halloween safety!

a good friend of mine posted this as her facebook status today and i feel like this message is a really important one, and one that needs to be shared. halloween is a fun time of year for everyone, so as adults let’s ensure that happens for all the kids!

“With Halloween upon us, please keep in mind, a lot of little people will be visiting your home. Be accepting. The child who is grabbing more than one piece of candy may have poor fine motor skills. The child who takes forever to pick out one piece of candy may have motor planning issues. The child who does not say trick or treat or thank you may be non-verbal. The child who looks disappointed when they see your bowl might have an allergy. The child who isn’t wearing a costume at all might have a sensory issue (SPD) or autism. Be nice. Be patient. Its everyone’s Halloween.”

and, since we’re on the topic of fun and safety at halloween, 
have you considered going peanut-free with the treats you hand out? 

xo, mama lola

lion talked in his sleep and what he said made me cry!

oh, my lion roars a loud roar when he wants to show off, but sometimes i forget that he really is so sensitive inside.

today, on the rainiest and greyest day of the season, i decided spontaneously to get random workout gear on, throw a few diapers and a banana in a backpack, and head to the Y. i’ve been slacking, BIG TIME, but with bear is school, my days are longer and by the time evening rolls around i’m ready to hit the couch for some tv time! i used to always hit the Y in the evenings for some zumba, kickboxing, pilates or yoga, but since september i just haven’t been able to find the motivation. i have spewed every excuse out there, which is totally embarrassing and wasted my dear hubby’s hard earned cash, while at it! terrible!

so now, there’s a new plan. i will work out while bear is in school and i can leave lion in the child minding at the gym. tuesday, yesterday was our first day of the new plan. i was feeling good about going, and was so proud of my guy as we sat at the front desk of the Y signing him up for his very own membership. he needs a membership so be in the childcare. when we walked into the play room, lion was fine. in fact, he was thrilled to see so many new and fabulous toys! he checked things out a little, while i chatted with the staff. then it was time to say good bye.

oh, his little face looked so sad when i kissed him. big tears rolled down his cheeks, but i just kept walking. i blew lots of smiles and kisses to him from the door, which is what we do in our family, and off i went. my heart was aching, as i knew my little guy was in the room crying, but i felt optimistic that he would calm down, so i headed for the elliptical machine. i stayed there doing my thing for 30 minutes, constantly looking over at the doors thinking i saw the staff coming to get me. but, lion didn’t have an epic scream fest that needed me immediately, instead he did cry a little off and on according to the staff. 
we both survived, right?

at home, we snuggled on the couch, ate some lunch and watched elmo dance on tv. then it was nap time. lion fell asleep quickly and like clock work, woke up at the end of his first sleep cycle. he was crying, so i ran to him and lay down next to him as he fell back asleep. just as he was drifting his little hand came up, waved gently and he said “no, äiti, don’t go”. i kid you not. that’s when i started crying as i watched my sweet little boy sleep. how could i traumatize him so deeply, by leaving for only 30 minutes; all sorts of irrational thoughts filled my mind!

i had initially felt so good about his 30 minutes in the childminding, a little cocky in fact! yes, he cried, but it wasn’t dramatic and my kids are criers when we separate. but, now i see that this will be harder than i first thought. sigh. wish me luck on thursday as i will be hopefully leaving lion in the childcare room as i go and watch bear do his swim lesson in the pool!
oh, boy!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

i will sign off today with a birthday wish to the loveliest 7 year old gal i know! i remember the day this wee lady was born so well, dear hubby and i paced the floor of the waiting room in the hospital as we anxiously waited for news.

lots and lots of LOVE and HUGS!

happy wednesday to you all!
what are you up to today?

xo, mama lola

buy nothing x-mas?

Welcome to the October 2012 Simplicity Parenting Carnival: Holidays
This post was written as part of the monthly Simplicity Parenting Carnival hosted by The Lone Home Ranger and S.A.H.M. i AM. This month we are discussing how we simplify the holiday season. Be sure to read to the end to see a list of the rest of the excellent carnival contributors.

i am already planning for christmas 2012. if you know me personally, i’m sure you’re not surprised to hear that! yes, it is only october, but the holiday season is around the corner and i like to be as organized as possible! christmas is my favourite time of year. i get super excited, super psyched and super stressed. you can read all about the x-mas rage i experienced last season!

as my kids mature and start to feel and understand the excitement of the christmas season, i try to make a point of discussing the magic of things rather than the consumerism of things. 

