connecting with nature.


it’s a cool, rainy day here and we are taking cover inside. lion is happy playing with his cars, so i am happy to sit and write.

weather doesn’t always deter us from going outside, though. i try to teach the kids that being outside regardless of the temperature or what’s falling form the sky, can be really fun! we’ve got great gear for all possible weather experiences and the kids are usually game to go outside. in fact throwing on rubber boots, rain pants and a rain coat is considered exciting!

all weather comes with it’s own pro’s and con’s. too much of anything is exhausting, unpleasant and possibly even dangerous. after our long winter (we’ve even had snow twice this may!) we are ready to strip down and frolic without all the layers of warmth!


recently we went on a great hike. i love that both kids are at an age where they will walk on their own without any carriers or equipment. we brought one small backpack with snacks and water, and a change of undies and shorts for lion. although, he is completely toilet trained, he still mastering things like peeing on a tree, which during our hike he failed miserably. 

i enjoy hiking with my kids. there are moments when we see something interesting, like strange fungi growing on trees that provides a window for a wonderful conversation about how and why the fungi is growing there. we heard frogs in the marsh, so we stood in silence listening to the noises, and our stillness then allowed us to hear a range of other sounds. 


my children, all children thrive in nature. it doesn’t have to be a lot or for long periods of time, but by providing kids opportunities to connect with nature is so vital in their development. i blogged about a book a few years ago that really made an impression on me; “last child in the woods” by richard louv. the book discusses the importance of nature in children’s lives and the growing deficit of the natural world in their daily experiences. you don’t have to go to the woods or on a long hike to witness the wonder of nature, all you need is a tree or a patch grass, and the life you can discover there is incredible. all you have to do is look, and teach children to look; to stop and to observe and use their senses to connect with the natural environment that surrounds them. 

as people we tend separate ourselves from the natural world, creating boundaries between us and other living creatures. but, we are in fact a part of the environment we live in, even though we drive cars and live in houses and eat processed foods. the growing disconnect between humans and nature is frightening to see. that’s why dear hubby and i try to connect our kids to their environment, their food, the worms in our garden and the frogs during a hike. 


being in nature is good for our physical health, our spiritual health, our emotional health and our mental health. mother nature has a way of healing and calming us down and grounding us even in the most heightened of emotion.

how do you like to connect your kids with nature?

xo, mama lola

~ earth day ~

earth day crafts, kids crafts, earth day

earth day around the corner.

how will you discuss this important day with your kids?below, i have compiled 10 fun projects you can do with the kids. projects that will hopefully initiate some kind of dialogue about planet earth, how we must care for and why. some of the links i included are from adult artists (like the painter rocks and sticks), but kids can have a blast looking for the materials and then decorating them. this list is just a starting point, like a brainstorming session.

 
earth day, crafts, earth day crafts, kids crafts, natural ctafts

1. stained glass earth [ mom on time out]
2. tree craft fro toddlers [momma rambles]
3. glitter earth handprint [apples and abc’s]
4. painter sticks [molly goldberg]
5. stick wreath [sf girl by bay]
6. painted rocks [sand between my toes]
7. living centre piece [live renewed]
8. gnome house [the gardeners anonymous blog]
9. terranium tutorial [pieced pastimes]

 
jenny, over at the jenny evolution has compiled a fantastic collection of books  (HERE) to get the discussion about earth day rolling with your kids. “the giving tree” is on her list; it’s a book i can’t read to the kids without crying! gets me every time!
 

 

 
 
 
to me, earth day is not just about the planet, but also focussing on the details that make up our beautiful round home. the trees, the soil, the sticks, the worms, the varying weather and so on. 

EVERY DAY SHOULD BE EARTH DAY!

 

 

feel free to add links in the comment section to your earth day themed projects! 
i would love to see what you have been or will be up to!

xo, mama lola

my new [zen] journey.

mothering, parenting, fathering, caring whatever you call it, whatever it looks like to you, is tough stuff!



i’ve been quite open about my constant, internal battles as a mama. i’ve shared my struggles with the ever present weight of my own mother’s guilt, my feelings of total and complete inadequacy, my ever present worries about not being enough to my kids and then there’s the whole regrets boat that i’ve jumped aboard!


but this year, 2013, was or i mean is going to be one of change for me. things have already shifted, but to make big changes, one has to be patient and that’s where i’m at. you can read more about my new year’s resolutions HERE and my soul searching thoughts HERE.

