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!

DSC_0182

DSC_0159 DSC_0162

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!
DSC_0166 DSC_0170

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.

DSC_0197

the boys made boats out of bark and sticks.

such simple fun. no plastic toys. no batteries.

just a few pieces of natural debris found by the river.DSC_0187 DSC_0204 DSC_0205

DSC_0210DSC_0206

DSC_0207

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!

 

DSC_0157

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

earth day craft round-up!


 

earth day is coming up…. april 22 to be exact. easy to remember, because at our house that also happens to be DH’s birthday!

i gathered some fun, creative, inspiring and beautiful crafts to help everyone get in the spirit of earth day. i think these crafts are a great way to talk to kids about nature, the environment and the cycle of life. getting crafty is also a great way to connect to the natural world around us, the one we so often take for granted, especially in this age of screens!  

earth day crafts, eco crafts

 

i don’t think there are any gender restrictions or age limits with these crafts. let your kids experience the process of creating as much as the outcome. as parents and caregivers i think we often forget how much fun just sitting and making something is!

ok, in no particular order, here we go!

stamping with food, kids crafts, nature crafts, earth day crafts

stamping with natural treasures from bear & lion

earth day crafts, natural crafts, floral crafts

scented nature sculpture from sunhats & wellie boots

earth day crafts for kids, floral crown, nature crafts, eco crafts

nature crowns and cuffs from maya made

earth day crafts, leaf bugs, nature crafts, eco crafts

nature bugs from modern parents messy kids

earth day crafts, eco crafts, recycled material crafts

eco-friendly beads from planet forward

earth day crafts, shell mobile, kids eco crafts

how to make a shell mobile from nurture store

treasures 2

 wind catcher from bear & lion

earth day crafts, painted sticks, eco crafts for kids

painted sticks from little wonders’ days

weaving with flowers, nature crafts, earth day crafts

nature weaving from craftiments

 

i love the weaving idea, and may make something with that inspiration in mind. not many flowers will be blooming in late april here in southern, ontario, but i will try to think outside the box a little.

mobiles are great too. hanging stuff is great for front porches or back decks, or by a big sunny window!

enjoy earth day! and remember, earth day is not just one day of the year, it should be every day! 

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.

DSC_0851

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!
DSC_0859 feeding chickadees feeding chikadees DSC_0869 DSC_0879 DSC_0882 DSC_0887 DSC_0896DSC_0925

DSC_0935

i told the kids there was treasure chest in this tree stump! haha!

DSC_0940

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!
DSC_0948 DSC_0949

20150320_151848

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

forest school fun!


 

i often feel like the public school system here in ontario lacks a natural component to it’s curriculum. yes, they talk about the environment and spend time outside even on some pretty cold days, but i wish there was more time spent in nature, exploring the natural world around them. so when i found out a high school friend of mine, brandy, was starting a forest school i jumped at the opportunity to sign my lion up! because it’s in another city he only goes for one afternoon a week (instead of the two afternoon’s currently offered).

this smiling beauty below is brandy.

forest school 12

the kids are all between the ages of 3 and 5. the group meets and then walks along some lovely trails to their designated site. the trail is shared with dog walkers and cross country skiers.

forest school fun forest school fun

below is a picture of a quick stop for a story during our walk. here brandy introduced that days theme to the kids, as they all sat on a fallen tree and listened. none of the kids complained about stopping, about being cold, or about carrying their own backpacks. AMAZING!

forest school fun

the “classroom” site is amazing! there are several teepee/ wigwam style forts that were already built in the forest. there are beautiful tall trees as far as the eye can see. the kids are allowed to climb the forts and explore the nearby area. the kids enjoyed snack, had another story and discussed various elements of that days theme.

i love watching the kids enjoying the natural world. they were so involved in it without any effort or encouragement from adults. they recognized things differently from us grown-ups creating interesting discussions about why things are the way they are.

kids are so open and free.

forest school fun

forest school fun, forest school fun forest school fun forest school fun

on the day i was volunteering we focused on our senses;  we listened for birds, tasted snow, touched sticks and looked for interesting things in our environment. brandy encourages the kids to explore, question and get right into things. she follows the kids’ lead on things making the learning about them and not about what she assumes they might be interested in. so awesome!

the peace and calm of the forest school is what i really noticed. classrooms in buildings are full of posters, art, colours, shapes… there are almost no blank walls, everything is covered with some kind of stimulus. here in the woods the stimulus is not garish in colour or forced down the children’s throats. the natural world invites them in, gently stimulating their senses and enticing them for deeper learning. even though the kids explore the same forts, the subtle changes that occur over time is what makes outdoor learning so amazing.

below are pictures of the ice experiments the kids had created the previous thursday. they poured water in containers with some acorns and leaves to see what would happen. we hung them in the trees so the sun could catch them. so lovely!

forest school fun, winter expriment forest school fun

if you’re curious and interested in brandy’s beautiful school, wildflowers forest school, check out her facebook page HERE. there are lots more pictures and tales of the adventures they get into! currently, there is no website, but it’s in the works!

xo, mama lola

camping killbear.

