lion in the sun.

this space has become very saturated with bear and and all of his school stuff recently. 

i don’t want to send the wrong message that i favour my bear and that i have forgotten all ablout  my lion, because, that would be ridiculous! lion and his needs have been at the forefront of the school decisions right next to bear’s. one reason we chose to only send bear to school three days a week instead of the typical five, was because we wanted to nurture the relationship between the boys. in the summer i would lay in bed at night wondering how our littlest guy would cope with his big bro at school all day, every day, gone. i honestly worried he would fall into a bit of a depression.
dramatic? perhaps.
but, again, since we can keep bear home we midas well. the benefits are enumerable for all of us. 

i could have sent my lion to preschool this fall, but instead i chose to keep him at home with me, because he and i have never really spent much time alone, just the two of us. with dear hubby at work and bear at school all day, it is the perfect time to clock in some valuable one on one time with my wee guy. now at two lion is seriously asserting his own wants and needs, and has an opinion about everything (just like his mama). by spending more focused time with him, i think it’ll help curb some of the screaming and tattling that takes over in the evening around here.


i will look into community programs and see what we will do. maybe swimming, maybe a reading group, maybe an art class. whatever we do decide to do, i am so excited for us to spend time as duo! 

he’s excited too, he just doesn’t know it yet!  

how do you divide yourself amongst your kids? how do you find balance?


xo, mama lola

a letter to my bear.

to my sweet bear,

i am writing this letter to you as a kind of coming of age ritual. this is a first of many, i hope.


here we go…you are my first born son. 
you have always brought great joy to my life and as my first, there has been great uncertainty at times as well. your dad and i have always tried our best, with what we knew at the time. sometimes we really didn’t know very much! i am so proud to be your mama, your äiti. your silly personality, your sense of humour and your artistic flare are such a pleasure to live with every day. your intuitive abilities with people will take you far and will help you with whatever you do. your sensitive self will provide a foundation to help navigate the ups and downs in life. your emotions will guide you, even during difficult times.

i have watched you grow greatly this year; your confidence has started to blossom. your thirst for knowledge and creative expression have found a wonderful balance within you, rounding out who you are, and who you are becoming. my wish is that i have provided you with the opportunities to grow into a responsible adult

two years ago our little lion joined our family. since then, i have watched you grow into a solid, big brother. your relationship with him is already close and full of love. i hope the two of you remain the best of buds throughout your lives.



today, you are four-and-a-half years old and you are entering a new chapter in your life by starting kindergarten. we have discussed at length what you should expect, what your classroom will look like, how to behave at school, what kind of activities you will participate in and so on. i believe you are as ready as you ever will be. 

i see greatness in your life. i hope your curiosity takes you to interesting places around the world and that you meet good people. i hope you learn to dance to your own beat, ignoring what society dictates and ignoring the norms our consumer culture has created. i hope you love with everything in you and do not fear the pains and joys of commitment.

my wish is that i have provided you with the opportunities, taught you the right skills and told you i love you enough times. i hope you have felt loved and respected each day of your life; i know you have showed your love to me, even during times of frustration.

i love you.
from here to the moon and to saturn and back a gazillion times.

yours always,
äiti
september 09, 2012

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
[  sitting around at the park at five months. ]
[ all smiles at 18 months. ]
[ mischievous bear at 4.5 years. ]

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 

i got this sappy letter idea from a mama friend of mine. angela at “life with my forest creatures” wrote a letter to her daughter and you can read her letter HERE.


xo, mama lola

school gear!

here’s a quick look at bear’s must haves this fall for school with prices as we paid for them…


1. a new bookbag from MEC (HERE)
2. brand new super cool sneakers from H&M (HERE)
3. rad, red, chinos also from H&M (HERE)
4. fancy shirt, again from H&M (HERE)
5. light weight, easy to use rubbermaid containers (as seen HERE & HERE). i actually bought his on super-duper sale at the local grocery store!


xo, mama lola

bear started kindergarten today.

today was a big day for our family.


my eldest started school. they have a new system, where they don’t just throw the JK’s into the school and see who sins or swims, instead, they stagger the start days. that means, today bear went on from 12pm until 2pm to meet his teacher, see his classroom and make some new friends. dear hubby, lion and i walked to school with him. as we were walking i was holding back tears, biting my lip and trying desperately to ignore the urge to turn around and run back home with my bear tightly in my arms.

