snowflake window garland.


snowflake-garland

last week was super warm here in SW ontario. it was even, what some might call HOT, on some days reaching +20c!!!

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on the weekend the boys and i decided to help mother nature along by enticing her with our very own snowflakes! we folded our square papers, and cut, cut, cut. we made different sizes and oohed n’ aahed over the different patterns we were each creating. 

we pressed the snowflakes in a heavy book overnight, then i carefully taped them onto white sewing thread. i tied the end of the thread to a pretty weathered branch i found in our shed. (i collect all sorts of natural treasures like sticks, rocks, acorns, leaves, feathers… ) and, voila… a snowflake garland is made. DH wired the branch from an existing curtain rod. 

the project itself is very easy, but the impact it has is striking, lovely and to our pleasure inspired mother nature to throw some snow our way and drop the temperatures A LOT! it sure does feel like winter now!

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xo, mama lola

costa rica : our family vacation

we went on an absolutely magnificent family vacation to costa rica in october.

it was a long time in the making, we had been talking about a vacation for a while, but life just seemed to get in the way. DH changed jobs several times in the last couple of years, we sold and bought a house; big things that make vacationing a little tricky!

> WARNING : this blog post contains millions of family vacation photo’s <<<

waiting before the sun had even risen for our flight at the airport.

not much to do or look at as shops and cafes were just opening up. i did enjoy a tiny cappuccino for $5! yikes!

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the view from our room! not bad at all!

looking at this scenery each day helped calm our everyday nerves, recharge our batteries and helped us really enjoy each other’s company.

dreams las mareas costa rica

but, this october we finally hopped on a plane, flew south to the HOT and HUMID lush land of sloths and volcanoes! we stayed at a beautiful all-inclusive resort called dreams las mareas. we have never stayed at one before so we had nothing to compare the experience to, but regardless… IT WAS AMAZING!!!

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our room was big and bright, with an amazing balcony with a hot tub! we never used the tub, except to dry our wet bathing suits on it! every afternoon after spending the morning on the beach and poolside we would have a siesta during the heat of the day. and, boy-o-boy was it hot!!!

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the resort had a lovely beach on the pacific ocean.

we would head down daily after our delicious breakfast, with towels and books under our arms. at 10am bar service started and the lovely waiters would bring us all sorts of drinks to the beach!

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there were dogs at the beach. they were super social wanting to lounge with you. often they would crawl under various people’s chairs to hide from the sun and rest in the cool sand. they never barked, were threatening, begged for food… they just chilled with the tourists!

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the waves were big, strong and fun! the boys would jump into the waves for hours and hours. there were little fish all along the shallow shores and massive grey pelicans would dive-bomb into the water to catch them. it was impossible to get a picture of this, but it was wonderfully entertaining to watch.

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did i mention how beautiful and lovely our resort was!?

it was designed in a way with lots of lush greenery to create an intimate feel, separating various pools and restaurants. it was so easy to relax as we had nothing to worry about. our biggest concerns were when and where to eat!

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and the plants. the flowers. the trees. the foliage.

i couldn’t stop admiring it all. they were planted in a way to break-up sight lines, so it was easy to forget you were at a resort.

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this was one of the outdoor seafood restaurants we enjoyed for lunch. it’s hard to tell from the photo, but we were all dripping in sweat, kids included. but, it was fun to sit outside with the birds and lizards eating our yummy food. DH and i enjoyed all sorts of fancy alcoholic drinks, below i am devouring a strawberry daiquiri! 

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did i mention the beautiful fauna in costa rica?

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we went on one day trip. it was one of the funnest days we have ever had. the four of us were joined by two newly-wed couples who had just married 4 days before!!! it was so great listening their stories of their wedding days, how they had met, their future plans and so on. it gave me much clarity and reassurance on how far my sweet DH and i have come in our ten years of marriage.

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our day trip included zip lining!

