Category: Parents

Supporting Personality and Confidence Growth in Children

Our children are our greatest treasure and we, as parents, need to do everything in our power to provide them with an appropriate environment where they can develop their unique personalities and self-esteem and grow into strong, confident persons. Helping them develop great self-confidence means partially paving their way for happiness, well-being and a stable future. Thus, it’s essential that we help them develop their personalities, acquire a strong sense of competence and gain a realistic image of themselves and their abilities.

Express your love and appreciation

Although this goes without saying, showing your child that you love and appreciate them will greatly influence their self-image. Every child needs to feel accepted and loved by their family and later on their friends. It’s essential that your child knows that you love them unconditionally because it will help them develop a positive self-image. This is particularly important when they make a mistake or you lose your temper – your child needs to know that you love them no matter what.

Find proper educational help

Although parents are real-life super-people who manage to balance their family, personal and professional lives, sometimes they should seek help from professionals with educational experience to help their children advance or overcome certain developmental difficulties. This is of the utmost importance if you and your spouse have full-time jobs, because you need to pay special attention when it comes to appropriate childcare. Parents in Australia are supported by the early education Panania childcare centre, recognised for their focus on interpersonal relationships and social development, while providing a safe and caring environment for children. This type of childcare centre can really be a substantial support to parents and children during their upbringing. Not only do they make children feel accepted by their peers, they can also help them acquire a range of skills and start them off on the road to success.

Praise and criticise responsibly

When praising and criticising your child, you need to be very careful about how you do it because both can have negative effects on your child’s self-image. Every child is mischievous from time to time and you simply need to express disapproval of certain actions and behaviours. However, what you shouldn’t do is criticise your child and their personality. Instead, you need to focus on the behaviour itself and explain why they shouldn’t behave that way. Saying “you’re a bad boy” will affect your child’s opinion of themselves, but saying “you shouldn’t do this because…” will help them understand why a certain behaviour is inappropriate.

When it comes to praising your child, you also need to be mindful of how you do it. If you praise every little thing your child does, you’ll send a message that you have low expectations of them, which will affect their confidence. On the other hand, if you say “you’re the smartest child ever”, they will acquire a false self-image. Eventually, when they come across an obstacle that they cannot overcome, they will feel incompetent. Therefore, you shouldn’t exaggerate when you praise your child, but try to focus on positive behaviours you want to reinforce.

Teach your child responsibility

Assigning your child specific tasks and responsibilities will help them become more independent and self-assured. When you give your child an important task, you show them that you trust them with it, which sends a positive message to your child. If you give them a bit more demanding task, they’ll feel satisfied with themselves once they’ve completed. However, you should carefully choose the difficulty of a certain task – it should be neither too difficult nor too easy. If you assign them an extremely difficult task, they won’t be able to complete it and end up losing confidence in their abilities. On the other hand, if the task is too easy, they’ll quickly get bored and may even feel that you don’t trust them with more challenging tasks. Thus, you should aim for a task that will be slightly above your child’s abilities, which will give your child’s self-confidence a boost once they’ve completed it.

Parents all over the world are giving their best to provide their children with the optimal conditions for their development and these are some of the ways that can guide them in the right direction.

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A Run in with My Younger Self

Written By: Jax Menez Atwell
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I’d fallen asleep but found myself awake in a strange place.  An alley.  A dark alley with dim lighting from a lamp above, some fog and mist for affect.  There before me was my younger self.  It appeared he was listening to me.  What was I saying? 

I’m sure everyone at one point has thought, “Oh, if I could just go back” or “I wish I would have known this when I was young”.   For me it is a real dilemma.   If you had known somethings would you have made the same choices in life and would you be the person you are today.  At forty years old, I am full of scars and mistakes that are all a huge part of what makes me who I am.  If I take away many of those supposed “negatives” then would I have experienced success, would I have enjoyed my triumphs, would the positives still be there without the negatives.  Each individual can only answer that question for themselves.

For me, experiencing the height of a mountain only has the elation and joy if you came from the valley.  That physical and true metaphor has a ton of weight for me as I contemplate what I would be telling my younger self.  My life has truly been hills and valleys and deep canyons and mountain tops.  For me the sweetness of the journey, in success or failure, is what makes the man.

Sure, there are lots of silly things I’d probably love to be telling myself.  Just in items of fitness alone: “Don’t lift so heavy, your joints will pay for it when your older”, “Protect your elbows and knees”, “Don’t waste your money on most supplements and learn how to eat correctly”.  I use the fitness items just as an example I’m not sure my younger self wouldn’t have already tuned out! 

If the silly, little things wouldn’t need to be said and I’m pretty confident I believe my journey of ups and downs was truly an exercise in seeing the forest for the trees.  Then what would I actually be saying to the younger me?

I found myself telling him about balance.  Such an important part to this life.   A person has categories to their life. I believe I have four categories.  I believe one category would be my spiritual side.  The physical side would represent health, fitness, body, and sexuality.  The work life or occupation would be another.  Finally, your home life and what that entails.  I was told by a man that you can have one of these categories in turmoil but getting a second into turmoil causes major life disruptions.  If a third category begins having issues then this is when we see life struggles that can cause fierce issues. I’m not sure if it was the darkness, the misty lighting or my cryptic personality but my younger self appeared to be a captive audience so I continued…

I began telling him about a code I’d develop in law enforcement.  One that has served me well as an investigator, father, and just being a good person for those around me.  The code is pretty simple, “There are two sides to every coin”.  This very simple philosophy can be applied to a plethora of things in life.  It keeps your mind open, it keeps you from instant judgements, it prevents prejudice, and it drastically will reduce failures of all kinds.  I’d want my younger self to have this mental power much sooner to deal with things to come.  Even though my younger self looked a bit puzzled I moved on.  Not knowing how much time I would have.

The process of hurt blurted out of my mouth.  Hurt will happen.  People will hurt you.  Expect to be hurt but DON’T let it make you give any less love.  As my dear mother says, “Your rewards will be in heaven”.  I found this to be a very slow and painful life lesson that I wish I’d conquered much sooner.  Always being shocked when someone close hurt me or when that knife in the back really catches you off guard.  As we get older we close people off, trust people less, have less friends…our circle gets so small that sometimes there isn’t anyone around.  I’ve experienced this and done this very action.  It really is a natural reaction to “circle the wagons” but if we do that and don’t experience the gift of giving our love to others we miss one of the true joys in life and one that is unique to the human experience.  Not sure if that one took; his look of puzzlement went to deer in the head lights!

So, feeling like my time was over I simply left him with this, “In this world, dark times will come and go, keep yourself grounded and balanced, look above to God, follow your heart, and survive the storm.”  For me that would be the best advise because I relish my journey.  I wouldn’t want to veer my younger self from the path.  “Enjoy the Journey” would be my last words.   This is where I go slinking into the shadows and disappear!  Oh, the look on my younger self’s face, you should see it!

Did he listen?  Would your younger self listen?  Life’s a journey, enjoy the path.

About the Author

Jax Menez Atwell plays The Scavenger. Jax has more than ten years of investigative experience in law enforcement agencies in Arizona and California. His investigative law enforcement experience and training include under-cover operations, narcotics, SWAT, person and property crimes, etc. Jax has been a private investigator since 2008 specializing in the hard to solve cases such as cold cases, civilian, business and government investigations. Jax was additionally part of a team of three investigative team that explored missing people in History Channel’s “Missing in Alaska.” When Jax is not perusing the truth in his investigations he finds time to throw himself at acting roles. He has been in a number of productions since 2013. Films like “.357”, “New World Order: The End Has Come” and another Montana made film “The Big Muddy” western series. Plus more. Jax brings with him a lot of energy, enthusiasm and a fierce work ethic.

 

A Widow’s Perspective: Life without Your Life Partner

“My life is extremely full, I wouldn’t have it any other way!” – Kim

Kim Sutherland is a working mom with two grown boys, ages 22 and 17. Kim has enjoyed a full time career in the travel industry for 20+ years. About ten years ago she opened up her own décor business, as she always had a desire to be an entrepreneur and gain some additional income.

Kim has a busy schedule; however, she is careful to build in time for herself, her family, and volunteering. Kim fosters Labrador Retriever puppies for Dog Guides of Canada. She provides a loving home, follows specific training guidelines to prepare the dogs for their future “service” to a Canadian with a disability. All of the above keeps Kim very busy, and she says she wouldn’t have it any other way.

What many people may not know about Kim is that she is a widow and became one at a young age with two young children to care for. You can say that her world was rocked but how she coped is an inspiring story that I get to share with all of you as I interviewed Kim for this exclusive piece.

The timing of this article is extra special this week as September 10th is quickly approaching which is a memorable day for Kim. This date was when Kim and her husband, Randy were married and it is also Kim’s birthday. Therefore, this makes it a perfect time to share Kim’s story.

Tell me a little about what your husband was diagnosed with?

“My husband was diagnosed with a rare form of Acute Myelogenous Leukaemia, at the very young age of 39. It came out of nowhere, he did not feel well for three weeks prior to Christmas, needless to say it was shocking news, it rocked our world.”

Once you heard of your husband’s diagnosis and time to live. What did you do and how did you cope?

“My husband was given three months to live, at that time I was holding our six month old infant, Carter and  my other son Matthew (age five). We were living in Calgary at the time, both of our careers had taken us there. We loved being in nature, the mountains, all of the outdoor space and family friendly living. Our family members were all back in Ontario.

Once the doctor gave me the news, I immediately called my parents. My mom jumped on a flight to Calgary to come and help. Doctor’s told me to get help, get paperwork in order, he would die from this. What I struggled to understand, was how does this happen to a guy that was so fit, extremely fun and positive, always. We had everything going for us. I couldn’t believe it, but when the doctor sat me down and calmly explained to me how sick he was, and we were being moved to a terminal ward of the hospital within minutes of the diagnosis, I realized this is serious and happening fast.

“Your dad had amazing courage, so let that be a lesson, we need to be tough cookies from time to time…life is not easy.”

Each day was tough, watching someone who was incredibly vibrant maintain his positive attitude and courage (during chemo, brain radiation, hair loss and a bone marrow transplant). To this day, I tell the boys, “Your dad had amazing courage, so let that be a lesson, we need to be tough cookies from time to time…life is not easy.” Sadly all the drugs and great healthcare could not keep my husband alive, his body did shut down. We lost him on August 26, 2002. The boys were really young.”

After your husband’s passing, what did you do to help yourself and your children cope?

“I knew I had to continue to be strong, no matter what. I moved back (to Ontario) to be close to family and friends. I enrolled my boys in some activities and even when I had to do the 5 AM hockey practices, bundling an infant and my eldest into the car at that horrible hour on a Saturday or Sunday morning was not necessarily fun, but it was important. The social aspect was great for them and me! I also had the unwavering support of my mom and dad. Truly, my mom is my rock.

Moms are made of something we cannot describe. Somehow we pull energy and strength out when you really feel exhausted, but you get up and put on a smile for your child and that is what matters. You are their world. My mom did a ton to keep the house together, while I ran to/from the hospital. It was a very sad time, but I knew my boys needed me and I had to keep busy to cope. I also knew that my career and the people at work, were good for me. The boys and I did a lot of activities together such as reading, Lego, playing board games, crafting, setting up play dates with other moms and kids, making new traditions.”

What advice can you give a parent who has become a widow with small children?

“Keep positive! Keep their routine, be the parent you wanted to be with your partner/spouse. Don’t be afraid to seek out friends for a shoulder to cry on, or even get professional help to deal with the grief. Nobody knows what it is like until you are in it, so if anyone is not supportive, keep away from those people. Grieving is tough. I suggest you ask someone to take the kids one day a week so you can go do something for yourself. Go to the gym, or for a long walk (or run), meet a friend for a coffee, get a pedicure…you get the idea. It’s about your downtime to re-energize. Kids take a lot of your time and energy. Take a lot of pictures. I found when my husband was sick I didn’t take enough pictures. He didn’t want photos taken (of himself); however, my boys have learned a lot through the videos and pictures we do have.”

How did you do it all? How did you balance two young children, a career and a passion (staging)?

“I did it with the help of family and friends, which I am so grateful for. I love being busy, I don’t stand still often. I started Above & Beyond Décor, to have additional income but it also feeds my creativity. That is what fills me up. Staging is hard work, although it is fun too. You get to create, like a picture in a magazine. Meeting new people, building my business, planning for the future is important to me. I am an advocate for other women, letting them know you need a “plan” i.e. get your financials in order and be ready to take on anything. None of us really know what lies down the garden path, so best to have a plan and have passion.”


Tell me a little about your staging company.

“Above & Beyond Décor was founded as a result of my passion for home décor, floral design, networking and personal growth. I read about home staging and a course that was being offered by a North America staging professional. I decided that would be a great addition to my list of services. I enrolled in the course and became a Certified Staging Professional. Real estate staging is merchandising a property’s best features, understanding lifestyle selling techniques and targeting specific buyers. My friends and family kept telling me I had the “knack” a real talent, knowing how to style and decorate. In order to get that talent noticed, I offered to stage a couple of friend’s homes for free. Their homes sold in a matter of days (with multiple offers on the table), the realtors were very impressed. Soon, a number of realtors were calling me and my business flourished.

I work with a lot of local Mississauga, Oakville and Burlington real estate professionals, they call upon me to stage vacant properties as well as those lived in.

What makes a great stager? Testimonials and referrals. I am extremely pleased with my client testimonials. I often hear that they love my style, my approach (not intrusive), and I am very personable. Comments include: “Your work is amazing;” “Wow, I love how it looks now, I don’t want to move!” “We received multiple offers because of your staging!” or “I need to live like this in my new home.”

What made you decide to become a stager?

“I realized there was a huge opportunity in the market and this just seemed like a natural step forward for me. Realtors and homeowners appreciate when a home sells for top dollar, studies have shown that 65% of buyers prefer to pay more money for a “move in” ready home. Staging is huge now!”

If you could give a younger you some advice on parenting what would it be?

“Hmm, that is tough one. I do not have any regrets, very happy with the way things have worked out for me. I would say getting proper rest is key. Being a parent is fun, challenging, you will be juggling a lot of balls in the air, so when you don’t get enough rest or just need support – Ask for help! Most of us moms don’t ask – we try to be SuperMom and do it all.”

Anything else you would like to add for our readers?

“Melanie, thank you for allowing me to stage your home and for sharing my story on your blog. It was a pleasure meeting you, Mike and Nikki and seeing the smile on your face when you sold for top dollar! As for your readers, fellow mommy friends and family – I look forward to hearing from you. Someone you know might need a stager – that’s me.

Above & Beyond Décor for the ultimate first impression. Staging really sells! Please contact me at kesutherland@cogeco.ca.”

Special thank you to Kim for her time and inspiring us with her strength, courage and passion. I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Kim on the staging of my home and to get to know her as a business woman, mother and as a friend.

Kim is such an inspirational person in every way possible!

Losing her life partner was tragic and yet she found the courage and love to cope. I have to admit that this was a tough interview for me to do without shedding tears but it shows you how life has many unexpected turns and we have to embrace and love what we do have in the present. Kim has reminded me how precious life and my life partner are. Thank you Kim and please keep inspiring all with your positive love of life!

I am truly honored to have been given this opportunity to share Kim’s story with all of you and I hope you have been inspired as much as I have.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

How to Maintain Sanity When Getting Back to School

You may think that this year is going to be easy-peasy, especially if you have prior back-to-school experience. However, the reality has a tendency to be a bit different than what we expect. Therefore, stress and anxiety that follow school year prep can be really pressuring for both your kids and you as parents. With that in mind, you can take a new practical approach and make sure that this beginning of a school year proceeds as smoothly as possible. There are a couple of tips that can help you prepare so take a look.

Photo Source; https://www.flickr.com/photos/mareeam/4999637599

Adopt the new schedule in advance

Even if there’s still a week or two of summer break left, it would be wise to start with the school year schedule as soon as possible. This especially involves waking up, meals and bedtime. If your whole family starts following this new schedule, it will be much easier to transition back into it just in time for school. That way, you’ll be able to prevent any potential issues that would have otherwise stress everyone out.

Plan out your shopping essentials

Shopping for the new school year can be another stressful issue. Your kids may really hate shopping, or, they may enjoy it far too much. Either way, unplanned shopping trips can really end in a disaster. Therefore, before you go anywhere and look at any school essentials, sit your kids down and talk to them. Make a shopping list of all the things they need and then find the best offer. That way, you’ll know exactly where to go and what to look for.

