the river runs through it.

our city has two rivers that run through it. every year the community gets together and cleans up the garbage left over from winter along the river beds. but, this year there were other projects as well for people to participate in. projects like building crayfish habitats, adding mulch to the previously planted trees along the riverbank, or cleaning up the garbage from the river and it’s banks. we chose to learn about how to build crayfish habitats.

some sections of the river are busy with canada geese and at this time of year their goslings are busy growing. the wee grey puff balls are so cute!

although our kids are young, we think it is so important to get them involved in our local community, to learn about our local environment and participate in its up-keep where possible. it’s one thing to just live in a place, but to be involved in a community’s health and spirit are something very different. we met some really inspiring people, full of energy and knowledge to try to change things.

you can’t tell in these pictures, but lion fell and sat in the mud. his bum was covered in this thick, sticky mud. and his shoes, the cotton runners were drenched in water and mud! at home i had to do a thorough rinse before chucking them into the washing machine!

i had packed a picnic lunch, which we gobbled up quickly. building crayfish homes was exhausting work!

xo, mama lola

themed thursday: road trip activities & games! (part 3)

keeping kids content, quiet and busy is an important part of the SANITY piece for parents road tripping with kids, to preserve your sanity even further, you could consider a service like Comfort Drive where a safe driver will ensure you safely get to your destination whilst taking care of your kids. It is super important to plan ahead a bit and to know what kinds of activities will keep your kids happy, especially for those long hauls! if you know that you are going to be going for a long drive, then think about what sort of vehicle you should take as well. is your normal car good enough for the journey? or would you do better if you invested in something like a motorhome for your family? at least this way you get all the space that you need, and you won’t even have to worry about finding a room to stay in? sounds good right? if this is something that interests you then don’t forget you’ll need to get insurance for it (check out Staveley Head for more information on this). getting a motorhome might just make your road trip with your family a lot easier!

we don’t have DVD players in our car (by choice) and don’t have tablets, so we rely on the kids to entertain themselves and each other.


  • felt boards are super fun and a wonderful way to get the kids’ imaginations going. they are basically story boards for kids to create worlds with, where all sorts of adventures can take place.


  • last year i used cookie sheets as the board, this year i stumbled upon these adorable magnet boards at chapters. they come with magnets, but we will bring along our super, awesome 3D dinosaur magnets, which you can learn how to make HERE.
  • i also found a bag of magnet letters at value village for 99 cents.

these are the magnets i made last year for a road trip. kids LOVED them and they are still in circulation!
we made other magnets as well, which are still in use on our fridge! CLICK HERE and it will take you to how to make these awesome toys!


  • i love the idea of pictorial scavenger hunts. since my kids will be 3 and 5 years old, they won’t be able to read a long list of words. but, one with pictures is right up their alley! here’s one by the bird feed NYC, which is great, so i will use their concept, but will gear the lists towards our trip more, using specific road signs i know we will see, wildlife, sites and things. the kids can work together, which i love!
[ source ]


  • what’s a road trip without family sing-a-longs? here’s a few very fun songs that my boys really love, “old mcdonald had a farm“, “ABC“, “the wheels on the bus“, “the ants go marching “, “
  • we do also have a stack of CD’s, MP3’s and sirius radio to choose from for when we need to give our vocal chords a rest. i love to mix it up as well, playing classical, bluegrass or top 40, but sometimes it’s also good to just drive in silence.


  • my kids, especially bear, loves to play eye-spy when in the car. we still play the colour instead of the spelling version of the game! counting games are also great! sometimes we just count all the red cars we see, or all the transport trucks and so on.
  • other classic faves are (found HERE at MSN): 20 questions, license plate bingo, word chain and more!
  • older kids may like mad-libs.

  • each boy brings his fave stuffed animal.
  • we bring about 10 books and just cycle through them. sometimes along the way i will buy a new book as a souvenir for the kids.
  • markers, paper, colouring books, activity books and a few stickers.
  • small toys like cars, animals, people so the kids can create little imaginary worlds.
  • buckets n’ shovels.
  • deck of cards, UNO, other small travel sized games.

here’s what our dudes looked like last summer on our trip to the canadian maritimes. each had a plastic basket for toys at arms reach, a bin of books in the middle and it worked great.