[ leaving the house with a pouty bear and tired lion.]


we arrived at the school to a small group of waiting families. then bear’s teacher called him and some other JK’s to go into her room. so, in we went and almost immediately we were told to quickly say good-bye and leave.
i felt so flustered and tried to give him a kiss; i don’t even remember if i told him i loved him. and then we left, leaving him behind. i rushed out of the school with tears welling up in my eyes, trying to wipe them away without smearing my mascara every where. why i put that stuff on… anyway, i only allowed myself to cry a few little sobs before we walked home. lion fell asleep in the stroller and the three of us we spent a quiet afternoon at home without our bear.

[ a quick good-bye. ]

the house felt empty without bear. he’s not a particularly loud kid, but he has big presence here. he holds his own and makes himself known.
my heart ached as i looked at baby pictures of him, wondering where my little bear had gone. how did four and a half years fly by like that? gone, i swear all i did was blink and swoosh, gone. time has this magic of disappearing into thin air.

the two hours at school passed quickly enough. back at school we met his teacher, madameC, who is lovely. she is friendly and soft, and her demeanour seems like an ideal match for my guy. she remembered bear from the visit the kids had in the spring, the one where he grabbed my leg and cried and wouldn’t let go. today madameC told me with a gentle smile that he didn’t cry at all and that he seemed quite calm. that is reassuring. something i needed to hear.


bear himself was delighted to show us his cubby for his shoes and the corner he tucked his bookbag into. he proudly presented me with the art he had done and excitedly explained that they had even gone outside. as i listened to him, i was honestly so happy for him and so proud, especially since going to JK is a big deal for my anxious little guy. but, and i hate to admit this, deep down inside i was sad that his life was going on without me; that he doesn’t need me quite so much any more; that he’s growing up. 


i know it sounds silly, and possibly laughable. 
but, as a stay-at-home-mama, letting go of my child and entrusting him to someone else is a big deal. that’s one of the reasons we’re only sending him for three days a week instead of the full five. luckily bear’s teacher madameC and the school principal seem unphased and supportive of our own schedule. i am not willing to completely give him up to the system. others can judge me all they want, but kids are in school all day, five days a week for over a decade. i want to spend as much time with my kids as possible, while i can. 

[ looking confident and proud in front of the kindergarten playground. ]


[ walking home.]


maybe it’s selfish, maybe it’s self-less, depends who you ask, i suppose.
but, i know what’s best for my kids.

xo, mama lola

(back) to school.

tick-tock-tick-tock…
that is the sound of time going by too quickly! my kid is starting JK in a matter of weeks and i feel like i am not ready. 

he will be getting THIS bag as his backpack from mountain equipment co-op. it’s a bit pricey;

i’m justifying it with the expectation that it will last longer than the cheap ones with various television and movie characters on them. plus, the school is strict about the size of bag and i think it fits their requirements, although it is a bit big for my lil’ bear.

i told him we could get some patches to decorate and personalize the bag. 

we also ordered him a subscription to chirp magazine. i bought him one issue for our road trip and he loved it, and i think it’ll be a great way to make him feel big and special. who doesn’t love receiving mail?

and finally, we ordered some labels for all of his stuff for school. bear is pretty meticulous about his stuff, but he is only four after all and so easily distracted! now i just have to figure what kind of lunch bag to sew him.

this september bear is supposed to attend school full-time, but with the disastrous experience we had with the summer camps, i have decided to only send him three days a week. i think this is more reasonable and c’mon, it’s JK, which is not mandatory in the first place! his anxiety peeks during stress and separation from me, and i think come the holidays we will re-evaluate his attendance at school. maybe he will need more, maybe less. 

he obviously doesn’t know yet that he will be attending fewer days than his peers and we will broach that conversation after school starts, i think. i don’t want to plant ideas in his head, i just want to answer his questions. bear has friends who are not attending daily, so it’ll make the discussion easier, i hope. 

all of these transitions are so hard.

xo, mama lola

ballet camp was a disaster.

my eldest guy is a tad on the what the experts call the sensitive side of things. he has difficulty during transitions and has great difficulty separating from me, especially when an activity is new. like preschool or as we experienced last week, ballet camp. 



each morning as i was trying keep the ball rolling, getting the two boys ready for the day, bear would shout “i hate ballet camp, i never want to go”. he was in fact shouting and crying this on the first morning, before he had ever stepped foot into ballet camp. i signed him up for dance camp at the same school he has been taking weekly ballet lessons for the last year, in the hopes that he wouldn’t feel anxious or stressed. he also went with a very good friend of his, which i thought would make the process easier.
but, boy did i miscalculate things and boy did it all backfire in my face!

on the first day the ballet teacher phone and left a worried message. and each day we chatted about when he cried and what calmed him down. he was fine during the actual dancing parts, but became upset during craft, snack and whatever else they did.  



the class did an interpretation of “sleeping beauty” and seeing as bear was the only boy in the class, he was the prince. but in this version, the prince was a bit of a grump and a meany and stomped around a fair bit pointing wands and swords in various directions. the girls on the other hand were given opportunities to dance freely with sparkly fairy wings and my guy had to stand there and watch.
i think this was a part of the problem. he was isolated from the rest of the class because he is a boy, and this upset him. but, i’m just guessing. who knows anything with four year olds!



this terrible experience at camp creates tremendous stress in the pit of my stomach, because it makes me think of september and when he will start school. and where we live, kindergarten is all day, every day. 



