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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bunting collage

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

july camping week: part 2

 

this is part two of our family camping trip from july (read part one HERE)! yes, i am late in sharing, but i have taken conscious time away from this space to vacation and enjoy summer with my family.

 

after surviving the bumps mac gregor point threw our way, we headed up to the bruce peninsula all the way to tobermory. there we were camping at a national camp ground called cyprus lake. we were excited, as we had heard wonderful things about this destination.

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remember how we had had issues with rain a few days earlier at our previous site at mac gregor point? so to combat fears, dear hubby climbed a few trees to attach the world largest tarp and try to protect the tent from flooding.

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our site surrounded by stunning tall trees. it was a large site perfect for the kids to ride their bikes around, it had a private forests all around where the kids busied themselves with all kinds of games. one thing this camp ground was strict about was keeping your site clean of foods and things that might attract wild animals. there were black bears around, and other animals like raccoons can cause real havoc to campers.

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we had fires each night, mostly for cooking things like baked potatoes and jiffy pop! but, having stories by the fire is never a bad thing either! our kids love camping, but sometimes bear struggles with finding space to be alone. he needs it to recharge his batteries.

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we hiked along a beautiful trail from our campsite to the famous grotto. the view was spectacular! it looked like we were on the mediterranean sea in greece somewhere!

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and then we woke up to rain. and, not nice summer rain that is refreshing and makes the forest smell amazing… no, no this was torrential and cold! luckily, i am married to a man who is not phased by these kinds of surprises, instead of getting upset, he just rolls into action! he backed up the van close to the tent, dragged a picnic table under the worlds largest tarp and started cooking breakfast for us as if it was any ol’morning! how awesome is he?!

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on our last day in tobemory we had to make it count after being rained out! so we took a super speedy boat ride to flower pot island. on the way there we checked out a few shipwrecks in the sparkling clear water. the boys of course thought it was all pretty darn cool!

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then we were off…. woohooo!!!! we all love being on boats and feeling the wind in our hair!

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we saw a snake quickly dash across the trail we were on.

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this was definitely a trying trip for us, mostly cause by the rain and the fact that i had strep, which meant i was tired. but, we saw lots of beautiful things and got to spend that oh-so-important quality time together as a family. being together just the four of us is necessary for us; we all yearn to be together and as the kids get older it’s going to be hard to always have that time.but, i’m hoping if we make these summer traditions now, they’ll become things we all look forward to!

 

well, here’s hoping anyhow!

hope you have been enjoying your summer! soon i’ll be sharing about our experiences at camp neekaunis, a family camp the boys and i attended. plus, some other summer adventures we’ve been fortunate enough to do!

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

painting flower pots!

now that the growing season is here i want to share a favourite project that my boys love to do… paint terracotta flower pots!

painting flower pots, mother's day, gift idea, kids crafts

it’s a wonderful way to be creative, while also learning about how things grow. my kids made each of their grandmother’s a painted pot for mother’s day and planted a geranium in them. they were so proud of their

 

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all you need are some pots, paints, brushes and we used a spray sealant to try to protect the pots from water.

i love using ice cube trays as paint trays instead, as they don’t tip over easily and the paints can be mixed well in the deep slots. my kids often paint outside as the tidying up is so much easier. plus, if they get paint all over it’s not a big deal!

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TA-DAA!

check out these lovely flower pots!

painted flower pots, kids crafts, mother's day, gift ideas, gifts for grandmothers painted flower pots, mother's day, gift idea

i love how carefree the kids are when painting. they do not get inhibited with concerns about what other’s may think of their creations. they just create completely in the moment, enjoying the paint and colours, but most importantly the process.

happy painting and planting to you!

xo, mama lola

make your own backyard teepee!

 

we have been spending an enormous amount of time outside. the weather is warm and inviting, so we’ve tried to take advantage of the summer weather! i’ve wanted to build a teepee for the kids in the backyard for a while, but just never got around to it, but when a friend of mine made one for her boys, i was inspired!

DIY teepee, backyard teepee,

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i found an old white sheet in the basement, which i decided would be perfect if painted. then, i dug around for fabric paint, which i couldn’t find so i made do with tempera paint. the paint bottle said it would stain if not treated, so i hoped it would work! although, i don’t really care what happens to the teepee fabric. if after a big rain storm the paint bleeds, i’m ok with that.

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INSTRUCTIONS:

1. depending on the size of the teepee you want you will need 3-6 sticks for the frame. we just used branches we found in our backyard. we pushed the branches into the ground a little bit for extra support. we used nylon rope to tie the branches at the top.

2. choose a fabric that will be big enough to nicely wrap around the frame/ branches. make sure you leave  an opening! start stapling the fabric to one of the branches at the doorway and work your way around. i had to fold extra fabric tucking it under and stapling it well. i wasn’t too concerned about the precision of the stapling, because i knew it didn’t matter with the integrity of the teepee.

3. enjoy!

garden teepee for kids, make your own teepee

our teepee provides great shade. i chose it’s location in our yard carefully, angling the doorway away from the table area and patio, tucking it away in a more quiet area. i’m hoping the teepee will be a part of games of the imagination, but also a place to tuck away with a book on a hot day, a place lie back and listen to the birds chirping away, and just a place to be.

DIY garden teepee,

the kids love it.

i love it!

it has worked out so well!

xo, mama lola

stamping with food & natural treasures!


stamping with food, stamps, nature crafts

my kids love to paint and be creative. so, when we headed up to the cottage for the may long weekend i decided to plan a fun activity for the boys to try out. there are so many posts and pins about painting and stamping with food. i was a little weary at first, as the thought of wasting perfectly good food for crafts seemed so arrogant, but i found ways of negotiating around. for example, only painting with the tops of peppers and bottom of the celery stem. we also gathered some lovely natural items we found on the forest floor, like a bird’s feather, cedar branches and various leaves.

 

stamping with food, natural stamps, kids crafts

to get started i had all of our supplies ready and waiting for the kids.  i cut the food items, placed a few colours of paint on some tupperware container lids, got our paintbrushes out,  set out a container of water for rinsing the paintbrushes, placed paper under rocks so they wouldn’t fly away and made sure my camera battery was charged! haha!

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stamping with food, art outside, kids crafts,

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stamping with food, kids crafts, art outside, nature crafts

painting, like eating, is so much better outside. the mess is easier to deal with and there’s something wonderful about listening to the birds sing while being creative. we also lucked out with a sunny day with only a light breeze. there is so much inspiration in the nature that surrounds us.

 

i hope you get a chance to do this craft with your kids!

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
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