Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Better Safe than Sorry: Hurricane Preparedness

I caved LOL I actually went out and did a bit of emergency preparedness.  I went and bought bottled water, as well as some flashlights and extra batteries.  Thanks to my mom and her prepping tendencies, we have loads of food if we need it.  I am not really worried about a storm; I love extreme weather.  The first year I moved to Florida was when I think tropical storm Andrea rolled through.  I remember being at work and wanting to see my first major storm.  I went outside and it was awesome, rain was pouring down, wind was whipping the banners wildly, thunder crashing, I loved it.  Then realized I was locked out of hospital LOL I had to call the floor and ask somebody to come down to let me back in LOL no way was I walking around in the storm to the emergency room to get back in.  I would be soaked within 30 seconds. Thankfully I got back in and since have looked forward to hurricane season here in Jacksonville.  I know they are horribly devastating for some people, but that still does not make them exciting.  OK so I thought I would throw in my own emergency preparedness post.  Mainly to help me get mentally and physically ready, and if somebody else finds a tidbit useful, all the better.
Now there is a difference between a hurricane watch and warning: with a watch hurricane conditions are a threat within 48 hours.  With a warning conditions are expected within 36 hours.  In order to find out the latest information people should listen to NOAA weather radio to hear the latest updates from the National Weather Service.  All windows, doors, and shutters should be secured, as well as anything that could be carried off by the winds fastened down or brought inside. So all those lovely plants and wind chimes I made need to be taken down, or risk being destroyed. I did not know, but totally makes sense, turn the fridge to coldest setting just in case power goes out.  It will help food last a little bit longer.  Fill up your car with gas, thankfully prices aren’t too high right now. Might want to splurge for a future car wash after the storm, and get a few more cents off gas price. Most important: have a personal evacuation plan if needed, and what the cities evacuation route is.  OK that route plan does not make sense to me, it just seems it would be at a standstill in an emergency. Now for supplies, make sure you have clean water, enough for a few days for each member of your family.
  OK no idea where to store all that water LOL mine is filling up the back of my car.  Also have the afore mentioned flashlights with plenty of extra batteries.  Staci has already claimed hers and is having fun with it LOL kids+flashlights=adventure. A first aid kit with extra medications is completely needed. Being a nurse I have a pretty fantastic kit already.  Have a small tool kit to fix minor oops.  Hygiene products: shampoo, soap, toothpaste (get varieties that don’t require water if you can find them) mouthwash is good just in case can’t brush teeth with water.  Make sure all cell phones and iPads are charged up. Get a car charger just in case electricity goes out. Have a current map of your area, most tourist stops will have free ones. Bug spray (on guard for zika virus, et al…) and extra cash.  Remember during and in the immediate afterwards only drive or use cell phone when absolutely necessary.
  Unless you’re an idiot you know not to go near any downed wires, stay very clear of them. Don’t go into any buildings that are surrounded by water, in fact avoid all water unless you know for sure it is not contaminated. No eating, drinking, or bathing in it.  Just stay safe with your family.  Sit back, with a cozy cup of coffee, tea, or cocoa, and enjoy the wonder of the elements.  It will eventually pass.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Why I am a Fan of The Fitness Marshall

Booties at Attention!!!  Working out is no fun.  Buying fitness DVDs are expensive.  Going outside in the Florida summer is like entering a sauna, it saps the energy and motivation.  So trying to get fit is definitely a challenge.  I am a busy single mom, with limited funds, and little spare time. Plus, I get bored easily LOL about three weeks ago I found an internet wonder, he is Caleb Marshall, aka The Fitness Marshall.  Oh my goodness is he hilarious and brilliant.  He is a master at mixing fitness with dancing. Millions all over the world have already been enjoying his unique style of making people sweat and laugh at the same time.  Each video he makes is loading with jokes, risqué comments, and motivation.  He and his back up booty dancers: Hayley Jordan, Bria McCarty, and Allison Florea, look like they are genuinely having fun. 
Each video is set to a popular song from well-known artists, so he cannot make money from the videos.  He does it just for the fun of it, and to help people lose weight in a fun and entertaining way.  I am no dancer, but I can follow along with the routines easy enough.  I went through his YouTube channel and found all the videos I particularly liked, and created my own personalized playlist.  So now I can start each morning laughing and moving at the same time.  It is great.  He also has a vlog that shows him and his friends just having fun.  I tell you they are all hilarious personalities.  So if you want a free workout, that is fun, and gets you sweating without you even noticing, check out The Fitness Marshall. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Close Because of Love

