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Archive for April, 2016

Extraordinary Woman: Katharine Eagan

Posted on: April 29th, 2016 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

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As CEO of Hillsborough Area Regional Transit system, Katharine Eagan, 42, will be responsible for 15 million trips this year. While that’s exciting, it may be even more fun at home, where she and her husband, Chris, live with their two under-4 sons—Finn and Bash.

Work-wise, Eagan is responsible for more than 50,000 people on buses a day. “That’s more than the entire population of Bradenton, so we are pretty proud of ourselves,” she says. “We do buses, express service, the street car, and a bunch of services for folks who can’t use the bus for different levels of disabilities.”

“One thing I think is interesting is when people tell me that I have it together,” she says. “I lost weight after the kids because my mother has fantastic genes and for that I thank her– but I didn’t eat a real meal for like a year-and-a-half. It was whatever the kids had eaten– and that is not the experience for everybody, but people assume I worked really hard. Or I have a fantastic team I work with and we’re successful TOGETHER, but people say, ‘Oh YOU must have it together.’ Or my husband works a flexible schedule—we never have the full weekend off together because he is off during the week and works the weekends and we have a sitter so that we can do tumbling and swimming—but we share a load and the kids get more time with each parent. So all of these things come together. So when people tell me I have it together or ask how I do it all, I feel like I am just holding it together like everyone else. And when people ask how I do it, it implies that parenting, or life in general, is something to overcome as opposed to something to experience.”

What do you think is the secret to your family’s success?
I would say success for me is giving our kids the space to become the people they need to be, raising them to be decent human beings using their own model, not ours. They are very happy and very affectionate and they love their parents and they love on us and kiss on us and they always want to grab us to do things. So, I guess that is success!

What is your biggest fear?
I think if you are going to be honest about it, there is not a parent in the world for whom their biggest fear isn’t something happening to their children. It is a fear that you don’t understand before you have kids. I also don’t like turbulence on airplanes and I would never jump out of a plane. I also don’t like cockroaches.

What advice would you give to other women?
We are all faking it in different ways. It is like impostor syndrome, which is applied to professionals and younger women a lot. Professionally, it might be like you get a degree or a big promotion and you don’t feel you deserve it. When I got my black belt in taekwondo I was over the moon, and when I got my instructor’s uniform, I was excited. But when I was 9 months pregnant and putting a car seat in my car, I felt like I was faking being pregnant. So I think all of us have something that we’re not getting done—like the kids will get a bath every other day, or they have an extra corn dog, or you let them watch a video. My biggest advice is to find somebody else with the same sense of values, with kids around your age, with whom you can talk about how you totally didn’t get it when your kid says a curse word or they’re not potty training fast enough. Because we are really bad about building relationships and acknowledging just how difficult this is.

What is your proudest moment?
A personally proud moment is that I just did something recently for the business journal and someone here at HART who works with me texted me and said they are proud to work on my team. And I thought that was a huge accomplishment for our team, so I was very proud of that conversation. With kids, you’re proud when they stand up on their own or when they speak in Spanish. Sometimes you’re just proud to get out of the house.

What is your biggest achievement?
In 2003 going into 2004, for a couple of weeks I was in the top 10 for the American Taekwondo Association’s World Standings female black belts, age 30-39, second and third degree black belts for weapons. My weapon was double nunchucks. That was pretty cool.

Different times of your life though, your achievements are different things. I got my bachelor’s degree with honors in 2-and-a-half years while I was working 20 hours a week, doing taekwondo and going to church with my grandmother. That was an achievement, but it was like a sustained thing, and you hunker down and don’t realize you get it done. So there are different things you are proud of with different stages. Like I’ve never roasted a turkey and I am sure I would be proud of that.

What makes you happy?
I am a huge fan of expectation management. If you want to be happy, you will be happy.
There is a difference between happy and content, and content is actually more elusive. So find the happy: your dog snuggles, your kid goes to the next milestone, your husband remembers your birthday– that is happy. Last night my husband was in the driveway with a telescope and I was painting a piece of furniture after the kids went to bed, and he was showing me stars. He showed me Jupiter and the Moon and Arcturus, and that made me happy.

How do you relax and take time for yourself?
What is this relax word? I am lucky we have early bedtime and naptime; naptime is for getting caught up and the time for me is after 8 p.m. I try not to look at my phone after 9 p.m. I try to read and do things that are not work related. Everyone needs to unplug and I understand that much more as a parent.

What is your favorite thing to do with your kids in the Bay area?
My boys love the aquarium and they love jumping through the sprinkler.

What is your biggest inspiration?
I have a couple of really fantastic influences on me and one I would like to call out is a woman I worked with in Baltimore named Ortense Lewis. Ortie is a Baltimore native and from a really different background from me, but we ended up very good friends and she took good care of me (and I hope I took good care of her). Her counsel and guidance, and her love and support has been a big deal for me and I feel fortunate that she’s been my friend. I have had really wonderful friends who have made me be a better person.

Of course my dad always told me I could do it and my mom always told me, “I don’t need to tell you that, I already knew you would.”

Summer Screen Fever

Posted on: April 27th, 2016 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

One of the joys of summer for kids is having less to do and more time to do it. For parents, however, that can be nightmare. “There is much less structure to a child’s day this time of year, and for millions of children, summertime means overindulging in screen time,” said Jean Moorjani, MD, a pediatrician at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando, Florida. “Between social media, apps, video games and chatting with friends, kids often spend hours more each day looking at screens in the summer, and they are starting much earlier in life.”

In fact, according to a recent survey, more than half of all children get their first cell phone by age 6, just as they’re starting first grade. Three out of four children now own tablets and nearly as many have video game consoles. “There is so much vying for a child’s attention, it doesn’t take much for kids to get preoccupied during the summer months and spend a lot more time online than they do outside.”

To help families find a healthy balance, Moorjani has some tips.

Do more than set time limits – The current recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) puts a 2 hour time limit of screen time per day for children over the age of 2. But Moorjani says screens are so pervasive these days, merely setting time limits may not be enough. “It’s not just how much time your child spends on their devices, it’s the content they’re consuming. Parents need to know exactly what their children can see and control that content as much as possible.”

Consider this: the current recommendations based on setting time limits for children published in 2011 and only addressed things like television and video games. However, because the first generation of tablets had just come out at that time, the guidelines don’t mention the use of tablets or smartphones by children. “We can’t watch our kids 24 hours a day to make sure they honor time limits, but we can control what kinds of content they have access to, and parents should take an active role in doing just that,” said Moorjani.

Remember, not all screen time is bad – There is a difference between a child simply watching something on a device and actually interacting with it. “It’s the difference between consumption and creation,” said Moorjani. “If a child is passively consuming media, it’s not doing them any good, but there are some 80,000 apps considered educational that may actually help them.” During the summer months, in fact, many parents use educational apps to help their children retain and even sharpen things like language and math skills.

A word of caution from the AAP, however: there are apps that claim to be educational, but to date, there has been little research to validate their educational value. To learn more about age-appropriate content, go to www.commonsensemedia.org.

Set up media-free zones in your house – One way to balance social media with personal interaction is to establish media-free zones in your house. “Make a rule that in certain places, or at certain times, there are to be no devices whatsoever,” said Moorjani. “The family table is a perfect place to start. No matter if we’re eating breakfast, lunch or dinner, the table is the one place where we communicate face-to-face and can really put the focus back on the family.”  

Bedrooms are another important media-free zone. Research has shown that the presence of screens in a child’s room – from televisions to smartphones – leads to later bedtimes and often serious disruptions in sleep patterns. Without rigid schedules during the summer months, kids may be more tempted to use screens in their bedrooms late into the night.

To prevent the misuse of screens, make a family charging station so that all devices can be accounted for and monitored when they are not to be in use.

