Tag: Inspiration

Morning Sunshine!

“Morning, Sunshine! A beautiful story using haiku’s to describe nature that surrounds us as the sun rises to start a new day. A must read story with your little ones.” – Momma Braga


As we all wake up, the outside world bustles with life! Discover new facts about familiar creatures – from fluttering moths and scurrying beetles to shy foxes and humming bees – as they go about their morning activities. In the city, the countryside, and the suburbs. Nature can be found everywhere!

A series of haiku takes readers on a close-up, observational look at the amazing abundance of nature right outside our homes. Each stanza focuses on an aspect of the natural world or a creature going about their daily activities as the sun begins to rise. Alongside the haiku, informative text goes into depth about each subject – from how much honey a bee can make to the size of a hummingbird’s egg. Instructions to help kids create their own haiku poems, a unique form of poetry from Japan, as well as a glossary add value for a STEM and Core Curriculum book that can be enjoyed both in the classroom and at home.


Morning, Sunshine! made our reading time so much brighter. We truly enjoyed reading and learning as we went through the book. The book is fun to read especially with the Haiku format.

What is Haiku?

“Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry with seventeen syllables or beats, usually in three lines. The first line has five syllables, the second seven, and the third five. One way to find how many syllables a word has is to clap them out.”

We felt that the haikus used made the book that more special and we love how the author included instructions in the back on how to create your own. So I took it to the test and created my own Haiku and since I work in the construction industry, I thought I should create one of the field.

That was my fun attempt and now we will take what we have learned and apply it to our daily adventures to see what else we can come up with. Once you get the hang of it, it truly is simple to do. All you need to do is watch the world around and be inspired to write what you see following the pattern above with the syllables.


On one side of the page there is the Haiku and then on the other side you have an amazing description of the creature. I think the most interesting piece for me was learning about moths, it was absolutely fascinating to learn that they have markings that warn potential predators to stay away. Nikki’s favorite was learning about snails and how their mucus helps protect them from sharp objects they might slide over. It was just an amazing story to read and the book also provides a glossary in the back – very helpful!

Therefore, for this #MelAndNikkiReview we give it 10 sunshines out of 5! This book offers so much learning for children and parents. We loved reading it so much and the illustrations are absolutely perfect. If you would like to purchase a copy of Morning, Sunshine! Click here. Great children’s book for children ages four to eight as it offers so much learning opportunities.

About the Author

Keely Parrack came from the United Kingdom to the United States for fun twenty years ago, and liked it so much she’s still here doing what she loves best: writing poetry, picture books, and young adult novels and motivating kids to love reading and to be confident creative writers. Her work has been published in The Christian Science Monitor, The Contra Costa Times, Patch, Spider magazine, and Mothering.com, and her short story (written under the pen name Keely James) “Listening to the Leaves” appears in the anthology Simple Pleasures of Friendship: Celebrating the Ones We Love. She has been a science and language arts specialist and teacher at an elementary school in inner-city Nottingham, UK, a children’s center director in San Francisco, and the coregional advisor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, San Francisco North and East Bay. Parrack now fills her time working for her local indie bookstore, tutoring kids in creative writing, and designing haiku cards for her friends and family. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, son, and a very demanding cat.

About the Illustrator

John Bajet is currently a designer on the Cartoon Network Show Tom & Jerry; art director at Renegade Animation; and the illustrator for Baby Shark, Planting Seeds of Kindness, If We Can Do What Animals Do, and Bigger than Baseball.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

Momma Braga

*This book was provided in exchange of an honest review. All opinions expressed are our own.


My Daughter Hit A Low Patch Again…Dad Will Always Be There!

Guest Post By: Jeff Wood

If you have been following my blog you know my oldest daughter is 18 years old now and battles depression and anxiety.

Now things had really started to get better, the anger was lower, she was helping out without being asked and the biggest thing was that she was talking! Communication has always been her downfall and to see her opening up again was truly amazing. I had my little girl back, her brother and sister had the person they looked up to most, big sis, back! Things were great in our house.

Now you would think reading all that, things are still perfect. Ohhh man I wish they were, but anyone who has lived themselves or with someone else battling mental health sometimes it raises its ugly head and BOOM! right back down we go.

2 weeks ago I started seeing her behavior start to change. The first thing to go was the talking. Home from university and right downstairs, hide in her room for hours only coming up to play video games or for food. Ask about her day and you get one word answers like fine. No more talking about what she is doing or where she is going.

Big red flag for me and now I know something is wrong. Next comes the anger! Getting mad at anything said to her. The worst part is she gets stuck in her own head once talking stops and goes right to worse case scenarios, then reacts based on them even when it’s not reality. Now with this, anytime something is said to her the anger flares, and our house can become very volatile.

The whole time this is happening I try to talk to her. The first stage, not talking, gets me one word answers, the second, anger, gets me screamed at. I’m not talking your typical teen moodiness, I’m talking “Can you not right now, I’m not going to be all roses when you are the reason I’m angry!”, “It’s your fault that I’m mad, stop trying to talk to me, just leave me alone already!” all with blood curdling screams.

I have been told over the years she wishes I was never in her life, that I’m a horrible dad, I made her this way, I wish I wasn’t here, You think I’m a 2-year-old when I’m an adult – the list goes on and on. To be honest I remember saying the exact same things to my mom when I was fighting my own mind.

Believe me I don’t blame her for lashing out like this but I am so tired now emotionally from it. For almost 4 years now I have dealt with my daughters bad days and it takes a huge tole on me. I question whether I am a good dad, am I making the right choices, will my daughter turn out ok in life because she hates me so much – even though I know she loves me.

Her younger brother and sister have to sit through the meltdowns, hearing her sister scream from her room horrible things about dad. It has taken a toll on them as well and as their dad I feel horrible. They know why it’s happening, I have had those talks with them but to be honest I’m not sure they fully understand. My daughter never lashes out at her brother and sister no matter how low she gets and for that she is very strong. One day maybe she will talk with them to explain in her own words how she feels – when the time is right and they are old enough to fully understand.

The hard part of mental illness is during the low points, you don’t think clear and instead of pulling yourself up, you drag others down by any means possible. It’s hard to watch your child suffer with their own mind, you feel helpless and lost. Watching your other kids see and deal with it hurts. You feel as though you should just give up and walk away. On the really low days, Hell seems like a vacation compared to what happening. I would be lying if I didn’t say these are thoughts I have struggled with from time to time.

But here’s the thing for me, I WILL NEVER GIVE UP! I will take everything she throws at me, good and bad. I will be her punching bag always if it helps her deal with whats bugging her. I will be there to help whenever needed. I will also be the one who brings her off the ledge so to speak – by allowing her to scream, put me down, even hit me if it’s ever needed untill she is ready to open up. I love my daughter more than life itself! She will always be my first child, daddy’s little girl and a huge important part of my life.

After long talks over the weekend, the problems she was dealing with on her own came out. I will have a post soon about why. Things have calmed down and I hope will last for a while again. I was put through the ringer again, but it is worth it if only to allow her some mental peace. Sometimes as a dad, you need to same your child from themselves not just the world around them.

Now to work with her on more coping techniques, communication skills and to help were needed with these and any other problems she faces. Communication is key and the hardest lesson yet.

Parents, know your kids – and well. You never know when that knowledge will come in handy, but if it does you will be glad you paid attention.

Teen Depression & Anxiety

Guest Post By: Jeff Wood

As a father, all I want to do is help my kids through life to make it as fun and easy as possible. But like with ourselves sometimes life throws your child a curveball.


My oldest daughter had quite a curveball thrown at her about 3 years ago. She ended up with depression. On top of that she has high anxiety. Now as a father this kills me every day. I want nothing more than to take the pain away and fix the problem but I am rendered helpless in all ways other than just being there for her.

3 years we had noticed slight changes in her behavior. Passed a lot of it off as its her being a teen. Her school marks started to drop a bit, again she is just being a teen.

Then she started dating. Quite a big step for a teen girl at the end of her grade 9 school year. Things were good at first then I noticed this boy was very controlling. I told my daughter what I thought and said keep your eyes open for red flags. That’s when the anger hit us. The over reacting over everything. The pulling away from friends and family. My wife and I sat up many nights talking about what was happening to our girl. Then BAM! The first break up. We knew this would be hard as it was for us too back in our teen years. But what we saw was something else. It was straight down. Crying and lashing out. Not leaving her room. School tanking big time.

My wife picked up on little things faster than I did which she is great with. I tend to let my emotions lead which makes me miss the little things. In talking with my wife and with my experience going through depression myself, it was time to go to the doctor.

We took her in and sure enough depression had a hold of her. Now recovery begins. She started taking anti depressants. Things slowly started getting better but until she had the right dose there was still rocky times. We had a few run aways, lots of screaming matches, and her becoming down thinking she was crazy.

Now let me tell you one thing, when your child runs away from you in a Costco parking lot, life sort of stops. I called my wife crying knowing I had just gave her crap for anger before I went into the store. This was my fault. I’m never going to see her again. The things that went through my head were endless. It took awhile but I found her. She told me things were just too much and she felt she needed to run. I don’t blame her at all. Depression is one of the hardest things a person can go through. Your head is foggy. Nothing seems right and you feel like you are not wanted.

After this day a breakthrough happened. She started opening up to dad. Now I was shocked it was me but quite happy she was talking. Things were worse than we ever thought. Many days were spent listening and trying to give advise.

I had lots of talks with her about my own experiences dealing with depression. I feel it brought us a little closer even though we still have our moments now. At the very least it showed her she isn’t alone. This effects many people and I showed this to her through groups and even on twitter. Blog reading helped a lot as well.

Fast forward 3 years. Depression really isn’t a factor any more. There still are down days but a lot of those are due to her anxiety and not the depression.


Now anxiety is a whole other story. Anxiety runs her life. I have been talking and working with her for a long time on this but like everything unless you want it to end it never will. She is a very strong independent young lady. She knows the signs of her anxiety and a lot of her triggers but having to admit a way of thinking is wrong, like most teens, is her downfall. She feels like if she admits she is wrong she has failed and for her failing isn’t an option.

Que in test anxiety. School time brings a lot of volatile nights due to a big test coming up. She studies hard then gets completely focused on the fact she might fail and can’t sleep let alone function. The anger that come from this is huge. I try talking and getting her to cope but it is a slow process.

With life for her anxiety runs it by her way of thinking the worst is always going to happen and a lot of focus on the past without looking to the future.

Now for me I’m an A to B thinker. That’s it. I’m here and need to be there. For her to get from A to B usually hits C,D, and ends up on E. All 3 aren’t there but she seems to make them possibilities and completely misses out on where she needs to go. This is very hard to deal with as a parent.

For example. I want to go out this weekend with friends. For me it would be ok call them make plans and go. For her it’s I want this, they are probably working, no point on calling, anger because I’m doing nothing.

Now coping with depression, anxiety, and anger all go hand in hand. I have talks with her about staying out of your own head. Don’t answer for anybody in your head, ask them and wait. Keep looking forward and not in the past. Be your life’s tour guide not it’s road block. Your parents are here to help not hurt but anger and bad behavior will always have consequences weather here at home or out in the world. But the biggest one is you have to admit fault. When you admit you were wrong you don’t need to lie anymore. You can learn from it instead of hurt. It’s not a bad thing, we all make mistakes, lord knows I have made tons but it’s how we learn from them that’s important.

Also if you feel anger taking over, breath. Deep breaths help. Say I need a minute and take a break to recoup. Take time for yourself to relax. Anger brings on words we can never take back. It can ruin a lot of relationships.

The hard part is everything goes hand in hand. Depression brings on anger. Anxiety leads to depression. Anger brings out both. It’s still a work in progress for me and my daughter but the way she have persevered is amazing.


We still have battles. We still fight but we have made huge strides forward. Dad is learning too. Things not to say or do to trigger her. I am changing myself as much as she is. I am very proud of the woman she has become. The hardest part is implementing coping techniques into every day life. I know this first hand as I have been there myself. She has made me a better dad once again through a very bad and dark time for her. She is almost there and I couldn’t be happier. I understand first hand what she is going through and don’t fault her for this at all. I still give her crap for anger, don’t get me wrong, but I also explain coping skills with it.

The future is very bright for my daughter and once the coping kicks in she will truly be free to enjoy life’s vast experiences.

I love my daughter with all my heart and would love to take the pain upon my self. She has done more for me in life than she will ever know. One day we will look back on this and laugh about butting heads.

If you yourself have suffered or have kids that do, know you aren’t alone. My daughter is and I have been through this. Please share your experience or just comment to show support for my girl. If you know coping skills that have worked for you, we are all ears.

Thank you for reading.

Dreams Can Come True…Even For A Grandfather | Joe’s Grill

“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walter E. Disney

I just love this quote from Mr. Disney and one that can be applied to this special feature, our Grandfather of the Month. In honour of Father’s Day I decided that this month we would feature a Dad of the Month and a Grandfather of the Month.

I am so proud to present Joe from Joe’s Grill as our Grandfather of the Month.

Joe was born and raised in Azores, Portugal. Growing up Joe use to help his father work in the fields and also worked at the fruit and vegetable market. In his spare time he would love to watch his mother cook and that is where he developed his passion for cooking at a very young age. Joe then moved to Canada when he was in his late 20s which was not in his plans. However, when his girlfriend (now loving wife) moved to Canada, he realized he couldn’t live without her and packed up his stuff to start a new life in a new country. Now that is what I call love at its finest!

In Canada, Joe worked in construction but never lost his love for cooking and would cook every chance he got. Family could always be guaranteed an amazing meal when they would visit him. When the time came to retire, Joe thought that it was time to follow his dreams and open up his own restaurant. He knew that some people would call him crazy for wanting to open up a restaurant so late in life but he said, “It’s only too late when you’re gone and here I am one year later with a restaurant and I have never been happier.” He further stated, “It’s not about how much I make but that I am finally doing what I love – cooking!”

Joe's Grill #4

So what motivated this dream to become a reality? Joe always wanted to open his own restaurant but it never seemed like the “right time” to do it. When Joe retired he had some time to think what his next step in life would be. He felt he was too young to retire but yet too old to stay in construction. So after speaking to his wife and children, they knew it was now or never. This is what inspired Joe’s Grill to go from a dream to a reality. Joe’s Grill then opened up for business on June 6th, 2015 and Joe says, “I can truly say it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.”

Joe’s Grill is located at 2291 Kipling Avenue, Unit 111 in Toronto, Ontario. Joe’s Grill offers traditional Portuguese cuisine at affordable prices. They have a variety of different food items available on their menu and some favourites are the Portuguese BBQ Chicken with their signature piri piri sauce served with potatoes and rice. Another favourite is the fillet fish and beef stew. I don’t know about you but my mouth is already watering! I think the neat part about Joe’s Grill is that the food is always made by Joe himself and he always puts his own twist on everything he makes.

Joe's Grill #3

So, why the name Joe’s Grill? Joe said, “The name was inspired by my oldest daughter. I think she wanted customers to know who I was so that is where Joe came in and grill came from me constantly talking about all the things I was going to grill.”

When people visit Joe’s Grill, they can expect a friendly and clean environment with fresh food that is cooked daily. Not to mention that the portion sizes are great too! You can also bring their delicious food to your next meeting or event. To learn more about their catering services, please feel free to give them a call at (647) 343-3595. Catering has become a big part of Joe’s Grill and he offers special menus and can even customize the menus for your special event.

Joe's Grill

Joe’s Grill has recently celebrated their first year anniversary so where does Joe want to see the business in five years? “I would love to see Joe’s Grill grow and become more of a family business. I would like to get my wife and youngest daughter involved.” As you can tell Joe is a family oriented person who just adores his family very much. You would never know that this loving father of two is also a very proud grandfather to an adorable grandson. So how does this dad and grandfather find the time to balance a new growing business and family? “That’s a good question,” says Joe with a smile. “I sometimes feel that there is not enough hours in the day to do it all but then I take a step back and build downtime into my schedule. I have learned over the years that a little relaxation goes a long way.”

Well said Joe! This is why you are our Grandfather of the Month. Not only do you always put your family above anything else, you had the courage to follow your dreams. You have shown your family and friends around you that anything is possible at any age. You are a great example of what can be accomplished if you just believe in yourself.

“For as long as I could remember my father, Joe, has always wanted to open up his own restaurant. I am so proud of him for finally following his dreams. His food is amazing and I’m so happy that other people can now enjoy it as much as my family and I have. No matter how busy he gets at the restaurant he always finds time to come visit his grandson. I was so grateful to have my dad those first few weeks as a new mom as I never had to worry about food. My dad would come over every few days to stock our fridge with enough food to feed a village. He is an amazing father and has already shown to be an amazing grandfather as there is truly nothing he can’t do,” says Chantelle, Joe’s eldest daughter.

Joe exemplifies inspiration in all that he does and continues to do. Joe is such an amazing person that he has offered an exclusive to Momma Braga fans. When you stop by to order food from Joe’s Grill and mention that you read this article, you will receive a little something extra added to your order. How amazing is that?! Thanks Joe as I know my fans and readers will love this!

Joe’s Grill is open from Monday to Friday from 11 AM to 6 PM; Saturday from 11 AM to 5 PM; and Sundays are reserved for catering orders only.


Make sure to follow Joe’s Grill on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Joes-Grill-Portuguese-Cuisine/856622674431523
Instagram: @joesgrillportuguesefood

Special thank you to Joe and his daughter, Chantelle for their time as it is much appreciated!

Don’t forget to mention Momma Braga to Joe and you will receive a little something extra with your order! 😉

Until next time…..Happy Parenting!

– Momma Braga

Connecting the Parenting World Online

This month’s “Mom of the Month” is an inspiring woman who just loves to read, write and tell other people’s stories. She is also fascinated with people who come up with innovative ideas and try to make it a reality.

This is very fitting since she herself has come up with an innovative idea and has made it into a reality. I am talking about the global online magazine, The Baby Spot.

The Baby Spot

I had the honour and opportunity to sit down with owner and editor of The Baby Spot, Grace to ask her a few questions on her business.

1. What does your company do?

The Baby Spot is a global, online magazine that celebrates the diversity in parenting across the world. We highlight businesses big and small, parent bloggers from around the globe, we have experts, celebrities and most importantly, everyday parents telling their stories and connecting with one another.


2. When did you start your business?

I started this business three years ago when I was noticing that parents were looking for an online outlet to connect with other parents, read blogs, and get product reviews, tips and advice. I wanted to create a parenting magazine that was on a global level so we can embrace the similarities and celebrate the differences of family across the world.

3. How did you come up with the idea?

It came to me when I saw so many great products and bloggers from around the world. I thought it would be nice for an outlet to feature everything on one website. I wanted to be a trusted resource for parents, putting the Mom and Pop business that had a great product beside the big business. We wanted to support everyone and give everyone a voice.

4. What do you hope your business accomplishes?

I hope The Baby Spot provides people with useful information. I hope that those who are having fertility issues around the globe know that we publish up to date information, studies and breakthroughs. I want people to visit us to find the next great Mom and Dad blogger, to read our candid, original celebrity interviews, to bond with our experts and bloggers and to know that they are not alone in this parenting journey. There is someone, somewhere who is going through the same thing you are.

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

I would love for The Baby Spot to be a continued trusted resource, to meet even more bloggers and give them an outlet to tell their story, showcase their product or enrich someone’s life. I would love to continue our fabulous business relationships with the hundreds of businesses we work with. I am excited to see us open up an online store of some of our best and most trusted products.

6. How is your magazine unique from others?

There are so many great magazines out there! The Baby Spot is a global magazine. We talk about parenting issues from around the world. We write about the latest discoveries in fertility. We unite bloggers and businesses. People can connect with brands, bloggers and businesses that they may never been exposed to before. A blogger in Australia who writes for us may develop a huge Canadian following. A business in the UK can reach American clients. The Baby Spot is not just a magazine, but a following of parents who unite in the similarities and celebrate in the differences of parenting around the world.

7. What has been your biggest accomplishment & hardest challenge?

My biggest accomplishment is running this magazine every day and meeting some incredible readers, bloggers and businesses.

The hardest challenge was growing the business. I was a Mom with a global magazine goal. It takes time. Day by day. Learning this was my biggest challenge.

8. How do you balance your work and motherhood?

Every day is different. My job is unique so my schedule fluctuates so much each week. I am just lucky enough to love what I do as a mom and as a business owner so I enjoy the adventure of something new. I make sure to forgive myself if I do not complete my laundry list of tasks at work and just to be the best mom and business owner I know how to be!

Connect with The Baby Spot

If you are interested in connecting with The Baby Spot, you can find them on the following social media outlets:

Website: www.thebabyspot.ca
Twitter: @thebabyspot
Facebook: The Baby Spot
Instagram: @thebabyspotca
Google Plus:The Baby Spot
Pinterest: The Baby Spot

When I asked Grace what else she would like our readers to know, she stated, “I just want to thank everyone who continues to support The Baby Spot. We are grateful for each and every one of you!”

Momma Braga is extremely proud to feature Grace of The Baby Spot as this month’s “Mom of the Month” as she is such a humble, kind and inspirational person who extends herself to help others. She provides an outlet and platform for parents to have their voices heard and share their experiences from all over the world. Grace is also a great mom who is a shining example of a great role model for her daughter and who is always there for her.

Thank you Grace for your time and for being an inspiration, especially to this Mom Blogger, Momma Braga 😉

Until next time……Happy Parenting!

–          Momma Braga