Be there for your kids

The ones that are the most nervous about going back to school are your kids. Therefore, it’s very important to talk to them. However, don’t do it superficially. Talk about the possibility of making new friends and minimize their anxiety by talking about things that they will actually love about school. This can be playing with their friends or learning something new. Of course, if they’re truly worried about something, try to come up with possible solutions.

Bring back the responsibilities

Not many kids think about chores and other responsibilities during summer, and that’s perfectly normal. After all, they too deserve a rest. However, they still need to fall back into the usual school routine and keep up with the program. You can help your kids rediscover the importance of being responsible by giving them some chores to complete before the school year starts. This can be making the bed in the morning, tidying up their room, choosing the clothes to wear for tomorrow or folding the clothing pieces properly.


Make the whole experience enjoyable

If your kids aren’t happy and they stress about school a lot, you won’t be satisfied either. However, it’s paramount for your and their sanity to make school time as fun as possible. Studying is important but kids also need to know that they can freely express themselves. For example, you can let them use eco-friendly permanent markers to decorate their notebooks or, wait for it, decorate a wooden garden furniture, thus, expressing their creative self. You can also do fun chemistry experiments at home or let them in on some of the most extraordinary facts about the nature around them.

The most important thing about the back-to-school period is understanding that it’s perfectly normal for it to be a bit stressful for your whole family. Once you accept that, dealing with different situations and changes in your everyday life will be much easier. The end of summer may be near, but that doesn’t mean that autumn, and everything that comes with it, is not going to be fun and exciting.

3 Must Have Gifts To Get Your Kids Right Now!!!

By: Grace Cross, Editor of The Baby Spot

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Originally Posted Here

As I walked with my four year old down a busy city street in the sweltering heat, I stopped momentarily to grab my key out of my purse so I was prepared to unlock a building door. As I reached for the front glass door, an elderly gentleman beat me to it, opened the door for both myself and my daughter.

“Thank you!” I said with a smile. I hear my daughter’s tiny voice echo her thank yous.

“You’re welcome.” He said smiling back and headed out the door and down the busy street. I love to open the door for people and I am grateful when anyone takes time out of their day to open the door for me. I don’t expect anything said to me when I open the door for someone, if it puts a smile on your face to have the door opened for you then that is great. If I don’t get a thank you, no worries, I wanted to open it for you and that is that. In retrospect, I am grateful when someone does a nice little deed for me. It reminds me that the strangers around us are too, three dimensional who think, feel and are going through things in their life whether it be good or bad.

I like people.

But then I looked down at my daughter. I have spoken to waiters and people in service who are shocked at how today’s youth does not use manners. How many children interrupt or swear at their parents when a service individual has briefly taken their parent’s attention to do their job. Basic manners are not mandatory and definitely not mandated by any law in any country that I am aware of. However, it makes all of our lives a little easier.

As human beings, we are a social creature, but little ‘isms’ and human nuances can get on everyone’s nerves. I get it. I’ve been there. Someone not yielding to the right on an escalator for the quicker walkers to walk passed you is social suicide in some cities. Loud talkers in some countries are considered the norm, whereas in my city and in others, it’s considered extremely rude for everyone to have to hear your conversation. In an age where we are blessed to live with different people, cultures and ideas, we can get on each other’s nerves. We can misunderstand and misinterpret each other. There are literally some cultures who shake their heads from side to side meaning ‘no’ and other cultures that shake their head from side to side meaning ‘yes!’ The confusion and naivetés of one another can cause conflict and therefore can make the world a bit of a more challenging place to live in.

So before the keyboard warriors come out and tell us how I and everyone else can do it better, stop! I have three gifts that you can buy your children or even buy yourself that with a simple investment, will make your life easier. With a very unprofessional and uncertified rating system, I will give you a cost break down and an approximate amount of time for every gift to be properly consumed.

The best part of this is, I don’t even have to provide backlinks to any of these gifts because they’re right in front of you. So, put your credit cards down.

Thankfulness

Beyond the screams of a child in a toy store of the sighs of a preteen because Mom or Dad did not let them buy “this cool app, look, it’s only $3.99” is thankfulness. We can’t blame our children. They come from an instantaneous gratification society, a society that gives them information at their fingertips. I am not advocating for this to be taken away, oh no, I think technology is great for the most part. But when we live in a society where we have advertisements telling us we want something, then your children may see a little snippet on the news, of a Syrian family narrowly avoiding death, of a shooting nearby or something that humanizes them that makes them think “well, this did not happen to me, this does not happen here.” The feelings of life start to flood in, but are immediately interrupted from that text of a friend, a new advertisement or another distraction. Before we ask our children to “Be helpers” as Fred Rogers from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood so eloquently put it, we need to remind our children in an age where it seems everyone gets everything right away, to be thankful.

The best way to teach your children, in my humble opinion is to lead by example. No one wants every outing, every experience to be some lesson or lecture. But when a parent shows thankfulness in front of their children, “I am thankful I got home twenty minutes early today and I was not caught in traffic.” “Just got back from the doctors kids, I am thankful for that clean bill of health.” A child starts to hear that behavior and mimic it. Being thankful for a gift, to live in a safe area, to have a loving family is a wonderful seed to plant. A child must be thankful for what the opportunities they have before they can provide opportunities for others.

To add, saying “Thank you” to others, like people who hold the door for your family, serve you in restaurants or in retail settings, deserves a thank you from you and your children if they were kind and attentive.

The greatest thing about thankfulness is you can start when they are infants. Yes, a parent even speaking to their child is soothing. You can introduce this at any age and I promise, it will help shape your children and also keep you in check in a world that can sometimes seem cruel.

Final Cost: 0

Time: About 5 to 10 seconds for each thankful thought.

1 Minute relaying thoughts to others.

Understanding

Understanding can be a tricky one. I am in no means asking you to teach your children to let every bully walk over them “maybe he or she has a hard life and that is why they punch you in the face every day after school, dear.” Or “this person is trying to get me fired from work but maybe they need to feed their family more than I need to feed mine.” That is not the understanding I am advocating for. Protect yourself!

The understanding I am asking for is for your children to function with others who do not think like them. We have this new opportunity where the whole word is connected, a whole world that has opinions, many of them different from their own. I have traveled a bit over the course of my life and created this global parenting magazine on two premises, celebrating the similarities and embracing the differences of parenting practices worldwide. The whole “we are all the same” movement is nice and all and as a people we do share some amazing similarities in both genetics and thought processes, but it is silly and almost ignorant to ignore the vast differences from culture, people and society. Those differences, though foreign to some, are interesting, beautiful and quite frankly, I prefer it. I prefer my thought processes to be challenged and questioned. It either teaches me something new or helps me reform my original opinion to be stronger. As long as the learning process is healthy, I am all for it.

We must teach our children understanding. People have different needs. We have some children who recognize certain religious practices during the day. In retrospect, we have children who require certain understanding. There are children who are religious, not religious, have different ways of thinking or perception like children with autism. The point is, we think differently and we perceive the world differently. We need to understand each other and learn about different types of people.

So what does that mean? Perhaps enrolling your children in a language class, to have a second language under their belt. It’s a new opportunity for your children to learn about a new culture and make new friends speaking their second language. It could be volunteering at a homeless shelter, so your children can interact with people who live differently than themselves. It could also mean having your children meet other children outside of their regular circles, volunteering at a reading program or if extra time is tight, reading about a new country, culture or religion every night for ten minutes. You don’t have to have your degree or be an expert in a subject to get a sense of understanding.

My mom for a short period of my childhood would grab one of her encyclopedia’s, (yes, the book ones not the ones online) and read us a little snippet of a country, culture or place while we ate breakfast before school. Maybe this is corny but it’s true, I enjoyed it! It must have stuck in my head throughout the years, because even though I may not remember anything she read to us, it planted the seed to learn more about everything, to understand to the best of my ability.

I think understanding comes with educating your children. Whether they are destined for a doctorate in medicine or changing the world with Tool and Dye, education breeds understanding. A combination of books and street smarts is a beautiful thing.

Cost=0

Time= ongoing dedication

Empathy

Do you have that child who wants to adopt every stray animal they find? Do you have a child who does not bully others even if everyone else is doing it? You have raised the empathetic child, one of the most beautiful creatures on the planet. A child who many would say is beyond their years, I would humbly say is right where they are supposed to be. To get their peers to think and to inspire adults to remember.

If your child is none of those things, don’t worry! Empathy can be demonstrated and you can ‘wake up’ your child to think in a different way.

For those parents whose child is not empathetic, with most children, you can lead with example. With children with mental health challenges, leading with example, as you well know, may not work.

But you have to live empathy if there is any hope for your children to be empathetic. Showing empathy for other people’s pain is a gift your child will never know how important it is to have. Empathetic people are the seeds that grow ideas into beautiful plants. When one person, combined with understanding, empathizes with another, it helps build bridges with humanity and not make the gap between human being to human being, even bigger.

How you can express empathy is key. You won’t yell at that waitress who took an extra five minutes to fill up your cup because you can see she is waiting on at least ten other tables and you know this task is next to impossible. So you show and exhibit patience. Yelling never helps anyone anyway. You will donate your clothes to those new immigrants to your country because you know they have never felt a winter like yours and you want them to bundle up and stay warm and cozy as they get to know this new land. You use kind words to others, you hear peoples pain and you respond instead of ignoring. You are alive and you act like it.

Cost: 0

Time: a full time investment at first, but then it comes naturally.

These three gifts are not only a must have for the family, but if you use them as a combo, you can get results far greater than buying into just one. With all three gifts, you give yourself a huge discount in time management!

The media is always talking about role models and who will be the role model for your child? You see celebrities protesting that they just sing songs or act in movies and never asked to be your child’s role model. You know what? They’re right. You never asked them to. You don’t need to because you are their role model. It may not seem like that when they run off with their friends without saying goodbye or are rude sometimes. But they are listening. They are observing. You are the answer to your children getting these three gifts. With a onetime investment on behalf of your children, you can really change their life. I am not promising perfection. But what I am promising is you and your family making a difference, no matter how small, in your community and your world. All cliché aside, stop buying into what people tell you that you need to buy your family and invest in these three gifts for life.

Life with a Daughter with Type 1 Diabetes

*This article is not to be taken as medical advice or as an expert piece on Type 1 Diabetes. The purpose of this article is to provide a look into one family’s experience and journey with a daughter with Type 1 Diabetes.

Isabella is a 12 year old young lady who is very smart, energetic and enjoys music and Irish dancing. She also loves to socialize with friends and play with her dog. Isabella is also a Netflix junkie and binge watches shows constantly. She is a daughter and sister to a 20-year old sister named Cassandra and she is well loved by all!

You could say that she sounds like a typical young lady; however she is battling a lot more than a typical young person would and that is Type 1 Diabetes since the age of eight.

So what exactly is Type 1 Diabetes?

According to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Unlike type 2 diabetes, T1D is not linked to being overweight, lack of exercise or other lifestyle factors. It is not preventable and its causes is unknown.

People with T1D must take insulin via syringe or insulin pump in required doses in order to control glucose levels in their blood. This continuous glucose monitoring involves testing their blood sugar by pricking their finger(s) six or more times a day. Despite this constant attention, people with T1D still run the risk of dangerously high blood sugar levels, which can led to complications, or dangerously blood sugar levels, which can result in a coma.

Isabella’s Story

Before Isabella was officially diagnosed, she appeared to be looking more thin than usual and was sleeping a lot. Isabella was drinking a lot of fluids and getting up all night to use the bathroom. Isabella’s mom, Vicki, thought that her daughter could have a urinary tract infection and took her into the walk-in-clinic. Upon checking her urine, the doctor inquired if Isabella was diabetic as there was sugar in her urine. Vicki informed the doctor that Isabella was not diabetic; however the doctor insisted that this was the case since sugar was present in Isabella’s urine. To further check, the doctor did a finger poke to see what her blood sugar was at and it was 29. Now this is shockingly high as a healthy person would typically be in the 5s. The doctor sent Isabella and her mom directly to emergency and instructed Vicki on what to tell the hospital team.


At the hospital, the entire staff took to her bedside immediately and only moments later was given the diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes which they stated was an autoimmune disease. “I didn’t even know what that meant. I assumed there was one kind of diabetes and couldn’t understand how a healthy eight year old could get it,” says Vicki. They were then transferred to a more accommodating hospital where Isabella stayed for three days to monitor her and get her blood sugar under control. At the hospital they were introduced to a clinic team who trained Vicki and her husband on how to care for their daughter, Isabella. They taught them how to check blood sugar; how much food Isabella can eat and at what scheduled times to do so; to ensure Isabella would stay within her target numbers.

Isabella’s parents also learned about all the things that would affect blood sugar, what would make it go up or down, without their control. In addition, they learned about the illness, physical activity, nerves, excitement, weather conditions, hormones, etc.

Isabella’s Treatment

Isabella began on regular needle injections four times a day, using two different types of insulin. This form of treatment requires a strict carbohydrate count and time sensitive schedule.

A year later, Isabella started on an insulin pump. This has given the family much more flexibility with their scheduling. Isabella’s parents are responsible for the settings in the pump and making changes to them when Isabella is having a growth spurt, exercising or for just no reason at all sometimes. Isabella’s parents work alongside a wonderful team at their clinic who are always a phone call away to assist them.

Life with a Daughter with T1D

Life has changed drastically for Isabella and her family. Vicki states, “I have become a very different mother with Isabella than I was with my eldest daughter, Cassandra. I became a helicopter parent. She doesn’t have sleepovers, not even at her grandparents’ houses. It is too much to watch her blood sugar through the night if you aren’t used to it. I would worry that people wouldn’t know what to do.”

The family also needs to ensure that they carry supplies and food everywhere they go. When they plan a trip, it takes a lot of planning and much more effort than before. They are all now much more food conscious as different foods can affect Isabella’s blood sugar differently. The “gadgets” that Isabella uses has been one of the biggest life changing aspects for her. “She is embarrassed by the gadgets she wears. She wears both an insulin pump and a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM). They will make noises when her blood sugar is out of range and people will ask what the noises are for. However, the CGM has been a great tool for us as it has made management so much easier. I am able to see her blood sugar from anywhere in the world without having to be near her. This has helped us keep down on the finger pokes throughout the day and helps keep her blood sugar closer to the target,” says Vicki.

A Mother’s Wish

“I wish people understood that T1D is an autoimmune disease and there was nothing Isabella could have done differently to avoid getting it. There is such a stigma attached to the disease because it has the word diabetes in it. I also wish that people knew that an insulin pump has not solved all of our problems. It simply holds the cartridge of insulin for us instead of having to inject using needles and rids us of the eating schedule. We still have to program it, make setting changes regularly, match food to carbohydrate ratios, be conscious about physical activities, etc. I also wish people knew what a toll this disease takes on Isabella and on our family,” says Vicki.

Vicki further stated, “I haven’t slept longer than a 3-hour stretch in years because I wake up to check Isabella’s blood sugar every couple of hours for fear of her going too low or sitting too high. It consumes my mind both day and night. I am constantly watching numbers, recording readings, making changes, asking her questions about what she’s eaten or done. I wish people knew that this takes a tremendous toll on Isabella’s body, spirit and mind. Highs and lows through the night will have her feeling exhausted in the morning. High blood sugar will have her going to the washroom more, drinking more, and feeling cranky and emotional. Lows can be scary and she may need help but can’t find the words to ask for it because her brain will not allow her to. People think “she has an attitude,” when in fact, she in unaware and unable to control her emotions. This is a huge burden on a child and I don’t think all adults understand the toll it can take on a child.”

T1D is a hard battle for the child and parents to deal with and it is important for family and friends to be cautious of what is said in front of the child. Vicki’s wish is for people not to ask if Isabella can or should be eating something. “Isabella can eat whatever she wants! She just has to give herself insulin to cover it in the moment and possibly in the hours that follow. But she can eat anything! People feel this need to police what she eats, and I’m sure it makes her feel bad,” says Vicki.

Isabella got to meet Nick Jonas.

Advice to Other Parents

The advice that Vicki would give to other parents that receive this type of diagnosis for their child is that their understanding of the disease and how to “best manage” it will get better. “No parent or child is perfect and this disease cannot be perfected. Don’t beat yourself up over the numbers. Just try your best. I cried every day for the first month. Support from other parents is key. I have support groups online that at times can act as a life line. These parents created #WeAreNotWaiting, and are being proactive in helping their children with technology faster than the medical world. I have been using NightScout, which is a way to monitor Isabella’s blood sugar on my smart watch using her CGM for almost two years now. I am more grateful for this than words could ever express,” says Vicki.

Becoming an Advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

After Isabella’s diagnosis, the family reached out to JDRF and the family was encouraged to sign up for the walk so that Isabella could meet other children like herself and to see that they were not alone. The family raised money and have participated in the walk every year since. On the day of the walk, it becomes a very emotional day for the family but they need the day to remember that this disease affects so many families and a cure needs to be found.

“It’s important for me to try to give back and that is why I fundraise for JDRF. Their research is what is going to make my child’s life that much easier to manage, hopefully prolong it and maybe one day cure the disease. It is my hope that with every dollar I raise, we get one step closer to finding a cure,” stated Vicki.

This past February sponsors (logos listed at the bottom of the article) held a fundraising event called, Isabella’s Angels Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball that raised funds for JDRF. I personally attended this event and it was an amazing event for an even better cause. This is just a sample of how this family inspires others to make a difference.

I would like to personally thank Vicki for taking the time to share Isabella’s story and I commend her on the amazing job as a mother and as an inspiration to help other families.

If you would like to learn more about T1D, please visit the JDRF website.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

 

 

– Momma Braga

 

Isabella’s Angels Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball Sponsors:


Vilajing Helping Busy Parents Save Their Cherished Photos and Videos

*This article is not a paid or sponsored article. The product was provided at no cost to try it out.
I am the type of parent who needs to capture many moments with my daughter and as interactive as she is, it’s difficult not to. So you can imagine how many photos and videos I end up accumulating, let’s just say it is A LOT! My process has always been to keep it on my phone until I need to transfer it all onto my laptop where I file them in their age corresponding folder (I have an organizing problem). This process does become very time consuming and one that I rarely get a chance to do, so I got excited to see a new product available called, Vilajing that is a platform where you can keep all your pictures and videos safely.
I had the opportunity to interview Vilajing’s inspiring owner Laura on her company.
1. What does your company do?
“We solve the modern-day question, “What Do I Do with All the Pictures and Videos on My Phone?” by giving families their own personal online space where they can very quickly and easily archive and display the stories of their lives.  We help families bring their ‘vilaj’s’ together with a very simple, beautiful, fun way to save, archive, share and re-live life’s best memories.  We help families feel more connected and involved in each others’ day-to-day lives, no matter the distance.”
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2. When did you start your business?
“The idea was born almost 3 years ago, and Vilajs started going live in fall, 2016 (everything takes quite a bit longer when you are also raising (and homeschooling!) 4 kids!).  Our sister-company has been hosting sites/photos/videos for tens of thousands of businesses over the last 9 years, so Vilajing was a natural extension, geared very specifically for families.”
3. How did you come up with the idea?
“My phone died.  And it was FULL of years worth of pictures, videos, and audio clips of my kids and my family…memories of my toddlers and babies, pictures of my mom when she was healthy, video of the dance parties the littles used to have, pictures of what my house looked like when Thomas the Train dominated, video of my youngest’s hard-won efforts to walk, pictures of the old home and neighborhood, pictures and video of our late 4-legged family member when he was healthy and vivacious, years’ worth of Christmas morning chaos and Easter Egg Hunts and Halloween Costumes and birthday celebrations…so many precious moments I did not want to lose!
THANKFULLY everything got backed-up (and double and triple backed up) on cd’s and laptops and ‘cloud’ storage sites.  But I thought ‘What is the point of THAT??!!  I take time OUT of those precious moments in order to capture them on camera, all so they end up in some heap of digital folders or ‘cloud’ somewhere, never to be seen again?”.  I wanted an easy solution for all of the memories that I could EASILY access and share with the kids or other family members anytime, and from anywhere…a solution that was totally in my control, that was not just dumping pics on some ginormous social network, and that did not require me creating stacks and stacks of photo albums and books.”
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4. How did you come up with the business name?
“The name Vilajing was born out of the idea that ‘it takes a village’…both to raise children, and also to provide the support and community for us adults, as we write the stories that are our lives.  The spelling of the word Vilaj is the Haitian-Creole spelling…my youngest two are adopted from Haiti and this business will make an impact for orphans there, as well as in other areas (more on that below!).”
5. What do you hope your business accomplishes?
“I LOVE this question…in part because to me, it demonstrates how much Momma Braga cares about her audience, and in part because my hopes for what this business will accomplish are the foundation of everything we do.
In the most practical terms, I hope this business solves the modern-day problem so many of us have of figuring out what to do with all the pictures and videos on our phones.  A Vilaj is a personal online space where you can very quickly and easily upload memories, organize/categorize/hashtag them however you want, display them simply and beautifully, access them easily and from anywhere, share only on YOUR TERMS, with privacy and commenting privileges all in your control, and essentially have everything you need to keep, organize and display your family’s memories all on-the-go.
On a higher level, I hope this business empowers families to create a more tight-knit community Vilaj for their children, and themselves.  I hope that it helps grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles and cousins and brothers and sisters and sons and daughters feel more connected to one another’s day-to-day lives, no matter the distance.  The built-in sharing capabilities allow you to very easily, and directly, share whatever memory/photo/video or combination you want.  An email will go directly to any individual Vilajer or group of Vilajers that you choose, saying ’The Smith Family (for example) would like to share a memory with you!’.  They will be taken directly to the memory you want to share, and if you choose, will be able to leave their comments.  Families use Vilajs to share the fleeting moments of new babies with family across the world; to share special videos with people living thousands of miles away; to share the seemingly mundane day-to-day stuff with lonely grandmas and grandpas who have written us saying this service makes them feel “so much closer and more in touch” with grandbabies they don’t get to see often enough…this is what makes my heart happy!  And the comments from your Vilajers will live with those memories on the Vilaj forever…so fast forward several years when grandma or grandpa are perhaps gone…their comments on your little one’s dance recital video, or special photo will be part of your family’s story forever.
Now for the REALLY fun part…the true ‘Soul’ of the business.  It is our perspective that unless our business is truly making an impact in the world, truly making this world a better place, it is not an endeavor worth pursuing.  I know it may sound like a ‘pipe dream’, but it is already happening.  Our mission is to “Host One, Help One”.  So for every Vilaj we host, we are giving away a portion of the proceeds every single month to help an orphan, starting one Vilaj at a time, in Haiti and Guatemala (the 2 countries where our children are from). This means that when you solve the problem of how to display, save, organize and share all the photos and videos on your phone, you are at the same time helping to feed, educate, and provide healthcare to some of the world’s most needy ‘babies’…little ones more in need of a ‘Vilaj’ to surround and support them than any of us can imagine.  THIS is truly why we exist.”
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6. How does your product help the every day busy parent?
“Again…LOVE this question from Momma Braga…her heart for her audience shines so bright…it is not difficult to see why she was named ‘Blogger of the Year’ by The Baby Spot!  We help the every-day-busy-parent in 2 main ways:
1. We give families a way to very quickly and easily organize, display, and save the precious memories we are all making every day.  Right from a cell phone, photos and videos that you want to save can be easily uploaded to your Vilaj where they will be displayed and archived.  We all take time out of life to make sure we capture the precious moments, making sure we get a good picture….but then for most of us, those pictures sit on our phones or get shared for an instant on social media, or get dumped into ginormous Facebook ‘albums’ or ‘cloud’ storage!  Vilajing gives parents a beautiful, easy solution to this that can be done on-the-go.  No need to spend hours on photobooks/scrapbooks/lifebooks, or weeding thru and designing albums.
2. Today our lives are sooo overwhelmingly busy, and families and friends are so spread out geographically, that there really is very little ‘village’ or community feel for our kids and families.  Sadly, it is hard to even find the time to pick up the phone and call Grandparents or life-long friends. Vilajing gives parents a way to VERY quickly and easily involve the special people in our lives in the day-to-day happenings.  We have heard from our customers how important this has become to families spread out across the country or even the world.”
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7. If someone is interested in getting your product what do they have to do?
 
“To get your own Vilaj, go here:  vilajing.com/trynow
For friends of Momma Braga we are offering a $1 Trial so families can try it out for a whole month, for essentially nothing.  We have made it very easy for people to either continue with their Vilaj, or cancel it.  So if you don’t love it, or your family doesn’t seriously get a ton of value out of it, you will never spend another penny on it, and you shouldn’t.  Our sister company has hosted tens of thousands of business sites over the last 9 years, and has an exceptional track record in terms of Customer Service…what we offer provides value that FAR exceeds the price and our customers know that.  We take care of our customers and will take care of Momma Braga’s ‘friends’ as well!”
8. What are the associated costs with your product?
 
“A Vilaj is just $8.97/USD month…for essentially the same amount we spend on Netflix or 2 cups of coffee a month, you have a personal online space to display, organize, and archive your family’s story.  A place where grandparents and family members can go anytime to check in on all that is happening.  A place where your kids can go anytime to re-live Christmas’ past, family trips and adventures, and all the memories you work SO hard to create for them.  A place where everything from baby pictures to graduation day photos, and everything in-between, can be quickly and easily organized and displayed, with privacy and sharing all in your control.”
 
9. Anything else you would like to add?
“We hear first-hand how valuable this service is to families, and we LOVE those stories. As you get your own Vilaj and begin to enjoy it, please let us know what your family and extended family loves best.  One very touching story we got last week was from a customer here in the US whose entire family on dad’s side is in Switzerland.  The 94 year old patriarch of the family just passed away, and our ‘dad’ put up a memory on his Vilaj to honor “Opi’s” life…he told us he saw the ‘big picture’ of Vilajing as he dug thru and organized hundreds of pictures (some over 80 years old!), scanned them in and created a memory on his Vilaj.  He then shared that with Opi’s kids, grandkids, and great grandkids, some of whom are just babies.  The power of this service is that not only does he use it to regularly share things going on in his daughter’s life with the family in Switzerland so she feels a sense of family-community even though they are thousands of miles away, but now EVERYONE in the family can easily see and remember the life of their ‘Opi’, and his memory will be available to all the generations, from wherever they are. In his words “Everyone loves having one place where we can all share our best pictures and memories of “Opi”, and for his wife of 65+ years, and his kids…this is absolutely priceless”.
We see it personally within our own little family…our kids absolutely LOVE getting on our family’s Vilaj and looking at old pictures and videos.  We laugh and giggle and share and tease.  And what makes this momma’s heart super happy is knowing that our Vilaj is helping those 4 little hearts feel connected, feel a shared sense of belonging, and remember their “story”…a story that I am working so hard to write, and to write well.”
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This product, Vilajing, sounded so exciting to me and I had to share it with all of you. Of course the companies who are all around family and also making a difference in the world is always a Momma Braga favorite. I have even started my own Vilajing  page and I look forward to adding some more Momma Braga memories.
Special thank you to Laura for her time and wishing her much success in this great venture of hers!
Until next time…Happy Parenting!
– Momma Braga
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