mini cottage vacation in june!

sometimes, a mini vacation is just what i need to re-charge my batteries, get my head in order and just relax with family.

we went up to the cottage with our dear bubba & patty. the kids had a fantastic time playing in the water, swinging on the new tire swing, collecting sticks n’ things, making smores, sleeping in (wait, no that didn’t happen), and just having a jolly fun time! If you are interested in having a cottage vacation, you can find a great range of self catering holiday cottages in Silverdale or somewhere more local to you!

to our dismay, the cottage (or mansion worth $3 million) next door to us was purchased by a very wealthy person, who has now built an even bigger mansion worth at least $10, 000, 000!!! it’s not so much the value of the new “cottage” that us disturbing, but it’s the destruction they are doing on the natural environment that is heartbreaking. they have cut down massive swaths of trees on theIR property, which has in turn caused terrible erosion on their hillside land. everything about this mansion is custom and extreme to the max. the windows and doors are all bigger than anything you would find at home depot! they are creating a water feature about the same size in width as the cottage itself, with a waterfall, a river and a pool. this confuses me, BECAUSE THE PROPERTY IS ON A LAKE!

the new neighbours will not be moving in this summer, maybe not even next, as construction on such a massive scale takes years. all day, everyday the dirt road was busy with catering trucks feeding the workers, various pic-up trucks and vans driving back and forth… the dust was insane!

and then, one day we came back from town to this in front of our drive way…

a huge digger being transferred onto a flatbed, to be taken away. yes, this was a five year old’s dream, so we stood there and watched as the worker drove the digger on there, and then chained the huge piece of equipment on. but, it wasn’t really what we had hoped as our lion was napping in the car!

but, that being said we did have a great time boozing, snoozing, playing games, canoeing and hooping! We were able to enjoy a range of different games whilst we were out here. When the kids went to bed, the adults would make use of online casino websites to have our own casino night. We made sure to use a reliable recommendation website like to find a good casino website. Then we were able to enjoy slot machines and poker games online. That was fun. The cottage has decades and decades of family memories in it, and being up there is always so amazing!

eating outside is one of my favourite things to do at the cottage!

a dear friend and her darling daughter came for a visit, so we went out on the row boat.

the boys love the water up here.

went into rosseau. played on the bouncy castle and at the beach.

dear hubby and bubba put up a tire swing.

i got back into hooping! everyone had a turn!

us adults had many boozy nights with a lotta laughs and all sorts of shenanigans!

oh, the cottage life!


some of the pics are taken with my phone so that’s why the quality looks different. I’m considering getting something like memory t shirt quilts made from all of the photos to remind me of what a terrific vacation this was.

xo, mama lola

the river runs through it.

our city has two rivers that run through it. every year the community gets together and cleans up the garbage left over from winter along the river beds. but, this year there were other projects as well for people to participate in. projects like building crayfish habitats, adding mulch to the previously planted trees along the riverbank, or cleaning up the garbage from the river and it’s banks. we chose to learn about how to build crayfish habitats.

some sections of the river are busy with canada geese and at this time of year their goslings are busy growing. the wee grey puff balls are so cute!

although our kids are young, we think it is so important to get them involved in our local community, to learn about our local environment and participate in its up-keep where possible. it’s one thing to just live in a place, but to be involved in a community’s health and spirit are something very different. we met some really inspiring people, full of energy and knowledge to try to change things.

you can’t tell in these pictures, but lion fell and sat in the mud. his bum was covered in this thick, sticky mud. and his shoes, the cotton runners were drenched in water and mud! at home i had to do a thorough rinse before chucking them into the washing machine!

i had packed a picnic lunch, which we gobbled up quickly. building crayfish homes was exhausting work!

