Here Comes The Sun: Navigating the Time Change with Kids

Navigating the Time Change with Kids

I don’t know about you, but over here we are (rather desperately now) dreaming of summer. Anyone else feel like this winter is never ending? It seems that we’ve had a few glimpses of spring (and we immediately commence conversations about riding bikes, blowing bubbles and hitting the park) and every. single. time. winter shows up the very next day to prove us wrong. Sigh.

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Put This Bucket on Your List

What’s the one baby purchase that both my husband and I rave about? Our infant bucket seat: the Chicco Keyfit 30. After our first born, we became those parents who told anyone in the market for baby gear who would listen about our love for this seat. Now, this behavior is not unusual for a Mama, especially one obsessed with finding the best infant gear (me). But my husband? Now that’s something to write about! When it came time to move our eldest into a convertible seat, we both missed the ease of the bucket seat. (Side note: I think people who claim that their convertible seat is so amazing and so easy must not have used the Chicco. They just don’t know how good it can be 😉 ).

We purchased the Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat and Base on the recommendation of a local Children and Baby Goods store. Their take? The seat is so user-friendly that it is the safest seat on the market because it is being used correctly. This seat is the #1-rated infant car seat in America. Correct installation is key to car seat safety, and Chicco makes this not only possible, but very easy.

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Island Beats, Swim, Repeat

You know what the most crucial thing about travelling with kids is? MIND SET. A while back I read this article, and it’s so spot-on (and hilariously) truthful that I can’t even pick just one quote.

Some of my favorites:

“If your final destination has a kitchen, you are not on vacation. You are on a trip. If you have to grocery shop before or during your time away, it is a trip. If you, at any time during your stay, have to load or unload a dishwasher, that is a Groundhog-Day-style trip.” (We are in the moment where we live for a kitchen on our “trips.” And, I may have also nearly lost my mind not being able to find a solid grocery store near Waikiki beach).

“If there is a pack-and-play in your room, you are on a trip. If you are in a hotel room with two double beds, trippity trip trip.” Yup! Totally us right now!

Can’t. Stop. Laughing. Despite the headaches that can come with traveling with two littles, it’s still worth it in my books. And, we’ve been coming back from some pretty stellar family trips lately: we’ve just returned from Oahu, Hawaii, and our trip to  San Diego in the fall was pretty amazing! Our travel entails nothing too adventurous these days, mostly getting outside, enjoying the sunshine, and eating too much ice cream. WIN. The winter time is when our family gets to reconnect since our summers are so crazy with our boat business. Oddly enough we live in a summer paradise, yet have to get away in the winter to enjoy one! We don’t have huge expectations to do much more than see a few sites and get in some good quality family time.

We love traveling to Hawaii and this year we headed to Oahu for the first time. We spent one week in Waikiki and one week in Ko Olina, both which are really amazing locations. We would highly recommend the Ko Olina area for families. There are four lagoons along a boardwalk that links a few resorts, and the lagoons are beautiful protected and uncrowded areas for kids to explore the beach and water. V and I spent lot’s of time together scouring the beach for “treasures” and we had the most amazing one-on-one time doing this. Her sweet little three-year old inquisitiveness is in full force and we had some pretty cute conversations.

Oahu offers a lot of different sites and activities and I can imagine the endless exploring that kids a little bit older than ours would love to do. There’s something about Hawaii that always has us coming back for more. Everyone is so happy, the weather is nearly always perfect (and with the ocean breeze, not overly hot for little kids), and the pace of life follows those memorable island beats that ease us right into vacation mode. Sigh. Take me back.

Our days consisted mostly of coffee run (note, there is no comma between those two items 😉 ), swim, nap, swim, ice cream, iced coffee, swim, repeat. Or something like that. We took in the odd adventure: the Honolulu Zoo, a sunset dinner cruise, a character breakfast and Luau at Disney’s Aulani, Mike took a day at Pearl Harbour (the girls and I were uninvited, apparently for reasons related to our level of patience and/or our snack break requirements- insert that little eye roll emoji here), and a day trip out to the North Shore. For the most part we loved all of our excursions. After returning from the zoo someone at the hotel asked Vienna how she liked it. “There were no polar bears there. It’s too sunny here for them.” Great take away, kid.

At the end of the day we are constantly reminded that down time is the best time.

If you’ve got questions about or want a review of any of the activities we took in, feel free to send me a message! I’ll spare the details and get straight to the main point– a quick photo recap of some of my favourite memories. Enjoy! xo

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Hi There

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!

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A New Chapter

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

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Our Christmas

Well, that in-between week of hanging on to anything Christmas has come to a close (remind me again, when do I have to stop putting Salted Caramel Baileys in my coffee??) and I’m reflecting on what an amazing thing it is to have little kids at Christmas. (Truth: I started this post during said week but never finished it and now it’s January).

We I set out our Holiday Bucket List in true Type-A, Pinterest-loving fashion and we had a great month of celebrations. Here’s a quick recap of the festivities!

