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!

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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!

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Oh Christmas Tree

One of the first things to check off our Holiday Bucket List was decorating the tree, of course! And I am really loving reading Christmas books with Vienna by the tree! We (Mike) decided last year’s tree was a little small for our space, so we went to look at bigger trees and ended up with what in comparison seems like a ginormous one (it’s really only 1.5 feet taller). Mike and I were laughing thinking of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation when they undo the ties and the branches go shooting through the living room window. Anyone else thinking “It’s not going in our yard, Russ?”

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‘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
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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

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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!

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