Tag: Travel Tips

How I Survived A Carousel Ride In Order To #MomWin

By: Grace Cross
Twitter

The body can betray you sometimes. I want to be a person who goes on the scariest roller coaster and then immediately jumps on the second scariest roller coaster and lives to tell about it. I am not scared of heights and I love the views! However, my body wants to court the garbage pail, sending me and my lunch contents into a never ending stream of yesterday’s food choices.  I throw up. I get a headache for over 24 hours. First world problem, absolutely! In an alternate universe, I ride the highest roller coasters for days.   But like most people when something makes them feel bad, I avoid it. That is, until I became a Mom.

My little one is brave and loves to try new things and experiences. Those experiences defy my stomach as this little human being likes things that are fast, high and fun. Let me climb the highest jungle gym. Let me spin until I fall with dizziness. Let me hang from this high tree. The world is this child’s oyster.

Luckily, when it comes to rides, my partner has the drive for everything fast and furious and loves to take our child on these adventures. However, that was all challenged with a girl’s day with one of my favorites, Momma Braga.

Momma Braga is that ride or die friend you have always wanted. She has a whole lot of life in her tiny frame but she shares in my nausea of rides. We like to do the same things and we click. Meeting a bestie in your 30s is something dreams are made of. Though our children get along like peas and carrots, I love hanging out with Momma B on my own accord as well.

When Momma Braga and her fun sister in law and little Nikki invited us to the Toronto Christmas Market, I knew it was going to be a fun time. The joy of Christmas is in Toronto, there are a lot of fun vendors and a Christmas tree that would knock your socks off. Also Campbell’s was doing a great donation drop off. It’s always great to give back to the community!

It smelled like Christmas, It felt like Christmas. It was cold (obviously, being Canada) but it’s not too cold. The warmth of so many bodies browsing amongst the vendors and the dodging visitors taking endless Christmas selfies can keep a body warm. But beyond a show stopping Christmas tree had our children’s destiny… a merry-go-round.

I remember being able to stomach it. I was five years old and I wanted the horse that looked like it would go the highest. I would hop on with my visiting cousins and we would pretend we were “racing”.

Be honest, the best times in your life are sometimes not the biggest moments in your life. A given best memory would be perhaps your child being born or if you chose to get married. But some memories are not just milestones or big events. Some of the best times in your life are on a beautiful centurion merry-go-round, ‘racing’ your cousins on a summer day.

I don’t know when I started getting sick on rides or how. But now it’s a time to call to action. It’s a girls evening in Toronto, my partner is not here to take my daughter on this spinney ride. It’s my turn. My little one is so excited to go on her first merry-go-round ride and her friend is equally thrilled. Plus, Momma Braga is getting on.

Her sister in law generously buys our tickets and dispenses the advice to just focus on one point, rather than letting your eyes follow the spin of the carousel. Okay, I can do this.

We get on this wobbly merry-go-round and the kids are already filled with dreams and requests on what horse to ride on. The lights are bright and Toronto looks beautiful. I bid adieu to the CN Tower that stands prominently in the Toronto skyline and I hear the horn go off. The ride is going to begin. The sound echoes the horrible horn like sound of the alien in War of The Worlds when the aliens are about to annihilate the human race. I smile at my metaphor. Momma Braga is a whole 8 inches shorter than I am and she is holding up little Nikki. We both look at each other and say our good-byes, as we both get sick on these things. And we start to spin. Then I focus. I focus on my child’s smile. I focus on the hair blowing in the wind. I focus on the joys of “racing” with her best friend right beside her. I focus on the “Oh Gosh’s” that Momma Braga is saying. She’s not sick. I am not sick. We are impending something that is not going to happen. I focus on how this was me, many moons ago, with the same innocence of life just beginning and not having any of the answers and not really having many questions either.

The horn blows again and Momma Braga, our kids and I wobble off. We did not throw up or have a terrible headache. What we do have is two very excited little people who are so proud to have gone on their first merry-go-round ride.  As I step off the merry- go round I take pride that I was not sick and that my little one had a good time. Then I realize, I had one of those “best small moments” of my life.

Sometimes, a #MomWin is conquering a small fear you have had. Sometimes our children challenge our comfort zones and teach us lessons that have magnitude. I remember my Mother in law telling me she had a fear of heights and my partner dragged her up one of those epic waterslides that have what looks like to be a 90 degree fall. Before she can convince him to rethink this, he slides down. Now she’s stuck. She has a seven year old at the bottom of this waterslide, alive yet alone. She could walk down the 14 flights of stairs or she can get to him quicker, by sliding down. But she’s scared. But her son is amongst hundreds of other people at a waterpark while she is stuck at the top of this really high and really scary waterslide. As I’ve mentioned, she has a fear of heights. However, her #MomWin overpowers her and she puts her arms over her chest and crosses her feet and slides down the scary waterslide! She ends up by her child’s side. She still has her fear of heights but her urge to protect her child outweighed her fear. In my humble opinion, she still has the fear but now realizes it’s manageable and it does not overcome her.

No matter if your challenges are big or small our children can be our biggest teachers, without even knowing it. Some of our life’s challenges can become our greatest memories, no matter how simple or profound they are. I got to get on a merry-go-round and the winter day melted into those summer memories of my childhood, racing with my cousins. Except, I was reliving that memory with my favorite person on the planet, my child. I got to experience it with one of my dearest friends and her daughter which is awesome.

And a simple day became a great day.

No matter how big or how small in my case a challenge is, a #MomWin is a #MomWin. How did you have a #MomWin #DadWin or #ParentWin? This goes for family members like aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends of children as well. Tell us about your experiences in the comment section below.

Now, after my overblown confidence of not getting sick over a simple ride, I may be able to tell my partner the next time my little one gets the urge to try a ride that I’ve got this after all!

The Toronto Christmas Market was voted one of the World’s 10 Best Holiday Markets by Fodor’s Travel and Top 10 Christmas Markets by Jetlegs. It is located at the Distillery Historic District in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is a not for profit organization that charges admissions only on weekends starting at 5pm on Fridays (it gets pretty busy!) and is open 7 days a week. It boasts dozens of vendors that sell Christmas wears, yummy treats and so much more! In 2017, it is currently celebrating its 8th year and we have to say it’s its best year yet! Be sure to go both during the day and at night when the lights are up. It is truly two different experiences! We can’t wait to go again next year!

Disclaimer: No Moms were harmed in the making of this article. An ego was bruised but no harm done 😉 

Advertisements

Baby Tripster Has Made Travelling With Baby Much Better

We have been very excited for this new and innovative product to hit the scene and we got to be the first to try it!


Baby Tripster is the world’s first leak-proof baby food travel kit made for any kind of travel. You can take your baby’s favorite soft food from home anywhere you go. It is made from BPA-free plastic, dishwasher safe, eco-friendly and reusable. The attached lid will never be lost or dropped on the ground as it’s attached to the container. It has a separate compartment to securely hold the spoon/fork which is convenient and ready to use.

We put the Baby Tripster through the Momma Braga test. Nikki’s favorite snack is chocolate pudding and it can get messy to transport when we are not home so we put it in the Baby Tripster. After a trip in my purse, we took it out and there was no leaks! It wasn’t messy and everything stayed where it needed to. Nikki opened the Baby Tripster and was excited with her spoon ready to use. She truly enjoyed her pudding without any mess.

For this #MelandNikkiReview we give the Baby Tripster 5 stars out of 5. It is convenient, compact, safe and easy to use. This product will be a great addition to any family’s travel plans whether it is on a getaway or to a park. The beauty of this product is that it doesn’t need to be only for babies as you can put some snacks for your children too. We are thrilled to have been given this opportunity to be the first to try a new product and we can’t wait until other parents try it for themselves as soon as they launch. Get ready world! 😉

Make sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to get updates on when they are launching. But make sure to subscribe in order to buy one when it’s ready!

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

– Momma Braga

20 Fun Things To Do In Hamilton, Ontario With Families!

By: Grace Cross, Editor of The Baby Spot

Twitter

Originally Posted Here

Just over a half an hour from Toronto, Ontario, lies Hamilton, a city that is flourishing so quickly it is not to be missed. After recent price hikes in the Toronto and greater Toronto market, we find Toronto city ex pats settling in Hamilton. A steel city from its past, Hamilton is in a flux of change of construction and rebuilding. Many chefs, artists and businesses are flourishing here and now Hamilton’s many secrets are being discovered.