They melt my heart
When people ask me if I have kids, I say yes I have two.  Then they ask how old are they.  I say my son is twenty-one and my daughter is seven.  Then the same response every time. “Wow! That’s a big age difference” ok sometimes different words are used, but the idea is the same.  They are shocked at the fourteen year age gap. Sometimes they ask if my daughter was a surprise, and I say nope she was totally planned, and she was.  In truth my son was not planned, but he was THE BEST thing that ever happened to me. He inspired me to go to nursing school, and to keep going even when school was hard. He was my reason to never give up.  I adore him, he made being a mom totally fun and easy.  He was smart, cute, mischievous, playful, adventurous, and he did what I told him to!!!  He never argued with me.  He tricked me LOL made parenting a piece of cake.  I always wanted two kids, but after my divorce that wasn’t happening. Then time passed, and my son and I were so close, that bringing another baby into our duo seemed sort of mean in my mind.  He had me all to himself, he got all my attention, he got all the toys, he was my number one priority.  I did not want to take that away from him.  If I had another child right after him I would not have felt that way, he would not have felt threatened (at least in my mind) he would have just had a playmate.  I waited too long though.  It just did not seem right to uproot his life just to have another baby.  I wanted him to have a happy childhood.  It was already full of drama with custody issues, and him having to go back and forth between his dad and me, money was tight, and I was stressed a lot.  Being a single parent was not fun at all.
She was scared, he stayed close :)
So whatever I could do to make his world better I did, I wanted to give him as much of me as a good mom.  For thirteen years he was my best friend.  Then teenage years, and as is totally normal he started pulling away, becoming a grown up. I thought then would be a good time to have another child.  My son no longer needed me 100% he was ready to become his own man.   I, on the other hand, still needed a kid to play with LOL so I talked to him, and explained how he would always be loved, but if he was ok with it I would like to add to the family.  I was not surprised when he said it was fine with him. I told you he was awesome.  He only had two conditions. No diaper duty for him and no Barbies LOL he might have changed a couple of wet diapers in an emergency, but there has never been a Barbie doll in my daughter’s hand LOL.
Helping her pick perfect pumpkin
So that is why the huge age gap. It was so my son could be spoiled as much as possible, and then my daughter could be spoiled.  It has worked out great for us.  I love the age gap, and having two completely different personality kids.  With my son I got to do all sorts of boy activities.  We played with Pokemon, Digimon, Bionicle, and Power Rangers. Disney trips we met the Power Rangers, Winnie the Pooh, and his favorite Lilo & Stitch. Colors were blue and green, foods were no fruits or veggies, only pizza, hot wings, and lots of ketchup LOL he did taekwondo (even was state champion one year) and played video games. With my girl I get to do girly stuff. She likes stuffed animals, My Little Pony, Shopkins, and princesses. Colors are pink and purple, I get to put her in dresses with ribbons or flowers in her long blond hair. Disney trips we met Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck, and all the princesses. She loves to eat salads and fruits. She also loves swimming and dancing. Where he was quiet and easy going, she is talkative and always wanting to be entertained. They are completely different.
My Heroes

            They get along great, no jealousy or fighting for my attention.  He is very protective of her, and is always buying her little gifts.  I try to make sure he doesn’t see her as a burden on him in any way.  Lately they have been spending more time together.  I think because she is finally able to do stuff he likes.  He will take her to movies or swimming, and they go Pokémon hunting together. They watch funny YouTube videos and play with the cats. She loves to draw him pictures, and just hang out with him. He has even gotten her to like spicy food LOL you have no idea how happy I am to see those two having fun together.  They might be years apart, but they are close because of love.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Top 10 List of Why Home School is the Best

I thought I would do my very own Top 10 List of Why Home School Is the Best.