 

DSC_0220b

this summer has been jam packed with camping. one of our trips to the woods was with an old friend from high school and her two lovely girls. we had booked the camp site weeks prior and a few days before our trip did some simple meal planning. then the night before our departure, while dear hubby was driving our van to run a few errands for me, white smoke emerged from the steering column of the van!!! in the morning the mechanic took hard look at the problem, replaced a few wires, but was unable to give a definite reason as to what had caused the smoke. my friend and i weren’t even sure that i could drive the three hours needed to get to our campground.

 

long story short, we got the ok from the mechanic so the kids and i hit the road, a few hours behind schedule, but at least we were on our way!

 

DSC_0139b

about an hour into our drive we hit rain. and when i say rain, i mean torential downpour where the wipers are swishing away at full blast! we stopped off the main highway to pee and load up on timbits! the rain eased up so we got back in the van and kept heading north. the drive was easy, luckly, which meant we arrived quickly at killbear.

 

killbear provincial park.

we set up camp.

got dinner under way.

started a fire.

DSC_0131b

DSC_0174b

it was cold and damp, with rainy drizzly bits moving over us constantly. luckily my friend is a super outdoorsy woman with incredible skills when it came to setting up tarps and tying knots. when she was climbing around on picnic tables trying to create good rain cover for us, i got to hold the baby! our youngest camper wasn’t even a year, but she had her mum’s outdoorsy skills. she rarely complained and was happy taste test all kinds of natural goodies she found on the ground!

 

DSC_0132b

when the rain eased up we walked down to a tiny beach. we climbed the large rock taking in the spectacular views. the air was cool, but regardless the kids decided they wanted to dip their toes into the water. next thing you know, they are all almost naked going in waist deep to play! we were so close to our camp site that us mum’s weren’t worried and just let them play!

 

DSC_0134b

these two could be twins! they were born about a month apart back in 2010!

DSC_0150b

yes, that is baby M wearing a down snowsuit in august. the air was that raw!

DSC_0170b

friday was our departure day and it turned out to be a gorgeous summers day. the sun was out in full blast, the blue sky was bright and the temperature rose up quickly! we took the morning to pack up and then headed to the beach!

 

DSC_0199b

DSC_0196b

DSC_0206b

then we found some more rock to explore on. the views were breath taking and quite reminiscent of my homeland, finland.

 

DSC_0213b

DSC_0203b

DSC_0238b DSC_0210b DSC_0231b

the kids did so great on this trip! even though so much of it was cold and rainy they never complained. instead they rode their bikes a lot, played all sorts of games in the woods and the three bigger kids got along super well!

 

here are my instagram pics from the trip! make sure you’re following me there… CLICK HERE!

killbear collage 3B

killbear also had an awesome visitors centre that we checked out. very interactive with educational activity sheets for kids to fill out. great especially as it was so cold and rainy…. and finally, NO BEAR SIGHTINGS!!! the van was fine letting us get home safe and sound!!!

 

i know school has started and i will share pictures from those days soon! i just want to share pics from our trip to ottawa, which will happen soon:ish i hope! beginning of september is an exhausting time for all of us!!!

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)

 

DSC_0800b

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.

 

DSC_0697b

DSC_0828b

DSC_0710

DSC_0747b

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!

 

DSC_0696b

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.

 

DSC_0677b DSC_0685b DSC_0676b

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.

 

DSC_0724b

DSC_0719b

DSC_0817b

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.

 

DSC_0698b DSC_0699b

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.

 

DSC_0831b

DSC_0918b

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!

 

DSC_0758b DSC_0767b DSC_0781b

DSC_0950b

bunting collage

programming included story time and yummy snacks as well.

 

DSC_0771b

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!

 

DSC_0909b

tether ball always had a captive audience.

DSC_0935b DSC_0777b

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.

 

DSC_0806b

this wee miss loved the beach!

DSC_0803b

DSC_0865b

dancer mum’s rehearsing for talent night!

DSC_0739b

DSC_0873b DSC_0998b

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!

 

DSC_0753b

DSC_0751b

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.

 

DSC_0841b

DSC_0845b

DSC_0814b DSC_0855b

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

stamping with food & natural treasures!


stamping with food, stamps, nature crafts

my kids love to paint and be creative. so, when we headed up to the cottage for the may long weekend i decided to plan a fun activity for the boys to try out. there are so many posts and pins about painting and stamping with food. i was a little weary at first, as the thought of wasting perfectly good food for crafts seemed so arrogant, but i found ways of negotiating around. for example, only painting with the tops of peppers and bottom of the celery stem. we also gathered some lovely natural items we found on the forest floor, like a bird’s feather, cedar branches and various leaves.

 

stamping with food, natural stamps, kids crafts

to get started i had all of our supplies ready and waiting for the kids.  i cut the food items, placed a few colours of paint on some tupperware container lids, got our paintbrushes out,  set out a container of water for rinsing the paintbrushes, placed paper under rocks so they wouldn’t fly away and made sure my camera battery was charged! haha!

stamping with food 8

stamping with food, art outside, kids crafts,

stamping with food 5b

stamping with food 3

stamping with food 9

stamping with food, kids crafts, art outside, nature crafts

painting, like eating, is so much better outside. the mess is easier to deal with and there’s something wonderful about listening to the birds sing while being creative. we also lucked out with a sunny day with only a light breeze. there is so much inspiration in the nature that surrounds us.

