Tag: Toronto

Iconic Attraction Full of Knowledge, Science and Fun

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Kidspark 

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

Special Exhibition

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

TELUS Rain Forest

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

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

The Maple Leaf Forever Tree

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga


 

 

 

 

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

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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

Ever After Entertainment Adds Disney Magic!

“Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, and dreams are forever.” – Walt Disney

The best part about watching Disney movies is the magic that it brings through every story and character that they create. This magic can also be seen come to life when you visit the amusement parks all over the world. This is why many say that it’s an experience of a lifetime…

Just imagine being able to have this magic part of your special occasions such as your child’s birthday?!

Ever After Entertainment in Toronto is doing exactly that! They offer that magic and authenticity to your front door with princesses, fairy tale, superheroes and star war characters.

I had the honor of partnering up with Ever After Entertainment to see what they were all about and to get the first hand experience to share with all my loyal readers and fans.

This past weekend we celebrated my daughter, Nikki’s third birthday and we invited Princess Belle to join our festivities in which Ever After Entertainment made it happen for us. We were fortunate to have Belle available as we know that a Princess’ schedule can get hectic.

Princess Belle called before her arrival to let me know that she was almost at our home (I have to admit that I was extremely excited with the phone call). I got the 6 children (3 girls and 3 boys) ready to greet Princess Belle in our living room.

Princess Belle gracefully entered and all the children were in shock to see that Belle was really there. My daughter was so excited that she couldn’t stop smiling from ear to ear and said, “Princess Belle came to my party!” All the kids quickly gathered around to see what was in store for them. Belle started off with a get to know each other where she asked each one their name, age and who their favorite princess or superhero is. Each child disclosed with great delight all the information that Belle had requested (it was really cute to see!). Of course Nikki was excited to let Belle know that she was her favorite!

The next part was the enchanting singing performance and it was truly spectacular! Many of my guests couldn’t believe how beautiful Belle sung and some thought it was a recording as it was that good!

Special story time was the next activity where Princess Belle shares her story with all the party guests and it was captivating even for all the adults that were in attendance.

Then it was some interactive fun with dance freeze. It really got the children up and dancing. They all had a real blast and of course prizes were awarded at the end. But the magic didn’t end there as all the party guests got to either get a makeover or magical tattoos for those who wanted one. All our party guests wanted a magical makeover and they even got some Pixie Dust too! It was so great!

We then took the party outside for the signing of Happy Birthday which Nikki loved! Nikki even shouted out, “Come Belle. Come with me outside!” We all sang Happy Birthday and then the most special moment happened when Nikki was crowned and made into an honorary princess. I have to admit my eyes were teary as I saw my little princess filled with such joy with her very own tiara and certificate.

Then everyone had a chance to take a picture with Princess Belle before she had to return to her Princess duties. We even had a few adults at the party sneak in some photos and selfies before she left. Of course Momma Braga had to take a picture too as she has been my favorite princess since 1991 (the original release year of Beauty and the Beast).

“We believe in making dreams come true by inspiring the imagination of children, both young and young at heart.” – Ever After Entertainment

 

We all said good-bye to Princess Belle and every guest talked about how great the experience was. From the youngest at 3 to the youngest at heart at 65, it was enjoyed by all.

So what can I possibly say about this experience and what score does it get on the #MelandNikkiReview?

It was a superb and magical experience and we rate it a 5+++ stars out of 5! Highest rating to date on the #MelandNikkiReview and has made it onto the #MommaBragaRecommended list.

Ever After Entertainment provided us with superior service from start to finish. They offered us Disney magic that one would only think could come true in dreams. Princess Belle made my daughter the happiest girl in the world and as a parent that is the only thing I could ever ask for. The pure joy and entertainment she received tickled my heart pink! Not to mention the joy she provided to the older guests who were big fans of hers. She not only made the birthday girl’s wish come true but to many others too (like myself). The princess party program was perfect and kept the children highly entertained! If you have been to a kid’s party, you do notice that it can be a little hectic. But for that one hour it was organized and filled with admiration.

Ever After Entertainment offered so much more than a character to celebrate a special occasion. They offered an opportunity for the adults to feel like a kid again and to the children, that dreams can come true if you believe.

If you are looking for entertainment for your child’s party or even for special event like a bridal shower, look no further as Ever After Entertainment is the top choice. They offer different types of parties that you will need to check out such as the Princess PartyFairytale Party, Superhero Party, and Star Warrior Party. There are so many options and no matter which one you pick, it will not disappoint! Make sure to book in advance and you can check out their pricing here. You will need to tell me how you enjoyed your party as I would love to hear about it! I am already thinking about which one I want next year for Nikki’s birthday and maybe for my own. 😉

Special thank you to Stefanie and Princess Belle from Ever After Entertainment for allowing us to imagine, “Far off places, daring swordfights, magic spells, a prince in disguise.” – Belle

Make sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Google+ to see all the dreams they are fulfilling.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga


 

Malasada World Will Rock Your Taste Buds

Growing up in a Portuguese household it was a special treat when my mom would make us malasadas to eat. For those who may not know, a malasada is a Portuguese confection, made of egg-sized balls of yeast dough that are deep-fried in oil and coated with granulated sugar. It really is delicious and it is well known to be a delight that was created from the Azores and Madeira.

Therefore, when I heard about a place called Malasada World, I was extremely excited! How could I have not known that there was a place that specialized in malasadas and where exactly was this place???

Malasada World is located at 33 Ainslie St N in Cambridge (formerly known as Galt City). They are located in a perfect spot, downtown.

So this meant that Momma Braga had to take a road trip! I couldn’t try this place on my own so I had to bring my entourage (my family) with me.

We planned a Saturday outing to Cambridge which is about a 45 minute drive from where we live. We found a parking lot just a few minutes North from where Malasada World is located and it is free for the first two hours (not bad considering that when you park in downtown Toronto, it is never free). Even though we had a gloomy and rainy day, we were still all excited to try a malasada.

We arrived and were greeted by the friendly staff and we got to meet Steve, the face that runs Malasada World!

Steve outside of Malasada World.
Photo Credit: http://www.bassem.ca

My impression of Steve surpassed my expectations as he is a nice and humble person to meet. He has a great sense of humor and if you are at his shop and you don’t want your family to know, he will keep your secret! 😉 He is also the one at the back working really hard to delight your taste buds. You can say that he made a great first impression on all of us.

Now it was time for the true test…the taste test. Was the malasada going to pass the Momma Braga taste test? Will Malasada World make it on the #MelandNikkiReview?

Yes! Yes it did!

Since I have been known for my candid honesty on my blog, I have to say that the traditional malasada that I tried was much better than any other malasada that I have ever had before (sorry mom!). It was fluffy, light and had just the right amount of sugar. It was perfection! I don’t say that often but I can in this case. Everyone in my group loved it as much as I did and my group is one of the hardest critics to please, so bravo Malasada World!

So how did Malasada World begin and who exactly is Steve? I got the inside scoop to share with all of you!

Tell me a little about yourself.

“I am a first generation Portuguese Canadian, born in Cambridge Ontario. I am a 43 year old father of two wonderful young women. My family is from Santa Maria in the Azores, Portugal. I am a classic trained Chef with just over 20 years of experience in different segments of the food and hospitality business. Food and hospitality industry runs in the family.”

Photo Credit: http://www.bassem.ca

What inspired you to call your shop, Malasada World?

“I was thinking of a name that would really help make the brand/concept stand out and speak for itself. I narrowed it down to three names. Luso Donuts and Tia Maria’s Malasadas were the others. I even did a little survey on Facebook to see what my friends would pick. In the end, we picked Malasada World! It was the one that made the most sense after much thought.”

When did you start your business?

“I started the vision for this business concept many years ago! About 11 years ago, I told one of my colleagues it would be nice to just make donuts for the rest of my career. That was Chef Andrew Dymond at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The first time I made them for sale was about five years ago in Prince Edward County at a friend’s farm called, Vicki’s Veggies. Our shop in Cambridge has just recently celebrated its one year anniversary! We opened on Portugal Day in 2016.”

Tell me a little bit about what you serve.

“At the shop we offer everything the MALASADA has to offer! Different varieties including the Traditional Style I grew up with. We also make the Hawaiian style that are enjoyed today in bakeries all over Hawaii. We have developed our very own version of the Malasada with different toppings and refer to these as our “Signature Style.” Our most popular is called the DoughNATA. It is a hybrid of the famous Portuguese custard tart called a “Pastel de Nata” and our Malasada. It’s kind of both put together (minus the puff pastry)!

