Our Town Monthly April 2021 Issue

Page 1

C O B B ’ S FA M I LY L I F E S T Y L E M A G A Z I N E APRIL 2021





One Year Later by Evie Love


arch 11th, I was in history class when my teacher announced, “a year ago tomorrow we went into quarantine and a year ago today none of us owned masks.” That made me think, the pandemic has ONLY been going on for a year? It feels like an eternity. But in the same breath, it doesn’t even seem like it was that long ago when life was “normal”. Thankfully, I have adapted and so has my school.

That is exactly what we needed to hear. I had never thought about theater being an escape from reality until she brought it up and made me try harder. It made us ALL try harder. As she was telling the audience about the show before we hit the stage, she talked about how one year ago Broadway shut down. She also explained how she never expected to put on a live show this quick after the pandemic hit, and how she was so thankful that our school could. As we went through the show, excitement filled the air. I could hear laughing and giggling in the audience and I thought “we ARE giving these people a break from reality.” I couldn’t believe the story we were telling, all the hard work we put into it, WE gave people a moment of peace. All the stress in my mind went away and only excitement consumed me as we just told the story.

I wasn’t able to have my yearly kickball tournament at school or eat lunch in the cafeteria, but recently I was able to be in my school musical. It was in person, with social distancing and was a complete success!

One of the craziest things to think about, is how my last year in middle school is not like my parents’ experience was or how my siblings’ experience will be. I also think about how last April all I could hope for was a vaccine...and now the vaccine is here. There is HOPE in the world and as we move into the future, we have to remember to stay positive, even though it may not always be easy.

The first night of the show was flawless and could not have gone better. However, as we started warming up on the second night, my drama teacher noticed we were a little tired... She said this: “The purpose for acting is two things: telling a story/sharing a lesson and for entertainment. You all are giving the people, who are watching the show, an hour and a half of forgetting about their struggles in life, helping them forget about the pandemic or any other thing that may be bothering them. This is their escape from reality and a place to just sit back and relax. This is the last night, y’all are too talented not to give it all you got.”

Don’t wish your life away, no matter how hard the situation is, find a positive and hold on to it. Evie is a Cobb middle school student who loves volleyball, soccer, her family and friends. She’s kind, funny, determined and hardworking. She has achieved principals honor roll and was inducted into NJHS.

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In This Issue A P R I L 2 0 21

A Look at the World through Evie’s Eyes One Year Later..................................................4 About the Cover The DuShane Family.........................................8 Featured Photographer Claire Christa....................................................8 What Started as a Dream is Now Success Gateway Academy.................10

19/20 LifeStyle Report Safety & Summer Camps

4 One Year Later A Look at the World through Evie’s Eyes

Social Media Is Facebook Tracking You?


Our Town Businesses are Putting Safety First when it Comes to Your Kids & Summer Fun! Read all About it in the Lifestyle Report..........................................19/20

Ready for an International Escape? OTM’s Travel Expert, Heather Meliski has some advice on where to go....................................24 Paint Cans Stacking Up? Atlanta Paint Disposal to the Rescue..............27 Is Facebook Tracking Your Movement? Our Own Social Media Expert, Kimberly Watkins-Swenk has the Scoop........................28 Between High Demand & Low Supply this May be the Best Time to Sell Your House Real Estate in Our Town by Derorah Ratchford.....................................30

Talkin’ Sports Chatting with Golf Expert Brian Katrek


Justin Chats with Golf Expert Brian Katrek in Talkin’ Sports .........................14

Cobb’s Rising Stars! ................................21


Get Outside with Furry Friends Great Places to Go!

Healthy Skin While You Sleep? Yes Please! The Science of Beauty by Eliana Ocheseanu.......................................12


Getting Ready to Go Outside with Your Furry Friends and Enjoy Spring? K-9 Coach Shares the Best Places to Go..........33

