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

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

mother’s day flower crafts.

 


mother’s day is less than a month away, so it’s time to get crafty!

all mother’s LOVE flowers of any kind, especially something made with love and heart.

mother's day flower crafts, kids crafts, mothers day

my kids love to make gifts for their grandma and mummo, for mother’s day. look at these lovely flower crafts i found. some are harder than other’s, but all a great sourse of inspiration. the hanging wisteria are so gorgeous, right? i’d have those hanging all year if i could!

 
mother's day, flower crafts

paper and button flowers from kiwi crate

mother's day cards, kids crafts for mum

flower card from hands on as we grow

mother's day, flower bouquet, flower crafts

paper flower bouquet from oh happy day

mother's day, flower accordion, mother's day card

accordion folded spring flower collage from make and takes

mother's day flowers craft, hanging wisteria

try this tissue wisteria from the land of nod

 my tulips and crocuses are quickly coming up now in my garden and i keep buying cut flowers on sale at the grocery store, because i eager for flowers, flowers and more flowers!!!

happy crafting lovelies!

xo, mama lola

well, i failed!

 


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ARGH!

well, i royally failed that minimalism challenge i started in january. remember that? BAH!

(*excuse as i hide my face in shame.) it’s a little frustrating, especially since the challenge was pretty simple… you know, minimal, that i couldn’t get my shit together and just do it.

i just couldn’t remember to check what the next days challenge was, follow through or do anything challenge related for that matter. i completed a handful of days before total and utter failure! i have no excuses, but i can rhyme off a million reasons i failed, ready?

i am: forgetful, scatter brained, clueless, easily distracted, lazy, unmotivated, great at making lists but terrible on the follow through, tired, busy, and so and so on. you get the idea!

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quote, JFK quote

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i’ve been struggling lately with keeping on track. staying motivated. remembering. sometimes it’s an uneasy feeling, you know, feeling like you’re flailing a little. i’m riding this wave with the hope that it is temporary.  i am typically the kinda gal who remembers everything, and when i say everything i mean EVERYTHING . i can tell you what i was wearing when i got lenny kravitz’s autograph in 1994, what my grades were in grade 11, what song was playing the first time i slow danced with a guy, what DH was wearing the first time we kissed all those years ago… i remember birthday’s, anniversaries etc etc. but, as of late all those bits of information seem to be filed further in my brain, harder to retrieve and sort.

do you have any great tips or tricks that help you to remember to do things? to keep you on track, so you’re not always running around at half speed, because you’re scrambling to remember… what am i supposed to be doing?

 

this final quite that i am sharing, is really how i feel most of the time.

quote, so much to do

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good luck with all you have to do! all those pesky responsibilities, birthday gifts that need purchasing, cars that need their oil changed and crafts that are waiting completion!

happy monday lovelies!

xo, mama lola

5 marriage saving tips!


they say that the first 7 years of a marriage are the hardest. they say that divorce rates decrease the longer a couple is married. i can only speak from my own experience, which statistically isn’t very much, as i have only been married to one man! but, we have passed the 7 year mark celebrating 8 years of marriage just a few days ago! i don’t often talk too much about my relationship with DH here on the blog as it feels quite personal, as it is OUR marriage.

it sure has been a ride with some super high highs contrasted by some super low lows… life is hard no matter what, but when you throw in little kids with their neediness and sleep deprived parents it’s hard to be happy in a marriage.

little people are exhausting, and all you folks out there living with super little people, hang in there! life does get easier once you’re sleeping more and not giving so constantly, ALL DAY, EVERY DAY!

i’ve talked before how with older kids i have more time for self care, but there’s also more time for my marriage. although, DH and i don’t do regular date nights anymore, as there really doesn’t feel to be the need, we are much more connected now than a couple of years ago. two years ago we were HERE. when i read about our life then, i remember how difficult and stressful it all felt.

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5 easy ways to save a marriage! *

1. date night: when the kids are little it’s important to date your partner, regularly. carve out time each week when the baby-sitter or nana comes to watch the kids for you. don’t just head to the grocery story store or run errands, because doing it kid-free is so easy, i know, but instead go out to dinner and talk. there’s something kinda hard about that. it forces you to look at each other, to talk to each other, to acknowledge each other. you don’t have to have deep conversations about your relationship, but it’s so nice to just touch base without being distracted by kids or other household things. communication is so important!

