I can be mostly a fishy lady and mostly a mom and that’s just right. Or I just was seriously sleep deprived and forgot all of the terrible times, which is quite possible. Believe me though, I was so glad my husband showed up, so I could fish a bit and have help packing the five weeks of stuff I brought!! Here are a few more pictures, with commentary, of course:

Right after dinner, little chipmunks hiding and eating more. 


Timeout in the woods is centered around standing on a leaf. And this is the little tent troll that ended up getting restrained. He also is a snake charmer….but this one was dead and he carried it around like his teddy bear. It was weird.


Apparently our children have never used a pay phone. We drove to Avery to make a quick call and they thought it was the best part of their day…


We found the jail five days too late…dang. We need one of these for our next trip.

More of camp-life. God bless Holly for bringing cars and  God bless Meagan for bringing an Ipad for those mornings we missed Netflix and craved quiet!


Holly landing a nice cutthroat and being a stellar mom at the same time.🙂


The brave crew, including Britt Davenport who came with her husband and cooked us breakfasts!!

13921050_1753176738232782_2466968331406257201_n (1)

Thanks, Holly, for getting this picture where I look like a really peaceful mom and it looks like my husband got to fish a bunch. In truth, I had caught a fair share of fish and told him he could use the fly rod for a bit. Poor guy. Corbin loves river-side snuggle time though, and so do I. P.S. I’m pretty sure we kept up with the other fisher folks around us, bad ass fly fishing mamas can tackle kids and matching the hatch!

Too many pictures to post and too many awkward river moments to list, but I’m sure you can tell I loved it.😉 Hope my kids don’t have to go to therapy someday for my river-addiction. They will have some strange memories though, no doubt.😉 Tight lines, mamas!

Rivers, Roads, Rods, and Family, it’s all I really need.🙂

The Rain Has Stopped, It’s Time To Retreat


And just like that, things changed. Spring has turned to Summer and, unexpectedly, I’m not ready. Somedays I see myself as a wild animal- I despise having to share space with people outdoors and feel the urge to move my pack as far away from them as possible (and yet, I have a blog encouraging people to go outside? Go ahead and laugh). I’m like, hey go outside, but go over there, like, away from me.

I’ve become unrealistically territorial the last few weeks over a place I like to get my outdoor fix when I can’t drive too far.  After showing up there last weekend, to do a bit of bass fishing with my daughter, I saw how many cars were piled up in a parking lot my soul was used to being empty through the winter months; I felt a deep, unrealistic, anger.  As we came around the corner to park, my daughter and I looked at each other as if we were in mourning, as if we were the gatekeepers and no one asked to come in. Wait, why are so many people out here? What happened to the fear of the outdoors? I immediately regret encouraging people to get into nature.😉


It was only a couple of weeks ago when I politely snickered under my breath as the rain started to fall at the same beach. We were on our way to fish, and all the other families were scurrying for cover, looking at my husband and I like we were strange (?why?).  My daughter smiled, and with pride said, “You can’t be afraid of the rain if you’re a Barnhart”. I high-fived her and said, “Amen, sister”. The busy park became a place of solitude, and like wild animals coming out in the rain, we did our lake-side routine of fishing and searching for treasures without interruption.


The kids thought they found a dead baby cougar, and my daughter insisted on wearing her pink jacket for the day😉


But one of my favorite rain-filled spring days there was a month ago. I picked my kids up early from school because I didn’t want a timeline for when we had to be home, and after a busy week, I missed them. The rain was trickling, but the clouds looked weak to me. I drove down to the docks and parked while the kids ate a snack in the car. We visited about our days and made assumptions about the men quickly loading their boats. Once the rain eased up, we hunted for rocks for our fairy houses and I threw a wooly bugger around off the docks. The wind picked up and the rain hit hard again so my kids ran for cover. So there I was, still in my workout clothes from earlier, standing on a dock in a wind storm, and thought to myself, “Is this when I leave? I look a bit insane, but I’m really not going to leave, am I?” I stayed. The kids were playing “lost boat in a storm” in the car. The rain let up right when I caught this big fat sucker fish. haha.



