Tag Archives: backyard fun

Summer As it Should Be

IMG 0613IMG 0620IMG 0625JUMPThis is pretty much how we spent our entire day today…  Basking in the Okanagan sun and soaking in as much of the mountains and green grass as possible.  Oh, and there was a whole lot of watching our little fish jump full force into her pool too. 

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Only at Grandma Charlotte’s House

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Pool Time

IMG 9889IMG 9893IMG 9896Top knots, ruffled bathing suits, backyard pools, and vacation time… These are the things summer is made of.


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A Messy Play Date {& Some Messy Play Date Tips}

Today was the highly anticipated day of our {backyard} messy play date…finally!  Gracen and I got everything ready yesterday afternoon and had it all sitting by the backyard to make our early start time a little easier this morning.  During our prep, Grae was so excited she could barely contain herself.  She gathered sensory bin items and assembled them like it was her job and this morning she was up bright and early eager for her friends to arrive.  

When we do these sorts of play dates, I try to have a variety of different kinds of open-ended activities spread out throughout the backyard.  This means that there is something for everyone and not all of the kids are always crowded in the same area like little sardines.  Today’s sensory activities included our bird bin, an ocean bin filled with water beads, a construction bin filled with pea gravel, a cloud dough bin filled with different moulds and scoops, a gardening station directly in our garden {as we didn’t plant this year due to our upcoming move}, and a sparkly slime tray.  For kiddos looking for a bit more action, we had our inexpensive and easy backyard balance beam, a sandbox filled with dinosaur bones and shovels for digging, a pool filled with cups, scoops, and nets {because it was too cool to actually swim}, and bubble chasing courtesy of a couple of bubble machines.  For our little art lovers, we had out a big moon painting station and a bucket of sidewalk chalk with some water for dipping, and for those looking for a little bit of downtime, we had our 5 minute teepee with some puzzles inside, a beading station, and a tunnel hideout. 

Sounds fun, right?  Strangely enough, after all of the build-up, Miss G was quite clingy and whiny throughout.  I think it was a combination of feeling slightly smothered by a very affectionate friend and just being a little overwhelmed.  Though I think she still had fun, I was a little surprised that it didn’t go over a bit better than it did…  But what can you do?  I’m pretty sure the other kids enjoyed themselves, and after a lot of messy play, we all sat down to a laid-back picnic lunch of sandwiches, fruits and veggies, nuts, crackers, cookie dough boys, and homemade iced tea and lemonade.  After saying goodbye to our friends {and passing out play dough and play putty favours – all Miss G’s idea}, we found ourselves in a backyard that looked like a tornado had run through it…  A true sign of messy play date success, I’d say!

Here are some photos from our morning…

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After hosting a couple of these play dates, here are a few things I’ve learned along the way…

1. Include activities of varying messiness. Not all kiddos love getting filthy.

2. Spread play stations out as much as possible.  Not only does it allow the munchkins lots of space to play and explore, but it also helps keep the play materials separate (though we did end up with slime, sand, and cloud dough in our pool this time around!)

3. Expect your play materials to get trashed.  While water beads, slime, and doughs may last several months when enjoyed by just your child(ren), many children may be experiencing these play materials for the first time.  Water beads will be smushed, dirt will be added to the slime, and buckets of water will be dumped into cloud dough, so be prepared to throw everything out and start fresh.

4.  Slime and concrete don’t mix.  Being used to my very careful, rule-bound little lady, I thought nothing of putting a big tray of slime out on a table on our concrete pad.  Needless to say, by the end of the play date, it was everywhere and Brad and I spent a couple of hours picking, peeling, spraying, scrubbing, and sweeping it all up – pretty rockin’ Friday night, no? All in the name of fun! ☺

5. Include a hand washing station.  Kids are going to want to wash their hands between activities and having a spot to do it outside not only makes it easier for them, but it also minimizes traffic in and out of the house.  We use a drink dispenser filled with warm water with a basin below and some soap and a hand towel nearby and not only does it get the job done, but it’s also a lot of fun.


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Super Simple 5 Minute Backyard Teepee

First off, I have to say that my Baba is hands down one of the most amazing, wonderful women I know.  She’s one of those ladies who can truly do anything…  From sewing to cooking to running a farm, fixing things, painting, gardening, building things, and entertaining – she excels at all.  Oh, and at 70 something years old, having never used a computer or the internet, she bought herself an iPad and taught herself how to use it too.  Amazing, right? (Hi Baba!  Love you!)  ☺

Growing up, my little brother and I would spend a week or two at my Baba’s house each summer.  Our days out at the farm were wonderful.  We spent nearly all of our time outdoors…  We herded cattle, carried huge buckets of grain out each morning, and watched calves being born.  We roamed through massive gardens with freedom to pick and eat as much as we pleased.  We devoured fresh peas off the vine, ate up buckets of raspberries, and wandered around with long stalks of rhubarb with little glass bowls of dipping sugar.  Baba taught us how to use the ride-on mower, make pedaheh from scratch, and draw with artists’ pencils and shading sticks – all of the things childhoods should be made of.  

But above all other adventures and activities that took place on that farm, the one that stands out most in my mind – the one that was most anticipated each year – was building a backyard teepee.  Baba would take us out into the forest, small saw in hand, and we’d cut down the trees that would form the structure of our new home.  We’d drag them back, position them and tie them up, then drape them in sheets until our teepee was fully enclosed.  Perhaps the very best part was furnishing it afterwards.  We’d carefully separate the space in half, position our mattresses and end tables (Baba doesn’t mess around), then stock it up with blankets, flashlights, snacks, books, and activities.  I can’t even describe how cool it all seemed as a child.

