Tag: Love

7 Great Ways to Raise and Empower Your Daughter

Having a daughter is a great gift, but also a great responsibility. We live in a world that is changing, hopefully for the best, especially when it comes to the position of women in the society, their empowerment and their voice. So it is, now more important than ever that we raise generation upon generation of young women who will know there is no limit what they can do in life and who will feel empowered from day one. But it all depends on the parents and what we install in their minds from the very beginning. So here are some great tips on raising a little powerhouse of a lady.

Let her be heard

It is important that you always ask her about her opinion on the matter at hand. Just telling someone what to do over and over again creates a pattern that is hard to break later on. So, by letting her know you are interested in what she has to say you are teaching her that her opinion and ideas matter and thus encouraging her to put them forward. This will have a great impact on the way she interacts with others as she will be able to form her own opinions and won’t be afraid to share them with the world.

Photo by Michael Morse from Pexels.

Encourage her to learn

Education is a huge part of female empowerment. Being able to attend the schools she wants or to choose her own profession it is something truly amazing. And to think it was not an option just a few years ago, and is still not in some countries in the world. Luckily there are a lot of organizations working on changing this, and there are more and more girl’s scholarships available to help set this change in motion. So help your daughter understand, however cliché it might sound, knowledge is power, and education is an integral part of that.

Expose her to the right role models

Having someone to look up to is important as we grow up. And for a young girl having strong female role models can be life changing. It is important that they exist both in the family and outside of it. Of course, you are the biggest one she has, so it is important to not only teach your daughter certain principles but for you as a parent to live them as well. Next come the role models from the world of literature, politics and, yes, pop culture. There are some great women throughout history that can serve as fantastic role models, from Jane Goodall to Lisa Randall and Aung San Suu Kyi, all of whom show how strong and powerful women can be and how they can influence the changes in the world we live in.

Photo by Albert Rafael from Pexels.

Help her withstand the pressures of our society

Even the best upbringing cannot help your daughter and save her from the cruel reality that comes from entering the society. From kindergarten to university she will have to hold her own. We all know how cruel kids can be and how at times it is difficult to stand up to peer pressure. It is up to us, as parents, to help our child cope, and not let them suffer in silence. Because not everyone will accept an empowered female, and there will be times that she will have to stand for what she believes in, even when it seems impossible. That is the lesson we are supposed to be teaching them.

Take the time to discuss different notions

Be there to answer her questions, from the very start. Whether they are about life, the world we live in or people who surround us. It is important that she gets that information from you as much as possible. That way you know what she hears is the truth. Letting her google it or hear it from the wrong people could have a negative effect on her point of view, and even her self- esteem. You can take a few minutes out of each day and simply tell her to ask you whatever she wants. It can be a great learning and bonding experience at the same time.

Photo by Lgh_9 from Pexels.

Teach her to be critical about the media

What media places out there can have a strong effect on young girls, and they can be quite taken with it. Thinking that they need to look, act or think in a certain way. This can have a negative effect on the way they perceive the world and what is expected of them to be. So it is important to start having this conversation as early as possible and to keep having it until they grow up. Teach them about the distorted images that the media can sometimes show, pointed towards the right media outlets, and help them see themselves as individuals and not part of the collective thought that is being pushed at them.

Don’t limit their imagination

This might be the most important piece of advice. Your daughter needs to have a vivid imagination because that is where all great ideas come from. So if she wants to be a truck driver at three years of age support it as much as you would support her wanting to be a doctor at eighteen. Don’t limit her choices and ideas; let her express herself that way she can show you and the world who she really is without the fear of not being accepted.

So now you have your guidelines, and don’t forget you might be raising the future president or astronaut.

About the Author

Claire Adams is a personal and professional development expert who believes that a positive attitude is one of the keys to success. She enjoys life to the fullest in the healthiest way possible and loves to share her insights into parenting, education, and entrepreneurship. Feel free to reach her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Knowing When Not To “Ovary” Step Your Boundaries

To empower change, you need to be a driver of change.

I started my blog almost three years ago and the driving factor was to inspire others’ through experiences that I share from my own life and from other amazing people. I always felt that we can learn so much from one another and it helps us empathize with the paths that people walk through.

Not one person lives the same life or has the same experiences as another. That is why it is important to create a community of understanding and support.

But it wasn’t until I got into the parenting world that I have seen another side of “human interest.”

We all have been asked a million in one questions about our lives by curious people. But when do the questions become too personal?

Now I am an open book ever since becoming a parent. What you see is what you get in layers (I have to be honest). I tolerate a lot of questions as I want to be respectful and nice but I really don’t think that anyone should endure it. Even if it is perceived as “normal” questions to ask.

Recently, I have been asked if I was expecting as a few people noticed that I was interested in attending a Baby Show (Thanks Facebook for sharing events that I am interested in. This is an issue that I don’t even want to touch on…yet). Now I am not sure how that conclusion came about since I do write a blog on parenting and am the Assignments Editor at The Baby Spot. But that is beside the point. Of course I shared my thoughts online as it can be therapeutic to vent online for all to see. Then it had me really thinking, “Why do people ask and why do they care?”

I read an article awhile back that spoke volumes about wanting or getting pregnant was no one’s business. And it is very true! Now I know many people who don’t see the harm in asking so let me bring in my experience as that is the only way I know how.

Back in 2014, I gave birth to a healthy little baby girl. We were all thrilled as my husband and I were married for already seven years so people were starting to really question if babies were in our future (didn’t know there was a timeline of having children after marriage but to some there is). I thought this could be the end of the baby questions but unfortunately it was not and I wasn’t too surprised. As we have been programmed to ask these “normal” questions.

We were even asked why it took us so long to get pregnant and if there was something wrong with us. Once I had the courage to respond, I replied with tears in my eyes, “There wasn’t a problem. We were just grieving the loss of our baby that we miscarried before we had our healthy baby girl.” This was the first time that we were disclosing this information to people and while many empathized, others continued with questions. So I slowly developed a thick skin to brush the insensitive questions and played it off that the people who were asking “didn’t know any better.”

But I think it is time to bring this to light as this momma and many others have had enough.

Unless a woman has come to you to talk about her pregnancy goals or life, don’t ask!

Reasons Why Not To Ask

We don’t know what one is going through and some women could be going through any one of these reasons as this is why you should not ask:

  • Grieving a miscarriage
  • Difficulty in getting pregnant
  • Financial strain (News flash! Kids are expensive)
  • Suffering from other health issues
  • In an abusive relationship or just a rocky relationship
  • Does not want children (There is nothing wrong with that)

The list could go on and on. The bottom line is that they are not your ovaries to care so much about. Did it ever occur to people that those constant questions could actually cause the person stress? Imagine the health issues that stress brings onto a person!

I am sure that the questions come with no malice attach to them but it doesn’t mean it should be acceptable either. Let’s break the “normal” and start asking less questions about others and start listening more. You would be surprised at how much someone can disclose without being asked.

Now onto the question on many minds…Is Momma Braga pregnant?

The answer is very simple and that is NO. Do I want another? Only time will tell. But if I do and I do become pregnant then I will announce it with great pride. In the meantime, I am enjoying being a mom to one energetic daughter who has taught me that being a mother is the hardest job that I will ever have.

Please let’s respect one another and let’s break old traditions. Be the change by leading by example. Change can only happen if you do something or in this case not ask the questions.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

–          Momma Braga

My Two Pregnancy Plans

By: Grace Cross
Twitter

When a person finds out that they are pregnant, ideally you get very excited and start to plan life with your little one. You get to plan a nursery, get excited about having a new baby in the family and so much more. But for a parent who has lost a child and gets pregnant again, the joy of being pregnant can also come with a lot of fears. When I lost my baby to an ectopic pregnancy, I knew my thoughts on having another baby would be much more cautious and careful and have their own fears. That is why, unlike other Mothers, I have two pregnancy plans.

Having a miscarriage or an ecoptic pregnancy is not your fault. It is said that in an ectopic pregnancy case that you’re at a higher risk if you drink, do drugs or have lived a lifestyle that can be deemed unhealthy. I never did any of these things, but like millions of women around the world, I had lost my baby at eight weeks and had to have my right fallopian tube removed along with my baby. We were all going to die and there was no other choice. My heart bled as the doctor let me know my baby was dead and I would die if they did not preform this life saving surgery. Coupled with me internally bleeding, they had to act fast. And in a moment, I was no longer a Mom to two.

Most women who have a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy do get pregnant again. These babies are usually called “rainbow babies” or the babies that you have after you have lost a baby previously. If I do get pregnant again, to protect my baby and my heart, I have to have two pregnancy plans.

My pregnancy plan may not look like  other pregnancy plans. A woman may decide that she is going to have a certain exercise regime, she may in some countries decide whether to have a c-section or a vaginal birth. She may have a doula or a midwife. She may decide to give birth in a hospital or at home. My plan is a lot different but many women have similar plans. My first pregnancy plan is if my baby survives. My chances of having a second ectopic pregnancy are increased, so my pregnancy plan is to make it past 6 weeks of pregnancy. As soon as I have a confirmed pregnancy, my doctor immediately refers me to an ”emergency ultra sound”. Once the baby is confirmed to be safe, I can breathe a sigh of relief and continue cautiously throughout my pregnancy. This is plan one.

My second pregnancy plan begins if a doctor says that something is wrong. If I have another ectopic pregnancy or a miscarriage or if my baby is in any type of distress. My plan looks a little something like this:

  1. Take all measures to help baby survive/thrive
  2. If the baby has passed away, prepare myself for surgery.
  3. Prepare family for my physical rehabilitation (it takes a month or two to physically become strong again).
  4. Make sure that my partner and child have a good support system around them as they will be hurting as well.
  5. To make sure that I ask for help. From family that I can depend on. I asked a lot of family members for help the first time who were not going to be there like I needed. I know now who I can ask to help me with needs that they can provide. I know I can count on my dear friends. One of them actually owns this blog
  6. To seek help.
  7. To know that I don’t have to get over this, but I can get through this.
  8. To send love to my baby.

I know that many families have been through still birth, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy and other forms of loss. It can be early on or very late. I know that I belong to a group of people who never wanted to be in this group, but show so much love and support for one another. I know that there are so many strong women and men and children who show love and support in these dark times.

I would love to be that carefree mom as I was in my first pregnancy, which went without problem, but if I go through another pregnancy, it will be more cautious, it will be more careful. I will worry, though everyone will assure me not to, I love them for loving me but I am human and I will. I hope for that result that I get to the birth stage, go through the pain of labour and I can breathe a sigh of relief that my next little one is safely in my arms. I in that moment, rejoice that I have become a Mother to my rainbow baby.

Love Is Infinite

Love is infinite and kind
knows no boundaries
and abides by no law
other than it’s own.

At one time or another we all experience love in our lives. We love our spouse/partner, parents, siblings, family members, friends, pets and then there is the love that we have for our own children. To me that love is the most powerful one of all. As it’s the love that we feel before even meeting our child as our love forms as they develop in our tummies. It is the love that is infinite as we do everything in our power to ensure that our children are well taken care of. I would say that is a remarkable power.

I remember feeling this way on the day my daughter was born as she was placed on my chest. She looked at me with her vivid eyes and I knew at that exact moment that I would love her forever (even through the sleepless nights, tantrums and all the lovely fun growing up stuff).

Since that first day, we haven’t failed a single day to let our daughter know how much we love her each and every day. We always let her know that our love for her is infinite and that the beauty of love is that you can always make more and we don’t need to worry about there ever being less.

This daily lesson has helped our daughter get comfortable with new babies arriving in our family. She has loved every little cousin that has arrived and has been so helpful in trying to make them happy. Recently, a new cousin arrived and it was a more immediate cousin as it is my sister’s daughter (Congratulations Karen!).

We were all anxious in anticipation for the little one to arrive as we all had lots of love to give. Therefore, we started the conversations about the arrival and what it was going to mean to all of us. It has always been important to us to have these conversations with our daughter as we want her to understand the world around her and with the ‘why’ phase it is a perfect time. We explained how she was gaining a new friend and that meant one more person that was going to love her so much more.

Therefore, throughout my sister’s whole pregnancy, my daughter would kiss my sister’s tummy and tell her little cousin how much she loved her. It was a beautiful moment to say the least (captured below).

The day finally arrived as we greeted the little one recently and it was time for our daughter to meet her new cousin. It was love at first sight! Our daughter just adored her little baby cousin and just wanted to give hugs and tickles (apparently babies need tickles according to my daughter). 😉

Seeing the love that my daughter exhibited was so touching as it showed me that I am doing something right. But in all honesty I didn’t have any doubts since she has other younger cousins that she loves so much. Our constant talking and explaining is working so far! YES! #ParentingWin

Now not all children are the same and they are all unique in their own ways. Some children may exhibit jealousy or feel a little less loved when a new baby enters the world. Therefore, I put together some tips that could possibly help.

#1. Communicate

Always start the conversation early. Let your child know of the changes that are about to happen and let them know what they can expect. Teach them that love is infinite and you can always create more of it.

#2. Listen

Listen to your child and pick up on any cues that they are feeling uneasy about a new addition to the family. If they have any concerns, let them tell you and listen. You would be surprised at how much listening means to a child.

#3. Love

Express and show your love to your child. Let them know how much they mean to you…a hug can go a long way.

#4. Engage 

Make sure to include your child in the action. All kids love attention (I am sure we know a lot of adults who do too!) so get them involved. If it is a cousin, have them help the mom and dad with the baby. Let them bring the bottle and have them take part in the little things. It is a great way to have the baby and child start to bond too!

#5 Praise

Praise your child on what a great job they are doing and what a great helper they are. They love to hear praise and it is another great way to show your love by noticing how great they are. I use this a lot and I find it helps me tremendously to have a positive outcome in all that I do.

Those are my five quick tips in hopes it helps minimize or avoid some unpleasant feelings of a new addition to the family. We have used all of these tips to help our daughter adjust to a loving growing family. Now our daughter tells the whole world that she has a new baby cousin and she loves her so much because she is so cute! Tugs my heart strings every time!

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

My Little Lovebug and Love Notes Make The Perfect Gift

I See Me has become one of our favorites for personalized books as they always go beyond with the extra little touches to make someone feel special. This is why we were very excited to hear about a new release and just in time for Valentine’s Day! 😉

My Little Lovebug is a photo-personalized storybook featuring your loved ones’ photos and names. Every page is beautifully illustrated with a cute and cheeky saying, with illustrated text by Jeanine Murch.

We were fortunate to receive the hardcopy version of the book along with the adorable love notes.

We couldn’t wait to add this book to our reading line up and that same night that we received the book, we were reading it. Each page was beautifully designed with different animal characters with our faces (I have to admit that I look adorable as a lady bug and I need to add that my husband looks handsome as a bumble bee!). 😉

The word play in the book is brilliant! They use words relating to the character on each page into a positive and empowering word for the child. We just loved that! The creativity is remarkable as I don’t know how they come up with it all.

The book was very engaging and we enjoyed it from the beginning to end. The love notes that came with the book are illustrated as beautifully as the book and are great keepsakes. I will be sneaking them in my daughter’s bag when she isn’t looking as a way to remind her how much she is loved by all of us.

So for this #MelandNikkiReview I decided to change things up a little bit as I love to provide unique reviews specialized to each product or book we do (it’s the Momma Braga style). Since my daughter is now three years old and she has a wealth of vocabulary now, I asked her what she thought of it and what would she rate it.

Momma Braga: “Nikki did you like the book, Our Little Lovebug Nikki?”
Nikki: “I love the book so much Momma!”
Momma Braga: “What did you love the best about it?”
Nikki: “I love all the animals. They are so nice. I love our faces in them. It was funny!”
Momma Braga: “Do you remember what the book was about?”
Nikki: “Oh yes Momma! Everyone loves Nikki!”
Momma Braga: “Oh yes we do! How many ladybugs out of 5 would you give the book?”
Nikki: “Ten Momma.”

I would have to agree with Nikki on her quick recap of why Our Little LoveBug is so great. It has all the uniqueness magic that I See Me brings to stories and it brings so much love. It beautifully captures what we feel for our children in the most adorable way possible. We highly recommend this book to any parent who wants to tell their Little Lovebug in an unique way on how much they mean to them during storytime. As Nikki mentioned we give this book 10 ladybugs out of 5! 😉

To purchase the gift set which includes the book with the love notes, click here. To purchase the book on its own, click here. To purchase the love notes only, click here.

Don’t forget to follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ and YouTube to see all the latest from I See Me!

If you want to get the latest scope on email promos, discounts and updates, make sure to check it out here.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

I See Me Books Warms Our Hearts With A Christmas Story

There is no denying that Christmas is my favorite time of the year! To me it’s the spirit of Christmas that I enjoy the most as to me it’s the most caring time of the year. Therefore, when we got the opportunity to review a new book by I See Me Books on Christmas – I was thrilled!

Nikki got her “Very Own Christmas” from I See Me Books and she was as excited as me (in all honesty I must have been a tad more excited then she was).

This past weekend we sat down to read the story. 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!

The story is about the Santa quest to decorate the tree with a name to string across it for all the world to see. But it’s not just any name! It’s a name of child whose Christmas spirit is always shining through. The book then takes us on an adventure through Santaland where each character says a letter (from the child’s name) and using a positive descriptive word for the child. As we went through each letter and each page, my heart warmed up.

At the end of the story, Santa announces Nikki’s name and says that you can feel her Christmas spirit which warms up his heart to hear it. This last page had my eyes watering as that is exactly how I feel about my daughter. She is my Christmas spirit and now I have a book that I could read to her to let her know exactly that!

For this #MelandNikkiReview we give “My Very Own Christmas” 5+++ jingle bells out of 5. We also have included this on our recommended list which will be out soon!

The book is personalized to truly make the child feel special and unique. The words used are positive and empowering which we love! We just loved everything that this book had to offer us such as the beautiful illustrations, the customized and inspiring story, and for making us ALL feel special when Nikki is named as the child with Christmas spirit. This book even though was about her very own Christmas Story, I felt like it was mine too. We will definitely be reading this book leading up to Christmas and I look forward to it!

As many of my readers have learnt through my blog that giving and charity is something that I hold dear to my heart. This is why I am delighted to inform you all of a special partnership that started on November 1st with I See Me Books the Children’s Cancer Research Fund, and every purchase will benefit the national non-profit.

I See Me Books has also launched “Letters of Love” campaign. Anyone on this page can write an uplifting letter to a child with cancer and make a lasting gift of kindness. Near the end of December they will deliver the letters to the Children’s Cancer Research Fund, where they will be given to the children. For every 50 letters they receive, they will donate a copy of My Very Own Christmas to a child supported for the non-profit. If you would like to donate to this cause directly you can do so through the page. The goal is to reach $10,000 and I know it can be done.

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

Make sure to follow I See Me Book on FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ and YouTube. 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.

 

Kidpreneur Making A Difference Through The Nice Bench

It always amazes me to see young people wanting to make a difference in the world and it is empowering to see them make an impact. This rings true to Owen who is already making a difference in his community and his inspiration came from his own family.

Imagine being a parent and told that your child has Leukemia. Sounds like a horrible nightmare, doesn’t it?! The Armstrong family had this happen to them when their nine year old son, Caden, was diagnosed with Leukemia. This family battled and stayed strong together. Now their other son, Owen makes benches and uses the proceeds to help other families travel to get treatment for their child.

We got a chance to chat with Owen and his mother Kirstin who gave us a deeper look at The Nice Bench Co. So grab your tissues and enjoy this inspiring story!

1. How did it all start? How was the idea developed?

“The inspiration for the benches came when Owen built and painted a bench for his little sister, Anikka. His grandparents and auntie loved Anikka’s new bench so much, that Owen was fueled to make more. He built twelve with scrap wood on Christmas Day! Those first bench prototypes were a little rough-looking, but the idea was born.”

2. What type of products does your company do?

“I get some help from a local high school student, named Ryan. He helps me build my nice benches. I have created three lines for these benches, “curious”, “wild” and “happy” – all words my mom uses to describe me! The “curious” line is basically anything I feel like doing, right now I’m really still in to stripes. The “wild” is roughed-up so it looks like it’s been out in the wild (rustic charm) and the “happy” line is solid paint in one of the milk paint colours I have chosen. There’s a big colour palette to choose from.” – Owen

“The step stools are painted using non-toxic, biodegradable, zero VOC milk paint and sealed with 100% natural hemp oil which often comes to us by way of donation from a Canadian company, Homestead House.

Curious
Wild
Happy

 

Owen has expanded his collection to include custom name plates and growth charts, and his step stools are now morphing into actual three-seater benches. We have some custom orders, with custom sizes for these that we are creating. Very exciting.

Every month, we try something new. Last month, in honour of childhood cancer awareness, we created a solid gold bench – the #gogold bench. This month we are featuring some artists work on the benches and later we will be doing something with Halloween inspired colour treatment.

BRIKA

Owen has some exclusive projects on the go for BRIKA (an online platform showcasing and selling heirloom quality artisan craft) and another: a screen-printed “THRIVE” bench for the ever-inspiring MAX LOVE PROJECT (a non-profit that aims to maximize quality of life and reduce serious health risks for all childhood cancer survivors with fierce foods and whole-body wellness).”

THRIVE

3. With the proceeds from the sales, how does it help families with children who are getting cancer care treatments?

“For every product sold, Owen collects $5-$10 ($5 from the sale of name plates and growth charts, and $10 from every bench) and purchases gas gift cards for childhood cancer families traveling long distances to Sick Kids Hospital for chemotherapy treatment.

One quarter of families of children being treated for cancer lose 40% of their total household income. Over 50% of mothers reported relinquishing their employment to provide care for their child. (Source: Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center)

Loss of income is huge, then add up all the extra hidden costs of medicine, childcare, meals on the road. Takes a toll on the family. Owen is hoping to offset that in the little way he can – by paying for the families to get their child to treatment.”

4. Can you describe what your family went through when your child was diagnosed and getting treatment?

“There are no words. Utter shock. A surreal, out-of-body experience. Our eldest boy, Caden was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of nine. What? Kids don’t get cancer.

It is so cliché to say that our world was turned up-side-down but it truly was. Pure chaos. We had just moved three hours north of the city and were set up to live on an island for the summer when we found out we had to turn around and relocate to be near Sick Kids, in Toronto. We had nowhere to go. A family of five. Thankfully, friends and family (our community/life-support) helped us out in ways that go way above and beyond. An expecting couple gave us their home for the summer, we had meals delivered, activities set up for our other two children, the list goes on-and-on. Incredible. We are beyond thankful for their help, it brings tears to my eyes.

Watching Caden endure years of treatment, lumbar punctures, complications, IVs…gutted me. This nightmare has shaved years off my life. I’m sure of it. Despite it all, I was determined to remain positive and happy and strong for Caden. I think he was doing the same for me. He remained stoic, fierce and next-level brave through it all.”

5. Is there any advice that you can provide to other parents who are going through what you have gone through?

“I attached zero negativity to the cancer. I only wanted glowing, positive energy around him. It’s tough, especially in the middle of the night when all is quiet, but I wouldn’t let myself spiral into that abyss of darkness and let my mind go “there.” Mind over matter.

Mind Over Medicine by M.D. Lissa Rankin is all about the power of thought. This book really helped me in the very early days of diagnosis. It gave me back a tiny bit of control. I could adopt a positive mind-set and teach Caden to use visualization techniques. Every night he would send out his “patrol guys” and they would make sure his body was rid of any cancerous cell that may still be looming.

We got through it. We just celebrated Caden’s End of Treatment with that very community that supported us through it all.”

6. How can someone purchase your products?

“Products can be purchased directly from Owen’s website, https://thenicebenchco.com. Owen will also be featuring products to sell at the upcoming Seasons Christmas Show from November 17-19 at the Toronto International Centre. Stop in to meet the young kidpreneur!”

Such an inspiring and strong family! We are truly touched by what Owen is doing and admire his drive as a kidpreneur. We know that Owen has a very bright future in anything that he does and the assistance that he is providing to families is heartfelt. I am sure the families that are getting the help appreciate the heart of gold from this family. Keep up the great work Owen and know that what you are doing is so much more than a nice bench. You are giving hope to families by helping them travel to get the treatment they need for their child. I know in my heart that this means the world to them. Special thank you to Owen and his mom Kirstin for taking the time to have us interview them as we are honoured to have had this opportunity!

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

 

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 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