Every kid loves to build forts and my kids are no exception. The only thing that I don’t love is the clean up; having to put away all of the blankets and chairs once they are done playing is a total hassle. I wanted to give them their own little hide-away play space by creating a super easy, no-sew tent that made clean up a breeze.

Constructing the tent will take you less than an hour and you can purchase your materials for around $30. Bonus, you don’t even have to know how to sew or use major power tools to create a super cute tent.


  • 2 – 1″ x 2″ 8 ft. Furring Strips
  • 2 1/2 yds. of Fabric of your choice (select an outdoor fabric if you plan on using tent outside)
  • 3 – 48″ x 5/8″ wooden dowels
  • Stitch Witchery fabric bond
  • 5/8 ” Spade Drill bit
  • Drill
  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil
  • Heat Press/Iron
  • Straight Pins (optional)
  • Sandpaper (optional)



Start by having the furring strips cut down to 48″ pieces. Most home improvement stores will cut them for you at no charge.

Next, measure and drill a hole 6″ from the top of the furring strip. Drill a second hole 1 1/2″ from the bottom of the furring strip.

When drilling into wood be sure to wear protective eyewear.

Create a 2″ fold (use the straight pins to hold it in place) and bond the fabric using stitch witchery and a heat press or iron. Insert the dowel into the opening and set it aside.

Create an “A” with your wood by lining up the holes and insert the dowel. Repeat the process with the other end of the dowel.

If you are having trouble inserting your dowel try sanding inside of the hole.

Insert the fabric wrapped dowel into the holes at the bottom of the wood. Then drape the remaining fabric over the center dowel and insert it into the holes at the bottom.

If your fabric is a little loose you can roll the bottom dowels, wrapping your fabric around for more a taut look.

Add a small blanket and a few throw pillows and it’s the perfect little hideaway. What’s great about these tents is that you can collapse them for easy storage when you aren’t using them.

Finding the Power Within Us


We are mothers. We are the powerful ones. We have the ability to chase away monsters in closets and to make boo-boos hurt a little less just with a kiss. But sometimes, we feel powerless.

The world can feel chaotic at times, both within our own home and out. We want to feel like we’ve got it under control and that we’ve got it together. We want to show everyone that we’re okay. But sometimes, we feel like we’re gasping for air as our problems seem to swallow us whole. We question our ability to bring goodness and positivity to our kids. We wonder how we can make sense out of life’s chaos for them, when we can’t even do so for ourselves.

But we hold a power that, even though it might be hidden under layers of doubt and fear, is always with us: the power to empower. 

Here are a few stories from my own life, when the ability to empower others made me realize that we are more powerful than we may think.

There’s power in empowering others.

Two months into being a new mom, my phone chirped as a text came through one morning. It was a family friend asking if I would meet her at the mall, babies in tow. She, too, was a new mom, but a virtual veteran to me, with her baby being nearly six months old. I was struggling badly in my new role as a mom, and had largely isolated myself from socializing with anyone other than my husband, stepson, and baby. Something about her cheer and lack of judgement made me get dressed and drive up to the mall, where we sat in the food court and chatted for a couple hours. To this day, I don’t know if she knows the gravity of what she did for me by just reaching out to me, offering some social interaction, and making me feel a bit more human. While we were talking, she had mentioned a workout group where I could bring my baby with me. A new world opened up to me. She had the power to change my perspective – and she did.

There’s power in empowering our children.

My son wouldn’t stop talking about how well he could jump. Maybe I was bogged down with other problems or maybe I really didn’t understand what the big deal was, but I rarely gave his efforts much attention. One day we went outside for a walk and when he didn’t jump over the little cracks in the sidewalk, I asked him why, as he always did this to work on his jump skills. When he shrugged and said he just wasn’t a very good jumper, my heart dropped. I immediately told him that he was the very best jumper in the world. He looked at me, unconvinced. Had I, unwittingly, squashed my son’s confidence? Who was I to take his dreams of being a champion jumper away? I knelt down to his height and told him I actually thought that he was turning into a ninja because his jumping skills were so good. An absolutely priceless, big-as-can-be smile spread across his face. He then offered to show me how he might be going at least fourteen feet in the air when he jumps. So, even at four years old, we all could use a little nudge of confidence. I wanted to give him the power to dream of being the best ninja ever one day – and I did.

There’s power in empowering ourselves. 

Cursor blinking, I stared at the words on my screen. It was an outpouring of emotions, deep and personal. Would anyone read these words and think my experience was worth sharing? And even so, would anyone relate? I had submitted writing to other publications before, either receiving a “thanks, but no thanks” response, or – even more frequently – no response at all. There was a looming feeling hovering over me that I just wasn’t good enough. With bated breath, I hit send on what would eventually become my very first published piece of writing. I read over the response email a few times just to believe it. My words were beautiful, it said, and I nearly started crying. I had given myself the power to hit send. I had the power to tell myself that my words were worthy – and I did.

There’s power in empowering your community. 

Three days after my writing was published, I got a Facebook message from someone I knew in college, but hadn’t talked to in a decade. She had read my post and was compelled to tell me her own struggles with motherhood. Reading her own experience and feeling so humbled that she felt she could open up to me made me feel so full – of gratitude, of optimism, of community I never knew I had. In the moment, I had clarity. I knew I was meant to share my experience with others. I had the power to enable others to feel heard, be heard – and I did.

Each one of these stories showed me that people, including myself, held the power to make positive change in the world, one person at a time. Reaching out and lifting others up is a power we all hold, no matter what is going on in the world.

Yes, the world can feel big and scary sometimes, even for those of us who kiss boo-boos and chase away monsters in closets. The weight of all of our problems can feel so heavy sometimes, as we play hide-and-seek and push little ones on swings. There’s a tightness in our chests sometimes, even as we kiss our kids on the forehead and say that everything is going to be okay. But don’t forget, you are more powerful than you think. When you’re feeling powerless, empower others – other mothers, our children, our partners, our neighbors, our community, and ourselves.

So send the text. Kiss the boo-boos. Tell your kid he can jump to the moon. Chase away monsters. Tell yourself you are good enough. Empower others. 

The power is within us.

The Baby Monitor System All New Moms Need: Lumi by Pampers

We're always on the lookout for products to help make life easier for you! We've partnered together with Lumi by Pampers to share this amazing product!

Ask any new mom what they wish for most, and you’ll likely hear SLEEP! Tired takes on a whole new meaning for new parents. Lumi by Pampers is making motherhood easier by introducing their smart sleep system that all new moms need, because when baby sleeps, Mom sleeps!

Gone are the days of tiptoeing into your child’s nursery to see if they’re asleep. Gone are the days of worrying if your baby is whimpering because of a wet diaper. The Lumi Smart System by Pampers, developed by a panel of experts, will quickly take your worries away with their crystal clear video monitor and highly-developed app.

It starts with a video monitor

The Smart Sleep System is three-fold, beginning with their HD video monitor. This state-of-the-art video includes 1080p HD wide angle, night vision, two-way audio, room temperature and humidity tracking. The amazing crystal clear quality of the camera, and the continuous background audio that lets you hear baby even when you’re on Instagram or when your phone is locked!

The Sleep Sensor and Tracking App

The sleep sensor automatically tracks your baby’s sleep patterns and the status of their diaper. This is such an amazing tool to help you create a routine that works for the whole family. It’s enhanced with Velcro ® to securely attach to Lumi diapers.

With the Lumi system, you are able to see your baby’s sleep patterns and potentially make changes to their schedule to optimize a better sleep time. Sleep is when baby’s brains develop the most, and establishing a good routine early can significantly payoff as your child grows older.


It’s safe to say that mom brain is real. It’s difficult to keep track of how long your baby slept, or when you last changed their diaper. The Lumi app takes all of the guesswork out.  Their system brings together your baby’s data into personalized insights to help you understand their unique development journey, all within the Lumi app. You can chart baby’s naps, overnight sleep times and even the last time you fed your baby to help create a routine that works best for your family. You receive a weekly report to get a better grasp of how your baby is sleeping and even get tips from pediatric sleep experts to help baby get optimal sleep!

Memorial Day Discount!

Lumi by Pampers is on the cutting edge of motherhood and our needs! They have a 15% Memorial Day discount, use code CITYMOM15 (valid May 22-28, 2020), especially for YOU! Treat yourself (or send this link to your significant other!) and receive one of the best tools to help make motherhood easier for you!


Find out more!

Check out some FAQ and follow Lumi by Pampers on their website, Facebook page, and Instagram page!

Last Minute Mother’s Day Gifts

To be honest, this Mother’s Day I would be happy if I didn’t have to wash one dirty dish, clean up the kitchen, or take care of the tiny humans. But if my family happens to get me a gift, I won’t be mad about it!

We’ve reached out to some local (and a few national) businesses to share some last minute Mother’s Day gifts. Here’s some popular finds. (Feel free to forward this link to your significant other, in case they need a little nudge!)

Last Minute Mother’s Day Gifts

Last Minute Mother's Day Gifts

Sophie & Trey

The Dashing Squad

Walk On Water

Downtown Divas Boutique

basq Skin Care

Smiling Goat

Sixty Vines

Garp & Fuss

Sweet Dee’s Cupcakery

Quarantine 30 Day Challenge: Budgeting


It’s time to check in on our Quarantine 30 Day Challenge! It may seem like 17 weeks have gone by, but it was only one month ago that our entire state of Florida began a state-wide, stay-at-home order. I chose to “attempt” a 30 day budgeting challenge. I figured, it would be a good thing, but I never dreamed that it would end up being a pretty IMPORTANT thing!

Budgeting helped us avoid a crisis!

In a nutshell, thanks to budgeting, I found out that our auto insurance policy had been cancelled.

My husband and I had NO IDEA.

We thought our automatic payments were going thru, as they had for the past 14 or so YEARS that we’d been with the same insurance company.

Thoughout that time, we bought and sold cars, moved from California to Texas and now to Florida, and we kept the same insurance company. Never had any issues. Had a great experience with the company when we needed to file a claim after having flood damage to one of our cars when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in 2017.

I thought auto-pay was automatic

Imagine our surprise when, as I was “tweaking” our budget, I noticed that our car insurance payment had not been debited from our account.

Hmmm. That’s weird.

I checked and the previous month wasn’t showing up as debited either. Huh? Weird again.

The next day, I called to find out if maybe it had to do with a bank account and debit card change. A few months back we had changed bank accounts, but I thought we had set up our payments with the new bank and everything was running smoothly.

As you may know, if you ever miss a payment or two on anything, things can get cancelled. You might get phone calls from creditors, etc. So I figured, everything must be great!

To my utter shock, when I called the insurance company, they informed me that our policy had been cancelled almost 3 months earlier!

What do you mean by “cancelled?”

WHAT IN THE WORLD?! Excuse me? Can you explain to me how an insurance company simply cancels your insurance without an email or phone call? No notifications?

I feel like, if my husband or I had seen a “cancellation notice” or something similar, you would think we would have done something about it!

So, of course, I asked. I called the local office. I contacted the national office. I sent messages thru social media. I submitted a formal request to reinstate our account. And we hit all the dead ends you can imagine.

At one point, I think I just broke down and cried. The whole thing was so frustrating. You mean we didn’t have insurance for like 2-3 months?! How could we not know?

Thank God for budgeting (and 30 Day Quarantine Challenges!)

I quickly said a prayer of thanks to God for protecting us! Can you imagine finding out you don’t have insurance thru an accident? At least, we found out thru budgeting! (And then I thanked God again that I picked “budgeting” for this 30 Day Quarantine Challenge!

Eventually, the insurance company said that they had mailed a letter to let us know about the cancellation. No email. No phone calls. Just a letter that my husband and I wish we would have known about. Maybe it got lost, or we accidentally thru it out with a pile of junk mail. Who knows?

But wait, it gets better!

To make this whole thing even more baffling, a few weeks before, when we were still unaware that we were uninsured, my husband went to the insurance office in person. He requested an extra copy of our insurance cards for the cars. They were like, of course! Here ya go! (Meanwhile, they did not tell us that they had cancelled our policy. They just gave us the cards, like everything was perfect!)

Can it get even better? Of course! Just last week we got a card from the same insurance company that cancelled our account, wishing my husband (whose policy they had cancelled) a happy birthday.


Back to the point, all that mattered was that we didn’t have insurance, so we HUSTLED to find a new company. Sadly, we found out that, because we had been “uninsured for so long,” we were going to have to pay a higher premium.

Don’t be afraid to ask friends for (budgeting) help

I asked, I begged, I called, I emailed and we looked at all the possible options. Thankfully, my husband was able to chat with a friend who, interestingly, works for the same insurance company that we’d been so frustrated with. She gave us great counsel. Our friend not only pointed us in the right direction, but helped us figure out how to set up insurance considering this situation. She helped us stay within our current budget, and guided us on what to do “repair the damage” that we were unaware had been caused.

I hope you never have something like this happen to you! As much as I love setting things up on auto-pay, I learned my lesson. Check your accounts regularly.

Quarantine 30 Day Challenge: Lesson Learned

If I learned anything from this Quarantine 30 Day Budget Challenge, it’s that keeping track of our income and expenses affects more than just money; it can truly affect your whole life.

In this case, budgeting helped save us from a potential crisis, had something happened to our cars while we were oblivious to our insurance situation. I’m glad we were able to set up insurance and thankful that God protected us in the interim!

Honestly, with how Corona-crazy things are in the world, we need peace of mind more than ever. Our state of Florida starts Phase 1, reopening in the midst of this Covid-19 crisis. The last thing I want for you is to stress out about money.

Budgeting Tools!

If you’d like budgeting help, I’m a fan of money expert Dave Ramsey! (So is another one of our Orlando Mom Collective moms, Angelica!) Dave’s free budgeting app, Every Dollar, is pretty easy to set up and use. That’s the one I use!

I’m also a fan of the You Need a Budget podcast. I haven’t tried their budgeting system, but have a friend who LOVES it. My friend & his wife are a 1-income family with tons of kids & they can somehow afford Disney Annual Passes! I think that means they can budget with the best of them! 🙂

Stay safe! And let me know in the comments if you have any budgeting stories! I’d love to hear from you!


There’s a New Restaurant in Town: Sixty Vines


“Come as you are and enjoy a new attitude about wine culture. It’s time we focus on food first, with cuisine inspired by the wine country and an open kitchen that delights every sense. It’s time to experience a better way to enjoy wine: on tap and perfectly selected to complement each dish. At Sixty Vines, we have the right pour for every palate. Because food tastes better with wine.”

Sixty Vines

I CANNOT wait for this quarantine to be over, so that I can experience Sixty Vines IN PERSON! I recently placed a to-go meal, (appropriately called “The Sixty – Quarantine Kit”!), and when approaching this Winter Park location, I couldn’t help but imagine myself sitting on their greenhouse patio, enjoying a perfectly paired wine. Their esthetically gorgeous venue is definitely on my post-quarantine bucket list. But until then, I LOVE how you can experience their limited menu, with daily kits available for pick up!

‘The Sixty’ – $60 Quarantine Kit

This three-course meal gives you a Sixty Vines experience to take home to your kitchen table (with wine included)! Their daily menus can be found on their Instagram and Facebook pages.

For just $60, the Quarantine Kit includes:

     2 Proteins Ready to Grill
     1 Specialty Pasta Ready to Heat
     Fresh-Made Salad & Bread
     1 bottle of Red or White Wine
     2 rolls of toilet paper

We chose a vegetarian option, and IT WAS DELICIOUS! It included:

  • Hummus
  • Orecchiette Primavera
  • Fig and Prosciutto
  • Seasonal Vegetables
  • Dinner Rolls

Wine On Tap

“It’s time to experience a better way to enjoy wine: on tap and perfectly selected to complement each dish.”

We chose a Cabernet Sauvignon. I love custom wines! I can’t wait to experience Sixty Vines in person to experience their selection!

Thank you, Sixty Vines, for a fantastic peek into what I can expect, post-quarantine!

Kristi Corley

PERFECT for Mother’s Day!

View this post on Instagram

Roses are red, violets are blue, let Sixty Vines help you spoil MOM for all that she does for you! 💗⠀ ⠀ We are now taking pre-orders for our Mother’s Day Kit! ⠀ .⠀ 💥Burrata Filet Kit $110 ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ All Packages Include:⠀ ▫️Choice of Squash Blossom Pizza or Margarita Pizza⠀ ▫️Roasted Cauliflower⠀ ▫️Roasted Sonoma Potatoes⠀ ▫️Choice of: House Salad or Beet Salad⠀ ▫️Deviled Affogato- including⠀ ▫️Stumptown Nitro Cold Brew and ▫️Sweet House Salted Carmel Ice Cream⠀ ▫️1  Kids meal- Choice of Kids Cheese Pizza or Pasta⠀ ⠀ Add Ons:⠀ 🥞 Sixty Vines Brunch Kit $40⠀ 🌸 Flower Market with @meljohnsonsflowershope⠀ 🍥Macaroons $30 per sleeve of 9 in a Happy Mother’s Day Box⠀ 🕯 Sweetly Recycled Rosemary Candles⠀ 🥂 Froze $14 per pouch⠀ 🍷 Wine: all wine is 50% off always!⠀ ⠀ The best gift you can give MOM is your time being present! Leave the cooking to us – DM to preorder by Wednesday, May 6th and we’ll have it ready for pickup Friday 5/8 or Saturday 5/9! #motherday #winterpark #sixtyvineswp #orlando #mom #family #brunch #dinner #winterparkmoms #visitorlando #orlandotogo

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Graduation Parties!

5 Reasons Why You Need a Family Doctor

Who do you call first when you have a weird rash, nagging back pain, or sudden flu symptoms? A family doctor should be the right answer to this question. Well, of course, with the exception of emergencies. A lot of people choose not to have a family doctor. But then, there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t partner with a versatile family doctor who will oversee your family’s health care needs.

Here are five reasons why you should have a family doctor.

1. They take care of the whole family.

Everybody wants the best for their loved ones, right? When you have a family doctor, they can make your family stay healthy. People with family doctors are more likely to take their family members for check-ups and examinations. Check-ups are crucial for preventing illnesses and staying healthy.

2. Medical examinations are more accurate and efficient.

Meeting the same doctor several times has a huge advantage over meeting with a different doctor every time you need medical care. You see, when a doctor treats you for years, they get to know and understand your medical history well. This helps them to make accurate and efficient examinations. They can easily notice red flags regarding medication, as well as monitor your health changes over the years.

Additionally, the ‘family’ in family doctors is crucial. Treating multiple generations of a family helps the doctor to have an accurate understanding of the family’s health history. For instance, if your doctor knew you had cancer at a young age, and so did your father, that should be a red flag. The doctor can recommend genetic testing and come up with a screening plan, not just for you, but for your entire family.  

Understanding your medical history and that of your family is just part of the picture. Knowing what’s happening at home is important as well. Such information can be helpful in some situations; for instance, when assessing stress and anxiety in a child whose mother has just lost her job.

3. They treat the whole person.

Yes, family doctors are passionate about treating the whole you. The goal of family medicine is to nurture a patient-centered relationship for the whole lifespan of the patient. If you find a family doctor that connects well with your personality, you have a supportive life-long friend.

4. Family physicians are extensively trained.

Upon graduating from a medical school, a family doctor must complete a three-year medical program. During this time, they are trained in six medical areas: gynecology and obstetrics, internal medicine, psychiatry and neurology, pediatrics, community medicine, and surgery. Some family physicians proceed to receive training in other areas such as urology, emergency medicine, radiology, ophthalmology, and orthopedics.

5. Family medicines are the best in managing chronic illnesses.

Ongoing personalized care is crucial when it comes to managing chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, stroke, and cancer. Your family doctor will provide just that for all chronic illness cases in the family. 

Are you ready to team with supportive long-life friends? Bayless Integrated Healthcare is available at the Moon Valley location to handle all your family medical needs.



Tips and Ideas To Make Virtual Playdates Actually Fun


It’s a whole new world when it comes to play groups in the time of COVID-19 quarantine. Instead of worrying about shoving the laundry behind closed doors (that’s standard prep…right?) and offering snacks, I’m accepting invitations through my email for my five-year-old and three-year-old to be available for a Zoom call. Weird times indeed.

I know my kids have missed their friends more than I could have even imagined, so when the invitations to let them at least see and talk to friends came up, I accepted without a second thought. But then…I wondered how it would work. My kids have never done anything like this before. Sure, they’ve said a few words to family through FaceTime on holidays, but they’ve never held up a whole conversation with their own friends through a screen. As a WAHM, I’ve been on plenty of video chats to know that they can sometimes be awkward experiences, so how would my kiddos react to it?

I have asked the moms in our very own Orlando Moms Collective Village what they have done to make virtual playdates for fun for everyone, and they came through with some amazing tips and ideas!

1. Show and Tell

An old standby but a guaranteed good time for kiddos of all ages! Let everyone know to bring something special to the playdate. Then, each child can take turns showing off their prized possession.

2. Virtual Scavenger Hunt

Depending on the ages of the kids participating, this can be as simple or challenging as you want with varying levels of parental involvement. Take turns calling out a description (e.g. something blue, something round, something with a 6-letter name) and each kid finds something in their home that matches the description.

3. Make/Build/Craft Along

A little project can go a long way in making a virtual playdate feel more exciting and purposeful! Whether they are building with Legos, modeling with clay, or creating friendship bracelets, kids of all ages love to share experiences and teaching or learning something with friends. My kindergartener recently discovered that her friends also like to finger knit, and they were giddy to work on their crafts together.

4. Charades

All kids love being silly for their friends, and what could be better than a virtual charades party? Animals, fairy tales, Disney characters, and super heroes are all great categories to get your group started.

Tips For Success

  • If little ones are too interested in wiggling away from the screen, put them in their highchair with something to keep their hands busy while they see their friends.
  • Familiarize yourself with the video chat platform you will be using. Many offer different virtual backgrounds, viewing setups, and other ways to make the most of the experience.
  • Think about the space they need for their virtual playdate. Sure, it’s all on the computer, but they might get into a spontaneous cartwheel contest and need some appropriate space (not that my kids kicked over a tray of craft supplies or anything…purely hypothetical).
  • Lay out your rules and expectations before the call according to their age and how they are typically allowed to use technology. Are they allowed to share screens when using your computer? Can they move your computer? Will you be staying in the room with them?
  • Encourage your older kids to use online games they already play to socialize with their friends regularly.
  • Set up a parents-only chat to socialize with your friends too! We are all working hard to fill our kids up with love, time, and attention, but don’t forget to check your own cup as well. A casual chat with friends can be just what you need to feel a bit back to normal.

With a little prep, your kid’s virtual playdate may just be almost as good as the real thing. Just don’t forget to shove the laundry out of the background (some things never change!).



I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve been in my kitchen, cooking and cleaning 24/7.  These last few months during the COVID-19 quarantine, moms everywhere are hearing, “MOM… What’s for dinner?!”. Breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, late-night snack… they just don’t stop eating! We’ve partnered together with Winn-Dixie to help make dinner time easy for you.

Winn-Dixie’s deli department is making mealtime simple with their ready-made hot meals and cold sides!

It’s easier when Winn-Dixie cooks

Ready-To-Go Meals

My family LOVES a backyard picnic, so Winn-Dixie’s Family Meal Deal is the perfect choice for an easy meal. Their Lip Lickin’ Chicken, deli ribs, dinner rolls and a huge assortment of sides means one less meal I have to cook for the week.

Upgrade A Meal

Another way to simplify mealtime is to add a protein to a Winn-Dixie side dish. Adding grilled shrimp to their Greek Feta Salad or grilled chicken to their Loaded Potato Salad, and you’ve got a meal that didn’t take hours to prepare!

One of my favorite meals is a meat and cheese charcuterie board. Winn-Dixie has an expansive selection of cheeses, deli meats, fruit, nuts, gourmet crackers and olives to choose from. There’s no cooking required and clean up is a breeze! This can easily turn into a date-night-in meal, paired with a glass of wine.

Prepared Sushi or Subs

Now that we are all homeschooling our kids, make lunchtime easier with prepared sushi or Winn-Dixie subs. You can create your own or sub or buy already prepared deli sandwiches. Don’t forget a side of mac-n-cheese!

Safety Measures

Winn-Dixie has taken many precautions to put safety first, especially in light of COVID-19. At their deli department, you can get all the same items typically on the self-serve hotline (olive bar, salad bar, etc.), but now behind the counter or in already prepared containers.

Winn-Dixie has installed Plexiglas partitions at all store registers, implemented social distancing measures all around the store, and they’ve modified their store hours to allow for restocking and additional sanitation procedures.

And finally, you can shop online, and your groceries will be delivered to your home!

Wouldn’t you agree? It’s easier when Winn-Dixie cooks!

Click here for more information about Winn-Dixie, weekly ads, store locations and hours!

3 Reasons Why You Should Wake Up Before Your Kids


After the first week of quarantine, I realized our family desperately needed to find a new routine to help us thrive in this season. We are already a homeschooling family, and I work from home full-time, so while it may sound like COVID-19 doesn’t have a direct affect on our family dynamics, the truth is, it really does. Immediately after experiencing a week of not being able to leave home, I set out to create new routines and uncovered 3 reasons why you should wake up before your kids.

It’s crazy to think it took a quarantine to instill routines, such as waking up an hour before my kids, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Typically, I’d wake around 7:00 am with the children, and we’d start out our day together. While this seemed to be working most of this school year, I always felt like I was a step behind. Together, we’d get ready. Together, we’d make breakfast (the kids are responsible for making their own breakfast and dressing themselves while I feed and dress the baby), but the reality always ended up being three kids dressed and fed and a starving mom teaching in pajamas.

3 Reasons Why You Should Wake Up Before Your Kids

1. YOU get to set the tone for the day.

Each morning, I set my alarm an hour and a half before the baby wakes. I take 20-30 minutes to slowly toss, turn, and ease out of bed. Crying, tantrums, and t-shirt yanks are no longer pulling me out of bed. It’s just me, moving at my own pace, in my own space.

why you should wake up before your kids, woman sitting on couch with coffee wearing zestt organics

Photo By: Lacey Irving

From my bed, I move to the couch and cozy up under a dim table lamp and a warm throw blanket and journal using the First 5 App. This is something I have always longed to do but it wasn’t until two of my friends challenged me to journal for 21 days during quarantine. Journaling first thing in the morning is so refreshing. It allows me to release any worries I’m carrying and set the tone for the day. I take some time to pray over our schedule and ask God to guide our next steps. This step alone has helped me release some of my anxiety and set a peaceful and energizing tone for everyone in our home.

2. SELF-CARE becomes a priority.

I’ve always thought of self-care as pampering but the truth is, jeans, a favorite t-shirt, and a full belly are forms of self-care and they should be a priority. Before having our third child, I always made a point to get ready for the day. The thought of staying home and working in pajamas sounds enticing but reality reveals this is not the best way to achieve goals and maintain a healthy mental state of well-being. When we feel good on the outside, we feel good on the inside. If we’re looking lazy and ready for bed, our brains will feel lazy and ready for bed.

Take 5-10 minutes to get dressed, apply everyday neutral makeup, and fuel your body and mind with a hearty meal. We cannot pour from an empty cup. Rather than grabbing a quick bite because you’re too busy hustling and caring for the little ones, choose self-care and in turn help become a better mother because you’ve filled your cup to overflow into theirs.

3. You become PROACTIVE rather than reactive.

Have you ever heard yourself say, “Today – 100, Me – 0?” Sometimes our days tend to take control of us, and we choose to react. The third reason why you should wake up before your kids is to become proactive rather than reactive.

As I enjoy my hot cup of coffee, I write in my planner the schedule for our day, our top 3 priorities, and a list of to-do’s I’d like to tackle (whether it’s for work, school, or home.) I printed Emily Ley’s Free Daily Routines Printable, as well as our Homeschool Printable Planner (click on that link to print your own FREE copy to use during COVID-19), and fill those in as well. This helps me stay focused throughout our day. It’s my way of telling the day how it’s going to go rather than reacting to things that “pop up,” and “going with the flow.”

Prior to waking up before the kids, I found myself scrambling, wondering what we should be doing next, and I was always left feeling unsatisfied at the end of the day. By waking up before the kids, you’ll be giving yourself a moment of clarity and quiet to plan with purpose and intention.

All in all, it’s never too late to start something new to better yourself and those you love the most. This season may feel uneasy, overwhelming, and uncertain but you don’t have to let it get the best of you. You matter. Your mental health and well-being matter. Those reasons alone will help you discover why you should wake up before you kids and use this season to instill new routines, choose self-care, and fill your cup. After all, you’re worthy of living a life that’s full, good, and driven by purpose.

OMC 30-Day Quarantine Challenge Check-In: Journaling


OMC 30-Day Quarantine Challenge Check-In: Journaling

It’s Laurie here! I took the challenge of journaling for thirty days in the month of April. Here are some of my thoughts so far:

  • Journaling actually does improve my mood. (Ha! Go figure.) I don’t have empirical data or anything that proves this fact, but I just feel it – you know what I mean? Journaling is my mental catharsis, even if it is just for a few moments a day.
  • Listening to your body (and brain) is important. Perfection isn’t. I totally have not journaled every day. On the days that I haven’t journaled (there have been exactly four so far), they’ve been long days filled with trying to “do it all.” By the time I even thought about my journal, it was when I was finally crawling into bed around 10 o’clock. I had to ask myself: in this moment, what would benefit me more – journaling or sleep? I chose sleep. And that’s okay.
  • I’ve journaled in a variety of ways. Other than the three styles I had originally blogged about, I decided to do a “Day in the Life” type of journal just to try it out. I basically kept my journal with me all day long and quickly jotted down the time and what I was doing – everything from drinking my first cup of coffee to grading student papers to laundry to watching a movie with my son. By the end of the day, it was super satisfying to see everything that I had accomplished. (Turns out, moms do a lot!) Journaling in different styles has kept it fresh.

Honestly, I’m just glad I’ve (mostly) stuck to it and I haven’t given up yet. I see progress in my willingness to journal and my overall mood – and isn’t that what it’s all about?


How are YOU doing with your 30-Day Quarantine Challenge?


Share your experience below!

In This Together

In This Together

YOU ARE NOT ALONE! No matter what you’re going through, no matter if you’re lonely, stressed, frustrated or overwhelmed…Mama, we are all in this together! ❤️ We were not meant to do life alone. We were meant to do life together! So if you need to chat, vent, or a virtual hug…reach out!

A local mama reached out saying that she had fallen on financial hardships, and then she was going to have to cancel her baby shower due to the coronavirus. Within 24 hours, the women of our community furnished her baby nursery and made sure that her baby has clothes to wear for at least the next 6 months.

The village has not gone anywhere! We are still here. You are not going through this alone!

DM us, email us, join our chat group…or share this video with friends and family to encourage each other as a reminder that THEY’RE not alone either. .
You’ve got this Mama! We are in this TOGETHER!
xoxo, .
The Orlando Mom Collective team


YOU ARE NOT ALONE! No matter what you’re going through, no matter if you’re lonely, stressed, frustrated or overwhelmed…Mama, we are all in this together! ❤️ We were not meant to do life alone. We were meant to do life together! So if you need to chat, vent, or a virtual hug…reach out! 

A local mama reached out saying that she had fallen on financial hardships, and then she was going to have to cancel her baby shower due to the coronavirus. Within 24 hours, the women of our community furnished her baby nursery and made sure that her baby has clothes to wear for at least the next 6 months. 

The village has not gone anywhere! We are still here. You are not going through this alone!

DM us, email us, join our chat group…or share this video with friends and family to encourage each other as a reminder that THEY’RE not alone either. .
You’ve got this Mama! We are in this TOGETHER!
xoxo, .
The Orlando Mom Collective team

Budget-Friendly Summer Camps in Central Florida

2020 Ultimate Summer Camp Guide

COVID UPDATE! Most of the camps in this guide were submitted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please check with each listing to see if they have made alterations or cancellations to their Summer Camp schedule.

It is almost summer again, and for many families that means summer camp!

Just because the kids will be out of school doesn’t mean they have to stop learning, growing, and playing! We are lucky to have many different camps available for our kids in Orlando that focus on everything from art, dance, science, sports, academics and more. Here are some of the BEST summer camps in our area.

What’s your favorite? Let us know at [email protected]

Camp Invention

Camp Invention: A hands-on STEM camp where creativity reaches new heights!

Camp Invention® is the nationally acclaimed, nonprofit summer enrichment program created by the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) for kindergarteners through 6th graders. At Camp Invention, children are presented with opportunities to collaborate and explore STEM concepts through fun, hands-on challenges designed to build confidence, persistence and creative problem-solving skills. Since 1990, this one-of-a-kind program has been helping children unlock their potential to become creators, innovators and entrepreneurs.

Each year, Camp Invention offers an all-new experience that is directly influenced by world-changing inventors, our NIHF Inductees. With our 2020 program, Elevate, children will have fun controlling their very own flight simulation robot and launching rockets and hand-copters in Camp Invention Flight Lab™, protecting the Earth’s ecosystems in Rescue Squad™, designing the ultimate sports complex in Camp Invention Champions™ and learning the value of their biggest ideas in Design Thinking Project™. Local educators will lead this action-packed program featuring imaginative activities that inspire children to ask questions, overcome obstacles and develop persistence. 

Not only does Camp Invention offer a high-energy summer experience, but it provides proven benefits, like greater creativity and interest in STEM subjects, that can last a lifetime. The program also positively impacts instructors who are dedicated to preparing students for the future.

If your child is entering grades 7-9, they can get involved at a Camp Invention location in a whole new way. Through our Leaders-in-Training (LIT) program, they can help guide campers through STEM activities, encouraging creativity and hands-on fun while building their leadership and goal-setting skills.

Camp Invention locations can be found nationwide, including in your area. Visit or call 800-968-4332 to register. Use promo code LOCAL25 to save $25 (expires 3/31/20) or LOCAL15 to save $15 (expires 5/12/10). Every registration includes a complimentary Camp Invention T-shirt. Availability is limited, so secure your spot today!

Camp J at the Rosen JCC

Campers make lifelong memories at Camp J at the Rosen JCC.

SUMMER CAMPS at the Rosen JCC, 11184 S. Apopka-Vineland Road, Orlando, 407-387-5330, Camp J at the Rosen JCC in Dr. Phillips is the place to be! It offers a full selection of summer programs, open to all, including a general camp, sports camp and a variety of specialty camps. This summer, Rosen JCC is proud to host the Orlando Repertory Theatre Camp (The REP), Orlando Magic Basketball Camp, and My Gym Camp as part of its growing program. Extended care from 7 a.m.-6:30 p.m. is available.

Orlando Shakes

Orlando Shakes invites students to expand their imagination, while experimenting, taking risks, and challenging expectations! The young performer in your life will take center stage and learn from professional teaching artists during our performing arts summer camps.

With options to fit every student Age 4 through Grade 12, our education experiences are uniquely designed to use theater to build critical life skills in each participant. Our techniques encourage creativity, collaboration, problem solving, concentration, public speaking, and a strong work ethic. These are the life skills your child will learn that will help them move forward to a better future, while having fun at the same time!

iD Tech Camps

Virtual Tech Camps are the perfect, home-based option for students ages 7-19 seeking the collaborative spirit of our on-campus programs. Structured, weeklong sessions with 2 hours of live instruction per day + 2 hours of self-paced project development. Curriculum in Python, Java, Minecraft, Roblox, AI, Unreal Engine, Adobe, 3D modeling, and more. 5 students max per instructor, blending personalized learning and team interaction. Save $100 with code TOGETHER as long as social distancing is in effect.

More Summer Camps

Anchor Academy Preschool, Apopka, FL

Growing Tree Learning Center, Casselberry, FL

Kids In The Country, St Cloud, FL

Want to be a part of our 2020 Summer Camp Guide?

We want to show our readers all the great camps available right here in the Orlando area. Partnering with us allows your business greater visibility with a large targeted market of local families. Join us and help enrich the lives of Orlando Moms! Email [email protected]

Related Blog Posts

Preparing for camp is more than just packing a bag. What do parents need to do to prepare? What should a parent do if their child is afraid of camp? And how do you ease those fears? Here are our tips for a successful summer camp experience!

I used to spend the month of May dreading the upcoming summer “holidays”. I treated summer as if I was going into battle…entering survival mode, but this year I am making a plan for Camp SAHM and am hoping to enjoy myself more!

All of you moms who have your stuff together with camps, activities, crafts, field trips, vacations, and “quiet time”…I tip my cocktail glass to you. I will be entering Summer Survival Mode and counting down until “meet the teacher” by the end of the first weekend.

Summers are stressful. We can circumvent stress by focusing on… us. That’s right! Give yourself permission to pamper yourself with some self-care on a daily basis.

In an effort to keep the kiddos happy and you smiling, OMC has sought out some Budget Friendly Orlando Summer Activities, free or minimal fee, and compiled them for you in one go-to boredom buster list!

Orlando is chock full of great parks and I’m not talking about theme parks! We polled some of our readers and asked them to give details on some of their favorite parks in Central Florida.

Magic Lollipop Flowers

Here is an easy and fun craft, which I am sure you will agree is truly magical – Magic Lollipop Flowers! 

Magic Lollipop Flowers

  • Small package of jelly beans (any flavor/colors)
  • Handful of lollipops (any flavor/colors)
  • Wilton Lollipop Sticks (available at most craft stores)

Gather a few of your favorite jelly beans and head out to the yard just before dark (optimal picture time, *wink*). Let your child sprinkle the jelly beans in the grass. Tell them they are seeds for the Easter Bunny to grow magic lollipops for when he comes to visit that night.

Plant the "seeds"
Plant the “seeds”

After your child is asleep, head back outside and “plant” the lollipops in the yard, making sure the jelly beans are no longer visible. In the morning they’ll be amazed to see the “sprouted” lollipops.

best Easter craft ever...
best Easter craft ever…

Tape lollipops around one end of each Lollipop Stick to create colorful “flowers” that will stand up tall even amid flower beds, decorative grasses or shrubbery. I like the look of bundling three smaller lollipops onto each stick, but you can use more or less for variety – or even use different kinds of lollipops!

Feel free to get creative and have fun with it! My favorite moments are the little gasps the kiddos make when they first see what magic has occurred overnight, and the look of wonder on their faces. Truly priceless!

best Easter craft ever...
best Easter craft ever…

Covid-19 Means No Cafes. How To Brew Amazing Coffee At Home


The pandemic is forcing people to stay at home so that the virus does not spread further. Many businesses had to close, and many are starting to work at home. Despite what is happening outside, there are still plenty of things you can do at home. To become productive, you should start your day with a cup of coffee to keep your spirits up. Even if most cafes are currently closed, you can still make your fantastic coffee at home. With good quality coffee beans and the right equipment, you can enjoy a freshly brewed cup in the morning.

Ways To Brew Coffee At Home

With the proper equipment, there are several ways to brew fantastic coffee in your home. Below are the three most common ways you can do in your kitchen:


Pour Over Method

The pour over method does not require you to have a coffee maker. All you need to make a good quality cup of coffee are hot water, coffee beans, and a good quality coffee filter. The process of making brewed coffee with this method is simple.


The method involves pouring hot water through the coffee grounds, which are placed in a filter. The water passes through the filter, and this makes sure that you don’t get grains in your cup. The pour over method is also called hand brewing because you do not need any machinery to perform this method.


French Press

If you are used to dense and heavy coffee, you should have a French press. Brewing coffee using the French press is relatively easy as it only takes about four minutes to make a cup. You should make sure that when using a French press to make coffee, coffee beans should be ground coarser compared to the one used for the pour over method. The consistency of the ground beans should be similar to breadcrumbs to achieve that rich flavor.



Drip Method

Your simple coffee maker can help you create that perfect cup of coffee that you crave in the morning. Depending on the capacity of your coffee maker, you can create several batches for you and your family to use. To achieve good quality coffee with your simple coffee maker, make sure that you use good quality beans and ground them with the consistency that is similar to table salt.

Tips To Brew Amazing Coffee At Home

Brewing your coffee at home is a sustainable morning ritual you can do even after the quarantine period. Using your coffee beans and equipment lessens your carbon footprint. You don’t need to go to a café to get your daily dose of caffeine and produce waste with the coffee cups they use. You can enjoy your coffee with your cup at home without needing to get out of the house every morning.

To make sure that you produce the same coffee as home quality as the ones served in the café, here are some tips that you should follow:


Use Good Quality Coffee Beans

Your coffee is only as excellent as the quality of the beans you use for brewing. To have that rich and fulfilling taste, do not use pre-ground coffee. It is best to start with fresh, whole coffee beans because coffee reaches peak flavor days after is has been roasted. However, take note that when you buy fresh coffee beans, you should consume them within a month of its roast date.



Store Coffee Beans Properly

To keep your coffee beans fresh, you need to store them in the proper place. It is recommended to place the coffee beans inside a vacuum-sealed container to maintain that roasted flavor. If you don’t have a vacuum container, a regular mason jar will suffice.



How And When You Grind Is Important

It is not recommended to grind your coffee beans and then storing them. Experts believe that coffee tends to lose its flavor within 30 minutes after being ground. This is why you should immediately brew your coffee beans after grinding to keep that flavor intact.


The size and consistency after grinding coffee beans are essential as well. However, grinding will also depend on your taste. Grinding too coarse will not give you that much flavor, and grinding too fine will make the coffee too bitter.


Be Mindful Of Your Temperatures

Brewing at the right temperature is essential in making the most out of your coffee beans. When you use the pour method or French press, make sure that the water is between 195°F and 205°F after you take the pot away from the heat. If you are using a drip coffee machine, make sure that it reaches its optimal temperature.


To make sure that your coffee maker reaches the right temperatures, run it without coffee in the hopper then use a thermometer to measure the temperature. You can also try to measure the temperature while it is brewing. Remember not to exceed the maximum of 205°F because it will burn the coffee beans.


Be Mindful Of Your Measurements

Remember to measure the coffee by weight and not by volume and always use the same amount of coffee per unit of water every time you brew. The ideal ratio is one-part coffee and 20 parts water. This is about 7.5 grams of coffee for every 150 mL of water. Use a digital scale and measuring cup to make sure that your measurements are accurate.



Use The Right Water

The quality of the water you will use for brewing dramatically affects the taste of your coffee. Hard water contains minerals that doesn’t bond well with the coffee particulates. This will give you a bland and weak coffee. Hard water is also harmful to your coffee maker as minerals can build up inside.


Heavily filtered water is also harmful to the equipment as well since the lack of minerals will force the water to seep the minerals out of its metal components. This will degrade the machine’s performance over time. In terms of coffee quality, distilled water lead to over-extraction. Choose water that has the right mineral balance to protect your coffee maker and having that rich taste.


Coffee brewing is an art that many people should learn. Brewing your coffee at home could be part of your quarantine 30-day challenge. Staying at home and learning the art of brewing quality coffee will keep you busy while you are at home. During these trying times, it is recommended that people stay at home to reduce the spreading of the deadly virus. Take the tips into consideration and keep your mind and body healthy to avoid contracting the disease.




Guide To Orlando

Budget-Friendly Summer Camps in Central Florida

COVID UPDATE! Most of the camps in this guide were submitted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please check with each listing to see if...

Orlando Theme Park Guide