All posts by Raina

‘Tis the Season

It’s no secret, Christmas is my favourite time of the year! I mean, I actually like the mall at Christmas time when most people are complaining (this is also the only time of year Mike likes the mall, too! A match made in chaotic Christmas heaven 😉 ) Vienna is showing strong signs of following my Christmas lead, and I love it! She’s been gasping and awing at any little light display we see. #agirlaftermyownheart

We are all about taking in Christmas festivities over here … I only hope that one day my children appreciate my crazy love for anything holiday-themed. I’m excited to be sharing our holiday bucket list today, since its definitely time to get in the Christmas spirit with only ONE MONTH until Christmas. How did that happen?

We love supporting local charities; one we support every year is Be a Santa to a Senior, where we purchase gifts for a senior who may not have any family at Christmas. We also love decorating cookies and gingerbread houses– it should come as no surprise that V took it upon herself to lick every gumdrop before it went on the house last year. And of course, anything that involves Christmas jammies, Christmas music, or Christmas coffee…. Ok, the whole list is our favourite.

We plan to kick things off tonight by attending an annual festival of lights, that we go to every year! What are your favourite holiday activities? Comment below to share!

Here’s to a fun, festive Christmas season! xo
holiday-bucket-list-v2-3

img_9723

 

Family First

Last weekend we visited our family in Alberta to celebrate the life of my Uncle Len. He was like another grandparent to us, especially given his own grandchildren came along many years later than my sister and I. It was a busy, emotional weekend. Bittersweet in that all of my crazy family got together (think the stereotypical ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ crew… except we aren’t Greek, and there’s no wedding), yet it was over the loss of one of our “greats.” It’s pretty amazing that my girls get to know all of our big extended family, and their Great, Great relatives.

My Uncle Len always told one of my favourite stories of me as a child. He loved it and would share it any chance he got. He even told it at my wedding in his toast to the bride. The story goes…

When I was about three my Uncle took my sister and I to visit our Grandparents who lived about four hours away. As we traveled we started playing I spy. My turn to choose was up and I left my sister and him guessing forever, until finally they gave in. “It was that brown horse back there you guys!” I exclaimed, to the annoyance of my sister. We continued on and he said out of nowhere I screamed (anyone with a three year old right now knows how loud that is) from the back seat. He pulled over in a panic thinking that at I probably needed to use the bathroom or was sick. He said he raced to get me out of the car, concerned and flustered that something was wrong, stood me up on the road next to him, only to have me adjust my three-year-old-little-tights and say, “ok, we can go now.”

He told that story so. many. times. We were so blessed to have him visit us for the girls’ birthday just a few short weeks ago and to meet baby Aria, something he always talked about doing. He loved his family so much.

I didn’t intend to blog about this, but this week I’ve been wanting to share some family photos, and this family story just came out as I typed. Part of my reason to blog is to create a memory for my girls, and now this story that I loved to hear him tell is written for the first (and yes, likely  only, time).

All this goes to say that I love my family and I am lucky to have them. And it’s pretty cool to see Mike and my own little family grow and change. Below I’m sharing photos of our little family of four.

Over the past five years we have had many family photos done, given that we have had so many of those “big” life events: engagement, wedding, maternity, newborn, maternity, newborn. I think I’m addicted. We have had all of our photos done by Jennifer Harwood with Blink Photography. Jen, what are we going to do when we run out of life events to celebrate!? And how cool is it that one photographer has our entire story?!

I truly love the way Jen captures exactly who our family is. She is amazing with kids– all of our sessions have been fun and relaxing, and it shows in the final product. This last session is my favourite, I think because of the beautiful fall colours. Fall just might becoming my favourite season (sorry, summer). I can’t wait to put these on my gallery wall (read: project coming soon!)

Thank you again Jen for these amazing photos! Here’s a small sample of some of my favourites! xo

reddecliff2016-078
reddecliff2016-086
reddecliff2016-020-1

reddecliff2016-167-1
reddecliff2016-009
reddecliff2016-044

 

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Following up on this weeks Double Birthday Bash post I wanted to share my go-to frosting recipe. I’ve used a couple different ones over the years, but this latest one has stuck with me. It has the right consistency for piping decorations, and it is easy enough to adjust the consistency by changing the icing sugar amount. I also like that this one doesn’t call for vegetable shortening, which I find throws the taste off a bit.

Enjoy! P.S. If you’ve got a soccer fan in the house, check out these cute soccer cupcakes!

Continue Reading

Double Birthday Bash

It’s a double birthday! Given the girls’ birthdays are just one day apart we took advantage of having one big family party for their first and third birthdays. Or so I thought… I say “took advantage of,” but I really didn’t think through baking and icing cakes and cupcakes for an entire evening and morning. But, it’s so nice for the girls to share their day together and to have one big gathering.