[ source ]

i grew up in finland, and once december rolled around, kids were reminded of very sneaky “joulutontut” or christmas elves, who travel around spying on kids to see who is naughty and who is nice. the tontut are small little elves, who poke around corners and peek through windows to see what kids are up to, and will eventually report back to joulupukki or santa with a detailed report. as an adult, i have the skills to recognize the tontut and last holiday season i saw the tontut out of the corner of my eyes and told the kids; they believed. 
that’s what christmas is about to us. the mystery and the magic.

each year the four of us love to get creative and make lots of gifts for people. one year i made big mason jars of soup. annually, we make a huge mess in the kitchen as we bake a large assortment of cookies, the kids make all sorts of art, we make our own x-mas cards (one year i drew each card by hand individually), we make wrapping paper and re-use gift wrap from years passed, and sometimes jazz up the old with potato stamps! there is a lot we do and in doing these things, we are kinder to mother-earth, gentler on our bank account, but most importantly we are teaching our kids an invaluable lesson : christmas is about giving, not about receiving. and specifically, it is about giving love, sharing love and being with family.

at four (almost five) i recognize that bear has inherited his mummo’s desire to create various things as gifts. he is eager to make art, both abstract or something practical for people he loves. his wee bro lion, is also very artistic and eagerly follows whatever project bear has on the go.
this year, i have some projects ear-marked that i can’t mention here, not yet anyway! there are some crafts that the boys and i will get to as we get closer to the giving season. we will make our annual batch of salt cookies, paint them and make garlands from them. we will re-make our christmas wreath on our door, make ice lanterns and maintain other finnish traditions. i will start playing festive music early and i am already collecting various items for the wall hanging advent calender i made the boys last christmas. bear is still talking about it!

sure, we talk about asking santa for things in our annual letter, but i always remind bear that just because he’s asking, doesn’t mean he’s receiving it! yes, we will buy the children presents, but as in years past i will buy lots of things second hand or we will make things ourselves. yes, we will buy gifts for our family and friends, but again, with frugality and the environment in mind. so, honestly, this holiday season will not be a buy nothing x-mas, but it will one which will include more baking and more crafts!

ho! ho! ho!

Thanks for reading the Simplicity Parenting Blog Carnival! We hope you’ll take time to read these other great contributors’ posts: SimParCarButton150x150

  • Making Halloween – JW at True Confessions of a Real Mommy says “No need to spend a lot this Halloween! Check out some easy, frugal ideas for dressing your family up!”
  • Hibernating During Halcyon – Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children and her family are gearing up for the Halcyon celebrations and enjoying some quiet time as a family.
  • Savoring Family Time (or, Simple Homemade Gifts) – Emily at S.A.H.M. i AM is trying to prepare for the holidays early so she can slow down and enjoy time with her family as the days grow shorter and a new baby enters their lives.
  • 7 Green Gifts for Toddlers – Shannon at GrowingSlower shares unique green gift ideas for kids this holiday season that are sure to be green mom approved.
  • Less is More: Simplifying the Holidays to Make Room for More of What Matters – Amy at Anktangle shares a few easy strategies she uses to keep the holidays manageable, stress-free, and fun!
  • buy nothing x-mas? – mama lola at bear & lion describes what christmas is all about to her and her family; treats, music, crafts and LOVE!
  • DIY holiday fun – Justine at The Lone Home Ranger revels in thrifting for and making her own holiday gifts and decorations.

Thanks to all the fabulous writers and readers for being a part of our simplicity parenting community! Stop by The Lone Home Ranger and S.A.H.M. i AM to see how to join us for a future carnival.

xo, mama lola

picture perfect.

today’s NaBloPoMo prompt  :: still picture vs. video.
i think it’s pretty obvious just from this blog that i prefer a still picture to a video. i do take video’s of the boys at times, but i mostly take photo’s. lots and lots of photo’s. there’s something more revealing about a photograph than a video. 

for example, i got a mini video of bear’s first steps, and although i love it and i remember that evening so well, i prefer the pictures i got of lion’s first steps. right, dontcha think?

exhibit A: bear’s first steps a couple of days before his first christmas, 2008.


exhibit B: lion’s first steps a couple of weeks after his first birthday, july 2011

with a still picture you an sit there and just stare at the image in front of you. i’m the kind of person who loves to soak in all the details in a photo; i notice things in the foreground, background, and all the specifics in between. there’s something magical about capturing tiny moments in time, as opposed to longer stretches. like in the sequence above with lion, look at his little dimple, his wee hands and the way his toes curl when he takes a step. or bear in the background aware of what’s going on, but busy with his own game. so sweet n’ lovely.

back in the day, i was the friend who loved looking at other people’s vacation pictures. there was something about listening to the stories, brought on by a specific photo, that i have always enjoyed. other peoples pictures have always fascinated me. i used to spend hours looking at old pictures of relatives i had never met, but felt connected to. those moments provide opportunities for ones imagination to go wild and take you to adventurous places, wondering about all the details the photograph cannot capture. like sound.

