Hi! And welcome to Mama Writes Blog. For those of you I don’t know, let me introduce myself. I’m Raina. Mama to Vienna and Aria, wife to Mike, and a lover of the written word. I grew up in a small town in British Columbia, Canada, not far from where I live now. I love sunny weather and traveling, coffee, Pilates, holidays, baking, and, of course, being a mother to my two beautiful girls! I wanted to take a quick post to start the New Year off with a little about me and my plans for 2017!
2017 is here and I am so excited to be writing this post. Mostly because it’s my first post of a New Year. And you know what that means? That I’m still blogging! I started this little blog back in the Spring; it was something I had always wanted to do. But I was nervous. Scared. Intimidated. What if no one reads it? Or perhaps more accurately, what if someone reads it, LOL. What if I have nothing to write about? I’m my worst critic, and I knew I would be hard on myself if I didn’t “succeed”. It took me 4 more months after I decided to blog before I published it on social media, in particular to friends, family and people I know. 5 months later I am SO proud of myself for this accomplishment.
Putting myself out there to the world is part of a new chapter about me. One where I’m less concerned about what people think, and more focused on being my true self. And maybe no one is reading this after all (anyone? 😉 ) But that’s OK by me! That’s not why I’m here. I love writing. And like I said in the beginning, I want a memory of this time for my girls.
In starting Mamawrites I have connected with a community of people that I may not know in person, but feel like long time friends. I have received so many kind compliments and support from friends and family, and from acquaintances, too. That support and feedback isn’t the be-all and end-all, of course, but it has given me confidence and the encouragement to not care (about the wrong stuff) and to care (about the good stuff).
I am so excited for this start to a new year, which naturally brings about an opportunity to plan goals and dreams. I’m looking forward to a full year of hopefully somewhat pre-planned blog content, too!
We rang in 2017 with a couple of friends at our fave local pizza place, and then came home for an early count down with the girls before tucking them in for the night. And, just to remind us of what season of life we are in, Aria had one of her only explosive diapers ever while we were out (sorry about that, friends) and Vienna put on a fairly good display of toddler whining all the way home and refused to have her picture taken. There’s no where I’d rather be, but please pass the wine.
Here’s to another amazing year ahead! And how cute are these little princesses? xo
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
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).
This weekend we celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. 5 years! Where did the time go? Well, mostly to two babies and two cruise boats in our case, but really, it feels like not that long ago and yet so long ago at the same time. We took a night away at Sparkling Hill Resort to celebrate (thanks to the grandparents for keeping the kiddos)– our first time away from both girls!
We got married on 09-10-11. Our wedding day is still one of my favourite days…
After searching the Okanagan exhaustively trying to find a lakefront (and not spend a million) venue, we got married on the perfect dock at a tiny lakefront hotel (thanks to my savvy co-worker–no really, she has the answer to everything). Sadly the site was torn down and turned into a development last year. It was one of those hidden gems that seemed “too good to be true”. One site. All of our crazy family and friends in one small hotel. 33 degree September weather. The most stunning backdrop. The most amazing dress. And the groom wasn’t too bad either 😉
Wedding Details Recap:
- Colour Scheme: Black and White with a hit of hot pink
- Wedding Party: 3 groomsmen, 3 bridesmaids, two flower girls and a ring bearer
- Ceremony: On the dock
- Reception: White event tents behind the hotel
- Dinner: Catered buffet
- Dessert: Candy Bar and homemade cookies dipped in dark and white chocolate
- Songs: Walking down the aisle- I’m Yours, Jason Mraz (acoustic); First Dance- Everything, Michael Buble
I’m not sure what else to put on this list, as I’m so far out of the wedding planning world and so thick into the baby-toddler-mama world. Thankfully (?) Pinterest became popular pretty much right after our wedding, so I feel my inner event planner enthusiast was relatively
limited reasonable at the time.
I looked through our wedding album again the other day and I love these photos so much. We are lucky to have so many stunning images thanks to Blink Photography, who also happens to have done all of our family and baby pictures! Here’s a few favourites.
(I still LOVE that dress and a small part of me hopes that one of my girls will wear it one day).
It’s back to school week and I can’t believe Miss V started Preschool this week! V doesn’t turn 3 until October, so it seems so young (well really, it is, isn’t it?!). She has been so excited about school, mostly because of her older buddies (she calls it ‘Isla school’ after her friend Isla, who went there last year). It’s the sweetest little school and V came out beaming today that she made new friends! Emphasis on new– I think perhaps she expected Isla to be there 😉 I’m curious as to whether her going to preschool will result in a more detailed/accurate game of “school”, which she always wants to play. One can hope– right now I spend an awful lot of time being a teacher at the whim of a bossy student.
Vienna picked out her own outfit out at the mall with me yesterday– adorable! It turns out if you wait for the week of back to school to hit the mall, you run a high risk of ending up with nothing at all or a very Christmas-appropriate dress. Luckily V set her eye on this right away, I think because she was excited to pick something out….or maybe because she wanted to go and get a bouncy ball, haha.
I asked V a few questions to get a snapshot of what she’s like these days. So cute!
