Tag Archives: Nature

Cottage Life



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She Sells Seashells.

Today’s learning activity is brought to you by the letter S!

Are your kids bored with summer already? Rhys told me yesterday that he wanted school to start today. Oi! We’ve got another month and a half to go! I have the kids doing some reading (we’ve been visiting our library quite a bit), book reports, art journals and Rhys is working on a grade 2 math book, but they still have days where they lose their interest and start to go stir crazy.

 The kids decided they wanted to explore sea shells today. It’s amazing how kids can be enthralled with simple nature items if you pair them with a little bit of guided learning. Rhys and Amelia thoroughly enjoyed exploring each and every shell (as well as some rocks, feathers and a couple pine cones).  I let them take some time just turning them around in their hands before I sat down and had them  look at the shells in different ways.

What colours do you see?

What shapes can you find?

What are the different ways we can sort them? Big, small, similar, broken, shiny, smooth?

What do they feel like in your hands?

Which one is your favourite?

When they became slightly bored with just looking at them I brought out some paper and got them to trace and draw some of their favourites.

Afterwards, we ended with a game of ‘Where’s That Rock?’ in which we lined-up 4, 5 and then 6 seashells and hid a little pebble underneath one of them. The kids took turns changing the location of the rock and order of the shells to try to stump one another. As it turns out, Amelia was surprisingly really good at getting it right on her first guess (which irritated Rhys like no other)!

The seashells held the kids attention for quite some time, enough time for me to start thinking about what else I can dig-up around the house or yard that they can learn about and explore.

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On the Water.

Skills was one of my favorite things about summer camp. The opportunity to try new and unusual sports or activities was always exciting to me (still is). Starting in Jr.High my siblings and I were shipped-off to Camp Cedarwood for one week out of our summer. It was there that I learnt how to Kayak and since that time it’s always held a special place in my heart. I walk through MEC and longingly gaze at the beautiful vessels sitting there just asking to be guided through the rippling waves.

My brother is now the director of that camp and this past Saturday I had the chance to take one of the kayaks out onto the water. I went by myself (racing my brother out and around and back to the beach) and then took Rhys for a little spin. I was only out for a few minutes but it was long enough for my little water-loving heart to yet again attach itself to this sport. Oh, if only I were 18 again I would sign myself up for camp staff and spend my whole summer out on the water. Sigh. Maybe I’ll join the Winnipeg Rowing Club in a few years…


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Today we…

saw a sea monster…

skipped down a yellow brick road…

had second breakfast with some hobbits…

saw lots of different people and animals that didn’t move…

watched the ducks and the frogs play in the pond…

had a surprise visit from a fairy godmother…

and then we lunched on the grassy fields.

Today was a good day.


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Soggy Boots and Sore Feet.


I’ll start off by saying that James and I had tons of fun together. I think that we’ve realized that we are very good travel partners, and not just to cushy hotel rooms and delicious restaurants but to difficult places like Haiti and bear infested forests. It was a hard couple of days but we kept each other laughing and moving. I especially appreciated James keeping an eye on me. He would make sure I climbed up/down rock faces safely,  he made me a hot cup of coffee and sent me to snuggle in my sleeping bag when my limbs were practically convulsing due to being wet and cold, he would lift my pack off of my back when I needed to stoop down and tie my boot for the umpteenth time (note to self: get new laces!)…what a guy. He also said that he would fight any bears that came along, what more could you ask for in a husband?

Anyways, I don’t know what we were thinking going onto the trail after three solid weeks of rain. Stupid. I’ve never been that waterlogged in my life, everything was wet. Everything. In the first quarter-mile we had to wade waist-deep through a stream. I had my boots strung around my neck and was holding my pack above my head. We should have known then and there to turn around and try again when the conditions were better, but we didn’t and we pressed on. A few hours later we found ourselves crossing a beaver dam because the ‘bridge’ was broken and flooded. That was interesting to say the least. We eventually (after a 9 hour hike) got to the second campsite in from the North trail head on Ritchie Lake. Our friends that we were supposed to be meeting halfway (they were coming up from the South) also couldn’t complete the hike because of trail conditions and had to turn back in the end. But we tried and I’m proud that I was even able to attempt something this difficult.

My feet were my downfall. They would have been fine if the trail was dry but it wasn’t and so they weren’t. I have really good quality hiking boots from MEC, I had hiking socks on and a pair of wicking socks underneath, but none of that matters when 75% of your hike is through swamp. I wrung my socks out a few times throughout the hike and each time I got AT LEAST a cup of water out of each one, it was like hiking with aquariums strapped to my feet. What concerned me was that every time I looked at my feet they looked as though I’d been sitting in a bath for half-a-day, but kinda bubbly.  It was gross and I was happy to rest them under the heater when we got back to the truck. Even a few days later they still look a bit swollen to me.

James and I will defiantly try hiking again. We realized that we had packed really well and had thought of pretty much everything we needed (except extra laces). It feels nice to be out in the middle of nowhere fending for yourself, paying attention to nature. It’s so quiet and still…except when you wake-up to a furry creature sniffing the top of your head from the other side of the tent. Then you get to see if your husband is a man of his word and if he’ll actually fight a bear for you.


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What have I gotten myself into?

Pray for some dry nights and strong feet…we’re off on our Mantario adventure.

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Camping with kids – Part 1

So we did the unthinkable, we went camping on May-long. I’ve always heard that you shouldn’t go camping on the long weekend in May because it will inevitably be rainy and cold but we decided to ignore what the weather stations were saying and head-out anyways. After all, the kids have been counting down the number of sleeps until they get to have a fire, roast marshmallows and sleep in their tent…how could we say no!?

For our first camping trip with the kids (this season) we decided to keep it fairly close to the city so we went just north of Gimli to Camp Morton Provincial Park. It was a small campground (about 17 spots, I think) which turned out to be great for easing the kids into living out of a tent surrounded by bush and using an outhouse. There were mainly young families occupying the rest of the spots so the kids quickly made friends and ran around non-stop with a mob of toddlers and their dogs.

We had a thunderstorm Saturday night, which the kids slept through, but we were unaffected since we’d put up a tarp across both of our tents. Sunday proved to be a scorcher and we made the most of it by going on a hike, playing in the water, reading out in the sun and napping in the shade. The kids had so much fun camping and playing with their friends that the didn’t want to come home. I’m glad they enjoyed a few nights of sleeping in their tent…now I don’t feel bad about dragging them out into the wilds of Manitoba every couple of weekends. Here are a few pictures of the kids at Camp Morton.

{okay, this isn’t the kids…but it just seemed fitting}

{probably one of my favorites of the weekend – this is at Gimli harbor}

{enjoying a snack, sitting by the fire}

{checking out the lake and throwing rocks in the water}

{rhys and ammie playing Red Rover for the first time – ammie didn’t really get it}

{trying to re-route a little stream}

{playing in the water – rhys went all ‘swiss family robinson’ and was hauling driftwood around the whole beach for a good 45 minutes}

I think that I’ll be doing a post sooner or later with tips for camping with little kids. I already have a number of good pointers that I’d like to pass along to those of you who are thinking about take your own kiddies out to the bush. But this is all for now and I hope you all had a great long weekend!


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