summah-mama burn out… i got it!


at the beginning of each summer season i have big plans on how to spend our time wisely, you know, sending kids to one day camp each for a week, visiting to the cottage, going on family camping trips, spending hours with friends laughing and enjoying uninterrupted play. i have visions of us running away from mosquitoes in the woods, jumping into the lake and swimming until our lips are blue. then enjoying time together in peace, while crafting something beautiful.

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well, we’ve done that.

a lot.

it wasn’t quite so romantic though.

 

there have been bumps along the road. we’ve all struggled in our own way.

what i struggle with is, maintaining any kind of self care for myself during our summer days. meaning, going to the gym regularly, blogging (again regularly), getting housework done (yup, again regularly) and so on, and so on. now let me clarify, doing housework isn’t a part of my daily self care routine, but getting stuff done around the house does keep my mind organized and sound! plus, if i don’t know where the wet bathing suits were left, then nobody will meaning chaos with ensue the next day!

having both kids around all day is exhausting to say the least. don’t get me wrong, we’ve had moments of fun at home but, often the boys revert back into their old bickering ways, antagonizing each other in every possible way! we went camping this passed weekend and DH said he loved our mini vacay, while i reminded him that a change in geography does not necessarily make a vacation for me. i am still with the kids, mothering, reminding, yelling, at them to stop fighting.

so now i am burnt out!

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i haven’t been to the gym in weeks, which is showing on my body, but mostly i can really feel it in my mental health. all those bad feelings come creeping back in, then the bad habits start all over again, first in very subtle ways… and then i just hate myself! it is such a terrible cycle i get caught in, even though it’s also so predictable and preventable.

i know i am not alone in this…

without wishing our summer away, i am going to keep on trucking, while trying harder to ensure that my needs are met as well. i am lucky to have a hubby who supports me in my self care, although i need to be more clear with him about what that means and how he can help specifically. 

i’ve been at this mothering thing for 7 years and i still struggle with making myself a priority!


 

p.s. more pics on my INSTAGRAM! check em out!

xo, mama lola

camping killarney!


i gotta say this was one of our most successful camping trips ever. 

killarney provincial park is a stunning place in northern ontario. we camped there for 3 nights and 4 days, but we could have stayed longer!

this was the view we saw when we first arrived on our site.

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it felt as though we had found perfection. the ultimate camping spot with the kids!

 

lion received a fishing rod for his birthday, which he loves. and, bear made one of his own so the kids fished from the rock for what felt like hours! they never did catch anything, but they sure did keep at it.

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the weather was hot during the day, but the nights were cool. this meant we filled our days with hikes and swimming AND ICE CREAM!

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we hiked the granite ridge trail, which was so fun. we started low in the forest and then started to climb up the rock. the trail meandered through the woods, over rock, passed a funny old rusted car, all the way up to the summit where the views were breathtaking. we snacked on our food and nibbled on the blueberries growing in their bushes.

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we visited the old town of killarney, which has a wee population of 500. there isn’t much there, a few stores, a marina and of course… ICE CREAM! but, it was nice to visit.

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check out the new tent we bought! it’s from MEC and is the 4 person wanderer. it’s perfect for the 4 of us!

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we rented a canoe for a day. it was DH’s favourite day of the trip. we packed a lunch and headed out on george lake. we paddled so different spots, stopping to explore, picnic and rest. we must have done about 3 km’s. nothing intense, but it sure was fun and by the time we returned my arms were quite tired. we had been paddling into the wind for a lot of the day!

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i adore camping with my family. now that the kids are old enough to do more for themselves (like walk to the s*itters) and because they don’t require constant entertainment and supervision from us, we all get a chance to relax. DH and i enjoyed ourselves immensely, and we really had a great time as a family without it feeling like forced quality time.

in the evenings we all snuggled up in our own sleeping bags and listened as DH read to us from his kobo. he had downloaded some kids chapter books on to it, which were perfect for all of us to enjoy. it also made bedtime easier for us. our 7 year old bear often has a hard time falling asleep, which if DH and i were sitting outside the tent would find very frustrating, but because we were all relaxed together, tired and listening to the story, we all nodded off one by one.

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we have two more weekend camping trips to enjoy this summer!

the kids are thrilled. so am i!

xo, mama lola

summer check in.


summer seems to be flying by!

the kids have enjoyed camps this week. bear was at the nature centre’s camp learning all about bugs and animals, while lion was at an arts camp experiencing the joys of drama, visual art and dance. both boys have been wiped out afterwards, which has been good. instead of fighting as much as usual, they have been looking for a bit more solitude at home colouring or reading after dinner. although, last night after dinner we got into some family soccer action which was a lot of fun!

today is friday and it has been raining ALL DAY! i wonder how the kids are doing at their camps. hopefully they still got outside for a bit!

