treeplanting, it’s in our blood.

as many of you know, dear hubby and i met and fell madly in love up north in the woods while working as treeplanters. this weekend we were able to pass the legacy on and teach bear a little bit about trees and how to plant them.

it all started a few months ago when the kids at bear’s pre-school received some seeds from a local nursery and planted them. after watering and caring for them, the seeds grew into tiny seedlings that the kids were quite proud of.

it’s all thanks to a this amazing local program that reforests parks, schools and even private homes for free. it’s funded through tax dollars and is quite a unique program run by volunteers.

the kids got their picture taken by a photographer from community paper. here’s an example of the kinda silly faces the kids were putting on. two questions a) why can’t kids smile naturally? b) why does bear not even look at me when i’m trying to take his picture, never mind smile/ grimace? i get his picture by chance usually!!!

 there was situation with a bee, but lil’C (in the curls and hair band) took control of the situation and told everyone to stand back. 

happy days ahead! 
go plant a tree!

xo, mama lola

children of the forest.

we spent a wonderful weekend up at the cottage with some special friends. friends we haven’t seen in about two years as they live on the other side of the pond, in germany. 

we had time to chat and catch up on the important stuff, but also had time to just be together. the kids had an especially wonderful time together playing, running, reading and getting to know one another. 

the cottage is the perfect setting for all this catching up. there are few distractions, no internet or tv. instead there is plenty of nature to stimulate the senses.


there are also some funky, home made toys at the cottage, like this red wheel thinga-ma-doo-der (see pics below) that dear hubby’s grandfather made for him back in the day. it was touching to watch bear run and laugh, just as his dad had done many years before!

we frolicked in the water splashing and laughing, ran amongst the tall hemlocks, climbed over fallen trees and branches while looking for treasures and kept an eye out for the black bears. 

the bugs were almost non-existant, although looking at lion’s wee head that would be hard to believe. he has bizarre bumps and lumps all over his head from the darn mosquitoes!

i know this all sounds too perfect and as though i’ve sugar coated the whole weekend, but really, it was perfect. 

the muskokas have a reputation for being the playground of the rich and famous, but as you can see it’s also fun for the less rich and you certainly don’t have to be famous to enjoy its beauty.

even the kids were mostly smiles and giggles; there were only a few tears and only tiny tantrums, which for one 2.5 year old and one 3.5 year old is pretty amazing. they just wanted to play together and that is what they did!

bear is going to miss his new, lovely, lady friend. 

happy rest of the week everyone!
xo, mama lola

a stormy night indeed.

it’s all everyone has been talking about in town: last night’s storm. the winds were powerful, the rain immense, the thunder deafening and the lightning shocking. our patio table was blown up and away by the winds, but it survived; no shattered glass to clean up this morning! some people lost belongings to the wind. many in my community lost power and in this heat and humidity i’m lucky we didn’t. If we had we could have gone to a service like to get it back, but even so it would have been exceedingly stressful. But it could have also been worse than that, and these times are when counting the blessings are important. Why? some people need to look for ace roofing companies austin to repair the damage their roofs got in the storm; i never knew that the roof was one of the most vulnerable part of the house during a storm! we were definitely luckily that there was no hail accompanying the storm last night! the car was out in the open, and the hail pellets would definitely have botched up the car, no matter how sturdy it would have claimed to be! looking for potential shops for hail repair near me would have been a pain, which we luckily did not have to endure.

it’s so hard to see the full effect of the wind and the rain.

here are a few pictures i tried to take. i was scared to be outside as it felt like a tornado was going to rip our house apart. i can’t believe both kids slept through the whole thing, not even a squeak out of either cub!

the video was taken with our storm door closed and it’s surprising that you can’t hear the thunder, but you sure can hear the rain and hail!

here’s hoping for a quiet, peaceful sleep tonight.
xo, mama lola

smart meter bills, bills, bills.

time of use billing.
for our household it started on may 1st according to the bill we received yesterday, although we never got any formal letter or notice informing us of the start date. there is much confusion among the residents of my community as to when the billing for water and electricity will switch to time of use. the local hydro company has been giving mis-information to residents and there has been nothing on their website about the may 1st start date. strange, eh? some friends of mine were told june, others july, and when i checked their website on tuesday (31 may, 2011) it said people would be notified.
i guess our letter got lost in the mail.

so, now what?

i’ll have to revise my laundry routine and figure out how many loads i can get done in an evening after peak times. some people wash their laundry in the evening and then hang it up in the morning, which i think is what i’ll end up doing. but, evenings are when the kiddo’s bathe, the adults shower and the dishwasher runs, so our hot water use is maxed. it’ll be interesting to see what our bills will look like in the future. it’s hard to plan for something that hasn’t happened yet, but at the same time, it’s always good to be prepared and to have some extra money saved just in case. there was this one time when my friend didn’t have any cash to pay for one of her bills, and she decided to borrow a loan using the value of her car. i think she said it was called a car title loan and it can be done by a company similar to Qik Car Title Loans. depending on how much your car is valued at will determine how much of a loan you can receive. it’s a good idea if you ask me, and it could be useful if you only need to repay a short sum of money because your car will be used as collateral until it gets repaid. so obviously, you don’t want extra bills and debt hanging over your head. but i’m hopeful that it won’t come to this. in preparation for the billing switch i’ve already started unplugging small appliances that are not in use and i walk around turning off lights. these new habits, i think, bug dear hubs, but he knows better not to say anything. i also hardly ever use our clothing dryer; we have a great clothesline in the basement and one in the backyard plus two racks. now that the weather is hot and sunny, i can start using the clothesline outside more regularly. which is really lucky considering that this will help lower our electrical bills at the end of the day. the idea of cheaper bills this month is actually a great comfort. perhaps i should start looking at using a different energy provider though, as this will surely help me save money on my energy bills. perhaps i could use someone like this Chariot Energy company… i should probably spend an afternoon thinking about this first though.

stuff i found in pockets; front loader; stuff i found in pockets wet with detergent, oops!; the detergent i use; deets of my AMAZING machine!

i feel a bit targeted by this new billing method, as i am an at home mama. that means that, while most people’s homes are quite dormant with electricity use, ours is at its highest. whether it’s to clean, cook, brew coffee, or watch a DVD, peak times are when we use the most electricity at home. it’s very rare that we go a day without using a lot of electricity. it’s quite bad really, but it’s true. I’m just glad that we’ve had our electrical panel checked recently, as the electrician said that it was starting to look faulty, and we could’ve run into trouble if we let it go on. with that being said, I would recommend that you do the same, as you can try Aardvark Electric, Inc., or somewhere similar, to make an appointment with their electricians to get it checked right away, as it could have consequences if you don’t. and you’d hate for it to be too late. in this instance, you could say that the new billing should be the last thing on my mind, but it’s not. it’s really affecting me. i don’t think at home parents are the only ones who are really going to feel the ramifications of this. what about the elderly who live at home, or people with disabilities or the unemployed, what about big and small businesses whose electricity usage is probably the equivalent of 4 “always-on” households, do they get different Business Electricity offers? on an environmental level i get the whole concept, but my laundry isn’t really the one depleting our natural resources; it’s the INDUSTRY out there. all the factories, offices and stores have their A/C’s cranked, computers humming and other equipment or machinery sucking all the power from the grid.

i also think having the non-peak time so late into the evening, it encourages people to use their dryers, instead of hanging up laundry, which is the whole point of this, right? the environment, conservation, mindfulness?

i am already behind in my laundry and the thought of going into the basement right now to sort colours, delicates, diapers and what have you, kind of makes me want to stab my eyeballs!
wish me luck!

xo, mama lola

treeplanters: we were lovers in a dangerous time.

this is how it all began…

falling in love over a cocktail.

10 years ago, on may 16th, 2001 an adorable, bleached blonde guy wearing, picture it, black long-johns with plaid flannel boxers over top and a big ol’ yellow terricloth puma t-shirt kissed me for the first time. he then escorted me back to my tent in the woods and without asking moved in… for the next two months! little did i know he was also moving into my heart and my life.


that’s the story of how dear hubby and i met in the early months of the summer in 2001. the romance began about 100km’s north of an already northern ontario town called, thunder bay. we were at a camp filled with about seventy young, beautiful, hardy folk there to plant trees. man, those were some freakin’ awesome days and nights. the party nights at planting were the kind of parties that well, no city slicker could ever imagine. kinda like, “what happens in vegas, stays in vegas”, same idea with planting.

the mess tent at night; where we ate, hung out, partied.

treeplanting changed me. this job, this experience really helped me navigate through some typical early twenties “who am i and where am i going?” stuff. it also brought me back to the forest, which i so missed while living in the big city. and it provided an opportunity for me to challenge myself physically, emotionally and intellectually. there were days when i wanted to quit and run away, but my friends and my crew boss, jb, kept me going. there is no place to hide at planting. there is no room, time or energy for facades or fakeness, the job is too demanding.
it’s all real.

the way of life is simple at planting. you work hard and party hard; four days on, one off. you sleep in a tent, your meals are provided for you as is your ride to work. you work all day, come back to camp, eat dinner, shower and go to bed. we got paid 8 cents (CAD) a tree, which back in those days was considered a great wage. the theory is the more you plant, the more cash you earn. and living expenses up there were minimal. we paid a camp fee, which covered our living costs at camp (food, gas etc).
here are a few links for more insight on planting and planters. here’s a how to and dictionary to planter lingo.

getting clean up in the woods was an impossibility as the dirt and soil of the land seeped into our rough, dry, cracked skin (and into our hearts). there was a shower tent at camp, but the showers were quick and mostly used to rinse off the larger chunks of dirt and that day’s bug dope. on our days off, camp would be mostly desolate as everyone would head into thunder bay. luckily for planters, t-bay has a very strong finnish heritage meaning there are public saunas. the routine was: first, we all did our laundry at frank’s laundromat and then people would head to the scan or the hoito or kangas. kangas is where we had our sauna. I’m sure many of you already have your own saunas at home, or have already started looking into reviews for them, for example, from Clever Leverage and other sites – Matt has done an exceptional job reviewing saunas.

each crew had their own van and that’s how we got to work.
these trailers is where we kept our “smellies”.
dinner in the mess tent, with some boxed wine! what a treat!
where we got our safe, clean drinking water.

we had black bears come and visit our camp. usually they showed up while we were all off at work on the block. the ministry of natural resources was called in to trap and move the bears far away. there were strict rules for everyone not to keep ANYTHING with a scent in their tents; no creams, bandages, gum, vitamins, condoms, food etc. bears have a keen sense of smell and as some people found out the hard way, a hungry bear looking for food can really damage a flimsy tent. some planters had their tents torn and ripped by a bear looking for smellies left in the tent. sometimes we saw bears or moose on our drive to work, which was always exciting. we also saw lots and lots of bugs; black flies and mosquitoes were attacking us all day, every day. the black flies loved to fly in your face and into your eyes. there were also deer flies that bit chunks out your flesh! dear hubby wore a bug net religiously over his hard hat, but i found it difficult to work like that, so my face was eaten. it felt like someone had written messages in braille on my face, because the bites were so dense!

at work.

dear hubby’s hands after a day out planting. we used duct tape to protect
our hands.

i knew he was the one right away. there was something different about him. at first we spent every non-working moment together and then eventually we worked together too. he was a fantastic planter, so focussed and determined meaning he didn’t waste his time chatting at the cache or smoking copious amounts of cigarettes like the rest of us. he bagged up and kept slamming them trees in the ground. he was initially thought to be a good influence on me and helped push me to become a better planter, but, then it became too distracting and we’d end up smooching in the clear cut for a while! then, we were placed in different crews!

our final party at camp- end of the season and time to head home.

but here we are, a decade later, with a house and a minivan and two little boys, still together. we talk about planting a lot and at spring time we get a bit nostalgic. dear hubby still has that ol’ yellow terricloth shirt and man o’ man, when he throws it on does it ever bring back memories of our first summer of love.

happy anniversary!
xo, mama lola

nature and kids (and an easter weekend update).

yesterday we enjoyed a wonderful outdoor adventure on the shores of lake ontario. as we climbed rocks and collected sticks i was remembering the book by richard louv : last child in the woods. the book discusses the declining time children spend with nature and the impact this void can have on them.

i was so lucky growing up in finland being able to encouraged, even pushed to go outside and play in the woods. the forests were wonderful playgrounds for imaginative games and adventures. my friends and i would build nests or forts, collect different kinds of moss and inspect the various life forms we encountered. 

in the fall months, after school my mother and i would put on our rubber boots and head into the forest to pick an assortment of mushrooms. she taught be to recognize edible ones from poisonous ones and put me to work. i was about 7 or so, and loved helping my mom while surrounded by majestic trees and the silence of the woods. if i got tired of picking, i was allowed to play and would stand tall on tree stumps looking for faeries or elves that inhabit the finnish forests. sometimes my mom asked me to make markers out of fallen branches or other debris, for good kanttarelli growing locations. that way we would remember them for next time!

easter weekend update:

this was our table this weekend. note the yummy birthday cake in the middle just waiting to be devoured! the beautiful eggs hanging from the pussy willows are all handmade by my very talented mom. the eggs are blown and then delicately painted. some eggs are coloured using oil pastels, pencil crayons or even just a lead pencil. anyone who has held a blown egg can appreciate the task she encountered when decorating them. they are so lovely to look at and we thoroughly enjoy them!

this is horatio, the bulldog we dog sat this weekend. what a guy!

xo, mama lola


april 22nd is also EARTH DAY! please be kind to our home and planet, not just on this day, but always. conserve where you can, recycle what you can and stop buying new stuff! here’s a cool link to some art made by reusing other people’s junk.

xo, mama lola
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