Tag: Tips

Love | Book Review

Love comes in many different forms and their meaning is unique to each individual. That is the beauty about love as there are so many ways to express it.

Lovea children’s book expresses love in the simplest form to have children understand all its glory.

Synopsis

Love is the melody that follows us through each and every day of our lives. Whether it’s the sound of our lives. Whether it’s the sound of our parents’ voices lulling us to sleep, the joyful laughter of an uncle’s latest tall tale, or the warm embrace of a loved one telling us everything will be okay, it’s a feeling that takes countless forms and ultimately connects us all.

In this stirring celebration of love, Newbery Medal – winning author Matt de la Peña and bestselling illustrator Loren Long depict the many ways to experience this universal bond. With heartfelt illustrations and a soothing, lyrical text, this  tender tale is a needed comfort and a new classic that will resonate with readers of every age.

#MelAndNikkiReview

We loved the book Love! A beautiful children’s story that takes us on a heart journey. It beams with feelings and allows us to see the many different forms that love can be expressed in. Love can be as simple loving the surrounding that you are in. This book was articulately written and the illustrations are captivating. Within each illustration an expression of love is showcased such as providing food to someone homeless. The diversity illustrated in the book is also heartwarming to see as love is diverse.

We also love the added touch on the back where you can write your child’s name where it says: “This Love Belongs To.” Our daughter is practicing writing her name so we got her to write her name out as it made her feel extra special.

For this #MelAndNikkiReview, we give Love 5 hearts out of 5! We also recommend the book for children ages four to eight. An amazing read that reflects the love that is in a child’s daily life. Also a great reminder for all that we are surrounded by love every single day.

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

“I LOVE love!” – Nikki, Age 4

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

 

 

* The book was provided to Momma Braga in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed her solely belong to Momma Braga.

My Heart | Book Review

Books around love are easy to spot, especially this time of year with Valentine’s Day approaching. However, a perfect children’s book that empowers young readers to listen to the heart within are hard to come by.

We are delighted to introduce our readers to a book that does just that, My Heart written and illustrated by Corinna Luyken.

Synopsis

My heart is a window.

My heart is a slide.

My heart can be closed…

or opened up wide.

From the moments of great joy and exuberance to necessary times of quiet contemplation, your heart is your guide.

#MelAndNikkiReview

My Heart has captivated our hearts in the best way possible. The book is breathtaking with the illustrations and the story is told with such elegance.  We love the simplicity of the story and the impactful message that it carries. My Heart is all about caring for your own heart and living with kindness and empathy. A very important lesson that not only children need to learn but a reminder for us adults as well. I think that is what I love the best about this book as it is a lesson that I learned at a very young age. Now to be able to translate it into a book form that my 4-year-old daughter can understand tickles my heart pink. 🙂

We truly have loved reading this book and it is one that we have been reading on a daily basis since it has arrived in our home. At the end of the book, Nikki never fails to tell me exactly what she thinks of it.

“Mommy this book was so beautiful about our hearts. We need to take good care of it and make sure we use it right.” – Nikki, Age 4

A heartfelt book all about one’s heart would make a great Valentine’s Gift or any other time of the year for a little one. We highly recommend this book to everyone (Ages 4 and up). I think there is an important reminder and lesson in this book for all of us no matter our age. With lyrical text and breathtaking art by award-winning author-illustrator Corinna Luyken, My Heart empowers all readers to listen to the voice within in this ode to love and self-acceptance. This is why we give My Heart 6 hearts out of 5! 

“tiny can grow and broken can mend and a heart that is closed can still open again.” – Corinna Luyken

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

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

 

* The book was provided to Momma Braga in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed her solely belong to Momma Braga.

 

Brave Ballerina | Book Review

February is Black History Month and is a time where we celebrate the many achievements and contributions of Black Canadians and Americans.

This is why we are excited to share a book review that helps recognize the story of one inspirational woman. This children’s book is a lyrical picture book tribute to Janet Collins, the first African American principal dancer at the Metropolitan Opera House.

We are delighted to introduce you all to, Brave Ballerina written by Michelle Meadows and illustrated by Ebony Glenn.

Synopsis

Janet Collins was a graceful, talented girl. She wanted to be a ballerina in the 1930s and ’40s, a time when racial segregation was widespread in the United States. Janet pursued dance with a passion, seeking private lessons after being excluded from discriminatory dance schools. When she was accepted into the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo as a teenager on the condition that she paint her skin white for performances, Janet refused. She continued to go after her dreams, never compromising her values along the way.

From her early childhood lessons to the height of her success as the first African American prima ballerina in the Metropolitan Opera House, this is the story of a remarkable pioneer.

#MelAndNikkiReview

The narrative is inviting and will engage young readers in thoughtful reflection about overcoming challenges and inspire them to think “big” from an early age. The story flowed beautifully and was elegantly told. The illustrations are captivating which brought the story to life. It is a perfect children’s book to celebrate Black History Month with the story of Janet Collins. We truly enjoyed reading this book and it was a great conversation piece to have with my four-year-old daughter. I find that when we have inspiring stories like Brave Ballerina it enriches a child’s education and I am thrilled that we got to read it. 

I also really adored the author’s note at the back of the book where she goes more in-depth of Janet Collins story and what she loves about it. This added that little extra special touch to the book.

We give Brave Ballerina5 pirouettes out of 5! This book is recommended for children aged four to eight. To purchase your own copy, click here.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

 

* The book was provided to Momma Braga in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed her solely belong to Momma Braga.

 

If Animals Said I Love You | Book Review

Love is in the air with Valentine’s Day quickly approaching and we love it!

We are starting the Valentine’s Day celebration off with a book review on a children’s book called If Animals Said I Love YouIt is a board book edition; written by Ann Whitford Paul and illustrated by David Walker.

Synopsis

If animals said “I love you,” how would they say it? Gorilla would pound her chest, whale would sing, and cheetah would purr. The story takes us through the animal kingdom and how they each might express love.

It is the perfect and an adorable bedtime story for the youngest audience. It is also a great way to introduce them to expressing love.

#MelAndNikkiReview

We adored the book. We love the rhyming concept as it makes the reading extra fun for baby. The illustrations compliment the book beautifully and we loved take the journey through the animal kingdom. It really makes us appreciate the beautiful animals that are in our world.

It is a simple book which flowed easily throughout but we love the concept of love. Each animal expresses it differently which almost lets us know that within families we may express it differently too. We feel that this book is a great intro to babies on love and how different it can be for one another. We would recommend this book to add to your little one’s (Ages 0 to 3 years old) bedtime routine and collection. I know it sure put a smile on our face as we read the book together and Nikki’s favorite animal was the cheetah. 🙂

We give If Animals Said I Love You, 5 hugs out of 5!

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

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

 

* The book was provided to Momma Braga in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed her solely belong to Momma Braga.

 

 

5 Reasons Why Institut Montana Zugerberg Will Take Your Child Far

Institut Montana Zugerberg is a Swiss international day school and boarding school situated above the Zugerberg Mountain. It is one of the oldest boarding schools in Switzerland and has a longstanding history of offering academic excellence and shaping outstanding students. For instance, the CEO of Swatch, Nick Hayek, graduated from there as did John Kerry, former Senator and Secretary of State to the United States of America. But just why does Institut Montana Zugerberg bring up successful individuals? I have five reasons why:

Language Learning

From the first moment your child steps foot on campus, they will be immersed in a multi-lingual environment. Most students will learn to be fluent in German and English by the time they graduate and they might even pick up French or further develop their native language if it’s not one of the former three. Numerous studies have shown that learning a second language or more can boost brain power as your brain has to cope with complexity and problem-solving. Your memory improves. It enhances your ability to multi-task, make decisions and it improves your first language. As a result, people who know a second language or more are known to have higher cognitive skills and in the end, are provided with better career choices.

Personal Care

With a 4:1 student staff ratio, your child will get to know their teacher on a very personal level. The average class size holds 10 students meaning that every student is noticed so they cannot hide or get left behind. This also encourages them to take part in discussion and further express their opinions. Various reasearch show that smaller classes also correlate with higher grades and better performance on university entrance exams. In the end, the classes form a close-knit community where teachers can offer better mentoring and one-on-one sessions with their students to improve their weaknesses and enhance their strengths.

International Community

Institut Montana Zugerberg is home to 300 students who represent over 40 nationalities. This allows for students to gain new perspectives and ideas and witness cultures and traditions that they may not have experienced otherwise. It’s common practice that during holiday or summer breaks, these students go visit their roommates or friends which tends to be in a country other than their own and they get to experience the country as a local. This international experience helps shape them to be global-minded citizens who are open-minded, tolerant and respectful.

Academic Programs

There are four schools that offer a tailor-made program for each student. Students can study there from the age of 6-19; going from elementary school all the way until the end of high school. Younger students study a bilingual elementary school that includes plenty of physical fitness afternoon programs so that you learn a new language and hobby at an early age. In high school, students can choose to either study at a Swiss-styled high school which ensures direct entry into a top Swiss university or go to the International School which offers both the US High School Diploma or the IB Diploma, both of which will help take your child where they want to go in the future for both their university destination and ideal career.

Switzerland

The land of cheese and mountains is also one of the safest countries in the world! What more could you as for? And don’t get me started on the abundance of chocolate, it’s basically paradise.

If your child is between 10-15 years old and looking to get a taste of this school and experience an unforgettable summer, then be sure to sign them up here and mention Momma Braga for a discount.

*This article is in collaboration and is a sponsored post. 

Aqua-Tots Swim Schools in Burlington Takes Swimming Lessons To The Next Level

The roads were covered with snow and the temperature was below freezing on a Sunday morning. A snowstorm had just hit our city and usually this would mean a day indoors in our PJs. However, this Sunday it was going to be different – very different. We were going to brave the wintery weather conditions and take Nikki swimming at Aqua-Tots Swim School in Burlington.

Nikki sprung out of bed excited as she has been waiting to check out the new location for months. But with battling colds and a very busy holiday schedule it was not possible until now. Therefore, we were not going to let some winter weather stop us from checking it out.

We bundled up in our winter gear and slowly made our way to Burlington. The drive was nice as we got to see a different part of Burlington that we haven’t seen before. When we arrived at the Activity Plex where Aqua-Tots Swim School is located, we did not know what to expect since we have been away from the swimming scene for months.

First Impressions

They say first impressions are everything and they truly are. As soon as we opened the doors to Aqua-Tots Swim School, we fell in love with it. It felt like home.

We walked in and were quickly greeted by the friendly staff who gave us our first tour of the new facility. Many of our favourites such as the play area, comfy seating, and dressing rooms have carried into the new location. We loved the open space and great design. Of course we couldn’t expect anything else from the Aqua-Tots Swim Schools brand.

We were amazed by how stunning everything was. From the design, layout, colours to the friendly staff – it was Aqua-Tastic!

Family Friendly Top Priority

Of course, there is no denying that Aqua-Tots Swim Schools is family-orientated, focused and friendly. Every detail in the swim school has family in mind and that is evident with the baby protection seats in their changing rooms (let the koala seat sticker on the doors in the family change area be your guide). There are also cubbies and lockers available to place your items in while your child swims.

The layout is family friendly too with the entrance to the pool on one side of the change room and the exit being right in the change room area – brilliant!

Did I mention that the facilities are very clean?! Being a family friendly environment, cleanliness is important and they deliver exceptionally.

Swimming Class

Once we absorbed the facility it was time for swimming! Nikki was anxious and couldn’t wait to try the new pool. Since the swim program is the same throughout all Aqua-Tots schools, we knew the drill. 😉

The swim instructor called out the children’s names and took them in. They took a quick shower before entering the pool and the class began. It was amazing to see that Nikki didn’t miss a beat and it appeared that no time went missing as she completed each lesson with ease.

At the end of the class a very excited Nikki greeted us at the exit and instructor informed us of how it went. Nikki did well with only a few areas that need to be worked on but above all it was a great class.

#MelAndNikkiReview

The time has come to evaluate our overall experience and it shouldn’t come to a surprise that Aqua-Tots Swim Schools in Burlington surpassed our expectation.

The facility in itself is stunning and you can tell that a lot of time, designing and love went into creating it for families to enjoy. We love how family friendly the facility is and they didn’t miss a beat to ensure that the swim lessons are top notch for children.

There are many swim schools available but none offer the feeling of family and belonging. Nikki was so excited that the staff cared to remember her name and she felt like it was home to her. She was a bit nervous at first that this was a new location but when she felt like she belonged as soon as she walked through the doors, she knew it would be great. That is something that is hard to duplicate as you can’t clone a feeling that an establishment can give you. Aqua-Tots Swim Schools recognizes that and have ensured that this feeling is given to everyone who comes through their door.

Therefore, for this #MelAndNikkiReview, we give them 6 fins out of 5! Our first rating that has surpassed our system and it is much deserved.

Enrolment is ongoing and you can register anytime. If you would like to enroll your child with Aqua-Tots Swim School in Burlington, make sure to give them a call at (905) 331-3393 or email them at burlingtoninfo@aqua-tots.com.

Make sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates and great tips!

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

 

– Momma Braga

 


This article is a paid partnership with Aqua-Tots Swim Schools. Views and opinions expressed here belong to Momma Braga.

Hands Up! | Book Review

We love reading books that are so simple but with an impactful message. With Black History month quickly approaching (February), Hands Up! would make a great addition to your child’s reading line-up.

Synopsis

A young black girl lifts her baby hands up to greet the sun, reaches her hands up for a book on a high shelf, and raises her hands up in praise at a church service. She stretches her hands up high like a plane’s wings and whizzes down a hill so fast on her bike with her hands way up. As she grows, she lives through everyday moments of joy, love, and sadness. And when she gets older, she joins together with her family and her community in a protest march, where they life their hands up together in resistance and strength.

Beyond the Words

Many children books, there is a message or lesson learned in them. Hands Up! is no exception. This picture book wants to reclaim the phrase “hands up” in a more positive light for young black children. By using the phrase in positive everyday activities and life occasions, it lessens the negative use of it in media in connection with police violence.

Hands Up! is a way to start conversations with children on the negative use of the word and let them know there are positive uses for it. With the final spread in the story of the peaceful protest it shows a healthy way to engage with your community and make your voice heard.

#MelAndNikkiReview

We truly love books that try to do more than just tell a story and Hands Up! gives that opportunity to parents to do just that. We love how the book has this impactful message without having it right there in front of you. This gives the parent the option to discuss it if they choose to. The book reinforces positive images and it is an adorable read for a child. The illustrations in the book compliment the story well and we love the use of colors throughout the book. These illustrations brought the book to life in our perspective.

Therefore, for this #MelAndNikkiReview we give Hands Up! 5 hands up out of 5! We are delighted to announce that this book has just been released and is now available for purchasing. If you would like to purchase your very own, click here. Recommended for children ages four to eight.

About The Author & Illustrator

Breanna J. McDaniel is an author and children’s literature scholar. She holds an MA in children’s literature from Simmons College and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at Cambridge University, where her research focuses on representations of black children in contemporary picture books. She is originally from Atlanta and currently lives in the United Kingdom. This is her first book.

Shane W. Evans is the author and illustrator of more than thirty books for children, including Chocolate Me!, We March and Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom, which received the Coretta Scott King Illustration Award. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where he runs Dream Studio, a community art space.

*The book was provided in exchange for an honest review by Momma Braga. No other compensation was provided.

 

 

The Basics of Responsible Borrowing

The temptation to borrow money haunts everyone at some point. Sometimes it’s a good idea — necessary, even — but many times it isn’t. Before you take out that loan, you should ask yourself three questions.

Why are you borrowing?

Only borrow out of necessity. This is especially true when it comes to your decision to apply for an easy installment loan or take up credit card debt. These options should only be used for unexpected expenses, like car repairs and home repairs, or buying essential groceries between pay periods.

If you just want something, try to find other ways to finance the purchase. You could put it on layaway, sell some unwanted belongings, or simply save up. The temptation is there to get it now and pay for it later, but you need to understand that if you borrow, you will end up paying substantially more than what you would have originally because of interest.

Money lending is a business, and charging interest is the way that lenders make a profit. No one is going to give you a loan out of the goodness of their heart.

If you want a new house or car, then taking out a loan is usually the only way to do it. You should just make the decision carefully and make sure you can afford the payments.

What are the terms of the loan?

Do not decide to take out a loan based purely on verbal communication with a banker or lender. You must read the terms and conditions carefully.

Interest rates. These can be fixed or variable. That is, they can stay at a certain percentage until the loan is paid back, or they can be subject to adjustment.

Payment schedules. A loan may have a fixed period of time to pay it back. Longer terms usually mean higher interest rates. Credit cards usually have monthly payments.

Secured vs. unsecured. If a loan is secured, that means you have put something that you own — referred to as collateral — up against it. If you don’t pay back the loan, the lender can seize your property. Unsecured loans do not have collateral and make up for this by having higher interest rates.

How will you pay it back?

It’s important that you never get a loan you can’t make the payments on. You should also think about what your financial situation will be in the future. Are you worried that you might lose your job? Are there medical expenses coming up? If so, it might be better to put off borrowing until you are in a more stable position.

You should give yourself some wiggle room. Interest rates can, and do, rise. This means you could end up paying more each period than you initially agreed to.

Remember that late payments will hurt your credit score. A very bad credit score will make it hard to take out loans in the future. It can make it almost impossible to buy a house, a car, or get on a lease for an apartment.

How to Avoid Burdensome Debt

The real killer with debt is the interest. Hence, the best way to avoid being swallowed by debt (behind not borrowing at all) is to avoid interest by paying everything off as soon as possible.

For example, you can still use your credit card as long as you completely pay the balance off every month. In fact, this is a great way to build credit in the beginning.

For other types of loans, putting more money down, paying above the minimum payments, and choosing the best available loans will save you in the long run.

 

* Thanks to site supporters for this post.

Self-Care: How to Combat Parental Burnout

Written by: Claire Adams

Do you ever get tired of parenting? Do you ever feel like you simply can’t take it anymore? Most parents reach that point from time to time, that moment when all you want to do scream and run away somewhere where somebody will pamper you for a change. This doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. If anything, the fact that you’re trying so hard makes you a good one. However, you should consider your own mental health and how parental burnout can affect you and your family if you don’t do something about it. If your mind is in overload and you don’t know how to get through another day of being an exemplary parent, here is some advice for you.

It takes a village to raise a child

It takes a lot of effort, devotion and patience to raise a child, but nobody can have it all under control all of the time. So, try not to be offended or threatened when another parent steps up and offers their wisdom and experience to help you in some situation you could be handling better. Instead of jumping to the conclusion that they only want to undermine you and show they’re a better parent than you, consider the fact that they might have been in your shoes and in a situation identical to this one in the past. Maybe at that point somebody helped them, or maybe they just wished somebody did. In any case, try becoming friends with other parents. They might offer some good advice on things like helping your kid with school stuff or dealing with them when they act out. Talk to moms and dads at school or at the playground, organize playdates and dinners to create your own village and maybe make parenting a bit easier.

It’s OK to ask for help

When taking care of your children seems too much to handle and you need some time off, remember that you can always ask for help and that it’s not something you should be ashamed of or hide from. There are many people you can turn to. It could be your spouse, your parents, siblings, friends or neighbors or anybody else you trust. When you try doing everything on your own, of course you’ll feel like you’re on the brink of madness. And if you have nobody close to you to jump in, there’s always the option of paying for help. For example, there are some amazing catering companies out there which will impress even the most demanding guests, meaning that you don’t have to make all the food for your kid’s birthday party yourself. Also, if cleaning your home takes too much of your time and energy, find somebody who’ll come once or twice a week and get things sorted out for you. Just don’t shy away from reaching out when the going gets tough.

Lower your expectations

When the bar is raised too high up, you won’t be able to reach it no matter how hard you try, which can leave you feeling inadequate, frustrated and desperate. When you notice that this is happening, remember that you’re the one who decides where the bar is and lower it a bit. Don’t expect perfection from yourself, because there is no perfection when it comes to parenthood. A lot of times it comes down to trial and error, whether we like to admit it or not. What does this mean? Basically, it means it’s not the end of the world if let things go when they get too difficult. Nobody will judge you if your house is messy from time to time, if you let your kids watch Trolls on TV or if they skip their piano lesson or football practice once in a while. Adjust your expectations to something more realistic and you’ll relieve yourself of some stress momentarily.

Be more than just a parent

Once you become a parent, it can become hard to remember that you were ever anything other than that. Well, you were and you are. You’re a person with needs, desires and ambitions that have nothing to do with your children. Send your kids to kindergarten and find a part-time job if you don’t already have one. You can even start working online from home, or at least find a hobby you’ll enjoy. If nothing else, don’t forget to give yourself some time away from your family occasionally, to do things that make you feel happy and help you unwind. Under no circumstances should you think that this is selfish. It’s a way to preserve your mental and physical health, so that you can be a calmer and more supportive parent to your children in the long term.

Parental burnout is a real problem and one you should deal with as soon as you feel the need to. Consider this an important part of your self-care and a way to stay on top of your parental role.

 

Splash Into The New Year With Aqua-Tots Swim Schools

A New Year usually brings new goals and resolutions. We love setting goals for ourselves individually and as a family. It helps us stay focused and be better versions of ourselves (as best as we can be of course).

This year one of our goals is to continue swimming lessons for our daughter Nikki. We just love how it has equipped Nikki with confidence to become a safe swimmer, while having fun. We have to mention the reassurance it has provided to us as parents to know that Nikki will be ok in the water. This goal of ours is called “Splashy Fun” and Nikki loves it! Of course, we will be attending Aqua-Tots Swim Schools as they are truly the very best in the swim school industry.

Now with two locations in Ontario, Mississauga and a newly opened one in Burlington that we announced last Fall, you have some great options.

As a refresher, Aqua-Tots Swim Schools has almost 30 years of experience in teaching children life-long water safety skills. Their state-of-the-art heated pools are complimented by an engaging curriculum, which is especially designed to match each child’s life stage. Swim classes are offered to babies as young as four months old and all the way up to age 12.

The school also offers a unique opportunity for multiple siblings of various ages and swim abilities to take lessons within the same time frame. On-going progress reports are used to ensure that each child has the ability to learn and progress at a pace that is comfortable for each child.

Aqua-Tots Swim Schools is managed by parents; therefore, they understand the importance of a flexible schedule. This is why they offer perpetual enrolment, various plan options, a convenient make up class policy and great membership perks.

Bring a Friend on us

One of the perks that is happening this January at the Burlington location is the “Bring A Friend on Us.” It applies to all members who would like to bring a family member or friend with their baby, tot or school-age child to any class through the month. This is a fantastic way to get a friend or a family member to try out one swim class at no cost to them. Believe us, your friend will thank you later for introducing you to this great school.

Please note that to take advantage of this offer, the member would need to contact the school directly and in advance to ensure there is availability in the class in which they would like to participate in with their friend.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?!

We will be checking out the new Burlington location this month and we can’t wait to give you all our full review, including an exclusive Nikki video of her experience. You don’t want to miss it later this month!

If you would like to start your New Year right with swim lessons for your child, click here.

We are excited to make a splash at Burlington and keep our “Splashy Fun Goal.”

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

 

-Momma Braga

 

This article is a paid partnership with Aqua-Tots Swim Schools. Views and opinions expressed here belong to Momma Braga.