We started off the month with meeting our new Elf on the Shelf, despite the recommendations of some friends deeply regretting starting this madness after a few years. V has been going through a stage of naming things random words, like “Chroccoli”, which was the word of the the month in November, so there was no way I was letting that fly and having an Elf around every Christmas from now forward named “Chroccoli.” I went ahead and named the Elf Jovie, of course from one of my favourite Christmas movies! V basically rolled her eyes and said “No Mom, that’s Red Riding Hood.” So, Red Riding Hood it is. Mike even tried to swap in Jovie a few times: “Hey Vienna, where’s Jovie?” to which she replied “Red Riding Hood is on the tree, Dad” very serious and matter-of-fact toned. The Elf was pretty uneventful for the most part, but she did really go out with a bang surprising Vienna with a mini Christmas Tree in her room when she left.

We took the girls skating and out on the sleigh, looked at lights, baked cookies galore, drank hot chocolate on the daily, visited Santa and attended holiday parties. We wrapped up the festivities with a tractor ride with friends out to a bonfire where we roasted s’mores and drank hot chocolate, and then on our way back visited all the horses in the pasture. Magical! All in all, our Holiday Bucket List was a success and we loved all of it! Next year I hope to make an advent calendar, but that requires some pre-planning (before the day before) and I might not have that in me yet.

For Christmas Vienna asked Santa for a “Dress-Up Room” (“You know Mom, like at Preschool?” i.e. the entire back half of the preschool). Santa brought a trunk full of dress up clothes and, the little closet under the stairs that is joint with V’s room was turned into a dress-up space! It is SO cute. V’s still a little unsure on the Santa part in that she actually expected to see him deliver said dress-up room, which we learned when she told some of our visiting relatives “well, my Mom and Dad just brought me that.”

We spend Christmas at home now that we have kids and we host all of our family for dinner on Christmas Eve for a traditional(ish) Ukrainian twelve dish dinner, including:  wheat, borscht, cabbage rolls and perogies, among other dishes. We’ve done this is on Christmas Eve my entire life and it comes from my Gramma’s family.

Truth be told, I personally love the build up to Christmas more than Christmas morning itself. The morning seems a bit chaotic and overwhelming, and disappears SO fast. But, seeing the magic of Christmas building for them and the excitement of Christmas morning is really so amazing.

One thing I struggle with is capturing “good” photos on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning; there is too much going on and I don’t want to miss the moments trying to get a beautiful picture. So, here’s a recap of Christmas and December from what I’ve got (i.e. mostly grainy Iphone photos).

Enjoy and Happy New Year! xo

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Christmas Countdown!

It’s Christmas week! Can you believe it? Anyone else love the build up to Christmas more than Christmas itself? I am always sad Christmas afternoon when the excitement is passing and I know it will just be regular winter again soon. I truly love all the chaos and fun that comes with Christmas planning.

Both girls got pretty sick last week, which delayed a lot of our Christmas festivities. So now we are taking it ALL in and loving every minute of it! We took V for her first ice skate at the local outdoor rink; mailed our lovely Christmas cards; did some festive baking and made a gingerbread house (which is slowly, mysteriously losing all of it’s decor, as per the photo); took a few sleigh rides down the nature trail by our house; and are binge watching Christmas movies in our Christmas PJs all night, every night. On our list this week is cookie decorating, a Christmas light tour, eating too much and drinking all the Christmas coffees. 😉

Oh, and shopping. Because we still haven’t done that.

Although it’s really late (we’ve got 4 shopping days left?) I’m  hoping to wrap things up tomorrow and avoid all of my last minute errands– I literally run out every Christmas Eve to pick up something I forgot. This year Vienna asked Santa for a “Dress Up Room”. Yup, you read correctly, girlfriend wants an en-suite. Just wait ’til you see how we are trying to pull that off last minute.

If you’re local and last minute like me (ahem…. shipping deadlines have surely passed by now… sh$t), then check out this Local Last Minute Gift Guide I’ve put together with the help of some great small businesses offering promos to get those last items crossed off your list! I love supporting local, and these shops are a few of my fave!

For Her
None other than my go-to self-care place, Illuminate Skin Care and Aesthetics. If you have not treated yourself to a facial by Meredith than it’s a must-do! Treat yourself or anyone you want to spoil! The Eminence Organic Hungarian Facial is Ahhhhhmazing. And, because the owner, Meredith, is also amazing, she’s offering my readers 25% off an Eminence Organic Hungarian Facial gift certificate purchased through her online site from now until December 24th!!! These only go on sale ONE other time per year (and that time isn’t coming around again for a while). START THE CAR! 😉 Use the code GIFTOFGREATSKIN to score your deal today! You won’t regret it!

For Him
Anyone else never know what to buy their husband? I barely know anything about electronics, but recently impressed my husband with a decent pair of headphones as a gift! If you are local head over to Andres Electronic Experts and you can pick up a set of Bose SoundTrue headphones for $89 (That’s 10% better than any price online price). Or, tell them about your husband and I’m sure they will find something that fits! If he really doesn’t need anything what about a Parasail adventure with Eldorado Parasail for HALF price. Say what? Maybe buy this for anyone on your list!

