Hurricane Kits: Pandemic-Style

In Florida we normally look at hurricane season as just another season of the year.

Spring Season
Summer Season
Hurricane Season
Fall Season
(And a tiny bit of) Winter Season (friends up North, just humor us!)

We properly prepare, making sure trees are trimmed back from our homes, that our insurance plans are up to date, and we make sure that our 72-hour kits and emergency contingency plans are good to go as well. That, of course is during a normal year….but this is 2020 where anything could happen… So an overactive hurricane season in the midst of a pandemic is pretty much expected, right?!

In fact, right now Tropical Storm Iasias (which honestly could strengthen into a Hurricane if conditions remain favorable), possibly has its eyes set to pay us a visit this weekend, and we need to be hurricane ready, pandemic-style!

We know how to normally prepare our 72-hour kits and what kind of emergency contingency plan we need. We traditionally know where a shelter is if we find ourselves in need, like needing to evacuate quickly. However, we all know this isn’t a normal year. So here are some things to add to your 72-hour kit and some things to think about when looking over your emergency contingency plan!

Hurricane Pandemic

72-hour Hurricane Kits, Pandemic-Style

Include everything that you would normally include, however add the following!

  • Disposable Face Masks: I know masks are not the comfiest, you may find yourself in need of supplies though and will most likely be required to have a mask. You will want disposable ones because electricity may be out to wash your reusable ones.
  • Hand Sanitizer: You will want safe quick ways to clean your hands often!
  • Clorox/Lysol Wipes: You will want to wipe down surfaces easily, and as people come and go for supplies you will want to clean surfaces in your home often.

Emergency Contingency Plan Additions

  • Check to see if the shelter you would normally use is still going to be used.
  • Consider a hotel for an evacuation plan.
  • If you normally evacuate out of state, check to see if there are quarantine restrictions for Florida residents in place for those states before traveling. If there are restrictions, be prepared to quarantine or change your normal plan.

Keep in mind that we are all in this together!

  • Fill your gas tank now and don’t let it drop below half the rest of the season!
  • Stock up now adding to your 72-hour kit a little each time you shop that way you are not stuck in the store in long lines, it’s not fun in a normal hurricane season and its even less fun during a pandemic!
  • Have a plan and follow it, it’s all going to work out!
xoxo,
Your Favorite Emergency Manager

 

P.S. Hurricane Parties for one are totally acceptable 😉

3 Back to School DIYs: Perfect for First Day Pics!

 

If you’re like me then you’ve had Back to School on your mind for a while. Let’s be honest, school this year is going to be different and a big adjustment for everyone. It doesn’t matter if your kids are attending Homeschool, Virtual School or returning to the classroom they are going to experience a First Day. Why not make that first day as special as we possibly can. I put together 3 fun DIY crafts that will be great for First Day photo props or even classroom decorations. They’re even simple enough that your kids can help you create them.

Faux Textbooks

Back to School First Day

Materials:

Empty Boxes-variety of sizes
Construction Paper – variety of colors
Mod Podge Glue
Foam Paint Brush
Black Marker
Scissors

 

Apply the Mod Podge glue to the top and one side of your box. Lay your construction paper onto your table then place the box on top of the construction paper. Allow about a 1/4 inch overhang of the construction paper. If needed cut off any extra paper.

Apply the Mod Podge glue to the other side of the box and wrap the construction paper. Trim any extra paper. Add a coat of Mod Podge on top of your construction paper.

Once it is completely dry use your marker to write the subject on the spine of the book.

Tip: If you are not able to find white boxes you can always cover the color of the box by cutting a strip of white construction paper and gluing it over the box.

Scholastic Clothes Pins/First Day Sign:

Back to School First Day

 

Materials:

Clothes Pins
Acrylic Paints (White, Blue, Yellow, Pink, Grey, Black)
Fine Point Marker
Foam Paint Brush
Paint Brushes-various sizes
Hot Glue Gun
Wood Board (or any surface)

 

School Bus Clothes Pin:

You want to start by painting your clothes pin yellow. My particular clothes pin had two little notches at the end and I used that as a guide to where I wanted to paint the yellow. You could also use small strips of washi tape if you need guidelines.

Next paint the tip of your clothes pin Pink. Make sure you leave a small strip of unpainted area between the yellow and pink. You’re going to paint that area grey. You’ll want to make sure each painted area is dry before moving on to the next.

Ruler Clothes Pin:

 

This one is really simple. Use your fine tip marker and create notches along one side of the clothes pin.

Notebook Paper Clothes Pin:

 

Paint the entire pin white. Once it is dry use the blue paint and a flat tip brush to create the blue lines of a notebook.

Back to School First Day

Finally, add your clothes pins to your wood sign (I painted mine with black acrylic paint but can always use chalkboard paint). Hot glue the clothes pins to the board and use a marker to write whatever message you want.

Tip: Not only can you use this board as a prop for First Day of back to school pictures you can also use it as a place to hang pictures taken on the First Day of School.

Jumbo Pencil:

Back to School First Day

 

Materials:

Paper Towel Rolls
Construction Paper (Yellow, Brown, Pink/Red)
Scissors
Hot Glue Gun
Fine Tip Black Marker

 

Place glue onto one side of your construction paper. Then wrap the construction paper around the tube. Next cut four slits into the construction paper that extends past the roll and place a drop of glue onto the inside of each tab. Finally, fold each tab into the roll.

Back to School First Day

Next, trace the bottom of your roll onto red paper. Then draw 5 tabs around your circle and cut it out. Place a drop of glue onto each tab and attach it to the bottom of your roll.

Cut a 2 inch strip of the same red paper and wrap it around the base of the tube (covering the red tabs).

Back to School First Day

Finally, take a half sheet of brown construction paper and roll it into a cone. Glue the sides for it to stay in place. Color the tip of the cone black.

Insert the point of the cone into the open end of the tube and trace around the base of the cone. Cut about a 1/2 inch below the line.

Back to School First Day

You’ll then want to cut 5 slits at the base of the cone up to the line. Fold every other tab (3 of the tabs will be folded down) and apply glue to the other 3 tabs. Insert the tabs into the open end of the tube and press in place.

Tip: You can also create colored pencils by using different color construction paper to wrap your tube and coloring the tip the same color.

 

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. I can’t wait to see all of your back to school photos!

Why 2020 is all About Revamping Your Existing Interior and Décor Arrangements

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décor

It is quite strange for all of us to spend a major chunk of our time indoors. In the era of social distancing, home-based professional indulgences are a part of the new normal. That said, as we remain inside our homes, critiquing the existing home décor and interiors becomes a common habit. 

It wouldn’t be wrong to state that during the past few months, many of us had made customized changes to the home décor arrangements while some are still planning to start. Although modifications at a large scale weren’t seen, keeping the financial restrictions in mind, enthusiasts did invest a lot of time in ideating and following personalized home décor tips, precisely to make the interiors more vibrant and interactive.

How to Simplify Home Décor Rearrangements?

We understand that individuals are still interested in making impressionable changes to the home décor arrangement without having to spend a lot of money. This is why we have categorized the strategies into 5 sections while enlisting personalized home décor tips for the enthusiasts: 

1. Attend to the Front Wall

While painting and opting for wallpapers are cost-intensive, photo frames are more minimalistic and easy to change up, when deemed necessary. The best way to approach interior realignment is by putting up personal photos using aesthetic frames or simply the picture strips, provided you want to avoid nails.

2. Flowers Can Weave Magic 

Understandably, going out daily to buy fresh flowers isn’t a plausible strategy in the era of COVID-19. That said, you can always order artificial flowers, especially to set up a vibrant workstation or add certain hues to the drawing space. If the arrangement works, you can even consider adding a vase or two to each room, for a more colorful ambiance.  

home décor

3. Fluffy Rugs for your Den

Customizing the bedroom, cellar, or a dedicated workspace is easier with a fluffy rug. While you can always choose a color that complements the interiors, the best advice would be to bring in a deep-pile fluffy rug as a preparatory arrangement for the winters.

4. Shift Attention to the Kitchen Faucet

A kitchen is often the most visited area of the entire house, and therefore, it is quite appropriate to shift attention to the existing faucet. If you have the time and budget to replace the existing one, consider a sleeker one that requires less maintenance. However, if you aren’t looking to modify the kitchen on a larger scale, a few hardware changes must suffice for now. 

5. Amp Up the Cleaning 

Despite rearranging or adding new elements to the existing décor, nothing beats the efficacy of a clean house. The process, however, need not be detailed as you can start by scrubbing the furniture, wooden floors, and walls with great-smelling products. Changing the smell or adding a new aromatic element is a good way to spice up things if homebound monotony is driving you insane.

Remember, personalized home décor tips are relative!

Restructuring the existing home décor is an extremely tailored approach as the tips and strategies vary, based on individual preferences. In the end, it all boils down to an arrangement that would make your home stay more productive, especially in 2020 or even beyond. 

Vacation Safely at Gaylord Palms Resort

COVID-19 was the ultimate disappointment for summer plans. Cruises canceled, theme parks closed half of the summer, ball parks closed. 2020 was the vacation let down of the century.

While the majority of Central Florida families skipped their vacation for 2020, we decided to think outside the box and carefully consider a staycation at Gaylord Palms Resort. We just got home, and IT. WAS. FANTASTIC. Here’s a fun video highlighting our experience!

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COVID-19 was the ultimate disappointment for summer plans. 😫Cruises canceled, theme parks closed half of the summer, ball parks closed. 2020 was the vacation let down of the century. While the majority of Central Florida families skipped their vacation for 2020, we decided to think outside the box & carefully consider a staycation at @gaylordpalms Resort. We just got home, and IT. WAS. FANTASTIC. Here's a fun video highlighting our experience + some key points! 👇🏼 SAFETY – It's obvious that safety is a #1 priority. In addition to standard social distancing & sanitizing stations, the resort has implemented strict guidelines on wearing masks. You must have a mask on when walking in public places, when ordering from the tiki bar, or when entering their restaurants. They have touchless maps via QR Codes & contactless housekeeping/room service. The pool deck was 50/50 for masks, understandably so. All of the servers & attendants wore masks, but if guests were in their private cabana or standing in line for a water ride (socially distanced), masks weren't always worn, but you could if you want. 😷 The sanitizing staff truly is phenomenal! Surfaces are wiped down or sprayed to ensure a safe environment. And if you want to take one extra step to ease your mind, the staff equips your room with extra sanitizing wipes so that you can give the room one final wipe down (if you want)! CONVENIENCE, COMFORT & ACTIVITIES – You'll love the convenience of a vacation without leaving the resort. The kids were in awe of the centerpiece glass atrium. The evening light display is something everyone must witness in person. Photos & videos just don't do it justice! It's every evening at 8:30pm and 9pm. A suite overlooking the atrium is a MUST! The view & sounds melt away all of the COVID-stress. That's a phrase, right?! Gaylord Palms has interactive trivia, weekly family movie nights & an Ultimate Explorer Scavenger Hunt! The kids will ❤️ it! DON'T LET COVID RUIN YOUR SUMMER. COVID has altered the way we do life, but I encourage you to consider a staycation. Gaylord Palms Resort has shown our family how dedicated they are to providing a safe environment for families. #hosted

A post shared by Orlando Mom Collective (@orlandomomcollective) on

Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center

SAFETY

It’s obvious that safety is a #1 priority. In addition to standard social distancing & sanitizing stations, the resort has implemented strict guidelines on wearing masks. You must have a mask on when walking in public places, when ordering from the tiki bar, or when entering their restaurants. They have touchless maps via QR Codes & contactless housekeeping/room service.

The pool deck was 50/50 for masks, understandably so. All of the servers & attendants wore masks, but if guests were in their private cabana or standing in line for a water ride (socially distanced), masks weren’t always worn, but you could if you want.

The sanitizing staff truly is phenomenal! Surfaces are wiped down or sprayed to ensure a safe environment. And if you want to take one extra step to ease your mind, the staff equips your room with extra sanitizing wipes so that you can give the room one final wipe down (if you want)!

CONVENIENCE, COMFORT & ACTIVITIES

When you vacation at Gaylord Palms Resort, you’ll love the convenience of having everything in one place. The kids were in constant awe of the centerpiece glass atrium showcasing the landscape of the Everglades, the cobblestone streets and rich history of St. Augustine, and the picturesque scenery and vibrant colors of Key West. The evening light display is something everyone must witness in person. Photos and videos just don’t do it justice! It’s every evening at 8:30pm and 9pm.

Gaylord Palms, Kristi Corley - Orlando Mom CollectiveGaylord Palms, Kristi Corley - Orlando Mom Collective

A suite overlooking the atrium is a MUST! The view and sounds, day and night melted away all of my COVID-stress. That’s a phrase, right?!

Gaylord Palms, Kristi Corley - Orlando Mom Collective

Gaylord Palms, Kristi Corley - Orlando Mom Collective

Especially for the family, Gaylord Palms has interactive trivia on the pool deck and weekly family movie nights. Your kids will love the Ultimate Explorer Scavenger Hunt! Their journey begins inside the 4.5-acre atrium, filled to the brim with Flora (plant-life) and Fauna (animal-life) from all over the state. To succeed in becoming a real-life Florida explorer, you will need to navigate through the atrium and learn about unique plants, animals and historical landmarks. The kids will love it!

Gaylord Palms, Kristi Corley - Orlando Mom Collective

Don’t let FEAR ruin your summer

I know it’s easy to let fear take over your summer plans. COVID-19 has altered the way we view our normal activities, but I encourage you to consider a staycation. Gaylord Palms Resort has shown our family how dedicated they are to providing a safe environment for Central Florida families.