I have also taken the Malasada dough and developed a line of Baked Malasada Buns and Loaves. This Malasada bread is showcased and used in our daily sandwich menu. We are MALASADA WORLD!”

What do you hope your business accomplishes?

“I want Malasada World to be recognized for being the BEST Portuguese inspired fast casual specialty donut shop! I also hope to achieve international success with a location in Sao Miguel in the future.”

Where would you like to see your business in five years?

“I hope to grow the business and have additional locations in and around Southern Ontario. I am currently looking for the right investors to team up with.”

Anything new on the horizon for Malasada World that we can officially announce on Momma Braga?

“We are currently working on the business plan for a mobile unit for Malasada World. Either a food truck or trailer. We would then be able to serve our customers at private parties and corporate events!”

How important was it for you to bring a piece of your culture to share with the world?

“It was very important for me to somehow include my cultural background and family food experiences into my business model. I think that Portuguese cuisine in general is under represented and is not as familiar as other cuisine’s of the world to the general public. Portuguese cuisine is wonderful and I would like to showcase it more.”

Photo of Steve’s dad and mom who is expecting Steve. You can tell the family’s love of Malasadas!

Thank you so much Steve for the inside scoop and for allowing Momma Braga the opportunity to feature you!

For this #MelandNikkiReview we give Malasada World, a 5+ DoghNATAs out of 5! This is the first review over 5 and it is much deserved. Malasada World has made it on the #MommaBragaApproved and #Recommended lists. If you are looking for a taste of culture done at its finest then Malasada World is for you! Make sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and please note their posts may cause you to drool.

A Momma Braga tip is to order your malasadas in advance especially if you are travelling from afar as they do sell out fast! To avoid disappointment, feel free to call them at 519.267.7177 or email them at malasadaworld@gmail.com. Walk-ins are always welcomed but you will need to arrive early to taste some malasada goodness!

Once again thank you Malasada World and Cambridge for having us and I will be back!

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

*Please note that this is not a paid or sponsored post. Momma Braga did not receive any form of compensation in exchange for this review and all opinions in this post are my own honest opinions.

 

5 Tips For A Trip To The Zoo

By: Karen Silva
Twitter

The zoo is one of my favorite places to go! It’s an amazing feeling to see all the wild animals in person and not to mention that the zoo if full of interesting facts about these animals too. When I found out that my sister wanted to take my niece to the Toronto Zoo, I just had to tag along. However, I knew that going with a two and half year old you just can’t pick up and go, so we had to make sure we were well prepared for the trip.

Here are my top five MUST haves that you should bring with you when going to the zoo. However, if you have never been to the Toronto zoo I suggest you check out their website first.

Stroller or Wagon

We all know that the Toronto Zoo is full of all sorts of creatures, which means there is a lot of walking involved, so make sure you bring a stroller or wagon for your little one. They can get restless and tired throughout your visit and having one of these with you will not only make their visit more comfortable but will work great if they want to take a nap. It will also help you carry items you decide to bring or buy while you are there. Also be sure to check out the zoo train, in my opinion it is worth every penny and is great for younger children. It goes around the whole zoo leaving you at designated areas where you can see other animals. In case, you do go on a very hot day, this ride is very refreshing.

Food/Snacks and Water

The great thing about the Toronto Zoo is that they allow you to bring your own food and drinks as they have great picnic areas that you can eat at. Now it may seem easier to just bring a cooler with ice with you; however the reality is you won’t want to lug that around with you, and you have to remember that the zoo is a big place and requires a lot of walking. Bring simple things like sandwiches, snacks and water bottles. If you want to keep things cool keep a cooler in your car and make the trip back if you wanted or bring ice packs in a large lunch bag. Some great snacks for your little ones that’s easy to pack is Gold fish crackers, grapes, bananas, etc. There are also some great places at the Zoo that you can stop in to purchase food and drinks too.

