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

what is happiness: by dilovely!

i’ve been wanting to share this post by my lovely blogger friend, dilovely. i have written a lot about happiness and contentment here at bear & lion, but i wanted to share something on the same topic, but with a different voice. (read my stuff HERE and HERE.)

as we head into fall, and the routines it brings with it, it is refreshing to be reminded of what and where we want to be, before we are overcome by the drudgery of it all!

please send dilovely some love and go read this article by her!

*  *  *  *  *  *  *
i love how freely kids express themselves.
they go from goofy to sad to overjoyed in an honest stream of emotions.

happy monday!

xo, mama lola

rewards chart, it’s our first time.

i’ve mentioned here before how we have been having a hard time with bear lately. his day to day behaviour is exhausting to live with. his negativity, his sassy mouth and the potty mouth are the top concerns we have. so after talking to another mama, i decided to make him a rewards chart. we’ve never made one for our kids, not even for potty training, so i thought it was worth a try.

one day as bear and i walked home from school just the two of us, we had a chat : mom to son. i started off by saying he and i were in a rut and that we had bad habits in place for clear, honest communication. our response to each other was always the same, we were snappy and grumpy, just cuz. i admitted to having my own bad habits and i asked bear if he was willing to work together to change things up.
he said yes.
then i told him about the chart and that if he succeeded in filling it in with stickers, then we would go to the toy store and buy a wee toy. bear helped make the chart; he numbered the days and then helped decide what the categories should be. he wanted everything to have it’s own row, but i had to contain it all. not sure i did a great job, but so far it seems to be keeping us on the right track.

i’m not super excited about admitting that i am bribing my kid to behave, but i think that incentive can work effectively when used appropriately. and really, it’s about changing behaviour and hopefully by the end of this week, we’ll have both taken a turn for the better.

it’s a huge chart with 100 squares, but on the weekend some of the categories are not applicable (hang up back up, take out lunch bag etc), and we’ve given him a few “allowed oops'”, because we all make mistakes and forget or are tired. i’m not looking for perfect behaviour, but i am hoping for an effort towards courtesy, kindness and positivity. 

i don’t have a chart for myself and alas, do not receive any stickers for my efforts. but, i do see the change in him and that’s all the reward i need. kids really do reflect back what they see and feel from us, the parents. they copy and mimic us in ways that is so surprising. i see and hear myself (and dear hubby) in the kids; sometimes i cringe in shame, other times i jump up with pride and think “wow, we are doing something right!”

this whole parenting gig is tricky and, as the kids get older it gets much more challenging intellectually and emotionally. sleep deprivation and battles with getting babes to sleep or to nurse, all seem so easy somehow in comparison. but, i suppose i now have the skills and confidence to deal with sleep issues, but i cannot say the same about dealing with a 5 year old who talks back with great sass in his tone.

at the end of the day, i am grateful for whatever battles come my way. i am proud to be my kids’ äiti (mum) and happy to take each day as they come. as long as i get to drink my coffee as well!

happy days ahead!

xo, mama lola

this is my pity party.

i’ve been having a real shitty few weeks, months really.
i am trying come out of it.
since the new year, i have tried to grow as a person, ya know, being the best i can be, while allowing myself to make mistakes, learn from them and move on. but, that’s not happening the way i imagined it would. i am having a difficult time keeping the momentum going.
welcome to my pity party!

over the years i have tried to be a good person: a reliable friend, a strong wife and a stable mother. i am the first to admit and acknowledge that i have made huge mistakes and have failed at being strong or level headed when i should have. but, should making mistakes make me a target, especially when i have held myself responsible for my actions? all of those roles i mentioned earlier are near impossible to maintain  on a good day, never mind when i am being blamed for the mistakes of others. it is difficult to hold my chin up with confidence and pride when i am told my pain is illegitimate and irrelevant. it devalues me as a person, while stripping me of my worth, and completely dismissing existence.
i am not capable of just pretending everything is ok and ignore the massive pink elephant in the room. but, what am i supposed to do when i try to talk about these issues with them and they respond in a way that is so cold, accusatory and harsh. why are they allowed to treat me like shit? who gave them that permission…. was it me?

so lately instead of asking for help and support, i have started to shut down and turn into myself. i have started to censor myself more here, because some of the shit holding me back is related to family. (it always is, right?) i wish i could be more open and not feel as though i need to censor myself here, as this place is one i have created for myself; for my thoughts, my feelings, my projects, my fave recipes, my vents, my highs and my woes. MY life. but, i share my life with others, and i do not want out people or cause more hurt or divide, so i will only share about my process, my pity party. 

today, at the end of april, i am desperately trying to dig myself out of this mess, this hole i dug for myself. it is a hole i feel like i am being pushed back into whenever i start feel a little stronger. i cannot control what other people do, i understand that, but i am struggling to be a duck in rain and let what they think of me roll off of my back. i am raw, vulnerable and hurting, and somehow it feels as though that doesn’t matter to anyone.

this post sounds like a pity party, i know, but i am trying to find my motivation again. i thought that if i put some of my pain out there for all to see and read, maybe they would stop blaming me for everything and recognize that everyone makes mistakes, including them. and holding ones self accountable takes courage.
i refuse to be a scapegoat.
i am worth more.
i deserve better.

xo, mama lola

i am conflicted and torn.

i’ve been having a really hard few days. the internal dialogue in my head is confusing and i feel as though my will power and determination is being tested. and, i hate it.

so, I started a fast acting liver cleanse last week. it means I am on a strict diet of whole foods, avoiding coffee, sugar, all flours, anything refined or processed, with limited fruit intake but, I’m allowed to eat all the veggies in the world (there are other diet guidelines but I’m not going to get into all of it). I do the cleanse because it clearly demonstrates to me the bad habits I develop with food. ya know, having that extra cheese slice, finishing off all of the kid’s leftovers, nibbling on various treats at the end of the day and sometimes drinking too much coffee and not enough water.

i did the cleanse last year at this time and was totally pure.
this year, i’ve been thrown a curve ball and it has really challenged me.

on Wednesday I went (hula) hooping with a group in town and threw my back out. on thursday i was in so much pain i could hardly walk at times. i cried and cried on thursday evening as dear hubby tried to figure out how to help me. He was starting to even look into cbd for relief from the pain, bless his soul. the pain was really bad and i was so thankful that i had booked an appointment with my chiropractor for the next morning, for my chronic neck issues. i don’t know what i would have done if that appointment wasn’t booked in. so, on friday morning i limped in to the office with lion in tow (because this almost immobile mama, still doesn’t get the day off) and my chiro twisted, adjusted and stretched me in ways that felt so good! there are so many benefits of chiropractic care and every time i go and visit my chiropractor, she makes my body feel so much better. she explained that i have shifted a disk or disks in my lower back, an area where i already have some issues with badly positioned disks, and i am to take it easy, but not too easy. i am to include many rounds of stretching and icing, and to keep walking ensuring i don’t become lazy with all of this pain.

the curve ball is this… during a liver cleanse one is not supposed to take anything for pain management either, because your liver is the organ that processes all those drugs and medicines. but, for survival i have been popping advil gel caps as though they are tic-tacs. not sure how much they are helping, but i feel like i need them.

because the cleanse food is all made from fresh ingredients there is a lot prep that takes place for the meals and snacks. just standing in the kitchen chopping veggies is brutal on my back and knees. yesterday evening i started losing my focus and my willpower for the cleanse. i cried about the pain to dear hubby and shared my concerns about continuing because of the demands placed by the cleanse. all i had wanted to do for days was overindulge on some “poor me” chocolate! i texted my beautiful friend and she reminded me that the cleanse ultimately was about habits and that maybe i could bend the rules and allow myself to have a little something like coffee or a boozy drink or cheese to help me get through my painful days.

this has become one of those internal fights in ones head. i know if i cheat with food during the cleanse i will feel terrible and that i will beat myself up over it for a long time. my negative self talk is a very loud and powerful force inside of me. it is another bad habit i am trying to improve upon. i also know that i have very high expectations of myself with certain things and this cleanse appears to be one of them; it’s a way i can prove to myself that i can control my eating habits, my caffeine intake and my overall relationship with food. we eat fairly well at our house, but it’s all about who you compare yourself to, right? and, i guess i just want to tweak our habits a bit as a family, but a lot for myself.

do i stick with this cleanse, while in immense pain? do i relax the rules for myself a little giving myself permission to not complete the cleanse as purely as i initially wished, and in doing so hate myself? or what?


we went to the sugar bush yesterday. it’s a place where they have tapped the maple trees to make maple syrup. it was a bright, sunny day and perfect for being outside. i walked slowly with dear hubby as the kids ran and played. it was nice to be outside, even if i limped around.

i hate feeling like a failure, even though i suppose i feel like that a lot of the time. i think most people do.

i will end here, as i could keep going on and on about this subject matter.

hope you had a wonderful weekend!
here’s to a pain free week!

xo, mama lola

theme thursday :: this years garden ideas!

although it is actually snowing outside as i type this, i have been busy on pinterest looking for ideas on how to improve our garden. we have a decent sized backyard, but it is quite shaded. this is good for the kids, as they can play and not have to be in the direct hit of the blaring sun, but it is not so good for my tiny, pathetic veggie garden.

so, the plan is to rip out some patio stones next to the wall of the house that gets the most sun and build raised bed for some veggies and flowers. it will probably look a lot like the picture below if all goes according to plan. We can then use the stones in different ways. I got inspired after looking to see some examples of traditional flagstones here, and there’s plenty we can do with them! Anyway, this picture is from flickr, so no instructions, just looks pretty. I hope that our finished product looks like this as it really will help to improve the way our garden looks. After this has been completed, I may decide to enlist the help of somewhere similar to these landscape design services in Torquay to help give the other parts of our garden a much-needed makeover, so that it can be conveniently used by everybody. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with how the garden looks, but I just think that it could do with some updating.

But on saying that, this raised bed below is similar and comes with great detailed instructions on how to build it from old town home.

for plant markers, i actually made these last year for some seeds i started. click on the picture to take you to the original post. how cute and easy are they to make!

we have some stone paths and i love way the cracks are filled with thyme and look so soft. i found this picture at scravings, and apparently the thyme fills the air with a wonderful aroma as well!

i love how lush this garden is from simplypix. there must be a flurry of activity with butterflies and insects and birds; my boys would love that!

i love big containers over flowing with greenery and bursts of flowers. daisy’s are some of my favourites. so unpretentious, simple yet a true sign of summer! this picture is from vibedekdesign.

how about using old logs as planters? i think something like this would look great at the cottage! found this idea at the rabbit factory.
i will leave you with this funny, but true sentiment. i actually find gardening very therapeutic. it allows me to lose myself in my thoughts, providing new ways of seeing things and it is another creative outlet for me. i am not a good gardener, but each season i learn a little more! turning the soil with my bare hands and feeling the pulse of the earth in my hands connects me and grounds me. perhaps, that is why am so anxious for spring to arrive, because i feel like i need some garden therapy!

what will you be planting this year in your garden?

happy thursday everyone!
here, check out my pinterest board: grow THIS

xo, mama lola

oops, i forgot about oprah’s lessons on safety!

i thought i had learned all those important lessons from oprah.

remember how she would drill into us what to do if we were kidnapped, what to say to strange people who appeared at the door and how to protect ourselves from potential attackers. 

well, it seems that i forgot all about those important lessons.

on thursday night, there was a suspicious fire at the corner store across the street from us. there were many firetrucks and various emergency personnel around all night. by morning there was no sign of the fire. the building is still standing, but the store is obviously closed. on friday morning we read in the paper that the fire occurred in the basement.

excuse the blurry phone picture.

well, on saturday while dear hubby and bear were out in the world running errands, i was home alone with a sleeping lion. there was a knock at the door. we have a big window in our door, so i could see very well dressed man standing there. i groaned and thought about hiding and ignoring the man, but then i decided against that and opened the door. he introduced himself as a member of our cities police force, and i saw a badge attached to his belt. we chatted on the porch as he asked a few questions about the fire and what i saw. he closed the conversation by asking for my name, date of birth and asked who i lived with. and, then he was on his way. i spied from the living room and saw him walk next door to presumably talk to our neighbours.

but then, the horror hit me. i didn’t have this guys name, badge # or any identifying information, even though i just blabbed a bunch of personal info to him! all he said was that he was a cop and i got so intimidated by this well dressed, big man that i told him my life story. well, maybe not quite my life story, but i should have known better than to openly share my info to a strange guy. i didn’t give him anything that’s not readily available out there in the world, but it freaked the pants off of me.

i felt embarrassed and stupid for just trusting this guy, purely because he said he was a police officer. i am an educated, well travelled woman who knows all about the tips on staying safe; where to hide your money, where to carry your passport, how to walk to your car in a dark parking lot, but still… augh. i just didn’t think that i would be that naive and gullible, ya know?
tell me i am not alone, people!!!

poppy chilling. she doesn’t have a care in the world!

sorry to have failed you and all those lessons, oprah!

xo, mama lola

i stood up for myself.

since the new year i have been working on getting myself on a better track, emotionally. it’s hard stuff and almost impossible to find the time to, never mind finding the energy to learn how to change some of my bad habits. but, real change is a process and must be given time to develop into the new norm. 

new behaviour always feels uncomfortable to the person trying it out, but also to the people around them. there is an inauthenticity and an insincerity about it initially but, like with anything new, once it’s been experienced enough times the unfamiliar becomes the familiar. 

recently, i have been feeling very out of sorts with some people in my life. there has been incredible tension sitting there between us like a huge pink elephant. when i feel worried or stressed, i carry it physically in my body. so, my neck and shoulders have been incredibly tense and pained for several weeks now. no amount of arnica, heat, vodka or massages from dear hubby were able to relieve the stress.

so, yesterday i did what i never thought i would do.
i stood up for myself. 
i expressed my hurt feelings, i shared my pain and concern and established some clear boundaries. i wrote everything out in a letter and emailed it to several different people and as soon as i had hit send, my pain disappeared. 

my neck felt relaxed, i smiled with ease and that’s when i knew that even though my honesty will hurt others, it needed to be said. standing up for myself (and my family) was the right thing to do. 

now that i have dealt with that part of my life, i can focus on my bear. i have been so distracted by this other mess, been so anxious that i have not been able to mother in a way that i want to. bear and i have been butting heads for several weeks, but i feel now i can give him what he needs.

have you ever had to stand up for yourself? 
how did you feel afterwards?

xo, mama lola

first or second born; which is better?

i am always aware of the birth order of my kids. who came first, who second, who has benefited more in this situation, or who has receive the short end of the stick, and who has reaped the benefits of their birth order. and, truthfully i would honestly have to answer, that both kids have felt the positives and negatives of their birth order. although, i do wish both my boys could experience similar things in life, i realize that that is not realistic or possible at all.

my naivete with bear as a baby was not any different from other new mama’s, but lion really benefited from being the second baby in our house. my confidence was noticeably different, my instincts were that much sharper and i gave myself more permission to let go. that was huge. HUGE! when bear was a baby and everything was new, i felt stupid and ill-equipped, i felt the competitive forces of motherhood and felt overwhelmed with everything that i didn’t know. i am sure my bear felt the consequences of that; he was and still continues to be my guinea pig in many things, which i neither good or bad, it just is what it is.

lion, has felt my insecurities yes, but i think he has benefited more from my increased confidence. with experience comes knowledge, but also the ability to tell people to buzz off with their opinions on your parenting methods. 

this is where the burden of my mother’s guilt comes into play… did my own insecurities trickle down onto bear, creating anxiety in him? was it my doing or not doing that made it possible for his sensitive side to develop so strongly? i wonder these things, because lion’s temperament seems so different. yes, he is younger so it’s hard to really know who he really is yet, especially since he has not stepped into the world without me by his side. but lion has an aura of confidence, but maybe that’s because he has a big brother to keep up with.

is it about ensuring the kids have life experiences that match and are even? or is it about the kids having life experiences that fit who they are and what they want? sometimes it feels like it’s the first option, but my heart says they need to experience the world based on their needs and the families needs. being born first or second, third or fifteenth (depending on your family size) shouldn’t matter. as parents it is our responsibility to ensure our children feel loved and accepted, and provide them with opportunities that allow them to find out who they are. 

what do you think?
how do you handle these feelings?

*  *  *  *  *  *  *
and today is the last day for this…..

happy ordering.
happy sunday! 
hope you remembered to spring forward. bedtime tonight might be a bit of a disaster!
xo, mama lola
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