our road trip bucket list!

we made a list of all the things we hope to see and do during this year’s summer road trip! our plan is to head north and stop where it’s practical or necessary!

  • see the big canada goose at the general store in wawa
  • visit the terry fox memorial in thunder bay
  • eat lots of smores
  • watch the sunset over lake superior
  • visit science north in sudbury
  • go canoeing
  • collect rocks
  • have sauna in thunder bay at kanga’s
  • dance at the pow wow on manitoulin island
  • collect feathers
  • swim like fishes
  • send post cards
  • go on many hikes
  • climb a tree
  • go to beaches
  • read books
  • visit the bushplane museum
  • eat viili at hoito
let’s hope we get to cross off most of what’son here!!!
xo, mama lola

learning to be bear wise.

i am scared of bears.

i live in a country and a province that has bear. black bears, to be specific.
we’ve been at the cottage and i have seen several on the property on a couple of different occasions in the last 5 years. once, when bear was about 9 months old, he and i were playing in front of the cottage when i felt like someone was staring at us, and bam, when i turned around i made eye contact with a black bear up a hill, in and among the forest about 50 metres away!

this is my sweet little guy moments before i saw the bear.

immediately i grabbed my wee baby, ran inside, ran to the window and saw the bear sniffing the ground we had just been standing on. with my adrenalin kicking i tried to find my camera to get a picture, but my hands were shaking so much and my heart was pounding in my chest… it was hard and scary…

this was the picture i got of the bear making it’s way up the driveway. my dad gave a s#it for even trying to get a photo of a bear. you see, i stepped out of the cottage, just a little to snap this photo.

i have always been slightly nervous about bears.
at treeplanting we had bears visit our camp all the time. some people even had their tents ripped open by bears, but luckily this happened when they themselves were out in the clearcut working! ha! at treeplanting there are lots of rules about how and where to keep your items with scent, because shampoo’s and even a tiny lip balm container can attract bears. their noses are so incredibly efficient and curious!

a black bear.

 [ source : government of yukon pages ]

this summer the boys, dear hubby and i are driving north in ontario for our summer road trip. we are heading up to thunder bay to where dear hubby and i met and fell in love! we plan on camping a bit, and i can honestly say that i am already a little worried. so, i did a little bit of research on google about bears.
i found this map.

source ]

it’s pretty good i think, doesn’t really make me feel better, but at least it’s a clear visual of what i should expect. and, i should expect bears.

dear hubby bought be a book “bear attacks; their causes and avoidance” after one of my bear sightings at the cottage. i read the book cover to cover, and really came to the conclusion that there isn’t much you can do to avoid a bear, or a black bear specifically. if they are hungry, or feel threatened they may attack. bears do not typically eat people, but again, if they are hungry enough they sure will. what really worries me is the realization that it is difficult to get away from a bear, especially when with kids; bears are fast runners and excellent climbers. where do we go to get away?

plus that whole making noise to deter bears, well, it doesn’t necessarily work either. it can make the bears curious and draw them TO YOU, instead of scaring them and deterring them AWAY FROM YOU. that day at the cottage when bear was a babe and we saw the bear, i was actually singing super loudly and clapping in the hopes of scaring the furry beasts, as a few months earlier i had seen another bear sniffing the baby stroller we left outside!

clearly i have not shared my concerns with the kids. they know there are bears in the woods, because it comes up in conversation, the way the habitats of all sorts of animals do. but, i will not share my fears with them either, especially since my 5YO bear, is quite anxious at times already. hopefully we will not see any bears or evidence of them, but that being said… any night we sleep in a tent i will be laying there eyes wide open listening closely to each creak and tweet in the forest. 

wish me luck!!!

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

themed thursday :road trip tips for camping! (part 2)

we’re a camping family. we like to go on short car camping stints and also camp during our road trips. i know so many friends who like going on camping holidays as well. We often get into conversations about the best equipment for camping. I knwo that allcampingstuff.com (https://allcampingstuff.com) has some pretty comprehensive guides that usually point us in right direct. They usually help and advice us on things like if tent camping is something we want to consider. However, I know there are some who like using a caravan instead. if you prefer a caravan because it’s more convient then that’s fine, it might be a good idea though to check out something like this Campsmart site to give you a better idea of what else you could get for your caravan experience. i try not to let our food choices get too convenient or junky. i always round out an order of chuck wagon fries with carrots, cucumber or apple slices. and only allow ice cream once a day! haha!
here are some of the tips and tricks i have learned along the way…


  • take into consideration how many meals you need to cover, for how many people, how much time you have for prep at camp and clean-up, and what can you do at home before leaving. However, if you are travelling around the country in a camper, be sure to check out One Sure Insurance for information on the benefits of insuring a camper!
  • decide which meals will take place at your campsite, which meals will in restaurants and which meals will just be cream cheese bagels thrown together. It is definitely worth investing in a good quality food cooler for your trip as well. Making sure your frozen food stays frozen is vital. Have a look around, because you can get a standard coolers to a rotomolded cooler and all of these have their pros and cons, making it really important to find one that meets your needs the most!
  • remember to keep tabs on the weather. cooking in the rain is quite frankly not an option! last summer we woke up to an epic down pour, so we all had bowls of granola and milk in the car. it was exciting for the kids and very memorable!

here are some my families favourite meals while camping or on the road. we’re vegetarian, but adding meat to any of these recipes is easy enough!