Our Town

Our Town onthly M

in this issue



Publishers/Editors Our Townmonthly is published and direct monthly to prestigious homes in the Our Town is published and direct mailed tomailedprestigious homes Area. Opinions expressed by the editorial staff are their own and do not Linda DemeryOpinions & Lori McLinden in Cobb County. expressedWestbyCobbthe editorial staff are their own necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher. Our Town reserves the right to and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher. Our Town Graphics and Design edit and or reject any editorial or advertising content. Our Town is not responsible Tanner reserves theTerry right to edit and or reject any editorial ororadvertising for errors in advertising beyond the cost of the space for the validity of claims made Tanner Graphics, Inc. by advertisers. content. Our Town is not responsible for errors in advertising beyond Account Executive the Sara costYoung, of the space or for the validity of claims byReproduction advertisers. Entire contents copyright 2018 bymade Our Town. in whole or in sara@ourtownmonthly.com part is forbidden in any media without prior written permission from publisher. Entire contents copyright 2021 by Our Town. Reproduction inthewhole Feature Photographer or in part is forbidden in any media without prior written permission Our Town Monthly from the publisher. 109 Anderson Street Contributing Writers


Senior Living Communities

Suite 109

Marietta, GA 30060 PUBLISHER/MANAGING EDITOR Tara Hill Hanover678-337-7844 Fax: 678-337-7825 info@ourtownmonthly.com EDITOR/SPORTS CONTRIBUTOR www.ourtownmonthly.com Justin Hanover



DIGITAL EDITOR/SOCIAL MEDIA CONTRIBUTOR Kimberly Watkins-Swenk GRAPHICS AND DESIGN Jules Fandos ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES West Cobb Sara Young sara@ourtownmonthly.com


Smyrna/Vinings/Galleria/Cumberland Misty Flanders-White misty@ourtownmonthly.com Tamara Siemon tamara@ourtownmonthly.com North/South Cobb Stephanie Mellom stephanie@ourtownmonthly.com FEATURE PHOTOGRAPHER Claire Christa

“Fully vaccinating all residents should be celebrated as a huge milestone. And the fact that you are a direct provider and can offer shots here on site is a teastament to ‘going beyond’ for us. Living here has been a Godsend compared to our old home as we feel safe and are staying physically and mentally active with so many friends. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts” - Dee & Hart W.

Best of Cobb

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Evie Love Rita E. Schuchardt (SGA) Eliana Ocheseanu Heather Meliski Deborah Ratchford K-9 Coach Team PO Box 813610 Smyrna, GA 30081-8610 (678)337-7844 info@ourtownmonthly.com www.ourtownmonthly.com FB: Our Town Monthly IG: @our_town_monthly

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About the Cover


he cover picture was supposed to debut April of 2020... then the world shut down. We thought this would be our reality for only a few short weeks as we “flattened the curve” but we all know now, it has turned into a year. We are all still trying to wrap our heads around our “new normal”, however the beauty and innocence of this cover could not go unseen. Joe is 8 years old and plays baseball and piano. Olivia is 4 years old and enjoys ballet. These 2 children, like us, could have never known what was in store for the next year ahead. This is what I wish for all of us, the same freedom and whimsical innocence that was captured in the cover photo. This is a current shot (exactly 1 year later) of Joe and Olivia. They love their Powder Springs community! Lauren, their mother is a Cobb County teacher and Carl, their father works in the Paulding Hospital Emergency Room. Thank you to the DuShane family for sharing your children with us, for your service as essential workers and all you do for our Cobb community!


Feature Photographer ABOUT THE COVER


he photographer, Claire Christa, has lived in Powder Springs for over 20 years. During those years she stayed at home with her two daughters, volunteering when possible at their schools and at church. Now an empty-nester, Claire travels the southeast photographing horses and riders at equestrian events for Show Horse Magazine. She fills up the time in between doing family and individual portraits, business headshots, pet portraits and an occasional wedding. Though her degree from UGA was a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, and her first career was in the banking industry, her passion was always striving to create something beautiful. Photography has enabled Claire to fulfill that passion. With such lovely subjects as the DuShane children featured on the front cover, Claire finds it quite easy to create a beautiful photograph. She would love to create beautiful memories for your family as well! Clairechristaphotography@gmail.com Social: Photography by Claire on FB IG @lensviewoflife

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Publishers/Editors Linda Demery & Lori McLinden Graphics and Design Terry Tanner Tanner Graphics, Inc. Account Executive Sara Young, sara@ourtownmonthly.com Feature Photographer

Our Town is published and direct mailed monthly to prestigious homes in the West Cobb Area. Opinions expressed by the editorial staff are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher. Our Town reserves the right to edit and or reject any editorial or advertising content. Our Town is not responsible for errors in advertising beyond the cost of the space or for the validity of claims made by advertisers. Entire contents copyright 2018 by Our Town. Reproduction in whole or in part is forbidden in any media without prior written permission from the publisher.

