i can finally exhale.

my mothering is changing pace. the boys are growing so quickly, which means their needs and my time can be used differently.

i have been slowly, but carefully purging, purging, purging through our things. i have wiped away many tears as i have sorted through several large tote bins of baby items, deciding what to sell, what to pass along and what to keep. the toys are easy to get rid of. the clothes, not so much.

it takes a while to purge, as i look at the clothes, hold them, touch them to my cheek, remembering each of my boys wearing these tiny sleepers and onesies so many moons ago. it is so hard to remember accurately those hazy, baby days. and, i think that’s how it’s supposed to be, because although there are so many wonderful moments of firsts and unbearable cuteness, the sleepless nights, bouts of teething and gas issues, the awful bum rashes and epic amounts of laundry i did in those days, was quite simply exhausting. and, quite frankly not worth remembering.

my days felt never ending, long and often quite lonely.

and, then all of a sudden we were out of baby-hood and in the throws of kid-hood. we are done with teething and diapering, never to have to endure those constant sleepless nights with a fussy baby, taking turns pacing and me trying to breastfeed in those dark, quiet hours of the night again.
i did try to drink up the time with my babies; i would stare at the details of their tinyness; the folds of skin, the eye lashes that went on forever and the fingers that gripped mine so tightly. i tried to enjoy the quiet moments, even if they were short lived.

our awesome bumbleride queen B stroller is still sitting in the basement. i am so unsure what to do with it. we used the heck out of, especially when bear was little. i love that stroller and was so pleased with it’s purchase. i didn’t drive when bear was born, so this stroller got us everywhere safely and efficiently. i called it my SUV, because it has four large rubber tires chosen to help navigate through the snowy winters of canada. now, all the strollers have them, but 6 years ago we paid a lot of money for those big ol’ tires! I do remember all of the stress that came with looking and buying a stroller like this though. It took us ages to find one that would fit our needs, especially the need of being able to travel to different places without having a lot of hassle. We came across this joovy double stroller that we loved! But then we realized we wouldn’t be having twins so we had to reevaluate our choices. That double stroller looked really good though as you could detach car seats from them, so it would’ve been brilliant had we needed to travel anywhere by transport. Eventually, though, we feel in love with the one we picked, so I’ll be sad when the time comes that we won’t need to use it anymore.

we also done with slings, wraps and other carriers. i spent hours and hours of my life carrying someone on my side, front or back! my body ached at the end of the day, but again, i am glad i endured.

it feels as though we have survived and conquered the first stage of parenting. i am proud of the parenting choices we made. especially the co-sleeping, cloth diapering and extending breastfeeding. although, in hind-sight i think i should have allowed myself some more leeway considering i had a tumour in my head and then eventually had to recover from that surgery. but, my beliefs were so strong about the kind of parent i wanted to be, that veering away from them felt selfish. those early years are so brief and short lived, that i couldn’t say “oh, when i am feeling more energized i will breastfeed more”.

today, i have a three year old and five year old. my kids are doing awesome and i am finally feeling as though we have found peace at our house. the boys have transitioned into the new school/ pre-school routine so smoothly, which is kind of unheard of at our house. and, because my worry for them has decreased i have been able to think about myself more. which, is empowering and wonderful!

i can finally exhale from those tense, busy, exhausting baby days and get ready for mothering these early childhood days, which i’m sure will be just as exhausting, just different!


what stage are you at in your mothering/ parenting?

xo, mama lola

there is a stirring inside of me.

this year is just flying by. it’s hard to believe it’s already mid-september! 
i started the year with lots of goals and changes in mind, and i made bunch of new years resolutions in january, but i guess i mostly forgot about them. or at least the specifics. or maybe not.

as always, it is difficult to myself a priority in the day to grind and i’m still working on those always important self care details of my life. buti am proud of myself for making larger efforts, setting clear boundaries with the kids about my availability; i am fine saying to them i can’t do that right now, you will have to wait. it is easier to set these small boundaries with them because they are older and more independent. plus, with lion in preschool a couple times a week and bear in senior kindergarten, i do have a small handful of hours in the week where i am totally alone. kid free!

