le park.

the weather has been so dreary and soggy this spring. we have had a minimal number of bright, sun filled days with warmth. bear talks about the rain as though it is normal for it to be this wet; i guess he doesn’t remember springs past!

love these rain barrels all decorated. looks like a fun DIY with the kids!

i hope these pictures warm your toes! as i type i am sitting under a duvet, wearing a cardigan and a scarf. i am ready for things to change.
xo, mama lola

me first, yeah right!

my self-care is the pits. i joined the Y in the new year not as a resolution, but as a way to get my self-care started. some weeks i go more than others and then when dear hubby got laid off i felt guilty for wanting to hold onto my membership. the thing with the Y is this: it’s good for me on so many levels; it’s fantastic for my mental health, my physical health and my intellect. getting all that blood pumping and really surging into all the nooks and crannies of my body makes a world of difference. plus, it’s that always important alone time. i crank the radio and sing all the way there and all the way home, pretending i know the words to all the latest pop songs.

i have had two big ol’ surgeries this past year, four months apart. both times i was put under a general anaesthetic, which was quite stressful for my body. then, i was knocked on my butt to recover for a few weeks each time, while also caring for a baby and a toddler. it’s been tough to fit any real self-care into my life. but, after having the tumour removed from my head last november it really put things into perspective for me. i faced my mortality at the age of 31 and realized i wasn’t ready to die as i had not finished living yet. and a part of living meant putting my needs back on the priority list. so, i’ve slowly gotten myself out of the house and back into the world. luckily, i have a very supportive partner who understands this need and tries to be as accommodating as possible.

these guys are a lot of work. for me.

all that being said, sometimes it’s hard to find the motivation or the energy in the evenings to go out and exercise. and sometimes it’s not even an option. dear hubby has been doing contract computer programming work since being laid off in march, which means he is sometimes hunched over his laptop ’till the wee hours of the morning working (literally). 

the logistics of consistent self-care are difficult, practically impossible, in fact. i can’t put off dinner clean-up or vacuuming, because if i don’t do it when it needs to get done then when am i going to do it? i sure as hell am not going to leave my dinner dishes in the sink and food on the stove for the next morning. the recommendation that chores can wait, was advised by someone who is not responsible for running a household. sure laundry can wait, but only some laundry and only sometimes. if i don’t keep on it, it piles up fast and furious, creating more work for another day. and i’m not down with that!
but at least i have made myself somewhat of a priority again. i try, when i have to the opportunity, to do things that make me happy, healthy or are fun. often these activities are kidless, but as much as i love ’em i do need a break from mothering, regularly. as a stay at home mom, it’s hard to separate work from play, as playing with the kids often ends up being work, because they are still so little. i imagine that will change as they get older and gain more independence. right now, today, the key for myself is to strive for balance and not let one part of my life dominate the rest.


xo, mama lola

beach bums!

all winter bear has been asking to go to the beach and i kept explaining that we could go when the trees had green leaves on them. well, yesterday as the temperature soared and rain gave way to beautiful sunshine we took advantage of the summer-like weather and headed to the beach.

the cubs napped in their car seats as we drove down to the lake to one of the best beaches around. it’s a beach we visit A LOT in the summer, even though the drive is about 45 minutes, it’s totally worth it. there are change rooms, showers, tons of free parking, lots of soft sand to dig and play with and an upgraded down town with lots of yummy food. 

this weekend we all tested the lake water and it was still freakin’ frigid. the water level was high, but i suppose that is expected after all the (bloody) rain we have endured this spring. bear frolicked in the waves, while lion watched closely taking notes. we sat on our mats and ate snacks as food always tastes better outside. there was a nice breeze and tons of people out enjoying the beautiful weather. 

these lazy beach afternoons are the kind where play is important and time loses its meaning. it’s a great place for us to spend time a family, reconnect and i can’t wait to spend more beach bum days like this with my guys! 

it’s a long weekend for us thanks to Q-vickie, so our beach adventure was extra fun! after surfing the waves we drove two minutes into burlington’s down town. the city has invested some serious cash into re-vitalizing this area and it has paid off. it is so vibrant with people, restaurants and shops. there is a fantastic play ground surrounded by grass to one side, the lake on the other and a gorgeous art gallery on the third. the playground is always busy with kids of various ages. 

bear loves to climb and this playground comes with a climbing wall — fun.

now as we head into the week, i feel energized and as though i have shed my winter’s skin, finally. the temperatures are warm and the rain fall hasn’t been as intense the past couple of days. we have had a busy long weekend filled with sunshine and family time, which we all have been deprived of lately. our newly planted hostas and ferns are looking good as is the beautiful bleeding heart. my mom gave us a peony and (fingers crossed) it survived the transfer from the big city!

home made yoghurt, strawberry and blackberry pop-sickles!
planting the peony. 

bear passed out before lunch today. this guy has been napping all weekend, which for a kid who dropped his nap a year ago, is unusual. it’s amazing what a few days in the sun will do to ya!

peace out.

xo, mama lola

treeplanters: we were lovers in a dangerous time.

this is how it all began…

falling in love over a cocktail.

