learning to be bear wise.

i am scared of bears.

i live in a country and a province that has bear. black bears, to be specific.
we’ve been at the cottage and i have seen several on the property on a couple of different occasions in the last 5 years. once, when bear was about 9 months old, he and i were playing in front of the cottage when i felt like someone was staring at us, and bam, when i turned around i made eye contact with a black bear up a hill, in and among the forest about 50 metres away!

this is my sweet little guy moments before i saw the bear.


immediately i grabbed my wee baby, ran inside, ran to the window and saw the bear sniffing the ground we had just been standing on. with my adrenalin kicking i tried to find my camera to get a picture, but my hands were shaking so much and my heart was pounding in my chest… it was hard and scary…

this was the picture i got of the bear making it’s way up the driveway. my dad gave a s#it for even trying to get a photo of a bear. you see, i stepped out of the cottage, just a little to snap this photo.


i have always been slightly nervous about bears.
at treeplanting we had bears visit our camp all the time. some people even had their tents ripped open by bears, but luckily this happened when they themselves were out in the clearcut working! ha! at treeplanting there are lots of rules about how and where to keep your items with scent, because shampoo’s and even a tiny lip balm container can attract bears. their noses are so incredibly efficient and curious!

a black bear.

 [ source : government of yukon pages ]


this summer the boys, dear hubby and i are driving north in ontario for our summer road trip. we are heading up to thunder bay to where dear hubby and i met and fell in love! we plan on camping a bit, and i can honestly say that i am already a little worried. so, i did a little bit of research on google about bears.
i found this map.

source ]

it’s pretty good i think, doesn’t really make me feel better, but at least it’s a clear visual of what i should expect. and, i should expect bears.
sigh.

dear hubby bought be a book “bear attacks; their causes and avoidance” after one of my bear sightings at the cottage. i read the book cover to cover, and really came to the conclusion that there isn’t much you can do to avoid a bear, or a black bear specifically. if they are hungry, or feel threatened they may attack. bears do not typically eat people, but again, if they are hungry enough they sure will. what really worries me is the realization that it is difficult to get away from a bear, especially when with kids; bears are fast runners and excellent climbers. where do we go to get away?

plus that whole making noise to deter bears, well, it doesn’t necessarily work either. it can make the bears curious and draw them TO YOU, instead of scaring them and deterring them AWAY FROM YOU. that day at the cottage when bear was a babe and we saw the bear, i was actually singing super loudly and clapping in the hopes of scaring the furry beasts, as a few months earlier i had seen another bear sniffing the baby stroller we left outside!

clearly i have not shared my concerns with the kids. they know there are bears in the woods, because it comes up in conversation, the way the habitats of all sorts of animals do. but, i will not share my fears with them either, especially since my 5YO bear, is quite anxious at times already. hopefully we will not see any bears or evidence of them, but that being said… any night we sleep in a tent i will be laying there eyes wide open listening closely to each creak and tweet in the forest. 

wish me luck!!!

xo, mama lola

mini cottage vacation in june!

sometimes, a mini vacation is just what i need to re-charge my batteries, get my head in order and just relax with family. 

we went up to the cottage with our dear bubba & patty. the kids had a fantastic time playing in the water, swinging on the new tire swing, collecting sticks n’ things, making smores, sleeping in (wait, no that didn’t happen), and just having a jolly fun time!

to our dismay, the cottage (or mansion worth $3 million) next door to us was purchased by a very wealthy person, who has now built an even bigger mansion worth at least $10, 000, 000!!! it’s not so much the value of the new “cottage” that us disturbing, but it’s the destruction they are doing on the natural environment that is heartbreaking. they have cut down massive swaths of trees on theIR property, which has in turn caused terrible erosion on their hillside land. everything about this mansion is custom and extreme to the max. the windows and doors are all bigger than anything you would find at home depot! they are creating a water feature about the same size in width as the cottage itself, with a waterfall, a river and a pool. this confuses me, BECAUSE THE PROPERTY IS ON A LAKE! 


