costa rica : our family vacation

we went on an absolutely magnificent family vacation to costa rica in october.

it was a long time in the making, we had been talking about a vacation for a while, but life just seemed to get in the way. DH changed jobs several times in the last couple of years, we sold and bought a house; big things that make vacationing a little tricky!

> WARNING : this blog post contains millions of family vacation photo’s <<<

waiting before the sun had even risen for our flight at the airport.

not much to do or look at as shops and cafes were just opening up. i did enjoy a tiny cappuccino for $5! yikes!

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the view from our room! not bad at all!

looking at this scenery each day helped calm our everyday nerves, recharge our batteries and helped us really enjoy each other’s company.

dreams las mareas costa rica

but, this october we finally hopped on a plane, flew south to the HOT and HUMID lush land of sloths and volcanoes! we stayed at a beautiful all-inclusive resort called dreams las mareas. we have never stayed at one before so we had nothing to compare the experience to, but regardless… IT WAS AMAZING!!!

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our room was big and bright, with an amazing balcony with a hot tub! we never used the tub, except to dry our wet bathing suits on it! every afternoon after spending the morning on the beach and poolside we would have a siesta during the heat of the day. and, boy-o-boy was it hot!!!

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the resort had a lovely beach on the pacific ocean.

we would head down daily after our delicious breakfast, with towels and books under our arms. at 10am bar service started and the lovely waiters would bring us all sorts of drinks to the beach!

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there were dogs at the beach. they were super social wanting to lounge with you. often they would crawl under various people’s chairs to hide from the sun and rest in the cool sand. they never barked, were threatening, begged for food… they just chilled with the tourists!

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the waves were big, strong and fun! the boys would jump into the waves for hours and hours. there were little fish all along the shallow shores and massive grey pelicans would dive-bomb into the water to catch them. it was impossible to get a picture of this, but it was wonderfully entertaining to watch.

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did i mention how beautiful and lovely our resort was!?

it was designed in a way with lots of lush greenery to create an intimate feel, separating various pools and restaurants. it was so easy to relax as we had nothing to worry about. our biggest concerns were when and where to eat!

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and the plants. the flowers. the trees. the foliage.

i couldn’t stop admiring it all. they were planted in a way to break-up sight lines, so it was easy to forget you were at a resort.

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this was one of the outdoor seafood restaurants we enjoyed for lunch. it’s hard to tell from the photo, but we were all dripping in sweat, kids included. but, it was fun to sit outside with the birds and lizards eating our yummy food. DH and i enjoyed all sorts of fancy alcoholic drinks, below i am devouring a strawberry daiquiri! 

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did i mention the beautiful fauna in costa rica?

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we went on one day trip. it was one of the funnest days we have ever had. the four of us were joined by two newly-wed couples who had just married 4 days before!!! it was so great listening their stories of their wedding days, how they had met, their future plans and so on. it gave me much clarity and reassurance on how far my sweet DH and i have come in our ten years of marriage.

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our day trip included zip lining!

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the kids were the first ones to go! lion went with a guide as he is so tiny still, but bear went on his own.

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it was super hard to take videos and pictures while ziplining! in fact i was the only one brave (stupid) enough to bring my camera and phone with me. because, i didn’t drop anything i am so glad i did!

there were 9 separate lines that whizzed along. we went over waterfall, rivers, jungle, fields with cows… it was completely unreal! i could be heard over the hills screaming with fear and excitement!

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earlier we zipped over this incredible waterfalls. we came here to swim, cool off and relax. we even walked under the falls, which was a loud, slippery but another amazing experience. even the kids ventured under there with us!

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we saw a sloth! and it moved! and it was much faster than we imagined! it was pretty high up in the tree, so getting a reasonable picture was impossible, but i took the one below for proof.

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below DH and lion can be seen relaxing in the volcanic hot spring. the water was very hot, but after ziplining it felt really good.

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after our long, adventurous day we had quiet ride back to the resort. quiet as in people slept, but the bumps were loud. they call the bumpy roads a costa rican massage! during our drive we saw lots of new infrastructure being built, things like more windmills and many improvements to the roads. the northern part of the country, where we were, is not as developed or touristy.