Protective Gear

As we all know the sun can be quite dangerous when being over exposed, so it is important to put on the sunscreen before heading out and pack some to re-apply after lunch. Even on cloudy days the sun is still doing its job and often times the sun may peek out later that afternoon, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Also make sure that you are all wearing comfortable clothing such as running shoes, light colored and light material clothing; as well as a hat and sunglasses. Dressing appropriately will make your whole experience more enjoyable. Trust me, I made the mistake once wearing flip flops to the zoo because it was so hot but in the end my feet were killing me from all the walking because my feet weren’t properly supported.

Capturing the moment

You want to remember this day so make sure that you take lots of pictures, not just of the animals but of you and your family. As a family you can write a list of the animals you want to see and/or take pictures of and make it a goal to check off each one. Also be sure to check the zoo’s gift shop, they have great things in there that you can purchase as a souvenir.

 

Smooth Good-bye Transition

Sometimes kids are so exhausted with the whole experience and spending hours at the zoo that leaving shouldn’t be a problem. However, we do have to keep in mind that some children may not want to leave and will pout, kick and scream to stay. In case this happens, I will share with you some smooth transition ideas that will help you all go from the zoo to your cars without fighting tears.

If you are planning on visiting and purchasing something from the gift shop, be sure to save that for the very end. It will give your child something to look forward to and will keep them distracted with a new item all the way to the car. If you’re on a budget make sure to bring along one of your child’s favorite toys; however leave it in the car. It could be used as motivation to go back to the car. At the end of the day you know your child best so you can use the best tricks that you know will work for you in that situation.

I believe that the Toronto Zoo is a great trip to take with your children. It is not only very informative but an amazing experience for children to see these animals in person as appose to seeing them on the T.V.

 

About the Author

Karen Braga graduated from Sheridan College with an Early Childhood Education Diploma. She worked with children for about five years before expanding her skills in Administration. Karen is a loving Godmother/Auntie to one. Combined with her ECE background and passion for DIY projects and baking, she has recently become an expert writer for mom blogger, Momma Braga. Karen hopes by sharing her knowledge, tips and tricks, she can bring families together through her creative ideas.

The Condo Kids Have Arrived…Finally a Book For Modern Times

I have lived in a condo for the last eight years and was so excited to hear about a new book tailored around condo living, specifically on the adventures of The Condo Kids. Condo living has been a growing reality in today’s day with many families. Therefore, this book seems fitting with the times that we live in and I was thrilled to see it hit the book shelves.

The Condo Kids is written by Jackie Burns, a freelance writer and has been published in the Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, The Globe and Mail, Hamilton Spectator and on MSN.ca, AOL.ca, canoe.ca and Yahoo! The Condo Kids is illustrated by Ana Patankar, a published comics and children book artist with several of her works, caricatures, characters, mascots, cartoons and stylized illustrations circulating in the digital universe.

The Condo Kids: Adventures with Bob the Barbary Sheep is the first book in an early reader chapter book series aimed at kids aged 6-9. This meant that only Momma Braga read the story since Nikki is too young to really sit down for a long period of time to listen (toddler life). So I got to get some ‘me time’ which was nice to have and what it made it even better was to read this wonderful book.

The Condo Kids: Adventures with Bob the Barbary Sheep follows the adventures of brothers Noah and Michael, and all of their best friends in the building. In this first book, the Condo Kids keep a major secret from the nosy neighbours and scary superintendent. What could this big secret be? Well, after Noah tried to convenience his mom to get a pet, he took matters into his own hands and got a Barbary Sheep from the local zoo. This when the hilarious adventure begins as the Condo Kids try hiding Bob the Barbary Sheep from everyone in the building. You will need to read the rest to see what happens on their wild adventure and if they get caught. 😉

We give this book five sshheeppss out of five. The book literally had me giggling out loud. The imagination the Condo Kids is amazing and is reflected in the adventures that they have. This book provides the message that there is a sense of community in condo living as the Condo Kids have great friendships amongst each other. It shows that kids living in a condo can have just as much fun! According to the 2011 Census, one in eight households in Canada lived in a condo or apartment building. Therefore this book represents a growing population of children and it is so amazing to see!

So what inspired this book? Simple. Burns’ two young sons and their pals who live in a 47-storey Toronto condo and have made it into their own personal playground.

“In Canada’s urban centres, more and more families are choosing to raise their kids in condos, and in major international cities like New York or Hong Kong, it’s always been the norm,” says Burns. “These high-rise children, like my boys, are hungry for stories that speak to them.”