Our Town Monthly Contributing Writers

Our Town

109 Anderson Street Suite 109 Marietta, GA 30060

678-337-7844 Fax: 678-337-7825 info@ourtownmonthly.com www.ourtownmonthly.com


Success Gateway Academy | Educating the Exceptional Middle and High School Students Empowering and Educating Students Who Learn Differently


hat started as a dream between two teachers while tutoring middle schoolers after school became a reality in January of 2019. Success Gateway Academy (SGA) welcomed its first two students on August 1, 2019. Focused on the whole child as an individual, not the test score, or the learning pace, SGA provides a learning environment that encourages, supports, and caters to middle and high school students who struggle in “traditional” schools because of anxiety, social, sensory, academic, or attention challenges. As a hybrid homeschool program, Success Gateway Academy bridges the gap between traditional schools and homeschooling. Students are supported daily through in-person learning, a flexible learning environment, and individualized instruction. Parents are equipped with the tools, support, and structure to help their child grow and succeed. A typical day at SGA consists of four academic classes (math, language arts, science, and history) with an accredited curriculum, certified teachers, and 15-minute breaks between classes. These breaks allow students to process what they learned, decompress, and just be kids. SGA also offers a path for earning a high school diploma. Parent’s Shaun and Nicole learned about Success Gateway Academy at an SGA Open House in 2019. Their teenage son, Chris, while charismatic and charming on the outside, was struggling both socially and academically on the inside. In early elementary school, Chris’s parents noticed that he learned differently than other children his age. While he was able to understand some of the subjects he was taught, his processing of this information was delayed, and he was often left behind. This caused Chris to continue to get further and further behind in his academic work and his advancement to the next appropriate grade level.

Finding a home at Success Gateway Academy for Chris was a dream come true for Shaun and Nicole. “Chris is no longer stressed out about school because he can’t keep up. The self-pacing, individualized instruction, and adaptable curriculum that SGA offers allows Chris to experience success while working at a pace that makes sense for him. Additionally, this program has allowed Chris to function at an appropriate grade level while providing a safe and secure place for him to learn and grow as a happy student with some great friends as a bonus! It’s amazing what being in the right place at the right time can do for a student and you too as a parent.” As the only hybrid-homeschool program in the West Cobb area, Success Gateway Academy also incorporates “life skills” into their program. Individual goals are set and discussed weekly with each student. These goals include what skills they want to work on now as well as what they want to be doing in five and ten years. Additionally, SGA began PEERS® (The Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills) with their students in January. This twelve-week evidence-based program is world-renowned for providing social skills training for teens and young adults with socio-emotional problems such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and anxiety. Success Gateway Academy meets daily from 8:30-1:30 in the youth center at Due West United Methodist Church in Marietta and follows the Cobb County school calendar. We are currently accepting applications for the 2021-2022 school year. Please call 770.626.2558 or visit us at www. sgacademy.org for more information.


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Success Gateway Academy is a hybrid homeschool program for middle and high school students who learn differently because of social, sensory, academic, or attention challenges. We meet daily from 8:30-1:30 at the Youth Center at Due West United Methodist Church. Call 770.626.2558 or visit www.sgacademy.org for more information. "Every student can learn, just not on the same day or in the same way". GEORGE EVANS

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good skin-care routine isn’t only about which serums and moisturizers you apply on your skin. Establishing good habits at home is an equally crucial step. As your mother always told you, beauty comes from within. This spring is the best time to start creating better diet and sleep habits to help improve the appearance of your skin. Here are three great home hacks that may help promote healthy skin while you sleep. 1. Add a Humidifier in Your Bedroom to Help Keep Skin Moisturized. Dryness is our skin’s worst enemy. When the skin lacks proper hydration, it triggers various reactions, one of them being more oil production which leads to more breakouts. The best thing you can do for your skin is to introduce a humidifier in your bedroom, especially if you are suffering from dry skin and eczema. A review published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venerology in February 2016 linked low temperatures and low humidity levels with a less effective skin barrier and skin that’s more prone to irritants and allergens. Also, a small study published in July 2019 in Skin Research and Technology found sleeping in environments with humidity levels below 30 percent decreased skin hydration by nearly 25 percent. 2.Wash Your Pillowcase with Detergent for Sensitive Skin. As most of us prefer to sleep on our side, we unfortunately have noticed more wrinkles and dryness on our clients who sleep that way. The best thing you can do for

your skin while you’re sleeping is to change your pillowcase at least once a week. It’s best to wash them in the least amount of chemicals and, if possible, switch to a silk pillowcase as silk does not absorb as much moisture as cotton does. 3.Set Up Your Bedroom for A Good Night Sleep. A good, solid night of sleep doesn’t just leave you feeling refreshed, it’ll benefit your skin, too. As we grow older, we notice that after a night of insufficient sleep we wake up with hanging eyelids, swollen eyes, dark circles, pale skin, more wrinkles, and droopy skin. Just like the body needs sleep to restore itself, the skin needs it too. During sleep, blood flow to the skin increases rebuilding collagen and repairing UV exposure damage to reduce wrinkles and age spots. So, what can you do to prioritize sleep? The National Sleep Foundation recommends setting the thermostat to between 60 and 67 degrees, dimming the lights about an hour before bedtime, and investing in a mattress, sheets, and pillow that you find most comfortable. Switching off electronic devices well before bedtime can also help you get a quality night of sleep. Research shows that blue light from devices, like your computer, can suppress production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep. We hope you will try one or all of these good sleeping habits today so you can wake up with more beautiful skin tomorrow. Eliana has over 20 years of experience in skin care. She is the owner of Refinery21 Aesthetique and she is always available for free consultations. Email her with any skin care related questions at eliana@refinery21studio.com

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Talkin’ Sports

By Justin Hanover

Teeing it up with golf expert Brian Katrek


hether you are a diehard sports fan, an average sports fan or not a sports fan at all I would bet that you have heard of the golf tournament called, “The Masters”. With April being Masters month and the tournament being not too far down the road in Augusta I thought it would be a good time to catch up with my good friend, Brian Katrek. Brian does play-by-play on “PGATOUR Live” and has been hosting golf tournaments since 1999. He is once again the 18th tower host for the 2021 Masters. Like many of us, Brian is also a local, living right here in Cobb County. Justin: April is here and that therefore means it’s time for what is generally regarded by many as the greatest golf event in the world, The Masters. What makes this week so special and do you view it as the best tournament? BK: The Masters is my favorite tournament of the year. The word you constantly hear used to describe the week is “special”. It is special to me because Bobby Jones is the greatest amateur of all time and it is his event. He founded the club, and the club puts on the event every year. They go all out to make the tournament the best it can be, and it shows. It is so rare to be at a week-long gathering where everyone is respectful and on their best behavior all week. I can’t think of anything else like it.

Justin: How did you ever get into the game of golf? Was this a passion you were born with or did it grow on you? BK: I came to golf late in my life. There were a few recreational rounds as a kid and teenager, but nothing regular or serious. My fatherin-law played and was an avid golfer when I married into the family in 1996. It didn’t take me long to get hooked. This was right before the game would explode with Tiger’s Masters win in 1997. The result would be millions of new players, tons of worldwide interest in the game, and lots of new job opportunities. How can you not get excited about that? Justin: Speaking of Tiger and I think I personally know this next answer, who is your favorite player of all-time and why? BK: Yup, Tiger. He changed and dominated the game. The best description I have heard about Tiger’s impact on the sport is that he didn’t raise the bar, he raised the floor. Money went up, exposure went up, and the professional game is now so much deeper because of him. Four years ago, there were 30-40 players each week (out of 150) who had a legitimate chance of winning the tournament. Now, it is 100. Or even 120. At this year’s Players Championship, there were 113 players with at least 1 win and all in the same tournament. Those are the fields he cultivated, and those are the same fields he dominated. Justin: With all of your jobs do you have time to get out and play yourself? BK: I do, I am very lucky. Any time I spend on the golf course almost counts as work. Almost. When I am home, there is plenty of time to play. When there isn’t, I can usually squeeze in 9 holes, or some time on the driving range. Justin: Having lived here in Cobb County for some time I’m sure you have a good sampling of our local courses. What are your favorites to play? BK: I live 2 miles from Dogwood. It is such a fun course and never takes more than 4 hours to play. That makes it very easy for me to sneak over there in between gigs. I am also a member at Pinetree. The members there are so passionate about the sport, and the greens are some of the best in the country. I love the convenience and fun of Fox Creek and Legacy. Both are great places to learn and become comfortable playing. They are also quick rounds. Justin: Final question, give us that all-time Katrek top 5. BK: Tiger, Jack (Nicklaus), Arnold (Palmer), Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan. Many thanks to Brian who can also be heard daily on Sirius/XM PGATOUR radio on “Katrek and Maginnes on Tap”. You can also follow Brian on twitter @bkatrek.