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thanks andre &  melanie and eric & kristy for spending the day with us and filling it with all your newly-wed love!  our new big nickle and georgia peach friends… how cute are they?

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this giant chessboard was a huge hit with our family, night n’ day!

the kids loved playing against their dad!

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on one day we decided to head up the hills to the nearest town. we were told that a local bus came by the resort. well, something got lost in the conversation between DH and a hotel employee, and the four of ended up running to try to catch the bus at the main gate of the resort. unfortunately the main gate was about a kilometer from the actual hotel, so we decided to run in the hopes to catch the bus we had missed t the hotel.

even though it was nine in the morning, it was already super hot n’ humid. 

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we ran and ran down this tiny road… that wee speck just passed the blue sign in the photo is DH, who ran ahead in the hopes to hold the bus for us. but, we still missed it. we walked back to the hotel, very disappointed and sweaty.

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after some discussion and problem solving we decided to splurge and took a taxi into town.

the road was windy and bumpy, but i was a lovely way to see the country. our driver was chatty, speaking english well telling us all sorts of things about his country. we were winding up the hills and mountains up, up, up.

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look at that view!

takes your breath away, doesn’t it?

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one of the first things we discovered while in town was a skate park! how cool?!dsc_0145 dsc_0151

the town was small. we were there to find souvenirs, which we didn’t find. but, we did buy some local coffee from the grocery store, which i have been savoring here at home.

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we found the kids these fun safari-style hats that said costa rica on them!

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back at the hotel we decided to have japanese for dinner.

we called it our family date night. first we went to the special lounge in teh main building that only privileged customers were allowed into. we’re still not quite clear how we managed to get those perks, but we did and we enjoyed them. the bartenders were hilarious showing all sorts of tricks to the kids and making fancy drinks for them.

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the chef below was learning the fancy tricks of the teppanyaki style of japanese cooking. it was pretty fun! 

oh and the sky. 

always beautiful.

always different.

always full of surprises!

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time to go.

after of week of relaxation, good food, swimming, sun and epic thunderstorms we were ready to say good-bye to the lovely people of costa rica and head home. we all missed our kitty-cats, our own beds and the cool breezes of october in ontario!

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HELLO TORONTO!

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if you have ever considered going to costa rica, GO! 

so much to see and do. a very beautiful country with lovely people.

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xo, mama lola

hi there. again. i think.

i have a had a really tough year.

well, 2 years actually. tough in a way that has made it hard to come to my blog and share. tough to get creative. tough all around.

i’m not quite ready to get into the details of the rough days in this super public place, even though this is my place to share anything.  for now, i am choosing privacy for the time being on the me side of things, but am hoping to increase posts with the family side of things. cuz life has been BUSY!!! and when i say busy, i mean BUSY!

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i don’t even know where to begin!

i’ll start here… my last post from march was about the volunteer work i was doing with the refugees fleeing war torn syria. sadly, my volunteering ended with the syrian newcomers project quite abruptly at the beginning of spring. the wheels of bureaucracy had a very specific direction they wanted to turn, which meant the clothing warehouse had to closed.  all of us volunteers were caught off guard by the news, but so it goes, sometimes you just have to go with the flow.  i am proud of the work i did, of the men and women i worked with to sort mountains of clothing and household items donated by the wonderful people of our city.

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and then there’s the big, fun news…

we sold our beloved peppermint patty in the spring and bought a new house closer to the kids school, on a quieter street. we were sad to leave our first wee house, but are thrilled with the new name-yet-to-be-decided house that sits in a better location, providing more space and the thing that the kids love the most is that they each get their own room!

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we moved to the new place in july and enjoyed our summer getting to know the house. it came with a super awesome hot tub, which we have put to good use a lot since moving in. we haven’t made any cosmetic changes yet, opting to live here first to figure out what exactly what we need vs. ant to do.  our walls are currently all various shades of brown (poo brown) so we will slowly start by changing those. and when i say we, i mean me. hahaha!

more details of the new house to come for sure.

 

a few days after moving went on a fantastic canoe camping trip to killarney provincial park.

