Tag: Decor

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

Advertisements

Little Luckies is Creating Quality Huggable Friends

This month’s “Mom of the Month” is an inspiring woman who is adding love into every creation she creates and that in turn has provided children with some huggable friends. Who is this talented mom?! Her name is Sue Luckhoo and she is behind Little Luckies.

I had the opportunity to connect with Sue to get to know more about this great mom and her neat business.

  1. Tell me a little about yourself.

“I am a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) to two amazing kiddos and wife to a hardworking man. In my off duty mom time, I can be found tending to my creative biz, Little Luckies. Hidden under sheets of gorgeous fabrics, being swallowed by 30lbs of stuffing all while binge watching dramadies or listening to the radio. I might also be found crocheting, baking and on rare occasions napping.”

  1. What does your company do?

“At Little Luckies, I lovingly make heirloom quality huggable friends. I make a variety of toys and décor from cloth dolls, narwhals, unicorns and cloud pillows just to name a few. I use only premium quality materials including cotton and the cuddliest Minky ever! All my toys are stuffed with hypoallergenic stuffing. Everything is made with great attention to detail, quality and love. I want my toys to last a lifetime, to be cherished best friends.”

doll

  1. When did you start your business?

“I opened Little Luckies in 2013. At the time, I was making toys and crocheted items for all the littles in my life and I couldn’t stop! So, with the encouragement of my family and friends, I created a Facebook business page and an Etsy shop. The first few months was an evolution as I wasn’t certain exactly what I wanted to concentrate on. I finally learned that what people responded to the most was my handmade toys.”

unicorn

  1. How did you come up with the business name?

“Little Luckies is a combination of my love for my two darling littles and a reference of all the little out there’s. “Luckies” is a shortened version of our family name, Luckhoo, and also how I feel about being a mom to two awesome kids.”

bunny

  1. Where would you like to see your business in 5 years?

“I’m so lucky (there’s that word again) to be able to do what I love while, being at home to take care of my family. I just hope I’m still able to do what I’m doing in five years. My family comes first and we can be really busy so, I don’t really foresee any big changes perhaps small evolutions. If business picks up I might be able to hire someone to do simple piecework, build my own website, and really hone in and concentrate on just a few curated items instead of the menagerie that I’ve got going on now.”

kids

  1. As a busy working mom, how do you find the time to balance it all?

“Balance is something that I struggle with every day as I can get so focused on building my business and making products. It helps that both kids are now in school full time. So, when they are at school I devote some time to errands and cleaning and, spend the rest of my “free” time in my studio. Working in the studio includes many things from, marketing, social media posts, taking photos, editing photos, and of course cutting and sewing. After school its mom time and I try to stay focused on the kids till bedtime. You know the drill; dinner, activities, homework, downtime, showers and bedtime snuggles. Then it’s back to work! I brew a cup of tea, answer my messages, and work on piece work and stuffing while watching TV.”

untitled-2

  1. Lastly, if someone is interested in purchasing a hand-made doll/plushy, how can they?

“I am always working on new things and more often than not customers message me via Facebook and items are purchased directly from me. Current stock is uploaded to my Etsy Shop. You can also follow my daily studio life on Instagram. Last but not least I have created Facebook group where I premiere all my creations monthly. I also invite selected maker friends to share their creations as well.”

cute

Momma Braga is extremely proud to feature Sue of Little Luckies as this month’s “Mom of the Month” as she is such a talented, kind and loving person who is making keepsakes for a lifetime. But her love for her two “little luckies” is what makes her the mom of the month as they do always come first.

girl

Special thank you to Jennifer of Mama at Heart for nominating Sue as our Mom of the Month.

Here is what Jennifer has to say about Sue, “I have been a customer of Sue’s twice now. The first time was almost three years ago to purchase two very special stuffed puppy dogs, one for my son to give to his newborn sister, and one for my new baby girl to give her big brother. And then two years ago I bought one of her beautiful dolls to give my daughter on her first birthday. Sue is extremely wonderful to work with! Very professional, friendly and patient! She gave me different options for colours, fabrics and styles to make the doll and it came out perfectly! Just as I had imagined it! The quality of her work is beyond compare and it is easy to see the love and dedication she puts into each of her creations. Although it’s been a couple of years since my last purchase, I continue to follow Little Luckies closely on Facebook and enjoy seeing all of the amazing dolls Sue makes. I look forward to adding to our Little Luckies collection in the future.”