Super Simple 5 Minute Backyard Teepee | Mama Papa BubbaRecently, I introduced the magic of backyard teepees to Miss G.  Nothing that could rival one of the ones my Baba used to make, but a teepee none the less.  Our first one was a completely impromptu build, but it was so quick and easy that we’ve made them the same way each time since.  Here’s how we put together our super simple backyard teepee in no longer than five minutes…

Super Simple 5 Minute Teepee Materials | Mama Papa BubbaFirst up, the materials…  We use 6 6-foot tall bamboo stakes (purchased at any store that has a decent gardening section), a king-sized sheet, some jute, and 10 – 12 clothespins. 

IMG 8594To start out, I push the stakes into the ground just an inch or two to form a circle with an open front.  (As you can see, G likes to stand in the middle and have me build around her. ☺)

IMG 8604Next, I gather up the top of the stakes in one hand (there really isn’t a right way to do this – I just grab them and how they come together is how they come together) and use the other hand to wrap the jute around.  One thing I try to do while wrapping the jute is to weave it in and out of the stakes  – this gives it some better holding power.  When the jute seems secure, I tie it off in a bow so it’s easy to undo later.

IMG 8605IMG 8607With the structure built, it’s time to enclose it with the sheet.  To do this, I simply drape the sheet around the stakes horizontally with the ends being at the front opening.  To hold it in place temporarily, I bring the two sides of the sheet together at the top and secure it using a clothespin and add another two at the base of the two front stakes. 

TeepeeIMG 8611Next up, it’s time fix the positioning a little, smooth everything out, tuck in the extra fabric, and secure it all. I like to start at the front, making sure that both of the front stakes are fully covered and each side has a flap of extra fabric that can be used to close up the teepee completely if desired.  To do this, I just tug and adjust until it’s the way I want it.  With the sheet positioned properly, I move to the top and add several clothes pins to secure the sheet to the stakes.  I usually use four, but you could put one on each of the 6 stakes if you wanted to.  Then I go to the bottom and add a pin to each of the stakes, tucking under the extra fabric along the way if needed.

And that’s it – the basic teepee is complete.  Super simple, right?

IMG 8617To make ours extra cozy, we always add a blanket in the bottom and a few throw cushions along the sides.

IMG 8623IMG 8628One of Gracen’s favourite parts is selecting an activity to bring into her teepee with her.  Most often, it’s a stack of books to read, but today it was a stack of puzzles instead.

IMG 8634When we’re done playing for the day, we normally take down the sheet and bring everything inside, but leave the bamboo stake structure up, which makes for an even faster set up the next time and the time after that and the time after that…


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Fast Friends

This little blog has led to so many wonderful opportunities, the best of which is undoubtedly being part of Vancouvermom.ca’s Top 30 Bloggers of 2012.  These ladies started out as being people I chatted with online with, and very quickly became people I considered ‘blogging friends’, then just regular ‘friends’.  I’m so lucky to have them in my life and even sweeter is that Miss G now has a whole new set of friends also.  Today we spent the day with Tairalyn, Amy, and their little ladies, and had a blast.  There was dancing, bubbles, a sprinkler, a water slide, strawberry picking, sidewalk painting, and yummy treats… Who could ask for more?  Here is our morning in photos…

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iPhoneography // Sunday Adventures

Sunday Adventuresheaded out // lunch for two

bus ride // pool weather

backyard snacks // never-ending mint

sidewalk art // beautiful bloom


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iPhoneography // An Impromtu Teepee

Backyard TeepeeGrowing up, my brother and I used to stay at my Baba’s (grandmother’s) house for a week or two or three each summer.  Being the phenomenal lady she is, she’d bring us into the forest, chop down what seemed like huge trees, and have us help her haul them out to create outdoor teepees worthy of side tables and mattresses. Our summer teepees are one of my very favourite childhood memories now as an adult, and definitely something that I’d like Gracen to experience.  While not nearly as grand, today we threw together a very quick little teepee after stumbling across some bamboo sticks.  Gracen was in awe of our new structure and immediately went in the house to retrieve her pillow and a couple of blankets.  It’s amazing how special a sheet and some sticks can be when put together isn’t it?  There’s no doubt that there will be many more of these in the weeks ahead (tutorial to come, for those who asked) and I can’t wait.


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The Barefoot Gardener

IMG 7979IMG 7977Pulling WeedsIMG 7986Though our little miss is normally a rockstar sleeper, Grandma Charlotte is staying with us right now and sleep is difficult when excitement levels are running this high.  After a tough time getting to sleep last night, today’s nap didn’t happen.  And a skipped nap in this house is not just an ‘oh well’… This little lady needs her naps.  Desperately.  Our coping mechanism to get through the afternoon as gracefully as possible?  Getting outside and soaking in some fresh air and sunshine.  It just so happens that today it was in the {yet to be planted} garden in pajamas. White ones.

A filthy toddler and dirt-stained jammies? Totally worth a happy afternoon.  Because in the words of Miss G, “It’s okay to dirty.”


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Saturday Snippets

While our morning consisting of a drizzly visit to Granville Island, our afternoon was all about enjoying a little bit of sunshine and soaking in the sights of spring scattered about our yard…

IMG 7689Mint munchingIMG 7673DandelionsIMG 7686HopperIMG 7698IMG 7710


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