a friend of mine recommended a fantastic book after reading one of my recent new year posts. it’s by karen maezen miller and it’s called Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood. check out her blog HERE. (and, WOW mamaA, talk about being exactly what i need right now.)

this book is hitting all of my struggles bang on. BANG ON. karen describes the yes common, but the deeply personal pains it takes to be a mama. the way all of our pre-existing boundaries and expectations are being pushed and twisted and morphed into something unexpected and unknown. the way us mother’s are placed on opposing sides of this mamahood thing just by the philosophy we choose to follow, creating negative competition when we should be supporting each other. the way, even after newborns grow into infancy and infants into toddlers, our role and job as a mother never goes away, there is no option to quit.

it’s the kind of book i should have purchased for myself, because all i want to do is sit there with a highlighter and mark the things i feel are true to me. 

who can’t relate to this:

“Exhaustion made me brittle. A silent rage billowed and foamed against the sudden loss of everything mine- my body, my time, my space and, my life. “

“… but where exactly does this thing called a mistake take place? Only in our mind- our judging, critical, labelling mind. The mind that provides the nonstop narrative to our lives: “There you go again. Can’t get it right. You’ll never do it. Big mistake.”


i am not a religious person, but i did relate to the spiritual aspect of this book. i should mention that karen is a zen teacher. she has studied buddhism and meditation, and shares those teachings in this book. the calm, wise words she speaks are very profound. the clarity with which  i read this book, says to me that my struggles that attribute to my children and my mothering are not really about either of those things. 
my struggles come from within me. 
they are about me and nobody else.

and that’s why, like i’ve written before, i am on a mission to introduce more self care into my life. take time for myself and slowly make myself a priority in my life and my family’s life. 

i highly, highly recommend this book to all mother’s (and father’s or caregivers). the advice and knowledge karen shares is relevant, practical and given in such unpatronizing way that it is easy to hear. this is a book for parents in all stages of their journey. i will now have to hit the local bookstore and buy my own copy so i can highlight the bits that spoke most to me.



*the pictures are of tulips given to me by a dear old friend who came to visit. they brought such life and positive energy into our daily drudgery! thanks, hon!






xo, mama lola

kids books.

the kids weren’t gifted any books this christmas, which is kinda odd (well, dear hubby and i bought them a couple of books). point being, i’m looking for some book suggestions for my kids. lion is 2.5 yrs and bear will be 5 yrs in about a month (what?!).
i’m looking for interesting books in fiction, non fiction, whatevs!



i prefer reading books about non-branded characters, books that are thoughtfully written and full of pictures that are interesting and beautiful to look at. when i’m reading to my kids, i want to inspire them with the words they are hearing and with the images they are looking at. it always astonishes me how many poorly written kids books get published. we happen to own some of those terrible books, but i try to sneakily “lose” some of them when the kids aren’t looking!

so, do you have some fave’s you enjoy reading to your kids? 
a favourite author? or book?
what do your kids like at bedtime?

we do hit the local library often, and enjoy a large selection from there, but i do like to add some good titles to the children’s book selection as well. we’re book people. we have bookshelves full of books, collecting lots of dust. it’s just what we do!

xo, mama lola

kid’s are worth it!

i’m reading this amazing parenting book right now, by barbara coloroso called kids are worth it. i may have talked about this book before, but i’m reading it and have been having some pretty serious (as oprah would say) A-HA moments.


the kids and i have been on a pretty smooth groove recently (knock on wood), but i think this is the perfect time to be learning about how to be a more consistent parent. coloroso’s ideas and suggestions realistically are nothing new, but she really emphasizes parenting in a way that does not attack or minimize a child’s dignity, but instead supports mutual respect. as followers of the attachment parenting philosophy, coloroso’s suggestions go right along with those values.


she is strongly opposed to rewards and bribery, which i know is way of parenting we’ve all fallen back on. i know we have. but, when she delves into why it’s not an effective way to parent, it has made me tweak my methods at home. 



for example, lion is potty training and has pooped and peed in the potty without any incentives other than a few kind praises from us and cheer or two. he has not received any candy or stickers or treats of any kind. he’s learning to use the potty without bribery or rewards; so different from how bear learned. it’s been an easier process, one with less power struggles and fighting, he’s doing it, because he realizes it’s time to learn. we have walked by the potty only to discover it has pee in it, which means lion (who turned two on sunday) has been going independently! 



i am also trying to teach bear that some things he has to do, for the only reason that it just has to be done. things like tidying up toys or other messes, doing things to help out when asked; there are no rewards, no treats, no gushing mama showering him with empty compliments. and it too is working. it’s kind of amazing!



i would recommend this book to all parents. doesn’t matter if you follow attachment parenting or not. we all sometimes need to be inspired on this rocky road of parenting!