Whether you are a local looking for something to do, to a tourist from outside of the city or abroad, Hamilton does not disappoint. The locals are incredibly friendly, proud and knowledgeable about their beautiful city, the architecture is beautiful and there are so many hidden gems in this city that one article will not do it justice. Here are the fun things to do in Hamilton.

Our list is everything we have found to do in Hamilton so far. There will always be more things to do as the city is changing. If something pops up, we will add to this list, but if you have discovered something great and we have missed it, please leave your ideas in the comment section below!

We have included things to see and do both for families and for parents who are looking for a child free time. Everyone can benefit from this list!

WATERFALLS

This is no secret to the locals but a big surprise to those visiting. Hamilton has over 100 waterfalls in the city that snake along the Bruce Trail into the Niagara Peninsula. Yes, each waterfall is breathtaking and a must see. From Albion Falls to the Devil’s Punch Bowl, this makes a perfect date or family hike! Bring a picnic or just hike to see the falls and go down the mountain to enjoy a nice lunch in the city. Whatever you choose, you will not be disappointed.

It is said that Hamilton is the waterfall capital of the world! This is a major attraction for both tourists and locals alike! Depending on the waterfall, the hiking trails range in difficulty. Not only will you see a breathtaking waterfall but also experience some of Southern Ontario’s beautiful nature walks on the famous Bruce Trail. Hamilton has so much natural beauty and now you and your family can spend days exploring all of its scenic waterfalls!

DUNDURN CASTLE

This castle is breathtaking and overlooks the bay! Whether you want a historical adventure inside this beautiful castle or to walk its grounds with your family, you will not be disappointed, no matter what time of year it is! We recommend seeing Dundurn Castle during every season because it is so beautiful.

This Italian style villa was built in the 1830s, learn more about the family who lived on the upstairs and servants who lived below. The Duchess of Cornwall is the museum’s Patron and also, the great, great, great granddaughter of Sir Allan MacNab, the former home owner.

If you come on a Saturday afternoon in the summer, you will most likely see many wedding photos taking place in and around this beautiful castle. We love going in the morning or in the evening for a nice stroll.

The tours are not to be missed! Regular tours are there to show visitors the grounds. Learn a piece of local and Canadian history! Dundurn Castle is either a perfect family day or a day date with your hubby.

BAYFRONT PARK

A great family outing! Bayfront Park is to be explored. Right in the heart of the city lies a beautiful park that is easy to walk (bring the little ones who have just started to walk or the elderly) the trails are easy to navigate and the paved walkways are wonderful for walking or bike riding. Find a quiet spot and teach your little one to ride their bike or bring a picnic lunch and find the beautiful gazebo by the bay. Did you find it?

A great spot for family photos, Bayfront Park is not to be missed. Parking is free! What a find considering this is a big city.

HMCS Haida National Historic Site

History buffs and attraction lovers alike, this is your place! The HMCS Haida National Historic Site is located at 658 Catharine Street North, Pier 9, right by the Lakeshore. This WW2 Tribal Class destroyer is now not only a memorial of the war but a floating museum! You can choose a tour or a self-guided tour, which comes with a booklet to show you everything that you will need. The self-guided tour is very easy to follow and is good for families who have children who may want to go a little slower or faster.

Are you a war buff? Interested in something different to see? Check out this HMCS Haida, it is a historical treasure, resting in front of the city.

GAGE PARK

On Gage Avenue South and Main Street East lies beautiful park lands. This is a fine example of what a city park should look like. This 10th century era park is a gem for generations to enjoy. It has a splash pad for the children in the summer, a beautiful rose garden and a Children’s Museum located on site. The fountains around the park are gorgeous. Absolutely stunning and make for great family photos.

Gage Park is beautiful for a date night walk or a great place to go for a family bike ride or walk. There is so much to see and do this place is not to be missed.

CANADIAN WARPLANE HERITAGE MUSEUM

It’s time to go up the mountain now to the Canadian Warplane and Heritage Museum. Located next to Hamilton airport, this museum is not to be missed! From heritage planes that our Canadian WW2 vets rode in to a flight simulator (we crashed accidentally into the city of Hamilton, we are not meant to be pilots) this is an adventure for the whole family!

Some of the guides are people who lived through World War 2 and sometimes share personal accounts of what it was like. All of the staff are extremely knowledgeable. For an extra fee, you can be a passenger and fly in some of these amazing planes!

Children and adults alike can climb into some of the planes to see what it was like flying these across Europe. There are so many things to look at and so much to be proud of. We took our one year old here and she had a blast! She was amazed at the planes and felt like such a big girl when she climbed into a cock pit. This is truly a great place for the whole family. Go early to avoid the crowds and enjoy! Upper James is just a short drive away for lunch.

THE JAMES STREET NORTH ART CRAWL

It is up to us as parents to inspire our children. The James Street North Art Crawl is the place to do it! We love Hamilton as it is big city with a small town feel.

Every second Friday of each month between King William and Barton Street is the art crawl. All of the galleries in the area open the same night and stores stay open from 7-11pm.

Go in and out of galleries and events and see what is inspiring Hamilton. This is a very relaxed event and you can go with your children or friends to enjoy this amazing night on the town!

WEIR’S LAVENDER AND APIARY

We love this place. Lavender fields in Hamilton! Located in Dundas Ontario (one of the towns that joined Hamilton years ago) is Weird Lavender and Apiary. Take beautiful photos in the lavender fields or speak to the family about beekeeping. Don’t be afraid, these are the friendliest bees we have ever encountered. Walk away knowledgeable about the bee industry and which bees you may encounter that were brought here from Europe.

Learn how we should try to plan indigenous plants to Southern Ontario to keep these mild mannered bees a live.

Weir’s Lavender and Apiary has both French and English lavender which means you have the edible more subtle lavender (English) and the stronger lavender (French). Have your children play in the striking purple lavender fields, take photos and enjoy.

There is also a great gift shop full of keepsakes for the whole family!

VALENS LAKE SKATING TRAIL

We want to include things you can do in Hamilton all year around and just because the winter months are long in Canada does not mean you should not visit and stay inside!

Valens Lake Skating Trail is something out of a dream. Walk, or, ahem, skate through the woods. There is nothing more Canadian than lacing up your skates, the smell of pine and the crisp cold snowy air.

Be surrounded in pine and spruce trees as this old camp ground road is recreated into a 425 meter skating path at Waterdown Rotary Memorial Park.

It’s a great place for the family to skate, to suggest for a photo opportunity (think engagements or engagement photos for family members) and more!

ART GALLERY OF HAMILTON

We are obsessed with the Art Gallery of Hamilton. The second floor is free for all to see with some famous Canadian paintings. There is also a structure of a mini mega city surrounding a car that will make the children fall in love with museums! This is a great place to educate the whole family on paintings, sculpture and more!

The whole museum is free on Fridays and they have so many classes for children. We love the café and their gift shop is not to be missed. From fun little artifacts to buying paintings, this is a fun way to get something for yourself or your family that you will always remember. Go to this museum regularly as you will always learn something new, or better yet, become a member.

THE LAKEFRONT

The Lakefront is a popular destination for Hamiltonians and visitors alike! Connected with Burlington’s Lake front, park at Spenser Park in Burlington and walk, ride or roller blade down the beautiful lakefront trail. If you feel a little hungry, stop off at Hutch’s, a famous restaurant in Hamilton that has been there for decades. Go inside and see the amazing 50s diner that is so popular and grab some comfort food to go. Stay inside and eat with a beautiful Lakefront view or continue on your adventure and see how far you can go on the trail!

WILD WATERWORKS

Need to cool off from a hot day in the city? Wild Waterworks is a perfect way to have a great day with your whole family! From the wave pool to the little squirt works for the kids, your whole family will be busy all day long! Make it easier on everyone by booking a cabana and head to the Easy River for some coveted rest and relaxation.

If you’re looking for a discount, simply go after 4pm and enjoy the park at a cheaper rate. For all others, go early so you can have the whole day to get your slide on!

TALL SHIPS

The tall ships are a sight to be seen for the whole family! These majestic ships are at Pier 8, where the 11 vessels follow each other before they dock. They offer free deck tours and harbour cruises, live music on the dock and more. Your children will admire the beautiful ships as they grace the bay.

WHITE HERN HISTORIC HOUSE AND GARDEN

What a hidden gem right downtown! The White Hern House and Garden is filled with all of the original things from the families that lived in their house. If you frequent historic house, you know that this is not always the case. The staff is amazing and they know how to make this tour even more fun!

Hear about some tales and folklore about the locals or admire the fascinating objects of how people once lived in Hamilton. How did this property stay in the hands of the same family for more than a hundred years? You are just going to have to visit!

VALENS CONSERVATION AREA

Going up to Flambourough is an amazing day trip for the family or with friends. Valens Lake has a great camping ground with 225 campsites and 125 of those states have electrical and water hook ups! Spend the night in nature and enjoy without driving for hours from the city!

Check out the beautiful Lookout Tower, Valens Lake and the Fishing Bridge or spend the day at Valens Lake Beach!

DUNDAS VALLEY CONSERVATION AREA

The views, the hiking, the trail center! From winter to summer, this is a place you want to visit again and gain. Check out the lush Carolinian forests, the beautiful meadows or be brave and dip your feet into one of their cold streams. There are so many rare plants to see! Go bird watching, hike as long as you like or go for fantastic photo opportunities. Whatever drives you, you will love the 40 kilometer trail system. A word of the wise, if bringing your precious pooches, keep them on a leash!

You can walk, ride, horseback ride, and ski in the winter! This trail has something for everyone.

HAMILTON FARMERS MARKET

Since 1837 Hamilton’s Farmers Market has been a source for Hamiltonians and their visitors to get their fresh produce and more! With over 60 vendors to check out, you can get local, national and international foods for both you and your family to enjoy!

There are also flowers and other goodies and presents you can pick up. Go in for a bite to eat or stay and roam the vendors for hours. The choice is yours!

DYMETS FARM

Head up to Dundas to enjoy this family farm! From their famous pumpkin patch in the fall to a great market place, pretend this farm is yours for the day as you explore its many facets. You can even have Dymet’s Farm host a birthday party there! This is a must visit place for locals and visitors alike!

ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDENS

Though headquartered in Burlington, many of its gardens and sites sprawl into Hamilton. From Jazz and Blues Wednesdays to its fascinating gardens and trails, this is the perfect place to spend with your children or on your own! Visitors come from all over the world to walk through the Royal Botanical Gardens and you should not be a stranger.

There are endless things to do for children that you can make multiple visits and attend one of their many events and just scratch the surface of the Royal Botanical Gardens. It’s best to get a membership so you and your family can visit and revisit all year!

BATTLEFIELD HOUSE MUSEUM AND PARK

It’s time to dive into a piece of Canadian history as we head to Stoney Creek for this one. The Battlefield House Museum and Park has a stunning monument as its crown jewel. Children will marvel at its size and this is a great time to educate them on Canadian history. The park and gardens are stunning as well.

The Battle of Stoney Creek took place in 1812 and there are battle re-enactments which is a sight to see! Bring the whole family and watch as you slip through time and watch the Battle of Stoney Creek. This somber moment makes us feel like a part of history and gives your children a new perspective on what happened so many years ago.

The museum is fantastic, with staff dressed for the period time and are full of fascinating information. Your children will get to step into past for a few hours and have experiences that they will never forget!

What makes Hamilton great is that it has endless spots for date days and for the whole family. Hamilton has hidden gems, its staple spots and new must see places every month! We will continue to update this list so that you get the most out of visiting Hamilton, Ontario Canada!

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. 

A Golden Adventure

Imagine packing up and going on a travel adventure from Canada to Central America and back in a motorhome for six months with your family. Sounds like an impossible dream?

Well, it is a true reality for The Golden Family. The Baby Spot first featured this cool family to their global audience back in July to tell their amazing story. After reading their story and the Golden Family being big fans of Momma Braga, we just had to collaborate and get more details on their great adventure for all of you.

1. Tell me a little about your family.

B and I have been married for six amazing years. We were married on a beach in Hawaii where my mom’s ashes are spread. Hawaii is a spot we will always hold close to our hearts for many reasons. We have a five year old daughter, ‘Anela. ‘Anela means Angel in Hawaiian and she is named in memory of my mom. ‘Anela is so keen to learn, help and have fun. She loves swimming, gymnastics, dancing, and expressing herself through music and singing. She definitely takes after her dad, B in the artsy aspect.

B plays guitar, drums and writes his own music. This is something that has been slightly neglected since having kids, so we are excited to take a guitar, an ukulele, shakers and a tambourine on the road to play music as a family. B is a full time paramedic and is kept busy in different locations. He is so passionate about his work and helping others.

Our son, Felix, will be three in October as we commence our trip. He is a busy, fun loving little boy. He loves all things airplanes and helicopters! He also enjoys swimming, gymnastics and banging on the drums. He loves climbing and exploring and runs everywhere he goes.

I, too, am passionate about my job as an RN in Emergency, but my greatest joy is being a mom and wife. I love to travel both nationally and internationally. We often fill free days with stay-cations by going to the beach, on rides, to the water park, or meeting up with friends for a play and visit. Our family time is the most important thing to us!

What is your adventure plan?

Our adventure plan…well it’s to have the time of our lives, teach our kids, and see Mexico and Central America! We are driving from Edmonton, Alberta (Canada) to Costa Rica and back. We bought a 23-foot motorhome that is perfect for our family. The beds are always set up, and we have a bathroom and even a fridge in our small kitchenette.

On September 30, 2017 we will leave Edmonton and start our trek south. The first big stop in the United States is Billings, Montana where we will celebrate Felix’s third birthday. From there we’ll continue southbound to Six Flags over Texas in Arlington for some fun before crossing into Mexico. The kids and I just love all things rides so we thought we’d have a fun day after 3200 kilometers of driving through the USA. B will put up with vertigo from the rides to share in our fun.

Halloween should find us deep into Mexico for “El Dia de los Muertos” national festival. Throughout our travels we plan to scour Mayan ruins, study Spanish and surf. We’ll seek out hot springs, waterfalls, pristine beaches for snorkeling and the occasional scuba dive. There are also many volcanoes and lakes to hike and explore. We are taking our mountain bikes with both a bike trailer and bike seats for kids, which will allow us to cover more ground than walking or driving.

What inspired you to take on this adventure?

We have always talked about taking the kids on a long trip. I thought it would be a backpacking trip (which is how this plan started), but it quickly transformed into a driving adventure. This way we can maximize what we see. We will be able to interact more with the locals and learn the language and culture.

Going back a year, though, we were house shopping in order to move closer to our work. At the time I was driving 1 hour 20 min to get to work and B was driving 1 hour. This seemed like so much wasted time and we wanted to maximize our family time. Therefore, moving closer to work seemed like a reasonable option. The only problem was the inspection for the two houses we loved uncovered big red flags. We walked away from buying either of them.

Once we had put the offer in on the second house, however, we had already found renters for our house in Red Deer. We were essentially homeless with two kids. Yes, we did still own the house in Red Deer but it didn’t seem right to cancel to our renters when they had already given notice to their landlords. As always, we made a new plan A. We decided to rent a house that is only a one minute drive from my work! And because we were now renting, and our house was rented out, we figured there is no better time than the present to go on the trip of a lifetime!

What started out as a South America backpacking trip for two to three months has transpired to be an overlanding trip to Central America and back for six months. We have always known we were going to road school our children in order to show them the world. And this is the perfect opportunity to do so as ‘Anela starts kindergarten this year!

When does your adventure start and when are you anticipating it to complete?

We leave on September 30th, which is rapidly approaching! We depart Edmonton, Alberta and are taking six months to complete a round trip to Costa Rica. We will not be venturing into Panama this go around. In order to travel from Panama back into countries such as Nicaragua and Guatemala, you must have proof of Yellow Fever vaccination. We opted out because it’s a higher risk vaccine, and we wouldn’t be far enough south to be exposed. We’ll save Panama for another time.

How do you think your children will adapt to this great adventure?

‘Anela, now five, has been travelling since she was three weeks old. She did her first trip into the USA at only four weeks. She has been to Hawaii three times, Costa Rica five times, Vancouver Island and Manitoba countless times.

Felix has also been travelling since quite young. Because he had some health issues needing surgery at three months old, we did not travel farther than Manitoba until he was over one year. He has now been to Costa Rica four times.

Our kids are amazing travelers. They love the adventures and getting to be with mom and dad. Of course they get sick of the car seats after a few hours, but we always stop at a playground, spray park, or beach and make meals while they can play and be kids! I anticipate them being great overlanding travelers and will definitely update you as our trip progresses. We have never spent six months in a motorhome before, so this will be a new learning experience for us all.

What do you hope your children and yourselves are going to learn from your adventure?

We hope our children will learn more than they would by sitting at home in a conventional classroom. We will be learning language. ‘Anela was already in Spanish immersion preschool and has progressively learned more each trip to Costa Rica. She now teaches Felix and us words in Spanish. B and I have studied the language, so we are aiming to be fluent by the end of our trip.

We are going to learn about the people of each country we travel through, including Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Belize. Each of these Latin American countries have their own traditions, festivities and cultures. Needless to say, we will be learning from the locals, and from the tourist attractions.

For Kindergarten, the kids will use money to learn about math. This will also allow them to practice their Spanish! We will teach them how to be street smart, and the dangers of wildlife, insects and spiders. B and I lived in Australia before having kids, ad so spiders and the like are not a foreign idea of something to watch out for. Overall, we want our kids (and us) to be wordly, compassionate and empathetic humans. We want them to understand how people can be happy with very little, and to be thankful for all that we have in our lives.

What advice can you give to other parents who may want to embark on a similar adventure?

This type of trip is a big deal, yes! But…it is absolutely doable if you are interested. My big tip is RESEARCH!!! We have never done so much research on a trip before. This is a whole new kind of traveling. We have bought books on overland travel to learn about vehicle preparation, border crossings and questionable situations. We have travel and camping books that cover each country at various depths. We even have a book written by a middle aged couple who traveled “99 days to Panama.” The research has actually put our minds at ease. Before starting preparation for this trip, I was super nervous about our safety. Now, I still have my moments of being nervous, but overall feel confident that we are well prepared to start our journey!

People don’t give their kids enough credit. Kids are great little beings that will go along with mom and dad on most adventures quite happily if you frame it the right way. ‘Anela has moments when she says she doesn’t want to go, mostly because she will miss her friends and family. But, we tell her we can ‘Facetime’ whenever she needs to see a familiar face. Grandparents we meet while traveling miss their grandchildren. This works well for both parties. This is also the first trip she will bring her favorite blanket and stuffie, and that’s so exciting for her. We have saved a bunch of new books and toys that can sporadically be pulled out for entertainment if the kids are feeling a bit homesick. Because let’s be honest, it’s going to happen. Those are the times we will distract them with exciting tours or a new book or game.

For anyone who is considering a trip, you are always welcome to contact us for more information, tips and tricks, and books that we found helpful!

How do you prepare yourself as parents on this journey?

As parents, we are “go with the flow” kind of people. Our kids have adopted this mentality and are flourishing and developing absolutely “normally.” We have our few routines we stick to, no matter what time it is and where we are. We will maintain our bedtime routine, whether it is in our motorhome, a hotel, a hostel or someone’s house. That way it is still their normal and is comfortable for them.

Aside from keeping some normalcy with our routine, safety has been our biggest concern. This comes back to doing research and being prepared. I am not sure it is possible to be 100% prepared because there is uncertainty with traveling. But that goes for life as well, doesn’t it? We have never lived in a motorhome for six months…all of us in less than 200 sq feet! There will be bumps along the road, for sure. But with these we will be able to inform future travelers of some hiccups that could possibly be avoided.

There are so many things to think about, plan and research. But if your dreams involve traveling, we say go for it!

Now that is a “Golden Adventure” to say the least and it sounds like the Golden Family is ready to embrace it like a family. What I personally find inspiring by the Golden Family’s story is the time they are going to spend with one another and how they are teaching such valuable lessons to their children along the way that most of us forget in this hectic world; being a compassionate and empathetic human being.

Another lesson that lifted my heart hearing is how the Golden Family want their children to understand how people can be happy with very little, and to be thankful for all that one has in their lives and I think this lesson is priceless.

I truly admire this family on the adventure that they are embarking on and I wish them safe travels. Special thank  you to The Golden Family for their time and for being fans!

Looking forward to possibly collaborating some more with The Golden Family and share tips and stories from their BIG adventure.

To follow the Golden Family on their journey, check them out on The Golden Life, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga


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.

Why Novotel Toronto Centre is Great for Families

“Family Friendly Service at its best.”

*Please note that this is not a sponsored post and there were no discounts or special treatment in exchange for this review. This is an honest review on our stay and experience.

We are not ones to travel much or stay in places that we don’t call home but recently we had a family trip to enjoy three events in downtown Toronto. To make it easier for us to access the events at a more convenient way, we decided to book a hotel close to the facility to make the travel with a toddler a little less stressful.

We booked our 2-night stay with Novotel Toronto Centre which is located at 45 The Esplanade which is in the heart of the St. Lawrence neighbourhood. The neighbourhood itself is very intriguing as it gives you an elegant old city feeling. Almost like an intimate community in itself.

As you enter the beautiful hotel you can’t help but notice the beautiful seating area right away and then on the left side you are greeted by a friendly staff member who is ready to serve you if they are not already helping another guest.

15211753_1092261790871615_1837435170_n

We were checked in quickly and were given all the information we needed in order to get settled in. There is sheltered parking available at the hotel and it costs $29.50 (CDN) per night. This could be considered expensive parking; however, we had in and out privileges and when you see parking options available in the downtown core, this price range is the norm. On our last day at the hotel, our check out time was 12PM noon but we were able to leave our car in the parking lot until midnight that same day which worked perfect for us since our last event was that day.

We had a double room with a linking door between them. They were clean, spacious and included two queen size beds (very comfy!) in each room. Our bathrooms were also clean and we were thrilled to see a bathtub available for our toddler’s bath time. We had requested a fridge for our room as we needed it for our daughter’s Lactose Free milk and we did get one. But all rooms have a cooler where items are kept cool for you. There is also a safe available in each room which was easy to use.

15209100_1092261787538282_725295719_n

The staff was friendly from start to finish and they ensured that we had everything that we needed. We felt it was a very family friendly hotel and they even gave my daughter the choice of a stuffed toy keychain which she picked an adorable sheep! What a nice touch and it made my daughter so happy, especially since I always tell her “no toys.” This was an exception.

15175625_1092261807538280_754296282_n

Novotel also has Café Nicole & Lounge Bar which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The bonus for families is that children under the age of 16 are free (limit of 2 children per family). We did have breakfast one morning there and we enjoyed every bite!

15135698_1092261827538278_1767906060_n

But if you want to explore your taste buds outside of the hotel, you do have options in downtown Toronto. Across the street you have access to some great restaurants such as The Keg Steakhouse, The Old Spaghetti FactoryScotland Yard and more. We had the opportunity to have dinner at The Keg Steakhouse and Scotland Yard which were both fantastic. For more food options, you can check out the food court located at Brookfield Place which is located by the Hockey Hall of Fame nearby (about an 8 minute walk from the hotel).

15218665_1092261800871614_206017113_n

The hotel is conveniently close to great Toronto attractions and facilities such as the Sony Centre, St. Lawrence Market, Air Canada Centre, Hockey Hall of Fame, Ripley’s Aquarium Canada and many more.

Location alone was ideal for us since all three of our events were being held at the Air Canada Centre and it took us approximately 12 to 15 minutes (in toddler walk time).

15134442_1092261814204946_630629152_n

Now onto “the” question that is usually on everyone’s mind when looking for a place to stay and that is price! We felt that the price was right for a 3 star hotel (rating is according to their website). Momma Braga Tip: check different sites to get quotes on prices but a little trick that many do not know is to call the hotel directly. When we did we found out that they were having a two room special promotion which worked great for us.

Overall, we had a great time and our stay was family perfect for us. Our family was accommodated well and we felt that we got a little piece of home away from home. For this #MelandNikkiReview we give the Novotel Toronto Centre Hotel 5 “toddler high fives” out of 5.

We would recommend this hotel to other families who are looking for a comfortable family friendly hotel that is conveniently located to many attractions in the Downtown core of Toronto.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

– Momma Braga

13913885_530825167118224_7639627179234124854_o