  • porridge: using the quick oats it’s fast, easy and you can add fruit and berries for extra taste.
  • yoghurt parfaits: layers of yoghurt, fruit, berries and granola mixed together. kids love this!
  • breakfast burrito: we are an egg free family, so we make scramble tofu instead of the eggs. in an iron skillet fry up onions, peppers, tomatoes, whatever your family likes, add tofu and then toss the scrambled goodness into a wrap, add cheese and salsa for flavour and voila, a breakfast burrito.
  • coffee: i am a coffee lover.so, one day dear hubby bought me a plastic french press for camping trips. i cannot stand the taste of instant coffee, so this way i can enjoy a nice cuppa java at camp without turning into a grump!


  • fruit, cut veggies, crackers, pretzels, pop corn, tortilla chips….
  • dried fruits like raisins or apricots are great treat!
  • smores, ’nuff said!
  • ice cream cones filled with fruit and chocolate treats, wrapped in foil, and then a quick melt on the fire! yum!
  • the internet and pinterest is overflowing with awesome yummy camping treat ideas. THIS HERE is the link to my camping board on pinterest with lots of ideas and tips and tricks!


  • tacos: we like hard taco’s with the flat bottoms, so it’s easier for the kiddo’s to fill ’em up with what they like!
  • taters: we love to eat tater’s at camping! two ways to make them: first, chop up potatoes into bite sized pieces, add butter or oil, a chopped onion and a few cloves of garlic and a sprinkling of sea salt. wrap carefully in several layers of foil and add to the grill above fire. or chuck above mentioned ingredients into your skillet and do them on the camping stove! delish!
  • pasta: pasta is super fast. boil the water, toss in noodles. you can use ready made pasta sauce from a jar, pesto sauce or sautee a few veggies in olive oil and add those to the pasta. done and done!
  • hot dogs: a camping fave. do up the dogs in your fire, add various condaments
  • salad: most grocery stores sell various kinds of ready-made salads. we would often grab one for lunch to share as a family. great way to still get all those nutrients and vitamins!


  • camping stove, propane for it, matches.
  • wash basin, dish soap, tea towels, a few clothes pegs.
  • foil, paper towel, table cloth and table cloth clips to attach to the picnic table.
  • condiments: ketchup, dijon mustard, pickles… you should downsize them into smaller containers
  • cooking oil (we prefer olive oil), garlic, onions, salt, pepper.
  • metal plates, wooden bowls (we use grandma’s old salad bowls instead of yucky plastic ones), metal cups, small cutting board, a sharp knife, spoons n’ forks, a wooden spatula,
  • one small cooking pot, one cast iron skillet. either can go in the fire on a grill, or can be used on a camping stove.


  • remember that many foods require proper refrigeration, but some foods don’t, which are ideal for road trips and camping! foods like eggs, nut butters, salsa and some cheeses, don’t actually have to stay cold for food safety reasons, we’re just so used to it here in north america. that’s why they are perfect for travelling with. a quick almond butter and apple wrap is a great snack in the car, or a bagel with cream cheese is a fast lunch for the kids.
  • do buy ice along the way of you have milk or yoghurt. remember, the bags of ice often have holes and will flood your cooler.
  • buy big jugs of drinking water WITH A SPOUT! some jugs only have the screw top lid, but other ones have a proper spout so you can control easily how much water comes out. much easier when filling water bottles!
  • always have a water accessible when cooking with fire. save dirty dish water for the end of the night, to pour over your hot coals to properly extinguish the fire.
  • if possible, chop or precook foods at home before leaving. this makes things just that much easier onsite. pack foods in re-usable ziplock bags, label them and then at meal time it’s easy for anyone to help out.

feel free to share your tips and tricks with food while camping. i’m always keen to see what works for others!

still to come:

  • activities, games and crafts for the kids
  • toiletries and first aid kits info
  • what to consider for sleeping, setting up camp etc…

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

      special offer from mabel’s labels!

      hard to believe it’s that time of year again! time to start planning your summer plans!

