down by the river.

it sure was a fantastic weekend! the sun was shining, it was hot and everyone seemed to be in a great mood. it’s amazing how the weather can impact a whole cities mood and feel.

on sunday we decided to jump on our bikes and bike down to the river. i just love that the kids are old enough to do this kind of thing. lion is almost 5yrs, so his stamina isn’t as great, but man, that kid pedaled his heart out. i was so proud of him! bear had a brand new bicycle to try and he was a little apprehensive at first. this new bike has hand breaks and gears! but, he too got into the groove!

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when we arrived at the river we heard frogs, which seemed strange as it was the middle of the afternoon and super hot in the sun. as we looked closer we saw frogs all over the place, many of them in pairs… then we clued in. it’s mating season!!! the croaking sound was unbelievably loud, but also exciting, because it started some great conversations with the kids!
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the geese were hanging out in pairs. there were some pretty aggressive fights between some of the pairings. they too must be mating and preparing to nest.

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the boys made boats out of bark and sticks.

such simple fun. no plastic toys. no batteries.

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bear did actually end up in the water! the branch he was balancing on suddenly snapped and SPLASH! luckily for him the water wasn’t too cold and the air was warm! we all had a big laugh about it though!

 

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it is so wonderful that spring has arrived and we have a taste of warm, hot weather. 

hope you had a lovely weekend too!

 

xo, mama lola

spring hike.


the boys and i  went for a hike on a warm march break afternoon with some good friends. it was officially the last day of winter, but it sure felt like spring. the sun was out in full force melting snow creating glorious mud for the kids to roll in. us mum’s didn’t mind though, at least all the boys were out enjoying the woods.

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spring hike,

chick-a-dee-dee-dee-dee!

chick-a-dee-dee-dee-dee!

this particular trail is known for it’s friendly chickadee’s so i made sure to pack a small bag of bird see with us. 

we put some seed into our hands and waited very quietly. sure enough, a few brave birds flew right onto our hands to nibble on the treats we were holding. it was quite the delight!
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i told the kids there was treasure chest in this tree stump! haha!

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it’s completely impossible to get a nice picture of our four boys all together. there were too many giggles and sillies trapped inside of them, even after all of the running!

oh well, they’re all cute non-the-less with their goofy faces and tongues sticking out!
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for the hike i had stuffed my driver’s license into an unusual pocket for “safe keeping”. well, hours after we got home from our romp in the woods i realized to my horror that it was missing! immediately panic set in! DH and i decided to drive back to the parking lot of the trail just in case it had fallen out around the parked car. well, i didn’t see it, but then last minute i decided to check the map board at the base of the trail and there it was! someone had found my license and attached it to the board!!!

i could not believe my luck! oh, you should have seen my high kicks as i danced my happy dance!!! a huge thanks to this kind stranger! 

xo, mama lola

reindeer cookies!

we made these super cute. super yummy, super easy reindeer cookies after school one day. it was great way to get some christmas cheer into dull monday afternoon, as we also had our CHFI holiday music cranked!

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the recipe is from pillsbury, CLICK HERE for deatils. there’s no mess, it’s fast, easy and the kids LOVE the whole process so much!

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just a few tips :

  • remember to buy the small pretzels as the cookies expand A LOT as they bake, so you need to be generous with the spacing or the “antlers” can fall off when you’re removing from the cookie sheet.
  • get your christmas helpers to decorate fast, because at the cookies set the candy eyes and noses just wont stick!
  • we used swedish berries and M&M’s for the eyes and noses. more colourful!
  • this is the only time i buy cookie dough in a tube, and i just let it go! haha! you should too!

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we actually baked these gems a few christmas’ ago when bear and lion were three years younger than they are today… man, have those kids grown up a lot in that time! so amazing! check out the adorable pictures HERE!

ENJOY!

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xo, mama lola

DIY halloween lights!

