La Croix is for Millennials

La Croix is spamming my Facebook. Everyone is drinking this seltzer-like beverage and posting about it on social media. But why?

NPR says La Croix (pronounced /la croy/) is having a moment among millennials, who are looking for a healthier option than soda. I have been contemplating reducing and/or giving up Diet Coke…so I thought that if I liked La Croix, it would be a good replacement.

I had to investigate La Croix for myself, and honestly, I’m always down to try the latest fad. Now considering I don’t like seltzer water, I wasn’t sure that La Croix would be something I would like to drink.

 

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Image courtesy of Giphy.

 

I asked my friends what the carbonation of La Croix is like. I wanted something similar to soda but not as sharp as seltzer. I don’t like seltzer, even though it’s a staple in my family’s household. Our fridge may as well dispense seltzer since my parents go through multiple bottles a day.

My Facebook friends recommended I try lime, coconut or peach-pear. I ignored them all. I tried strawberry pineapple since those are two flavors I like.

The flavor was not right, nor was the carbonation. But I bought a case of eight and mama didn’t raise no quitter, so I drank the case. I was underwhelmed and I knew that it wasn’t going to be a Diet Coke replacement.

So again, ignoring the recommendations (sorry friends), I tried cherry lime. DING DING DING we have a winner. I started drinking a can of the cherry lime La Croix with my dinner and slowly I phased out the caffeine-free Diet Coke I allowed myself at night.

I started drinking La Croix in August. Flash forward to October and I realize I have gone months without drinking caffeine-free Diet Coke. MONTHS!

Months, months, months. I’m trying to wrap my mind around that because I never thought I’d be able to give up one of my two daily sodas. One regular Diet Coke in the morning and the caffeine-free at night.

Let’s not discuss the morning soda. It’s not something I’m ready to part with – I get my soda caffeine fix before my coffee at lunch. I’m not perfect, but I’m trying.

I do occasionally get a craving for the caffeine-free Diet Coke, but every time I have ignored it and it eventually goes away.

Apparently, I’m just your average La Croix drinkin’ millennial – trying to give up soda.

A day in the life

Routines are important, which is something I learned in college. I did not have a good daily routine in high school because I never consistently went to school at the same time – which I 100% attribute to anxiety and insomnia.

College was an amazing learning experience for me, and not just from the classes. I learned how to manage a routine that took some flexibility. My first semester of college was at the local community college, and I was stuck with a 4:10-7:30 pm history class on Mondays, a bunch of random afternoon classes, and then Fridays I had a 9 am math class. I had Thursdays off, which were days I never used to do work.

Despite hating the three-hour classes, dragging myself out of bed to make a 9 am math class, I figured it out. It wasn’t always great, but it worked out.

Then my second semester of college, I transferred to George Mason, which was a whole new campus, new people, and new schedule. I learned that 10:30 am classes didn’t necessarily agree with me, which was something I figured out a little late in the semester (combined with a bad teacher…but that’s really another story). So I took afternoon and early evening classes and almost always had no classes on Fridays.

The last few semesters at GMU, I learned that if I really wanted to graduate “on time,” I probably had to take a few 10:30 am classes to get the rest of my requirements done. So I started taking a few 10:30 am communication classes and French at 11 am. Having my best friend in the classes helped encourage being on time (and going in general, to be honest).

By senior year, I had my shit together. I got on a better schedule, I was able to make it on time to classes and I worked harder than ever before. I graduated cum laude and on the dean’s list for the last few semesters.

Everyone always speculated how I would manage a 9 to 5 job. If anyone ever doubted me being able to function in the adult world most, it would’ve been one of the assistant principals at my high school. I proved him wrong by graduating high school, taking 10:30 am classes and graduating college. His “no, she can’t do it” attitude stuck with me in the back of my mind. Now I just had one more time to prove him wrong.

Flash forward to my first full-time job at the Victorian Motel. My schedule is 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. I like to prepare everything the night before, so in the morning I really don’t have to do much before I walk out the door. And I also like to stay in bed until the last minute possible.

7:30 am – The first of my many alarms start. I get out of bed anywhere between 7:50-8 am. Get dressed, make my lunch (I pack everything but a sandwich the night before) and be out the door by 8:23 am.

 

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Many alarms with sayings to remind me to hustle.

