Six Seasonal Tips for Holiday Budgeting


It’s that time of year when we look forward to visiting family and old friends, seeing colorful lights on every corner, and, yes, buying presents. Budgeting for the holidays can be a not-so-merry financial challenge, but following these six rules will save you money and stress in the coming weeks.

  1. Start early. You may scoff when you hear holiday jingles the day after Halloween, but it’s a good reminder to start planning your purchases. Although deals tend to pop up around Black Friday, it’s a good idea to have a solid handle on your shopping list so you can jump on a sale any time before Christmas Eve.

  2. Make a list and check it twice. Open your notebook (or spreadsheet) and list everyone you typically buy gifts for. Next to each name, estimate a dollar value that’s the maximum you’ll allow yourself to spend on that person. Every time you buy a new present, make a note. That way, you’ll never wind up shopping for someone you’ve already crossed off the list.

  3. Add a personal touch. For coworkers, neighbors, or distant relatives, consider going homemade. Hot cocoa mix, peppermint bark and pumpkin seeds are all seasonal crowd-pleasers. Share them in a festive, creatively decorated jar, and include the recipe. Encourage group giving, like Secret Santa parties and white elephant exchanges, as a fun and frugal alternative to traditional gifts.

  4. Be precise with your budget. Holiday costs range from big expenses, like charitable donations and airfare, to small ones, like wreaths, ornaments or gift bags. Be thrifty with shopping. And to make sure you’re not letting money slip through the cracks, download the Axiom Bank app. You can do all your banking in the palm of your hand, like deposit a check anywhere, verify available funds or monitor transaction history.

  5. Give thoughtfully, not recklessly. Generosity is part of the season, but it’s important to be realistic about how much you’re spending. Don’t let the festive spirit lull you into making an unwise purchase. Always keep your shopping list on hand, even when shopping online. Some websites are designed to lure you down the rabbit hole of impulse purchases. Instead of buying as you browse, save a link to the item and come back to it in a few days.

  6. Don’t spend beyond your means. Once the holiday glow wears off, you don’t want to devote January to paying off credit card debt. This is where a little advance planning reaps benefits in the long term. Axiom Bank recently introduced a new savings account that offers a competitive rate. Anyone can start putting their money to work for them by walking into one of the 21 Axiom branches and opening a Big Savings account with a $25 deposit. 

It’s not impossible to make it through December with your budget intact, and you don’t need to feel like Scrooge while you do it. After all, the holidays aren’t about what you bring home from the store. By showing you care in big ways or small, you’re giving your family and friends the best possible gift. 

Axiom Bank N.A., a nationally chartered community bank headquartered in Central Florida, provides retail banking services, including checking, deposit, and money market accounts. It also offers commercial banking services, treasury management services and commercial loans for real estate and business purposes.

The Grove Orlando

The Orlando Mom Collective team stopped by The Grove Orlando to visit some of their luxury shops, and our only complaint? We wish we could have stayed all day!

The Grove Orlando and Orlando Mom CollectiveAll In One Decorating Solutions

As you may already know, Candace loves everything interior decorating – so you can only imagine how much fun she had sitting down with the owner at All In One Decorating Solutions. Here’s what Candace had to share about her experience!

“While strolling around The Grove Shopping Center, I was casually window shopping when I came across one that caught my eye. The fall display in the window at All in One Decorating Solutions was quirky and fun while perfectly festive. Just my cup of tea. I was drawn inside and had the chance to sit down with the owner and talent behind the brand, Francia Fusik. At first glance, I thought that the design studio was the most intriguing thing about the room. Each surface is decorated in a beautiful and unique wall covering. The light fixtures are a statement all on their own. There are samples and swatches and shelves full of every option in a plethora of finishes you could think of when designing a home or space. Next to the endless fabric selections was an ornate bed designed to the absolute smallest detail of perfection.

The Grove Orlando and Orlando Mom CollectiveAfter just a few moments of talking, I quickly lost interest in the interior design playground that surrounded me because I had discovered the real gem in the company… Francia. Her infectious love for interior design drew me in. She is a petite powerhouse with enough passion for a giant. Talking with her was like speaking to an old friend. She described the very first room she designed to me in detail as if it were yesterday, she was 10 at the time. Her portfolio was beyond impressive but the selling points were tucked away in her design philosophies.

The Grove Orlando and Orlando Mom CollectiveThe Grove Orlando and Orlando Mom CollectiveWhen asked what her style was she replied, “It’s not about me. What is my style? I don’t really have a style anymore. My style is your style. All styles are beautiful when they are well executed and you love it.” Francia went on to describe how she designs a well-executed room. In a genius analogy she explained it as comparable to getting dressed in a good outfit. The shirt matches the pants which complement the shoes and coordinate with the earrings. They all go together, but most importantly they are appropriate for the setting and fit the body well. She makes her designs beautiful and coordinating from an interior design perspective but her client’s lifestyle and habits drive its practicality. A perfect marriage of form and function.

The Grove Orlando and Orlando Mom CollectiveAll in One Decorating Solutions can help with every step of design along the way from construction to furnishings. Their mission is to create a space with balance and harmony every time. With a secret weapon like the owner Francia Fusik in their arsenal, I see that hitting above the mark with each client.

Next up – Kristi’s experience at Parbhu Oculofacial Plastic Surgery

I honestly was a little apprehensive going into my appointment at Parbhu Oculofacial Plastic Surgery. Nervous, but excited at the same time, because I fully admit it… I’m 44 and the wrinkle lines are starting to set in and show my age. I did a little bit of research prior to my appointment and learned that Parbhu Oculofacial Plastic Surgery is a medical practice focusing on cosmetic and reconstructive surgery of the face focusing on the periocular area. They concentrate on disease of the eyelids, lacrimal system and orbit. They provide reconstructive and aesthetic services. So far so good!

The Grove Orlando and Orlando Mom CollectiveDr. Parbhu believes that each person is unique and likes to have a collaborative approach in developing a treatment plan that is often a journey in achieving natural appearing results. I had a phone consult prior to my appointment to share a little more about the areas that I knew were my trouble spots, and had the opportunity to chat about any concerns.

The Grove Orlando and Orlando Mom Collective
Their aesthetic services include Facials, Chemical Peels, Dermaplaning, and DermalinFusion, and they even offer consultations to discuss sun damage. I have struggled with chronic dry skin, Julie gave me some excellent advice and treatment options. Prior to my Dysport treatment, I first received a cleansing treatment on my face. I was immediately put at ease in their tranquil room and soothing facial treatment. 
Next, I met Dr Parbhu. She answered all of my questions about Dysport, which is similar to Botox. As you can imagine, my nerves were high as I’ve never had Botox before, but Dr. Parbhu took the time to share with me exactly what to expect and why wrinkles appear over time.
The procedure was incredibly fast; I could easily have this done over a lunch hour! She shared how I’d see the effects within the first few days, and it will reach full effect in about a week or two. 
The Grove Orlando and Orlando Mom Collective 

If you’ve considered having Dysport done, and you want some genuine feedback, send me a message! I was totally impressed with my results and how natural I look! I’m still within the first two weeks, but I’m SO pleased that I have NO more forehead wrinkles. It looks amazing! Be sure to follow our IG page for before/after photos, especially once I’ve reached the two week mark!