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the kids were the first ones to go! lion went with a guide as he is so tiny still, but bear went on his own.

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it was super hard to take videos and pictures while ziplining! in fact i was the only one brave (stupid) enough to bring my camera and phone with me. because, i didn’t drop anything i am so glad i did!

there were 9 separate lines that whizzed along. we went over waterfall, rivers, jungle, fields with cows… it was completely unreal! i could be heard over the hills screaming with fear and excitement!

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earlier we zipped over this incredible waterfalls. we came here to swim, cool off and relax. we even walked under the falls, which was a loud, slippery but another amazing experience. even the kids ventured under there with us!

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we saw a sloth! and it moved! and it was much faster than we imagined! it was pretty high up in the tree, so getting a reasonable picture was impossible, but i took the one below for proof.

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below DH and lion can be seen relaxing in the volcanic hot spring. the water was very hot, but after ziplining it felt really good.

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after our long, adventurous day we had quiet ride back to the resort. quiet as in people slept, but the bumps were loud. they call the bumpy roads a costa rican massage! during our drive we saw lots of new infrastructure being built, things like more windmills and many improvements to the roads. the northern part of the country, where we were, is not as developed or touristy.

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thanks andre &  melanie and eric & kristy for spending the day with us and filling it with all your newly-wed love!  our new big nickle and georgia peach friends… how cute are they?

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this giant chessboard was a huge hit with our family, night n’ day!

the kids loved playing against their dad!

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on one day we decided to head up the hills to the nearest town. we were told that a local bus came by the resort. well, something got lost in the conversation between DH and a hotel employee, and the four of ended up running to try to catch the bus at the main gate of the resort. unfortunately the main gate was about a kilometer from the actual hotel, so we decided to run in the hopes to catch the bus we had missed t the hotel.

even though it was nine in the morning, it was already super hot n’ humid. 

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we ran and ran down this tiny road… that wee speck just passed the blue sign in the photo is DH, who ran ahead in the hopes to hold the bus for us. but, we still missed it. we walked back to the hotel, very disappointed and sweaty.

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after some discussion and problem solving we decided to splurge and took a taxi into town.

the road was windy and bumpy, but i was a lovely way to see the country. our driver was chatty, speaking english well telling us all sorts of things about his country. we were winding up the hills and mountains up, up, up.

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look at that view!

takes your breath away, doesn’t it?

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one of the first things we discovered while in town was a skate park! how cool?!dsc_0145 dsc_0151

the town was small. we were there to find souvenirs, which we didn’t find. but, we did buy some local coffee from the grocery store, which i have been savoring here at home.

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we found the kids these fun safari-style hats that said costa rica on them!

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back at the hotel we decided to have japanese for dinner.

we called it our family date night. first we went to the special lounge in teh main building that only privileged customers were allowed into. we’re still not quite clear how we managed to get those perks, but we did and we enjoyed them. the bartenders were hilarious showing all sorts of tricks to the kids and making fancy drinks for them.

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the chef below was learning the fancy tricks of the teppanyaki style of japanese cooking. it was pretty fun! 

oh and the sky. 

always beautiful.

always different.

always full of surprises!

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time to go.

after of week of relaxation, good food, swimming, sun and epic thunderstorms we were ready to say good-bye to the lovely people of costa rica and head home. we all missed our kitty-cats, our own beds and the cool breezes of october in ontario!

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HELLO TORONTO!

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if you have ever considered going to costa rica, GO! 

so much to see and do. a very beautiful country with lovely people.

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xo, mama lola

hi there. again. i think.

i have a had a really tough year.

well, 2 years actually. tough in a way that has made it hard to come to my blog and share. tough to get creative. tough all around.

i’m not quite ready to get into the details of the rough days in this super public place, even though this is my place to share anything.  for now, i am choosing privacy for the time being on the me side of things, but am hoping to increase posts with the family side of things. cuz life has been BUSY!!! and when i say busy, i mean BUSY!

