ripley’s aquarium visit in toronto


brrr…. it is -24c this morning here in southern ontario. perfect day to sit back and work on my blog with my warm coffee by my side.

a couple of weeks ago my dad turned 75! we had a great family dinner with delicious food my mum made, gifts and little wine to celebrate.  we also visited the aquarium in the big city.

the kids love to help others with their candle blowing, gift opening and cake eating!

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the ripley’s aquarium opened over a year ago and we have been meaning to go, but just haven’t found a good time. so on this our inaugural visit, we arrived just as they opened with our pre-ordered and pre-paid tickets in hand. seriously, if you can go online the night before and do this, do it! saved us time and hassle once we arrived. there were no crowds, so we were able to enjoy the fish, sharks and jellies without any hassle.

ripley's aquarium toronto ripley's aquarium, fish ripley's aquarium, sea turle ripley's aquarium, under the sea

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when we were leaving around noon the line-ups were staggering for tickets and coat check… this is why you get all that done the night before online… way less hassle!

also, there is a weird cafe/ play area in the middle of your aquarium tour. there is nothing at the end, except the gift shop, but they don’t sell any drinks or snacks.

we all loved the aquarium and would love to go back one day!!!

xo, mama lola

holiday update: better late than never, right?!

christmas feels like it was a million years ago, but i want to share a few pictures with you anyway.

we had such a wonderful time. it was busy, but fun!

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below is a picture of the beautiful piparkakkutalo or gingerbread house my mum made. there is a little tea light in the front that’s the skating rink, plus there’s a ladder on the side there! love it! my mum is so creative!

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the kids got twister from DH’s sister and her mister. of course we had to crack it open immediately and give it a go!

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for new years, we hit the cottage up in muskoka! there was no snow upon arrival, but withiun 12 hours heaps and heaps had fallen, and just kept coming! the forest around the cottage turned into a magical winter wonderland. this year the temperatures weren’t that cold even, so hitting the outhouse wasn’t that bad! haha!

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as soon as we arrive it’s important to get the cottage warm. so we get the fire roaring and slowly start to unpeel all of the layers we have on. our friends brought some yummy lasagna’s for dinner. aren’t the beautiful?!

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on the 31st we walked down to the lake and watched as papaD put on an amazing firework display. we all sat in the snow oohing and aahing at the gorgeous colours flashing in the sky! the it was time for sparklers up at the cottage!

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after fireworks we enjoyed some glöggi while DH read stories to all the kids. the cottage becomes a cozy nest for all of us. the christmas lights we bring up for extra fun. we re-arrange the furniture to better suit the large number of people that are there. it’s nice to have the couch in front of the fire.

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once the kids were tucked into their beds, us adults played some fun games of our own and enjoyed a few drinks!

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the following morning it was time for more tobogganing!

what a great way to start 2015!!!

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happy day to you and yours!

next week i’ll be sharing pictures from lion’s forest school, check back!

don’t forget to come and like bear & lion on facebook!

 

xo, mama lola

cottage thanksgiving.

cottage

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

 

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

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

 

thanksgiving table

 

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

 

cottage hockey tournament

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

 

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

 

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

xo, mama lola

ottawa, our last summer hurrah!

the last week of august is always a bit of a weird week, summer is coming to a  fast end and the anticipation for school to start is thick in the air. to fill our summer to the max, we decided to drive to ottawa for one last summer hurrah!

 

we drove passed toronto and stopped in on some family for lunch and a swim. then we continued until kingston to visit more family. we stayed the night with my sister-in-law, her mister and my sweet wee niece. they have three chickens in their backyard who our boys were quite taken with. oh, lily, robin and blackie, such a lovely feathered trio!

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there was a super awesome splash pad in kingston!

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splash pad

from kingston we drove to the sandbanks for one last night of summer camping! along the way the kids both fell asleep in the car, and they both slept through a ferry ride! we drove through the picturesque town of picton en route to the sandpbanks provincial park.

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ferry to picton

the day had been hot, so our plan was to find our campsite, get changed into our bathing suits and go hang-out at the beach! but, things didn’t quite go as expected… when we arrived at the beach there were these huge, dark storm clouds sitting in the distance. the wind was picking up, but we all braved the weather and went for a swim anyway. it felt like we were swimming in the ocean! the waves were big and stormy as we bounced in them, and then they would continue on crashing onto the shore. we did get cold quickly so we headed back to camp!

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camp cooking

the next day, we tried the beach again. we packed up our campsite, put on our swimming gear, the sun was bright, but again, as soon as we arrived things took a turn. the wind picked up and the warm sun got hidden behind big cloud masses.

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the kids refused to go swimming, instead they opted to bury dear hubby in the sand, but first giving him a nice set of breasts!

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playing in the sand

so, we decided to leave the sandbanks and just drive to ottawa.

 

in ottawa we stayed at the beautiful delta. we looked pretty rough around the edges as we arrived via the underground parking into the sparkly and clean hotel lobby.

delta ottawa

we washed off the sandbanks camping grub and slept well in our comfy beds! the next day we were off to the canadian museum of history, where we explored the children’s museum with great enthusiasm. the kids were given adorable passports, which enabled us to travel from country to country experiencing all sorts of cultural activities!

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canadian museum of history
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canadian museum of history

canadian museum of history

we lunched at the byward market, strolled passed the parliament buildings, the boys got their hair cut at a fancy downtown barber, and we enjoyed our days to the max. but, even though it was all lovely we decided cut our mini-road trip short, as we were feeling pretty burnt out. our summer had been  busy and fun, but we all needed some extra time at home before kicking off another school year!

byward market ottawa

we really love ottawa. it’s a great place to visit with kids, with a dynamic downtown that is walkable even for littler feet. there are lots of yummy restaurants and the byward market is so great at meal times! in the above picture we all had something different to eat from all sorts of worldly places!

 

but, we were so glad to get home!

i got all of laundry done, groceries for the following week and a few good sleeps before having to set the alarm for our early school day mornings! bah!

 

i have a back-to-school-starting-school post in the pipeline! this new life of two kids in school has been a big transition in our family, and somehow i have less time to blog…

 

xo, mama lola

july camping week: part 1.

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

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

[part one] : MAC GREGOR POINT!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

xo, mama lola

june at the cottage!

we played hookie from school and headed to the cottage at the end of  june for the solstice weekend. the weather was hot and sunny during the day, with cool breezy evenings. it was perfect summer weather!

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there was the issue of the pollen floating grossly on the water, but we got over that quickly.  we had to or otherwise there wouldn’t have been any swimming! the boys were both in swimming lessons since january and boy have they paid off. their confidence has soared, as has their ability to actually swim!

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the kids have been in swimming lessons since january and boy has it paidoff! their confidence has soared,as has their general ability to swim. it makes being around water a little less stressful with each visit. in these pics the kids are in life jackets, but they did do some dips and swims without them as well (closely supervised of course!) bear’s anxiety contributes to his tension around water, but he is slowly overcoming some of those fears. once he is in the water his anxiety melts away, demonstrating the therapeutic nature of water!

lion, on the other hand is fearless, jumping in the water and wanting to swim far to the floating dock! his little body gets cold quickly, so his lips turn blue way before he is ready to get out of the water!

 

bubbles, beer and mosquitoes… how canadiana!

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we ate such good food. bubba and patty brought excellent salmon,while for dessert we gorged on all sorts of melted marshmallowy treats! YUM!

 

what kind of summer adventures have you and your family gotten into so far?

xo, mama lola

make your own bead keychains!

 

for father’s day the kids made these awesome keychains for their grandfather’s.

aren’t they amazing?

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all they used were various sized beads, pipe cleaner and a metal ring. we have purchased beads from all kinds of sources like thrift stores and garage sales, which tend to have wonderfully strange beads in the mix for a low, low price!

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the kids created all sorts of different patterns with the beads.

once they were finished beading, we wound the two ends of the pipe cleaner tightly around the metal ring. i think it’s good for an adult to do this part to ensure the ends are attached tightly.

 

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the grandfathers loved them… OF COURSE!!!

making these took only a short time. these colourful keychains are a perfect gift idea for anyone! and, they could make perfect zipper tags as well!

xo, mama lola

mothering. harder than it looks.

we’ve been experiencing some tricky parenting times. there has been so much going on in our lives recently, and those busy times have taken a toll on our family dynamics. honestly, things have turned to$hit!

 

bear has been a lot to handle. his behaviour has been out of this world difficult. our mornings and evenings have book ended our days with all sorts power struggles masked under screaming and shouting and lotsa tears (and not just his)!

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when i am tired, i can lose my temper quickly, reacting poorly to the situation at hand. heading into this busy week i made a conscious decision to stay cool, offering instead extra love in hugs and kisses and other positive reinforcements. i have focussed on the beautiful, funny, intelligent and creative choices my kids have made, instead of attacking the ugly, messy and unsafe decisions. somehow doing that is harder for me, especially when we are all tired and feeling maxed out. i realize now that sometimes it’s as though i’m waiting for my kids to screw up, instead of expecting sweet success from them. i know that is a horrible thing to admit, but i think it comes from my own habit of yimmering on about stuff that doesn’t deserve my constant attention, rather than focussing on things that do.

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so, once i incorporated extra hair tussles, tickle times and just gentle loving touches into our day, we all seem to have cooled our jets and changed our attitudes. there has been an obvious decrease in the general volume at our house, which in turn has decreased tensions and tears. dear hubby suspected a while that a lot of bear’s “acting out” comes from good ol’ fashioned sibling jealousy and i think he is right. sibling rivalry is a powerful force, often appearing at the least obvious of times.

 

i wish, as a mama to these amazing boys, that i would just always remember to give more during the most trying of times instead of pulling away. when my kids are being jerks all day every day, that is when i must shower them with kisses and pull out some great thing did in between all the jerkyness, and focus on the good.  i know to some this may seem so obvious, and as i sit here and type this, it does seem so freaking obvious, but in those dark days of chronic power struggles it is impossible to see, never mind put into action.

 

i am only human and i too make mistakes when it comes to mothering stuff. i am constantly learning and trying to remember to be stronger and turn the volume down and to just SHUT UP sometimes.

 

this is so much harder than i ever could have imagined.

 

 

xo, mama lola

summer bucket list!

i know, i know summer doesn’t officially start until the 21sth, but the lush grass and green trees, blooming flowers and warmer temperatures have me yearning  for summer.

 

i booked the kids into their one camp months ago, our family camping trips have been planned and we have so many fun carefree days ahead, i just can’t wait to start filling them with all kinds of adventures.

 

here’s my bucket list for the summer; i couldn’t fit everything we will hopefully do, but it’s definitely a great starting point!

 

summer bucketlist

 

what do you have planned with your family?

 

what are your summer traditions?

xo, mama lola

this moment!

it is the start of the summer season with our first long weekend of the season! i am wishing everyone a relaxing and fun few days! see you all on the other side of the break!!!

 

here is this week’s THIS MOMENT… our lion starts JK in september and this picture is from his orientation earlier this week. he did not cry or get scared, instead he sat down at a table to do puzzles joining some other little new students! i was of course bursting with pride, excitement while holding back my mama tears. more to come on that next week!

 

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.

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please feel free to leave a link to your this moment  from this past week in the comments.

 

HAPPY LONG WEEKEND!!!!!!!

xo, mama lola
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