  • and parents, don’t forget to pack some extra creativity, flexibility and patience. keeping kids peaceful in the back can be tricky at times, and sometimes when the volume of the screaming increases, it’s worth it to stop and get out for a bit. i realize this makes the trip longer, but that’s where being flexible comes into play.
  • on our longer stretches of driving, we actually would start after dinner. kids would play, have stories and would eventually fall asleep and we would drive until midnight or so. until we found a motel. it was a great way to make good time!
  • before getting in the car to drive we made sure the kids had a chance to run some beans out. whether at a motel or camp site. and we made sure the first leg of driving was short, as it’s not a very fun way to start the day. but, truth be told, maintaining any real schedule was impossible. all bedtimes and nap times flew out the window and we just had to let the kids sleep when they were tired!

what are some of your family’s favourite songs and games to play?

xo, mama lola

my natural first aid kits.

[DISCLAIMER: i am not a medical professional and this is not medical advice.
please consult your own health care provider for specific advice. ]

we have two first aid kits.

the big white box that we purchased at the pharmacy that has a lot of the bigger supplies sits in our car. i know people have automatic external defibrillators similar to this Samaritan PAD 350P AED, however we decided that we didn’t need one, but we may get one in the future. for now i have added some of our own more natural first aid remedies to it. sometimes arnica is a better choice over advil, and sometimes a few drops or sprays of rescue remedy can help cool nerves.

a first aid kit should include:
  • bandages of various sizes and ideally latex free as latex allergies are becoming more common.
  • gauze, small scissors, tape and bandage wrap.
  • cold pack that gets cold when you manipulate it is a great idea for bruises or swelling.
  • polysporin, insect bug ointment, antiseptic towelettes.
  • non-latex gloves, like vinyl ones.
  • CPR mask/ pocket mask.

Like I mentioned before, I am not a medical professional, so we wouldn’t have all the equipment like wilson cases, wilson case or a large carry case. I also haven’t had any first aid training, unlike all the medical professionals out there. They have to get extensve training to learn the basics in first aid, to even having to deal with some of the most extreme circumstances. By doing research into something like cpr training Coast 2 Coast, this is where their training begins. This sort of knowledge is important, as it can potentially help you save a life. When it comes to myself, what I do have are the essentials to help anyone in any situation they may find themselves in. As long as we have the basics, we’ll be fine. Our second first aid kit is a small pouch with only the bare minimum of essential “aids”. these are items that come in handy for us, especially if on a hike or even just out on the town. having tweezers are great when a sliver happens, then dabbing it with a little tea tree essential oil and depending on the size of the sliver and if happened in conjunction with a fall, some arnica may help (caplets or topical cream). lip balm is great for sunburn lips or a dehydrated person.

in the picture above i also included:

  • a hair tie and bobby pins for those windy day emergencies!
  • a tampon (great not just for surprise menstrual flow, but also severe nose bleeds… stop giggling!)
  • sting swabs and antiseptic towelettes, not super natural, but potentially very helpful.
  • i included the rescue remedy tincture and spray bottles just to show options. i prefer the spray, as do my kids.
  • i also included the arnica topical cream and caplets, but walk around with the caplets more, unless one of us is nursing a bruise or an ache of sorts.

* We are an allergy family and that is why I have included benadryl even on our natural first aid kit list. We have the kids liquid and adult capsules with us, just in case one of the boys gets hit by an allergic reaction. We understand the nature of our family’s allergies, so I am not suggesting everyone walk around with benadryl, this is just what works for us.

* Make sure you check the quality of the products in your first aid kit regularly. Ensure packages are still sealed, that items have not deteriorated, especially if they’ve been sitting in a car for a long period of time. And, double check expiry dates! Medicines, creams and potions lose their effectiveness after a certain period of time.

* Recently I have also been thinking about investing in some N95 masks to protect my family. Airborne particles like viruses and bacteria can make you seriously ill, but a medical-grade face mask can protect you. If ever a virus broke out, a mask could be helpful. Anyway, a friend of mine told me that if ever you want to buy an N95 Mask Canada has some amazing websites where you can find a range of different types of face masks that are perfect for filtering out harmful particles from the air. I will definitely be doing some more research to find the right masks for us.

* I carry a small amount of money in our small first aid pouch. A few coins and a small bill, enough to able to us make a phone call, buy water or a snack.