2. kiss n’ hug: but don’t all married people do this? um, NO! certainly not regularly and probably not enough. human beings need to be touched, it helps our mental health and receiving a kiss from your partner is very different than getting a smooch from your snotty nosed toddler! intimacy is not just sex, it is holding hands, caressing a neck or rubbing your love’s back. and, don’t wait for your spouse to start this habit… you have to initiate too! i’m not suggesting getting into a match of intense tonsil hockey every morning, but a sweet kiss is a nice way to start the day, right?

3. don’t have kids: yes, i am being sarcastic, but there is truth to this statement as well. having kids can really drive a wedge in a partnership, even a strong one. it is really hard to raise kids and give to them, and have enough to give to your partner at the end of the day. this is where that 7 years theory comes into play, i think. once you’ve been married 7 years, you’ve probably had a few kids and they are mostly not babies anymore, in school and independent enough in many ways. which, leaves time and energy and opportunity for enjoying your partner!

4. greener pastures: this one is hard, but so important! do not compare your relationship with anyone else’s. and, do not compare your partner with anyone else’s. you don’t actually know what’s going on in other relationships. people can be very private about the truth especially when it comes to their marriage. even the best of friends may not be be telling it quite how it is. marital relationships are complicated with years of love, experience and adventure built into them. people present certain sides of themselves to specific crowds, while sharing another with other people, and that’s ok. but, just cuz mr. smith is being super charming and affectionate with his mrs at a neighbourhood party, doesn’t mean he’s like that with her at home!

5. be patient: being married is hard work. and, sometimes for whatever reason you or your partner may not have the energy or capacity to work at it. and, that’s ok. loving people isn’t always easy either. people evolve with time and not always at the same rate, so giving space for your partner to grow is important. you also need to allow growth, space and time for yourself. life is hard. love is hard.

but also soooooooo good!

 

good luck with your relationship and marriage!

*please take all advice offered here with a grain of salt. i am no expert in marriage, but i am an expert in my life! haha! these are tips that worked for me, for us and i just want to share!

 

let me know if you have any great tips or advice you can add to this list!

xo, mama lola

ripley’s aquarium visit in toronto


brrr…. it is -24c this morning here in southern ontario. perfect day to sit back and work on my blog with my warm coffee by my side.

a couple of weeks ago my dad turned 75! we had a great family dinner with delicious food my mum made, gifts and little wine to celebrate.  we also visited the aquarium in the big city.

the kids love to help others with their candle blowing, gift opening and cake eating!

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the ripley’s aquarium opened over a year ago and we have been meaning to go, but just haven’t found a good time. so on this our inaugural visit, we arrived just as they opened with our pre-ordered and pre-paid tickets in hand. seriously, if you can go online the night before and do this, do it! saved us time and hassle once we arrived. there were no crowds, so we were able to enjoy the fish, sharks and jellies without any hassle.

ripley's aquarium toronto ripley's aquarium, fish ripley's aquarium, sea turle ripley's aquarium, under the sea

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when we were leaving around noon the line-ups were staggering for tickets and coat check… this is why you get all that done the night before online… way less hassle!

also, there is a weird cafe/ play area in the middle of your aquarium tour. there is nothing at the end, except the gift shop, but they don’t sell any drinks or snacks.

we all loved the aquarium and would love to go back one day!!!

xo, mama lola

holiday update: better late than never, right?!

christmas feels like it was a million years ago, but i want to share a few pictures with you anyway.

we had such a wonderful time. it was busy, but fun!

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below is a picture of the beautiful piparkakkutalo or gingerbread house my mum made. there is a little tea light in the front that’s the skating rink, plus there’s a ladder on the side there! love it! my mum is so creative!

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the kids got twister from DH’s sister and her mister. of course we had to crack it open immediately and give it a go!

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for new years, we hit the cottage up in muskoka! there was no snow upon arrival, but withiun 12 hours heaps and heaps had fallen, and just kept coming! the forest around the cottage turned into a magical winter wonderland. this year the temperatures weren’t that cold even, so hitting the outhouse wasn’t that bad! haha!

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as soon as we arrive it’s important to get the cottage warm. so we get the fire roaring and slowly start to unpeel all of the layers we have on. our friends brought some yummy lasagna’s for dinner. aren’t the beautiful?!