during these quiet hours i can feel a stirring inside of me. it’s a feeling that i want to do something big for myself…
i started my women’s studies degree six years ago. (oh, it sounds just horrible to say that, and not be done!) then we got married and bear was born. i continued my studies when he was a wee dude and i put my studies on hold two months before lion was born. it astounds me that while i was massively pregnant, i commuted about 30 minutes each way to my classes, completed my readings, wrote exams, completed essays, all while mothering a two year old and with a tumour growing in my head! 

clearly i had to put my studies on hold when lion was a newborn and, while having to deal with my health concerns. and inevitably my education was placed way at the bottom of the priority list. this was the right thing to do at that time in my life, but now i am starting to feel a strong urge to finish what i started. 
to finish my degree.
get ‘er done!

but, the university where i began my women’s studies degree has since discontinued the program (patriarchy at it’s finest!) and figuring out my current options is tricky. it’s not like i have time to sit on the phone and call around making appointments with various universities or what-have-you. but, after some soul searching and real consideration of what i want to do, i think i am closer to a final decision. this time, i am making a decision purely based on me, my needs and my wants. it’s time for my dear hubby and the boys to make some sacrifices too, and honestly, i wouldn’t be asking much of them, or anything they wouldn’t be willing to do for me. they will all support me in their own way, i know it!

next september i will have two kids, so all of my kids in school full-time. that frees up my days and my life significantly. don’t get me wrong, i LOVE being a mama, and i love being home with my kids, but that doesn’t mean i can’t want more for myself.

sitting around thinking about life. my life.

xo, mama lola

the first leg of our epic summer road trip!

and so our second annual family summer road trip started with a weekend at the cottage with dear friends. we left home on a stormy friday afternoon and arrived at the cozy cottage where the weather was calm and beautiful. so, we decided to get our bathing suits on and jump in the lake! it was a great way to start the weekend!
our weekend was fun in the sun; we swam, chatted about everything under the sun, sat by the fire, roasted marshmallows, drank various drinks, the kids played and played… it was glorious!

we left the cottage on a hot sunday afternoon and headed north on highway 400. our first stop was french river. it is a beautiful spot, perfect for a picnic and stretching your legs. we did both!

our first night of camping was fine. dear hubby and i were a bit out of sync, but seeing as it was our first night on the road, we allowed ourselves the learning opportunity to figure it all out. it took a lot re-organizing to get things into good order. for example, packing up my camping kitchen, i just tossed things into my bin at home, but here at camp i organized it as now i knew what i needed first when starting a meal. 

we bought the kids their own camping chairs and surprised them at our first campfire. they seriously believed us when we told them the forest fairies brought them! it was so sweet!

our first morning at fairbank provincial park and this is what the crater created lake looked like. kinda unbelievable!

then we hit science north in sudbury! (a shout out to all the sudbury peeps, YO!) man, it was fun, awesome and did i mention fun? if you’re even by the big nickel, hanging out on the rock go check this place out!

this big guy here, was the tallest man alive once-upon-a-time. he too had some issues with his pituitary gland, different from mine, but i felt a bond with this freakish moving robot man!

then it was time to hit the road. the kids were quiet and sleepy after such a busy morning, which made for easy driving. we did get stuck behind the road painting truck, which was super frustrating and hilarious at the same time!

and then we saw this sign (see below photograph). we passed the english version before i could snap a photo, but here is the french version (canada is billingual).  the sign reads “please do not feed the bears”. then on the brown part “bears are dangerous”. um yeah they are! they have massive claws and teeth, which are not there just for looks! and, here i thought there is no way in hell anyone in their right mind would want to get near an actual bear, never mind feed it. clearly i am naive!

we drove to sault saint marie, arrived after dinner time so the kids were grumpy and had a hard time finding a good place to eat. eventually, we decided to get a room at the motel 8 and get some grocery store sushi, cheeses, baguette and fruit. kids loved it, i loved it, and dear hubby loved. it was easy and delicious!

