a winter hike to kick off march break!

it’s march break here in canada! a week off from school, which actually makes my life a titch busier, but i am glad to have a break from the confines of school and the rigid structure it brings with it.

to really kick-off this break, the kids and i went for a hike in beautiful weather with friends. it was the most perfect day; the sun shone, the temperatures felt practically balmy and there was no wind. kinda perfect in every way!

we went to a local conservation area and explored this old mill. kids loved it. then we kept trekking along, enjoying the sights until we reached our destination…

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this awesome CAVE!

the kids all explored the various crevices, holes and rocks. every few seconds someone would exclaim “oh wow, look at this”! i just love to hear kids excited about things in nature and their environment. and, as the kids get older they really do know so much more about the world, than i give credit for.

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all explorers need to refuel after extensive research, so we had a cave picnic before heading home!

we nibbled on cheese n’ avocado wraps, apple slices, raisins, nuts, cheese and juice! yum! i find packing snacks is crucial to surviving any kind of outdoor experience with the kids. they’re blood sugar crashes so quickly!

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we were all exhausted after our exciting hike! but, it was that good kind of exhaustion, you know, when you feel inspired, energized and calm. this winter i have found my mental health teetering on the edge some days, but when i get outside and fill my lungs with fresh air, and especially get to soak up some priceless vitamin D from the glorious sun, it really helps soothe my mind.

what are you up to this march break?

xo, mama lola

a weekend getaway… without the kids!

HELLO OTTAWA!

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we were invited to a family wedding in our nations capital. after lots of humming and hawing, and figuring out how to do it all without the kids in tow, we came up with a rather exciting plan! the wedding also nicely landed a week after our 7th anniversary, so it was a great excuse to celebrate US! dear hubby and i decided to fly to ottawa on porter airlines, stay in a lovely hotel in the center of the city, celebrate the beginnings of a beautiful marriage, take in a few sights, and then hop on a train to come home. it was a great trip filled with delicious foods, lots of walking and a calm that is hard to find when the kids are around.

we climbed onto our wee plane at 9:30am in toronto and landed in ottawa at 10:15am! AMAZING! i barely had time to read my book!

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we arrived at our hotel early, but luckily we were able to check in early. lucky, because the finnish men’s hockey team was stomping all over the american team and ultimately won 5-0!!!! it meant bronze for my finn’s! then we had to rush to eat, as we had a wedding to get to!

and, this was our lunch. we found this awesome deli where the “bread” part was made of scones. i had this yummy salmon scone sandwich with a salad.

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unfortunately i have no pictures of dear hubby and i looking dapper at this wedding. but, boy did we look great! dear hubby wore his gorgeous black velvet blazer, which was perfect for this winter wedding setting! i wore a sparkly grey dress, but i was warm enough because, i wore the wrap my mum made me for our winter wedding on 2007. one side of it is a beautiful green/ purple silky material, but the other is a natural white wool where my mum embroidered the leaves all sorts of trees. it is unbelievably beautiful, and i was so happy to be able to use it again!

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it was a splendid wedding! lots of laughter, great stories and piles of love! congrats sarah & mike! xo

mello’s diner was an awesome breakfast spot for the morning after from the wedding! yummy food with fast and courteous service!

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once our bellies were full we started walking through ottawa. we soaked in the sun and enjoyed the seasonally warm temperatures. we walked from ottawa, ontario to the hull area of gatineau, quebec. look at that glorious sun!

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after walking we arrived at the canadian history museaum also known as the canadian museum of civilization. i have to admit this is one of the best museums i have ever experienced. everything about it was fantastic! please, go check it out if you can!

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this is the grand hall. and, WOW is it ever grand! it is a hall will enormous totem poles that were carved by strong, creative hands. the totem poles  stand proud holding onto the stories their makers wanted to share. they are breathtaking.

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at the far end of the grand hall has a set of curvy stairs. above the stairs high on the ceiling is a stunning mural “morning star” by alex janvier. the colours, the energy and the rhythm was exhilarating. it was impossible to get a good picture of it, but trsut me when i say, it was stunning!

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canada hall is one of the permanent exhibits at the museum. it is this fabulous meandering walk through the thousands of years of history our land holds. the layout is unbelievable, as you walk from one century to another, it feels as though you are outside walking along the streets of a prairie town during the 1900’s or strolling through a 60’s airport waiting lounge littered with ashtrays and funny payphones! it is great for people of all ages and i look forward to the day i can take my boys there!

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ottawa is a wonderful city. not too big, busy or overwhelming the way many big cities are. so much history, beautiful architecture and plenty to see.

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this is our parliament building. it’s where the big wigs make, um…. mostly terrible decisions on our behalf. haha! but, it is a beautiful building with lots of history.

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and, rideau canal.

daytime.

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nighttime.

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this was the hotel we stayed in. the lord elgin. it is in the center of town walking distance to the byward market, parliament hill, rideau canal and so much more! it was built during the war in 1941 and there are so many wonderful details left from that time period.

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on the morning of our departure, we went to the byward market to load up on delicious goodies like montreal style bagels, bearvertails, coffee, and lunch for our train ride back to toronto.

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this was our lunch on the train. a couple of different deli salads and some yummy grilled veggies with rice ‘n beans.

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on the train i was feeling super anxious about seeing the kids. i have never been away from them for so long and i was missing them deeply. this three day, two night separation felt like an eternity, but i know it was something we all needed. the kids had a wonderful time with my folks, which i knew they would!

here we are arriving at union station in toronto.