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on the 31st we walked down to the lake and watched as papaD put on an amazing firework display. we all sat in the snow oohing and aahing at the gorgeous colours flashing in the sky! the it was time for sparklers up at the cottage!

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after fireworks we enjoyed some glöggi while DH read stories to all the kids. the cottage becomes a cozy nest for all of us. the christmas lights we bring up for extra fun. we re-arrange the furniture to better suit the large number of people that are there. it’s nice to have the couch in front of the fire.

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once the kids were tucked into their beds, us adults played some fun games of our own and enjoyed a few drinks!

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the following morning it was time for more tobogganing!

what a great way to start 2015!!!

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happy day to you and yours!

next week i’ll be sharing pictures from lion’s forest school, check back!

don’t forget to come and like bear & lion on facebook!

 

xo, mama lola

kids felt christmas tree crafts!


 

the other day i pulled out my colourful felt scraps to get crafty on a snowy afternoon. my wee lion was sick from school so it was the perfect time to get creative!

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i cut out some very asymmetrical christmas trees, which my lion then decorated. he cut out various shapes from the felt and delightfully glued them to the felt trees. he was so happy  and pleased with the outcome… as was i!

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christmas tree felt crafts

(i cut out the starts for him.)

then i found scrap burlap in the depths of my fabric collection, and he made a beautiful nature scene with rocks and a bright blue sky (how finnish of him!) all on his own. bear came home from school and started to make a christmas scene of his own!  i did quickly zip around the edges of the burlap squares with my sewing machine to help prevent fraying.

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aren’t they so fantastic? not sure we will use them as wee holiday table cloths or hang them up as decoration on a wall.

i LOVE, LOVE setting out various crafty supplies and watching the creativity flow out of my boys. what their imaginations produce is sometimes so different from what i would have thought of. kids really are cool (when they are not whining or fighting about what’s for dinner!)

xo, mama lola

cottage thanksgiving.

cottage

we enjoyed a beautiful weekend at the cottage for thanksgiving.  it’s taken me a while to organize pictures and edit them, as our reno at the house has forced me to stay away from our home all day for a few days! bah! but, better late than never right?!

 

the weather was awesome! sunny, with a few misty moments and crisp fresh air. the leaves were a beautiful array of bright colours.  we got a lot of work done, including rearranging the wood shed, piling wood from wettest to driest. it’s very physical job, but there was 4 adults doing it,so it went well. the chipmunks were just as busy as us, running around with their wee cheeks full of grub to last them through the winter.

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with two vegans, four vegetarians and three carnivores our dinner was super delicious! we had all kinds of yummy, healthy foods that we were all so very grateful for, including tofu and bok choy sauteed in pineapple sauce, mashed potatoes, stuffing (veg and not), baked squash, roasted chicken and shrimp n’ scallops sauteed in lime juice and cilantro. our bellies were too satisfied, hahaha!

 

thanksgiving table

 

my MIL found an old SUPER COOL hockey table under one of the beds. it’s wooden and dear hubby used to play against his grandfather back during his childhood. the kids loved playing this for hours and hours, so much so in fact that bear started a family tournament. he made a list with everyone’s names and then various family members played against each other. it was a lot of fun!

 

cottage hockey tournament

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there was a huge rain storm a few weeks back that washed out a lot of roads in and around the cottage. the top of the cottage driveway happens to to be located at the bottom of two hills, and there was a lot of damage. there have been issues for years and the county is always promising to fix the problems. so when we arrived on friday afternoon we found these huge boulders at the entrance of the driveway, massive diggers sitting on rocks and culverts dug out again. quite shocking and depressing, because these huge gouges are very damaging to the wildlife in the area.

 

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the portage down to the lake that runs from the road next to the cottage property line, was seriously damaged during the rain storm as well. this was a big concern to me, purely for selfish reasons as that’s where we do best tobogganing in the winter! we’ll have to wait and see what the construction ends up looking like.

 

hope you had a lovely weekend with whatever fun you got into on the long weekend!

xo, mama lola

self care & mothering: the honest truth.

self care & MOTHERING

 

when i had wee babes i was running on empty. i was tired, depleted and exhausted for years it seems. my kids were needy the way kids are, and i remember people constantly telling me to work on my self-care to help feel re-energized. so, i tried that. i’d join the gym, change my diet, go out with friends, i even hired a baby-sitter and implemented a weekly friday-night date night with DH. but, i still felt empty and tired.