 With homeschooling there is no getting up at 7a.m. you and your child get to sleep in. No more struggles to get out the door on time. No more pleading for just one more minute of sleep.   You do not start the day stressed out.
  No more fighting traffic in the morning. No grumpy drivers practicing sign language and shouting 4 letter words.  Seriously just leave 10 minutes earlier.  Please do not speed through a school zone.  There are kids there and your car will squish them. 
 No more worries over whether or not you are dressed in the latest styles.  You can wear pajamas if you wish LOL Kids are judged by what they wear so early now.  Plus, the styles are more appropriate for college girls rather than a 7-year-old.  I want my girl to value her intelligence over her looks.
You get to do the lessons on your own schedule.  Kids tend to be more alert in the afternoon, at least mine is. Today we slept in, then had brunch, then we started lessons.  It was much more relaxed and conducive to learning than if we had forced our sleepy selves to do work at the crack of dawn.
No bullies.  I could not believe that in first grade she already was getting bullied by mini mean girls.  Now I don’t have to pick up my girl, only to find her crying because somebody told her she couldn’t play with them anymore, or had made fun of her for something trivial.  Staci is a sensitive soul, and gets hurt easily. Teachers are too overwhelmed to do much about bullies.  No matter how many times I told her teacher last year, she still had problems with a few certain kids.  Mama bear had to restrain herself quite frequently.
  Also no more worries about her safety.  So many times while my son was in school he was on lock down because of a gun threat or bomb threat. Kids are being taught how to fake being dead in class or how to hide from shooters.  That is so not right.  Logically I know odds of something actually happening are small, but it does happen. 
Science experiments are so fun.  Yesterday we had to look for a frog (not to dissect) but to play with on a lily pad. Plus, exploding volcanoes, nature hunts, star gazing, trying to figure out “what if” science is fun.
 Art lessons are fun too.  You have a great excuse to color, paint, draw, craft using different mediums and colors.  I like doing crafts, and if we get to count what we make as school, all the better. 
 Field trips LOL you get to decide what you think would be educational and then go there.  It might be the zoo, an art museum, a children’s museum, a candy factory, swimming pool, theme park, movies, it could be anything.  You can learn just about anything anywhere.

The number one reason home school is the best is you get to spend time with your small person!!!  I always thought my daughter was smart, but now I know she is.  She is also very quick to pick up new concepts.  It is so fun to see her smile when she does the lesson correctly.  You get to make learning fun for your child.  

These are my reasons, if you have more just post them in comments :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Back to School

Oh my goodness home school is hard LOL We have spent entire day doing lessons.  Since it is new, Staci does not know what to do just yet on her own.  So I have been learning right along with her.
1st day of school picture. 
  My brain hurts right now.  I forgot how hard second grade was LOL everything is a bit confusing.  So far a lot of time has been spent trying to figure out what book we are supposed to be using.  They sent us seventeen different books to use.  We need pictures of the cover to help us identify which one we are supposed to be writing in LOL We are guessing at this point, hopefully right.  We have to do at least 20 hours a week of school work, based on today that won’t be an issue.  Right now while I type we are listening to a live lesson from Staci’s homeroom teacher.  She is talking to us through the computer.  She sounds nice, but it’s an orientation lesson, so a bit boring. Have discovered two glitches so far. One is we can’t get the Tux Paint program to work, and the other is we can’t figure out how to use the microphone.  It appeared for a few moments, but then it disappeared.  On a cute note, apparently our cats feel the need to better their minds. Both have been coming over and listening to us do the lessons, or they just plop down on the books.  Is distracting, but cute.  I am ready for school to be over today LOL after this live lesson we are ringing the bell, and saying done for the day. 
One of these will be coming home with me LOL
Going to head to St John’s Town Center to go to Bath and Body Works.  I am needing my Autumn Scents.  I love the smell of apples and cinnamon in the fall.  So we are going there to look for an apple for this teacher LOL

btw: The picture is a tradition.  We have a pic of her in that same shirt for 1st day of preschool, kindergarten, and 1st grade.  We figure by time she gets to high school it will fit.  On the back we have written the names of her teachers so far.  By senior year it will be a nice memory shirt to keep.  At least that is the plan.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

A Quiet End to Summer

          Staci and I had a quiet end of the summer this week.  We stayed pretty much low key.  We relaxed and just enjoyed being together.  We unpacked this great big box of school supplies that we were sent.  This year for second grade we are are doing home school through Florida Virtual Academy.  So while every body is at the store, spending a small fortune buying school supplies and new clothes, we got our stuff for free.  I was shocked when I received a forty pound box of supplies from the online school.  We got reading books, math books, science books, work books, science kit, art kit, study aides, jump rope, a yoga DVD, and headphones.  It was unbelievable, and I didn't have to spend a penny,
School Supplies
            Staci is actually excited about doing home school with me.  Her laptop is set up next to mine so we can do our school stuff together.  She did the online orientation for her and thought it was fun.  Rules say she has to spend just 20 hours a week on learning.  That is just four hours a day.  Plus no waking up at 07:00 to get ready and fight the traffic.  We are both very happy about this.Only part that worries me is making sure she learns the concepts they want her to. She does have a teacher, all the lessons are taught online.  Apparently once a month the teacher will phone Staci and ask her questions to make sure she is really learning. Staci is very smart, but sometimes she gets shy in answering questions.  Hopefully the calls will go well. Oh absolutely best part...NO BACK TO SCHOOL GERMS!!!  Staci always seems to get sick for the first semester.  We get to avoid that now.  No more sniffles that last until Spring.
New Friend
Our last craft of the summer was making the pink and purple felt cat we made at the beginning of summer a friend.  This one is light and dark pink bear or mouse, we haven't decided which LOL  I think they look a bit silly, and can totally tell they are homemade, but homemade with love.  Staci adores them.  She has carried the kitty around all summer,  That made me smile every time I saw that kitty clutched in her hand.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


 I have this friend who started her blog right after I did, and good grief has it received a lot of hits, know why? It’s because she writes for herself.  She is candid and sometimes overly honest about her views LOL Her blog is so far full of stories about her daughters, her hubby, and her struggles from the last few years.  She even has thrown in a couple of yummy recipes for good measure.  While she is getting lots of internet traffic for her writings (she even had international site do article on her) she is also getting LOTS OF JUDGEMENT!!!
  It is absurd.  She has people she knows personally, people she knows just online, and then complete strangers judging her actions without truly knowing her.  She is a happy person, with lovely daughters, and a husband who spoils her rotten, yet yesterday people decided to say she was obviously unhappy due to her writings???  That is crazy.  I know her and her family, and I know she is not unhappy, yet strangers were trying to say she is depressed and miserable.  That irritated me.  Not for her, she is handling it fine, she knows she is not unhappy, what irked me is people who think it is ok to judge others.
  People have no right to be judgmental of anybody.  I have been judged my who life, it has at times made me depressed or even angry, because they did not take the time to know the real me.  People tend to make assumptions based on their idea of what others should be, instead of seeing the person as they really are.  I am shy and quiet, yet others view that as unfriendly.  I try to think before I speak, so that makes others feel as if I am meek, I am simply just trying to not say hurtful things.  Words can hurt so much more than people realize.  Physical damage heals, mental and emotional damage never truly goes away.  I can forgive a great deal, but that doesn’t mean I have forgotten the pain.
  People need to stop judging other people.  People are judged by size, color, race, intelligence, gender, sexual preference, religion, the list goes on and on and on…  To me there is only ONE JUDGE and when I die I want my judgement to go well.
 OK ranting a bit there (is my blog so I can) anyway those who judge should learn to try to look past the obvious and instead look for understanding.  I have had many patients and families who were a challenge to deal with, but if I take a minute and think and try to put myself in their shoes I might act the same way.  I would be certainly protective of my family if they were ill or I snappy if I was in pain. If I was overwhelmed and scared, I might try and micromanage small details, just to have a sense of control over anything.
  People tend to look for opportunities to judge others on the wrongs they are actually guilty of committing, it gives them a sense of its ok.  Saying look at her and how bad she is behaving, I am not as bad as she is.  Just throw other adjectives in there like stupid, mean, ugly, you get the idea.  Judging others does not justify yourself.  Comes down to this, unless you are an Olympic judge STOP JUDGING PEOPLE.