Don’t leave kids to their own devices – The reason kids may not use their electronic devices as much during the school year is because they simply don’t have the time. Phones and tablets are forbidden in many classrooms, and if your child takes part in extracurricular activities, they may not have access to their devices until later in the evening.

“If a busy schedule works during the school year, there is no reason it can’t work during the summer months, too,” said Moorjani. “With a little pre-planning, you can sign your kids up to play sports, go to camps, do volunteer work and a myriad of other activities that will limit their screen time opportunities.”

Parents can also assign chores to children that require them to spend time outdoors and may want to consider creating physical challenges for kids to complete. “Set a goal for a certain number of miles they ride their bike each week, for example, or help them organize neighborhood basketball or softball tournaments,” said Moorjani. “If you don’t want your child staring at a screen this summer, give them something else to do. You may be surprised how much they like it.”

4 Times Your Family Takes You by Surprise

Posted on: April 26th, 2016 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

As a mother, there are rare times when you are truly surprised. Blow-out diapers no longer send you into the same shock that they once did, hearing the kids fighting is no longer something to leap up for. But, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t times that your family will surprise you in good (and sometimes bad) ways.

Before you resign yourself to never being surprised, remember that you may have some of these to look forward to:

1. The first time your kid does something truly selfless for someone on their own.

Takes You by Surprise 2

We all work hard to make sure that our kids grow up to be helpful, productive and caring members of society. No matter how young they are, when you notice them doing kind things for others, it can be one of the most surprisingly satisfying moments. Whether it is your toddler offering to kiss a boo-boo or your teen volunteering to help others, it is always a surprisingly proud moment.

2. When you realize that your kids don’t wake you up in the night anymore.

Takes You by Surprise 2

This is one of the surprises that really does sneak up on you. You will wake up one morning and realize that not only have you been sleeping through the night, but your kids actually seem to like sleeping. Even if it isn’t until they are teenagers, this will come when you least expect it. Enjoy it, bask in it, this is what you have worked for.

3. The first time you hear your child say a curse word.

Takes You by Surprise 3

We can file this one under: “WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY???”Kids are like sponges, they absorb everything they hear and see, but it is still a bit of a shock when they say a bad word. No matter how careful you are about keeping kids from bad words, there may come a time when they hear it somewhere else and ask you what it means, and the first time you hear a no-no word come from their innocent voices it can be a surprise. Just remember, this happens to almost all parents and if your child says a bad word once, it in no way means you have failed in some way.

4. When your spouse does a major chore without having to be asked even once.

Takes You by Surprise 4

Lets just address one thing: very few people are able to keep a spotless house after they have children. Now that we have that out of the way, it is also important to note that we all fall into routines and sometimes the big chores, like changing the oil in the car or vacuuming under the sofa that become a little neglicted. Even if you aren’t the type to tell your spouse what to do, it is always a wonderful surprise when you come home to one of those big chores being done without having to ask. A little bit goes a long way when this happens.

There will be other times that your family truly surprises you, of course. You may come home one day and be surprised by the fact that you haven’t heard your children argue with each other in days, or maybe it is a more large-scale surprise like getting breakfast in bed and a spa day out of the blue. But through it all, these surprises, good and bad, will come when you least expect them.

At-Home Experiments from MOSI

Posted on: April 21st, 2016 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

As we get ready for Summer Splash this Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm at MOSI, it is time to start thinking about summer camps. Joining me now is Tampa Bay Parenting Contributor Grayson Kamm from MOSI, along with Lady TNT. She’s one of the STEAMpunk’s at MOSI, and she has promised me — they will not blow up our studio.

Let’s start with a chemical reaction that kids can make happen in some of our summer science camps. We have camps for every different kind of interest!

This would be something from one of our “science” camps, but we have camps that focus on every aspect of STEM or STEAM learning: science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

And that term, STEAM, is why we have STEAMpunks like Lady TNT all over MOSI. They’re doing random acts of science for you. Our camps are led by trained educators. Their costumes look more like mine — and to me, they are your guides to the “Wow!” — they show you all the cool things you can do with science.