*******
we had a lovely birthday for our ferocious lion, today. it was such fun to celebrate with our family and friends! bear has been receiving lots of special, focused attention because he graduated preschool had grandparents watch at ballet a few weeks back, so this morning he threw a fit of jealous rage threatening to “ruin lion’s party”, yikes! he of course didn’t and was a delightful big brother helping open gifts!
i will post about the party soon!



xo, mama lola

last days of preschool!

just a quick post tonight.


today was bear’s last day at his preschool. tomorrow is his graduation.
i am feeling such a mix of bittersweet emotions; sad that my guy is growing up so quickly and needing me less, but yet so happy and proud that he is growing up into a lovely, sweet little person. he of course is confused that he will never have his teachers as teachers or play with his buddies in that environment again.


here he sits. the top pictures are of him this morning at the school doors, and the bottom two were taken in september on the first day of preschool. the shoes he’s wearing there don’t really fit anymore, and doesn’t the hat look smaller in the top pics? maybe i’m not seeing things very clearly as my eyes are so blurred with tears…

i will post more pics tomorrow from grad. 
not sure if i should wear mascara, might be too much of mess with all the crying and sobbing i will do!



xo, mama lola

weathering the storms.

i have been away from my blog for a couple of days, as we are living through a bit of a parenting storm. the storms are brought on by our four year old bear, and they have made navigating the parenting adventure difficult. bear is giving us a hard time and i have been feeling super stressed, guilty and hopeless.

[ a big storm rolled in with lots of rain, hail and massive, loud thunder. we watched the rain in awe. ]

because, bear is our first born he is the one who presents us with these new parenting challenges. as he reaches new milestones or turns a new number we are always faced with unknown parenting territory. lately, bear has been extra whiny, but he has completely stopped listening to anything that i say. the simplest task seems to turn into a power struggle and it makes our days unpleasant. i have been dreading each day when i wake up. what an awful feeling for this mama.

[ then we played during the storm. bear was feeling quite anxious from the thunder,
which was understandable as it felt like the whole house shook when it boomed in the sky. ]

but, thanks to facebook and to the many pieces of advice my friends offered after i left a pathetic status update, i am now feeling optimistic about where we’re headed. i was given some book recommendations and today dear hubby has promised to buy one for us. barbara coloroso came up several times, so here’s hoping our local indie bookstore has her book “kids are worth it”.

[ how could anyone who sleeps like this stress me out? ]







bear has a quick visit in a JK classroom this afternoon. he is scared and nervous and i am trying to psyche him up gently. i think he’ll be ok for the 45 minutes he’s there alone with his friends and teacher. unfortunately, he will not be at his actual school as it is still under construction.


****
and for some good parenting news…
our sweet little lion has started to show interested in the potty. and this morning he had his first official pee in it! bear, dear hubby and i all cheered and clapped as he sat naked beaming with pride. i must admit, i was beaming too!


*****
happy week-ending everyone!
xo















xo, mama lola

brothers :: veljekset.

they play school.
listen.
bear: i am the teacher. here is your hook (and hangs up lions little bag on a chair)
lion: smiles and tries to take the bag
bear: no, you can take it when school is done.
(this game mimicks the routine at bear’s pre-school where bags and coats are hung on hooks.)


these little imaginary worlds they create together and move through, cause my heart to ache. i’ve always wanted the boys to play together, but as the age difference is getting smaller, the games and roles they take on keep evolving. i am in awe of their camaraderie. often i will hear bear allowing lion to have a turn first, or do something that isn’t really a part of the game. they are always looking out for each other.


bear’s nickname for lion is “first friend”. i know right, too friggin’ cute! 



the boys play together so well, i am worried about the day bear heads off to junior kindergarten in the fall, and lion is left alone with me. i am worried for both of them and their relationship. i realize some time apart will not hurt them, but all day, 5 days a week is a lot, and i quite frankly it breaks my heart to think my kids won’t get involved in their imaginary worlds together. there just aren’t hours in the day. i feel quite protective of their relationship and i know many people look at me with confusion and judgement. let them.


sometimes it feels like our capitalist society is hell bent on destroying the family unit, by separating us into day cares, schools and jobs.


bro’s. 







xo, mama lola
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