Speaking of our IG page, one of our followers will have an opportunity to win a $100 certificate toward a facial treatment! Follow our Instagram page for more info!


ENTER HERE for your bonus chance to WIN a $100 Gift Certificate!

Enter Here

Next up, Sylvia visited EP Realtors, and here’s what she had to share!

“Home is the starting place of love, hope and dreams.” It sounds lovely until it’s not. When Jon and I bought our first home seven years ago, I wasn’t prepared for the long list of to-dos that are associated with buying and selling a home. The tedious amounts of paperwork and hours searching for the “right one” only to be outbid by another eager family looking for their place of solace and retreat from a hard day’s work. Weekends were spent defeated and feeling hopeless.

The Grove Orlando and Orlando Mom CollectiveWhether you’re a newly married couple like Jon and I were, looking to buy and/or relocate to a safer neighborhood, or on the hunt for a community that offers upscale amenities then visiting EP Realtors of Orlando should be your first step! The moment you step into the Windermere office of EP Realtors of Orlando, you’ll notice the comfy couches you and your littles can hang out on while meeting with an EP Realtor team member.

The Grove Orlando and Orlando Mom CollectiveThis diverse team, who is primarily made up of locals and includes a bilingual agent, are knowledgeable of the greater Orlando area and seek to efficiently guide you to your home-sweet-home. They know what it feels like to be knee deep in goldfish and toddler tantrums as many of their team members are parents to small children. 

The Grove Orlando and Orlando Mom CollectiveI had the pleasure of sitting down with one of EP Realtors’s team members, Stewart Gee. The moment you begin speaking with Stewart, you quickly begin to realize that you’re partnering with someone who is as passionate about helping families find homes as the Orlando Mom Collective is about engaging community! I had the opportunity to ask Stewart a series of questions about EP Realtors of Orlando and what sets them apart from the hundreds of other real estate companies that are out there. One major selling point is the fact that they have their own mortgage broker in house and an extensive resource list that includes roofers, brokers, inspectors and more! Talk about saving you time and energy because, honestly, Saturdays should be spent in a sauna with a mimosa in hand! EP Realtors of Orlando are not only saving you time but are invested in furthering your search for the home in which you’ll date your spouse and soon witness your babies take their first steps. The very home where you’ll sweetly kiss peaceful toddlers goodnight before they run off to college and entertain out of town guests for our warm winters. EP Realtors are your hometown realty company who are a great fit for the first time home buyers, those looking to upgrade their living space, any investors or expats looking for the right investment, and so much more. They also include property management in their long list of specialties!

The Grove Orlando and Orlando Mom CollectiveWhile there may be no way around the stress of finding the right home, what makes the home-buying experience worth it is the team with whom you get to partner. EP Realtors of Orlando’s aim is not to simply sell you a house but deliver an experience that does not feel tedious but accommodating and memorable!

The Vineyard Wine Bar & Healthy Bistro

Just a few doors away is The Vineyard Wine Bar. If you have never been to The Vineyard at The Grove, YOU. MUST. GO. TODAY! The Grove Orlando and Orlando Mom Collective

At The Vineyard, it’s all about great food, wine and friends. We were treated to an array of appetizers including Buffalo Cauliflower Bites, Avocado Toast, and Caprese Salad.

The Grove Orlando and Orlando Mom CollectiveThe Grove Orlando and Orlando Mom CollectiveThe Grove Orlando and Orlando Mom CollectiveOur entrees included Chicken Saltimboca, Pan seared chicken breasts wrapped in prosciutto and fresh sage served on a bed of mushrooms and spinach; Peace Bowl small, with seasonal vegetables in a rich coconut curry large, 16 sauce, between twin pyramids of brown basmati rice and quinoa; and Fiocchi Pasta Pasta pockets stuffed with pear and four cheeses in a creamy bacon sauce – SERIOUSLY OUR FAVORITE!

They have a daily Happy Hour, Monday-Saturday from 2-6PM. Their Wine Shoppe offers over 200 incredible wines in stock – and they specialize in special orders, so if you’re seeking that hard-to-find bottle, The Vineyard Wine Bar is your first place to contact!

They often have live events and special events. You can check out their monthly schedule here!

The Grove Orlando and Orlando Mom Collective

The Vineyard Wine Bar is the perfect way to end your girls day out. Thank you The Grove Orlando! We’ll be back!

If you are a little jealous and you wish you could experience a day like this… YOU’RE IN LUCK! We will be giving away gift cards to The Vineyard and Parbhu Oculofacial Plastic Surgery on our Instagram page in the coming weeks! Be sure to follow to win!

The Grove Orlando and Orlando Mom Collective

Because Thanksgiving Changes Me

Clothes pile up in front of my washer. Baskets of clean laundry sit at the end of my unmade bed. My son scratches out letters in the dust on our end tables. Mildew plays “ring around the rosey” in our toilets. The dishwasher is emptied and waits to be filled again by the dishes heaped in the sink.

Stacks of student essays stare at me from my crowded desk. Three tests await creation and lesson plans need to be written. Call parents. Read The Scarlet Letter. Reread Gatsby. And then. Then assessments are failed, and I must rethink. redo. reimagine.

Momma! Momma! Momma! The endless needing. The arguing and bickering of siblings separated six years. Sticky fingers pull the hem of my shirt. What’s for dinner? We’re out of toilet paper. Can you check my homework? And I just want to pee alone. MOM!

Daily life can weigh me down.

The heaviness of day-in and day-out pulls at my soul. Exhaustion etches itself into my bones, and I sometimes wonder if what I do matters. Because at the end of the day I question if this dragged down soul can take one more step.

Then perspective hits me like a blinding wall bringing me to my knees in thanksgiving.


Perspective looks like a momma rocking with empty arms. A homeless student sleeping in her parents’ car. A friend facing terminal illness. Perspective is a slum half-a-world away that left mud caked on my shoes and empty eyes heavy on my heart. A sponsored child who spends half her day walking to provide clean water for her family.

Perspective tells me Thanksgiving should always be first on my lips.

It’s not easy, this grateful heart. There are days I just don’t want to say thanks. I just don’t want to count my blessings. Because I’d rather stay angry or sad or grumpy. Sometimes I want to wallow in muck and mire.

But deep down I know.

I know if I begin to thank, I begin to change.

When I thank, I have no room to whine. When I consider my gifts, my complaints diminish.

DSC_0578 DSC_0585 DSC_0611 DSC_0614 DSC_0623

Gratefulness reaches down and brings forth Joy. Joy welling, bubbling up. Giving thanks brings the flicker of light to the candle dispelling the black of night. When I am conscious of the beauty in my life, my focus shifts. When I’m focused on my haves, my have nots sink into the distance and contentment rises.

No matter how hard life can be, I can always uncover something deserving of my gratitude. Because there’s always the sun. And the sun always rises, even after the darkest night.

Because really?

Life is good. Even when it’s tedious. Even when it’s painful. Even when it’s dark. Life is good. Its goodness is unveiled when my heart is grateful.

When I bring Thanksgiving to my soul…


Fall Kids Craft: Magical Leaves From Melted Crayons


As soon as I flipped the calendar to November, I got that warm feeling: it is really fall! Yes, it has been fall for a while now, but here in Orlando it doesn’t quite feel like fall when you are sweating while setting out your pumpkin decor. When the weather drops a few degrees is when I really feel like cranking up all the seasonal fun. Of course that includes some baking, pumpkin pureeing, and fall kids crafts so we can all share in the excitement together.

The first craft we are making together are these beautiful leaves that we strung on yarn to create a garland. Doesn’t the sun shine through just perfectly?

Fall Kids Craft

It has really added a festive touch to the room! And it was so simple even the two year old helped. Here are the super easy supplies and steps.


  • Wax paper
  • Crayons in fall colors
  • Iron
  • Scissors
  • Yarn
  • Pencil or crayon sharpener
  • Thin cotton cloth (optional, to use between iron and wax paper)
  • Hole punch


  1. Cut two sheets of wax paper in the same size. You will be layering these sheets, so two pieces of paper will make one finished product to cut leaves out of. My pieces were about 24” long, but it depends on how many leaves you want to create.
  2. Sharpen your crayons and capture the shavings. This is a great part for the kiddos to help complete! My five year old sharpened directly onto the waxy side of one of the wax paper sheets. My two year old sharpened into a little bowl and then he helped sprinkle the shavings onto the wax paper. Try to cover all the space so that there are no blank areas (you can see ours have some blank spaces, which is totally fine but will have different results). You can mix all the colors together or play with different patterns. Fall Kids Craft
  3. Carefully lay the other wax paper sheet on top with the waxy side facing down. Use your iron set on the lowest setting to gently melt the shavings between the two sheets. If you are worried about using the iron directly on the wax paper, you can use a thin cloth between. Move quickly, it doesn’t take much to melt them! I found that short soft presses worked better than trying to glide across.
  4. When all of the wax is melted, let it dry for a minute and harden. Trace leaf designs on the wax paper, cut them out, punch a hole, and string them up!

Fall Kids Craft

The effect that these leaves make in front of a window is truly lovely. This is one fall kids craft that you won’t be afraid to display for months to come!

Fall Kids Craft

Bonus: Learning Questions!

I found this activity to be a great opportunity to discuss how matter changes forms. These questions will work best for kids in elementary school, but you can stretch them to meet older kids’ levels as well.

  1. When we sharpen these crayons, how is it changing them? Are the shavings still made from crayon, or are they something new?
  2. What do you think will happen when we iron over the crayon shavings?
  3. When we cut the leaves out of the wax paper, is something new being created, or is it the same wax paper with crayon? Is this a physical or a chemical change?

More Than Just the Turkey: Four Traditions for the Best Thanksgiving Ever

Guys. . . it’s almost Thanksgiving! I know this holiday can easily be overshadowed by its glitzy bookends Halloween and Christmas, but I truly love the spirit and tradition of gathering around a table for a huge festive meal.

And I am borderline addicted to a connoisseur of stuffing so that may add to my excitement.

Friends and family? Yummy food? Cozy weather? Thanksgiving deserves a little more love.

After getting married and having my own baby, our Thanksgiving celebrations have expanded to include my family and my husband’s family; I absolutely love everyone coming together, but I realized that we needed some more activities to occupy the horde than just stuffing our faces. These traditions are easy little ways to bring everyone together and inject some non-turkey related fun into the day.


1. Book of Thanks

I started this for my little Vi’s first Thanksgiving, and I am so happy that I did. Last year I set up a little space with a blank page of cardstock and some pens for everyone to sign with their name and what they were most Thankful for that year. Later, I added a group photo of everyone who came to dinner. You could do this with a blank scrapbook or use separate pages and bind them together. As a new page is added each year, we will always be able to look back at the loved family and friends who we have been with to celebrate.  At first I thought it was a little cheesy…and then I didn’t care because it is just so cute.

2. Count the Candy

Everyone likes a sweet little guessing game, so why not fill a jar with some festive candy and ask your guests to guess how many are in there? This will entertain the kid’s table all the way up to grandpa, and it could take advantage of some leftover Halloween candy you might still have laying around.

3. A Fall Walk

This is the holiday where we are supposed to gobble until we wobble, so a nice walk could be the perfect way to stretch those legs before a nice tryptophan-induced nap. Since dinner is usually early, it leaves plenty of time to stroll around the neighborhood or wander through a park. It can be a wonderful reminder to be thankful for our gorgeous fall Florida weather.

4. Stuffing Competition

Ok, so this one is a little eating-related, but it is one of my absolute favorites and lets me blame my parents for my stuffing addiction because apparently it is genetic. Ever since I was in high school and developed my own theories of what makes delicious stuffing (extra celery, onion, and sage thank you very much), we have held an annual stuffing competition. It started with just me and my parents, but now everyone wants to share their family’s classic recipe or a modern take they just read about on Pinterest or their absolute favorite version. Everyone votes, and a stuffing champion is declared. After my loss last year, I have been revamping my classic recipe and, personally, I am pretty sure the title is mine this year (watch your back, Mom).  Of course, this can be adapted to be the best side dish, best dessert, best seasonal cocktail, even worst dish if your family is the we-relentlessly-tease-you-because-we-love-you type.

It's on this year. Mom's Southern cornbread stuffing is going down (and I mean that in the most loving way possible).
It’s on this year. Mom’s Southern cornbread stuffing is going down (and I mean that in the most loving way possible).

Use these little traditions to build memories and guarantee the best Thanksgiving ever. Does your family have any traditions that make this day of thanks even cozier?

Fun Thanksgiving Crafts and Treats

One of the best things about being a mom is having my daughter help me bake and craft. I love that she’s always taking interest in what I’m doing and as a result she becomes a little more creative every time we start a new project. Each holiday, I try to make themed kid-friendly treats for her friends at daycare. Sometimes we make treats because I want her to learn that it doesn’t have to be a special occasion to show kindness to others.  For the past week we have been going through all of our Thanksgiving ideas, trying to figure out what to do this year. 

  1. Last year we made a mix of Cheerios, Gold Fish and Mini Marshmallows. We put the mix inside ice cream cones and they made very cute cornucopias for her daycare friends. 


2. We also made these cute turkey cookies out of chocolate covered Graham Cracker, Smarties and Candy Corn. We used only the white Smarties for the eyes and added a dot of black icing. 


3. For the teachers we wrapped some banana bread, pumpkin bread and apple caramel bread in Fall themed ribbon and attached a printable you can find here.


We found so many other crafts and treats that are easy enough for you and your little helpers to make. 

4. These little turkey boxes are a great alternative to treats. I just love these by Love The Day 

Thanksgiving Crafts for Kids:: DIY Turkey Boxes

5. These DIY Party Favors by I Heart Crafty Things are perfect for Thanksgiving guests. 

6.Turkey Pudding Cups and Turkey Jello Cups by The Keeper of  the Cheerios are a great idea for daycare. 

turkey treats

7. Who wouldn’t like a Turkey Pretzel? Miss Candyquik has a great tutorial.

Turkey Pretzels! @candiquik

8. If you want to completely theme out your Thanksgiving celebration, Amanda’s Parties To Go has these printables you can download for free!

9. This is such a creative way to remind our children what to be thankful for. Have them help you put together this Thanksgiving Art by Yesterday on Tuesday 

So how about you? What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving Crafts and Treats this year?

“You need to take her to the Emergency Room.”


“You need to take her to the Emergency Room,” I heard her say as I sat there covered in projectile vomit and a puddle of my own tears. I looked up to examine my Pediatrician’s face as she looked over our two-month-old baby girl. I could see the worry in her eyes, and I knew we needed to act fast. Confirming my suggestion, she agreed AdventHealth for Children was the best ER to care for her, so we immediately went to their Downtown Campus on East Rollins Street.

During scary moments such as these, I cannot help but think how blessed we are to know a helping hand is right around the corner when we are in need. As a mother of three, I’m never surprised when one of our little ones fall ill, it’s to be expected, but the expectations do not help ease the moments when they actually come. In fact, it’s having access to pediatric emergency services in multiple cities here in Central Florida reduces my panic when we experience an emergency such as Charley’s.

AdventHealth for Children’s Emergency Department

Upon arrival at AdventHealth for Children’s Emergency Department, we were taken to a brightly lit, spacious, and clean child-friendly room. The smiling faces and calming presence of the staff, as well as the state-of-the-art technology used to care for Charley, helped relieve our worries of whether or not our daughter was going to be okay.

photos not to be used without permission of Orlando Mom Collective

As I explained to the doctors the course of events that led us to the ER, flashbacks of Charley’s face and stiff body overtook my mind. Tensing up, she’d freeze in time while in my arms and hold her breath. Knowing something wasn’t right, I called my sister to inform her and asked her for help. It was her advice which ultimately led us to the ER and standing before this team of specialists who were eager to step in and care for our sick baby.

Photos not to be used without permission of Orlando Mom Collective

“She is in need of a Spinal Tap,” the doctor explained to my husband and me. Tears filled my eyes as I thought about what was to come. Because Charley was showing signs of seizure-like activity, the doctors requested a Spinal Tap to rule out any infections which may have been causing the episodes. The doctor noticed the sheer panic coming over us and took her time to explain what was going to happen and how they were planning to be with Charley every step of the way. She assured us Charley was in the best hands, and after meeting the child-life specialist, whose role was to comfort Charley, I knew in my heart she was right.

One foot in front of another, my husband and I joined hands and walked into the quiet and spacious waiting room as they performed the test. It’s not often I feel comfortable leaving my children, especially our newborn baby, with complete strangers but AdventHealth for Children’s staff has a way of making you feel safe and confident in leaving your little one in the care of their hands. In no time, we were greeted by a nurse with the news our hearts longed to hear, “She did great!” Pure relief and joy took over as I walked back into the room and noticed our baby girl smiling in the arms of our doctor.

Photos not to be used without permission of Orlando Mom Collective

Feel Safe Close To Home

Surprisingly, the waiting period between the time the test was performed to the moment we received the results was not as long or worrisome as we’d imagined it to be. The nurses worked diligently to care for the three of us by delivering hearty snacks, water, and insight on what was to be expected for the rest of our time at the hospital. Their generosity and upbeat presence, as well as their urgency to create a clear care plan to lead Charley to heal, helped pass the little time we needed to wait. Of course, it usually always seems longer than it actually is when it involves the fate of your child but this scenario was different, and we have the amazing staff to thank for that.

“We are calling upstairs to prepare a room for you to stay,” the doctor shared as we listened to Charley’s test results which concluded Viral Meningitis and E.Coli. No parent longs for an opportunity to be admitted to the hospital, away from their home with their newborn baby, but after witnessing the hard work and dedication AdventHealth for Children’s Emergency Department’s staff provided, I felt safe, close to home.

Photos not to be used without permission of Orlando Mom Collective

If you, too, experience an emergency situation, please know AdventHealth for Children has emergency care locations in Orlando, East Orlando, Winter Garden, Apopka, Altamonte, Winter Park, as well as a new location in Celebration. There are dedicated spaces just for kids, with specially trained staff to help put parents and children at ease.


Making Every Block Better, with H&R Block


Every fall, thousands of H&R Block employees and franchisees attend their annual convention, and it so happened that this year they came to Orlando! In addition to sessions and seminars to educate themselves about the upcoming tax season, they have incorporated a Community Giveback event to benefit the local community.

We were blessed to attend their Community Giveback event to get a firsthand look. They packed a quarter million food kits and built 300 bikes for local charities serving the basic needs of Central Floridians!

Y’all, we were seriously impressed. As thousands of H&R Block employees poured into a grand ballroom at the Marriott World Center, they got right to work assembling top of the line bikes; from itty bitty princess bikes with pompoms on the handlebars, to teenager road bikes. Each assembly table consisted of approximately 5 workers, many of whom didn’t know each other. But they soon became family.

On the other side of the room, people gathered to assemble food kits. Together with Feeding Children Everywhere, these meals will allow families throughout the country to extend their grocery budget by receiving these food kits directly to their homes.

Truly the highlight of the day was watching smiles fill the faces on Central Florida kids. I had the opportunity to talk with Smith, a teenager who received a Huffy road bike. He couldn’t stop smiling as he shared with me how much this new bike meant to him. He was so proud as he told me how much this bike would help him get to school and back home again.

The heart of H&R Block was truly on display here in Orlando. It is SO evident that H&R Block’s purpose is WAY bigger than taxes! It was moving to see their passion to give back to our community in practical ways.

H&R Block, I am certain you’ve touched thousands of lives through your Community Giveback event, including mine.

We are thankful for the ways you have impacted our community for the better.

6 Tips for Taking Care of Your New Dog


Getting a new dog is an exciting time. You have a new furry friend in your home, and this changes everything. If you’re a first-time dog owner, you may be wondering how to go about taking care of your new friend. Below are 6 tips you can use to take care of your new dog and make sure they love their new home. 

Vaccines and Other Medical Procedures

The first thing you should learn is whether your dog needs any vaccines or other medical procedures. This will largely depend on where you got your dog and whether they took care of these things before you got them. In some cases, you may need to get your new dog some vaccines. If you are adopting a rescue dog, they may have some lingering health concerns that you need to take care of. Finally, you may need to get your new dog spayed or neutered. Talk to a veterinarian about which procedures you need to do and when you should do them. 

Get Your Home Ready

If you haven’t gotten your new friend yet, you’ll want to take some time to get your home ready first. For example, you may want to put up some child gates around areas that you want to keep your dog away from. You’ll also want to get your dog some dishes to eat out of and perhaps a bed to sleep in. Lastly, in some cases you’ll want to crate your dog when you’re out of this house. If so, you’ll need to pick up a dog crate and find a good location for it. 

Find the Right Pet Food

Next, it’s time to pick up some dog food. Talk to a vet or the previous owner about what kind of food they would recommend. While dogs will eat just about anything, you want to be sure you are feeding your dog the right amount of healthy food. It may take some time to figure out which food your dog likes best and when you should feed them. For example, some dogs you can fill their dish once each morning, while others dog like to eat both in the morning and at night. As you get to know your dog better you’ll learn the signs that they are hungry and you can adjust their schedule accordingly. 

Give Them Plenty of Time Outside

Dogs love to spend time outside. This includes running around in your yard, at dog parks, and just going for walks. Try to give your dog at least an hour or two outside each day, especially when the weather is nice. If you’re not home during the day, consider hiring a dog walker to give your dog a 30 minute walk each day. This will not only make your dog happy but it will keep them healthy. 

Play with Them

The other thing dogs love is playing with their owners. Your new dog may be a little shy at first, but over time they’ll warm up to you and start enjoying play time. Grab some toys that they can chase or teach them how to play fetch. Chasing your dog around outside is a great way to play with them and give them some exercise at the same time. Taking care of your dog is about more than just keeping them alive. Playing with them will allow you to bond with them and keep your dog friend happy. 

Get to Know Your Dog

Finally, you should get to know your dog. Figure out activities they like or what snacks they enjoy. No two dogs are alike, so this new dog will like different things than any other dog. Learning to read a dog’s body language can also help you to figure out their mood. According to The Dog House Pet Salon, a provider of pet grooming in Houston, “Understanding what your pets are feeling can be a huge progression in building a long-lasting relationship between human beings and our canine buddies. Ears and tails are often the best emotional indicators.”. 

Getting to know your dog takes some time but it will happen eventually. Before long you and your dog will be best friends and you’ll be able to tell what they want just by looking at them. Hopefully this guide was able to give you some insight into how you can take care of your new dog. You’re taking on a big responsibility, but one that is well worth it. Take the time to try new things with your dog – such as different foods or activities – and see what they respond to best. If you can do this, you should have no trouble taking care of your new dog. 

Why You Should Start Preparing Your Home for the Summer During the Winter


Taking care of a home is a lot of work. Not only do you need to perform regular maintenance tasks to ensure everything is working correctly, but you likely have some different home improvement jobs that you want to get done. This is especially true for certain seasons, which require a bit more preparation in order to handle them properly. To prepare your home for Summer, you should start preparing during the Winter. Here’s why: 

Enjoy the Nicer Weather

For starters, when the nice Summer weather comes around, you want to enjoy it as much as possible. Maybe you want to spend some time going to the beach, or reading outside, or just doing nothing at all. You can do this by getting more of your home maintenance tasks accomplished during the Winter. This way you can spend less of your time focusing on your home during the Summer and more time actually enjoying it. 

Preparation Takes Time

Some of the tasks you’ll need to do to prepare your home for Summer take time. If you wait until the Summer arrives, you may not get them accomplished until Summer is ending. It’s always a good idea to give yourself more time than you think you’ll need when it comes to home improvement projects. 

For example, maybe you want to replace the HVAC system within your home to provide better AC. If you wait until Summer, and AC installation service will likely be booked up, meaning it will take them longer to get to you. By doing it during the Winter you can get the service done well ahead of schedule, and sometimes even at a discount. 

Or maybe you want to add in a new deck to your yard so that you can have some outdoor BBQs this Summer. Planning out the new construction and landscaping isn’t something you should do over night. Large projects take time to plan and implement, so you’re better off starting early. 

Discounts on Summer Products

If your home needs any new stuff for the Summer, the best time to get it is during the Winter. Many stores have discounts on Summer items during the colder months, as they are trying to get rid of their stock. For example, let’s say you want to get some new patio furniture for the upcoming Summer. 

According to Houston Home and Patio, an outdoor patio store in Houston, you should then find a large store because “The bigger the selection, the better chance you’ll have of finding something that fit your needs, style, and budget. Plus, going to a store with a large selection saves you time; you won’t be flitting from store to store, disappointed after not finding what you want.” These bigger stores are also more likely to have discounts in the Winter, saving you money. 

Shopping early can save you a considerable amount of money, making it a great reason to start preparing for Summer during the Winter. 

Save Up for Bigger Projects

Big projects around the home cost a lot. For many of us, we don’t have the resources to spend at a moment’s notice. To afford the big changes you want to make to your home for the following Summer, it’s a good idea to start saving up during the Winter. If you can put away just a little bit of money each week during the Winter, but the time Summer arrives you’ll have a decent amount save up for the projects you want to do. 

A great thing to do is open up a separate savings account for your Summer projects and set up a direct deposit into it. That way you can forget it about it and not be tempted to touch it until you’re ready for your Summer project. 

How to Start Preparing for Summer

Preparing your home for Summer is easy, provided you get started early. The first thing you should do is decide on what projects you want to tackle. Do you want to fix some things around your home, like a broken AC unit? Or do you want to add in an entire new room to your home? Think about which projects around your home would allow you to enjoy Summer the most, then make a list of your top priorities. 

From there you can start figuring out the expenses and setting aside some money. If your projects require you to buy some new things, like furniture, you can start shopping now when there are deals on Summer items. 

Finally, you should get done any maintenance tasks so that you don’t have to worry about them during the Summer. For example, you can replace the air filter within your HVAC system, clean out the gutters, landscape the yard, and paint the exterior of the house. The more you get done now, the more time you’ll have to enjoy the great Summer weather. 

Dealing with the Installation of a Land Drain


Correct installation of your drain pipe is the key to getting rid of persistent waterlogging. It is not simply a matter of digging a long hole throwing in some small stones and putting a pipe on it. The water has to be able to find its way into the pipe and run unobstructed out of the way. This means taking some time to consider carefully where to dig the trench in the first place.

Where to Install a Land Drain

It makes sense to install a land drain where you have significant and frequent waterlogging. You may have to conduct a percolation test on the soil to pinpoint the exact area. If the soil performs badly, this is where you need to install a land drain. 

A DIY percolation test will suffice unless you’re dealing with large swathes of land. In this case, it is a good idea to connect with a local drainage company and seek advice. Being experts, they will be in the best position and have better diagnostic equipment to identify the areas that are at greatest risk. They will also provide recommendations on how to proceed with laying the drain to eliminate it.

Another important consideration is where to direct the excess water. You may have to contact the local authority in case there are any issues over where you plan to deposit the excess water. Storm drains are a good idea but they are often only available with a permit. If you access to one, you will also need to check they haven’t  reached maximum capacity already and follow rules on a maximum flow rate. Be sure to check all this before you proceed with the installation.

Installation Tips

If you’ve identified the best place to install the drain, your next step should be to buy the best product for your location and the immediate area of installation. Whichever you choose, you know you can always source them from EasyMerchant.

Here are some other tips to remember:

Don’t Let Sediment Enter the Pipe

Take steps to ensure no sediment enters the pipe to create blockages and for this you may want to opt for a non-woven geotextile. It should be installed at least 100mm above the land drain. Allowing sediment to enter will eventually lead to issues affecting the entire water course and the soakaway.

Pick a Good Gradient

Ideally, you should go for no less than a 1 in 150 gradient and certainly no more than 1 in 100 or the water’s flow rate will increase to become too aggressive for effective drainage.

Pick the Most Suitable Soakaway Crate

You will need to connect your drain pipe to a soakaway system so you need to select the most appropriate soakaway crate. The crate needs to be strong and robust, so opt for high quality plastic. If you’re expecting a constant flow of water, be aware that traditional soakaway crates are not suitable.

You need your drain pipe and soakaway to last and be as near maintenance free as possible. It’s always worth asking nearby neighbors how they have dealt with the problem of waterlogging. The chances are they have had the same problems. In the end, there’s no substitute for professional advice. So, before you start digging holes ask a couple of experts to come out and take a look at the situation and give a quote. It could save you from making an unpleasant mistake costing you in both money and time.

I See You, Mama

The loneliness and heaviness of Motherhood can sink in when you least suspect it.

I recently had conversations with some mom friends. The conversations took place on separate days and the friends were in different circles, but the vibe I got from both was similar.

They were stressed, lonely and a dare I say, lost.

Motherhood is a hard stage of life. It’s exhausting. Here we are, trying our best but it feels like the wheels are spinning in vain. Some mothers have given up a big career, some are balancing them with motherhood.

I heard and felt what these mamas had to say; my empathy was piqued. I wanted to give them a huge hug. I wanted to say, I see you Mama and you are doing a great job.

So, here is my virtual hug. I see you, Mama!

To The Stay at Home Mama

Girl, I see you. I see you slaying that mom game! Even when the laundry is piled high, the dishes are never ending and you are just trying to survive until bedtime; you are doing great. You are carrying a precious load being the constant, loving and familiar face to your amazing family. You may have put a career or a degree or a dream on hold, but you are giving selflessly and that’s invaluable!

To The Working Mama

I see you, cranking through the work day and then diving into parenthood 110% after you “clock out”. You are giving everything to work and you are giving everything at home. Some days feel like you aren’t succeeding at either but you are. You show your family that you can hustle and you can love. You are an inspiration to the dreams your kids are growing everyday.

To The Special Needs Mama

I see you, Mama! I see you advocate for your kids every day. Managing appointments, insurance statements, medications and/or therapies has become a priority, always over your own needs. But the biggest priority is the happiness of your child and helping guide family, friends and perfect strangers through your child experience and journey. You are learning alongside your child and you are giving them a voice or the words to be stronger every day. You are exhausted emotionally and physically. You are doing great things, hard things, important things. You are amazing.

To The Single Mama

I see you, Mama! I’d love to give you a standing ovation. I know each situation looks different but you are stronger than you realize. Balancing schedules, work and sometimes covering all the roles in the family. Full of love for your kids and staying steady even during turmoil, you are guiding your children to value the strength inside of themselves. Teaching them resilience even when you feel you are running on steam. Remember, you are truly a force!

To The Quiet Mama

I see you, Mama! Whether it’s anxiety, nerves or anything else, I see you at all the park, school functions and supporting your babies in all they do. You may be tackling your own battles along with the battles of parenting. The love you have for your children is palpable and they feel it too. Please know that even if you don’t feel like you have “the tribe” everyone talks about. You have your tribe here. You can always sit with us!

To The Loud Mama

Of course, I see you, Mama! You love the camaraderie of parent groups and laughing with friends at the park. Everyone expects you to be the “fun mama” at all times. It can make the lonely days of new parenting difficult and isolating. You may feel like you don’t have a place to share when you are dealing with the hard stuff. It’s OK not to always be the “fun”, I see you in those moments too. It doesn’t take away from who you are. You teach your children that being bold is empowering. We love you for all your sides.

To The Instagram Mama

I see you! But it’s not what people think. Your beautiful pictures aren’t “inauthentic”. They’re your moment to escape the craziness of crying babies or dirty diapers. You find these small captured moments of calm, order and beauty in a season of chaos and unpredictability. It’s not a ploy to show just the perfect moments; it’s practice for finding the beauty in the everyday. Your stories give you a voice to talk about your passions, your advocacies, your experiences. It takes immense bravery to be transparent. That bravery will build a strong foundation in your little ones to feel comfortable to be who they are and find the beauty around them.

To The New Mama

Take a seat friend, I see you. I’ve been you. You are in the thick of it. This season seems never ending but one day you will wake up and it will just be memories. You may not even know when it happens. You are tired…a tired you never knew existed. But you are doing great. Did you know decisions could be so hard? How to feed, which pump, bottle, spoon, sippy cup, to use? So many decisions and so much information. I won’t lie, it gets better and harder and better again. The worst advice I was ever given was “enjoy every moment”. No, Mama, enjoy the moments that matter. No one enjoys the exhaustion, the poop, the hormones. You can let those moments be forgotten. Remember that day when you did #momlife like a boss? That’s the only one that matters and it’s the one your baby will remember most.

To The Veteran Mama

I see you and we need you! Your kids are grown. There’s no more diapers, it’s prom. No more spit-up on your shirt. It’s graduation parties instead of cake smash photo shoots. The house is quiet. You never thought it would be worse than the crying and constant squealing of the early days. This is a different kind of hard. You made it through the trenches and now the new mamas need your stories. Even if you think we don’t. We need to know what’s ahead and that there new firsts on the horizon. Your kids have learned so much from you already and still have so much more to learn.

To The Still-Trying Mama

I see you! You already have a mama’s heart. You already know what it’s like to put your soul into something and love someone, deeply, who you’ve never met. Your road has been full of let downs and heartbreak but you persevere because your mama bear instinct is already bursting with love. That determination will be what you pass on to your little one. Your foundation for parenting will be built stronger for the adversity you’ve faced.

To All The Mamas

I see you all! Seasons of parenting change. Struggles become things of the past and new challenges take their place. These come from the parenting journey itself or things we battle within ourselves that affect how we mother our children. Some may have that #squadgoals type “tribe” but others may not. But no matter what, we need to be reminded that we are seen and valued. This is my virtual hug to you. I see you, you are doing great and you are slaying this motherhood thing. And when you aren’t, there’s always tomorrow!

Ways A Camping Trip Promotes Family Bonding


With today’s hectic lifestyles, it’s easy to forget to find ways to spend quality time with your family. Generally, people tend to spend more time with their gadgets than with their family members. While it’s simpler for moms to spend their free time at home, it’s still essential to find new ways to bond with the family.

A common activity in which you spend time with both nature and your family is going on a camping trip, which can help promote bonding among all members of the family. Now, not all moms are the outgoing type or are great at planning camping trips. So, if you’re at a loss at how to start, head to Outdoorcommand for camping tips that can help you plan an enjoyable camping trip.

That said, here are some ways a camping trip will promote family bonding:

Choose from Many Fun Activities

Bonding with the family means sharing or doing activities together. When you stay home on vacations, you may have limited options when it comes to activities you can do. But when you go outside and glamp or camp—whether by the beach, a lake, or a mountain—you have endless options. You can build sandcastles, bike, cook by the fire, swim, hike, fish, boat, go water skiing, and many more.

Develop Common Interests

Going on a camping trip is a way for you and your kids to develop common interests since you get to do enjoyable things together. Developing these interests can foster life-changing relationships that will last throughout time. Try hiking together on your next camping trip or have fun fishing.

Learn New Skills

There are many skills that you can learn when you go camping. These skills aren’t normally learned in daily activities, which consist of pitching a tent, making fire, cooking over a bonfire, fishing, and many more. When you or your kids learn a new skill, it gives you a sense of accomplishment. Your kids will feel proud for being able to do something new. Also, if you’re the one teaching them the skill, you will similarly feel proud in seeing your child learn something new.

Helps Foster Lifelong Memories

You want your family to bond because you’d like to make memories that you can share with your friends or relatives. Sharing these memorable moments with others helps us connect with these people. Camping isn’t just done to take pictures to post on your social media accounts. Rather, you’d want your partner, yourself, and the kids to share memories you can keep for the rest of your lives.

Provides a Sense of Belonging

The activities that you do together on your camping trips help establish strong relationships among family members. Everyone needs to feel like they fit in, and spending time with your family will create this sense of belonging. When you do things together, you learn how to manage stressful situations more comfortably. More importantly, building a strong bond in the family will also help children develop their self-esteem. At the same time, it’s a great opportunity for parents to feel more committed when it comes to taking care of their family.

Allows You to Destress

Going camping with your family will teach everyone to take some time to breathe, appreciate nature, and relax. With everyone’s hectic schedule at work and in school, having time to unwind from the daily stresses of life will surely be appreciated. If your partner has been too stressed with work, plan a camping trip with the kids. Outdoor time will also be treasured by the kids who need time off their schoolwork and extracurricular activities. Of course, moms need to unwind, too. So, take the opportunity to marvel at the beauty of nature and spend quality time with your family.

Improves Problem-Solving Skills

As you may have known, camping provides you with many great adventures. But what makes these adventures memorable is your ability to work together as a family to solve unexpected problems along the way. Whether it’s the weather that won’t cooperate or a camping gear that broke, solving these problems together can strengthen the bond you have as a family.

Develops a Healthy Lifestyle for the Family

The best way to enjoy each other’s company is to keep yourselves healthy. With the exercise, fresh air, joyful heart, and peaceful mind that camping brings, it is linked to having mental, emotional, and physical benefits, which the whole family can greatly enjoy.

Going on a camping trip at least once a year comes with lifelong benefits for the whole family. Promoting a strong relationship among family members is one of the benefits that come with camping. While you enjoy and unwind, you also allow your kids to improve their self-confidence and share happy memories together.


Holiday Fun for Out of Town Guests at Disney World and Universal Studios!

Let me guess — you have out of town guests coming to visit sometime between now and December 31st, right? I mean, you live in Orlando! Odds are someone you know is planning a fun Florida trip at some point during the holidays. And that’s fantastic! Because I’ve rounded up my top 5 ideas for Fall fun with out of town guests at Disney World and Universal Studios Florida!

My Top 5 Tips for Fall Fun with Out of Town Guests at Disney World & Universal Studios!

No Annual or Season Passes? No problem!

Seriously, if you don’t have annual or season passes to either Disney or Universal, no problem! My first two tips are just for you: Disney Springs and Universal Studios’ City Walk!

1. Disney Springs

If you and your out-of-town guests are Disney fans, Disney Springs is the PERFECT meet up spot! You get that magical Disney vibe (how ’bout them Mickey and Minnie-shaped caramel apples at Candy Cauldron!?). There are cool shops like the HUGE Coca Cola and Under Armor stores, the Lego Store, all the Disney merch your heart dreams about (and your wallet fears), and so much more! Plus, Disney Springs has amazing restaurants (hello, Morimoto Asia for Food Network Iron Chef fans)! And the dessert options include Ghirardelli Chocolate (which always reminds me of San Francisco) and Sprinkles cupcakes!

Oh, did I forget to mention the bowling alley and movie theatre? What about the awesome Aerophile balloon where you can see Disney Springs from 400 ft. up in the sky?! And if you have any NBA fans (like my 13 year old Golden State Warriors Steph Curry fan), you will absolutely LOVE the new NBA Experience that opened at Disney Springs earlier this year!

So far, since we moved to Orlando from Houston back in April, we’ve been to Disney Springs with my sister and her family (who happen to live in Windermere)! Our friends the Mays visited from Houston (in the month of May … how appropriate!). Of course, we met up at Disney Springs! We met my parents for lunch shortly after they moved to Casselberry in August. And when my in-laws came to visit from Puerto Rico during the summer, we celebrated my hubby’s 40th at Morimoto Asia (he’d been dying to go)!

2. Universal Studios City Walk

You know how your kids get excited and count the days till Christmas? That was me, counting down the days till my friend Tracy and her family visited from Kingwood, TX! We lived 2 doors down and LOVED having the VanNostrands as our neighbors! So when we heard they were coming, we rushed to make plans to meet! Their Florida trip took them to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. We’re Disney Annual Passholders, but that didn’t stop us from planning a little get together! We just went to Universal Studios City Walk (which we hadn’t visited before)!

It was ALL worth it when our kids saw each other (we each have a boy and a girl, super close in age)! It was easy to decide on pizza for everyone and Red Oven Pizza Bakery was perfect! They even took great care of my daughter’s food allergies.

And, of course, we walked ALL throughout City Walk and had to stop by Voodoo Doughnut. And it happened to be a Halloween Horror Night so, while we had to pay parking ($26!) We also got to walk close enough to the park entrance to see some of the scary fun and hear some of the Stranger Things-inspired music.

We had a BLAST! And man, we miss them already! But that’s the beauty of living here in Orlando. You just know it’s a matter of time before friends come back to visit again! 🙂

3. Visit a Disney hotel!

I have to credit my sister Emille for this AWESOME tip! Did you know you can visit many (if not all) Disney hotels, even if you’re not a guest? And they have some amazing restaurant experiences that you can enjoy without a park ticket or hotel room!

One super fun example: my sister and brother-in-law took us to the Whispering Canyon Cafe at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. The servers are hilarious! Pro tip: ask for ketchup and watch what happens. (wink, wink!)

Bonus: If you go during the holidays, you’ll enjoy perfect photo opps, especially at the Grand Floridian with their epic Gingerbread Houses and glorious Christmas trees & music everywhere! Ah, is it Christmas yet?!

So you have Annual or Season Passes to Disney World or Universal Studios? GREAT! And your guests have park tickets, too? SWEET!

Tips 4 & 5 here on the list are for YOU!

4. Enjoy the Disney Parks!

As much fun as it is going to any Disney Park (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom), going with friends just multiplies the fun!

This is what happened when our friends the Ortiz-Clark family came to visit from Virginia! And it happened again when one of my daughter’s best friends came for a Disney trip earlier this month!

My friend Carmen and I have known each other since elementary school in Puerto Rico. When I found out she and her family were coming to Orlando to visit one of the grandmas, I freaked out! We were going to have a chance to go to Disney together! Our 9 year old selves would have been giddy to know that our 40-year-old selves would be riding Buzz Lightyear’s ride at the Magic Kingdom with our hubbies and kids! Or that our kids would ride Everest at Animal Kingdom together, either! So fun!

And I can’t even begin to tell you the JOY on my daughter’s face when she spotted one of her old besties at Epcot!

It worked out great that we had Annual Passes so when our family and friends have come to visit, and they’ve had park tickets, we can all go enjoy the parks together!

Extra Fun Fall Tip: If you want to go all out, get the extra ticket for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party through November 1st or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, starting November 8th!

5. Enjoy Universal Studios!

This one is still on our “to do list!” Our family doesn’t have Universal Studios passes, although my husband and I have both been to the parks in the past. But if you do have passes and your out-of-town guests have tickets, PERFECT! You can plan to spend a day at Universal Studio, Islands of Adventure (or both!) together!

Extra Fun Fall Tip: Our out-of-town friends, the VanNostrands, were thrilled to check out Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights!  That’s a great idea if you love Halloween AND have the tickets! We didn’t, but we still got to hang out with them at Universal Studios City Walk, though! And it was a BLAST!

Do you have any other tips for out of town guests this fall at the theme parks? I know there are a million things to do here in Orlando! So feel free to share a few of your favorites in the comments! Can’t wait to hear from you!

Loving life!


New baby…now what?

new baby


Congrats on your new baby! It’s inevitable, whether you’re caring for your first child or your seventh, there’s bound to come a moment when you wonder “Now what do I do?” Our friends at KinderCare have 50 years of experience caring for children, and their teachers know every baby is different. That’s why they’re answering some of the most commonly asked new baby questions.

Common new baby questions

What can I do if I have trouble nursing?

Nursing can be tough for everyone involved! It’s about following your instincts. If one method doesn’t work, try something else. If it doesn’t feel right for you, trust that feeling.

Remember, all parents — whether they’re breastfeeding or not — have options:

  • Lactation consultants in the Orlando area can offer advice and guidance.
  • Exclusively pumping may be the best solution for you.
  • Formula might be the way to go for your family.

It’s all a matter of trying different methods to learn which one works for you and your little one.

new baby

How do I find time for other things if my baby doesn’t sleep?

When do you eat, or shower, or tackle that mountain of laundry? Every baby and every family is different. What works for you might mean “sleeping when the baby sleeps” as the saying goes, and taking a mid morning nap with your newborn. It might mean starting a load of laundry instead.

For the first few months with your new baby, you’ll be riding the baby rhythm — they’re hungry when they’re hungry and cranky when they’re cranky. Don’t pressure yourself (or your baby) to adopt a routine by a certain time. You’ll eventually have a schedule, even if that seems like a distant goal. Right now your priority is bonding with your child.

Why is my baby crying so much?

Don’t take it personally. Your baby cries because that’s the easiest way to express their feelings. They need to know you’ll be there to comfort them as they adjust to all of the new sights, sounds, and sensations.

If you find yourself frustrated by all the crying, pause, take deep breaths, and try to get yourself to a calm place. Your baby will draw from you. If you’re calm, they’re that much more likely to be calm.

How do I find time for myself?

Taking some time for self-care is so important for new parents. Lean on friends or family members — even if all they can do is hold the baby while you sleep, shower, exercise, or do the dishes. This exposes your baby to other faces and helps them learn that you’ll always be back.

Need a half day or a day to yourself? Find a childcare center where you can drop off your baby, even if it’s just for a little while at first. If the idea of dropping your new baby off at a childcare center makes you anxious, you can talk with the center director about joining your baby for a series of half days. Centers like KinderCare are more than happy to help you and your baby adjust to spending time apart.

The best thing for your baby is you!

The most important thing? Trust yourself. You’ll learn quickly. Pregnancy, birth, and getting to know your new baby can be a roller coaster for even the most experienced parent. Listen to your body — what’s best for you is likely best for your baby.

For 50 years, KinderCare teachers have been creating safe, encouraging environments where kids can learn, grow and build confidence for life. At KinderCare, hardworking families are family—regardless of needs, backgrounds, and experiences.

KinderCare Learning Centers is opening a brand new center in Alaqua Lakes this December! Check out the Alaqua Lakes KinderCare on 2635 W Lake Mary Blvd, or contact 833-90-LEARN to schedule a tour and meet the Center Director.

Learn more about what to look for in a childcare provider at




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