hiya, everyone!

it’s been a while since i’ve been here. almost a year.

i’ve been in a weird of dark place. a place that’s been hard to navigate.  a confusing place with lots of dark corners and dead ends. 

in the spring my life slowly started to turn around. well, not quite turn around as that sounds too drastic, but slowly shift towards the light again. i think i’ve at least found a place that’s a little brighter, where things are clearer. it’s a process and a work in progress, but there in positive momentum in my life.

 

finally.

again.

 

i have been busy with various things in the last year, one which i am super proud of; i have started making artsy, crafty things with my hands and selling them. it’s kinda a big deal in my world, as i have always thought that the things i made weren’t good enough. which then took me down that whole dark road to why bother.

i know it sounds confusing because so much of my blog has been about making things. but, i never really made things for other people, and certainly not to sell! i shared crafts i did with the boys when they were little and wee. i shared our recipes i made for dinner and holiday decorating aides that were simple, but pretty. everything was for other people. then last spring things changed, i found a little bit self confidence in a back pocket, i rallied support from my family and friends and then a wee local farmer’s market let me be a vendor! people LIKED what i was making and were willing to pay me their hard earned money! this blew me away, because i had always had this assumption that anyone can do this, my ability isn’t worthwhile…  

so, with my re-discovered creative self i am re-vamping bear & lion.

mama lola is back!

i am back to blogging. i will be sewing, daydreaming, creating, making, gluing, crafting, felting, photographing, selling, sharing my handmade items on here as well. there will also be pictures on instagram and facebook (go on over and follow me there as well!)

bear & lion is back up and running. i will slowly be adding things here, updating (bah, this part scares me as EVERYTHING is so freaking old), sharing and selling. it’s been a while since being in this space so please be patient with me! the tech side of my brain is covered in cobwebs and i may need to re-start it several times before i really find my groove!

so, WELCOME to all friends new & old.

 

xo, mama lola

http://bearandlionmama.com/2017/10/4516.html

syrian refugee project; why i’ve been MIA

i have been MIA from this space for a long time! it’s not something i am going to get into here, right now, because i have something pretty great to share with you instead!

something that i am totally & completely proud of!

one main reason i have been distracted from my blog is i have been volunteering for the syrian refugees arriving in our community soon. a local business man, jim estill, has sponsored 50 families! yes, that’s right 50 families, not 50 persons, 50 families! we don’t even know how many people are in each family, how old these people are or any of the details. we were told that the average size of a family is 7 members. this project is estimated to cost $1.5 million!

this what the warehouse looked like before the avalanche of donations arrived.

syrian refugee project, guelph

thank goodness this cardboard was laid down on the floor; my knees and feet will be forever grateful considering some days i have clocked almost 10, 000 steps before noon. i know this thanks to my fitbit!

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all of the furniture has been removed from our warehouse and transferred to another location providing much more space for the clothing we are sorting.

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i started volunteering in the new year. it was quite overwhelming when i first arrived, with enormous piles of clothing, stacks of bowls and plates and furniture. many volunteers at our location created kitchen starter packs which include plates, bowls, cutlery, cooking utensils. really just to get everyone started with the bare minimum of kitchen supplies. some people went out and generously purchased brand new cutlery! it is such a great feeling to see we also initially were sorting bedding, linens, towels and toys. these items have also been moved to different location, because really THERE IS SO MUCH STUFF! which is good, because it is hard to understand how much stuff people will actually need to start their lives all over again in canada.

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our location has now formally become the clothing distribution centre, which means the syrian newcomers will book appointments in order to come and choose clothing for themselves. we have clothing from size newborn to XXXL, in all shapes, colours, styles, textiles, patterns, textures and for every season. i have sorted through clothing looking for tears, holes, staining, ensuring the zippers and buttons work, that pockets are empty, hoods are attached and that the items are in general good condition. if things don’t look good enough for myself or my family, we chuck them. we bag the unwanted clothes and send it off to a company that resorts it, and eventually recycles the clothes. 

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all clothing is sorted into kids, men’s and women’s. the kids clothes are sorted further into boys and girls, and then into ages. dresses, skirts, blazers, suites and winter coats are all hung on rolly racks, while sweaters, blouses, t-shirts, pants, shorts, sleepware, scareves, gloves, mitts and hats are all packed into boxes.

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the above personal items have all been meticulously inspected for expiration dates, new packaging and all small electrical appliances and things have all been tested.

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i work with the loveliest of people from all walks of life, from all over the world. there are the regulars who come every day of which some work all day from 9am to 4:30pm. then there are people like me who come often, but only work one shift either from 9am to 12:30pm or 12:30pm to 4:30pm. then there are other’s who come when they can, which may not be often, but their help is necessary and needed. the work we do is not glamorous, in fact some days are mind numbingly dull, if weren’t for the other people there! we all suffer from various aches and pains at the end of our shifts, but we all still seem to come back!

i feel proud of my community for coming together and helping the refugees who so desperately deserve it. we live in such excess, which has really been shoved in my face during my time volunteering.  

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i am dorking it out with the mayor centre, and some of our lovely volunteers.

 

>>> some of the photo’s in this post were taken by another faithful volunteer, pete. not sure how much of his identity i should reveal!

more photo’s and volunteer tales to come, i promise!

 

xo, mama lola

my homework.

guys! i’ve gone back to school! 

it’s pretty scary, intimidating and did i mention scary???

years and years ago i started my women’s studies degree at the the local university here in town. i loved the program. then i became pregnant with bear and took some time off, returning part-time when bear was about 18 months old. i completed almost half of my degree when the university stupidly discontinued the entire program. it was devastating for me as a woman, as a mama and as a student. when i was pregnant with lion i took my last course at the uni towards my degree.

i always knew i would return to my studies when i was ready. it took me a while to find the courage to head back. the thought of sitting in a lecture hall with 21 year old’s really intimidated me. plus, i wanted to get my health back in order after dealing with my pituitary tumour for a few years. now that the boys are both in school full time i have decided to gently enter the world of academia myself. i was accepted at athabasca university where i will be completing my women and gender studies degree online. to easy my way in i am only taking one class; an english composition course. it’s mandatory for me to complete in order to graduate.

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for fun, i thought i would share my first piece of homework. lotds of people are curious about my back-to-school life! i had to read about paragraphs and write my own introductory one to share with my prof. 

 

Paragraph 1

It is a miserable November Friday here in south western Ontario. The furnace is pumping away trying to warm up the house my coffee is brewing in the kitchen all the while our two cats, Leo and Poppy, have found cozy, warm spots to curl up for their usual morning naps. My kids are at school hopefully enjoying whatever fun kindergarten and grade 2 have to offer. My husband is off in the big city today enduring work meetings, while I putter around our home completing homework assignments and various household tasks. Our life looks and sounds like the lives of so many other families, but it is unique, because it is ours. The routines we struggle through, the adventures we enjoy all make our little family unit special. We have survived another week of morning wake-ups and nightly bedtime shenanigans, of meetings with teachers and anxiety inducing specialist appointments. Now, the weekend is rolling in with the cold rain, blowing the fallen leaves around like empty thoughts. We are all ready for a few days without routine, without alarm clocks and the warmth our family and home create.

it’s not going to get graded, it’s for an assessment to see that i capable to complete this course.

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this weekend the kids and i have been busy crafting, crafting, crafting so keep checking back to the blog for all the fun pictures and tutorials!

and, we had our first real snow fall!!!! WOOHOOO!!!!

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first snow, bear and lion blog

this weekend the kids and i have been busy crafting, crafting, crafting so keep checking back to the blog for all the fun pictures and tutorials!

 

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

fall, muskoka, fall colours

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

giving thanks.


thanksgiving is this coming weekend here in canada-land. 

fall has arrived with it’s cool temperatures, soggy days and falling leaves. i love fall. well, i actually appreciate all the seasons, but i love the change in the seasons most. yes, the transitions are hard with kids; do you wear rubber boots or sneakers… BAH! 

but, on a personal level in the fall i love how slowly things quieten down. birds disappear to warmer climates down south, while squirrels scurry around madly hiding acorns in random holes in the ground. the nights become darker sooner and morning arrives later. and, the colours… mother nature really knows her stuff when it comes to transitioning from the hot to cold! already many maple trees in our neighbourhood are on fire with their vibrant red, oranges and yellows. every season i am amazed!

we have experienced a tough september and beginning to october, and instead of dwelling on the negatives i have decided to make a list of the things i am grateful for instead. yes, it’s a bit cheesy and cliche, but i believe that focusing on the positive does help with ones mental health in the long run.

 

so, here we go.

1. great FREE healthcare : we have had a lot of sickness in our family. pneumonia, kidney infections, strep throat, fevers and so on and so on. i am so grateful for having a family doctor who is available and free for us to visit when we need to.

2. our home : we had someone break into our house and steal my phone at the beginning of september. that kinda threw us for a loop; having us question our safety, our children’s safety, as we felt violated and vulnerable. since then we have had some smaller incidents at the house, which raised the hairs on our arms. at the end of the day i have come to understand that i cannot control what other’s do to me, to my home, to my things. but, as a mama it is my responsibility to continue teaching my kids those important lessons in life about what’s right and wrong and how to stay safe. i am grateful for our home, where we can have these conversations, the place that keeps us warm and dry.

3. my family : yes, they drive me batty, push my buttons, talk back to me, ignore me, yell at me, get sassy on me, upset me,  …but more importantly they kiss me, hug me, make me laugh, snuggle me, smile when they see me, create art for me, bake me my favourite treats, and they really, REALLY do love me!

 

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happy thanksgiving everyone!

xo, mama lola

the robbery


we’ve had a tough week transitioning back to the school routine. there have been chaotic mornings, injured kids and awkward dinners prepped by yours truly.

but, to make our week even more stressful we had a theft in our home. 

on saturday evening lion, now 5 years, touched the stove while DH was cooking dinner. poor kid burnt the tip of his finger, which meant there were lots of tears for a lot of hours that evening. we all know that even the smallest burn can really hurt for a long time! so, at bedtime lion fell asleep with his finger in a bowl of ice water as DH was reading harry potter to the boys. but, then he woke up when his finger moved or something causing the pain to kick in all over again, meaning the tears started all over again as well.

i was on the couch watching tv and playing scrabble on my phone when i heard the crying start. i put my phone on our dining table on my way upstairs. it was about 9pm when DH headed out to get more ice. he came back after about 10 minutes, but i sent him back out to see if the pharmacy had any lotion or potion to help with the burn site. as i sat with my wee guy trying to help him through the pain he kept repeating “i shouldn’t have done that”. augh, my heart! we talked about learning from our mistakes and trying not to feel badly about our choices. DH finally came home and we got the boys settled.

when we returned downstairs to watch a movie i was scanning the rooms for my phone. as a creature of habit i was confused why i couldn’t find it, but DH suggested we just wait until the morning when there is day light to do a proper search. so in the morning before even having breakfast we searched, high n’ low moving furniture, crawling on our hands and knees, calling it, texting it… then i got this weird, sinking feeling… what if someone had stolen it? DH thought i was being dramatic, but when hour 3 of our search still turned up nothing he too was becoming suspicious. he called the phone company and had service to my phone cut off. then we got a text from our service provider saying we had used up 75% of our data for the month.

BOOM! confirmation. right there. stolen phone.

DH called the police.

a police officer arrived, took our statements and told us it sounded like a crime of opportunity to him. the thief had seen DH pull out of the driveway in our car and thought hey now’s a good time. when the thief walked in they would have heard my lion screaming upstairs from his burn injury! that’s the part that angers me most; we were in our own family crisis when this random person did this horrible, selfish thing to us. sure our front door was unlocked, but we were home! i had just been on the couch a few minutes earlier!

in the past couple of days i have shared this experience with others, and to my shagrim i have heard similar tales of theft. we live in a city of about 100, 000 people, and we had assumed that moving from a city of millions to something smaller would make life safer. i guess not!

lessons learned:

  • keep your doors locked, even when home, ALWAYS!
  • always turn porch light on at night
  • keep valuables, like electronics hidden from windows
  • everyone is a target. doesn’t seem to matter what neighbourhood, street or city you live in. (see next point)
  • some people just suck!

i don’t think i’ll ever see that phone again.

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i am sad that i have lost so many fun pictures and videos from our summer adventures (oh, another lesson learned… back up phone stuff!) i’m irritated that my home has this peculiar feeling of violation still floating in the air. i am confused as to whether or not i can open the windows on the main floor; should i lock them when i head to the grocery store? i am pissed that there are people in this world who don’t care about what’s right and wrong, about common decency and who only care about their own selves. i will ride this wave and let go of these feelings moving onto the next chapter of our life. i will not let this person squirm into my mind or mess with my psyche. things will be fine.

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source

 

stay safe friends.

xo, mama lola

down by the river.

it sure was a fantastic weekend! the sun was shining, it was hot and everyone seemed to be in a great mood. it’s amazing how the weather can impact a whole cities mood and feel.

on sunday we decided to jump on our bikes and bike down to the river. i just love that the kids are old enough to do this kind of thing. lion is almost 5yrs, so his stamina isn’t as great, but man, that kid pedaled his heart out. i was so proud of him! bear had a brand new bicycle to try and he was a little apprehensive at first. this new bike has hand breaks and gears! but, he too got into the groove!

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when we arrived at the river we heard frogs, which seemed strange as it was the middle of the afternoon and super hot in the sun. as we looked closer we saw frogs all over the place, many of them in pairs… then we clued in. it’s mating season!!! the croaking sound was unbelievably loud, but also exciting, because it started some great conversations with the kids!
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the geese were hanging out in pairs. there were some pretty aggressive fights between some of the pairings. they too must be mating and preparing to nest.

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the boys made boats out of bark and sticks.

such simple fun. no plastic toys. no batteries.

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bear did actually end up in the water! the branch he was balancing on suddenly snapped and SPLASH! luckily for him the water wasn’t too cold and the air was warm! we all had a big laugh about it though!

 

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it is so wonderful that spring has arrived and we have a taste of warm, hot weather. 

hope you had a lovely weekend too!

 

xo, mama lola

spring hike.


the boys and i  went for a hike on a warm march break afternoon with some good friends. it was officially the last day of winter, but it sure felt like spring. the sun was out in full force melting snow creating glorious mud for the kids to roll in. us mum’s didn’t mind though, at least all the boys were out enjoying the woods.

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spring hike,

chick-a-dee-dee-dee-dee!

chick-a-dee-dee-dee-dee!

this particular trail is known for it’s friendly chickadee’s so i made sure to pack a small bag of bird see with us. 

we put some seed into our hands and waited very quietly. sure enough, a few brave birds flew right onto our hands to nibble on the treats we were holding. it was quite the delight!
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i told the kids there was treasure chest in this tree stump! haha!

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it’s completely impossible to get a nice picture of our four boys all together. there were too many giggles and sillies trapped inside of them, even after all of the running!

oh well, they’re all cute non-the-less with their goofy faces and tongues sticking out!
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for the hike i had stuffed my driver’s license into an unusual pocket for “safe keeping”. well, hours after we got home from our romp in the woods i realized to my horror that it was missing! immediately panic set in! DH and i decided to drive back to the parking lot of the trail just in case it had fallen out around the parked car. well, i didn’t see it, but then last minute i decided to check the map board at the base of the trail and there it was! someone had found my license and attached it to the board!!!

i could not believe my luck! oh, you should have seen my high kicks as i danced my happy dance!!! a huge thanks to this kind stranger! 

xo, mama lola

lion dancing!

we have had a rough week of sickness, pain and late nights. bear developed a ear infection at the beginning of the week, which made his life miserable for a few days. his ear drum actually ruptured the night before our doctor’s appointment… poor lamb. he is now on antibiotics and finally back at school, bit those long days at home were awful for him. and for me. watching your child in pain is such a helpless, horrible feeling.

so, i decided to share some fun and cute pictures from lion’s dance class to end the week on a happier note. our lion started taking dance classes in the new year. he goes with a friend every saturday afternoon and works his body hard. he is always completely exhausted when he gets home! so great!

check-out these absolutely adorable photo’s of my guy dancing away!

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i just love that my boys will dance without any worries that it’s a girly thing to do. lion is so full of joy when at his class clearly enjoying moving his body in all sorts of different ways!

i of course looked like such a dork when watching; i had a goofy grin on my face as i tried to take photo’s while also enjoying the moment. i kept giggling and looking over at DH to see if he was taking in all of the cuteness like i was! and, no worries as he was!

i was the same when bear took dance classes a few years ago, you can see photos from back then HERE.

 

happy friday to you!

xo, mama lola

forest school fun!


 

i often feel like the public school system here in ontario lacks a natural component to it’s curriculum. yes, they talk about the environment and spend time outside even on some pretty cold days, but i wish there was more time spent in nature, exploring the natural world around them. so when i found out a high school friend of mine, brandy, was starting a forest school i jumped at the opportunity to sign my lion up! because it’s in another city he only goes for one afternoon a week (instead of the two afternoon’s currently offered).

this smiling beauty below is brandy.

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the kids are all between the ages of 3 and 5. the group meets and then walks along some lovely trails to their designated site. the trail is shared with dog walkers and cross country skiers.

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below is a picture of a quick stop for a story during our walk. here brandy introduced that days theme to the kids, as they all sat on a fallen tree and listened. none of the kids complained about stopping, about being cold, or about carrying their own backpacks. AMAZING!

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the “classroom” site is amazing! there are several teepee/ wigwam style forts that were already built in the forest. there are beautiful tall trees as far as the eye can see. the kids are allowed to climb the forts and explore the nearby area. the kids enjoyed snack, had another story and discussed various elements of that days theme.

i love watching the kids enjoying the natural world. they were so involved in it without any effort or encouragement from adults. they recognized things differently from us grown-ups creating interesting discussions about why things are the way they are.

kids are so open and free.

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on the day i was volunteering we focused on our senses;  we listened for birds, tasted snow, touched sticks and looked for interesting things in our environment. brandy encourages the kids to explore, question and get right into things. she follows the kids’ lead on things making the learning about them and not about what she assumes they might be interested in. so awesome!

the peace and calm of the forest school is what i really noticed. classrooms in buildings are full of posters, art, colours, shapes… there are almost no blank walls, everything is covered with some kind of stimulus. here in the woods the stimulus is not garish in colour or forced down the children’s throats. the natural world invites them in, gently stimulating their senses and enticing them for deeper learning. even though the kids explore the same forts, the subtle changes that occur over time is what makes outdoor learning so amazing.

below are pictures of the ice experiments the kids had created the previous thursday. they poured water in containers with some acorns and leaves to see what would happen. we hung them in the trees so the sun could catch them. so lovely!

forest school fun, winter expriment forest school fun

if you’re curious and interested in brandy’s beautiful school, wildflowers forest school, check out her facebook page HERE. there are lots more pictures and tales of the adventures they get into! currently, there is no website, but it’s in the works!

xo, mama lola
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