Archive | July 2011

Google+ and planning a Disney Vacation

Google+ is putting other social media sites to shame … and it’s here to stay.

With its incredible ways of organizing friends and family, it is the perfect tool for planning a Disney Vacation.

In my family, our annual summer vacations are discussed for months. If we were going to Disney we planned all year.

Who’s going, what are we packing, who are we meeting, what are the time frames, and most importantly, what are the MAIN ACTIVITIES the family wants to enjoy.

And once you have answered these crucial questions it is up to mom and dad, plus any other couples joining, to plan the days of fun. Not to mention juggling work, getting the kids to school and other aspects of normal life leading up to vacation.

You shouldn’t need a week off from planning your vacation. Google+, even in its infancy, is a fantastic tool for planning Disney vacations.

Circles, the stream and hangouts take the stress out of group Disney vacations. Google already holds so much information on traveling and ways to cross-reference information – planning a vacation on the same site you find the info is an instinct. Read below to find some quick tips on how to combine Google+ features with vacations.

Circles: (Click here to watch a video on Google+ circles if you need further explanation – http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=BeMZP-oyOII)

  • When you start to plan your Disney vacation add everyone in the group to a specific circle. An amazing thing about Google+ circles in you can have one person in several circles. The more specific you circles, the less noise you need to weed through. If you have everyone that will take part in your vacation in one circle information can be shared. Unlike emails, you don’t have to worry about saving information. Unlike Facebook, adding circles and members is quick and easy – with no hassles like accepting group members.

Stream: Now that you have everyone involved in your Disney vacation in a circle you can start sharing ideas.

  • You can share information within a specific circle, so your plans for vacation are not shared with everyone. Like sending out a mass text, posting information to a specific stream about a FastPass or plans for dinner allow everyone in your group to know immediately.
  • Post a link about having breakfast with the princesses or Pooh and see who +1. Like Facebook, +1 is a way of supporting a post. You can also comment or share the post with other members of the circle or on Google+.  You never have to worry that you added everyone to an email or someone lost important information – it’s right there in the stream. Mistyped a date? You can go into your own post and change the information.
  • Google+ also has a chat feature that allows you send out a message anentire circle. This is perfect when you are in the park and ready to meet for lunch, or to snag a spot in line for your favorite character.

Hangouts:

always remember the magic

  • One of my favorite applications on Google+, a hangout is face chatting with people in your circles.  Essentially, it is a group video chat.  At Hollywood Studios and ready to grab a seat for Fantasmic!? Log onto a hangout and tell your group members! This feature is great forgetting things done quickly – and with everyone involved.

don't miss a chance to meet your favorite princess!

Google+ is a great tool for arranging group Disney vacations.

No matter how long you plan, there will always be an autograph you need to get or a ride you have to experience.

Google+ makes planning a dream vacation with friends easier – and allows you to focus on the important parts of Disney – like the magic.

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take a class, save a life

As many of you know, I am a lifeguard and manager at a local private pool during the summer. With my hours at the pool  I have seen bloody toes, bee-stings, bumped heads and sunburns. 

But I have also seen choking children, broken arms and a heart-attack.

And these have occurred while I was lifeguarding and during a normal day.

I saw a baby choke on a mandarin orange while eating at a restaurant, took care of a friend’s compound fracture during a pick-up soccer game and helped administer CPR last year at mass.

I was able to help in all of these situations because of my annual First Aid/CPR training. My hands may have shook for hours afterwards, but I felt confident of my knowledge and my skills in these situations.

This training, taking only a couple of hours out of a weekend, allowed me to save lives. These classes tell everyone how to properly react in scary situations. I am always surprised when parents don’t know how to handle the situation when their children are choking. It may be instinct to stick your finger down a throat and grab lodged food – but it could cause a gag reflex and cause the victim to vomit, and continue choking.

Choking infants are held facedown on your forearm and given five back-blows between the shoulder blades and then five chest thrusts with two fingers. Remember, if a choking victim is wheezing or making any sound continue to encourage them to cough. Always call 911 during emergencies.

Baby Heimlich

These skills are essential for everyone to know! Please consider signing up for First Aid and CPR classes and becoming certified this summer. You will be surprised when you need these lifesaving skills.

Disney Princess meets pool mom

I started a new session of swim lessons today and couldn’t believe the huge variety of relationships I saw between parents and their children. I know I have verrrryyy little experience in the parenting department (I am a kick-butt older sister, may I add), but the actions of some parents blow my mind.

A quick Jessi-childhood fact: My mom’s way of punishing my sister and I when we were misbehaving in public or showing-off around family is called ninja-punishment parenting. If my mom felt that we acted poorly in a restaurant or in church, she would smile this extremely sweet-evil smile and whisper a few choice words in our ears. While the people around thought my mom was softly saying how much she loves us she was actually listing out everything we were going to lose as soon as we stepped inside the house.

We lost desserts, TV, having friends over, movies, cell phones and cars. Please note the cell-phone and car entered the list later on in my life – proving the ninja-punishment method works not only on children, but teenagers and young college-students as well.

Blame it on the heat or something in the water, but I have never heard so many parents scream at their children as I did today.

As a lifeguard and manager at a private pool I see a wide range of families. I see parents who drop their children off all day and treat the pool as a babysitter, parents who become fearful when their son/daughter heads to the diving board and my personal favorite, parents who scream at their children all day.

Last week I saw an argument between a mom and her eight or 10-year-old son. The mom was standing in the pool talking to her friends while her son and his friends saw around and fetched dive sticks. The little boy threw a stick close to the group of women, and while kicking to retrieve it, accidentally splashed his mom and got her hair wet. She immediately yanked his arm and dragged him to the side of the pool, telling him because he misbeahved he wasn’t allowed to swim anymore and had to sit out til she was ready to go home.

Really?

In my defense, I had been guarding the pool all day and hadn’t seen this child act out once. I believe this woman’s actions were slightly uncalled for and the punishment did not suit the crime.

These types of actions carry over into my swim lesson classes.

I had worked with two 7-year-old twins for about three weeks and was making progress with both children. However, one of the twins was a natural born swimmer, while the other took much more coaching and time to accept certain skills. On a particularly cold day I was having trouble having my water-shy swimmer enter the pool. I had finally convinced her to put on her goggles and put her legs in when her mother came up and threw her into the pool.

Way to ruin WEEKS of progress and destroy any confidence I created.

I couldn’t believe that a mother would interfere in lessons, and even worse, not understand that a fear of water is real. You cannot force your child to swim immediately if they have slight hydrophobia. It takes time and patience, not frustration and pressure.Respect needs to come from both sides – children and parents. Parents need to understand their kids may not think of their mom’s hair first when going for a pool toy, but they shouldn’t be punished for not knowing. Parents also need to understand siblings may have different skill sets and fears, and learn to respect those specific needs.

At least, that’s my humble 21-year-old opinion.

true friendship

One of my favorite quotes is “A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out”  by Walter Winchell. Simple and to the point, it seems to say that fulfilling the duty of a best friend should be easy. But it’s not.

10 years and counting...

We all need that one best friend who we can call at 2 a.m. No matter if we saw the ex-boyfriend and sent a text, embarrassed ourselves at a party, failed a test, need to gossip about a Facebook post, got in a huge fight with mom, potentially screwed up our ENTIRE future by messing up an interview or need advice on what shoes to wear to said interview.

Want to know something great? I have a friend like that, and have been lucky enough to know her since the 6th grade. After becoming a buckeye, I have picked up a few more.

In high school my views on friendship (no matter how shallow this may seem) focused more on quantity over quality. As the years passed and I graduated from high school, and now college, that immature veneer disappeared. I have gathered a few more best  friends in college, and can tell you with 100% certainty, I couldn’t be happier with my close-knit group of friends.

No matter how many friends you have on Facebook or listed in your cell phone, when in trouble you call one person – your best friend.

There will always be the friends who you meet for coffee or go out with on a Friday night, but when you have tears in your eyes and feel like the world is moving underneath your feet, you call your best friends.

They know when to listen to you cry or complain, and when to gently give you advice. You can pick up right where you left off, even if it has been a couple of weeks without talking. It’s almost like no time has passed.

As I matured through college and am slowly finding my balance as a graduate, I am thankful for my best friends. I know my future with the Disney College Program and attempting to turn this opportunity into a career I will make mistakes and fall — but I have incredible people around me to catch me.