Gaylord Palms, Kristi Corley - Orlando Mom Collective

AdventHealth NICU Mama

NICU Mama isn’t typically on the list of things you expect while you are expecting, unless you are a veteran NICU Mama. After our first-born baby girl made her grand entrance at a mere 25 weeks, we had different expectations when expecting baby number two. While lining up our specialists we also considered which hospital we wanted to align ourselves with for delivery in case we delivered early again.

We knew we needed a hospital equipped with at least a level III NICU since our first born needed critical care support. When we spoke with AdventHealth for Children to ask questions and spoke with other NICU graduate families, we knew that AdventHealth was where we needed to be.

Every week that we made it past 25 weeks was such a gift as we knew that each week our little bundle grew stronger. He finally made his entrance at 35 weeks. The NICU staff made us feel so welcome when we visited our little Jackson for the first time. They had a rocking chair set up for me to hold him while we were surrounded by the familiar dings of the equipment. Staff was ready with any information we needed, and we knew we had made the perfect decision. It’s no wonder that for the 2nd year in a row AdventHealth for Children has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as the Best Children’s Hospital for newborn care in the state of Florida.

We fell back into another familiar routine which was having family come to visit for the first time in the hospital before we could bring him home. All visitors were checked in and given instructions on how to clean hands before entering. While this was pre-Covid and today we have different challenges, the team at AdventHealth for Children is committed to making it a safe place for families to be able to return to, together.

We are so thankful for everything that the team at AdventHealth for Children did for Jackson but mostly what they did for our family. They were there with respiratory support, neonatologist, lactation specialists and even made big sister feel special when she went to visit for the first time. While the NICU is not the first place anyone hopes to end up after a baby, being surrounded by support during a trying time is such a comfort.

Jackson just graduated Kindergarten and is a thriving big kid who is funny, smart and energetic. We have AdventHealth for Children to thank for helping him get to where he is today by turning his rocky start into a solid foundation.


Raising Your Child’s Resiliency Quotient During Covid

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Raising your child’s resiliency quotient during Covid may be one of the most important things we do while parenting this next generation. I think there is an assumption that children are just naturally resilient and don’t need to be guided through big changes. I don’t agree with this.

The entire experience of quarantine and unprecedented change, for us, has felt very defining. I say “for us” because we aren’t the first generation to go through a terrifying and sweeping medical concern. Think about the polio era. My family was directly affected when my Uncle contracted polio. They were terrified, he faced death and it eventually uprooted their family looking for better medical care. He survived it but it changed him physically, mentally, emotionally and it changed their family. I can only imagine this was terrifying. It became history but it was defining.

Just before Quarantine, I lost my Mom to cancer like so many before me. My grief, our grief, bled into our quarantine. It was a tumultuous start to an already disruptive time. It turned into a very introspective time. It made me stop and think about my childhood. I did not have a perfect childhood but it was a happy one.

My mom had a much different life growing up but had refused to allow them to define her future. I realized that she had taken some steps and precautions that taught us about perspective and at times, when necessary, shielded us from the truths that weren’t ours to bare the burden of.

In place of harder times, my memories are happy times and funny traditions. She taught me “mindset change” before it was cool and I’m eternally grateful and will gladly pass this down to my kids. It has served me well when life actually did throw me those rough times. These are some of the ways I’m helping support my children and raise their resiliency quotient during Covid.

Ways I’m Raising My Child’s Resiliency Quotient During Covid

Give Space for Disappointment and Sadness

I have one kid who likes to pack feelings away and ignore anything that triggers those types of feelings. I had to cry in front of her and we made space together for sadness. We talked about how disappointing things like change were. My younger child seems to have waves of understanding or recognizing sadness and disappointment. I have to catch him in those moments and stop everything to acknowledge them. Allowing them to know that having emotions is totally normal and also showing them that these emotions won’t last forever.

Keep Them Moving Forward

Give space for the tough feelings but give them a way to move forward. Growing up, my mom would tell us to go for a run. She didn’t care if it was around the block or 6 miles, just move yourself forward. For my kids, it’s been through music and art. It’s turning on music and letting them get creative. I think it’s important that this is catered to the individual child.

Make a New Memory or Tradition

My mom’s expertise was creating a weird/funny/silly memory or tradition. During the summer she’d wake us up insanely early, put us in the car and we’d watch the sunrise on the beach. We carried this tradition straight to high school where my friends joined in on this tradition. My kids were insanely disappointed that they didn’t get a class party with friends, s we threw a party in our playroom with balloons, snacks and a dance party. They loved it. I hope it trumps the memory of what they missed out on.

Perspective and Mindset Change

A few years ago my daughter was concerned about a stage performance. It was the first time she was actually nervous and fearful of “messing up”. I asked her “if you mess up, will the stage open up and gobble you up?”. She scoffed, “of course not!”. “Ok, well, will your hair turn into a purple mohawk or will you turn into a big fluffy bunny?” “NOOOOO!!!!”, she screeched at me. “Ok, well sounds to me like nothing bad will happen.”

Were they ridiculous examples? Absolutely but she learned perspective and then I reminded her that all that mattered was having the most fun possible. She messed up her routine, they didn’t win their competition and her only response after the winners were announced were “that was so much fun! Can we get ice cream?”. And we did!

Our Joint Approach

My husband and I have concerns about testing numbers, school opening and “the new normal”. We try to keep our raw and unchecked reactions to new news to ourselves until we are done processing. Then we have more control over the delivery. We can acknowledge the changes aren’t ideal but that moving forward we can just do our best.

When there is turbulence on a flight, you watch the flight attendants. They have no control over the turbulence but they can control the panic in their demeanor. We are the flight attendants. Our kids are the passengers and they are watching to see if they should panic or remain calm. Let’s try to keep the drink service going smoothly and keep our tiny passengers from unnecessary panic even if we all just felt our stomach drop.

We’ve Chosen Traditional (Face-to-Face) For School This Year

Let me start by saying; this decision has been SO VERY HARD! I know you are going through it or have gone through it also. Making decisions right now has even become exhausting. This choice has been no different, even the hardest of them all. You are not alone, this is a tough time. Every family has a different situation and their own choices to make. In the end though, we’ve chosen traditional (face-to-face) for school this year for our family. Let me walk you through what brought us to this decision.

We Were On a Roll and Then…

Our eldest will be going into Kindergarten this year, he will also be 6 in August. We chose to repeat the VPK program with him to help put him in a more comfortable place socially. When he first started school at 3 years old, he was shy, tentative and reluctant at drop off. Over the course of the last 2.5 years we have come leaps and bounds. By March of this year he was happily bounding into his classroom and soaking in all of what he was being taught. He is reading! We were so very ready for Kindergarten!

Then March came along and we never returned from Spring Break. I attempted to keep the momentum going. I had a schedule and all! I didn’t set aside too much time for learning, on purpose. I didn’t want to make it too intimidating or rigorous. But even that time that I had set aside started to feel like I was forcing him (and his slightly younger brother) to learn. This is was not what I had intended. I stopped.

In order to avoid a potential disdain for school, I chose to do learning on the fly as we did things. For example, I asked him to read parts of books or asked him to add up ingredients for the meal we were preparing. That was the best that I felt I could do without possibly ruining his love for school that we worked so hard for.

