sock bun fun!

so i have pretty long hair, which is sometimes, pretty, long hair. sometimes not so much.
i like to wear my hair up and out of the way, especially when doing mama things around the house. the other day when i was at H&M with a friend i saw the golden nugget that would bring me hair joy! i bought the proper equipment to do your own sock bun, the donut! and, it was only $4.95 CAD!!!

look at this glorious and beautifully centred sock bun…. wowzah! 
this is what i was going for the other evening… 
check out the link for great directions on how to do one yourself!
and, i got this.
mine, was not so glorious or beautifully centred and by bobby-pins kept falling out. but, i think with some practice i’ll be ready to sport these buns once toque season ends in a few weeks!

my hair was freshly washed and wet when i did these buns, 
and not super greasy the way the picture makes it look!

and, let’s just make note of my shoulders kissing my ears… 
where on earth did my neck disappear to?

{ The eagle recovers around a mark! }

oh, we got a cat! cat pictures coming soon! 
xo, mama lola

i am what i am.

lillian at it’s a dome life sent me this questionnaire  i’ve been working on it for a while. for some reason i had difficulty answering many of these questions…. anyhow, i am what i am.

1.  Where were you born?  i was born in espoo, finland.

2.  Were you named after someone? nope.
3. How many children do you have?  two boys, bear 5yrs and lion 2.5yrs.
4. How many pets do you have?  one kitten, poppy clementine. we just got her!

5. Your worst injury. this is tough to answer. when i asked dear hubby to help, he suggested my c-section with lion. but, i’m not sure that counts as an injury, so i will say my left knee that keeps popping up with pain. it’s an old tree planting injury from over a decade ago!

6.  Do you have a special talent? i don’t like this question. i pass.

7.  Favourite thing to bake?  i’m not a huge baking enthusiast, i get nervous about the precise measuring. i do like to bake breads and cookies and muffins, things that aren’t too finicky and taste YUMMY!

8. Favourite Fast Food. falafels or pizza from our local, independent pizza joint.

9.   Would you bungee jump? maybe. depends on where i am, the mood i’m in, who i’m with and my age. but, yes i would consider it!

10.  What is the first thing you notice about people?  eyes. always their eyes.

11.  When was the last time you cried?  friday night at the book store in the kids section. i was reading this “the sad book” by michael rosen and illustrated by quentin blake. had to buy it!

12.  Any current worries.  all i do is worry, so let’s see… i’m worried about lion’s lazy speech development, i’m worried about what kind of mother i really am for my kids, i’m worried about the future, i’m worried about the weird thing happening on my right big toe nail… i could go on and on.

13.  Name 3 drinks you drink regularly.  coffee, water and vodka tonic.

14.  What’s your favourite book? oohh, tough one, i have so many favourites. “fall on your knees” by ann-marie macdonald has always been a fave, although it’s been over 10 years since i read it. last winter i read, “the book of negroes” by lawrence hill and it changed me. all north americans, especially, should have to read this.

15.  Would you like to be a pirate? absolutely not. pirates are mean, cruel people who kill and terrorize the seas still to this day.

16.  Favourite smells.  karma perfume by lush. fresh baking, curry, and lilacs.

17.  Why do you blog? i started blogging a few years ago, as a way to release the tension and stress life had thrown our way and i needed a way to let go. i recognize the human connections sharing my experiences creates. i try to be brutally honest in my blog, sometimes that is really hard to do, but it keeps me real and grounded.

18. What song do you want played at your funeral?  i want john lennon’s “imagine”. i always cry when i hear this song. always.

19.  What is your least favourite thing about yourself. i am too sensitive and take everything to heart. 

20.  Favourite hobby.  sewing. i don’t do it enough, but when i am in the midst of a project i feel tremendous joy. and, i love gardening in the warmer months. i’m not very good, but each season i learn a little more. 

21.  Name something you’ve done, you never thought you would do? i followed a boy i barely knew and moved to china to be with him. that boy became my husband.

22.  What do you look for in a friend.  loyalty, a sense of humour, honesty and mad drinking skillz!

23.  Favourite fun things to do?  hang-out with my family and friends at the cottage, take photo’s, 

24.  Pet peeves. people who speed when driving, lack of table manners, and when other’s are late.

25.  What’s the last thing that made you laugh? my kids goofing around. they can be so silly!

ok, and i passing this questionnaire to FIVE other bloggers. new blogs i have discovered and people i would like to know a little more about… mrs. fun, first time mom, the artful mama, kristin, and heather

xo, mama lola

be the best.

i am trying to be the best that i can be.
i have made some mistakes in my past, many bad mistakes in fact and i am trying to move past the guilt and shame. but, i am only human, and such growth takes time. everyone is capable and does make mistakes, as it is not in a humans nature to go through life with perfection. this is why things like Pardons Canada exist, or support groups for alcohol and drugs are made. it is an acknowledgement of mistakes.