I recommend to check out The Condo Kids especially if you have children in the 6-9 age group and they don’t need to be living in a condo to appreciate the story. Not only this book entertaining for children to read but when you purchase this book, 10% of book profits go directly to support Earth Rangers. Earth Rangers is the kids’ conservation organization, dedicated to educating children and their families about biodiversity, inspiring them to adopt sustainable behaviors and empowering them to become directly involved in protecting animals and their habitats. Talk about wins all around!

Please feel free to visit Amazon or The Condo Kids website to purchase the book directly.

Looking forward to the next book in this series! You can follow The Condo Kids on social media to keep up-to-date on what’s going on (Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest).

Until next time…..Happy Parenting!

– Momma Braga
#MelandNikkiReview

Life with a Daughter with Type 1 Diabetes

*This article is not to be taken as medical advice or as an expert piece on Type 1 Diabetes. The purpose of this article is to provide a look into one family’s experience and journey with a daughter with Type 1 Diabetes.

Isabella is a 12 year old young lady who is very smart, energetic and enjoys music and Irish dancing. She also loves to socialize with friends and play with her dog. Isabella is also a Netflix junkie and binge watches shows constantly. She is a daughter and sister to a 20-year old sister named Cassandra and she is well loved by all!

You could say that she sounds like a typical young lady; however she is battling a lot more than a typical young person would and that is Type 1 Diabetes since the age of eight.

So what exactly is Type 1 Diabetes?

According to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Unlike type 2 diabetes, T1D is not linked to being overweight, lack of exercise or other lifestyle factors. It is not preventable and its causes is unknown.

People with T1D must take insulin via syringe or insulin pump in required doses in order to control glucose levels in their blood. This continuous glucose monitoring involves testing their blood sugar by pricking their finger(s) six or more times a day. Despite this constant attention, people with T1D still run the risk of dangerously high blood sugar levels, which can led to complications, or dangerously blood sugar levels, which can result in a coma.

Isabella’s Story

Before Isabella was officially diagnosed, she appeared to be looking more thin than usual and was sleeping a lot. Isabella was drinking a lot of fluids and getting up all night to use the bathroom. Isabella’s mom, Vicki, thought that her daughter could have a urinary tract infection and took her into the walk-in-clinic. Upon checking her urine, the doctor inquired if Isabella was diabetic as there was sugar in her urine. Vicki informed the doctor that Isabella was not diabetic; however the doctor insisted that this was the case since sugar was present in Isabella’s urine. To further check, the doctor did a finger poke to see what her blood sugar was at and it was 29. Now this is shockingly high as a healthy person would typically be in the 5s. The doctor sent Isabella and her mom directly to emergency and instructed Vicki on what to tell the hospital team.


At the hospital, the entire staff took to her bedside immediately and only moments later was given the diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes which they stated was an autoimmune disease. “I didn’t even know what that meant. I assumed there was one kind of diabetes and couldn’t understand how a healthy eight year old could get it,” says Vicki. They were then transferred to a more accommodating hospital where Isabella stayed for three days to monitor her and get her blood sugar under control. At the hospital they were introduced to a clinic team who trained Vicki and her husband on how to care for their daughter, Isabella. They taught them how to check blood sugar; how much food Isabella can eat and at what scheduled times to do so; to ensure Isabella would stay within her target numbers.

Isabella’s parents also learned about all the things that would affect blood sugar, what would make it go up or down, without their control. In addition, they learned about the illness, physical activity, nerves, excitement, weather conditions, hormones, etc.

Isabella’s Treatment

Isabella began on regular needle injections four times a day, using two different types of insulin. This form of treatment requires a strict carbohydrate count and time sensitive schedule.

A year later, Isabella started on an insulin pump. This has given the family much more flexibility with their scheduling. Isabella’s parents are responsible for the settings in the pump and making changes to them when Isabella is having a growth spurt, exercising or for just no reason at all sometimes. Isabella’s parents work alongside a wonderful team at their clinic who are always a phone call away to assist them.

Life with a Daughter with T1D

Life has changed drastically for Isabella and her family. Vicki states, “I have become a very different mother with Isabella than I was with my eldest daughter, Cassandra. I became a helicopter parent. She doesn’t have sleepovers, not even at her grandparents’ houses. It is too much to watch her blood sugar through the night if you aren’t used to it. I would worry that people wouldn’t know what to do.”

The family also needs to ensure that they carry supplies and food everywhere they go. When they plan a trip, it takes a lot of planning and much more effort than before. They are all now much more food conscious as different foods can affect Isabella’s blood sugar differently. The “gadgets” that Isabella uses has been one of the biggest life changing aspects for her. “She is embarrassed by the gadgets she wears. She wears both an insulin pump and a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM). They will make noises when her blood sugar is out of range and people will ask what the noises are for. However, the CGM has been a great tool for us as it has made management so much easier. I am able to see her blood sugar from anywhere in the world without having to be near her. This has helped us keep down on the finger pokes throughout the day and helps keep her blood sugar closer to the target,” says Vicki.

A Mother’s Wish

“I wish people understood that T1D is an autoimmune disease and there was nothing Isabella could have done differently to avoid getting it. There is such a stigma attached to the disease because it has the word diabetes in it. I also wish that people knew that an insulin pump has not solved all of our problems. It simply holds the cartridge of insulin for us instead of having to inject using needles and rids us of the eating schedule. We still have to program it, make setting changes regularly, match food to carbohydrate ratios, be conscious about physical activities, etc. I also wish people knew what a toll this disease takes on Isabella and on our family,” says Vicki.

Vicki further stated, “I haven’t slept longer than a 3-hour stretch in years because I wake up to check Isabella’s blood sugar every couple of hours for fear of her going too low or sitting too high. It consumes my mind both day and night. I am constantly watching numbers, recording readings, making changes, asking her questions about what she’s eaten or done. I wish people knew that this takes a tremendous toll on Isabella’s body, spirit and mind. Highs and lows through the night will have her feeling exhausted in the morning. High blood sugar will have her going to the washroom more, drinking more, and feeling cranky and emotional. Lows can be scary and she may need help but can’t find the words to ask for it because her brain will not allow her to. People think “she has an attitude,” when in fact, she in unaware and unable to control her emotions. This is a huge burden on a child and I don’t think all adults understand the toll it can take on a child.”

T1D is a hard battle for the child and parents to deal with and it is important for family and friends to be cautious of what is said in front of the child. Vicki’s wish is for people not to ask if Isabella can or should be eating something. “Isabella can eat whatever she wants! She just has to give herself insulin to cover it in the moment and possibly in the hours that follow. But she can eat anything! People feel this need to police what she eats, and I’m sure it makes her feel bad,” says Vicki.

Isabella got to meet Nick Jonas.

Advice to Other Parents

The advice that Vicki would give to other parents that receive this type of diagnosis for their child is that their understanding of the disease and how to “best manage” it will get better. “No parent or child is perfect and this disease cannot be perfected. Don’t beat yourself up over the numbers. Just try your best. I cried every day for the first month. Support from other parents is key. I have support groups online that at times can act as a life line. These parents created #WeAreNotWaiting, and are being proactive in helping their children with technology faster than the medical world. I have been using NightScout, which is a way to monitor Isabella’s blood sugar on my smart watch using her CGM for almost two years now. I am more grateful for this than words could ever express,” says Vicki.

Becoming an Advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

After Isabella’s diagnosis, the family reached out to JDRF and the family was encouraged to sign up for the walk so that Isabella could meet other children like herself and to see that they were not alone. The family raised money and have participated in the walk every year since. On the day of the walk, it becomes a very emotional day for the family but they need the day to remember that this disease affects so many families and a cure needs to be found.

“It’s important for me to try to give back and that is why I fundraise for JDRF. Their research is what is going to make my child’s life that much easier to manage, hopefully prolong it and maybe one day cure the disease. It is my hope that with every dollar I raise, we get one step closer to finding a cure,” stated Vicki.

This past February sponsors (logos listed at the bottom of the article) held a fundraising event called, Isabella’s Angels Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball that raised funds for JDRF. I personally attended this event and it was an amazing event for an even better cause. This is just a sample of how this family inspires others to make a difference.

I would like to personally thank Vicki for taking the time to share Isabella’s story and I commend her on the amazing job as a mother and as an inspiration to help other families.

If you would like to learn more about T1D, please visit the JDRF website.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

 

 

– Momma Braga

 

Isabella’s Angels Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball Sponsors: