nature hikes and romps!

this passed friday bear didn’t have school so we joined a group of friends and headed for the hills. for a hike, that is. we packed a massive bag of sunflower seeds to feed to the birds, and snacks to share for the people. 


the kids had such fun. they discovered all sorts of interesting natural phenomena like fungi of various sizes and colours, different kinds of lady bugs, all sorts of pine cones, spruce cones, leaves all sizes and shades of red.

all of the kids mostly ran for the two hour hike, although they did pause to enjoy the sounds of frogs and other natural elements occasionally. us mums, chatted, held the assortment of walking sticks, rocks and other teasures picked up along the way, and enjoyed the freedom the forest allows you to feel.

although, after the hike we were all tired, there was something wonderfully rejuvenating about the woods. the peace, the calm, are both so soothing to the mind. the kids went wild, but in the vast space among the trees, their loudness is drowned out, allowing the bird songs to be heard through the trees.
lovely.


this weekend was thanksgiving here in canada. we headed to the cottage with a few family members to close things up; bring in the docks, rake some of the various paths, chop wood and stock the logs for our visits this winter. the boys soaked up the fresh muskoka air, enjoying the company of their grandparents and auntR. 

i love watching my kids outside. their senses kick into high gear as they frolic between the trees. they are filled with such curiosity and wonder, which is incredibly contagious, especially when in the natural world.

there is a marshy area a short walk from the cottage. the kids’ grandma found cranberries growing there and that is what lion is inspecting in the moss!


the sun was high and warm, hot even. we got all of the work done and ended another season at the family cottage. it is such a wonderful place.

(i was there too!)


i didn’t take any other pictures this year,which is quite unusual. 
i was partly busy and distracted, but also completely exhausted and distracted.

have you spent some fun times in the woods lately?


xo, mama lola

the first leg of our epic summer road trip!

and so our second annual family summer road trip started with a weekend at the cottage with dear friends. we left home on a stormy friday afternoon and arrived at the cozy cottage where the weather was calm and beautiful. so, we decided to get our bathing suits on and jump in the lake! it was a great way to start the weekend!
our weekend was fun in the sun; we swam, chatted about everything under the sun, sat by the fire, roasted marshmallows, drank various drinks, the kids played and played… it was glorious!


we left the cottage on a hot sunday afternoon and headed north on highway 400. our first stop was french river. it is a beautiful spot, perfect for a picnic and stretching your legs. we did both!

our first night of camping was fine. dear hubby and i were a bit out of sync, but seeing as it was our first night on the road, we allowed ourselves the learning opportunity to figure it all out. it took a lot re-organizing to get things into good order. for example, packing up my camping kitchen, i just tossed things into my bin at home, but here at camp i organized it as now i knew what i needed first when starting a meal. 

we bought the kids their own camping chairs and surprised them at our first campfire. they seriously believed us when we told them the forest fairies brought them! it was so sweet!


our first morning at fairbank provincial park and this is what the crater created lake looked like. kinda unbelievable!


then we hit science north in sudbury! (a shout out to all the sudbury peeps, YO!) man, it was fun, awesome and did i mention fun? if you’re even by the big nickel, hanging out on the rock go check this place out!

this big guy here, was the tallest man alive once-upon-a-time. he too had some issues with his pituitary gland, different from mine, but i felt a bond with this freakish moving robot man!


then it was time to hit the road. the kids were quiet and sleepy after such a busy morning, which made for easy driving. we did get stuck behind the road painting truck, which was super frustrating and hilarious at the same time!


and then we saw this sign (see below photograph). we passed the english version before i could snap a photo, but here is the french version (canada is billingual).  the sign reads “please do not feed the bears”. then on the brown part “bears are dangerous”. um yeah they are! they have massive claws and teeth, which are not there just for looks! and, here i thought there is no way in hell anyone in their right mind would want to get near an actual bear, never mind feed it. clearly i am naive!


we drove to sault saint marie, arrived after dinner time so the kids were grumpy and had a hard time finding a good place to eat. eventually, we decided to get a room at the motel 8 and get some grocery store sushi, cheeses, baguette and fruit. kids loved it, i loved it, and dear hubby loved. it was easy and delicious!