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it was such a great trip. yes, there were tears, but there were mostly smiles and jokes and fun times. camping like this is an enormous amount of work for all, but we came together as a family and conquered the bugs, showing them we could have a blast no matter how much they bit us! we’re already making plans for another canoe camping trip for next summer.

school started in september for the boys. they are thrilled with their classes, enjoying school and their buddies so much these days. it really is such a satisfying sensation to watch your kids gain all sorts of new skills, absorbing knowledge and creating strong bonds with their peers.

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next up, coming soon…

pictures from out AMAZING family vacation to costa rica. we just got back late monday night and i am super pleased with the pictures i got. costa rica is such a beautiful country, rich with nature and the people there are super lovely. we stayed at an all-inclusive for the first time EVER, which felt like paradise. there was no meal planning to worry about only delicious restaurants to visit and taste test. we enjoyed beautiful fresh fruit and fresh baked sea food right from the sea! the service was incredible with staff always meeting our needs with a smile.

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costa rica is such a beautiful country, rich with nature and the people there are super lovely. we stayed at an all-inclusive for the first time EVER, which felt like paradise. there was no meal planning to worry about only delicious restaurants to visit and taste test. we enjoyed beautiful fresh fruit and fresh baked sea food right from the sea! the service was incredible with staff always meeting our needs with a smile.

here i am with my glorious sea salt parched hair, smudged mascara sucking back my super delish strawberry daiquiri! YUM!

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anyhow, i am hoping to get back to the swing of things here.

i know i have said that before, but maybe this time it will be my time for an actual comeback!!!

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

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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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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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

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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!

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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

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

the final leg of our summer road trip!

i realize summer is a distant memory at this point, but i just wanted to share some photo’s from the last leg of our trip.

to read about the first part go HERE.
to read about the second part go HERE.
to read about the third part go HERE.

so, after a quick play at a park and a picnic lunch it was time to head to manitoulin island from sault saint marie.

with the pedal to the metal within speed limit restrictions, of course, we drove down and east along the trans-canada highway. it was an easy drive without any traffic problems. we arrived at the bridge leading on to the island. and, we had to wait. the bridge swings open once an hour to allow boats through.

we arrived in the town of little current, and scrambled to find accommodations. eventually we found a hotel looking over the harbour, which was fine, but the bar downstairs had a band playing till the wee hours of the morning! the kids and dear hubby slept through the cover bands renditions of sweet child o’mine among other 80’s hits!

we walked down to the marina checked out the boats and ate ice cream, cuz that’s what you do in the summer, right?

manitoulin island hosts a large pow wow each summer. it was a hot day, but we enjoyed the performances and dancing fully. look at these awesome headdresses and regalia worn by people from various nations and tribes.



we savoured time with our friends, friends who came all the way from germany! the kids played and played and laughed and laughed. we roasted marshmallows, drank some boozy drinks, chatted about kids, world politics and everything in between! we camped with them at a funny little private trailer park for a couple of nights. 



this is how i will remember manitoulin island. bright blue skies, rolling fields and peace.


we found a fun flea market.


we found a wonderful, tiny museum on a rainy afternoon.



before leaving the island, we found a funny little beach and went for one last road trip swim. we explored the reeds and enjoyed a picnic lunch.


and then the finale… the chi-chee! the chi cheemaun was the perfect way to end our epic summer road trip! the chi cheemaun is a ferry that goes from manitoulin island to the tip of the bruce peninsula and docks in owen sound. it’s about a two hour trip each way. we arrived early for the ferry; first we parked the van to line up for the ferry, then we went walking around the area, exploring a lighthouse, having lunch and just savouring the last hours of our trip together.


i was feeling quite nostalgic on our last day of traveling. returning home, meant dear hubby would return back to work, it meant that summer was that much closer to ending and it meant a return to some kind of routine. 
even though the trip had been super fun, it had been exhausting and stressful, as well. the four of us had been together the entire time, which again, was wonderful, but also exhausting.


road tripping is a great way to connect to a place, a province, a country and with your family. after experiencing our first full year of school as a family, and after feeling all those hours of separation take a toll on us, a summer road trip was a great way for us to re-connect. i felt the bond between all of my guys deepen; dear hubby and i had some of those great conversations you only have in the car. the kids played together so well (most of the time) and i saw their relationship grow tremendously. and, it was so wonderful to witness the kids spend all that uninterrupted time with their dad. we all benefited greatly from this trip.