10 years ago, on may 16th, 2001 an adorable, bleached blonde guy wearing, picture it, black long-johns with plaid flannel boxers over top and a big ol’ yellow terricloth puma t-shirt kissed me for the first time. he then escorted me back to my tent in the woods and without asking moved in… for the next two months! little did i know he was also moving into my heart and my life.


that’s the story of how dear hubby and i met in the early months of the summer in 2001. the romance began about 100km’s north of an already northern ontario town called, thunder bay. we were at a camp filled with about seventy young, beautiful, hardy folk there to plant trees. man, those were some freakin’ awesome days and nights. the party nights at planting were the kind of parties that well, no city slicker could ever imagine. kinda like, “what happens in vegas, stays in vegas”, same idea with planting.

the mess tent at night; where we ate, hung out, partied.

treeplanting changed me. this job, this experience really helped me navigate through some typical early twenties “who am i and where am i going?” stuff. it also brought me back to the forest, which i so missed while living in the big city. and it provided an opportunity for me to challenge myself physically, emotionally and intellectually. there were days when i wanted to quit and run away, but my friends and my crew boss, jb, kept me going. there is no place to hide at planting. there is no room, time or energy for facades or fakeness, the job is too demanding.
it’s all real.

the way of life is simple at planting. you work hard and party hard; four days on, one off. you sleep in a tent, your meals are provided for you as is your ride to work. you work all day, come back to camp, eat dinner, shower and go to bed. we got paid 8 cents (CAD) a tree, which back in those days was considered a great wage. the theory is the more you plant, the more cash you earn. and living expenses up there were minimal. we paid a camp fee, which covered our living costs at camp (food, gas etc).
here are a few links for more insight on planting and planters. here’s a how to and dictionary to planter lingo.

getting clean up in the woods was an impossibility as the dirt and soil of the land seeped into our rough, dry, cracked skin (and into our hearts). there was a shower tent at camp, but the showers were quick and mostly used to rinse off the larger chunks of dirt and that day’s bug dope. on our days off, camp would be mostly desolate as everyone would head into thunder bay. luckily for planters, t-bay has a very strong finnish heritage meaning there are public saunas. the routine was: first, we all did our laundry at frank’s laundromat and then people would head to the scan or the hoito or kangas. kangas is where we had our sauna. I’m sure many of you already have your own saunas at home, or have already started looking into reviews for them, for example, from Clever Leverage and other sites – Matt has done an exceptional job reviewing saunas.

each crew had their own van and that’s how we got to work.
these trailers is where we kept our “smellies”.
dinner in the mess tent, with some boxed wine! what a treat!
where we got our safe, clean drinking water.

we had black bears come and visit our camp. usually they showed up while we were all off at work on the block. the ministry of natural resources was called in to trap and move the bears far away. there were strict rules for everyone not to keep ANYTHING with a scent in their tents; no creams, bandages, gum, vitamins, condoms, food etc. bears have a keen sense of smell and as some people found out the hard way, a hungry bear looking for food can really damage a flimsy tent. some planters had their tents torn and ripped by a bear looking for smellies left in the tent. sometimes we saw bears or moose on our drive to work, which was always exciting. we also saw lots and lots of bugs; black flies and mosquitoes were attacking us all day, every day. the black flies loved to fly in your face and into your eyes. there were also deer flies that bit chunks out your flesh! dear hubby wore a bug net religiously over his hard hat, but i found it difficult to work like that, so my face was eaten. it felt like someone had written messages in braille on my face, because the bites were so dense!

at work.

dear hubby’s hands after a day out planting. we used duct tape to protect
our hands.

i knew he was the one right away. there was something different about him. at first we spent every non-working moment together and then eventually we worked together too. he was a fantastic planter, so focussed and determined meaning he didn’t waste his time chatting at the cache or smoking copious amounts of cigarettes like the rest of us. he bagged up and kept slamming them trees in the ground. he was initially thought to be a good influence on me and helped push me to become a better planter, but, then it became too distracting and we’d end up smooching in the clear cut for a while! then, we were placed in different crews!