the next morning we piled into the car and headed for the famous canal locks. we arrived just in time to see an american tourist boat experience the strange wonder of the locks. the boat started out at one water level and then slowly was lowered to another water level. it’s actually super cool, but also scary!


we visited the bush plane museum in the soo. it was very well organized, and even though it’s a small museum, there is a lot to see and do. the boys of course loved it!


after the soo, we headed along the trans-canada highway north to camp at a provincial park.

that was when we discovered the wonder that is pancake bay.


as we set up camp we could hear a deep rhythmic pounding in the distance. so, we walked over the soft, sandy dunes and saw this.
a breathtaking view of sand and water and sky and forest.

dear hubby and i sat and watched as the kids played in the water, becoming more and more soaked as the waves kept crashing into the shore, and as the kids kept running into them. the boys were not bothered at all by the frigid temperatures of lake superior, or the cool wind that was blowing over the lake; they laughed while running and playing! it was perfect.


then, evening came. dear hubby put the kids to bed, i hooped…


and then this happened. wow.


more pictures and tales to come later from our epic road trip!

xo, mama lola

ontario, the beautiful.

my family and i went on an epic road trip this summer. just over two weeks of driving, camping with a few pit stops in m/hotels. i say this trip was epic, because although we drove a similar distance last summer when we drove all the way out east to the maritimes of canada, on this trip we headed north. north to where life is rougher, the temperatures much cooler and for us the trip felt more challenging, mirroring the way of life.


we live in south western ontario, which is mostly farm country, with pockets of lush forest. everything down here is flat. once you’re about 5 hours north of toronto, you start to kind of notice the rock, the rougher landscape, but just after sault saint marie, which is about 8 hours north west of toronto you really, really notice the rock cliffs, the trees fighting to survive and the lush green of the south is long forgotten and replaced with a scragglier, rougher landscape. 


dear hubby and i met 12 years ago in those scraggly forests just outside of thunder bay, while treeplanting. this vacation was really a trip down memory lane and a way for us to re-experience all of those fun new-relationship places we got to know each other at all those years ago! we’ve had a tough year of marriage and life, and even though the kids were with us, this vacation felt like dear hubby and i were reconnecting in all the right ways! so great!



the raw feel of the landscape along lake superior really affected me. i grew up in finland, which has a very similar look and feel, so i was feeling quite nostalgic. the rocky cliffs lining the shores of the great lake are capped with moss, thin spruce trees, the odd birch tree and some berry bushes. you can imagine the freezing cold wind blowing up from the lake, creating incredibly cold conditions. we camped at a few provincial parks along the shores of lake superior and were surprised at the fine sand beaches we found, with awesome crashing waves. felt like we were in the caribbean without the crowds of tourists and palm trees, oh and the salt water!


we truly live in a beautiful province, one that i think most people take for granted. it is so easy to forget to look at the beauty that surrounds us, to acknowledge the wonder that is in our own backyard. i am proud to share the awesome adventures ontario has to offer with my kids; it doesn’t sound like a very exotic place, this good ol’ ontario, but we saw and experienced some awesome things. it isn’t a coincidence that our car license plates here say “yours to discover”!


i have a million pictures to sort and edit, stories to organize in my brain and many details to write down! i will be sharing vacation pics and tales in spurts!
keep checking back!

xo, mama lola

lion’s 3rd birthday party!

last weekend we celebrated my youngest boy, lion. it was such a wonderful weekend spent with family and friends.

we had dear friends come and spend the night before the party at our house. the kids had an awesome time playing, finding inch worms, climbing fences, playing games, while us adults had an opportunity to catch-up.

this is how it started! BEER!
every time dear hubby or i are drinking beer’s, lion wants to try it. he loves the taste of beer and keeps going after the bottle, it’s funny at first, but then it becomes a little concerning! haha!



we played. did gymnastics. chatted. laughed. watched tv. ate. drank. and laughed some more!


we had such a fun time together!
the kids were delighted to have so much time to play. then the next day was PARTY TIME!!! 
i tried to keep things simple food wise; fruit kabobs, crackers, cheese and gravlox salmon, watermelon, and cookies!



the kids LOVED the pinata!


after the games it was time for business.
CAKE!!!
we made lion a layered ice cream cake. it was so yummy and perfect for a hot summer birthday!


and just on cue, as soon as we all sang happy birthday to my littlest guy, i got all choked up with emotions and tears. i looked over at my mom, and saw her looking at me with tears in her eyes. haha! they were tears of joy and pride, but this is what we do in my family; we cry about everything!