 

“How to be a Mad Scientist” is actually the name of one of MOSI’s weeklong camps. There’s also “Don’t Try this at Home,” “Chocolate Factory Fun,” and more than 130 others! The whole catalog is online right now at MOSI.org.

Rockets, robots, costume design, video game design, exploring the outdoors… this summer, we have all of that going on at MOSI in our Summer Science Camps.

MOSI’s camps go from 9 to 4 each day, and we offer extended care from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. We have camps from preschool to high school — my four-year-old is gonna go make some inventions, high schoolers can come explore STEAM careers. MOSI’s Summer Science Camps run from June 13 to August 12. We have discounts for multiple weeks and if you become a MOSI member. And you can see the whole list and sign up at MOSI.org.

You can also find more information about summer camps on Saturday from 9-3 at the Summer Splash Summer Camp Fair at MOSI.

Summer Secrets: Why Camp Helps

Posted on: April 21st, 2016 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Summer is almost here, which means it is an important time to start thinking about the best summer camps for your kids. Tampa Bay Parenting contributor and YMCA Camp Cristina Executive Director Mark Battig is here to talk about keeping kids active this summer through camp.

1)   Why is it important to keeps kids active during the summer?

When kids are out of school, they can face hurdles that prevent them from reaching their full potential. Kids are less physically active and engaged in learning during the summer months. In fact, research shows that children gain weight two to three times faster during the summer vacation than during the school year.

2)   Getting kids’ bodies moving is important, but what about their minds?

Kids—particularly from low-income families—fall behind academically because they don’t have access to out-of-school learning opportunities. In fact, by fifth grade, low-income kids are two to three school years behind middle-income children. This is often called the “summer slide” or “summer learning loss”…where kids lose what they learn during the school year over the summer.

3)   How does summer camp help ensure campers are getting enough physical activity and educational opportunities?

Summer camp, like at the YMCA, can address critical gaps in kids’ health and education. Attending summer camp is beneficial to every child’s personal development. The experience teaches essential leadership and social skills and helps youth develop confidence and independence. Summer camp fosters peer friendships and adult mentoring relationships that have positive youth development effects, build resiliency and encourage healthy decision making. At the Y, for example…Summer Camp offers a fun and unique experience that gives children and teens the opportunity to meet new friends, explore nature, discover new interests, be physically active and create memories that last a lifetime. YMCA summer camp supports the social-emotional growth, cognitive development and physical well-being of kids, and provides an environment where kids can belong, build relationships and realize their potential.

4)   What other fun activities/opportunities are available during YMCA summer camp?

At the Y, there is a camp program for everyone. From day camp to specialty camps for special needs kids, there is a suitable camp to meet the diverse needs of campers. Our camp staff are intentionally focused on helping youth develop by experiencing accomplishment, building friendships and creating a unique sense of belonging at camp. We also provide breakfast and lunch to all our campers at no extra cost.

5)   Any tips for parents trying to incorporate healthier habits at home during the summer?

  • High Five the Fruits and Veggies– Make sure kids get at least five servings a day, the minimum number nutritionists recommend to maintain healthy childhood development. And to keep kids’ taste buds evolving, have everyone in the family try at least one bite of a new fruit or vegetable at least once a month.
  • Foster an Early and Ongoing Passion for Books– Read to and with your kids. Help children read at every age and every stage of their development.
  • Team Up for Athletic Events – Set a family goal of great health by teaming up for community or charity events like races, walks, fun runs, bike rides, etc.
  • Volunteer Together – Find a cause that matters to the kids. Open their eyes to a world beyond themselves and the rich rewards that come from making a difference.
  • Make sleep a priority– Doctors recommend 10-12 hours of sleep a day for children ages 5-12 and 7-8 hours per night for adults. Sleep plays a critical role in maintaining our healthy immune system, metabolism, mood, memory, learning and other vital functions.

You can also discover more about summer camp at the Summer Splash Summer Camp Fair on April 9 at MOSI. Visit Summersplashtampabay.com for more information.