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on this mini-getaway we traveled by car, ferry, plane, city bus, taxi, train and subway! oh, and let’s not forget by foot as well! with our trusted pack from our worldly adventures from way before the kids were ever even thought of, we did what we do so well together. we traveled. it may not have been to another country, another continent, or anything super adventurous, but it was a trip where we arrived at our destination hand-in-hand with big smiles on our faces eager to explore. there were no strict schedules or time constraints, no kids begging for attention or melting down from low blood sugar. although, dear hubby was hit with a cold, we still had a great time just the two of us.

HAPPY 7th ANNIVERSARY to US!

xo, mama lola

the winteriest winter ever.

this post may seem a little ironic coming from me; a gal who was born and raised in finland, and who has lived in canada for 20+ years… but, holy macaroni this winter has been BRUTAL!!! we have had a terrifying ice storm with severe consequences, several wicked snow storms, wind chill warnings weeks on end and some new icy visitor, the polar vortex! the kids’ schools have been closed for snow days, and for days when it’s just been too cold to go outside. there has been so much snow that we don’t much space to shovel it all anymore.

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the toughest part is the kids. even though we are a winter loving family; my kids typically enjoy playing in the snow, are great at dressing for the weather and look forward to winter in the fall, they are now officially fed up. that means there are tears and constant complaints as we are getting ready to head out the door. it’s too cold to play outside most days, as it has been windy. yesterday the wind was extremely bitter and cold, blowing snow wickedly about… i thought our faces were going to freeze off… THAT’S HOW COLD IT IS!!! and, keeping kids inside all day at school (because they have indoor recess instead of burning beans outside), keeping them indoors at home and always driving to and from school makes for very grumpy people!!! everyone is antsy for warmer temperatures and when i say warmer, i mean like -10c! that would feel quite balmy compared to the -20c that feels like -30c.

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for our city this week. these temps are actually warmer than last weeks.

and, hey… i know people tough it out in way colder temperatures for longer periods of time, but i live in south/west ontario where winters are not supposed to be quite so extreme. although, two years ago we had no snow as it was too warm all season long, so this is better.

 

here are some phone pics from this winter…

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stay safe & warm everyone!

p.s. check out my instagram for lots more snowy photo’s! click HERE.

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 time in our lives.

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please feel free to leave a link to your this moment from this past week in the comments.

xo, mama lola

valentine’s day treats!

valentine’s day is all about sweets and treats! to get inspired for valentine’s day i looked for fun baking and treat making ideas i could get the kids to help with. some of these goodies are more time intensive than others, and some will definitely require adult super vision. i can’t wait  to show my after school girls these delights and they too will love making these treats with us!

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valentine’s day also happens to be my bear’s birthday, so i think i’ll make some of these for his party. i especially like the arrows! which one is making your mouth water?

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heart shaped rice krispy treat from the magazine

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cupids arrows from organize your stuff now

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marshmallow valentine’s day treats from the sweet life

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valentine’s day donuts from love from the oven

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valentine’s day cookie from haniela’s

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hugs n’ kisses treats from delish.com

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chocolate dipped wafers from flour on my face

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chocolate cake mix cookies from sally’s baking addiction

 

so, which valentine’s day yummy-goody-treat will you make for your loved ones?

or maybe you’ll make all of them! haha! either way, ENJOY!

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xo, mama lola

good-bye 2013, hello 2014.

i realize my pictures late, but i wanted to share them anyway! we had a glorious new year’s up at the cottage with friends.

here is a montage of the fun…

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we had so much fun with are amazing friends, tobogganing, playing in the snow, playing games, dancing, singing, and hanging out by the fire. it was very, very cold (-20c) which made trips to the outhouse exhilarating! haha!

xo, mama lola

valentine’s day crafts

valentine’s day will be coming up quickly, so it’s good to have some crafts ready for the kids to get busy with.

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i’ve incuded some really sweet crafts here; a wreath, some fancy jewelry and even a wonderful heart shaped birdseed treat for our outdoor friends! at our house valentine’s also happens to be bear’ birthday, so we tend to focus on that more. but, i do love to decorate with hearts, so i think i’ll make some suncatchers with my afterschool kids, make some of those pretty jars for our dinner table and o know the boys will love to make the heart bracelets for their friends!

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heart wreath from planet forward

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bird seed heart from no time for flash cards

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heart shaped bracelet from make and takes

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beaded heart from toddler craft

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paper mache jar candle holder from fabulessly frugal

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easy heart suncathcher from happiness is homemade

which craft will you make with your kids?

xo, mama lola

DIY bird feeder round-up!

we here in SW ontario have been having some wild, winter weather. to help out the birds, we have put out all sorts of yummy things for the birds to eat. i know some people are against bird seed and bird feeders, but i think they are wonderful. our whole family enjoys watching the variety of feathered friends that come to visit!

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this round-up includes bird feeders that kids can help make. these kinds of projects are a great way to teach children about the natural world. i value my kids’ connection to their surrounding environment greatly and am always looking for ways to help initiate more curiosities with it.

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simple orange bird feeder from confessions of an overworked mom

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heart shaped bird feeder from alpha mom

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classic cheerio feeder from hands on as we grow

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milk carton feeder from chic steals

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toilet paper roll feeder from a thrifty mom

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toilet paper roll feeder with sticks from play from scratch

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DIY grapevine suet feeder from the garden roof coop

i have made some of these kinds of feeders before. one christmas i made little bird seed feeders with various holiday cookie cutters, like the heart shaped ones. not sure how practical they are, but lion and i had fun making them and people were delighted to receive them as gifts.

have fun making your own feeder. tweet, tweet!

xo, mama lola
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