As Canadians we spend a lot of time indoors. This past winter was especially brutal. Spring arrived just in the nick of time because the Thornburys were getting dangerously close to a "The Shining" situation. Rum—good. Red rum—bad.
My kids have been itching to get outdoors and back to nature and that's exactly what we did last week. We spent seven glorious days with family at their cottage on a lake in New Brunswick— sans wifi or television. No iPhone grafted to my hand? I expected it to be difficult. It wasn't. It was heaven.
Here are a few of the activities we enjoyed:
On day one of our vacation, thanks to the last remnants of Hurricane Arthur, we had no choice but to make our own indoor fun. To be clear, the dads coordinated the fun. I sat on the covered porch and read for three solid hours. Bliss. So what fun did the guys come up with?
First they played a game — "Super Moose" (Reg. $29.99). It's a wooden puzzle challenge where players take turns balancing antlers on a wobbly moose head. It's meant for ages 3+. The older more dextrous and patient kids enjoyed it, but the younger ones found it a bit frustrating.
Next was Hex Bug Races! They set up a track using wooden train tracks and the cousins brought out their Hex Bugs. The object was to see whose bug would make its way out of the maze first. Wagering? What wagering? Just ignore the monopoly money in the video. Ahem.
*Check out the toddler taking in the action via binoculars at 2:18
and just listen to that rain pounding down on the tin roof!*
When it stopped raining and I told my kids to "get out" (in the nicest way possible) they were happy to oblige. With binoculars around her neck (outdoors and inside too) Avery checked out her surroundings. For young children, adult binoculars are difficult to manage. These light-weight, durable, kid friendly Kidnoculars (Mastermind Toys Reg. $16.99) have a silicone rim that guides little eyes into place. We give them a hearty Forever In Mom Genes thumbs up!
Hiking is one of our favourite summer activities. We climbed over fallen trees and made our way to a spectacular waterfall. Ironically this was the one spot where I could get wifi. I was both delighted and horrified. The beauty of the waterfall and my quest for wild raspberries forced me to stuff my phone to the bottom of my backpack.
We collected leaves and consulted our wilderness books. We looked under logs and in ponds and were lucky to find a newt and a frog. We carefully toted them back to the cottage in the specimen jar that came with our Walk in the Woods Into The Field Guide Kit Mastermind Toys Reg. $22.99. We created a temporary habitat and examined our guests and released them back into the wild that night.
Being on a lake there's also water to explore. Canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing, swimming, jumping off rocks, exploring under the surface... There's endless fun to be had. Avery, my seven year old doesn't like to wear a mask so this Underwater Explorer Boat, Mastermind Reg. $16.99, was great for her! It's essentially a hand held "glass bottom boat" that lets you see under the water without going under. Perfect for little ones and their moms who'd rather not get their hair wet.
If you build it, they will play. Or at least give you a few minutes of peace to finish your book. A tent offers a shady spot for kids to read or do a puzzle. We spent an afternoon collecting fallen branches and ferns and constructed a rather impressive tee-pee. No, we didn't have a permit. Shhhh... ;)
Hours were spent playing "Water Gun Wars in the Woods" complete with walkie talkies and battle strategies. There's talk of adding camoflauge next year. Sigh. Boys will be boys. (FYI I'm talking about the dads, not the kids.)
Some of the silliest and greatest moments were those we didn't even plan.
1. At the end of the week we had an awards ceremony. We made paper ribbons naming each person's biggest accomplishments and presented them with loads of pomp and circumstance.
2. Using regular water soluble Crayola makers we got inked! It washes right off in the lake. Even the dog got in on the fun. Also, I thought I was all that with my cool tribal tat.
3. You can use a sheet of plastic and a hose to create your own Slip and Slide! Spin, roll, and ham it up while you slide. My brother-in-law won with the "Reading on a bus pose."
Could summer be any Smore fun? Er, sorry. Hot dogs, marshmallows and grilled peppers roasted on the campfire.... sweet. Yes, roasted peppers. We brought two Fire Fishing Poles with us to the cottage and used them every night. The Fire Buggz Fishing Poles are sturdy and easy to use. Best of all, you can do two wieners or 4 marshmallows at a time. When one side is done, you can easily flip them to roast the other side. They retail for $24.99 each. A little pricey, but they're fun and would make a great cottage host gift. *I just noticed they're currently on sale at Mastermind Toys for $17.49*
There's only one month of summer left so get out there! Dig your toes in the earth, catch a firefly, make a daisy chain, hold a Banana Slug, skip stones, throw a water balloon, climb a tree, watch the sunset....
Nothing beats a Canadian summer!
Disclosure: This post is not sponsored. In other words, I was not paid to say nice things about these products. The kids and I hand selected a few items from Mastermind Toys to bring with us to the cottage in exchange for our honest opinions.