Going to the Cottage

A few years ago, four women did something a few people thought was a bit loopy. I got together with three gals and we dropped out of our professions, cast aside our collective eight or so degrees and designations and started Mabel’s Labels. We also made another big decision and purchased a cottage together. Considering we were all having babies at the time, I like to blame the hormones.

I have fantastic childhood memories of summers at the cottage. When my siblings cooked up a plan that we should purchase a cottage together, I jumped at it. Memories of fishing off the dock, swimming out to the floating raft and roasting marshmallows around the campfire – all memories I wanted my children to have. Thing is, I should have paid more attention to what my mother was doing during those trips to the cottage. If I had, I might have noticed that going to the cottage is no holiday for mama.

My mom didn’t spend much time lounging in a Muskoka chair sipping a glass of red. When we were swimming, my mother stood anxiously on the shore counting heads (“one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four”). And as for those campfires – my nerves can’t handle seeing one more excited three-year-old waving a wand of flaming marshmallow in the direction of innocent bystanders.

Fact is, going to the cottage means mama has to do the same work but without all the conveniences of home. Suddenly we’re pulling out portocots, piling too many hyper kids into one room to sleep, and living without the safety devices that were created to make our lives easier. When will someone invent a toddler gate that goes around an entire lake? At our cottage, we don’t even have a shower or washing machine and dryer. I don’t mind the kids running around looking and smelling like forest animals, but if you have a bed-wetter or a tummy bug goes through the joint, it is game over.

I’m married to a non-Ontario type so with all the cottage talk a few years ago he made an interesting observation. It went like this:
“So, in Ontario people work really hard so they can afford to buy a place where they go and live like they have no money. Is that right?”

Bingo! Daddy-o was starting to understand cottage culture! Five years into cottage ownership, and we head north every chance we get. The cottage provides us with the opportunity to watch our kids run wild together, forgetting that TV and Nintendo even exist. We get to witness sibling camaraderie at its finest. So, even with all the head counting at the lake and marshmallow dodging at the campfire, this memory building is worth the hard work. I’ll have plenty of time to lounge in a Muskoka chair later.

Win an Ultimate Back-to-School Combo!

Back to school is around the corner and I want to give our committed blog readers the opportunity to win an Ultimate Back-to-School Combo!

What do you have to do? It’s this simple: post a comment stating that you’d like to win it! That’s it, that’s all.

You can get creative and say why you need it or what you’d use it for. We’d also love if you shared a Mabel tale or let us know why you read the blog. But, all you really have to do is word up and you are in the mix to win!

Even if you don’t have someone heading off to school, you wanna get your hands on this little win anyways. Comment away!

(Photo is of Combo in Juicy Citrus; also available in three other colour options)

Stating the Obvious

Do you ever find yourself saying stuff you just can’t believe you have to say? Things like “please stop giving scissors to your baby sister to play with” or “no, we don’t drink bleach because it is not meant for children”. Mama sometimes has to verbalize the completely obvious.

Would you believe that I recently had to provide instruction that children are not allowed to play with dead animals?

When we were in the hospital last weekend, my son was a bit of a medical mystery because of his unusual collection of symptoms. Being a medical mystery is actually great news because it means you are put in a private room where peace and quiet reigns. It was luxury living and a quick reminder as to why I keep having babies – my hospital stay is the best holiday I ever get!

Just as my request for a meeting with “Dr. House” was turned down, they figured out my son picked up a strange parasite. Just the word parasite reminds me that my life is destined to never have any glamour attached to it. What they were able to assess was that it was not your garden variety E-coli or Guardia. I don’t actually have a whole lot of parasite experience, unless you count pregnancy. I think it’s fair to say fetuses fall within the parasite family.

After some conversations with daddy-o, I was able to shed some light on the subject. While away at his grandparents’ farm, my son took up a project. Nothing makes me happier than a kid picking up a project during summer holidays. His project was a museum he set up in one of the barns. Each object was beautifully labeled and described. Sounds lovely, right? But this is where it ALL goes horribly wrong. He had created a museum of sheep bones.

Every day he walked the farm fields in search of decaying sheep. He would collect, wash and display the bones with great pride. He was resourceful enough to enlist the help of Sox, the trusty farm dog to go with him. Sox would have the duty of eating any remaining flesh or wool off the less-decayed sheep before my son would collect the bones. That can only be described as teamwork gone wrong.

So, I may not be Dr. House, but I’m thinking I may have cracked the case of the mysterious parasite!

I’m now going to include another instruction for my son’s “411 Wristbands” when he is not under my watch and I’m not there to state the obvious. Next time he is heading off to the farm, I will have printed beside his name: “please don’t allow me to play with sheep carcases!”

(The picture is of my son with some lambs. In a few years, they’ll contribute nicely to the museum!)
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