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i don’t even know where to begin!

i’ll start here… my last post from march was about the volunteer work i was doing with the refugees fleeing war torn syria. sadly, my volunteering ended with the syrian newcomers project quite abruptly at the beginning of spring. the wheels of bureaucracy had a very specific direction they wanted to turn, which meant the clothing warehouse had to closed.  all of us volunteers were caught off guard by the news, but so it goes, sometimes you just have to go with the flow.  i am proud of the work i did, of the men and women i worked with to sort mountains of clothing and household items donated by the wonderful people of our city.

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and then there’s the big, fun news…

we sold our beloved peppermint patty in the spring and bought a new house closer to the kids school, on a quieter street. we were sad to leave our first wee house, but are thrilled with the new name-yet-to-be-decided house that sits in a better location, providing more space and the thing that the kids love the most is that they each get their own room!

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we moved to the new place in july and enjoyed our summer getting to know the house. it came with a super awesome hot tub, which we have put to good use a lot since moving in. we haven’t made any cosmetic changes yet, opting to live here first to figure out what exactly what we need vs. ant to do.  our walls are currently all various shades of brown (poo brown) so we will slowly start by changing those. and when i say we, i mean me. hahaha!

more details of the new house to come for sure.

 

a few days after moving went on a fantastic canoe camping trip to killarney provincial park.

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it was such a great trip. yes, there were tears, but there were mostly smiles and jokes and fun times. camping like this is an enormous amount of work for all, but we came together as a family and conquered the bugs, showing them we could have a blast no matter how much they bit us! we’re already making plans for another canoe camping trip for next summer.

school started in september for the boys. they are thrilled with their classes, enjoying school and their buddies so much these days. it really is such a satisfying sensation to watch your kids gain all sorts of new skills, absorbing knowledge and creating strong bonds with their peers.

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next up, coming soon…

pictures from out AMAZING family vacation to costa rica. we just got back late monday night and i am super pleased with the pictures i got. costa rica is such a beautiful country, rich with nature and the people there are super lovely. we stayed at an all-inclusive for the first time EVER, which felt like paradise. there was no meal planning to worry about only delicious restaurants to visit and taste test. we enjoyed beautiful fresh fruit and fresh baked sea food right from the sea! the service was incredible with staff always meeting our needs with a smile.

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costa rica is such a beautiful country, rich with nature and the people there are super lovely. we stayed at an all-inclusive for the first time EVER, which felt like paradise. there was no meal planning to worry about only delicious restaurants to visit and taste test. we enjoyed beautiful fresh fruit and fresh baked sea food right from the sea! the service was incredible with staff always meeting our needs with a smile.

here i am with my glorious sea salt parched hair, smudged mascara sucking back my super delish strawberry daiquiri! YUM!

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anyhow, i am hoping to get back to the swing of things here.

i know i have said that before, but maybe this time it will be my time for an actual comeback!!!

xo, mama lola

clarity : my kid was bullied.


fall, muskoka

i hope everyone had a lovely thanksgiving weekend.

we celebrated up at the cottage with family. we enjoyed the warm temperatures, sunshine and time together. but, this post is not about our weekend up in muskoka. it’s about the complexities of mothering, parenting and realities of school life for our kids

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remember a few weeks ago when i wrote about our struggles with the whole back-to-school transition. i shared how bear especially was having a hard time with things. well, after some subtle mama investigating, you know the kind where you pretend to be busy with something while asking questions about school, so as not place any obvious pressure on your kid. well, after a few minutes of this with bear it all came spilling out, he was being bullied. yes, two days into the new school year this kid who has been a problem in the past was at it again.

as the pieces fell into place, i understood where my kids “bad” behaviour was coming from. once in the safety of his own home he was unloading all of the stress and anxiety building up inside of him during the school day. obviously his little brother was an easy target and bore the brunt of the unleashing. my heart broke the more i thought about those first 10 days of grade 2 for him. of course as his mama i took on all kinds of guilt, about not protecting him better, not piecing things together sooner and just feeling guilty for his pain. 

after all the necessary conversations with teachers, the other child’s parents, bear’s behaviour completely changed. he was back to his old self. the kid who is  making up his own jokes, thinking about pokemon all day everyday and building his latest and greatest lego invention!   

i’m not sure the anti-bullying campaigns at schools are effective. bear has never been up front about problems with his peers; it is always something that as his parents we have had to figure out. the school is reluctant to get involved, although there seems to be a lot of the right things being said, it’s just that nothing is being done. from where i sit there is a lack of accountability, which is very frustrating. i don’t want to play the blame game, but if my kid was doing things to hurt other’s i would want to know. right?

things at school have calmed down for bear, i think. i have asked subtle questions and direct questions, i have shared my own experiences from my school days in the hopes to keep the lines of communication open with him. he is my anxious guy who takes things and carries them inside, blaming himself. i want so desperately to take away all of his hurt, but i know that it not realistic. i have to instead teach him to stand-up for himself not by hitting back, but by using words. i have to encourage him feel confident in telling a teacher or adult if he or someone else is being bullied. these are hard things. even for adults.

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fall, muskoka, look out

mothering is the hardest job i have ever taken on. it is not at all wheat i expected. the deep emotional twinges of pain and love i feel for my children is astonishing. although it is difficult and exhausting, i wouldn’t change any of it. i feel like the luckiest gal around with the best set of kids ever! and, i realize my opinion is quite biased, but so be it!

xo, mama lola

parenting slump: help me!


oh world, i need some mama help!

since the boys went back to school, chaos has taken over our house. there is an unreasonable amount of whining, crying, fighting, shouting, hitting, throwing, and it’s not just coming form the kids. i feel like i am at my wits end!

i know transitions are hard. 

i get it, i really do.

but, this transition of going back to school has been so terrible and i’m not sure how to make it better. bear is on an epic roll attacking his little brother with his fists, feet and words. he’s always going on about punching his brother and then he’ll actually do it! or, he’ll start doing this hair-raising cackle, laughing at everything that lion does, which doesn’t sound so bad, but we all know that the reaction the 5 year old gives is what makes this scene unbearable. i could go on with examples of the tense fighting at our house, but it think you get the idea.

lion on the other hand does not really pick on his brother, but takes bear’s example and has stopped listening. lion now talks back in his wee sassy voice and giggles uncontrollably when he knows he’s not listening. and, as the younger brother his reactions to his brother’s attacks are loud, huge and attention seeking. exhausting.

when we’re in our moments of chaos, i try not to show preference between the boys; usually they are both responsible for some aspect of the situation. i try to touch, hug my kids, because i think that’s often what they really need from adults. especially now that they are gone at school all day! obviously if someone has hit or done some creative name calling, i will enforce a consequence. but, as attachment parents i try to still remain attached to my kids, because they don’t know how to ask for that.

anyhow…

as i write this i can recognize that my kids need more structure, more defined expectations and clearer consequences, as they seem to be flailing through this major change from summer to school.

i guess i am struggling with how to incorporate those into our new routine. i want to get away from the counting to 3 thing; it feels young for my 7 year old. i want to say something once or twice and have the kids do it (for the most part). i realize they are children and will be slow, or will have to include a song or dance with the completion of some mundane task, it’s the repetition that drives me banana’s! i feel deeply disrespected, hurt and exhausted when all of this is happening. i have tried to sit down with the kids to talk to them about all of this, but all they do is laugh, interrupt me and then things escalate and, well things end poorly.

 

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if you have any parenting advice you want to enlighten me with, please do so! maybe you have read some great reads about this very topic (she says as she peeks at her own bookshelf to see if her barbara coloroso book is there! it is!)