 

lion & bear

 

now that my kids a older (4 & 6) i have 20/20 hindsight. it’s not self-care that got me through those years and it wasn’t the lack of self-care that made my days difficult to manage… it was the simple fact that i’m a mum.

children are an enormous amount of work, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

 

i look back on those years with my two babes and wonder how i ever survived. how i mothered at all while sleep deprived, with headaches, hungry, angry, all the while feeling under appreciated and invisible. i tried to do everything the right way; we were avid cloth diaperers only doing laundry in the cheap hours and never using the dryer, i exclusively breastfed, carried my babes and toddlers (sometimes both at the same time!) i cooked and baked everything from scratch, i took my kids outside in all kinds of weather and in canada that can mean lots of layers on most days! i’m not sharing this as a way to brag or seek attention, but as a way to acknowledge that no matter how a mum mother’s, no matter what the choices she makes for her family she is going to be tired. and, yes she needs self care, but there isn’t enough time or space for good self care when the kids are little. the wee people take so much that it’s impossible to recharge yourself completely or effectively. regardless of the age differences in kids, the number of kids, every mother is going to feel guilty that they are not giving enough to one or all of her children at one time or another. oh, the weight of a mother’s guilt!

 

once all of the kids are out of babyland it is easier to create better self care routines, but only because the constant need for mum’s decreases with age.  children become more self-sufficient and independent, and all of those skills no matter how small, like putting on their own shoes, doing up a zipper, brushing their own teeth or my fave, wiping their own bums… all of those seconds and minutes add up in a day to less actual hands on time.

and, by hands on i mean literally touching! babies and toddlers need to be touched A LOT, and i remember at the end of those long days when DH would finally walk in the door feeling slight relief that he was home to carry, cuddle, or change a diaper. but, if DH tried to touch me, even to rub my achy back i would run screaming from the room, because i just wanted to be left alone, untouched, on the couch or wherever in my own space! sounds absurd, but i know many of you reading this are nodding. you know what i’m talking about!

bear & lion

mothering, parenting is about giving. giving, giving, giving all day to these little, adorable people who just take. all they know how to do is take. they don’t know how show gratitude or acknowledge all the energy we as parents pour into them each day. but, there is hope… i am now talking to you, mum of tiny baby with a toddler hanging at your feet… there is hope. as your kids get older they will one day say “thanks for making this udon soup for dinner, it’s my favourite”. just like that out of no where, and don’t get me wrong, sentences like that happen rarely, but my point is that they do. a school aged kid will show gratitude on their own initiative, will (sometimes) help put groceries away when you ask, will always run and give you a hug after school because they missed you and are so happy to see you. happy to see you because there has been a solid number of hours of separation, of distance and space. those hours are golden. for you and for them.

bear & lion

i want to apologize to all my friends who i have kept telling to work on self care. how completely arrogant and cocky of me! it’s so easy for me to sit here in an empty house and preach about making time for yourself, when it’s the new norm for me. it’s easy for me suggest going for walk alone or joining a book club, when the truth of the matter is mothering wee people is so bloody hard that all you mum’s really need is to be heard. to be understood and validated that, YES, feeling chronically sleep deprived is awful, depressing and scary at times. that holding one sided conversations all day every day with a baby starts to make you feel crazy. that having these beautiful people to care for is also incredibly lonely.

 

i’m sorry for being a know-it-all bitch to you.

 

i remember so well how i felt. self care, i finally understand will not take away your twitching eyes, exhausted back or feelings of utter exhaustion. self care can help you cope in the moment, but only time will truly take away those feelings of depletion. that all being said, i do still encourage mum’s to do things for themselves, ask for help and support, and let the house be a mess. get a massage or whatever, because that hour away is golden too.

 

hang in there mum with very little people. babies all eventually grow into toddlers who will in turn eventually grow into kids. they learn to walk, talk, sleep, poo in the toilet and become better at expressing their needs. mothering is always hard, but at least as the kids get older you get to sleep more!

bear & lion

kids will always need their parents, their caregivers, and as mother’s we will always need our kids.

trust me, things do shift.

xo, mama lola
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