      even though i’m a bit worried about how my bear will cope at summer camp, i have decided to still send him to two camps. and, now that he’s five and a school aged dude, he has all sorts of paraphernalia that he’ll have to pack along each day, like his water bottle, sunscreen, lunch bag and lunch containers, bathing suit, sun hat, the case for his glasses, extra clothes and who knows what else! it’s a lot of gear for a kid to manage, but i’m not worried about losing his stuff, cuz he has everything labelled with his awesome mabel’s labels!

      right now, Mabel’s Labels is offering the Limited Edition Camp Combo Packs which include UV resistant, waterproof labels and tags designed especially for everything that goes to summer camp. these labels help to identify clothes, footwear, toiletries, swim gear, backpacks and all the other necessities kids need at camp!

      best of all, you save $2 and receive a free gift (while supplies last) when you purchase before april 30, 2013!

      happy summer planning peeps!

      xo, mama lola

      camping. camping. camping.

      we went on an overnight mini camping extravaganza vacation with friends this past weekend. it was one night of laughs, booze, camp food and lotsa fun!

      because our area of canada is experiencing an unusually dry and hot summer, there was a fire ban at the grounds. there have been lots of forest fires, so i completely understand the ban, but i will admit i was slightly saddened. what’s camping without a fire?
      It’s ultimately my own fault as I should of done more research into the camp ground. Lesson learnt. In future, I’ll definitely be reading up on how to find the perfect campground for your RV. No longer am I taking our RV and just randomly choosing a camp site in the hope it has everything we need.

      we had meal planned our dinner to be cooked with the fire, but luckily a couple of weeks before we decided to purchase a stove top. After reading lots of camping products reviews, we have spent quite a bit of money upgrading our camping gear! So… we did it all stove top instead and it all worked out fine. our to be fire roasted potatoes, became stove top taters instead and were yummy as heck! We recently bought a new RV Battery which meant we could cook all this wonderful food. It saved the day!

      [ new potatoes, garlic cloves cut in half, generous chunks of butter, cut yellow onion and a generous sprinkle of sea salt. i had wrapped them all in lots of foil as we had hoped to cook them in the fire. this is how we do taters at the cottage on the BBQ! ]

      there were six kids and six adults so it all balanced out. the kids played in the woods where we set up dear hubby’s beloved brazillian hammock and as dusk settled in the kids explored everything with their flashlights. it was so funny and cute and hilarious to listen to their excitement. the little ones had a harder time getting to sleep. dear hubby walked around the campground with lion on his back, which worked out well. however, we got off to sleep absolutely fine in our RV as we have comfy beds and even an amazing skylight to which we can see all the stars glistening from. last year when we went camping our skylight was damaged a little from being so old, but luckily we had a dome skylight replacement to fix it on the spot so we didn’t have to panic about not having a view of the stars!

      once the kids were finally asleep the real party started, and the booze came out in generous pours and were slurped in generous gulps. it was a perfect summer night for sitting around our pretend fire, where the chatter and drinks flowed and then as the night progressed the laughs became slightly louder and longer.
      good times.

      morning dawn brought with it a few rain drops that luckily didn’t amount to anything. it brought with it super hungry kids who had to have some fast granola and fruit to rid them of the morning grumps! just look the differences in the two pics of the kids… before granola and then after!

      and then after some team work we all ate fantastic breakfast burrito’s and sipped on the best coffee ever! food tastes to great at camping, even if it car camping!
      so yummy!

      lots of summer love to our friends. we had a blast and can’t wait for next summer’s camping trip!
      today is monday and incredibly hot. tomorrow they are predicting +36c, which midas well be the boiling point. we will hunker down inside with craft projects and friends and ice cream!

      what’s the weather like where you are?

      xo, mama lola

      camping grub!

      we’re going on a simple car-camping trip this weekend with friends. yesterday the weather said 90% chance of rain all day saturday, today it’s dropped to 20%, so we’ll see what mother nature actually serves up for us! i’ve been thinking about food for this trip as we have three families of four, ranging from 1years to 39:ish, so ti satiate twelve people can be tricky! here’s what my research unveiled on pinterest…

      we’re going to roast some potatoes with onions, garlic and butter  topped with a sprinkling of sea salt and pepper. 

      and hot dogs of course! we’re going to load ’em up with all sorts of goodies, not just ketchup!

      look at this fabulous idea; smores in cones baked in the fire! cannot wait to sink my teeth in one of these! teh kids are going to get a pretty serious sugar high, but hopefully they will just crash afterwards!

      we’re making yummy breakfast burrito’s for breakfast on sunday. the meat eaters will include eggs and bacon in theirs, while us veggies will include tofu and veg as our insides. there will of course be salsa and sour cream for dipping!

      what are you up to this weekend?

      xo, mama lola
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