Disclaimer: none of these pics or quotes are mine, I just liked the images and sayings. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Crayola and Medieval Times

Staci doing her crayon impression
 I have the world’s worst memory, so I need to get this written before I forget.  Last week is already starting to fade away.  Vacation has passed way to fast, I wish it could last forever.  I really need to look into winning the lottery.  Anyway we did two more really fun things while we were down in Orlando, Florida.  We braved the horrendous traffic, and I mean it took an hour to go four miles, and it was 2:00 in the afternoon!!!  I could never figure out why traffic moved so slow.  Finally, we made it to the Florida Mall and found the Crayola Experience.  Kind of hard to miss 10 feet tall crayons LOL If you have ever thought about going I highly recommend.  It was so much fun.  The first floor is just a Crayola store, filled with every crayon or marker you could ever want, the second floor though is out of this world.  It is huge and filled with all sorts of coloring experiences.  We stayed in there almost three hours coloring on paper, coloring on iPads and seeing the drawing come to life on big screen.  We designed dresses and then watched them modeled down a runway. We tricked out sports cars and saw them zoom around.  Dragons came to life, as well as princesses and bumblebees.  We even had paper pterodactyl puppets we created dance on stage to rock music.  Spin art with melted crayons was very popular among the kids and adults, but not as fun as melting crayons down into shapes.  In addition to the arts, there are giant playgrounds to burn off extra energy.  I swear the kids were syphoning it from the adults.  Buy you tickets online, it is cheaper that way, and if it is within seven days of your birthday, you get in free. We left with lots of souvenirs and wonderful memories.
Officially a Princess
The last big thing we did was Medieval Times.  Staci was so excited for that.  We had already seen the ivy covered castle, so we knew right were to go.  Staci was all dressed up in her baby blue princess dress for the occasion.  We had purchased our tickets online (google a coupon code for lower prices) so we were able to just walk right in.  We were placed under the County of Peralada’s red and yellow knight’s protection.  Crowns on head we stepped back into time.  While we waited for the festivities we were in a great hall full of souvenirs for purchase of course LOL. I sipped on the King’s Colada in a purple goblet while we wandered about.  The highlight of Staci’s night was when she was deemed a real royal princess by King Carlos.  I was shocked that she walked up there all by herself and knelt down while he proclaimed her a princess.  She was in awe, her whole demeanor that night was one of a regal princess.  It was so cute to see.  She got a pink pearl tiara, and a scroll with a picture of her with the king to remember the occasion.  Finally, the trumpets sounded and we were escorted to our table, that was second row and right in the middle (lucky us). We had great seats to view the white horses as they came out, then Lady Myla (a falcon) who soared about the audience, and finally all the knights.  During dinner (which was messy, and I recommend going vegetarian now) the knights did jousting and sword fights.  Staci liked the sparks from the swords clashing. Sadly, the red and yellow knight did not win, but the green knight did defeat the bad guy who had come to steal Princess Catalina LOL Staci was very relieved.

Princess Staci had so much fun on this birthday trip.  I have no idea how I will top it for her eighth birthday next July 31st.  I guess I better get to planning…

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Sea World for the Seventh

Well she went and did it LOL Despite me begging her to turn three, she decided to turn seven.  Great now next year she’ll want to be eight, and I only have 363 days to plan something to top this birthday LOL   The trip went great.  She loved Orlando.  We had sunshine galore, and the heat to match.  Thankfully my A/C in the car worked well.  We found our AirBnB condo very easily, and bonus it was ready a little bit early.  It was super cute, and located on a resort.  It seems that most places down there are turning from apartments and condos into resort areas to draw tourists.  Quite a lucrative business if can get a condo to rent out.  So walked into condo, and Staci had a surprise already, the owner had left her treats and a Happy Birthday sign.  Staci had biggest smile and felt special.   
We freshened up a bit then went to Congo River Golf where Staci got to pan for gemstones.  She found a haul LOL in addition to lots of small gemstones, shark teeth, fossils, she found a piece of amethyst as large as her hand.  She was bouncing up and down, she was so happy.  Since amethyst is purple it, of course, is her favorite stone right now.  To finish off the first day we went swimming in a perfect temperature pool.  Day was a total success.  I will say Orlando has cheap gas prices, mainly to counter the horrible traffic issues everywhere.  That and the local Walmart was as busy as a Black Friday sale. 

Next morning, we got up and Staci immediately started bouncing.  We were off to Sea World!!!  We got there just as the park was opening, we even got to park right next to main entrance.  Literally right next to it LOL This serendipity was very appreciated at end of day.  That wasn’t first boon of the day.  We get in and everybody is rushing to the rides, while we meandered.  Guess who comes out? Shamu the Whale for photo ops.  Before they were even set up they had snagged Staci to be first for pictures.  She was so excited LOL we set a leisurely pace as we looked at everything.  We saw a flock of pink flamingoes being herded down the pathway to their enclosure LOL that was a funny sight. 
Next up was the sting rays; they were so sleek.  They glided through the water, popping up to give high fives to all the people wanting to pet them.  Staci was a bit nervous, but she bravely put her hand in and one gave her a fin.  After that the highlight of the day, DOLPHINS!!!!  The lady trainer was talking about these beautiful creatures, making sure all was safe for them and the people watching, when one swam up in front of us and stopped.  The trainer said that was the dolphin’s way of choosing us to pet her.  Oh my goodness I got to pet a dolphin LOL it was amazing.  Staci’s smile lit up her whole face.  I wish I had better pictures, but that was against rules, if dolphin was there, cameras had to be put away for safety.  We stayed with dolphins for quite a while.  After that we went and saw sea turtles. 

They made me want to cry.  These were the ones who had been rescued from the ocean.  One named Belle had a huge chunk out of her shell and her back flippers were paralyzed from being hit by a boat.  Another was Stitch who had a flipper missing after meeting up with a shark.  They have nice lives now, but they had endured a great deal. SeaWorld does an amazing job at helping sea creatures.  OK after that we froze *brrrrrrrr* we went to see the Empire of the Penguins.  Only place in Florida where you need a heavy winter coat.  We couldn’t really enjoy the penguins because it was about 30 something degrees inside and we were in shorts and tank tops.  The only bad part of the day was the Wild Artic helicopter simulator.  It was so bumpy that I almost lost my lunch. In the end it was worth it because we got to see walruses, a beluga whale, and seals.  When we went out there was a place where you could pet a shark.  Guess what I did LOL  I have galeophobia (excessive fear of sharks) yet I actually pet a shark. No picture proof, but I really did it!!!  We didn’t go on many rides. Or see shows, we just enjoyed looking at the animals and the shops.  By the end of the day we were spent and sunburned.  The pool felt wonderful that night. We did a lot more, but that is for the next post…