the new neighbours will not be moving in this summer, maybe not even next, as construction on such a massive scale takes years. all day, everyday the dirt road was busy with catering trucks feeding the workers, various pic-up trucks and vans driving back and forth… the dust was insane!

and then, one day we came back from town to this in front of our drive way… 


a huge digger being transferred onto a flatbed, to be taken away. yes, this was a five year old’s dream, so we stood there and watched as the worker drove the digger on there, and then chained the huge piece of equipment on. but, it wasn’t really what we had hoped as our lion was napping in the car!


but, that being said we did have a great time boozing, snoozing, playing games, canoeing and hooping! the cottage has decades and decades of family memories in it, and being up there is always so amazing!

eating outside is one of my favourite things to do at the cottage!


a dear friend and her darling daughter came for a visit, so we went out on the row boat.


the boys love the water up here.


went into rosseau. played on the bouncy castle and at the beach.


dear hubby and bubba put up a tire swing.

i got back into hooping! everyone had a turn!


us adults had many boozy nights with a lotta laughs and all sorts of shenanigans!


oh, the cottage life!


happiness!


some of the pics are taken with my phone so that’s why the quality looks different.
HAPPY HUMP DAY EVERYONE! 

xo, mama lola

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

keeping kids content, quite and busy is an important part of the SANITY piece for parents road tripping with 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!

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 GAMES: 

  • 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.


MAGNET BOARDS:

  • 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!


SCAVENGER HUNT:

  • 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 ]


SONGS:

  • what’s a road trip without family sing-a-longs? here’s a few 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.


GAMES:

  • 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.

TOYS TO PACK:
  • 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. 

OTHER TIPS:

  • 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!

SAFE DRIVING! SAFE TRAVELLING! HAVE FUN!
what are some of your family’s favourite songs and games to play?


xo, mama lola

themed thursday :road trip tips for camping! (part 2)

we’re a camping family. we like to go on short car camping stints and also camp during our road trips. i try not to let our food choices get too convenient or junky. i always round out an order of chuck wagon fries with carrots, cucumber or apple slices. and only allow ice cream once a day! haha!
here are some of the tips and tricks i have learned along the way…

#1. MEAL PLAN!

  • take into consideration how many meals you need to cover, for how many people, how much time you have for prep at camp and clean-up, and what can you do at home before leaving.
  • decide which meals will take place at your campsite, which meals will in restaurants and which meals will just be cream cheese bagels thrown together.
  • remember to keep tabs on the weather. cooking in the rain is quite frankly not an option! last summer we woke up to an epic down pour, so we all had bowls of granola and milk in the car. it was exciting for the kids and very memorable!


here are some my families favourite meals while camping or on the road. we’re vegetarian, but adding meat to any of these recipes is easy enough!

BREAKFAST:

  • porridge: using the quick oats it’s fast, easy and you can add fruit and berries for extra taste.
  • yoghurt parfaits: layers of yoghurt, fruit, berries and granola mixed together. kids love this!
  • breakfast burrito: we are an egg free family, so we make scramble tofu instead of the eggs. in an iron skillet fry up onions, peppers, tomatoes, whatever your family likes, add tofu and then toss the scrambled goodness into a wrap, add cheese and salsa for flavour and voila, a breakfast burrito.
  • coffee: i am a coffee lover.so, one day dear hubby bought me a plastic french press for camping trips. i cannot stand the taste of instant coffee, so this way i can enjoy a nice cuppa java at camp without turning into a grump!


LUNCH n’ TREATS:

  • fruit, cut veggies, crackers, pretzels, pop corn, tortilla chips….
  • dried fruits like raisins or apricots are great treat!
  • smores, ’nuff said!
  • ice cream cones filled with fruit and chocolate treats, wrapped in foil, and then a quick melt on the fire! yum!
  • the internet and pinterest is overflowing with awesome yummy camping treat ideas. THIS HERE is the link to my camping board on pinterest with lots of ideas and tips and tricks!

