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!

  • 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”. 
  • 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

      father’s day craft ideas!

      mother’s day has come and gone, and now it’s time to celebrate the DAD’s! i know dear hubby is a tricky guy to get gifts for, but i’m sure the kids and i will come up with a great plan! last year we bough him a baseball hat and had it embroiderer with ” #1 DAD”. it was a huge hit and he still gets a ton of compliments on it. the kids also made some awesome paper weights!
      here is a round-up of DIY craft projects any dad would love!
      1. necktie key chains from positively splendid
      2. mosaic coasters from naturally educational
      3. gone fishing vest from my lovely inspirations
      4. golf tee porcupine from reading confetti
      5. giant cookie from hungry happenings
      6. grill apron from whimsical kids canvas
      7. pencil cube from styrofoam crafts
      8. popsickle stick pencil holder from art projects for kids
      9. nuts n’ bolts frame from i love to create
      10. dad & me mug from craft kaboose
      xo, mama lola

      i left my pity party in april.

      about a month ago i wrote a post about the pity party i was throwing myself. i was very unsure about writing it, never mind publishing it, but i felt like i needed to do it as a part of my process. stupid? maybe. foolish? perhaps.
      i received many, many kind comments filled with support and words of wisdom. and for that, i am so grateful. i love the connections i have made in the blogging world, who knew?!

      but truth be old, initially i was too embarrassed to even read them. i felt awkward and uncomfortable, because i didn’t share my pity party post as a way to get attention or what have you. my thinking was that if i put IT, all of IT out there, then maybe i could move on.
      so i took the leap and jumped.

      recently, i’ve had some teary conversations with loved ones about my life, my choices and where i’m headed. there are some huge unknowns in my life and what i have come realize that it is up to me, ME to fill them. i cannot wait for others to decide what they want to do with their lives.
      my life keeps on ticking.

      as my mum keeps telling me, we are truly alone in life, even when we have loving families around us. because, it is up to US to live our OWN lives regardless of what others say, think or do. even when we have the best supportive partners in our lives, it is still up to us to decide which direction we want our lives to go in. being selfish is a skill, and i am terrible at it. all i do is think of other people and their needs, and completely neglect my own.

      so that was april.
      may is brighter.
      onwards and upwards, with a few steps back here and there. i’m learning, just like everyone else and trying my hardest to be the best i can be. even if it doesn’t seem like that to everyone.

      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. 

      this is a picture of myself (second from the right  trying to hold back tears) and some of my fellow  brain tumour survivors at our towns spring sprint last sunday. it was a beautiful spring day, a perfect day for a run or walk to raise funds for the canadian brain tumour foundation. we raised over $39, 000!!! wooohooooooooo!!!! so awesome!!!

      my parents came, which meant a great deal to me. i think it was very cathartic for my mum, especially, to see so many people involved in such a great cause. people who are living with or have survived a brain tumour surrounded by all of their friends and family! surrounded by so much love!

      my kids came and now at 5 years of age bear was asking some tough questions. luckily dear hubby was there to answer them. he told bear we were there to support survivors of brain tumours and that the people wearing blue shirts had had a tumour and had been sick. (there were also people wearing white shirts who were family or friends of a survivor and people in orange shirts were volunteers). 

      bear saw me in my blue shirt all day, but never made the connection. 
      not yet anyway
      one day soon it’s a conversation we will have to have with the kids. 

      anyhow, let me hear three cheers for all these survivors in blue shirts…

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

      xo, mama lola

      this is my pity party.

      i’ve been having a real shitty few weeks, months really.
      i am trying come out of it.
      since the new year, i have tried to grow as a person, ya know, being the best i can be, while allowing myself to make mistakes, learn from them and move on. but, that’s not happening the way i imagined it would. i am having a difficult time keeping the momentum going.
      welcome to my pity party!

      over the years i have tried to be a good person: a reliable friend, a strong wife and a stable mother. i am the first to admit and acknowledge that i have made huge mistakes and have failed at being strong or level headed when i should have. but, should making mistakes make me a target, especially when i have held myself responsible for my actions? all of those roles i mentioned earlier are near impossible to maintain  on a good day, never mind when i am being blamed for the mistakes of others. it is difficult to hold my chin up with confidence and pride when i am told my pain is illegitimate and irrelevant. it devalues me as a person, while stripping me of my worth, and completely dismissing existence.
      i am not capable of just pretending everything is ok and ignore the massive pink elephant in the room. but, what am i supposed to do when i try to talk about these issues with them and they respond in a way that is so cold, accusatory and harsh. why are they allowed to treat me like shit? who gave them that permission…. was it me?

      so lately instead of asking for help and support, i have started to shut down and turn into myself. i have started to censor myself more here, because some of the shit holding me back is related to family. (it always is, right?) i wish i could be more open and not feel as though i need to censor myself here, as this place is one i have created for myself; for my thoughts, my feelings, my projects, my fave recipes, my vents, my highs and my woes. MY life. but, i share my life with others, and i do not want out people or cause more hurt or divide, so i will only share about my process, my pity party. 