 

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i know this will pass, but living in this chaos is stressful for all of us.

i want to change the present.

xo, mama lola

summah-mama burn out… i got it!


at the beginning of each summer season i have big plans on how to spend our time wisely, you know, sending kids to one day camp each for a week, visiting to the cottage, going on family camping trips, spending hours with friends laughing and enjoying uninterrupted play. i have visions of us running away from mosquitoes in the woods, jumping into the lake and swimming until our lips are blue. then enjoying time together in peace, while crafting something beautiful.

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well, we’ve done that.

a lot.

it wasn’t quite so romantic though.

 

there have been bumps along the road. we’ve all struggled in our own way.

what i struggle with is, maintaining any kind of self care for myself during our summer days. meaning, going to the gym regularly, blogging (again regularly), getting housework done (yup, again regularly) and so on, and so on. now let me clarify, doing housework isn’t a part of my daily self care routine, but getting stuff done around the house does keep my mind organized and sound! plus, if i don’t know where the wet bathing suits were left, then nobody will meaning chaos with ensue the next day!

having both kids around all day is exhausting to say the least. don’t get me wrong, we’ve had moments of fun at home but, often the boys revert back into their old bickering ways, antagonizing each other in every possible way! we went camping this passed weekend and DH said he loved our mini vacay, while i reminded him that a change in geography does not necessarily make a vacation for me. i am still with the kids, mothering, reminding, yelling, at them to stop fighting.

so now i am burnt out!

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i haven’t been to the gym in weeks, which is showing on my body, but mostly i can really feel it in my mental health. all those bad feelings come creeping back in, then the bad habits start all over again, first in very subtle ways… and then i just hate myself! it is such a terrible cycle i get caught in, even though it’s also so predictable and preventable.

i know i am not alone in this…

without wishing our summer away, i am going to keep on trucking, while trying harder to ensure that my needs are met as well. i am lucky to have a hubby who supports me in my self care, although i need to be more clear with him about what that means and how he can help specifically. 

i’ve been at this mothering thing for 7 years and i still struggle with making myself a priority!


 

p.s. more pics on my INSTAGRAM! check em out!

xo, mama lola

summer check in.


summer seems to be flying by!

the kids have enjoyed camps this week. bear was at the nature centre’s camp learning all about bugs and animals, while lion was at an arts camp experiencing the joys of drama, visual art and dance. both boys have been wiped out afterwards, which has been good. instead of fighting as much as usual, they have been looking for a bit more solitude at home colouring or reading after dinner. although, last night after dinner we got into some family soccer action which was a lot of fun!

today is friday and it has been raining ALL DAY! i wonder how the kids are doing at their camps. hopefully they still got outside for a bit!

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isn’t this picture gorgeous? i captured it on father’s day at the botanical gardens. just perfect. i have not done any editing to it!

this week i had my annual appointment in the big city regarding my pituitary gland and the removed tumour and hormones. truth be told, i’ve had a kind of a crummy year health wise. i have been experiencing all sorts of yucky things, which after a bunch online research has made me wonder if my hormones are out of whack! on wednesday i was told by my neurosurgeon that there was no signs of a new tumour growing, which is a huge relief! those tumours suck! big time! and, as i listed my symptoms that have arisen this year to my endocrinologist, she seemed to agree that more testing was needed.

i am at a point n my life where i just want to know what’s going on with my body. i AM NOT GOING CRAZY, something is not right, something is off kilter, something to too high or too low or too far to the right… or something. i’ve joined a bunch of groups on line to get more info about hormone deficiencies and pit tumours. it is amazing to me how so many people suffer and doctors just know or don’t care enough to explore more.

 

anyhow, the weekedn is soon upon us and i am looking forward to spending it with my family!

we have a new car to break in (yes, we FINALLY are getting rid of the rusty, crappy van), a new tent to practice setting up, a birthday party to attend and friends to visit with. 

xo, mama lola

one whole hand; five years!


we celebrated a sweet birthday here. lion turned 5 years old!