DINNER:

  • tacos: we like hard taco’s with the flat bottoms, so it’s easier for the kiddo’s to fill ’em up with what they like!
  • taters: we love to eat tater’s at camping! two ways to make them: first, chop up potatoes into bite sized pieces, add butter or oil, a chopped onion and a few cloves of garlic and a sprinkling of sea salt. wrap carefully in several layers of foil and add to the grill above fire. or chuck above mentioned ingredients into your skillet and do them on the camping stove! delish!
  • pasta: pasta is super fast. boil the water, toss in noodles. you can use ready made pasta sauce from a jar, pesto sauce or sautee a few veggies in olive oil and add those to the pasta. done and done!
  • hot dogs: a camping fave. do up the dogs in your fire, add various condaments
  • salad: most grocery stores sell various kinds of ready-made salads. we would often grab one for lunch to share as a family. great way to still get all those nutrients and vitamins!


#2 EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES!

  • camping stove, propane for it, matches.
  • wash basin, dish soap, tea towels, a few clothes pegs.
  • foil, paper towel, table cloth and table cloth clips to attach to the picnic table.
  • condiments: ketchup, dijon mustard, pickles…  you should downsize them into smaller containers
  • cooking oil (we prefer olive oil), garlic, onions, salt, pepper.
  • metal plates, wooden bowls (we use grandma’s old salad bowls instead of yucky plastic ones), metal cups, small cutting board, a sharp knife, spoons n’ forks, a wooden spatula, 
  • one small cooking pot, one cast iron skillet. either can go in the fire on a grill, or can be used on a camping stove.


#3 THINGS TO CONSIDER!

  • remember that many foods require proper refrigeration, but some foods don’t, which are ideal for road trips and camping! foods like eggs, nut butters, salsa and some cheeses, don’t actually have to stay cold for food safety reasons, we’re just so used to it here in north america. that’s why they are perfect for travelling with. a quick almond butter and apple wrap is a great snack in the car, or a bagel with cream cheese is a fast lunch for the kids.
  • do buy ice along the way of you have milk or yoghurt. remember, the bags of ice often have holes and will flood your cooler.
  • buy big jugs of drinking water WITH A SPOUT! some jugs only have the screw top lid, but other ones have a proper spout so you can control easily how much water comes out. much easier when filling water bottles!
  • always have a water accessible when cooking with fire. save dirty dish water for the end of the night, to pour over your hot coals to properly extinguish the fire.
  • if possible, chop or precook foods at home before leaving. this makes things just that much easier onsite. pack foods in re-usable ziplock bags, label them and then at meal time it’s easy for anyone to help out.

HAPPY CAMPING, CAMPERS!
feel free to share your tips and tricks with food while camping. i’m always keen to see what works for others!

still to come:

  • activities, games and crafts for the kids
  • toiletries and first aid kits info
  • what to consider for sleeping, setting up camp etc… 


xo, mama lola

theme thursday: roadtrip tips [part 1]


PART 1 : ROAD TRIP SERIES!

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!


  • 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”. 
  • 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.


    so….
    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.

    UPCOMING:
    – 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

      special offer from mabel’s labels!

      hard to believe it’s that time of year again! time to start planning your summer plans!

      even though i’m a bit worried about how my bear will cope at summer camp, i have decided to still send him to two camps. and, now that he’s five and a school aged dude, he has all sorts of paraphernalia that he’ll have to pack along each day, like his water bottle, sunscreen, lunch bag and lunch containers, bathing suit, sun hat, the case for his glasses, extra clothes and who knows what else! it’s a lot of gear for a kid to manage, but i’m not worried about losing his stuff, cuz he has everything labelled with his awesome mabel’s labels!

      right now, Mabel’s Labels is offering the Limited Edition Camp Combo Packs which include UV resistant, waterproof labels and tags designed especially for everything that goes to summer camp. these labels help to identify clothes, footwear, toiletries, swim gear, backpacks and all the other necessities kids need at camp!

      best of all, you save $2 and receive a free gift (while supplies last) when you purchase before april 30, 2013!

      happy summer planning peeps!



      xo, mama lola

      family long weekend!

      last weekend we had a beautiful long weekend up at the cottage with good friends. there was heaps of snow, super cold temperatures dipping down to close to -30c at night and warming up to about -15c during the day, and a lack of running water! that meant we got to use an out house, which with those temps was kinda cold on the tushie! but, the kids were brave and did it; it was us adults who needed more encouragement! for drinking we bring big jugs of water from home and for dishes we melt snow, but because there is electricity it’s not as bad or difficult as some may think. and there is a beautiful fire for cozies and warmth! 
      it’s a super fun adventure!

      we tobogganed for hours, went for a long walk up the road, the kids played all sorts of games, we ate tons of yummy food and us adults had a roaring good time after the kids went to sleep!

      i took a gazillion pics, so instead of posting them all i made this wee movie. 

