theme thursday :: new school = scarce resources!

last september bear started school. it is a brand new school, with sparkly new hall ways and classrooms, with kindergarten rooms with their own washrooms. there was an old school there that was demolished and brand spanking new one was rebuilt in a year!

we are very pleased with the school. but, there are some drawbacks of sending your kid to a brand new school. for example, the bigger kids have no playground to play in during recess and lunch. the kindies have a separate yard with simple, natural play structures like logs for balancing on and stumps for climbing on. it’s really nice and the kids love it!


a sub-committee at our school, the green committee took matters into their own hands and purchased the older kids (grades 1-8) some toys and sports equipment to play with. we were given about $2000 and one of the mom’s went out and purchased these beautiful toys for the kids. these pictures are of us labelling and sorting the items. each classroom gets their own mesh bag filled with various lengths of skipping rope, different kinds of sports balls (football, soccer, tennis), hacky sacks, crochet frisbees and other fun items. these bags of equipment are meant for use by the kids during recess and lunch, not for physical education or any curriculum based learning.

look at these beautiful, colourful bags filled with potential excitement and hours of fun! this project shows that is doesn’t take much to make a big difference in the quality of the children’s lies at school! i am so proud of the work done here by women wanting to improve the kids’ time at school; i am honoured to be a part of such strong, intelligent, resourceful and hilarious group of people! 

if you have kids in school, consider helping out. everyone is busy and tired, but these volunteer based committee’s and parent councils are such an important part of the school community. it’s not fair or reasonable to assume that other parents will just get the job done, or leave it up to the stay-at-home parents to organize and plan special events. as with any community, the kids benefit so much when parents are involved, ALL of the kids benefit!

xo, mama lola

nurturing my marriage.

this is a tough post to write, it feels much more personal than all of the ones i have shared here about mothering or even the ones about my brain tumour. i suppose, because my tumour and my mothering are really about me. my marriage is about me AND dear hubby.

so, here goes…

even as a little girl i knew i would be married one day. when i met dear hubby over ten years ago at treeplanting, up in the woods of northern ontario, i knew we would be married one day. there was something about him. something about the way that we clicked and felt real, instead of just right. for me, the biggest attraction was the fact that dear hubby never ever pretended to be someone he was not. and to this day, he doesn’t lie or exaggerate about who he is.

if you’ve been reading here regularly, you’ve become quite familiar with the various struggles that life has thrown our way in the past few years. our struggles aren’t worse than anyone elses, but they have been quite overwhelming and exhausting for us, as they placed tremendous pressure on our marriage. it is so easy to find excuses not to do something, especially when that something is emotionally demanding and not just something you can just run to the grocery store and pick up. i am sad to admit that our relationship has borne the brunt of our mutual neglect. it has been overshadowed by all the other things that appeared more pressing at the time. and to some degree, yes babies in incubators and tumours on pituitary glands do need immediate attention, but the truth is that we were too caught up in everything else to acknowledge what was happening to us. our marriage. and, to ourselves. i’ve heard horror stories of couples growing apart over such awful circumstances and they simply fall out of love and end up filing for a divorce. i get it. these circumstances are not the easiest to live through, let alone love through, but i noticed what was happening soon enough to do something about it.

now, as the kids are getting older and gaining incredible independence, it is easier to step away and focus on each other. we have come to a shocking realization that we have let our relationship go. we didn’t have the energy or the presence of mind to include our marriage on the to do list so, for a few years we just coasted; surviving through our family’s health crisis’ and other major stressors, by ignoring the very thing that had brought us together in the first place.
our love.

when dear hubby and i met we were young and foolish and cute and naive. now, we have lost some of the naivete, are not nearly as foolish or young for that matter. and the cute, well, it’s more wrinkly and jaded. that being said, the change in how we perceive the world, live in it and thrive in it, is not a bad thing. it’s time doing what time does. it moves. and we’re being moved along with it.

and today i am happy share that we are finding a new momentum. we are slowly working our way out of denial and starting to put real efforts into rebuilding some of the broken, weakened areas of our relationship. of course, couples therapy can be considered, and it’s something we have spoken about. but i feel like, for now, we are making some progress. together we are gaining understanding which areas need extra attention and why. it is so easy to blame the other person in a partnership for your own pain, but in reality it is up to you to hold yourself accountable for your own contributions, before any real change or growth can happen. and the thing that i have learned recently, it’s not about changing yourself or them. it’s about taking control and changing your own bad habits. whether it’s negative thought patterns, those nasty lines you repeat during each fight or the sarcastic stabs you mumble under your breath. We’re not at the point of needing to get in touch with lawyers in Jonesboro AR to discuss divorce yet (and I hope we never will be) but that doesn’t mean that we don’t sometimes let our differences come out in the open in a fiery way. For some of our friends, divorce has been the answer in relationships that have turned toxic and they felt it healthy to go their own separate ways, but we hope by discussing our differences and concerns that we can avoid this.

it’s a start, right?

dear hubby and i quietly celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary on the 17th of february at the cottage with friends and snow!

to share our love, here is probably the worst picture of us taken. the sun was so blinding, hence the bizarre distorted faces! love doesn’t always look that sexy! ha!

xo, mama lola

new glasses!

i love this kid when he’s trying on glasses. he chooses a new pair from the display, admires himself in the mirror and then gives me one of these huge ridiculous smiles. he really has an inner diva or something! ha! 
since he’s turning five this week, we decided it was time to upgrade from his old frames to something a bit more funky! he got his old frames when he was barely three!

at his last eye exam, a couple of weeks ago we got the good news that bear doesn’t have to wear his patch any more and that his right eye, which was significantly weaker seemed to be doing really well!  i am so relieved about the patch thing, because forcing him to wear it was becoming a fight and one that i was quite frankly tired of fighting. one to hours of a focused activity after school was pretty much an impossibility. and, it’s kinda nice to have one less thing to worry about, although it looks lion may have the same muscular issue with his right eye. gotta make an appointment for him soon!

we haven’t actually purchased any new frames, as bear wanted to try on ones that they had to special order for him. maybe this week, maybe next, he’ll finally have his new specs!

* * * * *

we are still recovering from bear’s fabulous birthday party on sunday. i will be sharing some of the party treats, foods and things that we made in an upcoming post, so check back! 


xo, mama lola

television: we all love to hate it!

whether or not to let the kids watch tv, that was one of the questions we tackled when our first wee one was our only wee-wee one. we haven’t had cable in many, many years and when bear was a baby we had a tiny tv, which was perfect for all those friends reruns we could watch thanks to our powerful rabbit ears! we never let bear watch tv or encouraged it, for that matter.

[ we had just moved into our house, everything was still chaotic. ]
[ i used to plonk lion with bear to watch tv, so i could vacuum a room quickly.
not that i condone babies watching tv.]

it wasn’t until i was looking and feeling like a beached whale during my pregnancy with lion, that i really started to let 2.5 year old bear watch stuff. i needed the break, he had given up napping and so i would put on treehouse on my laptop, so that i could sit and nod off for a few z’s. he loved “toopy & binoo” and would eventually fall asleep watching those guys. we then go into the habit of getting DVD’s from the library, which introduced us to a whole new world of shows and characters. it worked well for us. as parents we held on tight to the control of what and when and how much he would watch.

Even though we hadn’t had cable in years, I do sometimes wish that we could’ve provided bear with more choice of things to watch. And, seeing as Nickelodeon had 611 thousand viewers in 2019, according to these favourite tv show statistics, it would’ve opened his eyes to more wonders and imaginations. But, he seemed to enjoy what was already in front of him so we just decided to continue with it.

that was the summer bear became obsessed with “bob the builder”. i actually think it’s one of the better kids shows. our kids are not allowed to watch a few of the popular shows, like “caillou”. he’s a brat and rude to his mother, no thanks! and “max and ruby” where the boy always comes in and saves the day and rescues the girl. no thanks! and, don’t get me going on dora, who yells so much or thomas who uses language that I don’t believe is acceptable for wee ears. then there are the shows that my kids just wont watch, because they are still too scary!

[ bear asleep in front of the laptop, as usual, watching something. ]

I am fully aware of how much screen time bear and lion take in. some weeks they watch a handful of hours, other weeks way too much. but, I have to let it go and not feel too guilty, because on those weeks that i let them watch more, I am probably sick and looking for an easy break!