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it’s hard to believe he’s already 5. that’s five summer solstices, five earth days and soon to be five whole summers and five christmasses! 

this year i wasn’t as emotional about lion’s birthday, like i was last year. because his birthday is tightly woven to the traumas of my pituitary gland tumour, i often end up re-visiting those fears and pains of five years ago. but, this year, for some reason, i didn’t go to those dark corners of my memory as deeply. maybe because it’s been enough years, i’m not really sure. 

instead, i was able to celebrate and enjoy my little guy, his friends and our family at his party. the kids all received a water shooter upon arrival and we had a few wet games planned. there was lots of laughter, screaming and water every where!

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and then it was time for cake!

homemade ice cream cake to be exact! i will share the recipe and how to later. it’s super easy and super yummy, and perfect for a birthday party. i made some silly party animals as cake toppers for lion’s cake!

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and, on his actual birthday we had a special day that started with homemade waffles made by dad, a scooter ride on his new scooter and a fun trip to the humane society where we picked up the newest member of our family… meet leo peaches!

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on lion’s birthday we went out for dinner as a family to east side mario’s. the kids love it there, because they do a big song and show for your birthday there, which of course makes them feel super awesome! look at the treats lion got, three mini ice creams and a chocolate cake!

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that picture above is of pouting parents… sad cuz the kids are growing so fats! bah!

oh my heart. it is bursting with pride and love for this little boy. his delightful personality is fun to be with, while is sensitive soul is an inspiration to us all. his empathetic heart is so big and loving. he is working so hard to catch up to his brother, while trying to find his own self in this world. i feel very fortunate to have this little guy in my life, in my family.

and, now i am going to get emotional! haha…sob, sob!

xo, mama lola

summer, summer!

summer is officially HERE and the kids are done school on thursday … WOOHOO!

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summer holidays brings with it a new set of routines and feelings. the warm breezes inspire different play, the hot temperatures make us crave different foods and all of that tends to slow us down a bit. this summer i have not made as many plans, hoping to inspire a more relaxing, spontaneous summer for my kids. you know the kind where we hear about some fun event happening and just go, or hop on our bikes and decide to spend the day by the river catching bugs! 

we do have a family camping trip booked for killarney, which is said to be the most beautiful place in ontario. i am excited to experience it with the kids filling our days with hikes, swimming and whatever other adventures we can find. 

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as the kids get older, i think in their free time they need less scheduled structure, because they experience so much of it school. i remember my summers growing up in finland were days of play with my friends. we would get into complicated long games and spent hours outside climbing trees, biking and running. my friends and i would take our barbie’s and my little pony’s outside, creating elaborate adventures for them too. sometimes we would show up at someone’s house asking for food or a drink. i had a lot of freedom, which was really great.

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the world is different today. society is different.

but, i am keen to loosen the reigns and find ways for the boys to find independence. i want them to have fun. lots of fun this summer. and, i want to have fun too and the freedom to do some of my own things too!

HAPPY ALMOST SUMMER VACATION EVERYONE! 

xo, mama lola

cottage in may.

we were at the cottage in mid may and i am only now sharing pictures from that fun weekend.

we were there to open the cottage for another successful season of relaxation and nature.

the kids painted water colour paintings on the dock, because being in nature is a great place to get artistic. i think the calm and peace brings different inspiration than our messy art room! haha! plus, painting outside means you can get as messy as you like! 

a large tree had fallen last fall. so, DH sharpened the ol’chainsaw and started to cut it up. he was pretty happy about that job!

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the children love being at the cottage. they have lots of freedom to play and run around without parental involvement. there are rules about how close to water they can go and luckily they follow them well. we canoed around the bay, listening for birds and chipmunks. 

it was wonderful, cold, but wonderful!

do you have a cottage or camp you like to take your family to? i’d love to hear about it on the comments!

 

xo, mama lola
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