DIY halloween lights, halloween, crafts, lights

 

check out what we made! i got the idea from landeelu.

during our current reno it’s hard to get too involved in crafty-goodness as everything is packed away in boxes or hidden in a corner under a pile of stuff. so this project was perfect, few materials and nothing to clean up. my boys loved, LOVED this craft. i bought a box of 30 ping pong balls from canadian tire for $10 and sharpies from target for $8, sounds expensive but the markers will last a while and we didn’t actually use all of the balls. i found a string of green x-mas lights in the basement, which i thought were perfect for spooky halloween lights!

 

*i did let both kids use permanent markers, but you don’t have to!

 

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check-out the spooky mummy, eye ball and pair of bats my boys drew!

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MATERIALS:

ping pong balls

permanent markers

exacto knife

string of x-mas lights

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. decorate each ping pong ball. we did all kinds of halloween themed drawings like bats, pumpkins, bleeding spider web, eyeballs and a mummy! spoooooky!

2. cut an X on the ping pong ball with an exacto knife. attach to light string. (consider which way you want your eyeball or other image to face once attached to light string)

3. hang in a place where they can be admired and plug in!

 

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hope you love making your lights as much as we did!

xo, mama lola

cottage thanksgiving.

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we enjoyed a beautiful weekend at the cottage for thanksgiving.  it’s taken me a while to organize pictures and edit them, as our reno at the house has forced me to stay away from our home all day for a few days! bah! but, better late than never right?!

 

the weather was awesome! sunny, with a few misty moments and crisp fresh air. the leaves were a beautiful array of bright colours.  we got a lot of work done, including rearranging the wood shed, piling wood from wettest to driest. it’s very physical job, but there was 4 adults doing it,so it went well. the chipmunks were just as busy as us, running around with their wee cheeks full of grub to last them through the winter.

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with two vegans, four vegetarians and three carnivores our dinner was super delicious! we had all kinds of yummy, healthy foods that we were all so very grateful for, including tofu and bok choy sauteed in pineapple sauce, mashed potatoes, stuffing (veg and not), baked squash, roasted chicken and shrimp n’ scallops sauteed in lime juice and cilantro. our bellies were too satisfied, hahaha!

 

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my MIL found an old SUPER COOL hockey table under one of the beds. it’s wooden and dear hubby used to play against his grandfather back during his childhood. the kids loved playing this for hours and hours, so much so in fact that bear started a family tournament. he made a list with everyone’s names and then various family members played against each other. it was a lot of fun!

 

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there was a huge rain storm a few weeks back that washed out a lot of roads in and around the cottage. the top of the cottage driveway happens to to be located at the bottom of two hills, and there was a lot of damage. there have been issues for years and the county is always promising to fix the problems. so when we arrived on friday afternoon we found these huge boulders at the entrance of the driveway, massive diggers sitting on rocks and culverts dug out again. quite shocking and depressing, because these huge gouges are very damaging to the wildlife in the area.

 

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the portage down to the lake that runs from the road next to the cottage property line, was seriously damaged during the rain storm as well. this was a big concern to me, purely for selfish reasons as that’s where we do best tobogganing in the winter! we’ll have to wait and see what the construction ends up looking like.

 

hope you had a lovely weekend with whatever fun you got into on the long weekend!

xo, mama lola

self care & mothering: the honest truth.

self care & MOTHERING

 

when i had wee babes i was running on empty. i was tired, depleted and exhausted for years it seems. my kids were needy the way kids are, and i remember people constantly telling me to work on my self-care to help feel re-energized. so, i tried that. i’d join the gym, change my diet, go out with friends, i even hired a baby-sitter and implemented a weekly friday-night date night with DH. but, i still felt empty and tired.

