Tag Archives: summer

Simple Summer Fun: Seashell Painting

Simple Summer Fun Painted Seashells | Mama Papa BubbaWhile cleaning out our vehicle yesterday, I realized that we still had a big stash of beach shells we’d collected a couple months hiding in our hatch (you know you’re a parent when…)  We’d originally collected them with the intent of painting them, so that’s just what we did.  

IMG 0693First, we gave our shells a good scrubbing in some hot soapy water and laid them in the sun to dry for a few minutes.

IMG 0691Then Miss G chose a few colours of acrylic paint, and we got started.

IMG 0694Since acrylics will stain clothes, Gracen often wears a painting shirt or no shirt at all while using them.  And with the Okanagan weather being as hot as it has been lately, going without was a perfect option.  She quickly chose a shell, a paintbrush, and her colour, and got started.

IMG 0699While I often like setting out an activity, letting Grae discover it on her own, and standing back to see how she engages with the materials, I love sitting down and creating with her too.   I find that many times, some of our very best conversations take place when we’re sitting beside one another, hands busy.  Today we chatted about our upcoming move to Kuwait and some of the changes that will soon take place.  Just as it’s always been, she seems nothing but excited about it all.  We talked about her new bedroom, how she’d like purple things in it, how she’s anxious to have her very own bathroom, and how she’s looking forward to being closer to Uncle Daniel (our very dear friend who will live just 7 floors above us).  We also chatted about how, although we’ll be in the exact same apartment we had last time, the nursery she had as a baby will no longer look the same (she was excited to jump in her baby crib, but everything was sold when we left and we’ll be returning to an empty apartment).

IMG 0707Our conversation carried on shell after shell…  While we talked, Gracen experimented with different colours, colour mixing, paint layering, and painting both the insides and outsides of her shells.

IMG 0704Here are some of our colourful creations in progress.

IMG 0701After seeing my pink shell with aqua polka dots, Miss G wanted to do some polka dots of her own.  She painted her entire shell aqua, waited patiently for it to {mostly} dry, and then dabbed blobs of purple on top.

IMG 0710Like rock painting, collecting seashells and painting them seems like a summer staple to me… Something that just begs to be done year after yet because of its simplicity, beauty, and all of the possibilities. 

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Bubble Painting

Bubble Painting | Mama Papa BubbaYesterday Miss G and I finally got around to something that’s been on my mental activity list forever now… Bubble painting!  Now if you cruise Pinterest, you’ll see that bubble painting is all over the internet and everyone seems to do it a little bit differently.  Variations include all different sorts of bubble solutions, wands, and methods, so we just made up our own.  

IMG 0602Since we’re staying with Brad’s parents until our big move and Grandma Charlotte seems to be stockpiling bubble solution for an upcoming bubble solution drought (Hi Charlotte! ☺), we used store-bought bubbles to make our bubble paint.  We simply divided a small bottle between 4 mason jars, then added some food colouring.  We went for liquid food colouring this time around and added between 8 and 10 drops to each jar in hopes of some fairly vibrant colours.  Then we chopped the bendy part off of 4 straws, and popped one into each jar to use as bubble blowers.

IMG 0603To set the station up, I taped a large piece of paper onto a chunk of cardboard and set it out on the back deck.  Of course you could set this up on a table or easel, but I liked the fact that Gracen could get up above her canvas and blow the bubbles directly down towards the paper.  Same goes for our straw bubble blowers…  You could easily use traditional bubble wands, but I felt that the straws helped guide the bubbles in the right direction.  As for the outside part, since food colouring does stain and the Okanagan has been absolutely gorgeous, it was just the best option.

IMG 0606Gracen began blowing bubbles and we anxiously awaited for them to hit the paper.  As soon as they landed, the paper below the bubble immediately flooded with colour.  Some bubbles popped right away, and some stuck around for a while.

IMG 0676We worked on our painting for a little while yesterday, then tucked it away to come back to today.  As you can see, Miss G thought it was just as neat on day two.

IMG 0671It also seemed like our bubble paints had evaporated a bit in the Okanagan sun, leaving our colours even more vibrant than before.

IMG 0848Here’s a look at some of our finished artwork… Pretty, right?

IMG 0841And how cool is this bubble up close?!  You can just see the ‘POP’ right in the print.

I love activities like this one… It’s simple, requires materials we always have in the house, and is really fun. Bubble painting is definitely being added to our list of summer favourites. 

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An Evening at the Park

IMG 0023IMG 0032What summer vacation is all about…


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Marble Run Water Slide

Marble Run Water Slide | Mama Papa BubbaIMG 9866When I found this huge jar of marbles sitting in the closet of Brad’s childhood bedroom, I knew they had to be used for something fun.  I immediately thought of these two posts and knew that Miss G would love exploring a marble run.

IMG 9951While Grandma Charlotte’s pool noodles didn’t have holes down the centres and every shop in the village she lives in appeared to be anxiously waiting the same pool noodle shipment, my hometown not far away had pool noodles aplenty!  In fact, one of the local dollar stores had huge bins full for $1.25 a piece!  With a pool noodle in hand, I began building our marble run during G’s nap.  The first step was saw the noodle in half vertically with a serrated knife.  Slow and steady was the key to this one.

IMG 9952It was a bit tricky to cut perfectly down the centre of the noodle the entire time, but it really doesn’t have to be perfect.

Building a Marble Run Water SlideNext up, I inserted several toothpicks along the side of one of the noodle halves, then carefully connected the other half.

IMG 9970IMG 9955With the main structure built and plenty of nap time to spare, I decided to focus on the details.  While I’m sure the usual race track theme would have gone over wonderfully, I decided to switch things up a little and gear the activity to one of Gracen’s recent interests… water slides!  Using some bamboo skewers I shortened a little, I threw together a ‘WATER SLIDE’ sign and a few buntings and stuck them onto the slide structure.  Then I propped the top of the slide up on a couple of vintage apple crates and put a small bin filled with sparkly blue water at the bottom.  Gracen was delighted to wake up from her nap and see it!

IMG 9957IMG 9960The activity really needed no explanation.  She recruited Grandma Charlotte, they each selected a marble, and on ‘ready, set, go!’ they released them.

IMG 9962It was a close one!

IMG 9986I kind of wondered if she’d always want someone playing with her during this activity, but that wasn’t the case.  She just as happily played on her own.

IMG 9968And after doing several races, things got a little creative…  She tried putting multiple marbles in a track before releasing them, raced small marbles against large marbles, and tried sending Nerfuls down too.

IMG 9991Our little pool noodle water slide has already brought a ton of fun and I can’t wait for us experiment with it some more in the coming weeks… I’m thinking ping pong balls would be neat because they’d float in the pool at the bottom and maybe we’ll try racing water itself?


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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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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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Pool Party Bath

Pool Party Bath | Mama Papa BubbaThis was an on the fly idea that came about tonight during dinner.  G was wearing her bathing suit (as you do when you’re 2 and a 1/2 and hanging out at home) and asked for a ‘special, special, soooooo special bath’ tonight.  No go-to ideas came to mind, but my little doodle eating dinner in a ruffled polka dot bathing suit gave me one!  … A pool party bath!

IMG 8161I filled the tub up nice and full and added a few drops of aqua gel food colouring to give it a pool feel, then collected a few pool/summer things – beach balls, a watering can, a pail and shovel, some water wings, and a water bottle.  For extra fun, I loaded our little bubble machine up with solution and placed it so that the bubbles would flow down into the tub from up above.   Gracen grabbed her sun glasses and her pool towel, and we were good to go.

IMG 8183Such a simple idea, but Grae just thought it was the best thing ever.  Things did get a little wild when she began trying to pop every single bubble before they hit the water, but it was all good fun.  Part way through, we took out our window crayons and added a ‘party wall’, which was just as much fun to splash off as it was to draw on. ☺

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Pretend Popsicle Play

Pretend Popsicle Play With Gelatine Pops | Mama Papa BubbaKnowing Grae’s love of popsicles, my mom sent her home from the Okanagan with a couple of new popsicle mould sets the other day.  While I knew she’d be excited, what I wasn’t expecting was for two new popsicle moulds to keep her happily playing in her rear-facing car seat for at least 1/2 of our 7 hour drive home.  She was so engaged with them that Brad actually said, “Well I know what we need to bring on the plane to Kuwait.” (If you’re travelling through Germany in August and see a woman with popsicle mould parts clumsily falling out of her purse, that’ll be me.)

IMG 8103When we got home and I started thinking about fun play opportunities for the week, I thought it would be fun to try to set up a popsicle-themed pretend play station.  Of course, the first thing that came to mind was making the pretend pops out of ice, but I wanted something a little different.  Enter gelatine. With a fun texture that can be jiggled, squished, and crumbled, I knew it would be a hit.  

To make the pops quite sturdy, I mixed up 3 packets of Knox unflavoured gelatine with 3/4 of a cup of boiling water, then added 3/4 of a cup of cool water once the gelatine had been dissolved.  I popped a few drops of liquid food colouring into each of my popsicle cups, poured the gelatine mixture in, mixed it up, and put the faux popsicles in the refrigerator over night. 

IMG 8105This morning while we were preparing breakfast together, Miss G immediately noticed the rainbow coloured popsicles in the fridge and asked if they were for playing with.  Let me tell you, this girl doesn’t miss a thing.  She patiently waited until after our morning outing, lunchtime, and her nap, and I had this little set up ready ready for her when she woke up.

IMG 8112She was delighted to see it and immediately asked, “Are these just for playing, Mama? Or are they for eating?”  With the fact that they were for playing with cleared up, she began naming the flavours – my favourite of which was tomato soup (the red one).  Then she began doling out the treats in bowls with spoons, as she often likes her popsicles.

IMG 8113Next up, all of the popsicles went back into their moulds and got put into her pretend freezer.  Then she took them out, one by one (with the help of a spoon and some serious shaking) as though she were filling customer orders.

IMG 8116For the customers who preferred to eat their frozen treats from a bowl rather than a stick, she happily crumbled the popsicles up.  As you do.

IMG 8119There was lots of play with the popsicles in their smushed up state…

IMG 8123Then she moved onto making rainbow pops.  Because I mean, who wants only one flavour when you can have several, right?

IMG 8127And then there was soup. Oh, was there ever.  Soup stirred so enthusiastically that bits flew out of the bowl and landed in various spots around our living room. 

IMG 8132I’d say pretend popsicles were a hit, wouldn’t you?  A colourful, messy, joyful hit.


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Simple Fun: Rock Painting

Every year as a child, my brother and I would spend a week or two at my Baba’s (which means grandmother in Ukranian) house a few hours from home.  My Baba, who is probably one of the most talented, creative, do-it-all women I know, always made sure we had adventures to go on, activities to do, and projects on the go. One of the things we’d always do was paint rocks.  It’s such a simple idea, but it was something I truly looked forward to each year.  

So today, I got out a couple painting projects of my own and set Grae up with a little rock painting station. 

IMG 7835First we gathered our materials… A few big rocks we found around the yard (washed and dried), some acrylic paint (kids’ washable paint works too but the designs disappear with rain), a few paint brushes, and an old towel.

IMG 7837IMG 7840IMG 7845Gracen thought it was pretty special that she had her very own painting station just like Mama.  She’d paint a rock, then move it to the edge of the towel to dry, and then paint another.  And when the tops were dry, she flipped them over and painted the bottoms.

IMG 7851Fresh out of rocks but still wanting to paint, I gave her a cement block we had lying around.

IMG 7855And after it was painted in pastels, it was time for a strawberry creamsicle break.  The verdict? She loved them so much that she asked for another.  My first instinct was to say, “Let’s have something different to eat now”, but then I reminded myself that all they are is plain organic yogurt and strawberries pureed.  So two popsicles it was.

IMG 7860IMG 7864These are our little artist’s finished pieces.

IMG 7873IMG 7877After they were completely dry, we found special little places around the yard to tuck them in.  With these little surprises hiding around the yard, maybe weeding won’t be so daunting…

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Our Afternoon

Our afternoon in photos…

IMG 7546IMG 7548IMG 7549IMG 7557IMG 7558IMG 7560IMG 7564Wild water baby in the wading pool.

IMG 7575IMG 7577IMG 7578Sprinkler fun with Papa.

IMG 7583Preparing a snack.

IMG 7588Straight from Grandma’s garden.

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