HAPPY MONDAY!



xo, mama lola

the donkeys.

about a week ago we visited the donkey sanctuary of canada.


it was a beautiful, peaceful place where you can’t help but let yourself slow down and let your brain from racing along. we enjoyed the company of many of these serene four legged, furry animals. we were all pleasantly surprised at how calm donkeys are.


all of donkey’s here have a story to tell; where they came from and why they were brought to the sanctuary in the first place. some of the stories are heartbreaking ones of cruelty and neglect, while other’s easier to understand. there are about 60 donkey’s at the a sanctuary, and the name alone should describe the purpose of this place. it’s a safe place for donkey’s to live out their lives. we met one lovely donkey dame, names summer. she was 42 years old, which is considered old for donkey’s.


we spoke to several staff members who were eager to answer our questions and teach us about these quiet, often forgotten animals. donkey’s originate from northern africa and do not have any hierarchy in their herds, the way horses do. their “flight or fight” response is to fight, unlike the horse whose is for flight, and hence are considered stubborn. 


we also had a belated father’s day picnic celebration.
the kids made my dad binoculars. it was pretty cute and hilarious!

if you’re in this area, south-western ontario, go visit the donkey’s. they need our hearts and support and they are just so awesome! check out the sanctuary’s website HERE for operating hours and other details. there are also walking trails and a pond with fish and turles! fun!

xo, mama lola

mini cottage vacation in june!

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

we went up to the cottage with our dear bubba & patty. the kids had a fantastic time playing in the water, swinging on the new tire swing, collecting sticks n’ things, making smores, sleeping in (wait, no that didn’t happen), and just having a jolly fun time!

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


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

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


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


but, that being said we did have a great time boozing, snoozing, playing games, canoeing and hooping! the cottage has decades and decades of family memories in it, and being up there is always so amazing!

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


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


the boys love the water up here.


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


dear hubby and bubba put up a tire swing.

i got back into hooping! everyone had a turn!


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


oh, the cottage life!


happiness!


some of the pics are taken with my phone so that’s why the quality looks different.
HAPPY HUMP DAY EVERYONE! 

xo, mama lola

the stupidfication of DAD!

just before mother’s day i wrote about the degradation of mother. now, just days before we celebrate the men who are father’s i will write about the stupidfication of dad


it is everywhere you look, our media is saturated with jokes, sketches, books, tv shows, movies, blogs, characters, art, and so and so on, about the dumb dad. the dad who doesn’t know how to change a diaper, cook a healthy meal, . all he knows how to do is drink beer and sit in his man cave, while fearing his wife will find him and make him do a chore.

this representation of DUMB DAD infuriates me. the guys i know who are dad’s today, all changed diapers, know how to dress their kids, know how to throw together a healthy school lunch or dinner, and none of the dad’s i know, are stupid. they all make an effort to be good role models for their children, teaching life lessons through activities, conversations and by example. they are respectable, intelligent, and funny men!

dad’s and men weren’t always represented as dumb or incompetent.  back in the day, they were presented at the other extreme of the scale. dad’s were highly respected, highly feared men who ruled their homes. unfortunately, that respect stemmed from fear; children and women were expected to obey the men in their lives, whether they were father’s or husband’s. and if they didn’t fulfill the expectations they would be often be severely punished. 

but, over the years the pendulum has now swung to the other extreme of completely disrespecting dad’s.

for examples on how big name brands exploit this notion of dumb dad/ man, check out the commercials posted on this blog, stupid man commercials. or just google “dumb dad” and you’ll get countless hits on the subject. 
unfortunately.

dear hubby is not a dumb dad or a stupid man. sure, he makes mistakes and he’s had his fair share of bad decisions  but, so do all of us; that’s all about being human. but, as a father he is quite capable and very hands on. i feel like my kids are very fortunate to have him as their dad.  dear hubby is a gentle, intelligent and very creative man, who is never phased by what other’s think of him!

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY TO ALL THE AWESOME DAD’S OUT THERE DOING THE BEST THEY CAN!
xo, mama lola

this moment.

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


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

xo, mama lola
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