For the Babes
We are in toy overload over here, and  the girls really need nothing. Of course they will still get some gifts, but Aria’s stocking will be filled with a few of my go-to baby products this year. If there is one thing we still always need, it’s baby products: diaper cream or baby lotion. And bunny crackers. Can I put those in a stocking? For amazing baby products shop online at Nu.Babee and save 15% off your purchase with code MAMAWRITES until December 24, 2016!

As for toys, my shopping go-to’s this year are local kids stores or Chapters, which has a great selection of toys too!

For Them
Ok- this is the only self-serving item on my list (in that I would indirectly profit from it) BUT I am honestly only including it because it’s a great idea for locals! If you have hard to buy for in-laws, or relatives that need nothing,  a gift certificate to Kelowna Cruises is a great local option (full disclosure, this is my husband’s company). Buy a gift card for a dinner cruise for two for the 2017 summer season before December 24, 2016 and we’ll give you $20 off (Mention code MAMAWRITESBLOG) ! We get lot’s of last minute requests for these GC’s every year and always have great feedback! (Or, if this isn’t their “thing”, I suggest local wine. Lot’s of local wine).

Merry Christmas, the countdown is officially on! Here’s some shots of our Christmas week so far! xo

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Share the Love

I am so excited to share details from my Girls’ Night In last night! Most years I try and have a fun gathering with a few girlfriends to catch up and drink wine around the holidays. I always add a fun activity, and this year I wanted to share something that I love and something that makes life easier…Chatbooks!

Does anyone else never print pictures anymore? I literally have a massive storage bin full of great scrap booking supplies that were passed on from my Mom, and I have not made a single scrap book in years and NONE since having kids, which turns out to be the time when I want photo books the MOST!

You guys, I can’t even make it to the store to pick up printed photos from the lab for our Christmas cards. It’s that bad. Add to that the fact that I have roughly 14,000 photos on my phone. I take a LOT of photos of those kiddos of mine!

Enter Chatbooks. Life saver! When V was a babe I did a 100 Happy Days Instagram challenge where I posted a photo every day for 100 days, and then had them printed in my very first Chatbook. I’ve since signed up for a series, and every time I post 60 photos on Instagram, it prints them into a little book and sends them to me. Genius, right? I’m starting to feel like I have to tell you about the second set of free books, free t-shirt, and unicorn I’m going to throw in when you buy them hahaha (totally kidding). Really, this is just MY opinion and I simply LOVE them that much!

5 Reasons why I love Chatbooks:

EASY. It’s done for me with zero participation on my part if I choose. There is a three day reminder where I can go in and make changes to the book, and even then I try to keep this to just updating the cover to my favorite picture from the book. Sometimes I don’t even do that. #momlife. This way the book is a true snap shot of our daily life, and I love it.

COST. SUPER affordable. $8 for a book and $2 for shipping! I don’t even care if the Canadian-Us exchange rate is total crap. My Starbucks (and/or kids’ matching pajama addiction) will tell you this is peanuts.

DESIGN. I love the simplicity of these books. Yes I could print a bigger, more elaborate photo book and there is a time and place for that, BUT I love that these are small and simple. And, if one of the kids tears a page I’m not going to lose my shit, I’ll just re-order it. P.S. Vienna LOVES flipping through these books. I’m starting her own series, too!

PROCESS. You can either have it sync with your Instagram or Facebook feed,  a specific #hashtag, or, if you aren’t a social media user, you can have it paired with your favorite roll on your phone. I actually love having it tied to my Instagram, because the pictures I post just so happen to be my favorite pics that I want to share, so it’s almost like a filter from my overflowing camera roll. Plus, it includes the caption. (I’ll regret the second half of this statement in 10 years when my kids can read and hashtags are sooo #2016).

PERSONAL. Chatbooks is an amazing company to work with. If I’ve ever had a question or needed support, they are there in an instant and super friendly. They stand behind their products and if anything goes wrong, they will work to make it right! They still have a small shop feel, even though they are definitely killing it as a big company now. I like supporting this company!

Want to join in on the fun? Download the app and use the code MAMAWRITES to get your first series book FREE or 10% off prints or custom books! How awesome is that? Thank you Chatbooks! Plus I have the pleasure of giving away some Chatbooks bucks to help some lucky peeps get started! I’ll do a draw for anyone who starts a new series before January 1st, 2017 🙂 (Please follow the link above if you want to be entered, that is how I will track entries). If you’ve got any questions about how Chatbooks works for our family, contact me @ mamawritesblog@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you!

If you are a local friend and follower, you should probably just come over already for a festive coffee. I’d LOVE to catch up over a seasonally-flavoured, Baileys-induced coffee. ‘Tis the season to find aannnnyyy reason to get together. Fa la la la la. xo

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