Tag: Father

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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Iconic Attraction Full of Knowledge, Science and Fun

“Inspiring a lifelong journey of curiosity, discovery and action to create a better future for the planet.” – Ontario Science Centre

Toronto, Canada is the city that I was born and grew up in. Therefore, it is a city that I hold dear to my heart. It has so much to offer to their residents and to those visiting from out of town. This could be why The Baby Spot (global parenting magazine) has named Toronto the city of the year for 2017.

There is so much to do and see in Toronto and one particular place that should be on everyone’s list is an iconic cultural attraction called, the Ontario Science Centre. It is full of knowledge, science and fun for everyone in the family with no age restrictions.


My family and I visited the Ontario Science Centre this past summer and I have to confess that I don’t remember ever visiting them (maybe when I was much younger on a school trip). So it was a great opportunity for my three-year old daughter and I to experience a first together.

When we arrived at the Centre, I could not help but notice that there were a lot of people visiting and knew it must be a special place. One very important piece that I have to mention is that even though it was really busy, the Ontario Science Centre is so big and entertaining that we didn’t feel crowded. I think this is an amazing feature as it can be stressful to be in a place that feels overwhelming with big crowds.

We grabbed a map at the entrance which I highly recommend to everyone as it helps with guiding you through the six levels at the Ontario Science Centre. Yes you read that right – six levels of fun!

I will highlight our most memorable activities and provide a few tips along the way.

Kidspark 

Kidspark would have to be our favorite part of the Ontario Science Centre as there is a lot to do there for our toddler. It is divided into two sections which I thought was neat and a great way to space out the crowds. Kidspark is the opportunity to ‘spark’ your child’s imagination and curiosity through play, building, water, music and so much more. This is ideal for kids eight years and younger and if you are wondering if your toddler or infant can have fun, they sure can! There is a designated play area for children three years and younger which my daughter truly enjoyed.

Special Exhibition

The special exhibition hall which is located on Level 6 is a space that is changed every 4 – 6 months or so. On our trip the exhibition was the Wildlife Rescue which we really enjoyed. This special exhibition took us on a journey to Africa and Indonesia where we saw the dedicated efforts of caretakers who successfully raise and release young elephants and orangutans to the wild. We explored the innovative ways used to capture, raise and release endangered species back to the wild in the Species Recovery Center. This was very insightful for us to learn and it was great for our toddler to see. This exhibition has just been extended until October 9th so if you haven’t seen it yet, you should make some time to check it out!

TELUS Rain Forest

You don’t need to travel far to experience the rain forest ambience as the Ontario Science Centre and TELUS brings it to you. It is absolutely breathtaking and it was my favourite part of our trip. You can walk up near the waterfall and there is a bridge that you can brave to cross (I made it safely). 😉

After crossing the bridge there are some reptiles that you can see secured in their spaces and a description of what they are. You also hear thunder in the rain forest which really makes you feel like you are really there. *Momma Braga Tip: If you are looking for a great place to take some photos in, this is the place!

The Maple Leaf Forever Tree

The Maple Leaf Forever Tree is a sight to see and we really loved seeing this beauty! This tree is a sculpture created by the Ontario Wood Carvers Association from part of the silver maple tree that inspired Alexander Muir’s 1867 song “Maple Leaf Forever.” It features 35 hand-carved leaves, each depicting a historically-significant person, place or event in Toronto’s history, the sculpture is the result of more than 10,000 volunteer carving hours. This beautiful artwork was formally handed over to the Science Centre on July 19 of this year, in celebration of Ontario 150. It is definitely something to see during your visit!

The Ontario Science centre offers top science experiences, memorable exhibitions, engaging programs and breathtaking films so that visitors can do far more than observe; they can interact and participate.

We learned so much and it really got us all to think a little more. You can tell that a lot of thought and planning goes into the layout and exhibits on each level.

A really neat part of the Centre is that you can find healthy snacks to purchase and there is a restaurant on level 6 called the Valley Restaurant with yummy and affordable options to eat. But if you want to pack your own lunch you can and there is space to eat in or you can enjoy the Terrace on Level 3 where you can eat outdoors. I really love this option to bring your own food and I am sure many other families love it too!

We will definitely go back to see what new and exciting things they will have for us to see and learn. The learning opportunities are endless for any age and I think that is what we loved best. We highly recommend to put the Ontario Science Centre on your list to visit. We do recommend to check out their events when planning your visit, make sure to visit their calendar and see how you can plan your next visit.

If you are interested in purchasing your tickets online you can and if you would like to make a donation of a gift of science you can also do that. To learn more about their donation program, please click here.  Make sure to follow them on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter to see all the neat things that they are doing.

Special thank you to the Ontario Science Centre for having us and keep inspiring minds. See you again soon!

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga


 

 

 

 

*Please note that this article is not a sponsored or paid post. 