 

8:30 am – Arrive at the motel and begin working. My daily routine is signing in housekeepers, checking guests out and in, rebooking reservations and replying to emails as well as answering phone calls. I act as a concierge and I try to be as knowledgeable about Cape May as possible.

4:30 pm – I leave work and go home. What I do next depends on what other jobs I might be working that night. First thing I do at home is usually let my housemate’s dog, Nabs, out to do her thing. Sometimes I lie down and watch YouTube or TV. If I’m in the middle of an interesting book, I will read on the porch with Nabs. I catch up with my housemate Max. Sometimes I wander around the backyard, checking out what is growing in the greenhouse or in the gardens.

If I’m covering a meeting for the newspaper, I tend to eat dinner on the earlier side. Usually, my meetings are anywhere from 5-7 pm. Sometimes they are short, sometimes they are long. I never do any writing after the meeting – I like to let what I’ve just heard soak in overnight – so when I’m at work I can write my articles.

 

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Taking photos of the migrating monarch butterflies after work.

 

I often go to the beach after I relax at home. Nothing is better than going to the beach after a day’s work. One of the reasons I moved to Cape May is so I could go to the beach after work. Anytime I do that, I really feel like I moved here for the right reasons.

 

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Relaxing on the beach on a Fall day, where it was cool enough for a sweatshirt.

 

9:30-10 pm – I start thinking about going to bed. The goal is to be asleep by 11:30 pm. The last month I have had a hard time going to sleep before midnight, which means I don’t get enough sleep. For someone who used to typically not go to sleep until 2 am, it’s an improvement – but I know I can improve upon that even more.

I have been afforded such wonderful opportunities since I moved to Cape May. I got to live in my family’s beach house for a few months before finding my fantastic room with my housemates.  I have a great full-time job and I am freelancing weekly for the local newspaper, the Cape May Star and Wave.

But the thing I am most grateful for is that I get to live in the town that I have spent so much time in, for every year of my life. I love getting to tell people that I’m living the dream I’ve had for a while now and that I’m writing along the way!

MTV show puts spotlight on area’s teen moms

By RACHEL SHUBIN

Special to the Star and Wave

MTV is once again filming a reality television show in New Jersey. With a due date of this fall, “Teen Mom New Jersey” is the latest spinoff of “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” franchise. Teen Mom New Jersey will follow young moms in southern Jersey area.

The official announcement was made Aug. 27, during the MTV Video Music Awards. NJ.com broke the news on Aug. 30, stating that MTV was seen filming at the Cumberland County Fair. MTV had multiple casting calls this year, searching for teen moms and young expectant mothers located in the same area.

According to America’s Health Rankings 2015 report, New Jersey had a birth rate of 40 per 1,000 females ages 15-19 in 1993. That number declined to 13 per 1,000 in 2016.

Per the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, New Jersey has seen a 71 percent decline in teen pregnancy between 1991 and 2015. In 2014 there were 3,678 births to teens. Of Teen births in New Jersey, 72% are to older teens ages 18 to 19. Data shows that 16 percent of the births were to teens who already had a child.

In 2010, public spending on unplanned pregnancies in New Jersey approximately cost $477 million.

Cape May County has two programs that offer family planning. The Hope Pregnancy Center has locations in Rio Grande and Ocean City. The Hope Pregnancy Center offers free and confidential services. Family Planning Services is a program which offers family planning and gynecological services and care for women and adolescents. The program offers low-cost family planning services with a sliding scale.  There is no fee for teens 18 and under. No parental consent is needed due to Title X regulations that provide services to minors without parental consent.

MTV has been criticized for their shows glamourizing teenage pregnancy, as some of the stars of the shows have had major brand deals. Notably, Farrah Abraham, who become involved in the adult film industry.

Despite the claims of idealizing teen pregnancy, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) stated that their research has shown that the national teenage birth rate has steadily been declining in the years since the series premiered.

The state Department of Health states that NJ is ranked fourth out of 50 in teen birth rate and 18 out of 50 in the teen pregnancy rate. However, NJ is ranked 5 out of 50 in the decline of the teen birth rate. 1 is the lowest. So despite the decline, NJ is slower than other states at reducing the number.

New Jersey offers three programs to combat teen pregnancy. First is the teen pregnancy prevention (TPP) program, which identifies the multiple risk factors for teen mothers and their children. Next is the NJ Prep program, or personal responsibility education program. It is a school- and community-based comprehensive sexual health education program. The state also offers NJ AEP, Title V abstinence education program.

“16 and Pregnant” was the original series that started the MTV franchise in 2009. The unscripted reality show featured a different pregnant teenager each episode. The series followed showed the teen moms throughout their pregnancies, the birth of their children and their first months of motherhood.

The idea behind “Teen Mom New Jersey” is to show teen moms from the same area and their interactions, much like the “Real Housewives” franchise. The other installments currently airing, “Teen Mom OG,” and “Teen Mom 2,” feature four to five girls located in different states. The only time the cast is typically together, is when they film their reunion special check-ups with Dr. Drew Pinsky.

“Teen Mom” originally aired in 2009 through 2012, before it was revived and rebranded in 2015 for the four original girls, hence the new “Teen Mom OG” tagline installment.

“Teen Mom 3” aired for one season in 2013, before its cancellation. Briana DeJesus, from the third installment, was added to the “Teen Mom 2” cast for the eighth season that premiered on July 17.

MTV has commercials that air during the series providing their viewers with websites to visit for more information. The websites include bedsider.org, itsyoursexlife.org and kff.org.

How to become a dog person

I have always been a cat person. My parents had two cats when I was born, and then we adopted kittens when I was in elementary school. And over the years we volunteered with a rescue, fostered cats and eventually adopted more cats.

The ASPCA says that 44% of US households have a dog and 35% have cats.

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I pet sat for dogs for over the past ten years, but I’ve never had a dog of my own. My dad had dogs growing up, as well as cats – but my mom only had a cat. And my poor brother is a dog lover trapped in a cat house. You can’t feasibly have a dog when you have eight cats.

When I moved to Cape May, I found myself feeling very isolated inside the house when there were no cats running underfoot. But that changed when I moved into my new place with my housemates because they have a dog. There is a difference between interacting with dogs in a public setting, versus what it’s like having one living with you 24/7.

Nabs is a border collie/lab mix, 35 pounds, and active pup. She is super friendly and almost cat-like, so I took an immediate liking to her. The last few months I have really bonded with her and have totally fallen in love.

Flash forward to this Saturday morning when my housemate Max was on a run with Nabs and she ran away. He called me, I threw on clothes and went out looking for her where he last saw her.

I drove around, calling out for her and then reconvened with Max. He called the animal shelter, non-emergency police and we posted all over Facebook. He was already late to work and had to leave, so I continued to look for her and ran back to the house to make sure she hadn’t found her way back home. I changed into leggings and sneakers and sprayed some bug spray and went back to walk the trail where she went missing.

The moment I got out of my car to search the trail, I got a phone call from a girl who said they had found our dog and they were on our front porch.

 

In one of my trips back and forth to the house, I had put a post-it note on the door that read: “Lost Dog Nabs, call Rachel or Max” and our phone numbers. It was quick thinking on my feet. I had read online that if you had a landline number on your dog’s ID tag, that there should be someone at the house to answer calls. Even though it was Max’s cell number, I thought the post-it would be good just in case.

I raced back home and there she was, wet and muddy and definitely scared. The moment she got into the house, she ate all her food and drank a bowl of water. She curled up with me on the couch and looked relieved that she was home from her adventure.

Everyone was so upset when she was missing, and she was gone for about three hours. Those were three very long, stressful hours. I recognize that not everyone is so lucky when their pets get lost outside, and I’m so grateful that Nabs was returned safe and sound.

She even went to Britton’s bakery to pick me up some donuts to thank me for saving her…I tried to thank Max but he said, “No, thank Nabs. Well, I did have to drive her.”

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As my friend Matt said, I’ve found the middle ground of being both a cat and dog lover. Thanks to Nabs!

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Millennial journalist

Recently, I’ve found that I’ve been introducing myself to people very frequently. Whether it is to friends of my housemate Max, interviewees for my newspaper job, or just general folks in Cape May.

“Hi, I’m Rachel. I work as a front desk clerk at the Victorian Motel at the end of the Washington Street Mall, across from Congress Hall. I’m also a freelance journalist and I write for the ‘Cape May Star and Wave’ and ‘Cape May Magazine.'”

I typically leave out that I’m a blogger since it isn’t a paying gig (insert frown emoji & because I’m not very consistent), but if I get further into conversation with people, it usually comes up under other topics.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer and you know, be paid for writing. Maybe some day I can write full time! Working for these local publications has allotted me that opportunity to work as a journalist while covering the town that I have spent so much time in – summers and the off season.

My beat has primarily been covering local municipal meetings. There is so much involved in the way this small town’s boroughs are run…you would have no idea unless you attended the meetings…or you know, read my articles in the newspaper!

I’ve gotten to write articles about events and hard working locals. I previewed Shabbat on the Beach, which was truly a tranquil and spiritual experience (I attended as well). And I got to write about Adelia Jonas, owner of Domino’s pizza in the Villas, which you can read on my blog here.

At work taking photos for my article.

Not every new college graduate can say that they are working in their field of study. But my freelance jobs allow me to let everyone know that my field is alive and well.

And on a side note – I did take two hospitality/tourism classes while in college. Neither of which was anything that prepared me for working in a motel.  You can do all the reading and tests that come with school, but few things prepare you for the field work than actually working in the field.

Though if I was going to recommend a great field, I would recommend my own communication degree – because you really can do anything you find along your path.

Local Domino’s Pizza owner gets national attention

 

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By RACHEL SHUBIN

Special to the Star and Wave

VILLAS — Brazilian immigrant Adelia Jonas has been making pizza for 18 years, and does her job with a smile on her face.

Jonas and her husband own the Domino’s Pizza at 2200 Bayshore Road in Villas.
But Jonas is making more than pizza — she also is making a name for herself both nationally and internationally.

In 2010, Jonas was chosen as Domino’s U.S. Manager of the Year. She received an award at a Domino’s convention in Las Vegas. A plaque hangs in her store for customers to see and recognize her achievement.

“It is the biggest and nationally recognized award we have in our system. Everyone from all the Domino’s in the world gets together there,” Jonas said. “There were over 7,000 people attending. I am very involved in my work and that is why I believe I was chosen.”

This year she was featured in a television commercial for a national Domino’s campaign, traveling to Hollywood to film the commercial.

“It was very exciting because I did not know I was going to Hollywood to shoot a commercial,” she said. “I had an interview with a producer before we shot the commercial about remodeling stores.”

And Jonas recently spoke with Domino’s franchisees and employees in Brazil, where they have more than 200 Domino’s stores. She said she loves communicating with people in the restaurant business and relates to the ultimate goal to bring people together through food.

Jonas said she did not always plan to own her own pizza store. She was living in Brazil and studying for a degree in psychology when she received a phone call from a friend who had just bought his own Domino’s pizza franchise. She put her college degree on hold and left Brazil for America in 2000, heading to New Jersey to work for her friend.

“I always wanted to come to America and learn English. I thought I would come for a couple of months,” Jonas said. “I was planning to go back and finish my degree, but I fell in love with the business.”

Jonas said she started her career by making pizzas and became fluent in English through her interactions with fellow employees. Soon Jonas began to answer phones and take orders, working her way up to being the store manager.

“I worked on the corporate side of Domino’s, where I met my husband. Eight years later, we bought our own franchise,” Jonas said.

Jonas and her husband, Robert, had the option to buy their franchise in Cherry Hill or Villas. After driving around Cape May County and seeing the sunsets, the choice to be near the shore was clear. They also had the opportunity to talk with people and have genuine conversations about the area.DSC_0024

While Jonas’ Domino’s shop is a chain name in a town with many local pizzerias, the competition doesn’t scare her away, she said. Her ability to push her business to succeed is because of her customers.

“I believe that people buy from people. We hold a very well-known brand name known not just for our pizza but our technology,” Jonas said. “I have good connections with our customers. They know who I am and I’m involved with the community, and that’s how I stay competitive.”

Customers can place an order on the Domino’s website and track their order’s progress, from the pizza being made and the name of the employee making it, to the pizza being en route for delivery.

Her community ties are evident when customers come in the store to ask if she will be at local events. For Lower Township’s National Night Out on Aug. 2, Jonas said the store attended and gave away more than 1,000 slices of pizza.

Jonas said her shop stays local because she and her husband live in the area and she employs locals in the store.

Customers come into the store and see Jonas, and know the service is going to exceed expectations. They trust the food they are buying as well as the location.

“My customers know me and know they will get delicious food, even if I’m not the one preparing it,” she said. “I don’t treat my customers as a transaction, money for food. I like to have small talks and conversations with my customers. They know who I am and they ask me about my family in Brazil.”

Jonas has 30 employees at her store, especially locals. Before her employees leave to make a delivery, she tells them to buckle up and drive safely.

“I employ high school and college students. Even people from the sheriff’s office work here,” she said.

Jonas said she makes sure school is a priority for her employees.

“I ask them what they are learning in school and what projects they have coming up. School comes first and I want to make sure my staff is doing well and keeping up in school,” she said.

She said being self-employed is sometimes a challenge.

“When you have your own business, you have to stay focused and have the right mindset. You will be working harder than ever before but for yourself,” she said. “You have a misconception that when you own your own business you have more freedom, but you are now the main part of your organization.”

Jonas says she counts pepperoni slices in her sleep, so a balance between work and life is important.

“This area is a very good place to work and live. I find time to have a good work and life balance so I can enjoy this beautiful place,” Jonas said. “We made the right choice to be surrounded by the water.”

She said she does not get to the beach that often, not an uncommon reality for year-round workers.

“I don’t get to the beach much, but when I do I love doing yoga on the beach and seeing the dolphins swim by,” Jonas said. “I love to go to the zoo anytime I have the chance.  I
go to the zoo at lunchtime and see the animals being fed.

When she needs to get her mind off things, she goes to Wildwood.

“I take my husband and we go for a ride on the Ferris wheel,” she said.

My Ancestry DNA results aka how Jewish am I?

Geneology and family trees have always interested me, my entire life. Knowing my past and where I came from is very important and definitely impacts how I see the world.

My family has a rich history, and I am fortunate to have known many family members growing up. I grew up with four grandparents and very close to my first cousins. I always listened to my grandparent’s stories of their families and childhoods.

On my mother’s side, I have my grandma’s father who owned a shoe store. He was very young when he died, only in his 40s. I got to write a report about him in my senior year of high school.

On my father’s side, I have my other grandma’s father, who had a box making factory. Perhaps my two great grandfathers should have gotten together and sold boxes with shoes! It’s funny how they could have supported each other.

But getting to the part that you’re here to read…my results! I expected everything except the last 3% breakdown. IMG_3630

 

There is no surprise being 99% European because my heritage is certainly linked to my ancestors coming to America from Russia, Hungary, Austria and even Greece.

My mom and I were certain there would be Greek in my blood and we were right, a whopping 10%! It just confirms our knowledge that my great grandfather Kaplan was from Greece.

What surprised me the most was my 1% North African roots. 1% is barely anything, but it’s likely that I had ancestors from either Morocco, Western Sahara, Algeria or Libya. Maybe that explains why I’ve always wanted to be fluent in French. Now, it is also found in Spain, Portugal, and the Middle East. So that could tie me into Sephardic Jewish roots. Maybe my family originated from the Jewish slaves in Egypt.

My ethnicity is 87% European Jewish, which comes from Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Hungary and Israel. It is also found in Germany, France, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Romania, Bosnia, Serbia and Estonia.

The dispersal of Jews throughout Europe has everything to do with why the communities are scattered throughout the Middle East, Europe, North Africa and Central Asia. Between the pogroms and world wars, Jews were on the move. Basically, I make up your typical Ashkenazi Jew.

The other <3% that makes up my ethnicity comes from the Iberian Peninsula, Great Britain, and Ireland. The Iberian Peninsula is Spain and Portugal, which gives me those Sephardic roots I mentioned. I’m more surprised with Great Britain and Ireland.

Great Britain percent primarily comes from England, Scottland, and Wales. It could also come from Ireland, France, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, and Italy. I’m seeing an overlap now.

I’m guessing the Irish in me gives me the pale complexion. Dark brown hair and eyes have to be from the Middle East/Russian roots.

I am so pleased that I picked up the Ancestry DNA kit for $69 when it was on sale. I saved my brother Michael the money, but we know we share the results. In an odd way, the results make me feel closer to my family and ancestors that I didn’t know.

Purchase your own kit through my referral link here, I’ll get $10 and you’ll get 10% off..

And now my friend Max owes me ice cream because I bet I was more Jewish than him and my genetics won!