xo, mama lola

themed thursday: road trip activities & games! (part 3)

keeping kids content, quiet and busy is an important part of the SANITY piece for parents road tripping with kids, to preserve your sanity even further, you could consider a service like Comfort Drive where a safe driver will ensure you safely get to your destination whilst taking care of your kids. It is super important to plan ahead a bit and to know what kinds of activities will keep your kids happy, especially for those long hauls! if you know that you are going to be going for a long drive, then think about what sort of vehicle you should take as well. is your normal car good enough for the journey? or would you do better if you invested in something like a motorhome for your family? at least this way you get all the space that you need, and you won’t even have to worry about finding a room to stay in? sounds good right? if this is something that interests you then don’t forget you’ll need to get insurance for it (check out Staveley Head for more information on this). getting a motorhome might just make your road trip with your family a lot easier!

we don’t have DVD players in our car (by choice) and don’t have tablets, so we rely on the kids to entertain themselves and each other.


  • felt boards are super fun and a wonderful way to get the kids’ imaginations going. they are basically story boards for kids to create worlds with, where all sorts of adventures can take place.


  • last year i used cookie sheets as the board, this year i stumbled upon these adorable magnet boards at chapters. they come with magnets, but we will bring along our super, awesome 3D dinosaur magnets, which you can learn how to make HERE.
  • i also found a bag of magnet letters at value village for 99 cents.

these are the magnets i made last year for a road trip. kids LOVED them and they are still in circulation!
we made other magnets as well, which are still in use on our fridge! CLICK HERE and it will take you to how to make these awesome toys!


  • i love the idea of pictorial scavenger hunts. since my kids will be 3 and 5 years old, they won’t be able to read a long list of words. but, one with pictures is right up their alley! here’s one by the bird feed NYC, which is great, so i will use their concept, but will gear the lists towards our trip more, using specific road signs i know we will see, wildlife, sites and things. the kids can work together, which i love!
[ source ]


  • what’s a road trip without family sing-a-longs? here’s a few very fun songs that my boys really love, “old mcdonald had a farm“, “ABC“, “the wheels on the bus“, “the ants go marching “, “
  • we do also have a stack of CD’s, MP3’s and sirius radio to choose from for when we need to give our vocal chords a rest. i love to mix it up as well, playing classical, bluegrass or top 40, but sometimes it’s also good to just drive in silence.


  • my kids, especially bear, loves to play eye-spy when in the car. we still play the colour instead of the spelling version of the game! counting games are also great! sometimes we just count all the red cars we see, or all the transport trucks and so on.
  • other classic faves are (found HERE at MSN): 20 questions, license plate bingo, word chain and more!
  • older kids may like mad-libs.

  • each boy brings his fave stuffed animal.
  • we bring about 10 books and just cycle through them. sometimes along the way i will buy a new book as a souvenir for the kids.
  • markers, paper, colouring books, activity books and a few stickers.
  • small toys like cars, animals, people so the kids can create little imaginary worlds.
  • buckets n’ shovels.
  • deck of cards, UNO, other small travel sized games.

here’s what our dudes looked like last summer on our trip to the canadian maritimes. each had a plastic basket for toys at arms reach, a bin of books in the middle and it worked great.


  • and parents, don’t forget to pack some extra creativity, flexibility and patience. keeping kids peaceful in the back can be tricky at times, and sometimes when the volume of the screaming increases, it’s worth it to stop and get out for a bit. i realize this makes the trip longer, but that’s where being flexible comes into play.
  • on our longer stretches of driving, we actually would start after dinner. kids would play, have stories and would eventually fall asleep and we would drive until midnight or so. until we found a motel. it was a great way to make good time!
  • before getting in the car to drive we made sure the kids had a chance to run some beans out. whether at a motel or camp site. and we made sure the first leg of driving was short, as it’s not a very fun way to start the day. but, truth be told, maintaining any real schedule was impossible. all bedtimes and nap times flew out the window and we just had to let the kids sleep when they were tired!

what are some of your family’s favourite songs and games to play?

xo, mama lola

nothing beats family fun!

this weekend we didn’t really have any set plans. there were a million ideas floating around and items on our to-do lost that needed attention, but then i realized the local multicultural festival was happening so out we headed!