      ENJOY! CELEBRATE!

      and, as usual we were the last family to leave and as usual we got stuck. this time, it wasn’t slippery conditions, but a dead car battery. but, CAA arrived quickly and we were on the road after lunch!

      can’t wait to do it all again!

      xo, mama lola

      recovering.

      we’re home.
      finally arrived yesterday just before dinner.
      the last couple of days of our road trip were trying to say the least. the kids, especially bear was feeling fatigued. and i get it, so that’s why we got home slightly earlier than planned.

      our two week summer roadtrip out to the maritimes was such an adventure and i am so glad we pushed through with such stamina. even when the chips were down with rough weather or fighting siblings in the back seat, we got through it! dear hubby was the coolest of us all, but that’s just the kinda guy he is and anyone who knows him won’t be surprised to hear that! two weeks of just the four of us, all day every day, was a bit demanding at times!

      [ Quebec City, Quebec ]


      the kids did better in some ways than i had expected, but they did throw some wicked, earth shaking tantrums when i least expected it, as well. the routine of our home life was completely dismantled on this trip, which is the nature of a roadtrip, but that left my two little boys scrambling for regularity at times. plus, throw in a time zone change of an hour and well, as many parents know, time changes can be very stressful for kids. 
      that being said, dear hubby and i are already planning our next trip! we will take the lessons we learned on this trip and move on new adventures. (i will actually make a detailed list of what i would change in an upcoming post.)

      this was our first real holiday as a foursome and what a thrill it was to explore new parts of our vast land with my guys. it was such fun watching them help set up the tent or snuggle close every night as family. although the kids probably wont remember much of this trip, i will and so will dear hubby. for us this trip, was about being a family, being in the moment and being together.

      [ St. Andrew’s, Nova Scotia ]


      today is sunday and we are hunkering down, getting back into the groove of things. the boys are wild with glee as they rediscover their toys and are reintroduced to books left at home. i have been super aggressive about getting our laundry done, and with five loads already washed, folded and put away i am now left with washing three sleeping bags. phew! it’s been kinda wild! dear hubby is airing out our stinky camping stuff and will tend to our tent as it so desperately needs a good soak! and, the car needs a supernclean too. we may just take it in to for a partial detailing, as there is a slight odour lingering. yuck.

      [ Random beach on the Atlantic, Nova Scotia ]

      i took about 1500 photo’s and feel rather overwhelmed at the thought of editing and sorting them! obviously many of them are not worth keeping or posting, but stay with me as i eventually organize the photo’s into slide shows or something. 

      and our house. sweet, sweet peppermint patty as we lovingly named her, stood waiting for us when we pulled in the driveay. we arrived to clean floors, cupboards and fresh sheets on the beds, all things i carefully did before our trip. and boy am i glad i did! my garden outside is a bit of a disaster, though. while we were away there was lotsa rain and the weeds have taken over, making the front look very wild and unkempt. i will have to get out there for a few hours and atleast try to tone down the jungle!

      [ Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia ]

      the list of things to do is growing, as we have busy week ahead. bubba and patty are getting married next saturday, so we are in full wedding mode now. we all have various responsibilities at the wedding and reception, so not only do we have to look fancy and clean, we have to have our ducks all lined up!

      happy to be home.
      happy to have watched the closing ceremonies of the london olympics.
      happy to see friends tomorrow.
      just happy.

      xo, mama lola

      ~ this moment ~ 

      as inspired by souleMama; one photo from our week, no words. only an image to sum up our time as a family, one that captures a moment in time and is a visual reminder of where we were at this moment. 



      xo, mama lola
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