our final party at camp- end of the season and time to head home.

but here we are, a decade later, with a house and a minivan and two little boys, still together. we talk about planting a lot and at spring time we get a bit nostalgic. dear hubby still has that ol’ yellow terricloth shirt and man o’ man, when he throws it on does it ever bring back memories of our first summer of love.

happy anniversary!
xo, mama lola

tea towel tutorial

this project is as easy or as difficult as you want to make it. embellishing tea towels is something people have been doing for a long time, but it’s what and how you do it that makes it fun. the window for creativity is huge on this project.

i started off by buying a pack of tea towels. then i sat on the floor with the towels and chose my fabrics, all the while trying to decide on a design. i searched the internet for ideas and instructions on how to do this. this is what i was going to do first, but when i saw these towels here i decided to go with the more elaborate design.

since the towels were going to the kids’ grandma and mummo for mother’s day, i wanted to personalize them and do something cute. dear hubby was in charge of tracing the kids’ hands, which from the sounds of it was one of the trickiest parts of the project!

– tea towels
– iron-on fabric adhesive
– scissors
– fabric
– thread
– pins & needles
– iron and flat surface to iron on

basic instructions:
1. choose design and fabrics for embellishment. cut out design.
2. iron your tea towels and fabrics well before starting. leave your iron out and plugged in!

3. once you have decided on a design, start cutting your iron-on fabric adhesive. 
4. i sewed the thicker band that sits at the bottom of the towel at one end first and then ironed on the adhesive. then i sewed all around the other edges of the band.

5. if in your design you have something under your band/ ribbon iron on your adhesive before sewing the edges! i had my flower stems.
6. keep ironing your design and then sewing. i did the little hearts inside the hands by hand in a very loose and random stitch.

that’s really all there is to it. the more intricate your design, the longer it takes to sew. the little hands were a pain to sew with all the turns – stitch, foot up, turn fabric, foot down, stitch 4 stitches, foot up, turn fabric etc… you get the idea. 

please share your ideas and projects with me!

xo, mama lola

* HaPpY * BiRtHdAy *

birthdays are becoming a reflective time for me. as people around me celebrate their special days, i often find myself looking back and remembering the yesteryears. sometimes i think i should have accomplished more in my life, but then wonder: more of what, exactly. i never did things by the book after high-school. instead, i carved my own path by moving out of my parents’ house at 19, getting a job and paying the rent. i lived in the big ol’ city and enjoyed my young adulthood to its fullest. now in our thirties, i feel there is pressure to accomplish certain societal expectations like a career outside the home (because mothering is not a career, it’s a hobby* said in a very sarcastic tone), owning a house, cars, a tv, but all of that stuff just doesn’t get my blood going. we want to uproot the kids and live in spain and live by the beach, but only for a year or so. we want to travel to developing countries and show our kids how differently other people live. i have no interest in having a tv or another car or a life that is predictable. predictability actually scares the pants off of us! here’s hoping the rest of our thirties will be filled with adventures!

tomorrow it’s my sweet and dear hubby’s 35th birthday. we will be celebrating at home, just the four of us and with horatio, the bulldog we’re dog-sitting. we will dance, drink and be merry together. bear will be elated to sing “happy birthday” to daddy and help blow out the candles. 

here’s a wee look back at some of dear hubby’s birthdays we have celebrated together over the years. we have other photos too, but since they were taken with a film camera back in the day, i can’t upload them easily onto the blog. all of these pictures are G-rated!

dear hubby’s surprise birthday party in our tiny apartment in china.

this was dear hubby’s birthday in zhenjiang, china in 2002 and was the first we shared together. we were there teaching english. look how young we look!! that time in our lives seems like a million light years away. we were so in love, so young, fearless and full of dreams.
we had just screamed “SURPRISE” and
scared the jeepers out of the guy! 

this birthday party in 2006 was so much fun! dear hubby and i were living it up in the big city at the time and were dependent free. at this party we celebrated with good beer, great friends and lots of laughs! dear hubby’s best friend was in town from germany, which was a wonderful treat!

dear hubby’s grandma always gave the best hugs, no matter what the occasion. look at the grip she has on her grandson’s head- now that’s love! 

she is dearly missed. xo

dear hubby’s first birthday as a daddy; bear is only two months here.

on this particular birthday in 2008, dear hubby and i hosted family for a crepe brunch in our tiny third floor apartment. it was a very unusually hot day for april, over +20c, hence the summer attire on my guys.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR HUBBY! this year is going to be amazing and fun!!! CHEERS!

xo, mama lola

friday, friday.