We had a great day! We ate snacks, had cake, and enjoyed visiting with so many family and friends. The kids are young enough that we didn’t do a kids party and there are enough kids in our close friends and family circle to make it pass as a kids party anyways. I did a fun activity table that was SO easy and all of the kids loved it. I’m going to recycle this idea for all future kid events! All it entailed was a roll of white craft paper, a few mason jars of markers and crayons, some stickers, a couple of easy Halloween “crafts” and a jar full of play dough containers. The kids had a blast! And it involved zero adult participation. That’s a win in my books! I didn’t do goody bags, we just sent each child home with the play dough of their choice and some stickers.

As for decor I went with pink and gold, of course, because that’s what we already have on hand. And for the record, my decorating mainly consists of baked goods– that’s my strength 😉 Each of the girls had a two-tier rose cake piped with different shades of pink frosting, and I made large and small pink frosted cupcakes too. I truly love making their birthday cakes, along with cakes for my sweet nieces and nephews. I’m no pro, and sometimes my perfectionism makes it a bit crazy in the kitchen, but I love seeing them so happy with their cakes. Vienna blew out her candles at the start of happy birthday, and quietly watched us all sing to her. And Aria had zero interest in “smashing” her cake.

Besides baking my other favourite decoration to include is a photo line, where I string up photos of the girls from the past year. I’ve done this for each of Vienna’s birthdays already, and it’s one of the few times (some) of my massive amounts of photos get printed. I take the photos and put them in a mini album and tuck them away in a box for her. One of my favourite things as I grew up was looking through old photos from my childhood. We never seem to print photos these days and I want the girls to have some to look back on down the road.

I’ve done blogs celebrating each of the girls ages here  (Vienna) and here (Aria), since catching them sitting still at their birthday party is next to impossible! Here’s a quick photo recap on the details of the day, enjoy! AND how cute is that family pic with the girls in their birthday outfits by the talented Jennifer Harwood @ Blink Photography!?

img_9427

img_9440

img_9457

img_9521

img_9480

img_9450

img_9542

img_9587

img_9577

img_9563

img_9394

img_9311

reddecliff2016-144

 

Wild ONE!

ONE whole year with our sweet little Aria Kate. I always like to call her Aria Kate because I really love both of those names. We debated on using either one as her first name– and Mike gave me a solid no when I tried to make both her first name– “but then she could pick! And how cute is it to have TWO first names?” I really tried there. I may have even used it for a bit. Of course a run-of-the-mill “Mike” wouldn’t agree to something so crazy. A Raina though? We’re up for ALL THE NAMES. The indecisiveness in me really shows when it comes to naming children. It’s permanent after all.

Aria arrived a full week early and just one day after her sister’s birthday. It is so amazing to have two girls so close– and close in terms of both being born around the same date, therefore hitting many of the baby milestones at the same time of year. But, they are such different kids and have been since day one. Despite what everyone told me to expect, Aria’s arrival was much slower than Vienna’s. By “much” I mean an hour, but that’s a lot in labour time. (People who were in labour for days will probably kill me now). I was warned over and over again that V’s arrival was so quick and so crazy that Aria would just shoot out of me. I was terrified of having the baby in the truck en route to the hospital. This made me trust myself far less in knowing when I was “ready” to go.

We arrived at 7 a.m. and Aria joined this world at 10:20 am weighing exactly 8lbs. Her delivery was chaotic to say the least. A staff change-over just as things were happening paired with a bat-shit-crazy nurse who not only forced me to have blood drawn during the worst possible time of labour (fellow moms know exactly what this moment is) but also made Mike leave me and go riffle through my purse looking for my care card to… prove it was me (??) made for a chaotic scene. But, Aria arrived safely and before long was in our arms. Ahhh. That moment. This entire paragraph may be TMI, but us Moms, we share birth stories like battle scars. We checked out of the hospital at three that afternoon, just five short hours after she was born. Whirlwind.

This past year has been amazing watching Aria grow. At 3 months Aria was diagnosed with torticollis (essentially tight neck muscles and in Aria’s case caused due to her position in the womb) causing her to have some issues with strength and head shape/growth early on. Around months 4 we started visiting doctors and specialists every few days and she was a total trooper through it all. She did amazing in all of her treatments and won over everyone with her sweet disposition. I’m so proud that together we figured things out and she now has full strength and no other issues related to it. It’s truly amazing how far things have come for her.

Aria is my girl to a T. I call her my judgy baby, as she is always carefully watching everything and everyone, and makes people work fairly hard for a smile. And, she’s often frowning or scowling, I always say “that’s just her face!” since she really is the happiest baby. She’s a fierce little monkey– she growls on the regular and when she hugs or kisses you it’s a full-body squeeze and a head-bang-kinda moment. Her and V can either be found fighting over a toy, fighting over me, or fiercely hugging each other. She sleeps like a champ and still loves her little Mrs. Mouse stuffy. She is curious and gets into anything she can. The faster she gets the more of a handful she’s becoming!