video has sound, which can be a bonus. but, as a visual person, a visual learner, i don’t miss the sound when looking at a still.

which do you prefer? still or video?

here’s filter with “take a picture”. love this song; brings back all sorts of memories!

xo, mama lola

a summer wedding.

our dear bubba and patty got married this weekend. it was one of the most beautiful weddings i have attended. the ceremony was held in a gorgeous church, steps away from the reception venue. the reception itself was beautiful, with flowers and candles, everything down to the last detail was perfect, they even had the most gorgeous linen for table cloths. The mood was so happy and it seemed as though nothing went wrong. as one of the co-MC’s, i knew from the start that things started a bit behind schedule, but hey, isn’t that kind of expected? whose ever been to a wedding that’s right on time?

here are some photo’s from a wedding weekend.
the wedding rehearsal on friday evening went great. the kids raced down the aisle when it was their turn to practice their walk, but at least they didn’t cry or scream!

bubba came to our house to get dressed with the kids. he brought with him a photographer, which made me feel very insecure about the house. oh well, so it goes. in the picture below, you can see bubba all dressed walking in the background. he looked so good!

our boys were the ring bearer’s and took the responsibility seriously. at the ceremony dear hubby walked down the aisle with them, but as we sat in the pews they were exceptionally quiet. this meant, dear hubby and i sat at the front able to witness the beautiful couple exchange vows. the ceremony was followed by communion, and that’s when we snuck out of the church to go have a bit of a picnic on the lawn.

unfortunately, i took no pictures of our family. no pictures of the bride and groom, my SIL and her family or my in-laws. there are no pictures of m co-MC and i. this is what happens when the family photographer is busy with other responsibilities! i’m hoping to collect some photo’s from other people and compile memories that way! They looked for a while to find the right photographer for their wedding, as they wanted their photos to look amazing with their own unique style, luckily they found someone who could deliver that. If you are stuck with finding a photographer, doing a quick google search can help you, an example of this, is typing in ‘wedding photographer Charlottesville‘ if you needed to find one in that general area, don’t despair you will find one!

it’s so fun to get dressed up sometimes, especially since it happens so rarely. the kids were such superstars and lasted late into the night. by 11:15pm, both kids were passed out so we hopped into a cab and came home. they slept through the night and even slept in a bit this morning, which was a first for the kids. with an early bedtime for all tonight, i think we’ll be as good as new to start our week tomorrow.

i will sign off this evening with my toast to the newly weds that got me all choked up last night:

i would like to make a toast. i feel honoured to be standing here in front all of you; the people dearest to patricia and blake. let us raise our glasses in celebration of this wonderful occasion… trish and blake i think i speak for everyone here when i say we wish you the very best in love, in life, together as husband and wife. to trish and blake…

xo, mama lola

mother’s day bookmarks.

i have to admit this great idea is not mine, but i found it HERE. i was looking for something pretty straightforward to make, but something that would also melt the hearts of the kids’ grandma and mummo.

here’s what i did...
i chose a few pictures of the kids that i thought were cute, heart melting and characteristic of each kids personality. got the pictures printed, brought them home, gathered my supplies and got to work.

first, i chose a photo and started to cut around the kids silhouette pretty closely. 

then using a glue stick i glued the photo to white card stock and had the kids draw on the back of their own photos. i wrote the year on the back, in case we ever do this project again.

then using clear laminant in a roll (whih i bought from our michael’s), i laminated each picture on both sides. i pressed down hard and used a ruler a few times to get all the air out. 

i cut around again, but this time leaving a wee margin of laminant plastic, about 5mm.

then i punched a hole into the laminated photo, crocheted a quick rope and tied it on.

they looked AMAZING and each gran was super smiley once they’re gifts had been opened!

this is such a fun and easy craft to make and it was made better by involving the kids. 
hey, father’s day is coming up next month!!!

and finally, my mother’s day locket; look at my beautiful boys!

see you tomorrow!

xo, mama lola

bow tie tutorial: how to make your own!

the first bow tie i made for bear was a few years ago for my sister-law’s wedding.
since then i’ve made a few more for various special occasions. 


basic instructions:
choose your fabric. synthetics and silks tend to fray and be much more slippery when sewing, so more patience may be necessary as well!

1. fold fabric in half and cut out two rectangles simultaneously. then, ensure the “right side” of the fabric is facing each other and pin the two pieces of fabric together.

2. sew the pieces together, following along with the rectangle shape, remembering to leave an opening so that the fabric can be turned right side out. it’s also a good idea to enforce the stitching on either sides of the opening. i typically leave 3 cm’s. i just wing it with my machine only eyeballing the straight lines. 

3. turn the fabric side side out and then sew up the opening by hand.