TGIF people!

this weekend is going to be another busy one for us. tomorrow we are going to spend the afternoon working outside with some of dear hubby’s family. it is an early birthday celebration for the guy as his folks will be away visiting dear hubby’s sis down south on his birthday proper. hopefully the weather will decide to co-operate and give us less wind and more warmth as we want to get our brand new shed sealed and waterproofed. check it out!
look at this pretty shed. bear is especially pleased it has finally arrived!

this evening i feel exhausted and am going to share some pictures of my silly guys instead of writing a long entry. here is bear and his bins. that’s lulu rose, the bulldog, in the red one. we will be dog sitting a real bulldog next week; horatio is his name.

too cool for school. 

lion’s sweater credit goes to grandma and bear’s hair to auntie K.

i also want to send out BIG, HUGE thanks to all of YOU, my followers and readers. this blogging adventure would be lonely without all the support from all you out there in the in the real world. i love reading the comments and welcome more, even if you don’t agree or like what i am writing about. i have had readers from all over the world, which is exciting!


my sweet wee lion.
xo, mama lola

help, i need somebody, help.

yesterday was a long day for all of us.

first bear and i went to buy his fancy glasses. he of course was well behaved as he tried on a few pairs of frames. his criteria for choosing a pair was that they had to be red and beautiful like mine! what a guy! the ones we decided upon ended up being more copper than red, but bear seemed quite pleased and we pick them up next week.

then the four of us went to a friend’s mother’s funeral. it was a beautiful and touching service. this family in particular has endured many tragedies over the past few years; the kind that most people never experience in a life time. i lift my hat to them as i admire their strength and courage while they move through another difficult chapter. i often wonder how much help they have asked for versus, how much help they have actually received.

“how are you?”
“can i help?”
“no, i’m ok.”

asking for help is a skill i have not learned. i suffer greatly from the i-can-do-it-all’s  and rarely ask for help, even when i desperately need it. i suppose i am scared of being judged as a weak, inadequate, incapable woman and mother. this past year has been a true testament to the inability i have to ask for a helping hand. when i was 7 months pregnant we moved cities and into our own home. i packed most of our belongings in the evenings, while dear hubby drove to the then “new house” to paint and do minor repairs. sure people offered to help, but i wasn’t sure if it was out of courtesy, so would thank people greatly and assure them we had everything under control. we moved and our lion was born shortly thereafter. as i was recuperating from his ceaserian birth and as we tried to overcome the trauma of his birth, again i declined help. in the late fall when i had my surgery to remove my pituitary gland tumour and was home but still bleeding from my nose and feeling quite rough around the edges, my mother-in-law came to our house everyday. she cooked and cared for bear, while i hovered around feeling guilty. a week after the surgery i convinced everyone i was strong enough to handle the house and kids alone again. i was lucky though, many of my local friends cooked and brought over delicious meals and treats for us to enjoy. this made a huge difference and i cannot express my gratitude enough.

in hindsight though, i realize i was a fool. it seems so silly to have felt guilty for needing help. in reality i don’t think anyone would have seen me as a weak individual and if they had then screw ’em! 

i watch as some of my dearest family and friends also suffer from the i-can-do-it-all’s. it is a way of behaving that for some absurd reason has become a norm or expectationit is especially pervasive with women and even more in mothers. we think our worth, our self worth, is tied tightly to our ability to do everything. to be the heroine.  truth be told, it is the strong and confident individual who will and can ask for help. 

also, i don’t want to be a bother or a burden to others. people lead busy lives and have a million items on their to do lists, so the last thing i want is to infringe on them. and do people really mean they will help when they offer? from my experience, offering to help is often a cop-out. a way to make the person offering feel better about themselves and most people do not expect to be taken up on their offer anyway. the most helpful help is tangible action oriented behaviour, like arriving at someone’s house with a vacuum or groceries or whatever fits the need. 

bear helping paint the bathroom.

bear helping lion by shoving a stick in his mouth.

xo, mama lola

attachment parenting.

i am having a great parenting week, for a change. typically i can be heard lamenting my woes and lows to fellow mamas, whether on the phone or on the playground. typically, i feel tired and worn down, especially by my challenging three year old bear. his growls and roars are difficult to manage and often i end up losing my cool. being a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) is a lot of work and dealing with irrational children all day is exhausting, no matter how cute they are. there is no possibility calling in sick and sometimes it’s impossible to even get a break. i can just see all you stay-at-home parents, nodding as you sip yesterday’s cold coffee!