Ten Years After “I Do”

A happy marriage is about three things: memories of togetherness, forgiveness of mistakes and a promise to never give up on each other. – Surabhi Surendra

Today is a special day in my life as I celebrate my ten year wedding anniversary with my husband, Mike. My first reaction to the ten year mark is, “Wow, 10 years?!” It astonishes me how quickly the years have gone by and not only has it been ten years of marriage but we have been together for 17 years

The Beginning

Little did I know that at the age of 19, I would have met my life partner. But I did and at that time Mike was a very shy guy who only managed to say one word answers to my list of questions. I honestly didn’t think I had a chance with him and he couldn’t possibly be interested in me since his responses were so quick. But to my surprise, he was interested and called me the next day. Our relationship grew beautifully each and every day. While dating, I stayed by his side while he was being diagnosed with Wilsons Disease and I was happy to be there for him during that hard journey. Mike often comments on how he knew I was for life as I showed it by being there for him and doing everything that I could to help him. I told him that this was called love.

As the days grew to months and the months turned into years, we just knew in our hearts that we were made for each other as we complimented one another so well.

After four years of dating, Mike decided to go on one knee and propose on my birthday which was really sweet (this works for me as there is no way I can forget the date!). After asking me a couple of times, I finally said yes. It could have been the shock of being asked that delayed my response. Two years later we got married and started to build our life together.

As we were preparing for our big day an accident had happened with Mike at a workplace that he was then employed at. A car ran over his foot as it was backing out of a parking spot. Unfortunately, the driver did not see Mike walking by. His injury was a little more significant then what people expected as all the nerves in his foot where damaged. We didn’t even know if he would be able to walk down the isle on our wedding day. But with a lot of physiotherapy, chiropractic treatment and determination, Mike was able to use a cane down the isle. We did not let this stop us from being happy on one of the most important days of our lives. We stayed strong and had a beautiful wedding. Healing took a really long time for Mike but he did and was then able to work again.

Married Life

Our married life has been a journey full of ups and downs but what marriage doesn’t?! All the good and bad times are what made our marriage stronger. Ten years is a milestone and you go through so much together.

We purchased our condo together and just recently sold it to purchase our first home. We adopted our furbaby, Lily and then experienced grieving her loss together. We struggled together to have a child, then we did conceive and not long after we were grieving a miscarriage together. After a couple of years after the miscarriage we were successful in conceiving again and through my pregnancy I was sick often. But Mike stayed strong by my side and after being diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes, he was my rock! I have a fear of needles and the thought of checking my blood sugar would scare me. But Mike was the one who cheered me on and told me that it will be all worth it once we were holding our baby girl. It sure was!

On August 1, 2014, our life changed forever with the addition of our daughter, Nikki. This is where married life shifts as now it wasn’t just about us but about the extension of us. A child changes more than what the books tell you. This is why it is so important to stay strong together and be partners. We have always agreed that we need to work together in raising our daughter together. At times it is a bit tough with Mike’s shift work and when it gets too hard, we re-group to re-focus again.

Almost a year after I had Nikki, I was laid off from work and we had to make the tough decision on what we were going to do for our family. This is when I became a stay-at-home mom to care for my daughter and Mike supported me through it all. Mike has been a great supporter of my blog, Momma Braga and has helped me transition back to the workforce to financially contribute to our family. I couldn’t have asked for a better life partner!

Fast Forward To Today

Today, I am extra thankful for these ten years and if I could do it all over again, I would without hesitation. We are not perfect and I wouldn’t want it to be. I love my husband for who he is and for all his imperfections. I am thankful that he accepts me for all my imperfections and craziness at times. I am thankful for the life we have and continue to build. I am thankful for our energy ball, Nikki, who keeps our life vibrant. There is so much to be thankful for.

As we celebrate our ten years, we know that we worked really hard to get here. It wasn’t always easy but it has been our journey together.

To my husband Mike, thank you for always loving me and for being my partner in life and in parenting. I look forward to our many more years and raising our daughter together. Ten years is an amazing milestone to reach and I couldn’t have asked for a better half. Happy Anniversary!

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

 

Captivating Uniqueness in a “Very Own Fairy Tale”

Imagine being transported to a magical garden of flowers and berries surrounded by fairies. Imagine if you were the one that they were going to announce as their fairy princess. Sounds magical, doesn’t it? It surely would be for a child.

Now your child can be part of a story just like this in I See Me Books personalized book titled, My Very Own Fairy Tale.

Nikki got her very own Fairy Tale from I See Me Books recently and her reaction was priceless. I was fortunate to be able to capture her moment and it just shows you the “WOW” factor I See Me Books can give a child.

After the excitement of the package subsided we were able to see what exactly we got. The package included a pink fairy wand (Nikki’s favorite colour at the moment), her personalized copy of My Very Own Fairy Tale and a coloring and activity book based on the story. It was a magical gift indeed.

We sat down that night to read our magical fairy tale and when we opened the book, Nikki’s photo was there with her full complete name (first, middle and last) with her date of birth. It was a super sweet personalized touch! This Fairy Tale is about finding a person to crown as the Fairy Princess. The way the story progresses is with each fairy saying a letter in the name of the person and with each letter they give a positive characteristic with the start of that letter. It was so beautiful to read and it warmed my heart to read each one of those characteristics to my daughter. To my surprise they spelled out the complete name in the book which really does make it more personalized to the child. There could be a million Nikki’s in the world but only one with her complete name. We loved this touch! I have to mention that each fairy has their own name and at the end of the book every fairy is listed which is very neat.

At the end when the fairies finally announced Nikki’s full name, Nikki was in shock. “That’s my NAME!” exclaimed Nikki. With delight and holding back my overjoy, I told her that yes it was so she is a Fairy Princess and has her very own special wand and story for it. Nikki held onto the book tightly and said, “I Love You.”

Then off to the coloring book she went to see what she can color. The activity book has a section where Nikki can start practising to write out her name – love it! It also goes through each letter of her first name which is lovely.

For this #MelandNikkiReview we give “My Very Own Fairy Tale” 5+++ fairies out of 5. We also have included this on our recommended list.

The book is personalized to truly make the child feel special and unique. The way they use the child’s complete name is something that I haven’t seen before so I love it! The wand and coloring activity book is a perfect combination with the story. This would be a great gift or a just because. We just loved everything that this book had to offer us such as the beautiful illustrations, the customized and inspiring story, and for making our Nikki feel extra special to be named the Princess Fairy.

If you would like to purchase your own book, please click here.

Make sure to follow I See Me Book on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. Can’t wait to see what comes next!

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

* Please note that the product was given in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed in this review are of Momma Braga and were not influenced by the company.

 

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.

 

“If My Dog Could Talk” Warms All Our Furry Hearts

Imagine if your dog could talk! What do you think they would say? You don’t need to wonder anymore as I See Me! has created a book on exactly that!

But not just any book but a personalized book for your dog. I was very intrigued by this idea as I do love animals and have a furry nephew by the name of Theodore. This was a great gift idea for my sister-in-law to share with my daughter. What makes this perfect is that it ties in two things that they both love, reading and Theodore!

To customize the book, there are a few details that we needed to submit first. We had to select our dog’s style and there are 12 to pick from. The next step was to pick a color for our dog. Then we needed to fill out the Dog Lover’s First Name, Dog’s Name and Dog Gender. Of course with I See Me Books you can make the gift extra special and add a dedication and sender name. They have really thought of all the details.

We submitted all the info and we waited for our personalized book to arrive. I must say that it arrived quickly and was neatly packaged. The package included the book, bandana and mat for the furry family member’s food. It surpassed my expectations and at this point we only had opened it up. Can’t say I have had this experience before.

Theodore proudly wearing his bandana by his new mat with his food. Talk about “Bark-Tastic!’

A personalized gift for dog-lovers that captures the hilarious mischief and pure love of your furry friend.

Now it was time for the big moment, reading time. I sat with my daughter and told her that we were going to read a very special book. She was really excited and being three of age, she gets REALLY excited quickly! I told her we were going to read a book about Theodore. “Bubba!” exclaimed Nikki which is the nickname that her Auntie calls Theodore. I told Nikki that yes it was all about Bubba and some other special people too. So I have set the stage for my very eager toddler and I have to admit I was just as excited.

We went through each page and being very detailed oriented I noticed that I See Me didn’t miss a single detail. Inside there was a photo of Theodore and it was dedicated to everyone we had listed and it included our dedication, “May you always know the pure love of a furry friend. Nikki & Family. 2017.” This piece meant a lot to me to see as our furry family members are an important part of our families.

The story takes your furry dog through his day and thoughts about why people do what they do and why they couldn’t just do what dogs do. It really is cute and funny. You can’t help but wonder how accurate this could really be. 😉 Each drawing is colorful, bright and detailed to your family. This is where I See Me separates itself from anyone else. They inserted Theodore’s name in all spots that it could go on such as his bed, collar, towel, bowl, etc. They also inserted the special people we listed into the drawings. There is one part of the book where you see everyone’s name framed along with handprints (this tickled my heart pink!). I was just amazed on the little details to really make the book feel like it was ours.

At the end of the book, we see an adorable photo of Theodore with a poem which read: “You give me hugs and hold me tight. You fluff my hair and say ‘goodnight.’ When I grow old and my face turns grey, I’ll remember the love you gave each day.” (At this point I had tears as our love is unconditional for our furry family members and I remember our dear Lily the cat).

My daughter clapped with delight once we finished and asked to read it again (four times). Each time I read it we both loved it more.

For this #MelandNikkiReview we give, If My Dog Theodore Could Talk!, 5+++ barks out of 5This book has also made it onto our Recommended List. It is an unique, very personalized and cherished book for any family especially for dog lovers. The illustrations are beautifully done and detailed. My daughter (and I) were captivated by the bright colors. We also loved the gifts that came with the book for our furry family member and it makes it that more special.

As many of you already know that I love companies who give back and I See Me Books does just that. You can save 10% and help SAVE an animal in need by entering code RESCUE (only for a limited time). It’s a win-win for everyone!

We do highly recommend this most precious book to any dog lover on your list as it would make a perfect gift or keepsake. To purchase this book, please click here.

Make sure to follow I See Me Book on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. Also stay tuned as we will be releasing another #MelandNikkiReview on another book from I See Me! You don’t want to miss it!

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

* Please note that the product was given in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed in this review are of Momma Braga and were not influenced by the company.

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