I literally laughed out loud, those things can fight! I looked closer and noticed they were spawning near shore. The rain let up a bit more and the kids ran over to see my catch. I grabbed their fishing poles from the car and they each took turns catching huge sucker fish. One after the other- huge, strong, big suckers. The commentary was hilarious as my daughter was coaching my son how to reel it in and how to back up. We may have snagged the biggest one…..but it lived. (I know its annoying you we did not kill them).

My kids thought it was the coolest moment of fishing they had ever had, which is sad because they have had some pretty great moments with a fly rod and trout. I probably won’t tell them what sucker fish really are until they are past the teenage years.😉 I was cracking up though because most fly fishing gals have all of these amazing selfies with gorgeous trout, and there I was in my yoga pants, wet from the rain, with an off-kilter picture of me holding a nasty sucker fish. But did we have an audience? No. Did we have the entire beach to ourselves? Oh yes. Was I laughing? You bet!


But here we are now, faced with all of America cramping my style and my places. I forgot when the heat came out, so did the people who wanted to use my the lake to cool off. With the loud boats zooming by, the cigarette smoke lingering, and the garbage starting to fill the banks, I can’t do it. So I must retreat back to the rivers, do the long drives, and hope to find a mountain lake chalked full of sucker fish, for my little fear-less school ditchers. Also, I’ve become sort of an expert at catching sucker fish; I’m thinking about guiding for them soon. Awkward Mama Adventures, indeed.

  • Oh and please take your kids outdoors this summer, even if you have to go to my places. If you have kids with you, you get a free pass.😉 Kids need to learn about the wild so they don’t put Bison in their cars or try to take selfies next to grizzly bears…Kids need to be muddy and exhausted by the end of the summer days, just saying.



A Tribute To Outdoor Mammas

10942511_10204737834077167_2420832311769203434_nHow To Tell If You’re An Outdoor Mamma  Full Article in the Outbound Collective:

Anyone can become an Outdoor Mama, but it takes guts, courage, and the willingness to look a bit crazy. When you arrive at the place of being able to call yourself an Outdoor Mama, you will know; it looks something like this:

Your car is always packed with extra clothes, food storages, water, and your car floors resemble a sort of treasure box, filled with random heart rocks, feathers, and sticks that little ones refuse to leave behind. The one time you cleaned your car out, you regretted it and if you are an Outdoor Mama, you’ll understand why.

Outdoor Mamas will be headed to the store after school with their kids and end up at the river, without noticing their brain knew what it needed the most. They have learned that planning is a ridiculous notion when things tend to not work out accordingly, and life is better spent on a random adventure. Outdoor Mamas just know that they don’t have to have it all figured out to go- they just need to get in the car and roll with it. Her kids admire her adventurous spirit, but she does make her normal friends nervous sometimes.

You’ll know you have reached the ‘Outdoor Mama’ status when you feel yourself asking the questions of: “Should I really have my kids here?” and, “Am I the only one doing this?” or, “I wonder how many trips I have to take to carry everyone across the river.”

Please Continue Reading!!!! Link right here


#FlyMom on a Lunch Break




My friend and I are determined to change the #flymoms representation on Instagram to  pictures of fly fishing moms, verses moms just looking really cool. I don’t doubt those moms are way cool, but there is just something special about fly moms, the fly fishing kind. We are strange, we do crazy things with our kids, we take every opportunity to fish, oh and we a kind of in love with fish in a strange way (in a way that those who don’t fish just kind of don’t get).

The other day I saw a friend I have not seen in years. She asked me what I was up to and said, with a strange tone, ‘looks like you fish a bunch’. I’m like, yeah, I kind of do. I immediately felt like I should justify my time spent fishing by saying, ‘it connects me with nature’, or ‘it’s so great to take my kids out on the river, they love it’. They don’t always love it, I don’t always take them with me, and in the scheme of ‘a bunch’, I fish maybe 10% of what I consider ‘a bunch’. Being a #flymom is just hard to explain to the real world, but if you are one, I salute you. (I’m also so thankful to have met more fly moms this last year through blogging and friend requesting random people on facebook.🙂

I thought about fly moms the other day. I was on a quick work break, coming back from a meeting, and my boss and I pulled over to fish for a bit. I was in black pants, a lady shirt with a black cardigan, and one of those long necklaces. It took me less than 5 minutes to get my rod rigged up and my streamer ready for action. I took my long work necklace off so I could fit on my fly bag, and gave a little snicker. If I could just throw that necklace in the river, I would, but I got it at Kohls and I spend money on fly fishing gear more than girly things.😉

Just as I always do, I ditched the person I was with and made a bee line to the stretch of water I was eyeballing while getting ready. It had been 2 weeks since I caught a fish, which to normal people sounds really lame, but to fly moms, it sounds really desperate. This is me in my mom clothes, I changed the color to hide my wrinkles…


First cast out into the blown-out spring river, with an olive cone head wooly bugger, I didn’t get a hit on the swing, but as I was pulling my streamer out of the water I saw a fish jump for it. I threw it back in immediately and yelled, ‘come to mama’. The cutthroat hammered that streamer hard. Once I had her on the line, I was a bit nervous about how to land her from the cut-bank up high, while wearing lady boots. It wasn’t long before I decided to just slide down the bank in my mom pants. With one foot in the water and one foot in an inch of mud, I landed that fish like a fly-mom boss #flymoms. She was a good size, maybe 16 inches, but I never measure and I suck at math so I’m pretty sure it was 28 inches.


After that, the hunt was on. I didn’t care if those driving by were confused by my outfit, I never really do care actually. I fished the streamer a few times and got another trout. I do something really strange every time I am catching fish: I catch a few on one thing, then switch to the other, like a science experiment. At that point I was sweating because I was so excited. I saw some fish rising and noticed a salmon fly on the branch next to me. BWO’s and skwallas were dancing in the sky, and fish were slurping. I started to shake a bit as I headed down stream to find a friendlier place to float dries, and then I tied on the biggest salmon fly representation I could find in my fly box. My phone message dinged and reminded me I have kids, or a life separate from fishing. My boots were covered in mud and my mom pants were starting to smell fishy. While debating whether or not to take my cardigan off, and show my white chubby arms, I called my kid’s school to let them know ‘mama is going to be late, he needs to ride that bus’. I was almost the mom that was fishing and forgot to get their kids from school….few, it hasn’t happened…yet.

I took my black jacket off and chucked out the dry fly, floating it right over where I saw one rise while on the phone. BAM! Another one. I looked upstream to make sure my boss, Terry, saw me with my rod dancing around, in my mom clothes. He did, so I reeled it in.


A few more cutthroats landed and our time ‘on break’ was up. This is just how I hope these things go: when I only have a tiny bit of time, the hatch is on and the fish are eating. I dusted off my pants, broke my fly rod down, and put my Kohls necklace back on. I had a bit of sweat in my hair and dirt in my nails, but I was good for another round of work.

Unfortunately, nowadays with work and home life it makes it hard to get away for fishing by myself. I miss it, terribly (I went from 50% to 10%). So that fishy hour was just what I needed. I’m glad to have a fly fishing boss that knew where the water would be hopping, and has strange ideas about fun too.😉

Cheers to #flymoms, getting out on the water in our mom jeans and getting it done! I love seeing all of my friends doing this, along with the ones that haul their kids to the river no matter what their age! You gals just rock! Oh and thanks for whomever paid for the salmon fly hatch to hit on my lunch break, I owe you big! And also, thanks to my husband who saved the day and got our kid from the bus….he gets flymoms.

~Mammaflybox #flymoms, tag it, you know you want to.





I don’t know folks, I sacraficed a river weekend to take my kids to an Easter Egg hunt in the city and *sigh*… Those of you that know me well, know this is sort of my worst nightmare. No parking. Waiting in lines. Traffic. People everywhere fighting to get their kids in the front of the line.

But I knew I had to do it. I’m a parent; this is what we are supposed to do. So I followed the crowd and got my kids to the front of the line (If you’re not first, you’re last). I took a deep breath and allowed myself to make eye contact with other people. What I saw, was indeed chaotic, but also sort of beautiful. Sometimes I forget we are all humans, with our own stories, and we are all just trying to raise decent human beings. We don’t really know how to be parents, but collectivley we can agree that today we decided taking the kids to egg races was important and should be fun. 

I looked across the field and saw all types of families, cultures, economic statuses, and parenting styles. Some parents were getting ready to body block the other kids so their kid could get the most eggs. Other parents were video taping and snapping pictures constantly. Another group of parents were making sure thier kids’ clothes were neatly assembled, while I watched another dad take his jacket off to put on his daughter who was evidently still in her ratted pajamas. 

After the race, which don’t even get me started on how insane that is, parents were yelling their kid’s names, kids were crying because they ultimately failed at egg hunting, and a few kids ended up with the biggest basket of eggs of all. My son was one of the tearful ones since he decided to hunt in the oldest kid bracket with his sister.

Then my two yr old and husband wandered over, carrying the biggest bag of eggs I had seen so far. The five year old was unglued- how did he win so many eggs? My husband responded to me under his breath and all jacked up,

“It wasn’t fair. There were big kids in the little kid section too. Parents were scooping all the eggs into a pile for their kids to pick up and then body blocking the rest! But we did pretty well for what we had to work with.”

Instead of fueling the fire, I took some eggs out of the victorious two year old’s bag for the sobbing five yr old’s bucket and wondered how much longer we had to be there. Sky diving bunnies were on the list next… What happens if their parachute doesn’t open? What if they miss their landing mark? I look around at other parents who don’t seem to be asking these questions, so I just keep moving along with the crowd. 

After spending a half hour in the hot dog line,people watching, I had some true epiphanies. For one: all of the parents are exhausted. For two: our kids look fairly happy, so good job parents. And for a deeper three: I wish I could hand out support cards or something to some of you. Its obvious you are struggling, and on your own. Who tells you ‘good job’ or ‘try this’ or ‘you can take a break’? It seems we are all so close together, packed in this park, and yet everyone is living their own separate lives, pretending the other one only shoulders length away is not there or doesn’t need help. I just wanted to yell into the crowd, “Good job, keep it up, and exactly why did we bring our kids here?”

I also learned that just as we are all trying to be our best, we all get cranky when we have to wait in line for a half hour for a hot dog. I looked over at my kids and wondered if it was worth it, if they were having as much fun as I they could be on the river.

The bunnies fell from the sky and my daughter said, “That wasn’t that cool.” My five yr old started crying again because the line for the bouncy castle was a mile long. My two year old drank an entire can of soda unoticed while we were sorting out what to do and then my husband and one kid got lost in the chaos. Now I was the one needing someone to yell to me, “You’re ok, good job, don’t lose your cool!” When we re-united, and  before I freaked out, I decided to go get the car by myself.

While anger-walking I mulled over all of the amazing ways we could have spent a Saturday, but this is what we decided to do? Ungrateful kids with hoards of candy-filled eggs (not even the good chocolate candy either).

 I anger-walked for about a quarter of a mile when I passed a mom yelling cuss words at her daughter who was running ahead, trying to get away from her no doubt. I started to pray for her. Then started to pray for myself, that I wouldn’t unleash my anger on my kids and that I would be re-directed towards the hope-filled reason for Easter, the cross and the resurrection of what was dead and exhausted became alive and new (and more patient?).  Then I started to pray for the people I passed, that they would feel hope, and take care of each other. By the time I got to the car I was in tears. Not because I was overwhelmed by the traffic or poor responses of my kids, but because I felt hopeful- that even though this day was not how I wanted, it was for a purpose.  That sometimes making eye contact, or telling a mom she is doing a good job, should be done.

I often notice that in my country, it is packed with so many people, shoulder-to-shoulder at times, and yet so many are alone. We don’t need more bunnies falling from the sky, we need neighbors willing to take kids fishing. We need people that claim to believe in the Father of Resurrection Sunday, to be a community that people need.

Folks, we all don’t know what we are doing. But that is the point of why I share my strange stories. I do strange things to cope with parenting and life, and I hope you are doing some of them too. And just because some parents take their kids to Easter Egg hunts, soccer games, and community functions, it doesn’t mean you have to too. I tried it, [and even though I gained some perspectives, and it helped me love people more and get prepared for Easter in my heart a bit], it was terrible.