      today, at the end of april, i am desperately trying to dig myself out of this mess, this hole i dug for myself. it is a hole i feel like i am being pushed back into whenever i start feel a little stronger. i cannot control what other people do, i understand that, but i am struggling to be a duck in rain and let what they think of me roll off of my back. i am raw, vulnerable and hurting, and somehow it feels as though that doesn’t matter to anyone.

      this post sounds like a pity party, i know, but i am trying to find my motivation again. i thought that if i put some of my pain out there for all to see and read, maybe they would stop blaming me for everything and recognize that everyone makes mistakes, including them. and holding ones self accountable takes courage.
      i refuse to be a scapegoat.
      i am worth more.
      i deserve better.

      xo, mama lola

      10 mother’s day craft ideas!

      my boys love to get crafty for special occasions and mother’s day isn’t any different. i don’t actually sit with them to make me something (cuz that would be weird, right?), but i do help them get creative for gifts for their mummo and grandma. i will not be revealing our plans for may 12th, just in case one of them reads this post.
      1. i love you this much card from a day in my life
      2. hand print apron from little page turners
      3. mama portraits from inchmark
      4. decorate pots with fabric from
      5. mother’s day silhouette’s from happy home fairy
      6. hand print wall art from babble
      7. garden stepping stone from a learning experience
      8. flower bouquet from balancing home
      9.  butterfly candle holder from etcetorize
      10. picked, felt flowers from my plum garden
      xo, mama lola

      theme thursday :: useful household tips for keeping a clean(er) home!

      for today’s THEME THURSDAY i’ve pulled together some handy household resources. tips and tricks that work well for all sorts of problems that may arise in your home, from pesky stains to frustrating houseflies to ridding odours. plus, all of these easy solutions are kid and pet friendly and won’t hurt your bank account! GOTTA LOVE THAT!

      i organized the list by rooms in your home. 







      let me know if you have any tips or tricks i can add to this list.
      i’m also working on an organizational post!

      xo, mama lola

      hop-hop easter recap.

      easter has come and gone. we had a fantastic weekend, with friends and family, and the sun decided to join us in all its glory, as well! 

      we started good friday at home with chocolate filled croissants and an easter table with all sorts  fun, colourful things for the boys to look at.

      then we we walked to the park. there is a super fun easter egg hunt that happens at the park up the road from us. we went and joined over a hundred other kids and their families. neighbourhood volunteers had about a thousand easter eggs hidden all over… plastic eggs with all sorts of wonderful treasures hidden inside.

      the park is scattered with plastic eggs and the rule is only up to 8 eggs per kid. so, once you’ve collected your loot, then you need to empty your eggs and return them so they can be re-used next easter. check out the dudes below comparing their finds. it’s so funny watching the kids at this event!

      we spent the rest of the weekend with my folks. the men and women separated on saturday. the guys went to a huge park in town, and saw llama’s out for a walk with their keepers! my mum and i went to the one of a kind craft sale in the city. it was such a nice time with just my mum, away from the kids and the chaos they bring. 

      the sun was so warm on the weekend. we spent hours and hours outside soaking up the rays and the warmth! the boys really loved it! my mum had a beautiful easter table set with delicious food, which we all enjoyed a lot!

      our weekend was fun and spring like, filled with so much laughter and joy, that it’s hard to get back into the routine of things!

      hope you enjoyed your long weekend!

      xo, mama lola

      i stood up for myself.

      since the new year i have been working on getting myself on a better track, emotionally. it’s hard stuff and almost impossible to find the time to, never mind finding the energy to learn how to change some of my bad habits. but, real change is a process and must be given time to develop into the new norm. 

      new behaviour always feels uncomfortable to the person trying it out, but also to the people around them. there is an inauthenticity and an insincerity about it initially but, like with anything new, once it’s been experienced enough times the unfamiliar becomes the familiar. 

      recently, i have been feeling very out of sorts with some people in my life. there has been incredible tension sitting there between us like a huge pink elephant. when i feel worried or stressed, i carry it physically in my body. so, my neck and shoulders have been incredibly tense and pained for several weeks now. no amount of arnica, heat, vodka or massages from dear hubby were able to relieve the stress.

      so, yesterday i did what i never thought i would do.
      i stood up for myself. 
      i expressed my hurt feelings, i shared my pain and concern and established some clear boundaries. i wrote everything out in a letter and emailed it to several different people and as soon as i had hit send, my pain disappeared. 

      my neck felt relaxed, i smiled with ease and that’s when i knew that even though my honesty will hurt others, it needed to be said. standing up for myself (and my family) was the right thing to do. 

      now that i have dealt with that part of my life, i can focus on my bear. i have been so distracted by this other mess, been so anxious that i have not been able to mother in a way that i want to. bear and i have been butting heads for several weeks, but i feel now i can give him what he needs.

      have you ever had to stand up for yourself? 
      how did you feel afterwards?

      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 moment.  

      please, feel free to leave a link from your moment this week. i’d love to see what you’ve been up to!

      *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

      xo, mama lola
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