We are so grateful to have been introduced to this awesome mom through Jennifer.

Make sure to follow Little Luckies and see all the beautiful creations made, follow them Facebook, Little Luckies Monthly Market FB Group, Etsy and Instagram.

Thank you Sue for your time and wishing you many years of success!

Until next time……Happy Parenting!

–          Momma Braga

13913885_530825167118224_7639627179234124854_o

Introducing Halloween to Your Toddler

Special Guest Post

By: Karen Braga
Twitter: @Karenbabydoll22

Ah Halloween, my favorite time of the year! The one time where you can dress up as anything you want, get free candy and see all the creative pumpkins. However, we never stop to think that Halloween can be a very confusing holiday for children.

First off, children see it as a day where there is a lot of scary monsters around and despite the fact that we teach children not to take candy from strangers, this day is an exception. So one might say how do we prepare our toddlers for Halloween?

Sweet Pea meet Halloween

Stores typically start to display their Halloween decorations in late August. However, I suggest starting the conversation with your toddler in late September and walk with them to see the Halloween décor in the stores.

 

What I did with my niece was talk about Halloween during the month of September. I talked about pumpkins, witches, candy, fall colors and masks. Even though masks can be quite scary, I explained in the best way I can that underneath the mask was a person. I also played some of my favorite Halloween songs and had a little dance party with her.

14429487_1036155246482270_1186540349_n

Now it was time for me to introduce her to Halloween decorations so I took her to Walmart. When we got there I started by talking about the decorations that were displayed and had her touch some of them. When we came across the “scary” décor like scarecrows, Halloween masks or even the fake hands, I told her that it was ok and there was nothing to be scared of. To earn her trust I touched the decorations myself and even made some jokes with them that made her laugh. She got more comfortable and walking past them was a breeze.

14445409_1036155306482264_1953176969_n

There are also other Halloween stores that only open for the holiday. One of my favorite Halloween stores is Spirit Halloween, they have a large selection of costumes and decorations, but I also love the fact that they collect donations for sick kids to give them a special Halloween. I was itching to introduce that store to my niece; nevertheless I know how scary some of the masks and displays can be, so I had to think of a way on how I could still take her inside.

First, I visited my nearest location and took a look around. Now that I knew what was inside, I would be able to control and guide her in having a positive experience in the store. However, oftentimes children show interest in things we typically wouldn’t think they would be and not to mention that sometimes things don’t go as planned. For example, when you walk in the entrance of the store there is a medium size display with electronic decorations; such as moving clowns, mean looking dogs and skeletons. However they only “come to life” once you step or push the button. I was planning on skipping that display all together when to my surprise my niece wanted to see it. She seemed to be fine as she was waving hi to the electronic decorations. Before anyone could push the button I redirected her to the other Halloween decorations so that she didn’t get scared. She showed some interest and didn’t seem to be scared as I used some humor to help ease any fear she may have had.

14463904_1036155229815605_1963039350_n

In conclusion, small talks and trips can help your toddler understand the holiday a little better. The goal is not only for them to acknowledge and understand the holiday but also not to be scared of it. Remember that all children react to things differently so please don’t force your toddler to see things they do not like. Follow their lead in interest and if they are not ready to explore the decorations then that is ok as long as you explained what Halloween is all about.

Until next time……..Happy Spooking!

 

About the Author

Karen Braga graduated from Sheridan College with an Early Childhood Education Diploma. She worked with children for about five years before expanding her skills in Administration. Karen is a loving Godmother/Auntie to one. Karen is passionate and knowledgeable about Halloween. Combined with her ECE background and passion on Halloween, she has recently become an expert writer on the topic for mom blogger, Momma Braga. Karen hopes by sharing her knowledge, tips and tricks, she can help families enjoy this holiday.