The 10 Best Gifts for Teacher Appreciation Day

Posted on: April 21st, 2016 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

By Megan Walsh, Schoola.com

Gifts for Teacher

I strongly believe that teachers have the most important job in the world. They play a crucial role in the early lives of our children, equipping them with essential skills and inspiration for a lifetime of learning. My daughter is only at the beginning of her schooling career but already I have witnessed amazing dedication, patience and personalized care from all of the teachers and staff at her school that are on site before dawn and on their feet all day for our kids. Not only does this tireless work bring a tear to my eye, but compels me to show my appreciation and support for teachers everywhere, given the challenges they face with school budget cuts and resource constraints. May 3rd is National Teacher Appreciation Day which gives me the perfect occasion to show my gratitude through a gift. But what gift would be worthy for the feats accomplished by our school superheros every day?

At Schoola we are lucky enough to work with teachers from over 22,000 schools nation-wide, so we asked them: what gift would they love to receive from their students? There were two common themes: usable value and a personalized touch. Classrooms can get cluttered quickly and we heard loud and clear that they couldn’t make space for useless objects. Respondents also said that the best gifts showcased some personalized knowledge of them as a person. So we put together a list of top gift ideas that don’t create clutter, and celebrate the uniqueness of every teacher, just like our teachers celebrate the uniqueness of each of their students.

Top 10 Gifts for Teachers

1. For the teacher with a green thumb, stop by your local nursery and pick out the perfect potted plant to brighten up any room. Kids can decorate the pot or stick in personalized messages. Because teachers are the best at helping things grow!

2. Teachers get up early! For the coffee lover, skip a clutter-making mug and go for a gift card to Peets or Starbucks. Or go with exotic coffee blends.

3. Teachers at our school are well-known around the neighborhood. You can acknowledge your local community by giving a gift card from a small business in your area. I’m sure your teacher has a favorite local joint where everyone knows their name. 

4. Apples for teachers may be somewhat cliche, but they are perfectly simple and sweet. A basket of farm fresh fruits and veggies is always useful and appreciated. Have a garden? Gift the fruits of your labor with a handwritten note letting them know how much they’re appreciated.

5. Summers are the perfect time for exploring and travelling the world. For the jetset teacher, give a basket of goodies from their favorite exotic travels.

6. On their feet all day, and constantly answering questions… teachers deserve some pampering alone time! Whether that means a gift card for a night at the movies, or a massage or pedicure, gift them a way to unwind from the stresses of the day. 

7. If your teacher has a furry friend, like ours does, consider gifting some goodies from a local pet store. Kids love picking out cute toys and treats for pets, and this gesture will show a little appreciation for teacher’s other pets.

8. One of the teachers at our school is famous for putting on music Fridays at lunch. I plan to gift her an iTunes gift card that can be used to freshen up her playlist. We may even take it up a notch by including a keepsake photo card from a particularly rowdy “dance party friday.”

9. Gifts for the classroom are somewhat controversial since they lack the personal and special touch of something just for teacher. However, about half the teachers we asked wanted items from their classroom supply wish list – the tough reality is that many teachers spend up to $600 of their own money on classroom items that the district budget cannot provide. We plan to buy out the remainder of the class Amazon wish list as an end-of-year gestureall that’s left on the list at this point are books that the kids have requested, so we will present her with a stack of books and supplies that says “a gift from Kinder 2016 to the class of 2017” and I think it will warm her heart.

10. Give the ultimate gift by starting a fundraising drive. You can easily start a Schoola clothing drive and earn enough to fund a field trip, or a development day. Get started in as little as two weeksthere’s still time to book a drive.

May 3rd is right around the corner so don’t delaygrab one of these gifts or tell us about your best teacher gift in the comments below!

About Megan Walsh: Megan’s favorite school memory is discovering a peer counseling program that helped her become a leader in her toughest year of grade-schoolwhen she grew 11 inches in 12 months, and changed schools as a 5’8” fifth-grader. Now she is a mom of two Bay Area babes, and spends the workweek helping other parents leverage Schoola to fund their school programs.

Behind the Scenes: Tampa Bay Parenting April Extraordinary Woman

Posted on: April 21st, 2016 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Every month, we showcase the extraordinary women in Tampa Bay that make a difference in not only the lives of their families, but the lives of those in the community. This month, we met a truly extraordinary woman, Marilyn Reynolds. Her enthusiasm while teaching her PreK students is contageous and photographing her was a ton of fun.

Check out these exclusive behind-the-scenes photos from Tampa Bay Parenting’s April Extraordinary Woman photo shoot at Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Petersburg with the fabulous photographer Amy Pezzicara from Pezz Photo.

Tampa Bay Parenting April Extraordinary Woman

When we arrived, Marilyn was doing sign language and singing with her class of little sharks.

Tampa Bay Parenting April Extraordinary Woman
Tampa Bay Parenting April Extraordinary Woman

Her classroom also had a small stage where students act out books like the Cat in the Hat.

Tampa Bay Parenting April Extraordinary Woman
Tampa Bay Parenting April Extraordinary Woman
Tampa Bay Parenting April Extraordinary Woman

Find more fantastic photos and behind-the-scenes shots at Pezz Photo. You can also read the Extraordinary Woman Feature here. 

Why should kids go to summer camp?

Posted on: April 21st, 2016 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Summer is almost here and it is time to start thinking about summer camps. Tampa Bay Parenting contributor Jessica Muroff, CEO of the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida, is here to talk with us about why summer camps are so important.

Why is it important for kids to go to camp?

Camp is such a great learning experience in so many ways. Research shows that campers improve in areas like social integration, self-confidence and appreciation of physical activity. Campers are exposed to the wonders of nature, which develops into an appreciation, concern and caring for our environment and time spent outdoors is essential to the physical, emotional and mental development of children. It also important for campers to be able to take risks in a safe environment, something that is especially vital for girls to prepare them for life.

What does it mean to take risks in a safe environment?

Many kids, and this tends to be especially true of girls, are not encouraged to take risks. At camp, taking risks is not only encouraged but critical to enjoying the full benefits of the experience. With ample supervision and instruction, kids can go outside their comfort zone and feel safe and encouraged to take risks. In turn they learn responsibility, problem-solving and confidence.

What other kinds of life skills do campers develop?

How to make friends is one of the primary benefits. How to live with people other than your family which may be the best chance they have to do this until college. You learn how to appreciate the differences, listen to others and resolve conflict. You also get to develop a sense of independence and an opportunity take care of yourself. How to disconnect from our technological world and appreciate outdoor activities.

 As a parent, what did you appreciate about your daughter’s camp experience?

I appreciated that she was able to step outside of her comfort zone. She learned new things, made new friends, challenged herself, took risks, and disconnected from the technology that pervades our daily lives. She was able to do a lot of self-reflection and learn more about herself as she is growing and experiencing new things. Though some of her letters were sad (she missed us, of course, we missed her, too!), I knew from counselor reports and photos that she was enjoying her time. When she came home she sang the camp songs to me for a full week on a daily basis. I loved it. I remembered that same experience at our Girl Scouts camps. It made my heart happy.

For more information, visit gswcf.org/summercamp.

Ready for School with Ready Rosie

Posted on: April 21st, 2016 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

When it comes to preparing your kids for school, it all starts in preschool. To help get your little ones ready for school, the Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County has launched the Ready Rosie program. Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine contributor Aakash Patel from the Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County is here to talk about Ready Rosie and how you can prepare your kids for kindergarten.

The importance of preparing your preschooler for Kindergarten

Did you know that quality early education programs can produce higher IQ’s, boost future academic and economic achievement and even help prevent incidences of chronic diseases and obesity in adulthood? Early learning programs also build socio-emotional traits which have greater effects on later life outcomes than most other cognitive skills a child will learn!

Aside from the obvious benefits to our children – there are economic incentives too. Every public dollar spent on preschool returns $7 through increased productivity and savings on public assistance and criminal justice. In a 2010 report, the Institute for a Competitive Workforce found that for every dollar invested in pre-K today, savings range from $2.50 to as much as $17 in the years ahead.

More than anyone, the Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County understands the impact of quality early education programs and continually works to support both our children’s and community’s future.

When we say that your child should start preparing for kindergarten during preschool, we don’t mean that they need to know everything about kindergarten before they get there. Rather, it is important to make sure that your child is prepared to succeed. They don’t need to know the entire alphabet, but making sure they are able to retell a simple story and recognizing some of the letters in their name will make the transition to kindergarten learning much easier.

What are some activities you can do with your preschooler to prepare them?

You can turn everyday moments into teachable moments that will help your child learn and grow. Some of the easiest things you can do to prepare them is to teach them numbers 1-10. You can count objects in your home and point to each object as you count. Another great way to prepare them is to go on a shape hunt. Point out circles, squares, and triangles while you are walking through the grocery store or even just playing in their room.

Setting up play dates is another easy way to help get your children ready for kindergarten. Not only can they socialize, but they will learn through play.

ReadyRosie free online resource to help parents and caregivers turn simple activities into teachable moments.

Ready Rosie is an online resource that is free from the Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County. It provides daily activities for adults to do with kids from birth to age six and the activities take only about two minutes per day. Each activity is modeled on a quick video and everyone learns something new. It is offered in English and Spanish and explains the “why” behind the activity.

To sign up for Ready Rosie, visit ELCHC.org/ReadyRosie. All you do is sign up, do the fun and simple activity, and watch as your child learns and grows.

To learn more about Ready Rosie, visit TBParenting.com.

Safer Sex? There’s an App for That!

Posted on: April 21st, 2016 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Y2S App Screencap

YES to SEX, an app that helps students learn how to avoid nonconsensual sex by requiring partners to digitally agree to the major factors around sexual encounters – consent and protection – in as little as 25 seconds pre-sex, has launched. The app aims to help students evade assault and the more than 1 million sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that are acquired worldwide each day.

Prior to engaging in sexual activities, partners can confirm consent facts, agree whether or not to use protection, and then verbalize and save individual decisions on the app. The app is free to use and requires no sign-up, names, faces, videos, fingerprints, emails, phone numbers, social media information or signatures. Once a user closes out of the app, no information remains saved on any phone, however the date, time, place, and voice recordings are stored on YES to SEX’s secure servers, using the same data encryption as the government’s Department of Defense. These records can only be retrieved with court-endorsed orders, ensuring anonymity for both consenting partners.  

According to the Center for Disease Control, 1 in every 2 sexually active people will get an STD or STI between ages 15-25, while the American Journal for Public Health highlights that 51% of pregnancies are unintended.

Wendy Mandell-Geller, the app’s founder and mother of three college-aged students, who has a background in psychology, developed the app’s safe sex concept in 2015 after listening and conversing with her children and their diverse group of friends about their pre-sex habits and thoughts on the new “Yes Means Yes” law. As a result, Mandell-Geller was inspired to create a phone app as an alternative communication tool that would encourage informed and safe decision making while still appealing to the Millennial and Generation Z lifestyles.

“As a mother, I was horrified to learn that every month in the U.S. over 1.7 million STIs are transmitted and 50% of our youth ages 15-25 are now infected. Similarly, 25% of female students and 6-8% of male students are sexually assaulted each year on educational campuses,” stated Mandell-Geller. “I want to empower teens and young adults to initiate conversations with their partner(s) about consent and the use of protection in a modern, approachable manner that fits into their lifestyles.”

The YES to SEX app is available to download on iOS and Android.

About YES To Sex
Launched in 2016, YES to SEX helps students avoid the awkwardness of discussing “Yes” or “No” to sex. The easy-to-use app allows individuals to easily confirm consent stances, agree on protection and finally verbalize and save decisions in as little as 25 seconds before sexual activities. YES to SEX is based in North Carolina and was founded by Wendy Mandell-Geller, a mother of three.