now that we are in full swing with school and work, and rigid schedule they bring, i can really appreciate the importance of that family time we enjoyed this summer. 


now, we are already planning for our next destination!

xo, mama lola

more road trip shenanigans; heading back south!

this is part three of out epic summer road trip!

we left thunder bay proper in the peeing rain, and headed to the sleeping giant provincial park where we hoped to camp for a few nights. on our way we stopped at ouimet canyon as per a recommendation from a friend. we layered up and headed to the canyon.

the scientists and other experts aren’t actually sure how this amazing canyon was made; there are several hypothesis out there, but nothing is completely agreed upon. it is stunning, breathtaking and frightening! we were so high up looking down at the canyon floor, and i had to remind myself a million times we were safe up on the look-out platform.

the rain finally tapered off just as we arrived at our camp site on the sleeping giant. we were right by the water, which entertained the kids for hours!

apparently the sleeping giant peninsula is highly populated with, um, skunks! we found this out the first night we were there. just as dusk was settling in, i decided to head to the bathroom one last time. as i arrived i thought i saw something out of the corner of y eye and so i shone my flashlight at the shaking grass and to my horror a skunk looked right back at me! i ran! i ran and giggled nervously to myself. i arrived at camp to tell dear hubby my funny story, but then to my horror, again, i saw another skunk… ON OUR CAMPSITE! my nervous giggle returned as i tried to keep my flashlight directed at the skunk. the skunk who was sniffing around under our picnic table and the slowly made its way towards our tent! AAAHHH!!! the kids were fast asleep in the tent, completely oblivious to the stinky dangers creeping around outside. my imagination was running wild with all of the possible ways a skunk could spray a person, their car and belongings, and the unimaginable outcome of this horrifying meeting. then, more skunks arrived. they were sniffing around at our campsite, our neighbours and all over. apparently, that’s the norm there!!!! how did we not know this?!?!

anyhow, after about 30 minutes of following the skunks with my flashlight and giggling nervously, dear hubby decided we needed to just get in our tent and go to sleep. clearly the skunks were used to people and not scared of us, and unlikely to spray us. i thought he was mad, but also right. so, that’s what we did! i lay there wide awake for a while listening to my family sleep soundly, half expecting to be sprayed by critters outside.

we survived the sleeping giant without ever being sprayed by the skunks! woohoo, what a relief!

after a two nights of skunks, a day at the beach, several deer sightings it was time to head south again on the trans-canada highway. we still had a long trip ahead of us and we were excited for more adventures.

our next stop was neys provincial park. this was by far my favourite beach. it was stunning with the driftwood, rock, grass and trees. the kids played and played, but it was too cold for a real swim! we enjoyed a beautiful evening at our campsite, it was calm and quiet. dear hubby checked the weather report and to our dismay heavy rain and thunderstorms were coming our way. so, we packed up as much as we could, got some clothes ready for the following day, and hoped we at least would have a dry night.

the next morning i woke up suddenly to rumbling thunder in the distance. i elbowed dear hubby awake and we got to work. we quickly changed the kids and ourselves into slightly warmer clothes, plonked the boys into the car and raced to pack up our sleeping bags and tent before the rain started. just as we were shoving the last things into the car the downpour came. it was only 7am and we hadn’t had breakfast. so, we decided to drive to the closets town, which was marathon, to see what we could find to eat.

we found a hilarious place called robin’s. it looked like it was stuck in time, like 1975! the orange and brown decor was overwhelming so early in the morning, but we were happy to eat something warm in a dry place!

the weather continued to be wet and cold. we drove in the downpour trying to come with a plan. we stopped in wawa for lunch and a pee. the kids were feeling the long drive, so we needed to stop for a while. the day was still early, so we decided to drive straight to sault saint marie, stay in a hotel and then drive to manitoulin island the following day. i am surprised how well the kids managed on this leg of the drive. because the weather was wet, we couldn’t just stop and have a quick game of tag at a rest area.

eventually, we found an awesome hotel in the soo, with comfy beds, a nice restaurant and a POOL! it was a great way to end the day letting off some steam, playing in the pool, especially since it was still raining really hard outside!

the following morning was bright and sunny!
we headed straight to manitoulin island! more pictures and stories from the final leg of our trip coming up soon!


xo, mama lola
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