Thankfully, we got a bit of time fishing for bass that evening to get things even more swinging in the right direction. We had a lovely Easter Sunday service that focused on “where do you get your hope?”, followed by a great family day. I hope you survived your egg hunts and Easter weekends with great epiphanies as well. Here parents: *HUG*….this is hard, but worth it…..:)


PB&J From the Hood


There’s something about a PB&J from the hood that tastes so much better than the kitchen kind. Perhaps it’s the way I dump a half cup of PB on each sandwich, hoping it will help satiate the rascals for at least a half hour. Food is always the ticket, until it isn’t anymore.

My rule of, ‘eat what ever you want at the river’, has led to some longer river-days than expected, but when my angry middle child hailed from the back seat, yelling he wanted something healthy, I knew it was time to re-visit the rules I have created. Next time, I’ll throw in some more vegis and force feed them some seaweed. Hungry tummies can wreck a fishing day, but so can a kid puking, something I felt I should share today. The dried cherries I brought for this family trip were found in the back seat, mixed with an assortment of dog hair and hopefully mud. I was still winning- two kids were running around happy and one was in the car playing games on dad’s phone, husband was sitting by the fire, dogs were running around anywhere they wanted, daughter was shooting her bow and arrow, and I was rigging up my fly rod to throw some streamers. We were out of town, on a rainy saturday, in the mountains, next to a river…and it was good.

Besides bringing an assortment of snacks, my other general rule is to get as far away from cell service or other people as possible.

10644318_10207310230865479_2555280475795430618_o I looked around to see if anyone was driving by or walking the river in exploration, curious with the quietness I found not too far from town. It’s interesting, at one point in my life I felt uncomfortable if I was alone out in the woods, and also if there were people around me- I felt almost unqualified to be in the woods alone and then a bit fearful that I would certainly die if I was alone. The more you go, the more you realize your feelings are sometimes just stupid. And the more I haul my family to these outdoor spaces, the more I realize how special this time is with them and I don’t give a flip how strange we look. It’s often unorganized and unexpected, but it’s always worth it (I haven’t told you the story from fall yet where I took 5 kids and my mother to the river. I’m still not ready to share).

Deep thoughts. I looked over to see my daughter had decided she needed to go pee in the woods, only her confidence in finding a place to water the ground was a bit of an overshot as she was behind the car, facing the road…. We’re working on this. My little guy yelled, ‘Mom, come take a picture of me looking at the fire’, and I did.


Then we did all kinds of strange things that didn’t include any planning or grand ideas:


I’m not sure what he is doing here…. I never really know what he is doing, actually.

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This is where we played ‘log roll’ for a while. It was a safe game; playing it right next to the car was smart too. The table my dude used for his sandwich wasn’t the best place, resulting in a win for the black lab and a good 10 minute cry from the dude. He did some pretty sweet log rolls to cheer up though. Then the girls went on a hunt for fish and hills we could shoot. I kind of had a fail moment (see pant legs), it was all down my back side too. My daughter thought it was hilarious to see mom slide down a hill. Waders would have been a good idea as I spent about 5 straight minutes trying to decide if putting my feet in freezing snow runoff water was worth getting to the island. I did the grown-up thing and stayed dry…then rolled down a mud hill. #winning #outdoorfail

I meant for this post to encourage you to take your family to the woods this weekend and dink around, but, if you are a fly fisher, this most likely has encouraged you to leave your kids at home with your spouse and run away as fast as possible. I didn’t see another single family out on our day of adventure, not one, which tells me I’m either incredibly dense, or that I need to share with the world how fun being outdoors together can be. No one ended up puking, and no one wanted to leave. No fish were caught but we did see some wildlife, giggle, eat bad food, and stretch our minds a bit. Mooooose.


I’m still not sure if this was all mud…but the smile was worth it.

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Don’t wait for Spring to get outside, like everyone else. Get those kids in the mud and teach them how to pee in the woods. Campfires are warm and cheetos are free. Bring your waders and toilet paper.

12803206_10207317973659044_6530821208520337334_n (1)Cheers. ( I need a full fishing day)

A Kokanee Spawn Journal



Moving back to North Idaho has brought about some new obsessions and strange behaviors, but nothing that surprises anyone who follows my blog. From Fall to late Winter, I have been hauling my kids to Lake Pend Orielle to watch the show of the spawning Kokanee. This life cycle blows my mind, and I felt honored to be the strange fish lady checking in on them weekly.

October: The kids and I hiked to Farragut State Park, (pictures above), at least once a week to view the Kokanee swarming in the lake, preparing to spawn. It was quite the sight- silver Kokanee swimming in large groups and not wanting ANYTHING to eat. That part was kind of annoying. The other annoying thing was when I told all of my mom friends that they HAD to take their kids to see this….and the fish school decided to be were out to lunch every time I brought someone to see it. Oh and thanks to the person that lost their gigantic three treble hook lure- it was really fun trying to hike a three year old up a mountain with a dog who had a lure stuck on three sides of his armpit. And it was also fun having to tear it out of him by myself while my other lab tried to play and the three year old was jumping off of rocks near my head. And who wrote this on a rock….I’m worried about the kid who chose to write that on a rock. #neveradullmoment #strangefishlady #Kokaneestalker


Early November: After a few visits to parts of the lake, I couldn’t find any Kokanee and decided they probably headed up the creeks and rivers to do their love thing. I brought my 3 year old down to the lake to throw rocks and found about 30 Kokanee spawning right off the shore by the docks. It was evident their spawn was over since most of these fish were mangled and starting to roll belly up. The next day, in between rain storms, my daugher and I jetted down there to fish the CFR Flygal Diaries Rod we received in the mail, to support Breast Cancer Recovery. I was honored to be able to fish this rod with my daughter, and she was overjoyed to fish a pink rod with pink fly line. We worked on her cast and I re-taught her how to strip a purple egg sucking leach. After the third cast she caught this Kokanee that had a bone sticking out of the side of it. She named him Nasty because he really was. At first I felt bad using up his energy, but then considered killing him before throwing him back. This life cycle is harsh- as I stood there watching my Kokanee friends slowing down and only waiting to die. 12369002_10206807527498209_6338741804093378785_n

Late November: Two weeks after we caught ‘Nasty’, the boys and I ventured down to our usual place to see the show. Walking up on the scene of what looked like a fish massacre, brought about a quiet reflective moment for us all. We stood on the shore trying to put the pieces together like detectives, wondering why they had to die like this, and standing still for a while, appreciating the life they led.



The boys and I walked down the shore, careful not to step in dead fish. To lighten up the mood we counted fish as we walked, but failed after reaching the 200 count; the job was no match for two curious kiddos and one fish lady deep in thought. Every moment or so we would hear a thrash in the water and run over to see a fish trying not to die, throwing its fins around to try to get somewhere, to hold on to the life it still had. We watched one fish near the docks take its last gulp of water and go still. Without prompting, the boys paused on the dock for a solid two minutes, in awe of seeing life leave an animal right in front of their eyes. My oldest son whispered, “I think it’s dead mom.” I responded, “Yes it is. This fish has done what it was made to do and now it gets to rest in fishy heaven.” This strange fish lady was choked up a bit; what a beautiful thing to be a part of and reflect on. Looking down the shore, I wondered where all the birds were and how this mess of fish would get cleaned up….

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December: We went to the lake to go for a walk because it was too windy to head down to the water, (I was bummed to not check on my dead fish friends). My daughter stumbled upon a fish in the woods. I swear these fish love me as much as I love them… We guessed that the bald eagles swarming above us had dropped the fish in transit, and my kids took turns carrying it on our hike like it was a flag of honor. Before we left, we laid it on a rock as tribute to the Eagles and watched from our car, but the Eagles didn’t go after it. Our next time there, the kids were eager to check on our fish and found that it had indeed been consumed, to their delight.


January: Snow!! We trekked to our normal spot for some sledding, bow shooting, and fishing, of course. The fish were frozen in the snow, but my dogs still managed to find them….


February: We ventured down to the lake early Feb to do some sledding and enjoy a sunny day. Surprised that the snow was all melted, I was eager to go see what state the fish were in after the melt off. I was even more perplexed to roam the entire beach and not find one single fish head, bone, or any sign of the fish massacre scene! WHAT? I put my kids on the mission of finding me some sign of the late Kokanee and they found these:

I tried to be the investigative detective, but could not figure it out. How did nature just clean this up in only a few month’s time? I never saw any seagulls there or birds harvesting the dead fish!? Beyond bewildered, I was impressed at nature and it’s design. Often, the things that we humans don’t play a hand in end up being the most impressive.


Get those kids outside and be your strange selves! Has anyone else enjoyed a spawn like this? I have been blessed to experience the sockeye salmon and king salmon spawn in Alaska for a summer, but this was special for me because I was able to include my kids in the adventure. Thanks to The Flygal Diaries, for the sweet fly rod experience with my daughter! Keep on keeping on, little Kokanee fry….see you soon.


Strange Fish Lady/ Mammaflybox

Winter Fishing For Mom


You think I’m fishing for ‘mom’ from how you read my title. I was fishing for a mom, but it was a trout’s mom. This is my blog post about how I almost didn’t go, but then I did.

I almost didn’t go. I was thinking back at the week I had, mulling over the lists. Stupid lists. Recognizing the week ahead resembled the same chaotic list-full moments, I knew I needed to make a run; for me, from the needing me, to the river.

I’m such a weirdo when it comes to leaving on my own for a weekend without my posse. I realize what checks my decisions as they exit the plane for flight are not totally my own; they are the weights of other people’s expectations, or my own interpretations of them. Thoughts run through my mind from voices I’ve heard before, who think I’m nuts to take a whole weekend off to fish- that maybe I’m not doing enough or I don’t deserve a break, or maybe I’m wrecking my children’s childhood by not being in their faces every single day. The last stop at the door is checked by my own personal questions: Are you going to drive 9 hours to fish in the freezing cold? Is this the best use of your time? Have you even calculated the gas mileage amount? Aren’t your waders pretty tight with fleece under them? You haven’t solved all of these life problems, are you sure you should go? And, is this the best use of your time, again?


I almost didn’t go, but then I did.

I wonder why we must always calculate the best use of our time… What about the adventure, the thoughtless moments where I’m not solving anything? It has to be ok to not be doing anything, right? Or how about the completely selfish moments where I ditch all my friends in the freezing wind, cast for that rainbow trout I know I saw rise out of the corner of my eye… how does that add up in this strange life calculation? I’m sure that it’s selfish, but I’m just going for it all. I just have to go for it. It’s not selfish, it’s pushing past the limits our culture has put on women to work hard and only play in a certain way. It’s letting myself get what it craves, what it works so hard for: the river, the peace, the uninterrupted moments of casting, the adventure, the laughter with like-minded strange friends. It’s being ok with not being in the best shape ever in this season of life or being the best adult I know I can be, but still allowing myself to enjoy life. There is no way to earn the ability to enjoy life. Life passes so quickly to not take time to enjoy it.

And no matter what size your butt is, your talent and desire for adventure remains the same. See, this is me with my husband’s jacket on that I had in the car, because it was dang cold and the river doesn’t give a flip what women are wearing.

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At one point during my trip, I noticed I was on the river with a big dumb grin, a jolly snicker, and a child-like selfish manner of walking my own way up the river. Sure I had those awkward moments of peeing on my wader straps in the snow and hooting extremely loud when I landed that nice rainbow trout I had been stalking. It’s always going to be filled with those moments of calculation resulting in either success or failure, or just pure opportunities to laugh. Mom’s need sel-fish moments! I’m sure glad I have some friends that are as strange as I am and love winter fishing…and they don’t mind how tight my waders were after the holidays.😉


Disconnect, I urge you. Take care of you. Get into nature and let it make you feel small so you can remember the big picture. Mom-fishy-weekends are so essential every once in a while. When you are constantly doing and serving, it’s easy to forget you are your own strange person. Let the strange person out, or else all you will have is a robot… But always, always, buy your kids something on the way home. And double kiss your husband who kept your kids alive while you were gone and believes in your crazy fly fishing addiction side as well.

Tight lines, mamas!

(Thanks to my friend/cousin, Sally Barnhart, for being my traveling partner and taking most of these pictures of me in my camo parka. I love road trips because it gives me a chance to truly visit! And scare my passengers with my weirdness. And thanks to my friends, Meagan Newberry and Holly Finn, for fishing with me in avalanche territory.)

And Thanks to Terry Edelmann for letting me fish this Pieroway 3 wt rod with a tight Cheeky reel. What a blast. I want one now. Gear review coming soon…maybe…after I cook dinner..


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