the weather was ideal for spending hours outside riding fair rides and eating ice cream. we did find some yummy indian for dinner, as well!

bear was a little grumpy about going, but got over his anxiety as soon as we arrived!

afternoons like this that happen spontaneously, when everyone is in a good mood and the weather cooperates seem to happen every 10 years or so! i am so happy that we had this fantastic day together, especially since bear has been full of extra sass and attitude recently. 

and, there was a firetruck!

the firefighters were handing out baseball cards. one of them asked the boys if they were blue jays fans, and they just stared back at him totally confused! we are not a sports family, so no, our boys have no idea who the jays are, but, they got a deck of cards anyway! woohooo!

we saw lots of friends.
we had a wonderful time.
and left right before the kids lost their cool. got home, watched a few cartoons and headed to bed!

how was your weekend?
what did you do?

xo, mama lola

a preschool and ballet update!

a week ago we went to an open house held by a local soon-to-open outdoor preschool after i saw the open house feather flags waving about all over the place, i was actually quite surprised when i found out it was a preschool. i was feeling hopeful it could be a place to send lion a couple of mornings a week. i am really starting to crave some alone time, and the wee guy doesn’t really have many friends of his own.

we spent the time outside in the sunshine; the kids played, painted and ate cookies. it was all very sweet and lovely!

the space was beautiful, with a full kitchen and dining area, and a classroom with adorable different play areas. the outside area was lovely also, as the school was renting space from a church with lots of orchards and CSA farming plots and community gardens. they own lots of land, enough to keep the kids happy and busy.

but, to my dismay after chatting and listening to the staff the schools mandate isn’t to be outside all the time the way i initially understood. they are hoping to get outside and explore the large property, but they will spend large chunks of time inside as well. the school is on the outskirts of town, and only accessible by car. plus, it’s quite expensive.

so, we won’t be signing lion up to this particular preschool.
gotta keep on looking!

* * * * * * *

bear had his open house at his ballet school last week.

i went with my camera in hand and was thrilled to watch him. but, he didn’t have the same glint in his eye as he has the previous times i have watched.

i think he’s bored. plus, we’ve been dealing with the whole ballet is for girls issue. i chatted with his teacher for a little bit after the class. she had some suggestions, but for now we are leaving the whole conversation of continuing ballet. i think he needs a break from the school routine and the ballet routine, before he can actually say whether or not he wants to continue. maybe missing it will tweak his interested again. in the fall he would be in the next level up, which means he’d need ballet shoes! aahhh!!!!
i really hope he continues.

* * * * * * *

i can’t imagine what juggling both kids’ schedules when they are older will be like. trying to decide who can do what and where, how to get there, balancing costs and school and family! oh, i’m already exhausted just thinking about it!

xo, mama lola

theme thursday: roadtrip tips [part 1]


as with any adventure, i walked away from our summer road trip last year with twenty/twenty hindsight. (read here, PART 1, PART 2) we camped and motelled our way from southern ontario to the eastern coast of canada. there we drove through quebec, new brunswick, prince edward island and nova scotia! from that big trip i learned what we should have packed, what we needed and i thought i would share my insights now that road trip season is almost here! Writing this actually reminded me of the plumber we recently had come and do some work to our bathroom. He had actually traveled quite far to get to us, but don’t worry he didn’t seem bothered in the slightest as he had just picked up his newly leased van. The price that he got it for really put a spring in his step, so I guess that shows the value of having a shop around for deals. Long road trips are certainly mentally taxing ventures so you could consider an alternative like having your vehicle transported to your vacation location for you, by a company like Cars Relo, so that when you arrive, using less stressful means of transportation, your car will be there waiting for you to use. This avoids the headache of countless hours of driving and the anxiety that comes with it. It also means you won’t have to add all those miles to your vehicle!

  • depending on your departure time, pre-packing your car as much as possible the night before is always a good thing, such a HUGE time saver, plus so much easier without the kids hanging around “helping”. If you’re particularly pushed for space, you might want to consider leasing a bigger vehicle such as this Wichita Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD for the duration of your trip. That way you can pack as many clothes and supplies as you want without having to compromise on comfort! I know I said about my roadtrip hindsight being twenty/twenty, well for the next time I’m definitely going to try to look for Help finding a ute canopies in Brisbane (yup, down under here we come!) this way I’m sure we’ll have more than enough space for all of our belongings. I imagine it will be a little more this time considering we’re heading to another country!
  • clean your house before leaving. that includes cleaning out your fridge and changing the sheets on your bed. when we came home exhausted from our trips i was quite pleased with myself for cleaning the day of our departure.
  • clean your car too. yes it gets super yucky on a big trip, but there’s something nice about starting out clean, inside and out.
  • don’t forget to write down your odometer pre/ post trip so you can see how many kilometres you actually clocked!
  • don’t forget to really psyche yourself up for being flexible and bring some extra patience too!

    • when travelling with kids always have food accessible, and not just crackers and chips, but also fruits. i had little tupperware containers for the kids that i would make snacks for them in and then pass them back. it prevented some messes, but unfortunately not all!
    • keep wipes, hand cleaner, toilet paper or paper towels handy too! spills happen, as do boogers, pee accidents or puke!
    • always have toys, activity books, markers, and books available and accessible for the kids. i had a bin of books in between the two boys (propped on top of sleeping bags) and then each boy had their own basket of cars or animals or whatever.
    • have a flashlight accessible up front in the car.
    • have a fully stocked first aid kit. make sure nothing is expired!
    • jars for collecting treasures is helpful. this tip was given by another mama, and boy am i glad i listened. for all the crab legs and stones and cones we collected the jars ensured safe travels for the treasures!
    • a toy/ treat stash that you can pull new books or activities from, to help keep the kids happy during the long drives.
    • laundry soap. on nice mornings, i always washed a few pieces of clothing and hung them to dry on our camp site for the day.
    • access to a variety of music to fit all kinds of moods and times of day. books on CD are fun too!

    • pack clothes by person and by need. i had the kids clothes in one bag, but each kid had a side, so when i needed a clean t-shirt for lion, i knew exactly where to look.
    • do not over pack clothes. remember, it is easy to wash items by hand, and on a summer road trip kids end up spending a lot of time in their bathing suits!
    • for things like rain gear, coats, sneakers and clothes that were not as needed, we kept in a bin with other items that we only needed so often. having things in bins makes it easy to see what’s inside and also easier to pack, at least in a minivan.
    • i had a “kitchen” box with all of our plates, cutlery, cups, cooking pans, mini cutting board, matches, olive oil, dish soap (i brought some from home and just put it in a jar) in it. so when it was time to prepare a meal, i just pulled the kitchen box out and set to work.
    • we had another big rubbermaid bin with all the camping stuff; tent, air matters & pump, rope, and tarps. this way when it was time to set up camp everything was together, or when it was time to take camp down, the kids were able to help by putting everything in the right bin.
    • go easy on towels. you don’t actually need one for everyone. they are big, take up an enormous amount of space in the bag and take forever to dry! sarongs work great and the kids love ’em! they dry quickly, are tiny when folded up and can used for a variety of reasons, as towels, blankets, scarves, skirts, toga’s, sunshade… you get the idea.
    • i had an administrative basket that sat in between the front seats, which contained important items like phone and camera chargers, pens, paper, adult pain killers, extra change, vitamins, extra hair ties, and other important odds and ends.

    what did i miss?
    what are some of your road trip tips or tricks?
    where are you heading to this summer?

    this summer is in fact our third major road trip. we will be driving north to thunder bay, the city where dear hubby and i fell in love! we also drove to NYC with the boys that fateful halloween weekend when the nor-easter landed full steam in 2011! you can read about that trip here PART 1, PART 2, PART 3.

    – games and activities for while driving, camping and at the beach
    – quick, easy and fun snacks and foods to make while on the road and camping
    – tips for camping with kids
    – what to stock in your first aid kit

      xo, mama lola

      just call me diaper head.

      i am the mother of two boys. with that comes a certain amount of daily conversation around penises, watching the kids stick their hands down their pants and let’snot forget about bum wiping! it all comes with the job and i get it!


      but, now we have entered a new world of poop talk.
      since starting school and more specifically since around christmas bear, my 5YO, says the word poo probably a million times a day. there are songs that he sings with only the word poo as lyrics. and, he targets his little brother with these words and rhymes and songs, in a taunting tone. i hear lion trying to stand up for himself shouting “no, me no poo, me a kid”. i cheer loudly for him in my head and think right on little lion! but, bear just keeps on going.

      he repeats sentences like these every chance he gets..

      you’re a diaper head.
      you’re poopy baby poo.
      you’re a baby diaper poo head.
      poo-poo-poopy poo head.

      i realize it is age appropriate, but i find this kind of talk absolutely exhausting to have to listen, because he never turns it off. bear has tried to bring the poo talk to the dinner table, but that’s where i’ve laid down the law, say the word once and it’s straight to bed. it works. but, then he starts with the name calling and poo talk as soon as he’s been excused from the table.


      we’ve tried threats, ignoring it, taking away bed time stories, you name it, but it just keeps going on and on. i’ve asked around and some of his friends do it too, but not quite to the same degree.

      the worst things about this poop talk is that now lion is slowly jumping onto the bandwagon! aaahhhhhh! this cannot be happening!!!!!

      what have you done with your kids when they went through this phase???
      HELP ME!!?!

      xo, mama lola

      the death of a child.

      losing a child is a pain i hope i never have to endure.
      the thought alone is…

      on friday night dear hubby and i went to a movie for date night. we saw “the place beyond the pines”. a movie that deals with all kinds of pain, sorrow and heartache. as a mama, it is very difficult for me to watch some things on the big screen these days. all i do is imagine those situations, horrors as a part of my life. then on saturday night we watched “the greatest” at home on netflix. the movie deals with struggling, mourning parents who are left to deal with the various consequences after their sons tragic death. this movie was even more heartbreaking than i could imagine. so much so, that i refused to even consider what i may feel if i was that mother, if i lost an eighteen year old son. i should have been an teary, bleary eyed sobbing mess, but the suffering this mother felt was too much for me to even consider. you see, she lost her eldest son, but her younger son was alive and needing his family. 
      too close to home for me.

      filling two evenings with pain and loss, even though fictional was heavy for my heart. if you know me well, you know i take things on easily and have a hard time shaking feelings off. the thought of losing one of my boys is so incomprehensible. mother’s lose their children every day all over the world, and if i actually thought about all of that pain, i would be stuck in this chair forever debilitated by the sorrow. 

      but, i did almost lose my littlest boy. and, honestly i have not actually dealt with that fear or pain. i have shoved those feelings into a box to be kept stashed in the far corners of my heart. it is not like me to ignore my feelings and not get a handle on them, but this, my wee lion almost dying at birth is too much for me to even think about. as i type, i am stiffening up and i feel my defences kicking into gear protecting my heart from the agony that could have been. luckily for me, i didn’t even know he was in danger until he was stabilized. my sweet, dear hubby is the one who knew and felt the danger of death.

      death is unavoidable. it is all around us.
      but, a parent, a mother losing a child is the kind of pain i hope i never have to endure. 
      and, to all of the parents who have lived through that, i watch you in awe. 
      your strength silences me.

      i hope this post does not leave you with a heavy heart, but instead inspires you to recognize the beauty that is family and life. i know i will be slobbering some extra sloppy kisses on my boys today and tucking them both into bed with me tonight!

      xo, mama lola

      this moment

      as inspired by souleMama; one photo from our week, no words, only an image to sum up our time as a family. one that captures a moment in time and is a visual reminder of where we were at this time in our lives. 

      i would love it if you left a link to your { this moment }. 

      xo, mama lola
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