but, the winds have shifted at our house and it’s all because of me. my attitude has shifted. yes, bear continues to be three and pushes my buttons in hopes of a reaction, but i have stopped reacting. just like that, i stopped. now, i breathe, stay calm and get down to his level and talk to him. when he loses his cool i hold him tight, whisper softly and endure the hits in the face. of course i remind him not to hit and all of that, but i don’t snap. i continue to hold him. i am the adult in this relationship and it is my responsibility to role model appropriate behaviour.
lost my voice last week. lucky kids. lucky hubby!
and this is where the attachment parenting comes in for me. i am a true believer in holding, carrying and sleeping with my kids. i think in our society we have misconstrued something so simple as touch and twisted it into being about sex. touch and touching is an intimate way to express love to those you care about. for my sweet bear, i have come to understand that his recent spike in difficult behaviour has been about jealousy and the lack of meaningful touch from me. he watches as i breastfeed his baby brother, as i carry lion in the sling or in my arms through-out the day, as i cradle our smallest cub and rock him to sleep. bear feels sad, left-out, angry, envious, resentful, forgotten, neglected; or at least these are the emotions i think he is feeling as he can’t describe what’s going on. he does however go through phases of barking (i know, lucky me), extreme screaming fits, whining, hitting, and other typical age appropriate behaviour. now that i have clued into this, i make a point of touching him, holding him, talking to him at his level (not from up high as usual) and acknowledging his confusing feelings he has started to listen to me again. actually listening to me. he also shows great tenderness towards me again with hugs and kisses, which he cut off from me for a long time. mutual respect goes a long way, baby!

very soon (like in a week or so) we will be night weaning lion, so dear hubby and i will switch the beds and kids we sleep with. since lion’s birth in july, which was quite stressful and confusing for bear, as i was in the hospital for almost a week, dear hubby has co-slept with bear. this sleeping arrangement was our attempt to try and curb jealousy and i think initially it worked.  plus, as many of you know bringing a new member into the family can be very upsetting to the older sibling(s). anyhow, i feel confident that our future musical beds dance will only be positive for my relationship with bear.

lion’s first ride in the wagon. both boys over the moon!

xo, mama lola

what a fantastic weekend!

this weekend we were outside getting a great start to the upcoming gardening season. i raked heaps of last year’s mucky leaves and dear hubby emptied, layered and re-organized our two compost bins, while our wee beasts played in the glorious sunshine and warm temperatures. as we cleaned up debris we were witness to the start of new life and the regeneration after winter’s bitter cold. spring really is all about the renewal of life and is such a big part of the cycle.
it is re-energizing.
we have one little, yet beautiful, crocus in full bloom in our front yard. it has many companions just waiting to reveal their bright faces to the sun. my chives are working hard too.
we have lived in this little house of ours for almost a year.


and now something completely different…

ok. i have to tell you guys about this great event i went on saturday morning. i saw some local friends posting about an event on facebook: “women’s clothing and accessory exchange”. a clothing exchange you ask? well, the way it worked was, all the clothes were donated and if you attended the event and brought a bag of donations you paid $5 to get in, if you donated nothing then you paid $10. then, and this really was the best part, you got to pick and choose through all the clothes, shoes, purses, belts, jewellery and take whatever you wanted. just like that, no questions and NO $$$! the only catch was that all the donated items had to be spring themed, which honestly is not a catch, but logical really. i came home with some pretty home-made mitts, some cute tees, light knitted sweater things, a few dresses, oh and a totally awesome turquoise and red belt! this whole event was so amazing; not only is it affordable for someone like me (no $$$, unemployed hubby), it recycles other people’s goods which is fantastic for the environment, but it also builds local community. there were two rooms, one for the goods and the other where local crafters and artisans had donated things for the silent auction, there were comfy chairs where one could drink the coffee or tea offered or snack on some of the yummy treats, while others tried on clothes and modelled outfits asking for opinions. just writing about it is killing me, the atmosphere was so comfortable, fun and light. 

this was a great way to start my saturday morning. i went alone, without any babies or kids or a husband to herd and watch for. i took my time, chatted with a few familiar and some unfamiliar women, gave some fashion advice (i know, me haha!), and had a chance to re-charge my batteries. 

check the velour pants. sexy mama!

and one last question: should i open an etsy shop? this is where my head is at. with dear hubby’s work situation i gotta make some money for my family and working outside the home seems unrealistic at this point. opinions? other income ideas?
xo, mama lola
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