my kids are so different.

i am coming to some big realizations about who my kids are and how i parent them.

my oldest, bear, is an anxious kid. he has struggled with his anxiety for as long as i can remember. because, he is my first borne, i didn’t realize that what he was presenting was in fact anxiety, i just thought all kids had epic meltdowns around new things. my heart aches for him, for me; i wish i had known then what i know now. things could have been so much easier and less stressful for all of us. when bear was 3.5 years i sent him to  morning gymnastics camp with a friend from preschool. he screamed and cried and was a mess at drop-off, while his friend was eager to join the fun and learn some tricks. at another camp that same summer, his screaming was even louder and his grasp around my leg was even stronger, but still i just left him. everyone around me told me it was just separation anxiety and that it was normal. even though nobody else’s kid was having the same severe reaction to being dropped off. (and to clarify, i don’t blame anyone for saying this, it just was what everyone thought at the time : 20/20 hindsight is so clear.)

since that summer, i have stopped pushing him, and only sign him up for things that he specifically asks for.

we have tried slowly transitioning him into things, but that doesn’t always help either. or, not that it doesn’t help, but it often backfires eventually. it’s really hard to mother a child with anxiety, because i know people judge and blame me; especially since i am a bit of a worrier myself. i am the easy scapegoat, as all mother’s (and parents) are.

but, here’s the thing, my second borne, lion now 3.5 yrs has no sign of anxiety. he is definitely sensitive  child, but when he gets nervous in new situations his behaviour is never as extreme as his brother’s. but, he is not anxious. on his first day of preschool he skipped away into his classroom with a huge smile n his face. he just started swimming lessons and happily went into the pool alone with his instructor, put his face in the water and blew bubbles. there were NO tears, no thigh clinging and no verbalization that he was scared. as i watched him this passed monday in the pool, i was overcome with relief and ridiculous amounts of pride. relief, because he was calm and willing to try something new, even though he was a bit unsure. within minutes of his lesson he was fearless, listening to instructions and clearly feeling pretty proud of himself. as he should.

i should add, that bear started swimming lessons the following day, and he too was brave and didn’t cry at all. but, leading up to the lessons my stomach was in knots on fear of his transitin into this new extracurricular activity.

all of this to say that as a mum to two very different kids, i have to remind myself that they will probably always respond quite differently to new things in life. they will transition into hobbies, school grades, summer camps and whatever else in their own individual ways. they will both need my love and nurturing, but clearly even at this young age they are expressing their needs differently. i must become more cognisant of their differences in our daily lives; pushing lion more and pushing bear less.

DSC_0293b

i am still learning on how to become a good mum. i am work in progress.

what are some of your challenges in mothering/ parenting? share in the comments.

 

xo, mama lola

preschool is fun or is it?!

my lion began preschool in september. he goes for three hours, twice a week. he started the year with great enthusiasm, excitement and joy, but that honeymoon period seems have come to an abrupt end.
i kinda thought it might.

lion is still eager to go, but it’s what i hear from his teachers that has me a tiny bit worried. apparently, he doesn’t talk very much and is very quiet, even with his peers. which, for a 3 year old isn’t unusual, but lion is a pretty chatty guy with the people he interacts with regularly. also, he is apparently sitting back a lot from activities, choosing to watch rather than participate. again, not really a big deal considering his age, but he says he feels sad and that’s why he’s not participating.
that kinda breaks my heart.


and, the fact that the teachers are bringing it up, worries me. 
i’ve tried chatting casually with lion about preschool. i have tried asking specific questions, but it is impossible to get any clear answers from him. he contradicts himself in a sincere way that only a small child can. 

a couple of weeks ago dear hubby and i spent a small portion of the morning at the preschool playing with the kids and chatting with the teachers. lion was happy to have us, as he showed us all sorts of wonderful toys he gets to play with.


as his mama, i want to do what’s best for him, without pushing him too much. finding that balance, knowing when to push and when not to, is such a tricky dance i seem to be doing all the time with the kids. as a mama, i want my kids to feel challenged, but supported. it’s ok for them to feel apprehensive about new situations and people, i just don’t want them to feel debilitated by those feelings of fear or anxiety causing them to choose not to participate in activities.


to help him feel more grounded, dear hubby has been sleeping on the bottom bunk with him for a couple of weeks. sometimes i think the kids need indirect support, care and love, which co-sleeping allows us to do. i remember going through phases in my childhood, where i would curl into my parents bed.

sometimes these things are phases, and sometimes these things are personality traits. either way, i just hope my lion feels supported at home.
i have such love and pride for him.




 


xo, mama lola

bear’s mental health day from school.

today i kept my eldest, my 5 year old bear home from school.

i did this for a couple of reasons. first, he’s a bit of a sensitive guy, who gets overwhelmed easily. when he’s tired from the routine of school his behaviour at home becomes less than ideal. he starts to antagonize his little brother, he says mean things to all of us and he just becomes unpleasant to be around.
another reason i kept him home, last night when DH and i headed for bed i found bear sleeping in our bed. my heart kinda melted. he goes through phases where he wants to sleep with us, and i think it’s when he’s feeling overwhelmed, tired and slightly stressed. by sleeping with us, i feel like we are all re-connecting with each other. i’m hoping he feels supported, loved and grounded by cuddling in with us.

so, i listened to my mama instincts and decided he needed some quiet time at home. his little brother, lion went to preschool, so that means we get to have some quality time together. it meant, he got to be at home and play without the disruption of his brother and enjoy some much needed peace for a change.


we played trains as soon as DH and lion left this morning. then we had a snack.
then he decided to write a book.


this is the kind of thing that really gets me as a mother; his thirst for learning and creating is incredible. everyday he works on various craft projects, writing and creating. it is amazing! at school his class is large, and although his teachers are wonderful, i’m sure it’s hard for bear to accomplish what he wants. and, the school days are long, so by the time we get home, eat snack, there is a small window for activities before it’s time for dinner.

today, after watching him, talking with him and just being with him, i know this was just what he needed. what i needed.
a simple day at home can really do wonders for one’s mental health.

i am his mama and i know what’s best for him. 

xo, mama lola

i can finally exhale.

my mothering is changing pace. the boys are growing so quickly, which means their needs and my time can be used differently. 



i have been slowly, but carefully purging, purging, purging through our things. i have wiped away many tears as i have sorted through several large tote bins of baby items, deciding what to sell, what to pass along and what to keep. the toys are easy to get rid of. the clothes, not so much. 

it takes a while to purge, as i look at the clothes, hold them, touch them to my cheek, remembering each of my boys wearing these tiny sleepers and onesies so many moons ago. it is so hard to remember accurately those hazy, baby days. and, i think that’s how it’s supposed to be, because although there are so many wonderful moments of firsts and unbearable cuteness, the sleepless nights, bouts of teething and gas issues, the awful bum rashes and epic amounts of laundry i did in those days, was quite simply exhausting. and, quite frankly not worth remembering.

my days felt never ending, long and often quite lonely. 


and, then all of a sudden we were out of baby-hood and in the throws of kid-hood. we are done with teething and diapering, never to have to endure those constant sleepless nights with a fussy baby, taking turns pacing and me trying to breastfeed in those dark, quiet hours of the night again.
i did try to drink up the time with my babies; i would stare at the details of their tinyness; the folds of skin, the eye lashes that went on forever and the fingers that gripped mine so tightly. i tried to enjoy the quiet moments, even if they were short lived.

our awesome bumbleride queen B stroller is still sitting in the basement. i am so unsure what to do with it. we used the heck out of, especially when bear was little. i love that stroller and was so pleased with it’s purchase. i didn’t drive when bear was born, so this stroller got us everywhere safely and efficiently. i called it my SUV, because it has four large rubber tires chosen to help navigate through the snowy winters of canada. now, all the strollers have them, but 6 years ago we paid a lot of money for those big ol’ tires!

we also done with slings, wraps and other carriers. i spent hours and hours of my life carrying someone on my side, front or back! my body ached at the end of the day, but again, i am glad i endured.



it feels as though we have survived and conquered the first stage of parenting. i am proud of the parenting choices we made. especially the co-sleeping, cloth diapering and extending breastfeeding. although, in hind-sight i think i should have allowed myself some more leeway considering i had a tumour in my head and then eventually had to recover from that surgery. but, my beliefs were so strong about the kind of parent i wanted to be, that veering away from them felt selfish. those early years are so brief and short lived, that i couldn’t say “oh, when i am feeling more energized i will breastfeed more”. 

today, i have a three year old and five year old. my kids are doing awesome and i am finally feeling as though we have found peace at our house. the boys have transitioned into the new school/ pre-school routine so smoothly, which is kind of unheard of at our house. and, because my worry for them has decreased i have been able to think about myself more. which, is empowering and wonderful!

i can finally exhale from those tense, busy, exhausting baby days and get ready for mothering these early childhood days, which i’m sure will be just as exhausting, just different!

aaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

what stage are you at in your mothering/ parenting?

xo, mama lola

lion’s first day of preschool!

i have been meaning to sit down and write about my littlest guy, but with all this back to school business, it’s been hard to find time.

but, new chapters have started up this september for lion. he is 3 years old now and started at his new montesorri preschool last week. i was a little nervous, because i didn’t want to push him into anything he wasn’t ready for. and, i was remembering the tears his older brother shed at those dreaded drop-off’s in the morning when he was in preschool. bear always clung to my thighs and had a hard time acclimatizing; apparently he didn’t talk for the first few months!

mandatory first day of school picture! lion was a little tired.


that being said, i wanted to at least provide lion an opportunity to have something of his own in his life. our life is quite busy with bear’s school; drop-off’s, pick-up’s, committee things, and so on. 

i was quite nervous on lion’s first day. we had to drop off bear at his first day of senior kindergarten, before we could get to preschool. lion and i packed his backpack with a few important items before leaving the house. this step was very important to him, especially since his big brother was lending him his old backpack. and, big kids have backpacks, not babies.

so, we arrived at the school, walked in to the school hand-in-hand with dear hubby and lion just walked into his classroom, all non-chalantly, and he waved good bye! he was so eager to start playing with his new friends that saying good-bye was completely forgotten! i called him back for a quick hug and a kiss, then off he went. no tears, no apprehension, no anxiety, no worries! at least not from him.

standing proudly in front of the cubbies!


i on the other hand, went into what oprah called the “ugly cry”. i sobbed and sobbed in the car, tears streaming down my cheek. i was bursting with pride, but also feeling the bittersweet twinges of reality : my kids were growing faster than i could keep up!

two-and-a-half hours later when i went to pick up lion, he was all smiles! he gave me a huge hug with a sloppy wet kiss! he was excited to tell me about his morning, and i was so thrilled to share this moment with him. he sounded so mature, well as mature as a three year old can, as he told me about the puzzles he worked on and the painting he painted. the best part was that i could see that he was feeling proud and good about himself for enjoying his first morning at preschool!

i’m not sure if i could feel more proud of him!
how did your first days back at school go?

xo, mama lola

fun vegetarian lunch ideas!

i know many kids have already returned back to school. my eldest goes back next week, and to prepare i have collected some healthy, fun lunch ideas! my bear gets easily distracted from eating, so i’m hoping if i change things up a little and create little fun surprises, then maybe he’ll be more inclined to eat. we’re vegetarian and his school is a nut-free, waste-free zone, so i want to make sure he’s getting everything he needs in a day with these restrictions in place!
i guess only time will tell!

how do you get your kids to eat their school lunches?

it’s so easy to always make the same thing for lunch. i love these ideas, because it shows that if you think a little out of the box you can really get creative!

here’s what to think about:

  • presentation is key; it’s not just about fun shapes, think brisght colours too
  • hitting the oh-so important food groups
  • cutting things into smaller, bite-sized portions
  • don’t forget about drinks too
  • investing in good BPA-free containers that are easy for kids to open and close
  • don’t forget to label all the pieces of the lunch sets


sooooooooooooooo…. here we go!

 
 

make your own sushi from bear & lion

(i think the bread actually has meat inside, but you could easily substitute with hummus or cream cheese.)
 

healthy choices from i pack lunch

vegan club sandwich from healthy. happy. life.

roasted tomato grilled cheese from the wimpy vegetarian

falafel & tzatziki from peas and thank-you

pizza pops from bear & lion

vegan sweet potato, coconut milk and sweet chili ravioli from  reclaiming provincial

christmas cactus from organized bites

coming up soon… hot vegetarian school lunch ideas!
perfect for cool fall or chilly winter days!
xo, mama lola

a wonderful post on breastfeeding!

i don’t often do this, but i wanted to share a very specific post by another blogger with you. it’s about breastfeeding. there is so much information out there, but as i remember my days as a nursing mama, i distinctly loved hearing about other women and their own experiences with breastfeeding. even the “easiest” of babes can have various problems or concerns when it comes to nursing and then there are babes who need extra care of attention and mama needs extra skills to get things flowing properly! (like the pun?) 


even though, i’ve been a non-nursing mama for almost a year now, i am still keen on spreading good information to new mama’s when i stumble upon it!


kritstin at one organic mama wrote a post about her experiences as a nursing mama. but, her post is so good one, as in REALLY GOOD… she shares her stories, she has a great list of resources that are totally my kind of resources (kelly mom, dr. sears etc)

this her post: BREASTFEEDING REFLECTION 

read it!

*  *  *  *  *  *  *
just a little fun story to share: when bear about a year old, facebook was giving lots of mum’s i knew trouble for posting pictures of themselves nursing their cute babes. i too had picstures removed and received warnings. so one sunday afternoon, i decided to send emails to various news services and programs i thought should know about this. the local CTV station contacted me within hours, asked to come to our home and interview me. i was on that evening news report, ranting about facebook’s sexist policies!

anyhow…. here are a few of our family’s breastfeeding pics…

when i would nurse baby-lion, bear would often sit with me a nurse one of his babes or friends.

this was taken on bear’s first birthday. i was a sobbing mess. for some reason i thought because he was now one i would or should stop breastfeeding or that he would stop! boy was i wrong!

here’s lion nursing after a play crisis. he ate chalk and the barfed, but nothing a little of mama’s milk couldn’t soothe.

happy day to all!
xo, mama lola

a quick vent or release more like it…

it is 10:30pm on tuesday evening. i am sitting alone in my living room. lion is fast asleep upstairs in bed. but, bear and dear hubby are sitting in the waiting area at our local hospital’s emergency department.


you see, this evening around 9pm, bear came downstairs and complained of a painful eye. earlier in the day he said they were dripping and watery, so i didn’t make him wear his glasses. i looked at his eyes when he came downstairs and the one was quite red and looked irritated. he was scared and whimpering about not wanting drops in his eyes!

we gave him advil. we gave him some polysporin eye drops. i put cortisone cream on the eczema that has flared up all over his body. but nothing seemed to help. in fact he seemed to getting worse. dear hubby called our doctor’s on-call service and once your call is registered you have to wait for them to call back. it usually takes about 20-40 minutes.
we waited, but bear was getting more agitated so we gave him benadryl. and like magic, his tension eased, he was able to open his eyes and the pain slowly diminished. we gave him a bowl of ice cream to distract him and started looking at maps online related to our up-coming road trip.

the nurse from the on-call service phoned back and after an extensive discussion recommended that bear be taken to the hospital to be checked out.

wait, WHAT???

it is now about 9:45pm, so we decide to listen to the advice. dear hubby packs up a backpack with a few dinosaur books, water and an apple, then out the door they go. we have no idea how long the wait is at the hospital, or how long this night may turn into!

the timing of this allergic reaction could not be worse. on wednesday mornings dear hubby gets up early and hops on a commuter bus to the big city. the bus leaves at 5:30am. and tomorrow, i have my annual appointment with my brain tumour team where i will receive results from my recent MRI and blood work. the appointment is in the big city and i have been a nervous wreck about it the last few days. and, we are leaving for a 2 week road trip on friday and shoudl be packing!

wait, WHAT???

when it rains it shits, right?

it is now 10:45pm and i am sitting alone in a messy living room with camping gear all over the place. i cannot focus on anything practical. dear hubby has sent me a few texts, but really they are just sitting and waiting at the hospital. i feel so completely confused and helpless. we have no idea what triggered this reaction and even though this particular reaction seems to have been quite slow to erupt  who knows what will happen next time. and since we don’t know what caused this reaction how can we possible prevent it from happening another time?!

ok… must stop brain from over thinking and distract myself with packing or something.will update once i receive more info.

***********************************************
july 17th, 2013.
wednesday AM now. 

bear seems fine. he still has is rash, and the doctor at the ER wasn’t sure if it was related to the allergic reaction or not. bear’s eyes seem pretty sensitive today and he’s super tired, but he’s not in pain or anything, so i’m relieved.

but, i have my BIG annual appointment with my tumour team today so i am a frazzled mess! wish me luck!!!
xo, mama lola

my baby is no longer a baby.

as i write this, tears are welling up in my eyes. 
birthday’s make me a bit sappy, especially my children’s. 

it is hard to believe that my littlest guy, my lion, was born three years ago! his birth was a nightmare and i won’t get into that now, you can read more HERE and HERE. this post is about the happiness he brings. lion’s short life has been full of adventures, laughter and love. he has brought such joy into our life and i am so honoured to be his mama. 

lion is such a sweet little boy. his big blue eyes melt hearts where ever he goes, and his little voice is hard not to smile at. he is such a character; he loves to give kisses, loves to do puzzles and LOVES to help in the kitchen. his energy is always positive, even after a fall he typically bounces back quickly and says “me okay” . lion is very easy going, always keen to participate in whatever is happening, rarely throws a tantrum but, watch out as there is always a slight glint of mischievousness in his eyes!

it has dawned on me that i really do not have babies anymore. lion has been toilet trained (night & day) for almost a year, we took his soother away at 18 months, so there is nothing left from his baby days, which really emphasizes his big kid-ness. he is able to express himself, creating opportunities for adorable conversations. his speech is still a bit slurred, and now he has started stuttering, but i think with time they too will be outgrown. every day he is gaining more independence by striving for those big goals; having a big brother is very motivating and pushes him to try new things that maybe he wouldn’t otherwise. 

i am so proud of my wee lion.
he is loving, kind, smart and super silly.
he lives every day to it’s fullest effortlessly. 
he is so gentle and fierce, all rolled into one awesome little boy.


happy birthday to my sweet lion.
i love you.

(sniff, sniff… gotta go find some tissues now!)

xo, mama lola

this moment.

as inspired by souleMama; one photo from our week, no words, only an image to sum up our time as a family. one that captures a moment in time and is a visual reminder of where we were at this time in our lives. 


father’s day morning at the cottage. xo


i would love it if you left a link to your { this moment }. 

xo, mama lola
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