 

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now that my kids a older (4 & 6) i have 20/20 hindsight. it’s not self-care that got me through those years and it wasn’t the lack of self-care that made my days difficult to manage… it was the simple fact that i’m a mum.

children are an enormous amount of work, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

 

i look back on those years with my two babes and wonder how i ever survived. how i mothered at all while sleep deprived, with headaches, hungry, angry, all the while feeling under appreciated and invisible. i tried to do everything the right way; we were avid cloth diaperers only doing laundry in the cheap hours and never using the dryer, i exclusively breastfed, carried my babes and toddlers (sometimes both at the same time!) i cooked and baked everything from scratch, i took my kids outside in all kinds of weather and in canada that can mean lots of layers on most days! i’m not sharing this as a way to brag or seek attention, but as a way to acknowledge that no matter how a mum mother’s, no matter what the choices she makes for her family she is going to be tired. and, yes she needs self care, but there isn’t enough time or space for good self care when the kids are little. the wee people take so much that it’s impossible to recharge yourself completely or effectively. regardless of the age differences in kids, the number of kids, every mother is going to feel guilty that they are not giving enough to one or all of her children at one time or another. oh, the weight of a mother’s guilt!

 

once all of the kids are out of babyland it is easier to create better self care routines, but only because the constant need for mum’s decreases with age.  children become more self-sufficient and independent, and all of those skills no matter how small, like putting on their own shoes, doing up a zipper, brushing their own teeth or my fave, wiping their own bums… all of those seconds and minutes add up in a day to less actual hands on time.

and, by hands on i mean literally touching! babies and toddlers need to be touched A LOT, and i remember at the end of those long days when DH would finally walk in the door feeling slight relief that he was home to carry, cuddle, or change a diaper. but, if DH tried to touch me, even to rub my achy back i would run screaming from the room, because i just wanted to be left alone, untouched, on the couch or wherever in my own space! sounds absurd, but i know many of you reading this are nodding. you know what i’m talking about!

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mothering, parenting is about giving. giving, giving, giving all day to these little, adorable people who just take. all they know how to do is take. they don’t know how show gratitude or acknowledge all the energy we as parents pour into them each day. but, there is hope… i am now talking to you, mum of tiny baby with a toddler hanging at your feet… there is hope. as your kids get older they will one day say “thanks for making this udon soup for dinner, it’s my favourite”. just like that out of no where, and don’t get me wrong, sentences like that happen rarely, but my point is that they do. a school aged kid will show gratitude on their own initiative, will (sometimes) help put groceries away when you ask, will always run and give you a hug after school because they missed you and are so happy to see you. happy to see you because there has been a solid number of hours of separation, of distance and space. those hours are golden. for you and for them.

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i want to apologize to all my friends who i have kept telling to work on self care. how completely arrogant and cocky of me! it’s so easy for me to sit here in an empty house and preach about making time for yourself, when it’s the new norm for me. it’s easy for me suggest going for walk alone or joining a book club, when the truth of the matter is mothering wee people is so bloody hard that all you mum’s really need is to be heard. to be understood and validated that, YES, feeling chronically sleep deprived is awful, depressing and scary at times. that holding one sided conversations all day every day with a baby starts to make you feel crazy. that having these beautiful people to care for is also incredibly lonely.

 

i’m sorry for being a know-it-all bitch to you.

 

i remember so well how i felt. self care, i finally understand will not take away your twitching eyes, exhausted back or feelings of utter exhaustion. self care can help you cope in the moment, but only time will truly take away those feelings of depletion. that all being said, i do still encourage mum’s to do things for themselves, ask for help and support, and let the house be a mess. get a massage or whatever, because that hour away is golden too.

 

hang in there mum with very little people. babies all eventually grow into toddlers who will in turn eventually grow into kids. they learn to walk, talk, sleep, poo in the toilet and become better at expressing their needs. mothering is always hard, but at least as the kids get older you get to sleep more!

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kids will always need their parents, their caregivers, and as mother’s we will always need our kids.

trust me, things do shift.

xo, mama lola

lion started kindergarten.


oh my, what a huge milestone we have reached as a family, but really it’s one our littlest has achieved with such confidence and joy. yes, as a family we got to this goal, but really it’s our lion who has started school with serious zest! i’m so proud of him, i could burst! as a teeny baby, as soon as lion became aware of his big brother he has been working hard to catch up to bear. he has always wanted to do and be just like bear, in that adorable little brother way, which as his mum is heartbreakingly cute to see.

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now, that he gets to go to the same school as his big brother… HUGE! from the get-go lion has been brave and eager to go, marching confidently into the kindergarten classroom forgetting to even say bye to us, his bleary eyed parents! here in ontario kindergarten is all day, every day and to acclimatize the newest students they start off with only two hours of school on day and then they get a day or two off, go for a full day, more days off and then they go full steam. it’s called staggered entry and for younger siblings it can be confusing and difficult, because their older sibs are still going to school, going through those routines and so lion’s start to school was kinda long.

 

and, my lion still naps… yes, still at 4 years of age! so, i only send him 3 days a week. i did the same with bear as well, as i think all day, every day school for such little people is too much to handle. on the days lion does not go to school he plays in the morning or goes to swimming lessons and then crashes for 2-3 hours.

 

first day of school

his teachers have shared no concerns and say he is a pleasure in the classroom. one of the teachers was bears teacher for two years and she remarked that it is incredible how different my two boys are! and, it’s true. bear struggled greatly with transitioning into school and i think he was quite jealous that his brother was allowed to stay home with mum, while got shipped away to some scary new place. (read more about bears first days of school HERE) lion now has a huge advantage being the little brother, as he is already very familiar with the school routine. he knows what drop-offs in the morning and pick-ups in the afternoon look like, he recognizes some of the teachers, he has been inside the school a million times over the years and he has his big brother at school down the hall. these are all huge advantages that bear never felt, making him anxious and scared at school often.

 

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i am so proud and excited for my kids this year. they are happy,  they are growing up and experiencing new adventures together, which is what i always wanted for my kids!

 

xo, mama lola

family camp nee kau nis.

 

family camp, it is something that almost everyone with kids seems to participate in somewhere, sometimes during the summer months. and, this year we joined the masses deciding to join friends at the family camp they have been attending for years. camp nee kau nis is a quaker based camp, but you don’t have to be quaker to attend camp, but you do have to know the right people! (wink)

 

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we arrived to a peaceful, beautiful place nestled in the trees overlooking a lake. most people had arrived the previous day and were settling into the routine. we arrived after lunch and were greeted by my dear blogging friend dilovely who tried on a new hat this year as co-director of family camp (which she wore stunningly, by the way). and, with wide open arms was my dearest, darling friend for a million years. it felt good to arrive.

 

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this cabin below, zavitz, was our home. it was clearly a space that had hosted many visitors in it’s day. i could just imagine young campers giggling away whispering in the dark with their flashlights about the silly antics they had gotten into earlier that day, who had a crush on whom and what swimming trick they had mastered!  the cabin was huge, with four beds (two sets of bunk beds) and a double bed perfect for this mama to stretch out it!

 

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our home away from home was a sweet space with lots of room for us to spread out. it had electricity, which was handy and a tiny corner sink behind the door.

 

once we had arrived, unpacked the van some people headed down to the beach. lion was excited and eagerly changed into his bathing suit, while my bear became overwhelmed by his anxiety. new places, new people, new routines, new expectations are all so difficult for him.

 

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all of our days started with the loud banging of a GONG! yup, the kitchen staff went around to each cabin and hit a horrible gong to make sure everyone was up n’ at ’em! all of the meals were communal events held in nelson hall. as you walk into this big room you could feel the history and friendship pulsing in it, there were posters and pieces of art lining the walls, a bookshelf tucked away on a corner with all sorts of books and lotsa tables with benches.

 

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in the mornings after breakfast was meeting for worship (read more HERE). that’s when we all came together as a community of friends and were together in silence. sometimes someone would share a thought or a feeling they were experiencing, but it was time of quiet, peaceful contemplation. usually it was done outside the meeting house under big shady trees, where we could listen and watch the splendour of the natural world surrounding us. sometimes if it was rainy or cold so we gathered inside the meeting house. i loved these times of quiet with so many people. people from all over canada and even europe; people of all kinds of backgrounds, ages, interests, passions and families. sometimes the most powerful communications with ourselves or others can happen in and through silence.

