Make time for YOUR Mammogram

I turned 40 this year. Let me say, I celebrated turning 40. There is a peace that came with it, that is hard to explain. An overwhelming feeling that I was finally in charge of life. What I was doing, where I was going, how to advocate for myself. It was all there. 

I have been aware for a while now that I am at high risk for breast cancer. It runs on both sides of my family and that’s not something that will ever change. I am aware of it, I acknowledge it and as I get older I have to be responsible for checking for it. It’s that little voice in the back of my head. I might be healthy today, but what about tomorrow? I check for myself often…but more importantly, I check for my boys. 

I was able to visit the Norma E. & Miles M. Zisson Comprehensive Breast Center of the Palm Beaches at Good Samaritan Medical Center and sat down with center manager Colleen Campbell. 

The first thing I noticed about Colleen is how friendly and warm she was, and how proud she was to show me and talk about her facility. My previous experience at imaging centers was to feel like a number. In and out as fast as they could… I was immediately struck that this center was different. It was not simply about imaging. It was about the patient as a whole person. 

Of course as women, we hear every year at our OB/GYN appointment that we should be checking ourselves for lumps and bumps…but what does that really mean? Younger me wanted to get that part of the exam over as fast as possible, but now as I’m older I have questions that I know I need to listen to the answers. I was able to ask Colleen some of those questions, that maybe you’ve been wondering too. 

1) At what age is it recommended that a woman gets a mammogram? Who should they ask to get one?      

Without a family history of breast cancer all women should start with a routine screening Mammogram at the age of 40, with a family history at the age of 35.

2) What should someone expect during their first mammogram? 

 With experienced team members a mammogram should be uncomfortable in the sense that it is considered an intimate exam, like going to the OB/GYN the first time.  If the right person is explaining and performing the procedure during the exam it helps. There is  some pressure but it should not be a painful experience at all. As a matter of fact I’ve been doing this so long that I have a lot of GYN’s that referrer their baseline mammogram patients to me personally for this very reason. It really helps to let the technologist know that this is your first mammogram.

3) If a woman doesn’t have insurance, what should they do to decrease the cost of a mammogram? 

 If you do not have insurance most facilities have cash pay prices that are very competitive, especially around Mother’s Day and October. Again, stay close to the Hospital based programs, (outpatient facilities that are associated w/ Hospitals. They offer more qualified and experienced staff. With insurance Annual Routine Mammograms are covered 100%, W/O insurance w/ offer competitive cash pay pricing. At our outpatient facilities the reading fee(radiologist) is also included.

4) If a lump is found, what is the first thing someone should do? 

Mark the area with a marker and call your doctor to make an appointment. You will need to know the date of your last period and approximately how long the lump has been there.

5) How is your facility different from others in the area? 

I would like to say our facility sets us apart because we are passionate about what we do and who we do it for. We all have a story. I chose my team based on their experience and passion and compassion. In the Breast Cancer world it’s not about the job we do, it’s about the people we do it for, our families, our community, our facility. 
I want my staff to feel satisfied every day that we do what’s right! To lay our heads down on the pillow every night and feel like you made a difference, even if it’s one person that’s all it takes. That’s why we chose the medical field, I believe it’s a path. My staff wants to work with me on my mission to help these women and their families.

A Birth Experience Like No Other – Good Samaritan Medical Center

Lily Pulitzer Birthing Suites at Good Samaritan Hospital

Looking for a completely different birthing experience for your self or someone you know? You have to take a look at the renovated Lilly Pulitzer rooms at Good Sameriatan Medical Center.

Good Samaritan Medical Center is partnering with iconic resort wear brand, Lilly Pulitzer, creating the ultimate Palm Beach experience with the design of its new Lilly Pulitzer Birthing Suites and family waiting room.

The two VIP suites are redesigned with the signature Lilly Pulitzer aesthetic, to give new moms and their families a joyful and luxurious feel when they deliver their babies. The suites art and design elements have all been donated by Lilly Pulitzer.

The rooms have been fully renovated with bedding and window coverings in Lilly Pulitzer print fabrics along with coordinating decor.

Between the waterfront views, concierge service and VIP food and beverage menu this truly is a completely unique and special experience. The stress and pressure of a standard hospital stay are taken away and families are at the center of the whole experience. Mom and baby also receive matching Lilly Pulitzer swaddle sets – how sweet is that!

To schedule a tour or to make a reservation, please visit

https://www.goodsamaritanmc.com/services/obstetrics

Spend the Holidays at Fantasy World Resort – Kissimmee- Florida Snow and Ice Skating

Fantasy World Resort pool.

One of the best things about spending the holidays in Florida is that you can really experience multiple seasons in one day. My family and I recently spent the weekend at Fantasy World Resort in Kissimmee, Florida and went from ice skating and drinking hot chocolate to relaxing in the pool. The best of both worlds.

Ice Skating at Fantasy World Resort

We have stayed with Fantasy World Resort a few times now, and each time there is something new to experience. The staff really does feel like family now, and during our entire stay they do whatever they can to keep the kids entertained. That means parents can actually relax for a bit, which means the world this time of year.

Check out all of the fun from my Instagram stories on property here.

This year, along with the ice skating and tons of Florida snow, they added fun photo ops. If you know me, you know I love a fun photo location.

There are four different to choose from, including this one from The Christmas Story. Which happens to be one of Billiam’s favorites. I personally loved the large tree and twinkle lights, but I’m a classy kinda gal. Hehe.

Photo backdrops at Fantasy World Resort

Fantasy World Resort goes all out for my favorite holidays: here is a post about their Halloween activities too!

As the property has grown, there really is no reason to leave throughout your stay. Each time we go, there are new activities to explore. Mini golf, volleyball, basketball… the lazy river and water slides.

Plus, they are pet friendly, with a dog park too!

Poolside cotton candy at Fantasy World Resort

Pool games, cotton candy, teddy bear building, pool side tie dye. Only a few of the activities they offer, and each hour there are more surprises. Let’s not forget trivia, which is my personal favorite.

Living Room at Fantasy World Resort

No matter what your plans are for the holiday season, make sure to include a stay at Fantasy World Resort. You may just want to make it a tradition (like we do).

No time to go until after the holidays? No worries…their Winter fun is available until January 2nd. 2022.

Buddy The Elf Spaghetti Snacks – For Someone Special

I remember going to the theatre ages ago to see Elf in between college classes at FAU. I had a huge gap on Mondays and always popped in to see something new. I honestly had no idea what to expect and had probably seen every other movie they had to offer.

@thisfloridamom

Love the movie #Elf? This is the yummiest snack to make. It’s just like a rice crispy but with chow mein noodles. #baking #christmascountdown

♬ Santa Claus Is Coming to Town – Michael Bublé

I don’t remember any of the other movies I saw then…but I remember Elf. Of course, it is one of our favorite holiday movies and we still watch it every year. Multiple times.

“Buddy the Elf, What’s Your Favorite Color?”

This was the easiest treat to make, and the boys ate half of it while we were making it. I did too. We will probably make it a few more times in the next few weeks too. These are a great and fun surprise at holiday parties or neighbor cookie swaps.

Depending on what you want to add to yours, you might have most of the ingredients already.

Of course, there are no real measurements with this and it’s only a hyped-up rice crispy treat. Minus the rice crispies.

2 cans of Chow Mein noodles

1 bag of chocolate chips

1 bag of white chocolate chips

1 stick of butter

1 bag of small marshmallows

1 canister of Freeze-Dried marshmallows bits

M&M’s

sprinkles

Anything else you may want to add.

Melt half stick of butter with a full bag of marshmallows.

Melt other half of butter stick with bag of white chocolate chips. When bother are completely melted incorporate them together and stir.

Pour into a bowl of chow mein noodles. Mix well and pour onto a cookie sheet or other flat surface.

Pour chocolate chips on the top while still warm. The chocolate will start to melt as well.

While everything is still warm flatten the noodles and add your toppings.

Once the treats come to room temperature and harden, cut, and serve.

Make for someone special of course.

Disney Inspired Gifts – Ages 4 – 8

I absolutely love the magic of Disney… I can say the same thing about toys. When I’m able to find toys that tie in with our lifestyle and get the boys excited about the next trip I grab them. I’m also “that” Disney aunt. You know…the one that always gives Disney gifts… guilty as charged and not one regret about it.

Sometimes I feel like I can’t find any new one though, or run out of ideas for them. As I was looking for holiday gifts I can across a few that I wanted to share in case you might be looking for some too.

One gift that never gets old is a game to add to our game night rotation. These came in perfectly during quarantine and now that the world is a little back to normal, we’ve decided to keep our game nights. Finding games that all of our family can play and enjoy can sometimes be a challenge, but these are two I was excited to add to our collection. Mad Tea Party and Meme the Game.

I wasn’t sure how the Doorables would go over, but after I grabbed the Villans set for Halloween, I knew I needed more. My youngest loves little figurines and the fact these are all different versions of Mickey is awesome. Again, depending on what your child is into — there are probably Doorables for that.

I love Melissa and Doug toys because they are a quality product and hold up well for years. My boys love spending time in the kitchen and have a play kitchen too. These pizza and cake slices are amazing for little hands.

Bath toys are great for siblings. Either they can play with them together in the tub or one on one – but there is no fighting with them outside of the bathroom. I actually grabbed both of these sets for my nephews. Here is the Finding Nemo bath set – and the Mickey Mouse Basket Ball set.

Something that drove me crazy is that I could never get LEGO bricks that were Disney unless it was a princess. I wanted classic Mickey but non in DUPLO form. I was so excited when I saw these. There are actually quite a few to choose from. I’ve put these on our holiday wishlists for other family members to grab too!

Fall Getaway to Fantasy World Resort – With a Haunted Manor

I have found one of the best times to visit Orlando is during the school year. Why? Because most of the travelers and families to that area come when school is out. September to November is usually a little more quiet and restful for Florida families.

Fall in Florida is my absolute favorite time.

Fantasy World Resort – Kissimmee, Florida

If you have never planned a fall weekend away, I promise it will become something you look forward to every year. Fantasy World Resort in Kissimmee, Florida has practically everything you need right on property. No matter what your family interests are, it is the perfect place to plan your getaway.


Pool cabanas at Fantasy World Resort in Kissimmee, FL

I’m not sure what you might look for in a family getaway, but for us it’s all about comfort, convenience and plenty of things to do to keep the boys active and away from screens.

The lazy river and pool area at Fantasy World Resort is the first thing my boys want to do, even before we take our bags in the house. That’s exactly what it feels like too! A private family townhouse. With a full kitchen, living and dining room. Two bedrooms, two full baths and the lifesaver of a washer and dryer. Heading home with no laundry to do is a different type of happiness. Plus they are pet friendly, so the whole family can stay together.

Fantasy World Resort, master bedroom

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever blogged about a hotel bed being comfortable. I’m actually quite used to waking up with aches and pains from sleeping in a new place.

I don’t know what kind of magic was in this, but I woke up after the best night of sleep I’ve had in years knowing I need to buy everything on this bed. Pillows, sheets, bedding. It was that amazing. Not what you would expect to hear right?

They have started upgrading all of their units on property and even the smallest detail hasn’t been overlooked.

Fantasy Wold Resort – second bedroom

The boys had their own room too. That’s probably why I had such a great night of sleep. They didn’t have to share the same space with us like at a normal hotel. If you are looking for a resort to stay for an extended time…this is a huge perk. Separate spaces for family members.

Haunted Manor Tour at Fantasy World Resort

Something amazing that the resort does is find special ways to celebrate the holidays. We checked out their haunted house last year, and the one they put together this year is longer and scarier. Yes, we all did it…

I’m not a fan of jump scares, but watching Billiam and Haven jump was well worth it. If you are a member of their Free Rewards Program, you can go through the Haunted Manor as many times as you’d like.

Fantasy World Resort, Kissimmee, FL

The amount of activities they have poolside is awesome. When you check in make sure to get a list with times throughout the day. Sno-cones and cotton candy, tie-dye shirts, Teddy Bear building, Bingo, as well as children’s trivia. Billiam and I were able to lounge poolside and the boys were entertained for hours.

See last year’s post to find out more about the dog park too.

Like other properties Fantasy World Resort has a rewards program that is completely free to join. But unlike others, there are no points that need to be accumulated to use. It doesn’t matter if you just joined or if you’ve been a member for a while… everyone gets the perks. 

Some of the perks are: 

  • Arrival Gift – (this changes month to month) Key shaped 16GB Flash Drive
  • Two complimentary welcome drinks at Oreo’s Poolside Cafe
  • Grab’n Go Complimentary daily Continental Breakfast
  • Discounts for local restaurants and entertainment venues

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A Florida Experience – Lilly Pulitzer Birthing Suite at Good Samaritan Medical Center

I feel like I know so many families that are preparing to have their first baby or adding on to their growing family and I can’t be more excited about it. There is something so fun and special about the last trimester. Honestly it was my favorite part of pregnancy.

Knowing how close I was to meeting someone I would love forever. Knowing how quickly my life would change. When it was my first time delivering, I had so many questions about pregnancy, I didn’t know what to ask about my actual hospital stay or what it would be like.

The excitement of pregnancy and growth of a new little being can take the attention from the hospital stay away until last minute. 

I like to bring this fact up to my pregnant friends so they can start thinking about what it is they will want before and after birth, what they want that experience to feel like and as silly as it sounds, the comfort of their spouse.

Something I had never considered until it was too late and my husband was complaining how uncomfortable he was on the plastic hospital couch. 

One of the things I never considered before giving birth is that I was going to have to switch rooms after delivery. No one told me that! 

When I saw the Birthing Suites that have been redesigned by Lilly Pulitzer at Good Samaritan Medical Center I was completely blown away and semi-jealous that I didn’t have this set up. New moms and families are able to stay in the same room for labor, delivery and recovery. 

This feels more like a resort stay than hospital stay. New moms can have a true Palm Beach-style birthing experience in a VIP Suite. 

The rooms have been fully renovated with bedding and window coverings in Lilly Pulitzer print fabrics along with coordinating decor. 

Between the waterfront views, concierge service and VIP food and beverage menu this truly is a completely unique and special experience. The stress and pressure of a standard hospital stay are taken away and families are at the center of the whole experience. Mom and baby also receive matching Lilly Pulitzer swaddle sets – how sweet is that!

To schedule a tour or to make a reservation, please visit

https://www.goodsamaritanmc.com/services/obstetrics

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A Florida Experience – Lilly Pulitzer Birthing Suite at Good Samaritan Medical Center

Summer of More at Gaylord Palms – Orlando

Let’s talk about SUMMER. Your favorite parts… the best parts… the memory makers. For us, that is hands down Gaylord Palms Summer of More.

Even though school is already back in session for most Florida kids, you can still celebrate the summer with a weekend away. An amazing weekend away your family will talk about for quite a while. I know because everyone in my family absolutely loves it.

By far the atrium view completely changes a typical hotel stay. This is such a sensory experience. The trees, the waterfall, the porch to sit and people watch. Early in the morning, the middle of the night, and as a great way to end your day around the resort. Check to see when their atrium light shows are. You can watch from your room or grab an ice cream and watch right below.

One of the amazing thing about Gaylord Palms is that they have awesome family events throughout the year. This summer we going in on the Explores Club.

It is a small socially distant tour throughout the atrium with a tour guide. As your family walks and explores, the guide points out native plants and trees to Florida, as well as fun facts about the turtles and alligators there.

Our tour guide was able to answer even random questions about the property and history of Florida, that it felt like a truly inclusive experience.

There is a travelers guide that the boys traveled with and marked off each location as well as gathered small Polaroid pictures from our guide. Give anyone in our family any type of scavenger hunt list, and we accept the challenge.

Hear about the true Florida ghost story of Colonel Garcia Marti and his young wife Dolores in 1794. Read more here. Just the right amount of spooky and strange.

This was our first time to actually feed the fish too! My little one could have stayed here for an hour and he would have been happy.

Once you finish the tour there is also an Explorer’s Bar with refreshments and a themed lounge to enjoy. It for sure gives off Halloween vibes and I loved every minute of it. They have non-alcoholic drinks for the little explorers too.

Something that we can’t wait to do is take advantage of their on property waterpark. They by far have the best children’s splash pad area. Grown ups and join in on the slides and fun there too.

Take a minute to see more in our vlog of the Gaylord Palms Water Park here. They have really considered everything a family would enjoy on a getaway… including their brand new “lazy” river… Crystal River Rapids. It’s not really your classic lazy river, and the next day I could feel it everywhere in my body.

Take your family away, or take a girls trip for the weekend. What are you waiting for? The holiday season will be here before you know it and these days of summer are flying away so quickly. Take time to make more summer memories.

Beyond Van Gogh – Immersive Experience

Beyond Van Gogh – Immersive Experience

Last summer I absolutely fell in love with Emily in Paris on Netflix and this amazing Van Gogh exhibit she visited in her travels. It was something that as soon as I saw it, knew that I had to go. I started researching the cities the exhibit was in, where I needed to go. Nothing (darn COVID). There was nothing in my area and so I put that on. My list of things to keep checking back on.

I’m glad I did. Beyond Van Gogh is now in Miami with other locations around the state and region too.

I will admit, I didn’t know too much about the artist. Other than the basics that I think everyone knows. I loved Starry, Starry Night when I was in high school and felt very grown up and artsy when I had that image on my first credit card.

When you first enter the exhibit there are rows and rows of artist back story and his history. This area can give a snapshot into the world of Van Gogh and some of his struggles and inspiration. Once inside, you can take as much time as you’d like to walk through and read. To be immersed in his life and feel a little more connected to him.

I was amazed to learn that he signed all of his artwork Vincent, because he thought his last name would be too difficult for people. That broke my heart.

There are only two rooms in the exhibit. The first hall that has the hanging frames about Van Gogh and then the larger main room. They average 20-25 minutes for the first room , and 35 minutes for the second. Although there is no one that actually makes you leave at an hour – it is up to you how long you want the experience to last.

A lot of times I venture out to experiences like this, other parents ask if it’s kid friendly. Absolutely. Although it is different, and something your kids might not have done before…it is an amazing experience for them to go, sit and pause. To take it all in. The colors, the art, the music.

There were plenty of families with kid (including strollers) and if a baby gets fussy, you could easily step out side for a moment. Honestly though, the music was loud enough that it could cover most fussy kid concerns. Once I was in there I was able to block most everything else out.

Both of my sons loved that the art work wasn’t just on the walls. It was everywhere. To watch the paint stretch across the walls and floors along with the music. The art was alive and they could be a part of it. There was something special about that.

There were certain areas that were more congested than others but they still have a limited admission (June 2021) to make sure not too many people are inside at once. I would recommend buying all of the tickets together, because once the time slot is sold out it is difficult to add anyone else one.

Once you exit the exhibit there are awesome picnic tables and hammocks to relax in and grab a snack or drink from the refreshment stand/ cafe. There were actually free range chickens roaming around and the boys loved being able to sit and relax. I loved being able to swing and talk about everything we had just seen instead of just getting in the car and heading home. It was something I wasn’t expecting

No matter what part of the country you are in, I highly recommend looking into the Beyond Van Gogh Experience. Either as a family day (special Sunday rates) or a romantic afternoon date. It’s something I’m glad we were able to experience together and honestly hope other artists can find a spotlight like this as well.

Know Your Numbers — The Best Way to Stay Heart Healthy

Know Your Numbers — The Best Way to Stay Heart Healthy

My family (both sides) has a terrible heart history. A majority of my family members have died from stroke and heart attack. It’s something that honestly, I have never paid attention to even though I have known it will be a problem I encounter in the future.

I know I’m not alone in that. Once we become parents our focus becomes primairly on day to day activities and events. Making sure our kids have what they need, planning vacations, working on homework. Heart health is not something I think about daily.

I was fortunate enough to sit down with Jenna Hallquist BSN, RN – the Neuroscience Manager from St. Mary’s Medical Center to talk about my family heart history and go through a quick Stroke Screening with her.

The name is way more intense than what it actually is. You can see some of the questions we reviewed together (above picture). I must admit some of the questions she was asking I couldn’t answer, and I should be able to. It’s something that I know I need to pay more attention to. I’m sure if any mom was asked, we could tell you our weight numbers. It’s something that we are hyper focused on as we work on our health. But more importantly we should be focused on our blood pressure numbers and cholesterol.

I was slightly embarrassed I didn’t know mine. Couldn’t even begin to take a guess.

Jenna was also kind enough to answer a few questions about stroke while I was there.

How can busy moms and parents be aware of the signs of a stroke?

It is quick and easy to identify signs and symptoms of stroke if you remember BEFAST! And Call 911.  (see above image)

B- Balance

E – Eyes

F – Face

A- Arms

S- Speech

T- Time

As she was going over these, I honestly thought I had experienced all of these with the classic cloudy mom brain. Too much multitasking and memory loss. But the difference is huge. This would be something immediately noticeable. Not some one losing their keys, but having absolutely no idea where they are. Think of a dramatic change.

I will say, moms are the worst about putting off doctors appointments for themselves until it is the last minute. When it comes to strokes time matters. If something looks wrong or feels wrong, don’t wait.

What age or factors increase the risk of strokes? 

Anyone at any age can experience a stroke. People older than 65 years are at the highest risk of stroke.

High blood pressure, high cholesterol, Smoking, poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyle are some of the risk factors you can control as you age to reduce risk.

Moms of child baring age are at higher risk for stroke if they smoke, take birth control and even higher if they smoke and take birth control. Sedentary lifestyles put you at risk too.

If my family has a history of strokes… what are the chances I might have one? 

Your chances increase if you have a family history of stroke. If you have family history of stroke you should be diligent about diet, exercise and blood pressure control.

Because with me, I need to know my next steps. Simple ways to make changes that aren’t going to put too much strain on my mom brain.

I’m also hoping these will become the norm for my boys too.

  1. Limit my cheese (heartbreaking but doable)
  2. Know my blood pressure numbers – I’ll make sure to check every time I go to the grocery store.
  3. Alternate my caffeinated drinks with water. Hopefully this will help me cut back.
  4. More fresh fruits and veggies to meals — with the kids too. (maybe explore local farmers markets for this)
  5. Be brave with the foods we eat. Break out of the routine and try at least one new meal/ healthy choice each week.

Here are the ones I am working toward. Once these become routine, I can incorporate a few more.

I am also going to find my cholesterol numbers from the last time they were checked, and should probably just make an appointment to get updated numbers. The most important thing I can do for myself and my family right now is to KNOW MY NUMBERS. This is the number one way I can make sure I keep my heart in good working order for myself and my family.

For more information on how you can stay heart healthy, book a stroke screening or more ways to stay healthy please visit St. Mary’s Medical Center.