Just this morning, he had his Kindergarten assessment via Zoom. He did well for the first part. He even did very well in the assessment! However, by the end (15 minutes in) he was spinning around in the chair and being silly on camera. I can’t imagine that he could learn this way on a daily basis. I know that every child is different, but I am confident that mine will not learn well in front of a computer.

He needs the traditional school environment to enjoy learning and learn at his best potential.

We Need To Work

I run my own business as a Certified Sleep Consultant. My husband is STILL furloughed – he is in Hospitality. From March to now we have been taking turns finding time to work, job hunt or to just get things done. The times that we get are short and not enough to get it all done. There’s also a potential that I will need to get a job, on top of my business, just so that we can get by. Did I say yet that these times are hard?

Our kiddos are great, don’t get me wrong – BUT they are only 15 months apart, both still young and full of energy. If I want to keep them engaged and away from the TV/Tablet (which is not fully possible – #truth) then either my husband or I need to be available for them.

School gives us the opportunity to be available to work and bring money into our home so that we can sustain our living situations. 

Our Mental Health

I love every single member of my household more than I could ever tell you. Truly, I do. I also know that the feeling is mutual for all of us. While this whole thing started out well, even a blessing for more family time (my boys even became better friends), it is time to branch out and be with others.

This being with others may look different than before, but we NEED it. I feel that we as humans are made to have social interaction. We are made to live in a community of people who support each other, however that may look. For now, this will look a bit different.

We started off very well with the blessing of family, but I think we need more than just our family, we need friends. We need community. He needs traditional school.

Normal-ish

Let’s get real, this virus is not going away quickly. As much as this can be a touchy subject, our family feels that we need to learn to live with our situation as it is. Yes, I know, there are people out there who are more susceptible to the virus. I myself have an autoimmune disease, I am part of that group. However, we feel that we can take our precautions and protect our family (and me) by being as careful as we can be (i.e. wash hands, don’t touch face, wear PPE, wash clothes right after school, teach my kids to be socially distant). We are doing our best.

I believe that kids thrive off of a schedule. They thrive when they know what is coming next and what is expected of them. They need as close to normal as they can get. They not only need a schedule, they need friends. They need to interact with others. Frankly, they are still learning, as part of their normal development important things. Things like social and emotional intelligence. Frankly, this I feel, is more important at this age than whether or not they can read and add.

I am certain that nothing about this is normal and I am reaching for whatever is as close to normal as possible. We feel that traditional school is part of our answer.

Here’s The Deal

So, here is the deal: This is not an easy decision for anyone.  We are ALL struggling with the choice for school and some struggling with job loss, amongst many other struggles. We are in a REALLY tough spot. BUT, I think that whatever your choice may be, I applaud you for that choice. I am proud of you for whatever decision you made. Weather it be traditional school, homeschool or a virtual/flex program. Go, girl!

No matter your choice, I’m so proud of you! I know that wasn’t an easy decision!

I saw something on social the other day, it went like this. Let’s ALL support each other in these trying times:

 

Gen Z Jobs: 6 Best Future Proof Jobs for my Kids

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If your kids were born between 1995 and 2005, chances are they are part of the newest generation entering the workforce, often called Gen Z. 

Surveys by Indeed and Pew suggest that among the characteristics of Generation Z is a desire for workplace stability. Generation Z doesn’t want to hop from job to job as millennials have. The kinds of jobs they look for on Google are predictably very closely tied with technology. Here are seven of the best future proof jobs that kids today are expected to look for after college graduation.

#1: YouTuber

Gen Z watches a whopping average of 68 videos per day across different (mostly short-form) social media platforms. As mom probably knows, YouTube has a stranglehold on this pie chart. The PRnewswire reports that 89% of Gen Z uses YouTube at least once a week.  

Unlike us when we were teenagers, today’s teens use their screen time to become more knowledgeable. This is a generation that has held the power of the entire world at their fingertips since they could walk, and they know it!

This job/hobby requires passion for a specific topic that people actually search for and comfortability in front of the camera. 

#2: iOS Developer

The IPhone came out in June of 2007. The youngest Zs were barely toddlers! This generation is so accustomed to Apple’s reign that they are referred to as the IGen by Jean Twenge in her book about the generation. 

Gen Z is probably history’s best-informed generation. They had eyes on Apple the minute it emerged as the world’s first trillionaire company. According to this Indeed survey that places iOS developer in the top spot for jobs Zs search for, I’d say they were very impressed.

This prestigious career requires a degree from a strong university in the fields of IT or computer science. 

#3: Computer Vision Engineer

Currently, you can’t find videos or images on Google by describing them as you would with a person. Have you ever had a song in your head, but the only thing you can remember is a piece of the beat? The field of computer vision seeks to make using search engines more humanlike by providing them with a high-level understanding of what content actually contains. 

You could call this a type of applied artificial intelligence job. It requires heavy-duty statistical and computer science skills.

#4: Graphic Designer

The basic principles of design are contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity. These simple-but-powerful tools are the building blocks of any satisfying experience online—offline as well, many times.  Professionals with good design skills can communicate with anybody of any age. Good design is the universal language.

Tech savvy teens know the value of speaking the universal language in the age of global communications. This career requires empathy, love for art and stylish sensibilities.

#5: Social Media Influencer

There isn’t much Gen Z is better known for than social media and a love of video games. Since Vine and Snapchat launched in 2012, nothing has been the same for this generation. Nobody knows how to gain Instagram followers better than these guys.

The job of a social media influencer is a hybrid of passion hobby, sales, and entrepreneurship. It is not quite as easy as it seems on the articles we read, although it is true it can be quite well-paid. Top Instagram influencers can earn $3,000 per post

#6: Competitive Gaming

The Minecraft and Fortnite craze have been going strong since 2017. If you kid is of gaming age, you have probably seen how intense these game sessions can get. 

In gaming circles, the complex strategy multiplayer game, Starcraft, is considered South Korea’s national sport (not the case officially). Competitive gamers in the big leagues can earn upwards of $790,000 for winning a major competition. 

To become a professional gamer you need a technical skill in one specific game genre and willingness to perform on camera. 

My Kid is Starting Kindergarten in the Middle of A Pandemic

My son is starting kindergarten in just a few weeks. My feelings on this matter are complicated, to say the least.

It wasn’t so complicated just a few months ago, though. It was just really, really emotional. I became teary-eyed on countless occasions as I thought of my little baby walking solo into a new classroom with his bigger-than-him backpack for the first time. Time, slow down, I begged the universe. I wasn’t quite ready for my little guy to be subjected to the unruliness of the world. What if he struggles to make friends? What if someone makes fun of his lunchbox? What if his teacher asks him a question, he doesn’t know the answer and he gets his first taste of embarrassment?

A million scenarios kept flying through my mind last fall and into the new year. I felt like time was slipping through my fingers. How long would it be until he considered it a personal affront when I tried to hug and kiss him in public? How long would it be until I wasn’t his number one person in the world? Just the thought made my heart sink and tears roll down my cheeks at night. It’s an emotional time, the transition to kindergarten. For both child and parent. Tears are normal. Excitement is normal. Nerves are normal. And I, for one, felt it all.

At least that hasn’t changed.

But everything else has. The world flipped upside down back in March, and the beginning of kindergarten suddenly seemed so far away. As a teacher, I had a whole nine weeks of distance learning to get through with fourth and fifth graders and the quickness of my days came to a grinding halt. I felt that April and May would never end, and many of my thoughts about my son’s upcoming year in kindergarten all but evaporated. Eventually, June rolled through and, off in the distance, I could see August approaching at a quicker pace again.

Then July hit.

School board meetings. Confusion. When will school start? Will it start? Yes, it has to open! No, it can’t! Or maybe it will, but in a form that no one can seem to figure out yet. “Hybrid model” became a phrase that bounced around in my head for the first time in my entire life, and it seemed great one day and terrible the next. In fact, all of the options our school board set forth sounded great one day and impossible the next. What was right? What was wrong? I couldn’t blame the school board; its members were just trying to make everyone feel heard.

All the while, I tried to keep a smile on my face and mention kindergarten to my son here and there. He happened to go to a daycare (pre-pandemic) outside of our neighborhood and school district, so, no, he would not know any of his old friends there. That was a tough pill for him to swallow. And, no, it would not be like daycare where there was playtime upon arrival. Another tough pill. But these were truths before the pandemic, so I knew these specific struggles would have happened anyway.

(Ha. A pandemic. I can’t believe I’m saying that. Never in a million years did I think I would be writing this post.)

But deep within my mind, I let the wild thoughts grow like vines inside of me. If he goes to school, will he wear a mask all day? One day I wore my mask for five hours straight and nearly tore the thing off of me after I got in my car. He would get used to it, surely. But will he make any friends? Will classmates be able to hear each other and play with each other clearly? Will the teacher be intimidating, with a mask and possibly a face shield on, too? I’m a teacher and I don’t know how well I will be able to convey my smile (and also, importantly, my “teacher look”) with a mask on, but at least he would be in a classroom surrounded by peers. That’s something.

But then distance learning comes with issues too, of course. (Nothing is clear cut in our current world, as I know too well now.) My son will be five when kindergarten starts and I really just don’t know how he’ll do in front of a screen for so long. I know he misses human interaction outside of our immediate family, and it manifests through some wicked mood swings that we have also had to navigate. But distance learning would be home. Safe. Consistent learning. But no friends, like any five year old naturally wants and, really, needs.

And then there’s the hybrid model. A mix of the two. It sounds perfect except I have no idea what it’ll even look like. Do I want to throw my kid into the unknown? Not really.

Nothing feels good. None of the choices feel right. It’s normal for parents to want the absolute best experience for their little girls and boys, but is it even possible given the circumstances?

Well, yes. It is. 

Experience is completely subjective to and reliant on our current situation. Ever been camping and then it rains the whole time? Not ideal, but you make the best of it. C’est la vie in that moment. Maybe you’re stuck in your icky wet tent but you spend your time telling ghost stories with a flashlight held up under your chin. And maybe you don’t get to roast marshmallows over a campfire for s’mores but the bars of Hershey’s chocolate you brought with you taste pretty darn good by themselves straight out of the package. You make the best of it. 

Okay, I get this isn’t exactly the same thing. The stakes are higher than forgoing a campfire and sleeping in a damp tent. These are our kids we’re talking about. I see that. But the current state of our world in a pandemic is our reality right now and our perspectives can make us or break us. We have the opportunities to make the best of whatever choice we make for our sons and daughters. There are no wrong answers. But there are bad attitudes that can then be observed by our little ones and absorbed. I realize that the best thing I can do is make a decision, and then smile. Tell my son that it’ll be a great year. Find the richness of whatever our experience is and then embrace it. Give life a big ol’ hug. And when our kindergarteners (the graduating class of 2033!) come out on the other side of this school year as rising first graders, they’ll be for the better – if we put a smile on our own faces.

All my complicated emotions are still present. There will be days that are tougher than others. (This pandemic has taught me that.) And my husband and I have yet to make a complicated decision for my son for this upcoming year. But for the first time in two weeks, I feel a bit more in control of my life and my little boy’s life. Because when it comes down to it, I can smile for him. I can tell him it’ll be a great school year.

He’s a kindergartener! A big kid!

Not even a pandemic can take that away.

7 Simple Ways to Relieve Foot Pain

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Relieve Foot Pain

Foot pain is no laughing matter, especially when you’re a person like me who spends the majority of the day on her feet. Whether it’s standing for long periods at work, participating in a sport, or strolling around your favorite theme park, you depend on your feet to keep you in the game. But when you suffer from foot pain even the simplest of everyday tasks can seem daunting. Time to take action and manage that pain.

What Causes Foot Pain?

As a sports medicine doctor, I see a lot of patients who suffer from foot problems. The common causes of foot pain include:

  • Spending long periods on your feet at home or work.
  • Going barefoot or failing to wear decent shoes.
  • Participation in certain sports like running and dancing.
  • Your age and anatomy.
  • Carrying excess weight, including pregnancy.

Conditions that contribute to foot pain can run the gamut from uncomfortable to downright debilitating. Many of these are due to overuse, including plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia, tendonitis, stress fractures, osteoarthritis, and sprains. Others can result from the type of shoes you wear, like hammertoes, bunions, ingrown toenails on the big toes, and calluses. Still others are results of health conditions, including infections, neuromas and other nerve damage.

Tackle Foot Problems With Home Remedies

As a practitioner of orthopedic medicine and a sufferer of plantar fasciitis myself I have a lot of experience with evidence-based and homeopathic remedies that can help to relieve foot pain. Here are seven simple practices to try:

1. Invest In Decent Footwear

When it comes to foot pain, proper shoes should be your first line of defense. Wear shoes that are supportive and fit properly to drastically reduce daily foot pain. Never go barefoot, and choose athletic shoes over high heels or flip flops whenever possible. Shoe inserts and orthotic insoles can provide arch support, heel bone cushioning, and relief to aching feet. These are an ideal option if you have fallen arches or flat feet. Supportive compression socks can also help with arch pain.

2. Get In Your Daily Stretches

The fastest way to recovery is through stretching and rehabilitation. Giving feet a workout can help to strengthen and relax muscles and increase blood flow. Here’s a list of simple stretches and exercises that you can do at home with little to no equipment. Make sure to also focus on your calf muscles and Achilles tendon since these have a big impact on foot health. To see real results you should commit at least 15-20 minutes a day. Night splints that give your feet a gentle stretch while you sleep may also be a helpful option for certain conditions.

3. Enjoy A Foot Massage

Relieve Foot Pain

If physical therapy or a trip to the masseuse isn’t possible, self-massage (or a foot rub from your significant other) at home can help to stretch the plantar fascia and reduce foot and heel pain. Use your thumbs to gently apply pressure to the heel and arch of your foot. Applying essential oils or lotions to sore areas can also help with touch therapy. If you prefer to use a tool, try rolling a tennis ball under the arch of your foot.

4. Indulge In A Foot Bath

Soaking in a warm foot bath is a great way to relax overstressed muscles and connective tissues after a long day of standing or physical activity. Indulge in a little bit of “me time” to submerge your feet in a tub of warm water for about 10 minutes. Adding some Epsom salt (1-2 tablespoons per gallon) can provide an extra soothing effect for aching feet. 

5. Ice It Down

When you’ve sustained an injury or have chronically sore feet, you can use cold therapy to reduce swelling and inflammation. And it’s great for recovery after being physically active. Icing is easy to do at home. Wrap a towel around an ice pack, a bag of ice, or use a frozen water bottle (a great at-home rehab trick for plantar fasciitis!) and apply to the foot for no more than 20 minutes three or four times a day for the best results.

6. Take Time for R & R

I can’t stress the importance of rest enough when it comes to healing, especially concerning overuse injuries. Finding time to sit back and relax is a luxury many moms rarely experience, but it’s crucial in allowing the tissues in your feet to heal. Try to give your tired feet a break for a couple of days. If you want to stay active, try swapping out your high-impact activities with low-impact ones like swimming or cycling.

7. Medications For Foot Pain Relief

I often prefer a homeopathic approach to dealing with pain and injuries. But, when you know you’ve got to be on your feet, over-the-counter medicines are an easy go-to for pain relief. Choose from nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (or NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or analgesic pain relievers like acetaminophen. Topical analgesics are another option that may provide relief when used with a foot massage. When taking oral medications, just be aware of the possible side effects. Talk with your family doctor if you feel you may have health risks.

Make Foot Care A Priority

When you’ve got foot pain, washing the dishes, playing a round of hide-and-seek, or simply walking up and down the stairs become activities you find excuses to avoid just so you don’t have to be on your feet. Don’t let your foot pain control your life! 

If over-the-counter medications and these practical at-home remedies aren’t helping to relieve your foot pain, it may be time for a visit to the doctor. A podiatrist, orthopedic or sports medicine doctor can assess your feet to help you find the root of the problem. They may also prescribe medications and other treatment options for foot pain. Be proactive and soon you’ll be on the way to happy feet.

Relieve Foot Pain

We’re Leaving Public School

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We’re leaving public school, moving to homeschooling for the upcoming year and we are devastated.

It’s taken weeks, pro/con lists and tears to come to this decision. I also know I’m not alone trudging through the options. My kids and I absolutely adore our little school. Jackson has been navigating the halls since well before his Kindergarten year. Sofia can barely make it to her classroom in the morning because she talks to every teacher, student and administrator on her way. I’ve been on PTA since the summer BEFORE she started Kindergarten and have been President of the PTA for 2 years running.

This time for the past 2 years I’ve spent countless hours with my PTA board turned great friends planning out the entire school calendar. Right now I should be been planning and stuffing every welcome folder for each family to start the new year. I’ve missed meeting the teacher at Meet the Teacher because I was helping guide our amazing school families to their class or answering questions on how to get involved. I’ve mentored, taught after school classes, substitute taught in these rooms. I know some many little faces, I’ve helped tie shoes and open juice boxes. This school has been our home away from home. But now we are leaving.

You aren’t alone

I know so many share my anxiety on making the “right” decision. I’ve talked to friends in other states. For the first time a huge group of us are actually going through the same stress. The unknown of how this upcoming school year will look. This will be the first day of (new) school for all of us.

Make the best decision for you

I toiled over the options of going back to school in the fall. My kids and I quite literally cried over the decision. It’s not lost on me that homeschooling is a huge privilege and one that many parents can’t or don’t feel equipped to manage. Some parents are still fighting to get needs met for their special needs students, how will therapies, IEP’s and 504 plans be managed remote?

I know some parents are stressed to the brink about needing to work full time while managing their kids schooling. How do you give work the time it needs while helping young kids mange their day? Some parents work out of the house and need brick and mortar.

Remember: This is no one’s first choice

With all the stress going on, the last thing we need to do during this time is judge others for their choices. Parenting is hard enough. We’ve had the breastfeeding/formula debates, working moms versus stay at home, attachment parenting or free range and we don’t need to add another to the list! This year, however it looks for any of us, wasn’t in the original plan.

We will make it through this friends! It may look different than last year but we will find our groove. And if not, hit me up on IG and we can share crying emojis whenever you want!

July Refresh Challenge: Declutter, Plan and Organize for Back to School

Every year, there are two months you will find me nose deep in my planner and surrounded by donation bags filled to the brim: January and July. While January is the start of a new year, I take part in a July Refresh Challenge to REFRESH our home, our calendar, and our routines. I’ve always loved tracking my year with an academic calendar. I went from high school to college and then became a mother at a young age, and following an academic calendar proves July is just as important to set goals and declutter as January 1st.

While the Summer is a great time to take a break, relax, and enjoy the great outdoors, July is the perfect month to clear out space in your home and in your schedule to set you and your family up for a successful school year. This task does not need to be overwhelming and/or expensive. The truth is, once you have completed the task of decluttering, you’ll find a mound of empty baskets, a pile of unworn clothes you thought you were going to need to replace, and an endless amount of school supplies that can be reused.

This month, I want to take you on a journey to declutter your space, write out a plan for back to school shopping and new routines, and together, we’ll get organized for a successful school year. PS. Here’s a Free Printable Checklist to help you stay on track!!

July Refresh Challenge

 

July Refresh Challenge Week One: DECLUTTER CLOSETS AND TOYS

(Reminder: Do not purchase storage containers or organizing tools! We will do this later on in the month, if needed!)

This is the week we’ll roll up our sleeves, get ruthless, and ask ourselves the important question, “Do I love this?”

Every Summer, our two older children visit their grandparents in South Florida. During that time, I like to declutter their closets and their toys. This helps me decipher what each child needs for the new school year (think underwear, socks, uniforms, etc.) and refresh their space.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed when you’re surrounded by clutter? Imagine how our children feel. Children are not born knowing how to clean their rooms or keep a tidy space. This is a skill that is taught to them. While we try our best as moms to teach and encourage them to keep a tidy room throughout the school year, the truth is they’re most likely stuffing toys and tees under the bed, hiding the small game pieces in their bags, and tossing unmatched socks in the back of their closets. The piles of stuff greets them every morning, and there’s nothing more refreshing than a cleared space to help clear a mind.

During this process, ask yourself, “Do I love this? Is this serving my child well? Does this still fit? Does this encourage them to use their imagination?” If you answered NO to any of these, let it go.

Clothes: 

This week, focus on their closets and toys (yours too, if you have time!), and set up three piles: Keep, Donate, Toss. I like to start with their clothes before tackling the toys. If it has a hole, stain or is faded, I toss it. If it no longer fits, I donate it. If there’s still some life left in it, I keep it. Also, I ask myself if I were to see this particular outfit in the store RIGHT NOW, would I buy it. If my answer is no, I donate it.

July Refresh Challenge

Decluttering is not a time to feel guilty. This is a time to be ruthless because in the end, you’re creating a space that will allow your child to relax and reignite their creativity vs. a space that will overwhelm them. Their room should be their safe place – a place they can retreat to after a long day of school, sports, and homework. Having 100 t-shirts to hang after a full school day is not helping them nor you. As Emily Ley says, “Best, Favorite & Necessary.”

Toys:

“How do I know what to get rid of? They love them ALL!” I’ve heard this comment many times from other moms wondering how to declutter toys. First, it all depends on the age of your child. My oldest will be ten in August. He rarely plays with toys. His interests include sports, swimming with friends, riding his bike, and Xbox. This Summer, I asked him what specific toys he loves. He asked me not to get rid of his matchbox cars. DONE!

July Refresh Challenge

For older children, I would encourage you to keep the items that spark imagination. These toys would include Manipulative Toys – toys that enhance fine motor skills and teach children how to interact with their physical world. Ie: Magnatiles (build cities, buildings, etc), Lego’s, and Kinetic Sand.

For younger children, I would encourage you to keep Open-Ended Toys – toys that are not bound to one specific form of play. Ie: Peg Dolls, Magnatiles, Scarves, Figurines, Wooden Blocks, Train Tracks, etc. If you’re like me, you may love every toy you own for your younger children. GREAT! If so, store half of the toys in plastic containers and rotate toys every couple of months. This will spark interest in toys you already own while not overwhelming your space.

BONUS: 

If you’re feeling motivated and have some extra time on your hands, deep clean their rooms. Vacuum their closet, mattress, and under their bed. Wipe down baseboards, shelves, ceiling fan, and air vents. You’ll be surprised how much dust collects in these spaces.

Week Two: DECLUTTER FOOD AND SCHOOL SUPPLIES

Summer routines have set in place, and you’re wondering what happened to your organized refrigerator and pantry, am I right? With all the constant movement in your home during Summer, it’s easy to lose sight of a stocked pantry and stacks of leftovers in the refrigerator.

This week, we’re going to focus on decluttering our pantries, refrigerators, and school supplies. Have you ever completed back to school shopping, only to find the extra pencils and notebooks you got BOGO last year? The July Refresh Challenge will help you set a plan in motion while helping you save money in the long run! There’s no need to buy another bottle of Ranch when you have 2 in the back of your pantry.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

YOUR FREE CHECKLIST

Food:

Grab your trash can and some magic erasers, clear out your sink, and blast your favorite Podcast – it’s time to get dirty. During this process, take everything out of your refrigerator. If it’s expired, immediately toss it into your trash can. If not, place the item on your counter in sections (meat, dairy, daily use, occasional use (pickles, Sauerkraut, etc), condiments, vegetables, etc.) Wipe down every shelf before replacing the items inside the refrigerator.

Do the same for your pantry.

School Supplies:

There was a time I believed the lie that every child needed to go back to school with NEW supplies. Back to school shopping is something I’ve looked forward to every year since I was a child. That joy hasn’t left me. I still get excited to embrace the aisles of new paper, binders, and every lunch container known to man. I can’t explain why it brings me joy – but it does.

July Refresh Challenge

Although new lunch boxes and journals bring me joy, I’ve learned over the years how much waste we’re producing by tossing old supplies simply because they’re used. A notebook with only 20 pages used can certainly be reused in the upcoming school year. Simply tear out those pages and call it a day. Save yourself the time and the money. Ask yourself what is important to you and treat your child to that new item. Some may consider a new backpack a special treat to a new school year, or maybe you love freshly sharpened pencils, whatever it may be, treat them to it, but don’t over do it!

Go through their backpacks from last school year. Toss old paperwork, broken crayons, and ripped notebooks. Then decide what can be reused and what can be donated. You’ll be surprised at how much of your back to school shopping list will be completed by “shopping” your own home.

Week Three: SET A GAME PLAN

Now that you’ve completed the hard work, it’s time to sit down and be honest with yourself. I like to take a week to plan out our school year, important dates, daily routines, and shopping lists. Take this week to ask yourself the hard questions, “What worked last year? What didn’t work? If I could change one thing in our daily routine, what would it be? What do we need to let go of this year? What will make our year go smoother? What do we need?”

July Refresh Challenge

Sit down, pour yourself some hot coffee, and set a game plan. Write out daily routines for your family: Morning and Evening (full day schedules if you homeschool). Create shopping lists: Back to School Meal Prep, School Supplies, School Clothes, and Closet Organizers (if needed), and determine a budget.

July Refresh Challenge Week Four: SHOP

While I want to say, “Shop until you drop,” the whole purpose of the July Refresh Challenge is to set our families up for success this school year, and buying all the things is not the route to do just that. Remember, you just spent three weeks taking part in the July Refresh Challenge by decluttering and planning with purpose and intention for a successful school year. Your goal is to create a space that provides your child(ren) the ease to move about their day and find what they need(everything has a place), reignite creativity, and retreat after a long day. Buying anything and everything will only add chaos back into your home once again. Purposefully choose items your family needs, within budget, that will simplify your days, help stick to daily routines, and encourage rest and connection.

Week Five: ORGANIZE

We’ve saved the best part for last! You’ve decluttered, deep cleaned, prepared, planned, and sourced everything your family needs for a successful school year. Now is the time to organize and set new routines in place. Depending on the age of your child, consider labeling baskets and bins or walking through their space WITH them. This will help your child get to know their newly organized room and encourage them to keep it that way. There’s nothing more exciting than watching my children rush up to their bedrooms because they’re excited to see what I’ve prepared for them – their special place.

Take a day this week to host a family meeting and discuss new routines, chores, and goals. This can be a special time together to reconnect after a busy Summer and get motivated for the new school year. Bake some brownies, play special music, and enjoy your time together!

You did it!! At the end of this challenge, there will only be one week left until school starts. Take this week to enjoy quality time together, get outside, and begin practicing your new routines.

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE PRINTABLE CHECKLIST HERE

Did you love the July Refresh Challenge and interested in learning how we created a Block Schedule or a Mindful Morning Routine? Be sure to head to The Busy Bee for more free resources and to learn how to simplify routines and amplify productivity!

AdventHealth Primary Care+, Integrated Whole-Health Care Designed for You

No matter if you are a new mom or a mom who can fill up her minivan, carefully choosing your primary care provider is one of the most important decisions you will face. Fortunately in the Orlando area we have some great news to share with you!