being the best i can be is a place where i accept myself for who i am. accept my abilities and limitations all in the same breath. it is a place where my expectations of myself are based on realistic goals, rather than the ever so popular comparisons game; the one where i always come out as the loser.

being the best i can be is easier said than done.

i watch my boys being the best they can be, and admire their care free out look on life. it is truly remarkable. they create art, because they want to and because they feel like painting. their choice is paint colours and brush direction appears to be random, but who am i to judge their artistic process. it is what it is. it is them being the best that they are. they have not reached the age of “i can’ts”, although bear is on the cusp. being an adult and carrying so many restrictions in ones pockets is exhausting. who says you can’t do something ot aren’t good enough? so much of those limitations come from our own heads and the negative self-talk we have playing on repeat.

my pal lillian at it’s a dome life, blogged recently about the barriers people feel before starting a project or hobby or new career. she says “you will be terrible, but start anyway”, which i think is bang on advice. there is this ridiculous idea that we have to be perfect at everything that we do, from the get-go, that making mistakes makes us lesser-thans, which only leaves us with a why bother mentality. how completely terrible, right?

i am very skilled and cutting myself down. but, i am now learning to build myself up; to acknowledge the things i can do well, to admit where i need more effort and to ultimately be the best i can be.
that is all anyone else can expect of me.
but, more importantly, that is all i can expect of myself.

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

blogging, bloggers and why i blog.

someone out there is the world of bloggers and cyber friends did something really nice for me. lillian of “it’s a dome life” awarded me with the authentic voice award. i know a lot of bloggers think that these kinds of awards are cheesy or silly and meaningless, but i actually feel the complete opposite.

i think these kinds of awards are really important and valuable. i feel really honoured that lillian, took the time to read my blog and include it on a list with other blogs she enjoys. blogs she describe as being written with transparency, which is exactly what i have always tried to do. and to have someone openly acknowledge and recognize this means a lot to me. enough to make me blush and now write about it.

i started blogging out of curiosity first, but then i got hooked. i find it very therapeutic, helpful and fun. i have definitely created a place here that people want to revisit, which is what i like and feel proud of. i have tried to be honest about my life, my struggles and my thoughts. i hope that comes across to you, the reader.

sometimes i feel pressure to write more, but then i end up with the inevitable blog burn-out, which is something i ultimately want to avoid. been there, done that! 

i want to send out a HUGE thanks to all of you for coming and reading about my life. feel free to email me or leave a comment on the blog with some feedback or whatever. i am always happy to hear from people and their opinions about what i do here on bear & lion.

again, a huge thanks to lillian for this award. i’ve been feeling a bit blue with all the sickness in january so this award had really motivated me and lifted my spirits!

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

and, now it’s my turn to share some love and appreciation! i am passing the award along to a handful of bloggers i enjoy reading and who i think are authentic and transparent in their writing. there are lots of other fantastic bloggers out there who i love, but i feel like these few blogs are smaller and need some props for writing so openly about life, no matter how hard it may be.

feel free to pass along some love if your a blogger out there. lillian said to share the award, how generous of her!

i hope you keep coming back to this space. i’d love to hear from you!

xo, mama lola

xo, mama lola

my room. my quiet.

i had to set up some strict rules for this weekend. as you may know, i was super sick last week and eventually on thursday i went to my doctor who confirmed my fears, yes it’s a sinus infection. we were supposed to see my folks this weekend, but my mom told me i had to stay home, in bed and rest. i laughed and told her my family wasn’t going to let me sleep and rest, even though that’s what i needed. she told to be firm and just do it. so i tried it.

saturday morning i slept in until about 9am. slowly made my way downstairs, had a coffee, took my killer antibiotic, watched as the guys got dressed and left the house with the promise of not returning until lunch. so, i had a hot shower and then crawled back into my bed with a book. 

i read my book. the house was quiet. the house was still. 
i soaked it all in feeling content. and proud.
proud that i had stood up for myself.

asking for time for myself is hard. even when i am sick. i remember when i was recovering from my tumour surgery, how guilty i felt for asking for help, for wanting to sleep, for feeling unwell and so i never spoke up for myself the way i should have. now, with hindsight in my pocket i feel embarrassed for not meeting my own needs and trying to minimize the hugeness of the surgery. but, that’s what i do. i never give importance, or time or value to things related to my life. i brush things away easily, so as not to worry other people out or hurt their feelings. 

but, i am changing all of that now. i deserve to be taken care of as well, just like my dear hubby and the kids do when they are feeling sick. i deserve to sleep, to not have to make every single meal, to have some peace and quiet. i have to realize that my family is not the type who just recognizes my needs; i have to explicitly ask for what i need, in a very demanding kind of way. and, that’s ok. and, maybe if i do it enough one day the guys will recognize that i need some recovery time and will provide that for me, without me having to ask. 
or not.

hope you were able to find peace in your weekend.

xo, mama lola

my foggy week.

i am the mom. that means if i get sick, i don’t get time off and things still have to happen around the house. i still have to do the groceries, make dinner, wipe the counters, vacuum  shuffle the kids around, all the while trying to keep my head somewhat clear.

this week i was sick. for days it felt as though my head was going to explode, like my left eye was going to pop out, like the teeth on the left side of my face were going to fall out and like i was never going to feel healthier. ever again. my head was so congested; a congested i had never experienced before.

on monday, i went grocery shopping with my lion. i spent over a hundred dollars on stuff, but i have no idea what i purchased. all week i have been scrambling to make dinner, as the ingredients i bought have not really come together in any sort of meal. i also bought moldy cheese, that was disappointing! but, that’s how thick the fog has been in my head.

i tried taking various pills and cocktails of medicines to clear the fog, to dull the pain and take away the constant throb in my head, but nothing really helped. i rinsed my sinuses with my netti pot, only to be frightened by the sight of the junk that was coming out of head (i will spare you the details). 

as the week progressed, the fog just got worse, as did the pain. on wednesday, i curled into bed at 5:30pm a minute after dear hubby walked in the door and could take over dinner with the boys. i lay in bed feeling completely sorry for myself, worrying about all the things that did not need my attention at that time. i did eventually fall asleep for a little while. after the kids were asleep in their beds, i made my way downstairs, almost in tears. dear hubby made me tea and held me and let me feel sorry for myself. at 9pm that night i realized i had not eaten anything that day, so dear hubby made me a little snack. when i’m the one who is sick, my self care is obviously not my number one priority, my family and their needs remains my top priority; that’s wrong!

one day after bear’s swimming lessons, i was so foggy in my head, i tried to get into someone else’s car with the kids… AS THE FAMILY WAS PILING IN ON THE OTHER SIDE! no wonder the key didn’t work!

on thursday, i finally made an appointment with our family doctor who confirmed that i had a sinus infection and the pains i was feeling were completely expected. she said she would give a prescription for antibiotics, since i’d been sick for so long, but that the side effects would probably be pretty harsh. as in a week long belly ache, among other things. great!

[ kids working on cards for grandpa’s birthday, this week. ]

now, it is now friday morning, and i am relieved the weekend is here. it means dear hubby will be around to help with the kids, maybe i’ll be able to squeeze in a nap, maybe get some laundry folded, maybe i will finally start to feel better. maybe this fog that has been confusing the pants off of me for days will finally start to clear.

xo, mama lola

my new [zen] journey.

mothering, parenting, fathering, caring whatever you call it, whatever it looks like to you, is tough stuff!

i’ve been quite open about my constant, internal battles as a mama. i’ve shared my struggles with the ever present weight of my own mother’s guilt, my feelings of total and complete inadequacy, my ever present worries about not being enough to my kids and then there’s the whole regrets boat that i’ve jumped aboard!

but this year, 2013, was or i mean is going to be one of change for me. things have already shifted, but to make big changes, one has to be patient and that’s where i’m at. you can read more about my new year’s resolutions HERE and my soul searching thoughts HERE.

a friend of mine recommended a fantastic book after reading one of my recent new year posts. it’s by karen maezen miller and it’s called Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood. check out her blog HERE. (and, WOW mamaA, talk about being exactly what i need right now.)

this book is hitting all of my struggles bang on. BANG ON. karen describes the yes common, but the deeply personal pains it takes to be a mama. the way all of our pre-existing boundaries and expectations are being pushed and twisted and morphed into something unexpected and unknown. the way us mother’s are placed on opposing sides of this mamahood thing just by the philosophy we choose to follow, creating negative competition when we should be supporting each other. the way, even after newborns grow into infancy and infants into toddlers, our role and job as a mother never goes away, there is no option to quit.

it’s the kind of book i should have purchased for myself, because all i want to do is sit there with a highlighter and mark the things i feel are true to me. 

who can’t relate to this:

“Exhaustion made me brittle. A silent rage billowed and foamed against the sudden loss of everything mine- my body, my time, my space and, my life. “

“… but where exactly does this thing called a mistake take place? Only in our mind- our judging, critical, labelling mind. The mind that provides the nonstop narrative to our lives: “There you go again. Can’t get it right. You’ll never do it. Big mistake.”

i am not a religious person, but i did relate to the spiritual aspect of this book. i should mention that karen is a zen teacher. she has studied buddhism and meditation, and shares those teachings in this book. the calm, wise words she speaks are very profound. the clarity with which  i read this book, says to me that my struggles that attribute to my children and my mothering are not really about either of those things. 
my struggles come from within me. 
they are about me and nobody else.

and that’s why, like i’ve written before, i am on a mission to introduce more self care into my life. take time for myself and slowly make myself a priority in my life and my family’s life. 

i highly, highly recommend this book to all mother’s (and father’s or caregivers). the advice and knowledge karen shares is relevant, practical and given in such unpatronizing way that it is easy to hear. this is a book for parents in all stages of their journey. i will now have to hit the local bookstore and buy my own copy so i can highlight the bits that spoke most to me.

*the pictures are of tulips given to me by a dear old friend who came to visit. they brought such life and positive energy into our daily drudgery! thanks, hon!

xo, mama lola

night out! freedom!

as a part of my resolutions for this year, a big one is to start taking care of ME. my goal is to try and make myself whole again, by doing things that i like; spending time with people i love, taking time away from the kids and the household, letting myself have a good time and enjoy life and not feel guilty about it.

so, this past weekend dear hubby and i shipped the kids to their grandparents house for one night. we actually had almost 24 hours of kid free, adult time! it was incredible! we went dancing with friends on saturday night and boy-o-boy did we busta move! dear hubby’s shirt was soaked in sweat by the end of the night! gross i know, but great evidence of a good time!

we drank lotsa fancy drinks, danced for hours and then eventually dear hubby and i dragged our butts home, walking as we couldn’t find a cab! ha! we totally felt like 20-somethings!

i felt such incredible freedom. a feeling i don’t think i’ve felt since becoming a mother almost five years ago. knowing the kids were in good hands with my in-laws, knowing there were no restrictions to our time out or the potential for fun, made it so much easier to go out and have have an awesome time with me peeps! it’s kind of unbelievable we’ve waited so long to send the kids away for a night, but it has always felt like a bad time for a variety of reasons like my health, financial obligations and just the notion of asking a favour of people to hang with the kids, is tough. i realize it sounds silly and what have you, but we have now learned. a new era has opened itself up and dear hubby and i intend to take full advantage of all the people we have around us who want to spend time with the kids! 

on sunday morning, dear hubby and i stumbled out of bed at 10am (yup, we totally slept in), headed out for breakfast and then came home and parked ourselves on the couch for some movie time/ nap time. we weren’t really hung over, just stiff and tired from the intense dancing and the super late night! the kids came home a little before dinner, happy and healthy, and ready to play. i love my kids, but they clearly need a break from me and dear hubby, as much we need a break from them.

can’t wait for our next dance night!
perhaps an 80’s & 90’s theme night? 

xo, mama lola

new year’s resolution check in.

so, we’re about half way through the month and i’m wondering how everyone is doing with their new year’s resolutions for 2013? what were your resolutions? this is what i said i would do this year.

resolutions can be tricky things. people make them with the best of intentions of keeping them, but 365 days is a big chunk of time. especially if your resolutions are ones that are big goals, like losing a whole wacka load of weight or changing careers or doing something that requires you to save a big pile of cash.

this year my resolutions are big, but in a vague, abstract kind of way. i want to be whole. in order to achieve this sense of wholeness, i have to accomplish things in small steps and divide my life into manageable chunks. so for instance (in no particular order), kids, house, habits, sewing, friends, family, cooking, art, reading, blog, dear hubby, gym, and other. 

i was talking with my chiropractor about setting goals and she said the best thing is to set tiny, achievable ones in weekly or monthly increments, which is more likely to set you up for success rather than failure. wanting to lose 30 lbs is a great goal, but to achieve that in it’s entirety will take a long time, a big commitment and a life style change really. but, if you divide that big goal into smaller, easier goals, like losing 5 lbs every two weeks (or whatever), it’ll be easier to psyche yourself up off the couch and exercise.

i’ve divided my life into sections and then i want to make sure i meet some need in my sections monthly, to at least get the ball rolling in my goal to feeling whole. so each month i want to make sure i sew something, read regularly, spend time with my friends, try a new recipe etc etc. i know these goals don’t sound big or particularly life changing, but i find it difficult to find time to do a lot of the little things that i enjoy, as my family takes up a lot of my time and energy.

this month so far i have gone dancing with dear hubby and friends, found some great recipes to try, i have blogged regularly, i have hit the gym a few times, i have left the house in the evenings to avoid the chaos that ensues after dinner, i have seen friends and caught up on things, i have started reading a book i am thoroughly enjoying and i have booked an appointment to have my hair done. by starting small, i feel more motivated and i think in time i can increase my goals.

how do you manage to keep resolutions? or do you work hard in january and then just forget about them?

xo, mama lola
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