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isn’t this picture gorgeous? i captured it on father’s day at the botanical gardens. just perfect. i have not done any editing to it!

this week i had my annual appointment in the big city regarding my pituitary gland and the removed tumour and hormones. truth be told, i’ve had a kind of a crummy year health wise. i have been experiencing all sorts of yucky things, which after a bunch online research has made me wonder if my hormones are out of whack! on wednesday i was told by my neurosurgeon that there was no signs of a new tumour growing, which is a huge relief! those tumours suck! big time! and, as i listed my symptoms that have arisen this year to my endocrinologist, she seemed to agree that more testing was needed.

i am at a point n my life where i just want to know what’s going on with my body. i AM NOT GOING CRAZY, something is not right, something is off kilter, something to too high or too low or too far to the right… or something. i’ve joined a bunch of groups on line to get more info about hormone deficiencies and pit tumours. it is amazing to me how so many people suffer and doctors just know or don’t care enough to explore more.

 

anyhow, the weekedn is soon upon us and i am looking forward to spending it with my family!

we have a new car to break in (yes, we FINALLY are getting rid of the rusty, crappy van), a new tent to practice setting up, a birthday party to attend and friends to visit with. 

xo, mama lola

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

the best of summer in a watermelon salad!


today is the first monday of summer vacations at home. the boys and i have a few errands to run. we need to go to a few farm markets to buy fresh strawberries and other locally grown yummy produce. we need to buy new waterbottles (again) as lion keeps losing his! the kids both go to camp next week and they’ll need them then. i’m not sure how to get my lion to be more careful of his belongings, as his brother is so meticulous with his things. clearly it’s a personality thing and not a mothering thing!

 

anyhow, to day i want to share the best summer salad recipe out there… WITH WATERMELON!!!!

AWESOME!!!

 

summer is here and it’s the season for enjoying all kinds of fresh, juicy and yummy salads. we always have a salad of sorts with our dinners, whether it be a big green leafy salad, a warm quinoa or a filling bean mix. there is a salad for everyone’s tastes in this world!

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i’ve seen lots of pictures for watermelon salads so i decided to come up with my own recipe with what i had in my cupboards. and, holy moly was it ever good! especially since we devoured it on a hot n’ muggy summers evening! it’s quick to make and perfect as a side on a busy or super hot evening. 

 

watermelon salad with feta and fresh basil
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Ingredients
  1. 1 watermelon
  2. 1/2 container of feta
  3. lots of fresh basil leaves
  4. 2 tblsp olive oil
Instructions
  1. 1. cut up your watermelon into chunks. i tried to leave mine a bit bigger than bite sized because when mixing the finishes salad i thought the pieces would fall apart.
  2. 2. i took the feta and crumbled it with my fingers directly onto the watermelon. added fresh basil leaves, ripping them by hand a little too to release the delicious aroma.
  3. 3. add olive oil and mix gently.
bear & lion http://bearandlionmama.com/
my boys loved the salad and gobbled up lots of it! 

it really is super easy and SO, SO yummy!

xo, mama lola

birthday cake toppers!

 


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 we are hosting a birthday party for my lion on saturday. we will be making an awesome ice cream cake as the weather is going to be hot and sunny (recipe for that coming soon).

i cannot believe he is going to be 5 years old! that’s one whole hand, people! i only have two days to prepare for his party, so i thought making a FUN cake topper would be a great way to get some impact and FUN onto his yummy ice cream cake. i checked out pinterest (of course) and chose some of the cutest and simplest ideas i could find. there are lots of tutorials for cake toppers that are very complicated, but also stunning! go for it if you have time!

 

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DIY pompom cake topper from momtastic

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DIY fringe mylar cake toppers from diy studio

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DIY animal candle cake toppers from kara’s party ideas

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DIY animal cake toppers from visual heart

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playful puppet cake toppers for birthday cake and cupcakes from mer mag

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DIY cake topper from art bar blog

i love looking at what other creative people have been up to. their ideas give me great inspiration and get my own creative juices flowing. i’m not exactly sure what kind of a cake topper lion will end up for saturday, but i do love the pom poms, animals and bunting flags… hey, wait! that’s all of the ideas! hahaha! i may take a little from all of ideas above and make something of my own!