What do you carry with you in your first aid kit?
What did I miss and should include in ours?


xo, mama lola

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! Writing this actually reminded me of the plumber we recently had come and do some work to our bathroom. He had actually traveled quite far to get to us, but don’t worry he didn’t seem bothered in the slightest as he had just picked up his newly leased van. The price that he got it for really put a spring in his step, so I guess that shows the value of having a shop around for deals. Long road trips are certainly mentally taxing ventures so you could consider an alternative like having your vehicle transported to your vacation location for you, by a company like Cars Relo, so that when you arrive, using less stressful means of transportation, your car will be there waiting for you to use. This avoids the headache of countless hours of driving and the anxiety that comes with it. It also means you won’t have to add all those miles to your vehicle!

  • 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”. If you’re particularly pushed for space, you might want to consider leasing a bigger vehicle such as this Wichita Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD for the duration of your trip. That way you can pack as many clothes and supplies as you want without having to compromise on comfort! I know I said about my roadtrip hindsight being twenty/twenty, well for the next time I’m definitely going to try to look for Help finding a ute canopies in Brisbane (yup, down under here we come!) this way I’m sure we’ll have more than enough space for all of our belongings. I imagine it will be a little more this time considering we’re heading to another country!
  • 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

      connecting with nature.

      it’s a cool, rainy day here and we are taking cover inside. lion is happy playing with his cars, so i am happy to sit and write.

      weather doesn’t always deter us from going outside, though. I try to teach the kids that being outside regardless of the temperature or what’s falling form the sky, can be really fun! I want to invest in some new outdoor garden furniture so that they can spend more time in the garden, simply doing whatever they would usually do indoors, like colouring or reading. Then at least they’re getting some fresh air and appreciating more natural surroundings. We’ve got great gear for all possible weather experiences and the kids are usually game to go outside. in fact throwing on rubber boots, rain pants and a rain coat is considered exciting!

      all weather comes with it’s own pro’s and con’s. too much of anything is exhausting, unpleasant and possibly even dangerous. after our long winter (we’ve even had snow twice this may!) we are ready to strip down and frolic without all the layers of warmth!

      recently we went on a great hike. i love that both kids are at an age where they will walk on their own without any carriers or equipment. we brought a knapsack with snacks and water, and a change of undies and shorts for lion. although, he is completely toilet trained, he still mastering things like peeing on a tree, which during our hike he failed miserably.

      i enjoy hiking with my kids. there are moments when we see something interesting, like strange fungi growing on trees that provides a window for a wonderful conversation about how and why the fungi is growing there. we heard frogs in the marsh, so we stood in silence listening to the noises, and our stillness then allowed us to hear a range of other sounds.

      my children, all children thrive in nature. it doesn’t have to be a lot or for long periods of time, but by providing kids opportunities to connect with nature is so vital in their development. i blogged about a book a few years ago that really made an impression on me; “last child in the woods” by richard louv. the book discusses the importance of nature in children’s lives and the growing deficit of the natural world in their daily experiences. you don’t have to go to the woods or on a long hike to witness the wonder of nature, all you need is a tree or a patch grass, and the life you can discover there is incredible. all you have to do is look, and teach children to look; to stop and to observe and use their senses to connect with the natural environment that surrounds them.

      as people we tend separate ourselves from the natural world, creating boundaries between us and other living creatures. but, we are in fact a part of the environment we live in, even though we drive cars and live in houses and eat processed foods. the growing disconnect between humans and nature is frightening to see. that’s why dear hubby and i try to connect our kids to their environment, their food, the worms in our garden and the frogs during a hike.

      being in nature is good for our physical health, our spiritual health, our emotional health and our mental health. Mother nature has a way of healing and calming us down and grounding us even in the most heightened of emotion. Nature comes in many forms, we can see it, feel it, even taste it, making us feel more intune with what is around us. Stress can take over a massive part of our lives if we let it consume us, luckily there are natural ways to help ourselves so we never stray too far from the path. Herbal remedies have become a staple in so many people’s lives to help them day-to-day, medical marijuana has been lauded by thousands, the same with its other form – CBD, but there is one that may not be as linked but can still have positive effects, and that is Shrooms. Click here to see how this is possible and can potentially be used for your own adult mental health. I have a lot to look into myself and research, I’m hoping that with my own mental health, I too, can find positives in every day.

      xo, mama lola
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