 

i hope you get a chance to do this craft with your kids!

xo, mama lola

spring traditions : the sugar bush!

one thing we really love to do in the spring time is visit the sugar bush. what’s the sugar bush you ask, well, it’s a wooded place with lots of sugar maples that get tapped in order to collect sap to make maple syrup. we visit a sugar bush at a local conservation area, which is called maple towne. i didn’t take a lot of pictures, because i was too busy chatting. but, there are more pics HERE from when we visited in 2012, look how little the boys look! ohMY!

DSC_0684b

the kids and i were at the end of a week of terrible sickness. i will spare you the gory details, and just say we had all been feverish, coughing and very tired for days and days, so it felt really good to get out of the house, stretch our legs and get some warm spring air into our lungs. we went with friends, which was the best medicine of all!

DSC_0687b

we walked, talked and soaked up a lot of the lovely sunshine. then we hopped on one of these fun horse drawn wagons for a ride through the sugar bush. the kids all loved it!

DSC_0696bb

the kids both fell asleep on the drive home; we all actually felt totally exhausted.

do you visit the sugar bush?

where is it?

xo, mama lola

welcome spring!

welcome spring 2

i know, officially, spring started eons ago, but here in south-western ontario nothing has sprung, and we have enjoyed some very wintery days this spring. today is april 1st and i will formally welcome spring in the hopes of increased temperatures and plenty more of sunshine!

 

quote40

found this on facebook, y’all probably saw it too!

 

i love our four seasons, but this epic winter has been unrelenting and has not loosened it’s wicked grip for any relief. i feel restless for a new beginning; i want to change our daily habits to ones where we get to unzip our coats and throw them aside while we run around. i can’t wait to eat outside, even just snacks or small bowls of ice cream in the sun.

 

the thing i LOVE about spring, is that it is the start of so many new things. it’s as though we all get a clean slate to start fresh after a long dark winter. we are gifted with new grass for playing on, with new leaves that create lovely shade at the park, with dazzling new flowers to fill our sight lines with amazing bursts of colour, and new bumbly bugs flying around doing their thing (hopefully not bugging me, haha). the winds change from arctic harshness, to warm breezes that make me run around the house opening all of our windows letting in the warm gusts of fresh air! aahhh, i am so ready spring!

 

i heard this tune on the radio on my way home from my monthly blogger brunch, and i just had to blast it as i sang my heart out! CLICK HERE >>> bedouin soundclash and sing along! it’s hard not to feel cheerful from this song!

 

so, WELCOME SPRING, INDEED!

xo, mama lola

where is spring: i am losing myself.

i know much of the talk recently for so many of us has been this epic, long winter. it has been cold and snowy, and when i say cold and snowy i don’t mean your typical winter freeze! i mean exceptionally cold temperatures that have dragged on for months, topped off with exceptionally high snow fall, which has led to a winter of great efforts! initially, we all loved the winter activities we were able to jump into so quickly but, now i think my mental health is on the edge. i am trying to hold on, but i feel myself slipping into a sadness, a lethargy and a feeling of total, blah.

 

my insomnia is back. last night i was up until 2am, thinking and thinking about all sorts of things. i tip-toed downstairs, found my computer, sat down to blog a little, then i checked-out pinterest and after an hour decided to go back to bed. recently, the pain in my neck that travels all the way down the right side of my body is back, as well. i had it last spring and it completely immobilized me for a few days. i am trying to keep my head up, but sometimes it feels as though i am fighting against my own body.

 

DSC_0468b DSC_0477b

the kids are exhausted by the weather as well. last year at this time, we had enjoyed many warm spring like days wearing only raincoats or sweaters, instead of still piling on our woolies, snow pants and parkas. they are completely disinterested in tobogganing or going on winter hikes or going ice skating; they want to run and play without the restrictions of snow. i get it, cuz SO DO I! on the weekend is was pretty cold on sunday, but dear hubby got the kids out to play after some serious convincing, and the guys had a great time! i think their mental health is affected by this long, never ending winter as well. they are eager to get back on their scooters and bikes, fly kites and make some awesome mud pies!

 

DSC_0484b DSC_0485b DSC_0490b DSC_0491b DSC_0504b

check-out their amazing work in -10c conditions, where the snow is covered with ice making it hard, instead of compact and easy to build with. they really got serious about building their igloo; bear stayed inside organizing ice blocks that his little brother was delivering to him. the team work they demonstrated was quite touching.

 

DSC_0521b DSC_0527b DSC_0545b

i am hoping to find some energy and motivation soon.

i want to play outside, get dirt under my fingernails and watch as the trees all come back to life. it is impossible to even think about gardening, as there are snow mountains 2-3 meters high in our front and back yards. it will take a long time for all of it to melt!

 

how are you coping with this winter?

what’s the weather like where you are?

 

happy tuesday to you!

xo, mama lola
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...