one whole hand; five years!


we celebrated a sweet birthday here. lion turned 5 years old!

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it’s hard to believe he’s already 5. that’s five summer solstices, five earth days and soon to be five whole summers and five christmasses! 

this year i wasn’t as emotional about lion’s birthday, like i was last year. because his birthday is tightly woven to the traumas of my pituitary gland tumour, i often end up re-visiting those fears and pains of five years ago. but, this year, for some reason, i didn’t go to those dark corners of my memory as deeply. maybe because it’s been enough years, i’m not really sure. 

instead, i was able to celebrate and enjoy my little guy, his friends and our family at his party. the kids all received a water shooter upon arrival and we had a few wet games planned. there was lots of laughter, screaming and water every where!

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and then it was time for cake!

homemade ice cream cake to be exact! i will share the recipe and how to later. it’s super easy and super yummy, and perfect for a birthday party. i made some silly party animals as cake toppers for lion’s cake!

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and, on his actual birthday we had a special day that started with homemade waffles made by dad, a scooter ride on his new scooter and a fun trip to the humane society where we picked up the newest member of our family… meet leo peaches!

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on lion’s birthday we went out for dinner as a family to east side mario’s. the kids love it there, because they do a big song and show for your birthday there, which of course makes them feel super awesome! look at the treats lion got, three mini ice creams and a chocolate cake!

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that picture above is of pouting parents… sad cuz the kids are growing so fats! bah!

oh my heart. it is bursting with pride and love for this little boy. his delightful personality is fun to be with, while is sensitive soul is an inspiration to us all. his empathetic heart is so big and loving. he is working so hard to catch up to his brother, while trying to find his own self in this world. i feel very fortunate to have this little guy in my life, in my family.

and, now i am going to get emotional! haha…sob, sob!

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.

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

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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!
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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

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

camping killbear.

 

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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!

 

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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.

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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!

 

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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!

 

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

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

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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!

 

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

 

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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!

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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)

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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programming included story time and yummy snacks as well.

 

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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!

 

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tether ball always had a captive audience.

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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.

 

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this wee miss loved the beach!

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dancer mum’s rehearsing for talent night!

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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

painting easter eggs!

 

my mum is an artist. she is the most creative person i know. everything she touches turns into art; paintings, cards, pottery, even the meals she prepares has some artistic flare in it. so amazing!

she has a stunning collection of hundreds of easter eggs she has decorated over the years. my kids know their mummo has special talents and love getting artsy with her. during easter we invite good friends over to my parents house and my mum lets the kids (all 5 of them) use her various art supplies. she patiently guides the budding artsists on how to get the paint to stay on brushes, how to colour blown eggs with markers or pencils. it’s amazing seeing them in action.

 

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here are some of the beautiful eggs the kids created for easter. so lovely! my mum attaches the beads and ribbon, so the egss can be hung for decorations.

 

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here are the kids with their art teacher. look at all of those adorable smiling faces!  i feel like bursting when i look at this photo!

 

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we are of to celebrate easter with family today. it’s a beautiful day outside, the kids have made their cards and dear hubby is doing some yummy easter baking! he’s trying out a finnish recipe, which is tricky as some of the ingredients are hard to find. anyhow, more to come on that later!

 

HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!

 

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!

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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!

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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!

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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

state & main with the guelph blog brunch ladies.

 

once a month my blogger friends and i enjoy brunch together. we always meet at a different restaurant and this time it was suggested we taste test  state & main, a newcomer in our city.

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sunday brunch is one of my favoutite meals. and, i always look forward to hanging with my guelph blog brunch, group. we have great conversations, lotsa laughs and i love having friends to chat blogging with!

as with any meal, we all started with drinks. check-out this MASSIVE glass of fun di ordered!

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then it was time order food. after some deciding i opted for a the breakfast burrito. being vegetarian it was easy enough to exclude the bacon from the wrap. check-out all the homefries on the side, so yummy and one of the best things about brunch!

*notice how the prices are marked? clever!

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thanks for the yummy brunch, state & main! the service was wonderful, staff was so friendly and accommodating (even taking the above group shot of us)! i’m sure i’ll be back, possibly for a date night!

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starting here at the bottom left and going around the table let me me introduce: emily @ eighty ink, carlie @ friends in my closet, me, di @ dilovely, heat @ heather in heels, ardis @ rustic retrievals & heather @ heart, heather.

 

as we were saying our farewells in the parking lot, i quickly asked everyone to join me in a ellen degeneres inspired group selfie! i must say we all look pretty darn great!

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xo, mama lola

a winter hike to kick off march break!

it’s march break here in canada! a week off from school, which actually makes my life a titch busier, but i am glad to have a break from the confines of school and the rigid structure it brings with it.

to really kick-off this break, the kids and i went for a hike in beautiful weather with friends. it was the most perfect day; the sun shone, the temperatures felt practically balmy and there was no wind. kinda perfect in every way!

we went to a local conservation area and explored this old mill. kids loved it. then we kept trekking along, enjoying the sights until we reached our destination…

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this awesome CAVE!

the kids all explored the various crevices, holes and rocks. every few seconds someone would exclaim “oh wow, look at this”! i just love to hear kids excited about things in nature and their environment. and, as the kids get older they really do know so much more about the world, than i give credit for.

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all explorers need to refuel after extensive research, so we had a cave picnic before heading home!

we nibbled on cheese n’ avocado wraps, apple slices, raisins, nuts, cheese and juice! yum! i find packing snacks is crucial to surviving any kind of outdoor experience with the kids. they’re blood sugar crashes so quickly!

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we were all exhausted after our exciting hike! but, it was that good kind of exhaustion, you know, when you feel inspired, energized and calm. this winter i have found my mental health teetering on the edge some days, but when i get outside and fill my lungs with fresh air, and especially get to soak up some priceless vitamin D from the glorious sun, it really helps soothe my mind.

what are you up to this march break?

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.

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

xo, mama lola
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