AdventHealth has just launched Primary Care+, a new, elevated retail primary care model built around convenience, access and connected care.​ Standard primary care services are available, but there’s nothing standard about it. AdventHealth Primary Care+ is a comprehensive primary care practice built around your needs. A wide range of services paired with the guidance of experts helps you take charge of your health. With convenient same-day appointments and evening and weekend hours, exceptional care can fit into your busy schedule. ​Concierge memberships will be available later this year providing access to their Primary Care providers anywhere, at any time, and have additional benefits making their care highly personalized, easy, convenient, and connected.​

Access and Convenience

AdventHealth Primary Care+ is truly taking your care to the next level. An elevated primary care experience provides convenient features and benefits just for you. Before your first appointment, you can set up a virtual video introduction with a provider at no cost to see if it’s the right fit for you.

Then, when you’re in need of an appointment, they are open 7 days a week with extended weekday hours. Their weekly hours are weekdays 8 am – 8 pm, weekends 8 am – 2 pm. Established patients can have same day appointments or simply walk in and receive care in less than 30 min.

You’ll receive 24/7 access to your care team via virtual visits in the AdventHealth app, online messaging and an after-hours care line

AdventHealth Primary Care+ also has same day labs onsite, making life easier with one stop for your appointments.

Whole Person Care

Mental health and nutrition are vital for taking care of YOU! AdventHealth Primary Care+ is taking a highly personalized approach to your whole health and wellness. You receive virtual access to both mental health counseling and nutritional counseling.

Personalized Care

Your first appointment provides you with personalized care, including a 45 minute consultation with a provider. AdventHealth Primary Care+ will also provide care coordination and referral support.

Primary Care + is conveniently located in
Winter Garden Village

3131 Daniels Road, Suite 106, Winter Garden, FL 34787

You’re invited!

Join Primary Care + for a Facebook Live Virtual Grand Opening event on Tuesday, 7/14 at 7pm. It can be viewed at WelcometoPrimaryCarePlus.com.

Masks at a waterpark? My experience at Aquatica during a pandemic.

Aquatica is one of our favorite spots to visit over the summer but this year because of Covid-19 things are different. The parks opened up a few weeks ago and they sent out a memo as to what was required if you were to enter the park. I didn’t quite understand how a mask and a water park would mix and honestly I wasn’t really sold on the idea of visiting the park until I spoke with a friend who visited the day before.

This was our experience and I hope that it will give you a better understanding of what is expected as well as help you make a decision if you want to visit during this time.

Reservations Required:

In order to enter the park you must have a reservation. We didn’t have a problem making a reservation for the day that we wanted to visit. In fact, we made it the night before. We did go during the week so I’m not sure if that made a difference for availability.

One way in and one way out:

Foot traffic flows in one direction. They have a set pathway for you to follow once you are approaching the park from the parking lot and attendants will point you to the right direction. Also along the path there are large signs to let you know that Face Coverings are required as well as Temperature Screenings are being conducted.

No Contact!

There are several tents set up at the entrance of the park (before you even get to the ticketing area) to take your temperature. It was super quick and painless.

Right before you enter the park you go through the normal bag screening area. Here they have added a plexiglass partition.

Then you proceed to the park entry line. They have also added a plexiglass partition. You are asked to hold your pass or ticket up to the glass and the attendant scans it through the plexiglass. Super simple with no contact.

Once we entered the park we noticed that there were many guests who no longer were wearing masks. That’s because basically once you are on the rides you are not required to have a mask on. Only when you are in certain areas such as the shops. I also did not see anyone around enforcing the rule of wearing a mask. Even though we just entered and were not on a ride or even wet (as if we just came off of a ride) there was no one around enforcing the rule.

Sanitizing Stations:

Sanitizing stations were placed throughout Aquatica and easily accessible. 

One thing that did worry me before going was the use of life vests. Normally they are hung up where you just take them and put them back when you are done. Now they have condensed the vest stations to what looked like only 2 areas. An attendant will now pass you a vest and when you return the vest it goes into a bin to be sanitized. This adjustment actually made me feel much better about “sharing” vests.

Another change I noticed at Aquatica was that everything had one way in and one way out. We noticed this change to the Walkabout Waters area as well as at Cutback Cove/Big Surf Shores. There were black ropes to guide you to the entrance and exit.


Social Distancing:

Social distancing was in place. Any place that a line could form had placards on the ground to inform you of the 6 feet apart guideline.

The park was not operating at full guest capacity which was actually kind of good. The wait lines were minimal! Lol

We didn’t eat lunch at the park but I did notice that the self serve/grab and go snack areas were roped off and maned by attendants.

Over all we had a fantastic day at Aquatica. Honestly, there wasn’t much of a difference except much shorter wait lines. At no point did I feel crowded or that any other group was too close to my family but I also made sure that we stayed in our own little area. If you are thinking of taking your family out for a day at the water park just be mindful and cautious; especially if you have any underlying health conditions that may put you or your child at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. Like I mentioned before, once you enter the park people aren’t wearing masks. 

I know it can be a challenge to keep your kids entertained during the summer under normal circumstances so hopefully this will give you a little insight on a possible option.

XO, 

Caffie

Never Too Late to Save

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Too Late to Save? Think Again.

In the face of life’s costly surprises, like an unexpected medical bill or a major home repair, having some money set aside can make all the difference. 

Experts agree that an emergency fund – a savings account that can cover several months’ worth of household expenses in a crisis – should be your top priority after meeting basic expenses. The fund acts as a buffer against your next rainy day, so you can pay bills and handle necessities without resorting to high-interest debt.

For millions of Americans who are in tough financial straits due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it may seem like the moment to prepare has passed. But that’s far from true. In reality, it’s never too early to take charge of your finances – and it’s never “too late” to enjoy the benefits of saving.

Here’s how you can get started today:

  • Start small. Determine a dollar amount (or a percentage of your paycheck) that you can comfortably set aside at the beginning of each week. This is a long-term commitment, so keep it realistic. If $25 a week is too much, start with $20 or $15. Remember, no amount is too small to save.

  • Step it up over time. According to experts, it’s a good idea to save at least 20% of your monthly income. To reach that goal, budget all your household spending – from utilities to haircuts – and look for ways to trim what you don’t need.  If you get a raise or a new job, consider adding the extra funds directly to your savings.

  • Make it simple. With so much time-saving technology available to us today, there’s no reason saving has to be a chore. Try a mobile checking account like Axiom Online Banking. With a tap of your finger, you can set up an account online, view your balance, track transactions and transfer money to your emergency fund.

  • Keep it handy … but not too handy. When trouble strikes, you may need to access your money promptly – so don’t store it in investments or a limited-access account. Instead, create a savings account designated for emergency use only. That way, you won’t accidentally draw from it in a less-than-urgent situation.

  • Stay motivated. Saving isn’t something you do for a few weeks or months: It’s a lifelong commitment to good financial health. Take time each month to review and update your goals. If you miss a week, don’t give up – what matters is your long-term progress. 

No matter your age, income or circumstance, saving is key to financial security and success. Set up your emergency fund today – and know that you’ll be ready for whatever tomorrow brings.

Axiom Bank, N.A., a nationally chartered community bank headquartered in Central Florida, provides retail banking services, including checking, savings, money market and CD accounts, as well as commercial banking, treasury management services and commercial loans for both real estate and business purposes.

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