Aria has stayed such a baby to me. She seems so teeny and clings to me with her legs wrapped tightly and high around my waist. She’s a total hip baby, always with Mama. She’s crawling (since 10.5 months) and pulls to stand up  holding on to things, but doesn’t show signs of walking. And that’s o.k. by me!  One of my favourite things right now is when she discovers something new. Her eyes light up as she figures things out. I’ll be holding her and she’ll reach to open and close a cupboard door, and she’ll do it a few times and then look at me and a huge smile slowly spreads across her face. The. cutest. Aria has three words: Mama, Dada and shoe. Yep, shoe. I thought maybe it was just a coincidence, but it’s happened too many times for it to be possible. Like I said, her mother’s daughter. Plus, she looks exactly like I did when I was a baby.

Happy one year birthday to my spunky, happy, crazy-haired little Aria. We are so lucky to have you in our lives. xo

Scroll down to see a one year snap shot of Baby A. The first two pictures below are some newborn favourites taken by the talented Jennifer Harwood from Blink Photography. Thanks Jen!

img_0116-3

img_0208-2

img_5003
img_5191

img_9285

One Year Snapshot

I Weigh: 22 lbs

I Stand: 28 inches

I have: 5 teeth

Favourite foods: Grapes, cheese, bananas

Favourite things: extension cords, necklaces, shoes and hair brushes (Not even kidding here!)

Favourite stuffy: Mrs. Mouse

Favourite activity: Dancing, getting into things, Mommy carrying me

Words: Mama, Dada, shoe

Moves: Waving, dancing, peek-a-boo, clapping, climbing

I love: My sister, baths!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

California Dreamin’

Mike and I decided to take the girls on a last minute trip to San Diego for Thanksgiving. It’s totally not my style to book something last minute, and we even discussed a trip like this back in the summer but opted to not book anything, and then, well, here we are having gone anyways! Maybe it won’t kill me to be a little more spontaneous. Especially if it involves sunny destinations.

LOVE San Diego. What a beautiful city! Definitely a place we will go again. We took in some sites–a trip to the Zoo being our big day– and then chilled out at the pool and beach. I know Zoos don’t have the greatest reputation, but wow does San Diego Zoo do an amazing job! Filled with big, well-kept and beautiful spaces for the animals, from an (all-be-it limited knowledge) outsiders perspective, it was impressive. We didn’t take in any other “theme” parks– our kids are little and it’s really just kind of exhausting to go, go, go all day long. By the end of our Zoo day Miss V was requesting the hotel. #diva.  Continue Reading

The Fire Station

Sunday Funday! Yesterday we visited the Kelowna Fire Department for their open house and pancake breakfast fundraiser. V is obsessed with the book The Fire Station by Robert Munsch (and she’s equally obsessed with pancakes– check out my recipe that we make weekly, here) so we were excited to take her. As we were getting ready to go she said “Aria, we’re going to see Michael and Sheila and the fire engines!” And the entire time we were there she kept asking where Michael and Sheila were. There were a few tears shed when we left without finding them. (If this makes no sense to you, then you must not have a toddler dictating your reading list).

Continue Reading

Go the F to Sleep (Or: A Visit to the Lavender Farm)

The other day I took Vienna on a little day date with Mom. She hadn’t been acting like herself, and, well, Mom guilt. So I took her for a one-on-one morning. She may be playing me, but oh well. #momstruggles. We headed to the Farmer’s Market, one of our favourite regular stops, and the Okanagan Lavender Herb Farm. Truth be told, I had an ulterior motive (hence the title here– anyone else read that book?). Sure I wanted to visit the Lavender Farm and spend time with my girl, but more importantly, V “not acting like herself” included a bout of huge bedtime melt downs and I intended to purchase lavender oil and pump that shit discretely diffuse Lavender all over the house. Sweet, sweet bliss! (I’m starting to have an emoji addiction- I desperately want to put that cry/laughing face here).

We had a great time! They have already harvested the Lavender for the season, so it wasn’t the beautiful purple lavender fields that one would imagine, but when your audience is an almost three-year old, they don’t know the difference. It’s actually set up fairly well to accommodate kids: they provide a scavenger hunt in their garden trails (kids are rewarded with a freezie for completing!), there is a hedge maze to get lost in, a fish pond, a wishing tree to hang ‘wish ribbons’ on (although the aesthetics of the actual wishing tree are kind of, well, weird to me), and really just an all-around beautiful atmosphere.

V loved running through the garden trails and picking which path we would go on next. This may be in part due to the fact that she is obsessed with paths lately. There is a small museum on the property painted in bright colours, which Vienna was certain was an ice cream shop. So funny! “Mom, that has to be where they keep the ice cream!” She thinks every Okanagan tourist attraction sells Gelato (and she’s actually right).

At Christmas time they decorate the gardens with thousands of little lights for families to visit. Anyone who knows me well  knows that I am a sucker for Christmas anything…. so we’ll be back. Worth the visit, and yes, I purchased Lavender. 😉

lavender farm

img_8813

img_8809
img_8828

img_8835

img_8849