- How old are you? Two and a half
- What is your favourite food? Chocolate!
- What is your favourite toy? Elsa
- What do you like to do for fun? Books
- What is your favourite colour? Yellow
- What do you love the most? YOU! (And jumps at me with open arms, going straight for Mama’s heart this girl)
- Where is your favourite place to go? School
- What do you want to be when you grow up? I going to drive one of Daddy’s boats! A little boat.
V isn’t really in to sitting still for pictures, so this mostly involved her pulling leaves and flowers off the trees and plants and me attempting to persuade/threaten her for a nice picture (our neighbours probably think I’m crazy). The expressions here are oh-so Vienna. This makes me laugh as I can’t imagine my Mom ever making this big of an ordeal out of three year old preschool. I blame Pinterest and Instagram.
What better way to wrap up the week than a few beauty find favourites! Truth– I have never been an expert in make-up. Or beauty products for that matter. In fact I was stuck at the MAC counter for the last 10 years (nothing wrong with MAC, I just wasn’t exploring anything else). I also used to take a long time to get ready in the morning (say, an hour). And not because I was doing anything amazing, but because I had the time so I used the time. I washed, dried and styled my hair daily– say what? And I followed the same make-up application routine For. Years. But it’s ok, keep reading.
My skin was average, sometimes good, sometimes bad. For the last 3 years I’ve either being pregnant, nursing, or briefly recovering in between kids. It’s left my skin on a bit of a rollercoaster. This summer I made some changes and here are some beauty faves I picked up!
First, I switched all of my products to an organic skin care line. This is costly and something that I actually avoided doing for some time. I’ve been getting an organic facial for the last few years at Illuminate Skin Care and Aesthetics and the products are amazing. And the owner, Meredith, is lovely. I finally started purchasing the products and 6 weeks later my skin felt the benefits. You can read more about Eminence Organic Skin Care products here.
Second, I swapped out my regular powder for one without Talc. I didn’t know much about this bad boy, but Meredith set me straight. I think it was along the lines of “we can clear up your skin… but if you keep clogging it up the second you leave, you aren’t going to get anywhere.” Right. So I swapped that out for talc-free powder- not easy to find.
New truth– this week I slept in and literally woke up, brushed my teeth, washed my face, put on a few dabs of very minimal make-up and walked out the door in FIVE MINUTES. Not with children, of course. I’m not an Olympian. But seriously! This makes such a difference for my mornings with two kids. Here’s the details on my “five minute face”:
- Cover FX Pressed Mineral Foundation (Vegan, paraben, fragrance, gluten, mineral oil and talc free)
- Eminence Handmade Organic Skin care (Clear Skin Willow Bark Booster-Serum; moisturizer and cleanser from their Clear Skin and Red Currant lines; and Clear Skin Targeted Treatment).
- Make Up Forever Concealer
- Make Up Forever HD Blush
- MAC eyeshadow in Shroom (really, I have been using this for 10 years) and All That Glitters
Happy Friday! I hope something in here saves someone else’s morning too 😉
*These product recommendations are all just my personal opinions. Take it or leave it!
Our Vienna. This girl has the biggest heart in the world. She is so kind and loving, especially towards her sister. Her nature is just so sweet and gentle.
One of my favorite things about Vienna lately is her talking; she is such a chatterbox. Some mornings, I’m just hoping for 5 quiet minutes with a cup of coffee. Those would be the mornings when she talks the most. She’s got a few specific little sentences and pronunciations that are adorable: gar-jibs (garbage); fug-fug-fight! (bed bugs bite!); what you talking about/what you say Mom; do like this; mem-jer? (remember). I really just can’t get enough of her talking.
But this isn’t to say that life with a toddler is a breeze every day. Some days I find that I am repeating myself one million times and have to try very hard not to let frustration get the best of me when it comes to Miss V. I hope I’m not the only Mama in this boat! I read something recently along the lines of how it takes a toddler 30 seconds to process an instruction. By this time you are probably completely frustrated with them and have repeated the instruction multiple times. Yikes. That is me. I am trying my hardest to slow down, take my time, and let my kids lead the day. This is an especially helpful reminder as I am starting to see how V expresses herself and her frustrations.
Sweet, sweet baby Aria Kate. This girl, she has my heart.
When I was pregnant with Aria I would sing/hum (I’m a terrible singer) Billy Joel’s “For the Longest Time” to Vienna as I put her to bed. Why this song? I have no idea. It has no prior meaning to me, it is not particularly my ‘type’ of music (honestly it’s probably Mike’s influence), and quite frankly I’m surprised I even know it enough to want to sing it (but I did make up a few of my own lyrics unknowingly, ha!). In any case this song stuck through the summer I was pregnant and, the most amazing thing has happened: Aria loves and responds to this song immediately. If she is fussy, I’ll start to sing it and she instantly calms. If I hum it when Aria is on my shoulder pushing her little legs up and down she will still. Baby A– she knows this song. I know I’ve read that babies will recognize music/stories/voices heard in utero. But to experience it? That is a totally different feeling. Amazing.
I’ll write this post as a quick list/recap of things about Aria at this age: