Volusia January 2021

New Beginnings

Volusia January 2021
New Beginnings
January 2021

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St. Johns January 2021

New Beginnings

St. Johns January 2021
New Beginnings
January 2021

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Flagler January 2021

New Beginnings

Flagler January 2021
New Beginnings
January 2021

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Book Nook - January 2021


By Tom Litchenheld

It’s an E-mergency! The letter E took a tumble and the only way to get her back on her foot is for people to stop using her. But who can take her place? The other letters have to make a decision ASAP. Z is too sleepy and Y asks way too many questions. Thankfully, O rolls in to try and save the day. Now E can rost up and got bottor . . . as long as ovorybody follows the rulos. Chock-full of verbal and visual puns, this zany book is sure to tickle both the brain and the funny bone.

Exclamation Mark

by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Tom Lichtenheld

He stood out here.

He stood out there.

He tried everything to be more like them.

It’s not easy being seen. Especially when you’re NOT like everyone else. Especially when what sets you apart is YOU.

Sometimes we squish ourselves to fit in. We shrink. Twist. Bend. Until — ! — a friend shows the way to endless possibilities.

In this bold and highly visual book, an emphatic but misplaced exclamation point learns that being different can be very exciting! Period.


by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Scott Magoon

Meet Straw!

He’s always rushed straight to the finish. But when his speedy streak gets the best of him, it takes a friend to show Straw how to drink in the amazing world around him.

A companion to Spoon and Chopsticks, this delightful story celebrates the joys of taking it slow.


by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Scott Magoon

He’s always been a happy little utensil. But lately, he feels like life as a spoon just isn’t cutting it. He thinks Fork, Knife, and The Chopsticks all have it so much better than him. But do they? And what do they think about Spoon? A book for all ages, Spoon serves as a gentle reminder to celebrate what makes us each special.



by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Scott Magoon

They’ve been best friends forever. But one day, this inseparable pair comes to a fork in the road. And for the very first time, they have to figure out how to function apart.





by Anna Kang

Eraser is always cleaning up everyone else’s mistakes. Except for Ruler and Pencil Sharpener, none of the other school supplies seem to appreciate her. They all love how sharp Pencil is and how Tape and Glue help everyone stick together. Eraser wants to create so that she can shine like the others. She decides to give it a try, but it’s not until the rubber meets the road that Eraser begins to understand a whole lot about herself.



The Bad Seed

by Jory John, Pete Oswald

This is a book about a bad seed. A baaaaaaaaaad seed. How bad? Do you really want to know?

He has a bad temper, bad manners, and a bad attitude. He’s been bad since he can remember! This seed cuts in line every time, stares at everybody and never listens. But what happens when one mischievous little seed changes his mind about himself, and decides that he wants to be—happy?



The Good Egg

(Bad Seed #2)

by Jory John, Pete Oswald (Illustrator)

The good egg has been good for as long as he can remember. While the other eggs in his carton are kind of rotten, he always does the right, kind, and courteous thing. He is a verrrrrrry good egg indeed! Until one day he decides that enough is enough! He begins to crack (quite literally) from the pressure of always having to be grade-A perfect.



The Cool Bean

(Bad Seed #3)

by Jory John, Pete Oswald (Illustrations)

Everyone knows the cool beans. They’re sooooo cool.

And then there’s the uncool has-bean . . .

Always on the sidelines, one bean unsuccessfully tries everything he can to fit in with the crowd—until one day the cool beans show him how it’s done.



The Couch Potato

(Bad Seed #4)

by Jory John, Pete Oswald (Illustrations)

The Couch Potato has everything he needs within reach of his sunken couch cushion. But when the electricity goes out, Couch Potato is forced to peel himself away from the comforts of his living room and venture outside. And when he does, he realizes fresh air and sunshine could be just the things he needs…

Readers of all ages will laugh along as their new best spuddy learns that balancing screen time and playtime is the root to true happiness.

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From the Editor

Happy New Year!

We are looking forward to a wonderful 2021!  New Beginnings are so exciting, and a clean slate of a new calendar gives us a chance to take inventory of things in our life and our world, and reset!

The increased focus by our society on systemic racism and hate based on skin color, religion, or lifestyle, is an important movement.  The entire staff at Parent Magazines Florida stands behind working toward a world of equity and inclusion.  If you are one of our readers and don’t see yourself or your children in our magazine, please let us know.  We work each month to embrace diversity in our publication, and we would love your feedback.

Normally, we would be talking about a new semester for our students, but the late start in 2020 leaves us with a few weeks left, and we are hoping your children have a strong finish to the semester.  

January gives us a time to organize our homes, finances, and taxes.  We are happy to cover talking with your kids about money, and we have invited an expert in tax preparation to update us to what is new in filing your 2020 taxes, and what you may need to consider that you did not have to last year.  

As always, we have included articles to help you navigate parenthood, teaching kids how to make good decisions, and how to help your older kids deal with the pandemic.  

And lastly, because attitude guides everything we do, we have included an article on New Year, New Attitude!

I wishing each and every one of you a wonderful New Year, and we are looking forward to walking through it with you!  Please let us know what you would like to see and read in this publication.  Thank the partners you see next to our articles.  It is their support that allows us to share this information with you.  

If you have any questions or input, please contact me at 386-449-8353.

With warmest wishes,

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From the Volusia County School Board

There usually isn’t anything more satisfying than having a perplexing problem resolved. As we begin a new calendar year, January traditionally has been the month for all of us to establish what we want to improve, and then the pressure begins to “get it done!”

However, this year opens like no other year has before.

As a nation, as a state, and as a community, we have so many challenges before us to work through, but there is much light before us, as well. Whether our concerns be personal, educational, medical, physical, or economic, it’s all about understanding why they need to be figured out.

I have typically been unsuccessful in losing the 10 pounds I want to lose each year, so this past year, I decided to be more realistic! I sat down to truly examine how I conducted myself through my days, realizing that what I needed to accomplish my goals was to actually utilize the technology at my fingertips.

I desperately wanted to be successful. So I admitted that I wanted to use what so many others were easily using – Google Calendar. And, yes, my daughter taught me. I adhered to her patient instructions and Oh My Goodness, my life has been transformed! I’m organized; I’m on time; my family now knows where I am and what I’m up to! Did I realize that was a challenge? Of course not!

January resolutions looming before us don’t have to be set in stone, nor do they even require an immediate 2021 start. Setting goals is a year-long endeavor.

No, I did not lose 10 pounds and I’m not predicting that for myself this year either. I haven’t yet thought about what challenge to conquer for the new year, but I’m quite sure it will reveal itself when I least expect it. I’ve learned that I should simply be realistic about resolutions, and not stress about what I can’t control. And, listening to one’s children doesn’t hurt either!

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Ask The Doctor: My kid won’t wear a mask

5 tips to help children struggling with facial coverings.

Is your kiddo going back to school in-person in the new year? If your child has been distance learning at home during COVID-19, he or she may not be used to getting dressed and putting on shoes each morning, let alone wearing a mask all day! But keeping a mask on while in the classroom will help your child, his or her classmates, and the teachers stay safe.

Daniel Thimann, MD, FAAP, board-certified pediatric emergency medicine specialist at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, sees children of all ages in the hospital each day. Some of his patients are totally fine with wearing masks, while others aren’t. He encourages all children and parents he encounters to take precautions.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends face masks of some sort for kids age 2 and older. We know that’s going to help protect your child from getting the coronavirus and decrease the odds of spreading it to others,” said Dr. Thimann. “That being said, you may try your best to keep your kid’s mask on his or her face, but sometimes you just can’t. It’s hard to break the will of a child.”

What should you do about those sometimes-stubborn kids who just can’t seem to keep their masks on? Consider these expert tips from Dr. Thimann and Jorge A. Diaz, MD, child and adolescent psychiatrist with Baptist Behavioral Health and Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

1. Start by making fun masks together.


Something Dr. Thimann learned from Wolfson Children’s Hospital’s Child Life specialists is that when kids get to decorate their own disposable masks, they are more excited to wear them.

“They can add stickers, like Pokémon or Disney characters,” he said. “It’s a lot easier to get them to do something if they feel involved.”

2. Choose reusable masks in designs kids will love.


If you’re working on getting your child to wear a cloth face mask, Dr. Diaz recommends trying to find one that feels comfortable and features a cool design they’ll love.

“Hear their concerns and feelings about having to wear a mask due to COVID-19 and be empathetic. At the same time, choose something they feel proud to wear, like a mask with their favorite sports team logo, superhero, or character. You can also play with your child and pretend his or her dolls or stuffed animals are wearing masks, too.”

3. Set a good example.


Monkey see, monkey do, right? If you want your child to accept longer periods of masking, it can be helpful to practice at home — together. Reinforce your practice sessions with some reminders to your child that he or she is being kind to others by wearing a mask.

“It is important as a parent to not complain in front of children about having to wear a mask,” Dr. Diaz said. “Be sure your child sees you wearing the mask properly covering your nose and mouth. In general, make your little one feel wearing a mask is normal. Practice wearing the mask at home. Then, give him or her the message that wearing a mask can save both their life and other people’s lives. It is all about compassion and kindness.”

4. If at first you don’t succeed, try again.


Just like grown-ups, kids will have different opinions on which kinds of masks they find comfortable. If they won’t stop yanking at one style, try others until you land on the right fit. Dr. Diaz said this can take time, especially for children with sensory difficulties.

“Try different masks that fall under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations. Pack extra masks for school in case teachers think your child is uncomfortable,” he said. “For children with conditions which may cause sensory sensitivity, like autism spectrum disorder and sensory processing disorder, it’s important to try different masks and remember these children might not only be bothered by the texture of the material, but the smell of the material also. Practice breathing slowly while wearing the mask and make sure they are adapting well to this new experience.”

5. Stay up-to-date on mask recommendations.


As more discoveries are made about the coronavirus and COVID-19, the guidelines on what kinds of masks are best for every age group can change. For example, masks with ventilation valves and neck gaiters have been found to be less effective than other mask types. Stay on top of any changes via the CDC website.

“It is recommended to be frequently checking for updates from the CDC or your doctors about wearing masks and COVID-19 in general,” said Dr. Diaz. “Consider contacting your primary care physician or pediatrician for any questions, especially if your child has a medical disability or condition that can compromise his or her ability to breathe.”

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How Unemployment Can Affect Your Tax Return

We know how difficult unemployment can be. Here’s what you need to know before filing your taxes this year.

Are you recently unemployed due to the coronavirus?

The COVID-19 pandemic caused many businesses to shut down, leaving millions of taxpayers out of work. If you were laid off and have not yet filed your 2019 taxes, you should file as soon as possible to get any refund waiting for you. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) was put in place to alleviate the economic fallout of COVID-19. If you applied for unemployment benefits, the CARES Act allows for 13 additional weeks of benefits until December 26, plus an extra $600 a week through July 31, along with the standard amount you will receive. 

How does unemployment affect my taxes? 

If you’ve received unemployment benefits, they are generally taxable. Most states do not withhold taxes from unemployment benefits voluntarily, but you can request they withhold taxes. Make sure you include the full amount of benefits received, and any withholdings, on your tax return.

Other factors you’ll need to consider: 

I am collecting unemployment – will that impact my income tax?

• Unemployment benefits are taxable.

• Total income is generally lower when you are collecting unemployment so you may qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or a higher childcare credit, and you may even be eligible for the Additional Child Tax Credit. 

Will I owe taxes because of my unemployment compensation?

• Generally, states don’t withhold taxes on unemployment benefits unless asked.

• However, if you qualify for EITC, or the child tax credits, your taxes could be covered.

• If you are still unemployed come 2021 tax time, you can set up a payment plan with the IRS or work out other delayed payment options. Beware: The IRS continues to assess penalties and interest on any unpaid amounts of taxes.

How do I deduct my job-hunting expenses?

• Job-hunting expenses such as travel, cost of job placement companies, resume costs, etc. are no longer deductible.

• Moving expenses are also no longer deductible unless you are active-duty military moving under military orders. 

Are government benefits taxable?

• Check with your local benefits offices; you may be eligible for state and federal benefits due to the change in your income. Benefits such as SNAP, housing subsidies, childcare subsidies, and many others are generally not taxable. Gifts from various organizations, such as local food pantries and utility and gas programs are usually tax-exempt. 

Do I have to claim my severance pay on my tax return if I already paid taxes?

• Severance pay is a lump-sum payment received from a company when you are terminated due to job closings, company reductions, or even company closures.  The money is based on time in service and job performance so it is taxable as wages.  The total you receive will have the usually Social Security and Medicare taxes withheld and will have taxes withheld and be included on your W-2. 

I lost my health insurance when I lost my job, do I have to pay a penalty?

• The penalty for not having health insurance is $0 for all taxpayers.

Does losing a job affect my taxes in other ways?

• Losing your job often means you have a lower income during the year, which can not only lower your taxes, it may even allow you to qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). You can still claim the credit for child and dependent expenses (daycare) while you are looking for work, as long as you have earned income during the year.

• If you decide to work for yourself, or take a gig like Lyft or Uber, you need to be prepared to make estimated tax payments through the year, or to pay taxes at the end of the year.

Are unemployment benefits taxable?

Chief Tax Information Officer Mark Steber discusses what you need to know about unemployment benefits and taxes.  

Jackson Hewitt

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Supporting Teenagers and Young Adults During the Coronavirus Crisis

Tips for parents with older children at home

Having teenagers confined to home during the coronavirus crisis may not be as labor-intensive as being holed up with small children, but it definitely has its challenges. While younger children may be thrilled at the prospect of having parental attention 24/7, adolescents are likely to feel differently.

Here are some tips for parenting teenagers (and young adults suddenly home from college) during this time.

Emphasize social distancing 

The first challenge with teens and young adults may be getting them to comply with the guidelines for social distancing.

Teenagers tend to feel invincible, points out David Anderson, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, and they may think that the new coronavirus is not as problematic for their age range as it is for older people. Parents are reporting a lot of pushback when teens are told they can’t go out and get together with friends. “They want to see their friends, and don’t see why the social distancing should apply to them,” says Dr. Anderson.

Parents are asking what to tell them. “Our answer is that exposure to this virus is an exponential thing, and that it’s not really about them,” says Dr. Anderson.  “It’s not really about the fact that they feel fine. It’s the fact that they could be asymptomatic carriers and they could kill others, including their grandparents.” One thing to emphasize, he adds, is: “You just can’t know that your friends are well. And while you may be comfortable taking that risk, you’re also bringing that back in your house.”

It’s also important to help your teenagers understand that no one really knows yet how the coronavirus affects people of different age groups — contracting the virus might be very dangerous for your teenager, even though the facts are still unclear.

Understand their frustration over not seeing friends

For teenagers and young adults, friends are hugely important, and they are supposed to be — bonding with peers is one of the essential developmental tasks of adolescents. If your teen is sulking about being stuck at home with parents and siblings, a direct conversation might be helpful, says Rachel Busman, PsD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute.

Acknowledge that you know it’s frustrating for them to be cut off from friends. Listen to what they’re feeling, validate those feelings and then be direct about how you can work together to make this situation bearable.

Loosening rules about time spent on social media, for instance, will help compensate for the socializing time lost with school closings. Encourage them to be creative about new ways to interact with their friends socially.

Support remote schooling 

Parents are reporting feeling pressured and confused about how to help kids with remote learning. With younger children, notes Dr. Anderson, it’s more a matter of finding fun activities that can be educational. But with older students, keeping up with expectations from school can be challenging, especially for those with ADHD, learning disorders or organization issues.

“I’m completely overwhelmed by trying to figure out how to structure a school day,” one mom told us. “I was never planning on homeschooling my kids. I don’t have training in this.”

You can help teenagers — and college students who’ve been sent home — create a realistic schedule for getting work done in defined periods, building in breaks and times for socializing, exercising and entertainment. The key principle: do a session of work first, then reward yourself with something relaxing. Keep in mind that it’s not going to be as effective as school, but it may get to be more effective over time as everyone on the school front, as well as the home front, works to improve remote learning.

Encourage healthy habits

Teenagers and young adults will do better during this stressful time if they get adequate sleep, eat healthy meals and exercise regularly. Keeping a consistent sleep schedule, with predictable times to wake up and go to bed, is especially important to maintaining a positive mood and their ability to fulfill academic expectations.

Healthy habits are particularly important for young people who may be struggling with anxiety or depression. Losing the routines you’ve come to rely on can be a big source of stress, so Jill Emanuele, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, recommends establishing new routines. “Make sure you’re eating properly and sleeping and being social and engaging in pleasant activities,” she says, while also warning that young adults should avoid sleeping too much when they’re housebound. “There’s more of an ability to sleep at home, and while rest is important right now you still need to be active.”

Dr. Emanuele also notes that having family members around more often can feel overwhelming or create strain. “Families will need to diffuse tensions in the home with parents and siblings, because everyone is going to be stressed out more,” she says. “How to do it will be different for every family, but parents are going to want to think about when to give young people more freedom and how to make sure that their kids’ time is still structured. Everyone should be contributing in some way.”

Validate their disappointment 

For many the most painful part of the coronavirus crisis will be losing important experiences: high school sports seasons, proms, theater productions, high school and college graduations. And while we’re all missing out on very valued activities, adds Dr. Anderson, “it’s especially problematic for teenagers who are wired in their brains to think about novelty and pleasure seeking and seeking out new frontiers to be limited in this way.”

Give them room to share their feelings and listen without judgment (or without reassuring them that everything will be fine).

Some will be worried about missing activities expected to help them with college applications and scholarships. Kids are understandably wondering how this will affect their futures. Again, give them room to share how they are feeling and acknowledge the real stress they may be under. Then express confidence in your child’s ability to rebound.

Help them practice mindfulness

Mindfulness techniques can be very helpful in this kind of situation, where our routines are disrupted and we may feel overwhelmed by frustration and disappointment. Mindfulness teaches us to tune into our emotions in any given moment and experience them without judgment.

In what’s called “radical acceptance,” we let ourselves sit with our emotions rather than fighting them. As Joanna Stern, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, explains, “You tell yourself it’s okay to feel anxious right now. It’s okay to feel scared. It’s okay to feel angry. You’re accepting the feelings you have and validating them because we’re all having those feelings. It’s really important that you accept them as they are rather than fighting them.”

In other words, says Dr. Stern, “We say to ourselves: ‘This sucks, and I’m going to be sad about it, and I’m going to be angry about it, and I’m going to feel anxious about it,’ or whatever it is. This then allows us to move on and say, ‘Okay, so now what needs to be done?’”

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