For us, the biggest concerns surrounding television watching has been the advertising. There is so much advertising directed at kids out there, that by removing commercial television from our home, we felt we were protecting our kids and ourselves. Of course, there’s much less chance of advertisements online with streaming services in canada which is why they’re sometimes better than cable televison. Not only are they cheaper, there is also much more selection, especially for kids. Due to our decision to avoid cable television, our kids have never asked for a toy, because they were never enticed by the visions of colourful commercials. they have never asked to go to certain fastfood restaurants, like mc donalds, who are some of the biggest offenders of directing advertising at kids! (in fact, our kids have no idea mc donald’s even exists, they’ve never been there!)

[ there’s lion with his buddy watching television. this kid NEVER falls asleep watching a show! ]

last fall, we purchased a big ol’ shiny flat screen that hangs on the wall and the kids watch netflix on it. i felt like i had given into mainstream pressures of keeping up with the jones’ and initially felt quite uncomfortable with the huge screen in our living room. but, i got over it! i brought perspective into my life again, reminding myself that the kids are watching commercial free shows, and we as the parents, control what they watch and when. So, it’s not like they have free rein over what they watch and when. Although, they like to think they do. But with every person who binge-watches a boxset, the inevitable is always bound to happen – running out of things to watch. Luckily, our friends have pointed us in the direction of a company like Humax Direct to see if we can find a TV service that’s right for us. They’ve recently bought a YouView box from there, and they’ve said it’s the best thing they’ve ever done because there are so many programs, both for kids and adults to watch, without ever running out of choice. And with our new flat screen tv, this could come in good use. But we’re still weighing up the pros and cons. We have to think about our children’s watching habits after all.

the kids are only allowed to watch tv in the afternoons, after nap or after school depending on the day. sometimes on the weekends we will have a family movie night and watch a movie after dinner. the kids are not permitted to watch anything in the mornings, especially before school or before bed. it just works for us to keep things consistent and regimented. plus, the more time the kids spend in front of the tv, the less time they are interacting with each other or with us. and that human interaction really is so important for kids.

but, as technology changes, so do our rules around screen time. i am curious what other parents do, especially now that kids have their own computers, have access to ipads or other tablets, play games on their parents smart phones or just want to sit back and watch a show on tv. what are your limits in your home?

happy tv watching!

xo, mama lola

my foggy week.

i am the mom. that means if i get sick, i don’t get time off and things still have to happen around the house. i still have to do the groceries, make dinner, wipe the counters, vacuum  shuffle the kids around, all the while trying to keep my head somewhat clear.

this week i was sick. for days it felt as though my head was going to explode, like my left eye was going to pop out, like the teeth on the left side of my face were going to fall out and like i was never going to feel healthier. ever again. my head was so congested; a congested i had never experienced before.

on monday, i went grocery shopping with my lion. i spent over a hundred dollars on stuff, but i have no idea what i purchased. all week i have been scrambling to make dinner, as the ingredients i bought have not really come together in any sort of meal. i also bought moldy cheese, that was disappointing! but, that’s how thick the fog has been in my head.

i tried taking various pills and cocktails of medicines to clear the fog, to dull the pain and take away the constant throb in my head, but nothing really helped. i rinsed my sinuses with my netti pot, only to be frightened by the sight of the junk that was coming out of head (i will spare you the details). 

as the week progressed, the fog just got worse, as did the pain. on wednesday, i curled into bed at 5:30pm a minute after dear hubby walked in the door and could take over dinner with the boys. i lay in bed feeling completely sorry for myself, worrying about all the things that did not need my attention at that time. i did eventually fall asleep for a little while. after the kids were asleep in their beds, i made my way downstairs, almost in tears. dear hubby made me tea and held me and let me feel sorry for myself. at 9pm that night i realized i had not eaten anything that day, so dear hubby made me a little snack. when i’m the one who is sick, my self care is obviously not my number one priority, my family and their needs remains my top priority; that’s wrong!

one day after bear’s swimming lessons, i was so foggy in my head, i tried to get into someone else’s car with the kids… AS THE FAMILY WAS PILING IN ON THE OTHER SIDE! no wonder the key didn’t work!

on thursday, i finally made an appointment with our family doctor who confirmed that i had a sinus infection and the pains i was feeling were completely expected. she said she would give a prescription for antibiotics, since i’d been sick for so long, but that the side effects would probably be pretty harsh. as in a week long belly ache, among other things. great!

[ kids working on cards for grandpa’s birthday, this week. ]

now, it is now friday morning, and i am relieved the weekend is here. it means dear hubby will be around to help with the kids, maybe i’ll be able to squeeze in a nap, maybe get some laundry folded, maybe i will finally start to feel better. maybe this fog that has been confusing the pants off of me for days will finally start to clear.

xo, mama lola

to healthier times!

* let me make it clear, i am not a trained health care provider or healer of any kind. i am a mama with a few suggestions that may help others with their sick families. please consult your health care provider. *

whatever sickness came a’knocking at our door last friday, sure has over stayed it’s welcome! It obviously then spread to us other folk who are struggling to get back to normal after being hit with the bug. Luckily we get paid when having time off work due to illness, as a result of the paid sick leave laws in the US. But hopefully we won’t have to worry about that again for a while! Anyway, this is how it started.

it hit our littlest lion fast and furiously! he was lethargic, developed a high fever, stopped eating and started puking. all weekend, dear hubby and i took turns holding the poor kid, as he was so clingy.
then on monday evening, it was bear’s turn. he had the usual super drippy eyes, fever, but luckily no puking! and then, it was dear hubby who was knocked down. it’s kind of unbelievable how all four of us have been kicked on to our butts, but the real shocker is that dear hubby has been kicked the worst. this is a guy who never gets sick, ever. he suffers terribly in the spring with seasonal allergies, but it is very unlike him to get sick. and then to kick things into more unusual territories, i am the one who has been barely affected. sure, i had a little fever in the night, and i’ve been sniffly and achy, but i have not looked like the living dead, like my dear hubby. he’s been sleeping a lot. he’s even missed a couple of days of work, which he does like, never!

there are a few tricks that i have compiled that help us get through these snotty times. sure, there are more, but the ones listed below are my top six. they are all kid and pet friendly and easy on the bank account! some of our tried and tested more natural remedies to fight sickness at our house include:

don’t forget the top three obvious ones:
1. keep washing AND moisturizing your hands.
2. change your tooth brush once you start to feel better.
3. do not share drinks, cutlery, toothbrushes or sloppy wet kisses with those who are sick.

i am so ready for good health to come knocking on our door tomorrow. maybe hubby and i should consider taking some dietary supplements that can boost our digestion and energy, and in the long run help fight these minor illnesses. one of my friends had read these activatedyou reviews and suggested that i get a regular supplement routine as well. i’m going to leave that for another day, but for now i am so ready to hear the laughter and fighting of my boys, instead of the zombied silence of a fever coma and the constant dull whining. i want my children to look and feel energized and to enjoy their days, instead of wasting away watching mindless television. i want their eyes to sparkle, instead being glazed with sickness.

i want the energy in the house to change, from lethargy to one of positive spirits. i know this all sounds a bit cheese and cliche, but a week of this is kinda ridiculous! we haven’t even really had the opportunity to enjoy our new beautiful hardwood floors or paint the walls, as planned this week. everything it seems has been put on hold.

so, let me hear three cheers to good health!
hip-hip- hooray!
hip-hip- hooray!
hip-hip- hooray!

xo, mama lola

we’re a bunch of sicklings!

i am in trapped on our couch under two sick kids and a sicko dear hubby. everyone is dripping snot, struggling with fevers and drifting in and out of sleep. 

lion was super-duper sick this past weekend, while the rest of us were fine. then yesterday afternoon, after a long day of being out of the house, as we were getting our new floors put in, bear’s health crash landed into a heap of tears and exhaustion. both of the kids chose to go dinner free and were fast asleep by 6:20pm! bear slept in my bed, and dear hubby snuggled in with lion. i feel better co-sleeping with the sick kids, then we, the adults have a better sense of what’s going on with them in the night. bear woke up a few times to have a drink of water, but basically slept straight through until 9am!

the first sign of sickness with bear are his drippy eyes. it looks like he’s crying, as they drip so much. poor little guy gets so frustrated and there isn’t much we can do about it. he’s had this issue for years and the doctor says it’s totally normal.

lion has been clinging on to us for days now. his fever is gone, but he looks tired and still is kinda lethargic. nobody really has an appetite, so today when i braved the cold temperatures to hit the grocery store, i stocked up on all sorts of smoothies, soups and berries and things. nobody is going to be cooking anything in these here parts for a while. i’m not a super fan of pre-made foods, but it’s a matter of survival, at this point.

hope you and your family are fairing better than us.
time to cozy in with the guys and watch a little tv.

xo, mama lola

the new year brings with it some baggage, but in a good way.

a new year and a new project.
i’ve joined the fun at 365 project; come check out my profile HERE. I’ll be posting a photo a day as a kind of photo journal of our days in 2013. I know I already post lots of pics here, but I like the idea of choosing one picture to describe our day, like I do for this moment every friday.

* * * * * * *

a new year and new habits.
we have gorged ourselves with gingerbread cookies, various decadent bark flavours, other baked goods and lotsa food in general, and yesterday was the final day for pigging out. The kids have been eating way too many treats and the thought of all of that sugar on their pearly whites freaks me out. I am so done with all of that refined sugar moving through their wee bodies, making their behaviour erratic and wild, and mucking up other good habits.

Three cheers and health to us all. Less sugar, less white flour, less processed foods, regular dental checkups with our Dentist Vineland and back to the goodness of real, whole foods. my mouth is watering just thinking about the dinners we’ll enjoy again!

* * * * * * *

a new year and a time for calm.
After our chaotic fall and busy holiday season, I am eager to enjoy the calm and routine the new year will bring with it. Yes, the routines can be mundane, but the predictability of the routine will allow me to work on myself and my needs and reduce the anxieties tied up in my shoulders. I am hoping to learn new habits for old relationships.
I also need to place priority on myself more, so today I rescheduled my chiropractor’s appointment from next week to this evening, as I think I have a pinched nerve in my neck causing intense pain in my neck and shoulders. I know this doesn’t sound like a huge thing, but it’s a step and hopefully the baby steps will lead me to a healthy, strong, balanced destination. Anyone who has ever pinched a nerve will know how painful that is and how much you just want relief. Seeing my chiropractor is a positive thing, it shows that I want to take care of my health. If you are in the same position as me then get yourself that help, look up a chiropractor and Visit Website of one near you to see if they can help you too.

* * * * * * *

A new year and quality time with my dear hubby.
Yes, we instilled a regular date night over a year ago, but truth be told, we have spent many friday date nights running errands and only talking about the kids. I am hoping to spend more quality time with my partner, talking about us, life, goals and yes, the kids as well, but I don’t want them to dominate our time. I want to turn off the tv and play board games or card games, laughing together, as we enjoy each other’s company.
I am hoping to turn to our families more for help with the kids. I have nothing to prove and sending the kids away on overnight visits to grandparent’s houses is going to be the new thing for us. can you believe we’ve never done that?!

* * * * * * *

what does 2013 look like for you?
did you make any resolutions?

xo, mama lola

xo, mama lola

halloween safety!

A good friend of mine posted this as her Facebook status today and I feel like this message is a really important one, and one that needs to be shared. Halloween is a fun time of year for everyone, so as adults let’s ensure that happens for all the kids!

“With Halloween upon us, please keep in mind, a lot of little people will be visiting your home. Be accepting. The child who is grabbing more than one piece of candy may have poor fine motor skills. The child who takes forever to pick out one piece of candy may have motor planning issues. The child who does not say trick or treat or thank you may be non-verbal. The child who looks disappointed when they see your bowl might have an allergy. The child who isn’t wearing a costume at all might have a sensory issue (SPD) or autism. Be nice. Be patient. Its everyone’s Halloween.”

And since we’re on the topic of fun and safety at Halloween, have you considered how to keep your home safe and secure? Burglary cases sky-rocket on Halloween night – it provides the perfect opportunity for masked robbers to blend in with the crowd of trick-or-treaters. Home alarm services can install security around your house, including CCTV, motion lights, motion sensors and alert systems which can help to deter burglars, but keep your back door and windows locked anyway if you’re going to be spending a lot of time at the front door.

Additionally, we live in an age where we are fortunately more aware of food intolerances. Many children have intolerances to nuts, dairy, gluten and sulfites, so make sure your treats are suitable for all. Don’t be tempted to make anything homemade either – as nice a gesture as it is, parents simply can’t be sure what might be in your homemade treats and will likely throw it straight in the bin. Stick to wrapped sweets and make sure none of the packets have holes in or they’ll get thrown away too.

xo, mama lola