Tag: Mississauga

Harlem Globetrotters Dribbles Into Our Hearts At The Hershey Centre

“The atmosphere at the Hershey Centre was electrifying as fans wait for the arrival of the prestigious Harlem Globetrotters. You can’t help but feel pumped even if you have never seen them before.” – Momma Braga

This was the case for me and my family as we have never watched the Harlem Globetrotters before so I was intrigued on what they were going to offer us. We have been doing our Harlem Globetrotters research for the last month and we have heard how great they are. So now it was the true test…the Momma Braga test!

Our future Harlem Globetrotters

We arrived early to the event and found parking at the Hershey Centre parking lot (it’s FREE parking by the way for EVERYONE). We made our way inside to where all the excitement was brewing and with good reason too. We found our great seats and anticipated with delight the start of the event. Not too long before we settled down, the entertainment began with the Globetrotters mascot, Globie. Now I need to mention that you don’t just see him at the beginning but also in the middle where he is inflatable and does some hilarious tactics. Once Globie gets the crowd going, it is time for the main event!

The first team introduced is the Washington Generals and of course they are the “visiting” team so everyone in the audience booed and the team Captain, Cager, did not help with the mention of our beloved Toronto Raptors losing the night before. The boo’s got louder. But no fear as the Harlem Globetrotters were here! They entered with high-energy style that it was contagious not to be energized. They did a few tricks with their introductions and it was superb!

They played the first quarter with some antics here and there which made it much more entertaining for everyone in the audience. I know that it definitely kept our three year old entertained as she was following along the action on and off the court. OH! Did I not mention their interaction with audience members?! I think this is the most interactive group in sports entertainment that I have ever seen as they really get the fans involved which is so great! Seeing a child’s eyes light up with pure joy when they are picked to interact with the Globetrotters was priceless!

The next three quarters was full of mad skills and family fun entertainment. I don’t think I have been so impressed and at the same time, laugh so hard in my life. So bravo Globetrotters! There was never a dull moment and that includes intermission as we were entertained by young dancers from Vibe Dance & Fitness Studio (really talented dancers!). It was high-energy entertainment for the whole family.

By the end of the game, I am thrilled to say that the Harlem Globetrotters won the game and won our hearts! They provided us with a great family night out with laughter, fun and showcased amazing skills. At the end of it all you have a chance to meet them in person and get autographs. It does get a little crowded as many people want to meet these amazing athletes and my advice is to be patient as everyone will get their turn. We managed to get three autographs which made Nikki’s day! We then called it a night and a memorable event for us all.

For this #MelAndNikkiReview, we give the Harlem Globetrotters 5+++ SHOTS out of 5! You can say that the Harlem Globetrotters slam dunked this Momma Braga test! They offer great family sports entertainment with their larger than life personality and skills. We highly recommend checking out the Harlem Globetrotters if they visit your city as they do go global!

We would like to extend our heartfelt thank you to the Hershey Centre for providing us with this great opportunity to share this epic event called the Harlem Globetrotters with our readers.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

Sesame Street Live Brings Back Fond Childhood Memories

Sunny Day
Sweepin’ the clouds away
On my way to where the air is sweet
Can you tell me how to get?
How to get to Sesame Street

The theme song to one of my favorite shows growing up warms up my heart as I attend Sesame Street Live with my three year old daughter. Never thought that we would be able to enjoy a classic together but here we are at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga for Sesame Street.

We first attended the pre-show (this is in addition to the event tickets) and we were very excited as this was a surprise by my sister-in-law who got us tickets to go. There were activities to do like dress-up, crafts, tour of the stage (this was done group at a time) and meet and greet with Big Bird.

We had a blast at the pre-show and my favorite part was meeting my childhood favorite, Big Bird! Nikki’s favorite was touring the neighbourhood and seeing Abby. She was so excited to see Abby and was screaming really loud to get noticed. It was too cute!

After we did all the activities, it was time to find our seat for the main event; Sesame Street Live.

The lights dimmed and it was show time! We saw many of our classic favorites like Grover, Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, and Cookie Monster. There was also some of the next generation classics (ones that I didn’t grow up with) such as Elmo, Abby Cadabby and Rosita. It was full of learning, fun and dancing. After all it was a dance party. 😉

It was a very entertaining show and we loved every minute of it. We didn’t expect anything less since this is Sesame Street and it has been a classic for generations. They didn’t miss a beat with their positive messages and making learning fun. For this #MelandNikkiReview we give Sesame Street Live 5+++ Elmo tickles out of 5! It truly is a great show to watch for the whole family as it is one that many generations can enjoy together.

While there was a party on stage, there was one happening in my heart as I reminisce my childhood and embrace my present; parenthood.

Momma Braga, Nikki and Auntie Amanda

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

 

Experiencing WWE NXT Through The Eyes Of A Child

We love watching and following the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and we have been fans for many years. You might have remembered a few articles that I have written on WWE and we can’t forget the very entertaining videos that my daughter has done in imitating the wrestlers entrances. So it is no surprise that when we heard that the WWE was returning with their ever so popular NXT live tour, we had to purchase tickets especially since it was being held at the Hershey Centre. It was so much closer to home!

For those of you who may not know or follow, let me give a quick definition of WWE NXT. This is a branch of the WWE brand. This is where you get your start in the WWE. It is almost like the place that you need to prove yourself before going to the main roster of Raw and Smackdown (the main shows of the WWE). That is if you have that superstar quality for the main stage from what I have heard people say.

We have watched wrestlers from NXT in Toronto before and it was such an amazing show as each wrestler outperformed the next. I think it was the most entertaining wrestling that I had seen live in years so it was refreshing.

Now it was time to see it again but without the cameras for television broadcasting which makes it a more intimate event for fans as we are solely focused on the performances.

I do need to mention that watching a WWE live event comes with many restrictions and I do recommend that if you are taking young children to please read what the rules are before going. The Hershey Centre did a great job in making sure that the attendees were aware of the restrictions and were great at answering any inquiries from fans (like myself who messaged them a whole lot!).

For this event we made it into a daughter and mom night as my husband had to work. We also went with a family friend and his son; they are our wrestling friends for life. 🙂

Momma Braga and Nikki.
Our family friends Mike and his son Austin. Photo Credit: Mike Clarke.

WWE NXT Event

We arrived early to avoid waiting in a big line-up in the cold and it helped us find our seats with lots of time to enjoy the venue (this is when it is the perfect time to take a selfie to capture the moment). We had great seats as our view of the wrestling ring and the entrance for the wrestlers was perfect for us.

Before we knew it, the lights started to dim and the ring lights were on…it was time for the show! One performance after another, it was amazing! Each larger than life character came into the ring and really put their heart into their performance. We got to see some fan favorites and were even introduced to some new wrestlers who are going to be making their televised debut soon (one became my favorite very quick, Ricochet!).

But what made this event even more spectacular for me as a mom was seeing my daughter light up with excitement. I know that my heart was glowing to see how happy she was. Isn’t that what we want for our children to be?!

It amazed me to see her interact and engage with other fans. For the first time, I took the back seat from being a fan and watched her be one. I got to experience the event through her and that made me love this event even more. So what did my three year old do?

Well, when the audience clapped, chanted or screamed so did my little one. It was so awesome to see her chant, “NXT, NXT, NXT!” And anytime the audience cheered for one of the wrestlers, she would try to chant their name too (as best as she could as some of the names are a little difficult to say). But one that she had no trouble chanting was for Nikki Cross (by the way, no connection as to how we named our daughter, lol).

From Left to Right: Our family friend Mike, Nikki and Momma Braga. Photo Credit: Mike Clarke.

It made the event that more exciting to watch and that is why many fans go see a live show. Seeing a WWE event is a social experience that you can’t get from watching it on your television. It is an opportunity to engage with other fans on the drama of WWE wrestling and I believe that this is where the wrestlers get their performance rush from. That energy and vibe at a live event is what makes WWE great and successful! We all had an amazing time and it will be a memorable mother and daughter day that we will not forget. We got to spend time together and engage with the most loyal and craziest fans ever! We just loved it! WWE NXT gave us a very entertaining night full of heart, athleticism and a forever family moment.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

4 Tips on How To Turn Tears Into Cheers In Swimming

One of my fears when my daughter was enrolled in swimming was the tears that may come with her learning. Luckily, we did not have any tears from her but from me instead.

Besides my inability to let go when I should, I have seen many children cry before their swim class and even during it. So I went to the experts at Aqua-Tots Swim School to see if they can offer tips to help parents in this type of situation.

I want to first state that crying when learning how to swim is very common and normal. So don’t feel like there is something wrong. When you have a great school like Aqua-Tots Swim School to help you along the way, in the end you both will feel much better.

There are some common reasons as to why children cry. Here are the four most common ones:

  1. It’s New – Swimming lessons are a new experience. There are new sights, sounds, textures, smells, faces, and interactions in the pool environment.
  2. Age – With time, your child will gain control over their emotions and learn to enjoy the water.
  3. Fear or Anger – Some children are genuinely fearful of the water and it takes time to help them overcome their fear. Other children can become angry and use tears to control the situation.
  4. Separation Anxiety – Your child may experience separation anxiety and feel anxious when away from familiar people and places.

Hearing your child cry is always hard (I know it is for me) and there are ways to help them when it comes to swimming lessons. Here are four tips to help.

  1. Be Positive and Keep Your Eyes on The Goal – As a parent, you can encourage your child with compliments and praise on what they do well in each lesson.
  2. Keep Cool – Being calm helps your child settle down faster.
  3. Practice At Home – Make it fun! Use the tub, shower, and pool to practice swimming skills (i.e. holding breath, water submersions, etc.)
  4. Be Consistent – Skipping or discounting swim lessons inhibits swimming progressions and will extend the time it takes to learn how to swim safely.

The layout at Aqua-Tots is great to help the child gain trust of the instructor as the parents can view the lesson through the viewing gallery which allows them to interact with their child. This way your child is aware that you are near and rooting for them. This space allows the instructor and the child build trust and a bond will form.

This is one of the many reasons why Aqua-Tots is amazing as they are there for you every step of the way. Their instructors care about your child and they are trained to:

  1. Identify the reason your child is crying so they can best alleviate the tears.
  2. Build trusting relationships with your child.
  3. Offer consistent routines and terminology in every lesson.
  4. Help your child build trust in the water.

Water is an adaptive environment and it takes time to adjust. The more frequently your child comes to lessons, the faster the crying will subside. The general rule of thumb is:

  • 3+ lessons per week – crying subsides after 3-4 lessons
  • 2 lessons per week – crying subsides after 5-6 lessons
  • 1 lesson per week – crying subsides after 7-8 lessons

With these tips and with the guidance of the swimming school, you will be at tears to cheers in no time. Just remember that at Aqua-Tots Swim School they never leave your side to ensure that everyone is happy.

If you are interested in swim lessons, give Aqua-Tots Swim School a call at 905-848-2782. Also make sure to follow them on Facebook to see what’s new.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

–          Momma Braga

 

This article is brought to you in partnership with Aqua-Tots Swim School, Mississauga.

Swim With Santa Event Splashes With Joyous Spirit

We had the pleasure of attending the Swim with Santa event which was done by Aqua-Tots Swim School in Mississauga.

This was a member-exclusive event which was an all-ages and complimentary with the annual membership to the school. It is one of many great perks of registering at Aqua-Tots Swim Schools.

The event was on Saturday, December 2nd from 2pm to 4pm and we were excited to go, especially Nikki who just adores going to swim school.

We arrived a little early which gave us some time to settle. We couldn’t help notice how beautiful and festive the swim school was decorated. They did not miss a single detail, from the candy cane shaped balloons at the front entrance to the festive décor at each activity section.

Our first stop was to drop off our non-perishable food donations for the Mississauga Food Bank which Aqua-Tots Swim School was collecting. Nikki happily placed our donation in the box and we were ready to see what to do next!

Nikki of course sat right at the arts and crafts station as it was her opportunity to get creative before Santa arrived. Nikki made a snowman ornament, coloured an Ollie with Santa page, and made a snowman mask. She had a blast!

Santa soon arrived and Nikki was in disbelief that he made it all the way to her swim school. Nikki was awfully shy so she opted out to take a photo with Santa. However, the pool was open for the family swim and Nikki was very excited to swim with her daddy (my husband , Mike).

It was so wonderful to see them both go into the swimming pool and Nikki showing her daddy all the skills that she has learned during swim class. They had such a wonderful time swimming together and Santa even made an appearance on deck to say hello to all the children with their families (please note that Santa did not go in the swimming pool, hehe).  Even though I was only a spectator, I couldn’t help feel the joyous spirit with the Christmas music playing in the background and watching all the families having so much fun. There was a holiday story corner where you can hear your favourite holiday story, a festive photo booth with props to capture your moment at the event and there was also a relay game where you need to help Santa deliver his gifts. All of these activities combined made it such an amazing event.

Not only did this event encompass all the fun from the holidays but it captured the spirit! Aqua-Tots Swim Schools showed the true spirit of the season by collecting non-perishable food items for the Mississauga Food Bank and they were also selling Ollie ornaments (Ollie is their official Otter mascot and the ornaments were created by one of the staff members – talk about talent!) which proceeds from the sale was benefiting Big Brothers Big Sisters Charity. The true spirit of the season is giving and that is exactly what Aqua-Tots Swim Schools was doing on this fine Saturday afternoon.

Of course we had to purchase one and we have proudly hung it on our tree at home.

Above all, we had an amazing time at this very special event. We enjoyed every piece of it and the best take away for us was doing it together as a family. As we left the event, my husband turned to me and said that this was the best afternoon! He got to spend some real quality time with Nikki and this is everything that he ever wanted. Hearing that made my day as it was so nice to see them bond as my husband works different shifts and sometimes long hours so quality time is hard to do. This event gave that opportunity and it was just so much fun!

Remember that if you are looking to enroll your child in a swimming school, Aqua-Tots Swim Schools would be a great choice as they offer these types of events that really bring the community together.

Also make sure to follow them on Facebook to see what’s new.

Until next…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga


 

 

Aqua-Tots Morning Weekday Classes Make It Extraordinary

Recently I shared an article about our experience with swim lessons and Aqua-Tots Swim Schools. After a great interest from many of my loyal readers, we have decided to bring more information on this great swimming school and more information on swimming in general.

Today’s piece is an introduction to their weekday morning classes which run Mondays through Thursdays every week from 9am to 12:30 pm (with the exception of Fridays). These weekday morning swim lessons are great for maternity leave moms and dads, and other caregivers who take care of babies through the mornings as well as busy preschoolers.

Here are some highlights of the morning swim lessons available at Aqua-Tots which make mornings extraordinary.

Level 1 and Level 2

  • Stage appropriate swim lessons starting at 4 months of age.
  • Baby swim lessons are divided into 2 parent and tot classes: Level 1 Tadpoles (4 months to 12 months) and Level 2 Minnows (13 months to 30 months).
  • Level 1 focuses on water adjustment and level 2 on creating boundaries in and around water for tots – both classes have an emphasis on water safety skills and build comfort in the water for babies but also help in instilling confidence in the caregivers and their ability to practice proper holds and other techniques that build a sense of security.
  • These classes are a great opportunity to bond with your baby.
  • It’s also a wonderful chance to meet and chat with other caregivers: there is complimentary coffee and a play area which can turn a swim lesson into a full morning experience.
  • We also have change tables and encourage moms to come with strollers and car seats and “park” their items where ever is most convenient for them inside the facility.
  • We understand that nap times and schedules change frequently in those early years, that’s why switching to a different morning class time is easy, and hassle free.

Level 3

  • In addition to the Level 1 and Level 2 classes that mainly take place throughout the weekday mornings, we also offer Level 3 – Leapfrogs classes on weekday mornings (2.5 and up) – This beginner class provides the foundation that helps children achieve comfort with basic swim skills.
  • It’s ideal for moms, dads and caregivers taking care of preschoolers looking for a weekday morning activities that promotes mental and physical stimulation.
  • This Level is the first time where young children go in the water independently with no caregiver, and have a chance to establish a trusting bond with a water safety instructor while a caregiver watches from the viewing gallery. This way you avoid the heat of the pool area but still get to watch your child’s progress during swim lessons.
  • For families with multiples, our flexibility weekday morning schedule allows for second -time parents to go in the water with their babies into a Level 1 or Level 2 class while their eldest preschooler goes in the water for a Level 3 class simultaneously. It’s a great way for the whole family to stay active and learn new skills.
  • We also have everything a parent or guardian of a young child would need for a morning swim lesson – swim diapers, cloth diapers, swim suits, goggles, and swim caps and a variety of snacks on sale for after swim class.

“We believe it’s more than just a swim lesson, it’s a morning experience.”

If you are interested in these swim lessons, give Aqua-Tots Swim Schools a call at 905-848-2782. Also make sure to follow them on Facebook to see what’s new.

Stay tuned for the next piece which is on turning tears into cheers!

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

–          Momma Braga

Learning Swim Skills Through Aqua-Tots Swim School

Every year we hear about children falling into pools or waters and drowning and it’s always tragic to hear. This is why we felt it was important to have our daughter learn to swim. Of course we will combine the swim lessons with water safety and what to do in case of an emergency.

Therefore, my sister-in-law was on the case to help me find a swim school that would be a great fit for our family and provide the program that would teach the skills that my daughter needed to know. After a lengthy research she found the Aqua-Tots Swim Schools.

The school was originally founded in Arizona in 1991 and has grown considerably over the years to have a strong North American and international presence thanks to its carefully crafted swimming program for children. Aqua-Tots Swim Schools Mississauga is the first Aqua-Tots location in Canada and has had its doors open to the Toronto West and Mississauga communities since January 2017.

With a focus on safety, a heated pool, a facility designed for families, and on-going progress reports across eight swim levels, Aqua-Tots Swim Schools introduces babies and children of all ages to safe swimming and water practices. Open six days a week, with flexible morning and afternoon lesson times, the swim schools offers a range of classes.

Aqua-Tots Swim School had a great history and structure and we loved their mission statement: “With more than 80 swim schools worldwide, Aqua-Tots was founded on the principle of equipping children with life-long water safety skills. Aqua-Tots Swim Schools is committed to helping children of all ages develop these life-saving skills through an engaging curriculum that is especially designed to complement each child’s life stage.”

Photo Credit: Aqua-Tots Simming School Mississauga

This is exactly the type of school that we were looking for and therefore, Nikki was registered in the Beginner program which is Level 3, LeapFrogs.

Aqua-Tots Swim Schools, teaches babies as young as 4 months old and children of all ages how to be safe in and around water and develop a love for swimming. Each of the eight levels has a focus that’s specific to the age and ability of the child. For example, the Level 1, Tadpoles class is for guardians and infants and focuses on water adjustment. Additionally, attention is on safety and breath control.

Level 2, Minnows, on the other hand, is still a guardian and toddler program, in which toddlers learn about the importance of boundaries in and around water with an ongoing focus on safety. Each new level develops at a comfortable pace for the child. Advanced levels, such as seven and eight have little ones working on the butterfly stroke and building endurance after they have mastered the other main strokes.

Photo Credit: Aqua-Tots Swimming School Mississauga

Our first swim lesson was scheduled on a Sunday afternoon and we made it a family affair. I have to be honest as that is the only way I know how to be but I was very nervous for many reasons. One reason was on how Nikki was going to react going with the instructor to the swimming pool without me and the second reason was on her safety. I think it is natural for us parents to feel like that especially with something new.

The time came and it was time for Nikki to start her class. The instructor called her name and took her hand and her progress sheet (I like to call it her report card) and off they went. To my surprise Nikki didn’t even turn back to say good-bye and I can feel the tears welt up in my eyes. I sat down to watch the class in session and she was a real pro looking like she was in her element. I couldn’t help feel really emotional and proud at the same time. The first swim class was a wrap and Nikki fell in love with swimming!

We started our swim classes in July and are still continuing once a week. We have changed the format of her swim classes from group to semi-private classes and even the day of the week that we wanted to have it on. So we love the flexibility that they have been able to offer for families. Nikki has improved her confidence in the water and has really picked up on the skills quickly. But we know with time, she will be swimming to her hearts content soon.

For this #MelandNikkiReview, we give Aqua-Tots Swim School 5 LeapFrogs out of 5. Here is why we love them:

  • Great programs that are tailored to toddlers and children to help them gain the skills needed to swim.
  • Flexible schedules available for families which is so great for working families.
  • Clean and safe environment. They are extremely clean and have safety in mind. As a parent, it is important to learn about your swim schools safety procedure.
  • Caring instructors and staff members who make you feel like part of the family.
  • It’s fun! Your child learns and has fun at the same time.

If you are looking for a swim class for your child then we suggest looking at Aqua-Tots Swim School. Enrolment is on-going, season-neutral and takes less than 5 minutes to complete. Visit Aqua-Tot’s website to read about the different levels of swimming lessons https://www.aqua-tots.com/swim-lessons/swim-levels/. If you are in the Mississauga area you can call the Aqua-Tots Swim School at 905-848-2782 which is located at 1970 Dundas Street East, Unit 6. Also make sure to follow them on Facebook to see what’s new. For Aqua-Tots main office, follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Special thank you to Natalia from Aqua-Tots Swimming School Mississauga for taking the time to contribute some background information to this article and to the staff at Aqua-Tots for making swimming so much fun for my daughter.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

*Please note that this not a paid or sponsored post. This article is an honest review of services that we have used and are currently using.

 

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

Creating Cake Masterpieces Until There Are no Krumbz Left

This month’s “Mom of the Month” is a wife and mother of two children who keep her on her toes every moment of every day. This mom comes from a long line of creative geniuses both in the artistic and culinary fields. So it was only natural for her to follow in her parents footsteps.

This mom incorporated her love for art and creativity into a delicious way to express herself in ways that make people happy. Everything she has learned about cake decorating has been self-taught through books and lots of trial and errors which have moulded her into the cake designer that she is today. Her work has not gone unnoticed as she has earned many cake decorating awards along the years and has been acknowledged by other professionals in her field.

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It is a pleasure to introduce Maria of Cake Krumbz as our Mom of the Month.

I had a chance to connect with Maria to learn more about her and her delicious company for this special feature.

1. What does your company do?

“My company specializes in custom cake designs for any occasion, from weddings to birthday cakes and everything in between.”
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2. When did you start your business?

“I started my business roughly about 19 years ago. My first taste of cake decorating was when I modelled a cake topper for my nephew’s first birthday, from that day on I was hooked and I haven’t looked back since.

My sister was a professionally trained cake decorator and needed my help from time to time. That turned into a business partnership between me, her and my mom who brought her many years of culinary experience into the mix. After many years, my mom retired and my sister went her separate way and I carried on with the business.”

3. How did you come up with the idea?

“Ideas for cakes could come from anywhere, it could be a colour, shape or even a certain fabric pattern, which makes ideas truly endless. My inspiration comes from talking to my clients and getting to know a bit about their personalities. I always like to incorporate a bit of “them” into each piece that I create. I think that is the key ingredient to taking an ordinary cake and turning it into something special and meaningful.”

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

“My business name came to me after my family had made a comment that every time I made a cake for a family gathering the one thing that was left were the crumbs! And that’s when the birth of Cake Krumbz happened.”

5. What do you hope each creation you make accomplishes?

“My creations not only allow me to be part of the good memories that my clients will have but also my cakes makes the occasion extra special for them, which makes what I do all worth it!”

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

“In 5 years, I wish to be teaching full-time. I would like to be able to teach fellow mommies who love to be creative for their kids but don’t quite know how to do it. I have taught fellow cake decorators before and I absolutely fell in love with it. I think being able to get people who really don’t have the experience and showing them what they are capable of doing with their hands and ideas, and seeing their faces light up when they see what they have created is an amazing feeling.”

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

“I am not going to lie, some days I rise very early and go to bed very late, sometimes I don’t even get to go to bed…..It’s not glamorous but it’s the only way to manage all that needs to be done in a day. Having a good schedule and good time management set up for both home and business is key not to go crazy, although most days things don’t ever go the way you plan but I always manage to get things done.

When I have a crazy week with orders, I am very thankful that my husband steps in and takes on a bit more to help me with meals and the kids. And sometimes he even helps me with my orders which is a bonus when you feel totally overwhelmed. Having a great partner is absolutely a bonus!”
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8. If people are interested in ordering from you, what is the process?

“If you have an idea that you would like to bring to life in cake form, you can simply contact me through email or Facebook. The process is fairly simple, I discuss what ideas the client might have such as design, colours, flavours and budget. Then moving forward to booking the order, a deposit is made to save your date and I handle the rest.”

You can follow Maria and all her amazing creations on social media.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cakekrumbz
Instagram: @cakekrumbzdesigns

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I have the pleasure to order from Maria and she is a pleasure to deal with from beginning to end. She truly does listen to everything that you want and offers creative designs to pick from to ensure that you stay on budget which I love! I highly recommend her for your special event sweet needs.

Maria is a talented, creative person who goes beyond to ensure that all her clients are happy with the masterpieces that she creates for their special event. She is an inspiring person who doesn’t forget that she is a great mom but also a woman with dreams.

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“When we become mothers we tend to make the mistake to always put others first, house, kids and husband. I did that for many, many years until both my kids were going to school full time. Then I finally decided that it was time to remember who I was and what I was passionate about before I had kids. Not only do I feel better about myself but I can see the difference in the way I design things for other people. For all of you mommies out there, it is possible to follow your passion and be a mom too. It takes a lot of sacrifices but at the end it is all worth it,” says Maria.

That is beautifully said Maria and thank you for your time! You are such an inspiration and I am thrilled to have you as our “Mom of the Month.”

Until next time…..Happy Parenting!

–          Momma Braga

Dad of the Month Adds Some Saucy Kytchen

Sometimes with the hustle and bustle of motherhood it is great to take a break from cooking. One of our family favourites to eat from is a local Italian sandwich restaurant called Saucy Kytchen. This place has amazing food and service but you wouldn’t expect anything less if you knew the owner, Kevin. This is why Kevin is our Momma Braga“Dad of the Month”.

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Saucy Kytchen is located at 730 Lakeshore Rd., East in Mississauga, Ontario. They have a variety of different food items available on their menu and one of our family favourites is the Steak and Egg Sandwich. Talk about delicious and a must try from their menu! They also have meatless options such as their eggplant sandwich which I have heard is the very best. I also can’t forget about the delicious mozzarella sticks! There is just so much to choose from their menu and it can delight just about any type of person.

In addition, Kevin just added a Junior menu which he calls, Junior Sammies, and this menu is now available! Love this idea and concept! Talk about including all in the family and standing out from the rest! But I am really not surprised that Kevin added this as he is always thinking of family and you really do feel like family when you go there.

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Saucy Kytchen started off as a dream for Kevin, and it became reality in February of 2012. Kevin and his wife had a strong passion for the culinary arts and a desire to bring great Italian food to the city of Mississauga. They spent months working with a professional chef from Italy to learn how to perfect the sauce. They knew by perfecting the sauce they could provide a product superior to their competitors.

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So, why the name Saucy Kytchen? Kevin stated that originally he wanted to call the restaurant, Carlos Sandwiches, after his father but than his wife came up with the name of Saucy Kytchen and it just clicked.

When people visit Saucy Kytchen, they can expect a welcoming environment with superb customer service. Saucy Kytchen brings a more modern cooking style, fresh ingredients and a passion in the preparation of their food which makes them stand out from the rest.

Could Saucy Kytchen get any better? Well, yes! They offer catering which is amazing! You can now 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 (905) 990-2495. You can also order Saucy Kytchen on Skip The Dishes (*area restrictions may apply for delivery).

When I asked Kevin where he would like to see Saucy Kytchen go in the next five years, he stated that he would love to expand and open a few more locations. In addition, he is currently working on perfecting his pizza recipe soon. We are extremely excited about the pizza as we already love it, so we can’t wait to taste the new recipe!

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And of course, Saucy Kytchen is on social media and please feel free to follow them. But I must warn you that your mouth will water with every picture posted!

Instagram: @saucykytchen
Twitter: https://twitter.com/saucykytchen
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/public/Saucy-Kytchen
Website: http://www.saucykytchen.com/

Kevin keeps very busy in ensuring that all his customers are always satisfied with their meals and he works hard at maintaining excellent customer service in the front lines. So how does he balance this and a family? Kevin stated that his goal every day is to leave work at 5pm to go home and spend as much time as he can with his 3 year old daughter and wife.

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And if life couldn’t get any busier for him, his wife is expecting baby #2 soon and we couldn’t be happier for this beautiful and loving family.

Kevin is our dad of the month as he is an inspiration! His motivation and drive to follow his dreams to open up a sandwich shop and to work hard in building it, is amazing! But what makes him more amazing is the fact that family always comes first and they are his everything!

Congratulations Kevin and keep up the amazing work!

Until next time……Happy Parenting!

– Mommy Braga