spring hike.


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

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spring hike,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

xo, mama lola

lion dancing!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

happy friday to you!

xo, mama lola

forest school fun!


 

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

this smiling beauty below is brandy.

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

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

forest school fun

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

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

kids are so open and free.

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forest school fun, forest school fun forest school fun forest school fun

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

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

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

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

xo, mama lola

reindeer cookies!

we made these super cute. super yummy, super easy reindeer cookies after school one day. it was great way to get some christmas cheer into dull monday afternoon, as we also had our CHFI holiday music cranked!

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the recipe is from pillsbury, CLICK HERE for deatils. there’s no mess, it’s fast, easy and the kids LOVE the whole process so much!

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just a few tips :

  • remember to buy the small pretzels as the cookies expand A LOT as they bake, so you need to be generous with the spacing or the “antlers” can fall off when you’re removing from the cookie sheet.
  • get your christmas helpers to decorate fast, because at the cookies set the candy eyes and noses just wont stick!
  • we used swedish berries and M&M’s for the eyes and noses. more colourful!
  • this is the only time i buy cookie dough in a tube, and i just let it go! haha! you should too!

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we actually baked these gems a few christmas’ ago when bear and lion were three years younger than they are today… man, have those kids grown up a lot in that time! so amazing! check out the adorable pictures HERE!

ENJOY!

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reindeer cookies 2

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

wednesday, wednesday to do list!

well, it’s wednesday and i’m sipping a lovely flavoured coffee i treated myself to yesterday. it’s hard to feel motivated when all i want to do is curl back into bed. so, to try and get the ball rolling i made a to do list.

i like lists. they help me. keep me organized. motivated. on track.

usually!

 

today’s to do list:

1. hit the gym

2. shower 

3. tidy kids room

4. tidy the office

5. vacuum main floor

6. book hair appointment

7. put away laundry (it’s all folded and has been sitting in the basement for days!)

8. sew, sew, sew!

 

i think that’s all i can realistically fit in for today. i’ve already actually done two things from my list: i hit the gym and have showered! i included them to make myself look and feel better… lame, i know! hahaha!

DH finished putting in the kitchen floor last night so i gotta get things tidied and vacuumed before all the kids come home from school. i look after some kids after school a few days here n’there and i like to tidy before they come, and clean once they have left! haha! our reno is now in the fun stages of pretty things being built and stuck to place. all the dirty work like plumbing and ripping out drywall is a distant memory at this point! i will share pictures of the reno soon…. promise! things are really looking and feeling different at our house!

 

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we even got our living/ dining rooms in order for x-mas. our tree is up and decorated. there are some other festive things out on display, although our IKEA kitchen is stacked in the dining room corner… but that’s all temporary!

time to get to work!

HAPPY WEDNESDAY PEEPS!

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!

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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

lion started kindergarten.


oh my, what a huge milestone we have reached as a family, but really it’s one our littlest has achieved with such confidence and joy. yes, as a family we got to this goal, but really it’s our lion who has started school with serious zest! i’m so proud of him, i could burst! as a teeny baby, as soon as lion became aware of his big brother he has been working hard to catch up to bear. he has always wanted to do and be just like bear, in that adorable little brother way, which as his mum is heartbreakingly cute to see.

first day of kindergarten
now, that he gets to go to the same school as his big brother… HUGE! from the get-go lion has been brave and eager to go, marching confidently into the kindergarten classroom forgetting to even say bye to us, his bleary eyed parents! here in ontario kindergarten is all day, every day and to acclimatize the newest students they start off with only two hours of school on day and then they get a day or two off, go for a full day, more days off and then they go full steam. it’s called staggered entry and for younger siblings it can be confusing and difficult, because their older sibs are still going to school, going through those routines and so lion’s start to school was kinda long.

 

and, my lion still naps… yes, still at 4 years of age! so, i only send him 3 days a week. i did the same with bear as well, as i think all day, every day school for such little people is too much to handle. on the days lion does not go to school he plays in the morning or goes to swimming lessons and then crashes for 2-3 hours.

 

first day of school

his teachers have shared no concerns and say he is a pleasure in the classroom. one of the teachers was bears teacher for two years and she remarked that it is incredible how different my two boys are! and, it’s true. bear struggled greatly with transitioning into school and i think he was quite jealous that his brother was allowed to stay home with mum, while got shipped away to some scary new place. (read more about bears first days of school HERE) lion now has a huge advantage being the little brother, as he is already very familiar with the school routine. he knows what drop-offs in the morning and pick-ups in the afternoon look like, he recognizes some of the teachers, he has been inside the school a million times over the years and he has his big brother at school down the hall. these are all huge advantages that bear never felt, making him anxious and scared at school often.

 

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i am so proud and excited for my kids this year. they are happy,  they are growing up and experiencing new adventures together, which is what i always wanted for my kids!

 

xo, mama lola

ottawa, our last summer hurrah!

the last week of august is always a bit of a weird week, summer is coming to a  fast end and the anticipation for school to start is thick in the air. to fill our summer to the max, we decided to drive to ottawa for one last summer hurrah!

 

we drove passed toronto and stopped in on some family for lunch and a swim. then we continued until kingston to visit more family. we stayed the night with my sister-in-law, her mister and my sweet wee niece. they have three chickens in their backyard who our boys were quite taken with. oh, lily, robin and blackie, such a lovely feathered trio!

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there was a super awesome splash pad in kingston!

splash pad

splash pad

from kingston we drove to the sandbanks for one last night of summer camping! along the way the kids both fell asleep in the car, and they both slept through a ferry ride! we drove through the picturesque town of picton en route to the sandpbanks provincial park.

us.

ferry to picton

the day had been hot, so our plan was to find our campsite, get changed into our bathing suits and go hang-out at the beach! but, things didn’t quite go as expected… when we arrived at the beach there were these huge, dark storm clouds sitting in the distance. the wind was picking up, but we all braved the weather and went for a swim anyway. it felt like we were swimming in the ocean! the waves were big and stormy as we bounced in them, and then they would continue on crashing onto the shore. we did get cold quickly so we headed back to camp!

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camp cooking

the next day, we tried the beach again. we packed up our campsite, put on our swimming gear, the sun was bright, but again, as soon as we arrived things took a turn. the wind picked up and the warm sun got hidden behind big cloud masses.

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the kids refused to go swimming, instead they opted to bury dear hubby in the sand, but first giving him a nice set of breasts!

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playing in the sand

so, we decided to leave the sandbanks and just drive to ottawa.

 

in ottawa we stayed at the beautiful delta. we looked pretty rough around the edges as we arrived via the underground parking into the sparkly and clean hotel lobby.

delta ottawa

we washed off the sandbanks camping grub and slept well in our comfy beds! the next day we were off to the canadian museum of history, where we explored the children’s museum with great enthusiasm. the kids were given adorable passports, which enabled us to travel from country to country experiencing all sorts of cultural activities!

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canadian museum of history
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canadian museum of history

canadian museum of history

we lunched at the byward market, strolled passed the parliament buildings, the boys got their hair cut at a fancy downtown barber, and we enjoyed our days to the max. but, even though it was all lovely we decided cut our mini-road trip short, as we were feeling pretty burnt out. our summer had been  busy and fun, but we all needed some extra time at home before kicking off another school year!

byward market ottawa

we really love ottawa. it’s a great place to visit with kids, with a dynamic downtown that is walkable even for littler feet. there are lots of yummy restaurants and the byward market is so great at meal times! in the above picture we all had something different to eat from all sorts of worldly places!

 

but, we were so glad to get home!

i got all of laundry done, groceries for the following week and a few good sleeps before having to set the alarm for our early school day mornings! bah!

 

i have a back-to-school-starting-school post in the pipeline! this new life of two kids in school has been a big transition in our family, and somehow i have less time to blog…

 

xo, mama lola

camping killbear.

 

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this summer has been jam packed with camping. one of our trips to the woods was with an old friend from high school and her two lovely girls. we had booked the camp site weeks prior and a few days before our trip did some simple meal planning. then the night before our departure, while dear hubby was driving our van to run a few errands for me, white smoke emerged from the steering column of the van!!! in the morning the mechanic took hard look at the problem, replaced a few wires, but was unable to give a definite reason as to what had caused the smoke. my friend and i weren’t even sure that i could drive the three hours needed to get to our campground.

 

long story short, we got the ok from the mechanic so the kids and i hit the road, a few hours behind schedule, but at least we were on our way!

 

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about an hour into our drive we hit rain. and when i say rain, i mean torential downpour where the wipers are swishing away at full blast! we stopped off the main highway to pee and load up on timbits! the rain eased up so we got back in the van and kept heading north. the drive was easy, luckly, which meant we arrived quickly at killbear.

 

killbear provincial park.

we set up camp.

got dinner under way.

started a fire.

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it was cold and damp, with rainy drizzly bits moving over us constantly. luckily my friend is a super outdoorsy woman with incredible skills when it came to setting up tarps and tying knots. when she was climbing around on picnic tables trying to create good rain cover for us, i got to hold the baby! our youngest camper wasn’t even a year, but she had her mum’s outdoorsy skills. she rarely complained and was happy taste test all kinds of natural goodies she found on the ground!

 

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when the rain eased up we walked down to a tiny beach. we climbed the large rock taking in the spectacular views. the air was cool, but regardless the kids decided they wanted to dip their toes into the water. next thing you know, they are all almost naked going in waist deep to play! we were so close to our camp site that us mum’s weren’t worried and just let them play!

 

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these two could be twins! they were born about a month apart back in 2010!

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yes, that is baby M wearing a down snowsuit in august. the air was that raw!

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friday was our departure day and it turned out to be a gorgeous summers day. the sun was out in full blast, the blue sky was bright and the temperature rose up quickly! we took the morning to pack up and then headed to the beach!

 

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then we found some more rock to explore on. the views were breath taking and quite reminiscent of my homeland, finland.

 

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the kids did so great on this trip! even though so much of it was cold and rainy they never complained. instead they rode their bikes a lot, played all sorts of games in the woods and the three bigger kids got along super well!

 

here are my instagram pics from the trip! make sure you’re following me there… CLICK HERE!

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killbear also had an awesome visitors centre that we checked out. very interactive with educational activity sheets for kids to fill out. great especially as it was so cold and rainy…. and finally, NO BEAR SIGHTINGS!!! the van was fine letting us get home safe and sound!!!

 

i know school has started and i will share pictures from those days soon! i just want to share pics from our trip to ottawa, which will happen soon:ish i hope! beginning of september is an exhausting time for all of us!!!

xo, mama lola
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