 

happy summer crafting friends!

xo, mama lola

summer, summer!

summer is officially HERE and the kids are done school on thursday … WOOHOO!

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summer holidays brings with it a new set of routines and feelings. the warm breezes inspire different play, the hot temperatures make us crave different foods and all of that tends to slow us down a bit. this summer i have not made as many plans, hoping to inspire a more relaxing, spontaneous summer for my kids. you know the kind where we hear about some fun event happening and just go, or hop on our bikes and decide to spend the day by the river catching bugs! 

we do have a family camping trip booked for killarney, which is said to be the most beautiful place in ontario. i am excited to experience it with the kids filling our days with hikes, swimming and whatever other adventures we can find. 

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as the kids get older, i think in their free time they need less scheduled structure, because they experience so much of it school. i remember my summers growing up in finland were days of play with my friends. we would get into complicated long games and spent hours outside climbing trees, biking and running. my friends and i would take our barbie’s and my little pony’s outside, creating elaborate adventures for them too. sometimes we would show up at someone’s house asking for food or a drink. i had a lot of freedom, which was really great.

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the world is different today. society is different.

but, i am keen to loosen the reigns and find ways for the boys to find independence. i want them to have fun. lots of fun this summer. and, i want to have fun too and the freedom to do some of my own things too!

HAPPY ALMOST SUMMER VACATION EVERYONE! 

xo, mama lola

ottawa, our last summer hurrah!

the last week of august is always a bit of a weird week, summer is coming to a  fast end and the anticipation for school to start is thick in the air. to fill our summer to the max, we decided to drive to ottawa for one last summer hurrah!

 

we drove passed toronto and stopped in on some family for lunch and a swim. then we continued until kingston to visit more family. we stayed the night with my sister-in-law, her mister and my sweet wee niece. they have three chickens in their backyard who our boys were quite taken with. oh, lily, robin and blackie, such a lovely feathered trio!

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there was a super awesome splash pad in kingston!

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splash pad

from kingston we drove to the sandbanks for one last night of summer camping! along the way the kids both fell asleep in the car, and they both slept through a ferry ride! we drove through the picturesque town of picton en route to the sandpbanks provincial park.

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ferry to picton

the day had been hot, so our plan was to find our campsite, get changed into our bathing suits and go hang-out at the beach! but, things didn’t quite go as expected… when we arrived at the beach there were these huge, dark storm clouds sitting in the distance. the wind was picking up, but we all braved the weather and went for a swim anyway. it felt like we were swimming in the ocean! the waves were big and stormy as we bounced in them, and then they would continue on crashing onto the shore. we did get cold quickly so we headed back to camp!

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camp cooking

the next day, we tried the beach again. we packed up our campsite, put on our swimming gear, the sun was bright, but again, as soon as we arrived things took a turn. the wind picked up and the warm sun got hidden behind big cloud masses.

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the kids refused to go swimming, instead they opted to bury dear hubby in the sand, but first giving him a nice set of breasts!

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playing in the sand

so, we decided to leave the sandbanks and just drive to ottawa.

 

in ottawa we stayed at the beautiful delta. we looked pretty rough around the edges as we arrived via the underground parking into the sparkly and clean hotel lobby.

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we washed off the sandbanks camping grub and slept well in our comfy beds! the next day we were off to the canadian museum of history, where we explored the children’s museum with great enthusiasm. the kids were given adorable passports, which enabled us to travel from country to country experiencing all sorts of cultural activities!

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canadian museum of history
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canadian museum of history

canadian museum of history

we lunched at the byward market, strolled passed the parliament buildings, the boys got their hair cut at a fancy downtown barber, and we enjoyed our days to the max. but, even though it was all lovely we decided cut our mini-road trip short, as we were feeling pretty burnt out. our summer had been  busy and fun, but we all needed some extra time at home before kicking off another school year!

byward market ottawa

we really love ottawa. it’s a great place to visit with kids, with a dynamic downtown that is walkable even for littler feet. there are lots of yummy restaurants and the byward market is so great at meal times! in the above picture we all had something different to eat from all sorts of worldly places!

 

but, we were so glad to get home!

i got all of laundry done, groceries for the following week and a few good sleeps before having to set the alarm for our early school day mornings! bah!

 

i have a back-to-school-starting-school post in the pipeline! this new life of two kids in school has been a big transition in our family, and somehow i have less time to blog…

 

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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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
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