4. now repeat the first three steps with rectangles of fabric that are a touch smaller than the first rectangle. when the bow tie is cinched and put together it gives it more depth.

5. cut another two rectangles out, this time wanting it to be long and skinny. this piece is going to cinch the bow tie in the middle and essentially hold it all together.

6. now there’s two ways to sew the middle section.
a) the proper way: place the two rectangle pieces (or take one larger piece and fold it in half) facing each other with the wrong side showing. sew three sides leaving one of the ends open. then turn it right side out. you may want to you use something like a pen or a kitchen utensil of sorts to help move the fabric as the piece is going to small and finicky.
b) the lazy way: place the rectangle pieces together with the right side showing and sew the one side creating a tube.

7. take the two larger bow rectangles, placing the smaller of the two on top of the other an dthen take the long, middle piece and wrap it around the centre. depending on if you went the proper or lazy way of sewing, make sure you tuck and raw edges and hide any imperfections. 

8. sew up the ends of the middle sections by hand, ensuring the bow tie stays in shape. some people like to attach the middle piece to the bow section. 

9. now add your elastic. loop it under the middle, cinching fabric and the sew the ends by hand. kids typically like them slightly loose and if you’re making one for a special occasion then you can tuck it nicely under the collar of a shirt.

let me know if these instructions make sense!

good luck!

xo, mama lola


wishing everyone a happy holidays!
we are in the midst of our christmas celebrations. last night with my folks, tonight at home, tomorrow with dear hubby’s family. so far santa has been very impressed with the kids and they have received lots of wonderful new toys and books and things!

here are a few pictures from our jouluaatto with my parents. it is tradition in finland to celebrate x-mas on the 24th, so we always enjoy a beautiful meal prepared by my mom. after dinner santa comes and while i was growing up he actually came into our living room and i would sing or dance for him. he then passed out our gifts. for our boys, we always seem to just miss joulupukki, he knocks on the door or window, but by the time we get there he’s gone. luckily however, he has left gifts under the tree for us!

tonight we are all heading to bed early, so that we can celebrate lots tomorrow!

xo, mama lola

holiday magic.

i am a real fan of christmas. i have such lovely memories from my own childhood of holidays spent with my family back in finland. my mom would cook an amazing dinner for us to enjoy on christmas eve. we never had turkey, like they serve here, but instead we had a multiple course meal which included glazed ham, fresh fish, possibly some smoked reindeer meat, various vegetables cooked in a variety of ways and of course ample desserts and treats to be nibbled on.  as an adult today, i recognize the efforts she made each year trying to create some holiday magic at our house. and not just with food either; my mom was into making our own decorations and collecting natural treasures, and still is. (*note: i was speaking with a friend who fondly remembers last year’s holiday magic at my parents’ house, so it’s not just me).

joulutonttu, or the christmas elf left some chocolates for the kids in the advent calendar. it was messy and joyful. bear waited years before we gave him chocolate, lion is so lucky to be the second born!

i want my kids to feel the magic of the holidays too. it’s hard though, because my kids are still particularly little and their enthusiasm is very limited. but, still i plough on forward.

today bear and i made these cookies.

i’ve always been terrified of the ready-made doughs you can buy at the grocery store, but when i saw this recipe and saw how cute the cookies were i made an executive decision to ignore my fears and bake on. the simplicity and ease was shocking, but the chemicals still kinda freak me out. that being said, i think we created some holiday magic with this easy baking recipe, no clean up, all around hassle free.

this is the original recipe via pillsbury.
all you need is the cookie dough, they recommend the gingerbread one, but my local store didn’t have any so we used the albino sugar cookie stuff instead. various candies depending on the look you’re going for. we used various M&M colours for eyes and noses etc. the original recipe calls for chocolate chips for eyes, but we like colour in our cookies! also, make sure you get small pretzels. bear was so pleased in the end!

tomorrow i’m taking the kids to see the muppets! can’t wait!
i feel nostalgic already!

xo, mama lola

we sang o’ canada countless times on friday.

canada day.
canada. hungary. anthems. music. noon. bourbon. tradition. food. trampoline. bacon. hot dogs. muffins. fire. conversation. beer. friends. hammock. trees. family. love. laughter. blue skies. sunshine. baseball. hats. smiles. 

family. friends. traditions. swimming. splashing. playing. burning building. cabin. sunsets. sleep. water. loons. naps.  chipmunks. forest. trees. pine cones. sticks. waves. boats. canoeing. books. newspapers. conrad black. conversations. tears. memories. history. rock. beer. wine. shandies. food. bbq. deer. flowers. flashlights. walking. advice. raccoons. lost glasses. 
and then we’ll do it all again next year!

xo, mama lola
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