 

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well, meeting for worship was about an hour, but there was no way all of the kids could sit still and quietly for that long, so the hope was to share meeting with them for 15 minutes and then they could take off to the playground and participate in the children’s programming.

 

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the volunteers who ran the kids programming were AMAZING! the crafts were super fun for all of the kids there and they ranged from wee tots to tweens! there were toys and activities for the kids to busy themselves and a very friendly vibe. even i got my craft on!

 

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bunting collage

programming included story time and yummy snacks as well.

 

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tether ball… as an adult this was terrifying to watch as the near misses were astonishing! there were also lots of bang-on hits to the head, back, legs and kids crashing into each other. but the comrodery and team work this game brought out in the kids was really fun to see. initially not everyone knew how to play, so the kids taught each other the rules and would help out the newer players. sometimes there were big size differences between teams (that’s what happens when 6 year olds play with 10 year olds!) so the kids figured out ways to make things more fair and equitable… all without any adult intervention! oh, it was fantastic!

 

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tether ball always had a captive audience.

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every afternoon there was swimming down by the beach. oh, it was wonderful! i don’t really have any pictures from there, because i was having too much fun playing with all of the kids! the  beach was small, but the water was warm and shallow enough for kids of all swimming abilities to feel comfortable, play and swim. it was awesome! my bear and lion were super confident in the water, which is such a relief.

 

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this wee miss loved the beach!

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dancer mum’s rehearsing for talent night!

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all campers are expected to help out at camp, so we’re divided into teams that rotate through several chores. here some lovelies are washing the dinner dishes and below the kids from our team were helping out with the drying. chores are a way to contribute to the community living. nobody minded doing chores… well, except my bear. he sure did complain and put up a fuss, but when it time to work he was ready!

 

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we had a cook-out one evening, where everyone ate outside and then we roasted marshmallows! it was so fun (and buggy), and someone even brought out their guitar for a sing-a-long. who doesn’t love some yellow submarine and wheels on the bus with the mallows! then the skies started to darken and word got around that a big storm was heading our way, so we ended the night early and headed back to our cabins.

 

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we had some anxious times, some homesick moments, but they were perfectly rounded-out with the new friendships and the connections we re-established with friends. we laughed and cried, we ate yummy food until our bellies were jolly thanks to the amazing kitchen staff, learned bits and pieces about about the passive traditions and beliefs the quakers hold.

 

thank you so much having us camp nee kau nis.

xo, mama lola

july camping week: part 2

 

this is part two of our family camping trip from july (read part one HERE)! yes, i am late in sharing, but i have taken conscious time away from this space to vacation and enjoy summer with my family.

 

after surviving the bumps mac gregor point threw our way, we headed up to the bruce peninsula all the way to tobermory. there we were camping at a national camp ground called cyprus lake. we were excited, as we had heard wonderful things about this destination.

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remember how we had had issues with rain a few days earlier at our previous site at mac gregor point? so to combat fears, dear hubby climbed a few trees to attach the world largest tarp and try to protect the tent from flooding.

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our site surrounded by stunning tall trees. it was a large site perfect for the kids to ride their bikes around, it had a private forests all around where the kids busied themselves with all kinds of games. one thing this camp ground was strict about was keeping your site clean of foods and things that might attract wild animals. there were black bears around, and other animals like raccoons can cause real havoc to campers.

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we had fires each night, mostly for cooking things like baked potatoes and jiffy pop! but, having stories by the fire is never a bad thing either! our kids love camping, but sometimes bear struggles with finding space to be alone. he needs it to recharge his batteries.

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we hiked along a beautiful trail from our campsite to the famous grotto. the view was spectacular! it looked like we were on the mediterranean sea in greece somewhere!

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and then we woke up to rain. and, not nice summer rain that is refreshing and makes the forest smell amazing… no, no this was torrential and cold! luckily, i am married to a man who is not phased by these kinds of surprises, instead of getting upset, he just rolls into action! he backed up the van close to the tent, dragged a picnic table under the worlds largest tarp and started cooking breakfast for us as if it was any ol’morning! how awesome is he?!

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on our last day in tobemory we had to make it count after being rained out! so we took a super speedy boat ride to flower pot island. on the way there we checked out a few shipwrecks in the sparkling clear water. the boys of course thought it was all pretty darn cool!

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then we were off…. woohooo!!!! we all love being on boats and feeling the wind in our hair!

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we saw a snake quickly dash across the trail we were on.

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this was definitely a trying trip for us, mostly cause by the rain and the fact that i had strep, which meant i was tired. but, we saw lots of beautiful things and got to spend that oh-so-important quality time together as a family. being together just the four of us is necessary for us; we all yearn to be together and as the kids get older it’s going to be hard to always have that time.but, i’m hoping if we make these summer traditions now, they’ll become things we all look forward to!

 

well, here’s hoping anyhow!

hope you have been enjoying your summer! soon i’ll be sharing about our experiences at camp neekaunis, a family camp the boys and i attended. plus, some other summer adventures we’ve been fortunate enough to do!

xo, mama lola

july camping week: part 1.

as soon as school let out, we packed up the van and went camping. it was fun, but quite stressful as well. we had a lot pretty big bumps along the way, starting with me getting strep throat on our very first night. bah! but, after spending a couple of hours in the ER i got a script for the antibiotics and was good to go from there!

i took a lotof photo’s and i have tried to only choose my top-TOP faves and ones that best tell the story of our adventure! we stayed in two camp grounds, so i’m dividing the pics up according geography. i’m hoping it’ll be easier to see the pics…

[part one] : MAC GREGOR POINT!

we love camping here. the provincial camp grounds are right on the shores of lake huron, there is a small beach and this year the water was freezing, because of the extra cold winter that brought enormous snow levels! i stood in the water for 3 seconds which was enough time to cause excruciating pain in my ankles and feet!

the amenities are great, but our bear was reluctant to use the outhouse style loo’s, but the camp sites are awesome and the bike trails are super fun and the board walks are lovely!we actually had a trail go right by our camp site, allowing the kids to go running and biking on their own a little. it was kinda perfect! plus, their visitors centre is amazing and our kids love it!

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it was super hot and humid… so hot in fact that someone’s ice cream melted faster than they could keep up with it! the heat brought with it torrential rains, a dinner in town and the purchase of the world’s biggest tarp! there are no pictures, because things were chaotic and wet… and, um… tense during those hours!

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a typical camping breakfast made by my lovely husband. coffee pressed in my coleman brand french press, an egg sunny side up with smoked gouda all on a finnish rye bread! perfection, i tell ya!

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we hung-out a lot. the boys rode their bikes, we painted water colours together and complained about the bugs. oh-my-gosh the bugs were intense and not just the mosquitoes, but the deer flies and regular house flies were swarming us! never have i camped where house flies are a problem!

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we saw this turtle one evening. it was minding it’s own business, toodeling along when we came along and disturbed him.

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one evening we drove up the coast and went to the shores of lake huron and enjoyed a sunset just the four of us. it was absolutely stunning. we had had a rough afternoon, as our bear had fallen off his bike landing hard on his belly. the shard rock and tree roots left a huge dent in my guy!

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after the sun set it was still steaming hot, especially in our tent, so we removed the world’s biggest tarp and the tent fly to try and get some air in. i lay there listening to my family snore away, as i stared up at the sky filled with stars. it was such a beautiful moment with my family, even if they didn’t know it!

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on july 1st, CANADA DAY we switched camp sites and headed a little further north to tobermory and cyprus lake.

part two will have pictures from there, which will include more fun with the world’s largest tarp, a boat ride and more!

 

xo, mama lola
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