*****
saw this lovely sun dial at the university’s arboretum.



we’re going camping today. looking forward to it and counting down to take off!
what are you up to this weekend?

xo, mama lola

"bloom" the book and what i really think.

a MAMA friend of mine lent me blogger kelle hampton’s memoir “bloom”. i’ve been following her blog, enjoying the small things, enjoying the small things, which hit the big time after the birth story of nella hit the inter-web-world. nella was born with down syndrome, which was a surprise to kelle and her husband. her blog tells the tales of their daily life as a family. i am drawn to her blog, not for the writing, but the photographs she takes.

so, the book confuses me. first it’s a memoir, but kelle is young as are her kids, so whatever wisdom she has to share i find to be laden with uncomfortable cliches. plus, her view and experience as a mama of a child with down syndrome is so very new and clean. nella is barely two and has not had to deal with cruel peers and the giant bureaucracy of the school system, which i imagine is a difficult mountain to climb and then there’s the filler bits. there are obvious sections of the book where she was encouraged to expand and so she goes into these long dull, uninteresting tangents that are there to fill pages, rather than have any meaningful purpose. 


while writing this entry i googled her book and found this book review by a mama blogger who has a child living with down syndrome, as well. it’s worth a read as she is clearly not a kelle fan, but she is able to articulate why and i have to say it was enlightening. it is easy to get caught up in the kelle brand as she calls it.


kelle also seems to live in a narcissistic world. kelle’s life has a very perfect flavour, where parties are themed, adventures glitzy and everything is laden with a shiny, materialistic coating of plastic and american consumerism. she herself  is always looking so perfect and lovely in her photos, with her lipstick red lips, freshly cut bangs and funky high heels. i am always left wondering when does she have the time to primp herself up with two kidlets at home and no hired help.

and finally, in this book she refers to a doctor and one of nella’s therapists as hotties, which felt inappropriate and let’s face it, if brett (her husband) had written a book and described a female nurse as being hot, there would have been consequences. 


basically, it’s not that great. 
it’s a quick, easy read, but there a hundreds of other books i would recommend instead.
what did you think? have you read it? do you follow kelle’s blog?





xo, mama lola

way up in a tree!



we LOVE this little gem of a book!


the renowned canadian writer, margaret atwood wrote a delightful chidlren’s book called “up in a tree” (1978). our boys love this book and bear can read it to his little brother now. when we went to the park with friends on friday, the big kids found a tree they could climb on their own and it reminded me of this book.



look at these cute dudes up in a tree! i have always encouraged my kids to climb, because it is helpful skill to have and i think it has helped shape bear’s confidence. 

the missE enjoyed her first spring swing and loved it. look at all the kids! Wweeeee!!!

today it has been raining all day, but nobody seems to mind. last week we played outside a lot and yesterday was a super busy day for all of us, so it’s nice to take it easy for a change. 

are you enjoying a lazy sunday as well?
xo, mama lola

goodnight moon.


“Goodnight room. Goodnight moon. Goodnight cow jumping over the moon. Goodnight light, and the red balloon…”


goodnight moon” is one of the favourite bedtime books at our house. i love the slow rhythm of the book and the simplicity of the lines. i love the illustrations and the details in them.

our bedtime routine has been the same for years now. dear hubby and bear were solid in the evening routine and when lion was born, he jumped into the rituals as well. first there’s a bath, then iltapala (bedtime snack), then hugs and kisses for me and upstairs for teeth brushing. the boys each choose a couple of books and the the guys all snuggle on the bottom bunk for stories. 

bear crawls up to his top bunk where lion joins him for brotherly hugs and kisses and then it’s lights out. lion needs someone to stay with until he is asleep. being in the bottom bunk makes it tempting for our littlest one to get up. 

dear hubby and i have gotten back to the habit of reading in bed before sleeping, which i find is the most relaxing thing to do. i have a tall pile of books on my night stand of books i want to read. they include parenting books, novels and one autobiography. 
what’s your evening routine like?

goodnight. sweet dreams.
hyvää yötä. kauniita unia.

xo, mama lola
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