the next morning we piled into the car and headed for the famous canal locks. we arrived just in time to see an american tourist boat experience the strange wonder of the locks. the boat started out at one water level and then slowly was lowered to another water level. it’s actually super cool, but also scary!

we visited the bush plane museum in the soo. it was very well organized, and even though it’s a small museum, there is a lot to see and do. the boys of course loved it!

after the soo, we headed along the trans-canada highway north to camp at a provincial park.

that was when we discovered the wonder that is pancake bay.

as we set up camp we could hear a deep rhythmic pounding in the distance. so, we walked over the soft, sandy dunes and saw this.
a breathtaking view of sand and water and sky and forest.

dear hubby and i sat and watched as the kids played in the water, becoming more and more soaked as the waves kept crashing into the shore, and as the kids kept running into them. the boys were not bothered at all by the frigid temperatures of lake superior, or the cool wind that was blowing over the lake; they laughed while running and playing! it was perfect.

then, evening came. dear hubby put the kids to bed, i hooped…

and then this happened. wow.

more pictures and tales to come later from our epic road trip!

xo, mama lola

ontario, the beautiful.

my family and i went on an epic road trip this summer. just over two weeks of driving, camping with a few pit stops in m/hotels. i say this trip was epic, because although we drove a similar distance last summer when we drove all the way out east to the maritimes of canada, on this trip we headed north. north to where life is rougher, the temperatures much cooler and for us the trip felt more challenging, mirroring the way of life.

we live in south western ontario, which is mostly farm country, with pockets of lush forest. everything down here is flat. once you’re about 5 hours north of toronto, you start to kind of notice the rock, the rougher landscape, but just after sault saint marie, which is about 8 hours north west of toronto you really, really notice the rock cliffs, the trees fighting to survive and the lush green of the south is long forgotten and replaced with a scragglier, rougher landscape. 

dear hubby and i met 12 years ago in those scraggly forests just outside of thunder bay, while treeplanting. this vacation was really a trip down memory lane and a way for us to re-experience all of those fun new-relationship places we got to know each other at all those years ago! we’ve had a tough year of marriage and life, and even though the kids were with us, this vacation felt like dear hubby and i were reconnecting in all the right ways! so great!

the raw feel of the landscape along lake superior really affected me. i grew up in finland, which has a very similar look and feel, so i was feeling quite nostalgic. the rocky cliffs lining the shores of the great lake are capped with moss, thin spruce trees, the odd birch tree and some berry bushes. you can imagine the freezing cold wind blowing up from the lake, creating incredibly cold conditions. we camped at a few provincial parks along the shores of lake superior and were surprised at the fine sand beaches we found, with awesome crashing waves. felt like we were in the caribbean without the crowds of tourists and palm trees, oh and the salt water!

we truly live in a beautiful province, one that i think most people take for granted. it is so easy to forget to look at the beauty that surrounds us, to acknowledge the wonder that is in our own backyard. i am proud to share the awesome adventures ontario has to offer with my kids; it doesn’t sound like a very exotic place, this good ol’ ontario, but we saw and experienced some awesome things. it isn’t a coincidence that our car license plates here say “yours to discover”!

i have a million pictures to sort and edit, stories to organize in my brain and many details to write down! i will be sharing vacation pics and tales in spurts!
keep checking back!

xo, mama lola

this moment.

as inspired by souleMama; one photo from our week, no words, only an image to sum up our time as a family. one that captures a moment in time and is a visual reminder of where we were at this time in our lives.

this moment comes from this past wednesday when i was told by my endochronologist and neurologist that i am still tumour free! so relieved and happy to share the moment with my sweet dear hubby! those annual appointments really don’t get any easier with time! (photo taken at the hospital with my phone!)

i’d love to see your moment from this week, so share a link in the comments!

xo, mama lola

happy birthday, dear hubby!

all of these pictures are pre-2007. we look like babies in so many of the pics!  
happy 37th birthday to my sweet, loving, adorable husband! 

today, the four of us are heading to niagara falls for a day of fun! we will check out the falls, play some arcade games, eat massive ice creams and hopefully ride the ferris wheel! 

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.

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.

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
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