Justin Hanover is a sports reporter/analyst who has worked in the business since 1996. His stops have included ESPN, CNN, 790 The Zone and 680 The Fan. He has also done play-by-play analysis and color commentary ranging from the high school level all the way through the professional level. Justin lives in Smyrna with his wife and three children.


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Our Town

Lifestyle Report By Tara Hanover

Something to look forward to...


he New York Times ran a story in January 2021, that focused on “if kids are having too much screen time during the pandemic”. Between facilities being closed forcing activities and schools to go digital, I think the answer is an obvious -yes! OF COURSE, our kids have had too much screen time this past year. But honestly, I feel like that was the least of our problems. When the world shut down we all thought it was for 2 weeks “to flatten the curve”. We all wondered then how we would make it. However, we soon realized 2 weeks became a month, a month became two months and two months became a year. Spring and summer of 2020 was one big “staycation” for most families. If you were anything like me, you kept reassuring your families and yourself, “this will be over before you know it” and “hey, this is a story for the history books, you will tell your children one day” as you plastered a fake and anxious smile on your face. But friends, we have made it a year…it was a very hard year for many, but I am hoping we have turned a corner. Most schools are open, vaccines are being distributed and hope is on the horizon! I could not be prouder of our schools and childcare facilities that have been so supportive along the journey. This spring and upcoming summer my children (and I) have a new appreciation and much excitement over what great activities are to come.

“North Cobb Christian School is offering a “Summer of Wonder” for students age 3 through rising seniors! At North Cobb Christian School Summer Camps, campers can pick a customized camp program that allows them to dive deep into areas of interest, or they can have a blast at NCCS’s weekly high-energy Camp Eagle -- all within a nurturing Christian school environment. Camps run June 1 through July 30, 2021, and camp themes include coding, crafting, sports, STEAM, Legos, Mach 5, American Girl Dolls, dance, music and more. Plus, Camp Eagle weekly day camp includes FREE morning care and after care! Driver’s Ed and College Bootcamp round out offerings for older teens. NCCS will be following COVID protocols to keep campers safe while having a blast all summer long!” Safety protocols + registration: ncchristian.org/camp. - Elizabeth Cossick Director of Marketing and Communications

Clearly, I understand this does not come without some anxiety, but I hope you will be reassured from the comments below that our “Our Town businesses” are taking safety seriously when it comes to your children AND they are not sacrificing the fun! But don’t take my word for it, read the comments for yourself: “Whitefield Academy Summer Programs is dedicated to maintaining a high-caliber program that endeavors to help children in their spiritual, physical, educational, and mental growth in a loving, caring, safe, and Christ-centered environment. Extra precautions such as sanitization, temperature checks, pre-boxed lunches and all other CDC recommended protocol will be in place to make sure your child have a safe and super summer!” - Honey Brannon | Director of Communications and Marketing.

“We have a full-time summer session that runs from June 1 - July 23. By April, we’ll be a fully teacher vaccinated facility. We continue to offer small classroom sizes, clean and fog the rooms nightly with Vital Oxide (EPA approved to kill COVID-19 in 2 minutes), and we’ve used our teachers’ many talents to create extracurricular activities without bringing in additional exposures. Weekly music class with Senorita Catherine is one such example. For the summer, we’ll have a few vendor activities outdoors such as a petting zoo and playball.” - Jessa Depew, PharmD/ Owner The Quadrilingual Academy

“Success Gateway Academy takes pride in keeping all students safe during the Covid 19 Pandemic. They have implemented safety measures including mask wearing, social distancing, and hand sanitizing stations in the classroom, as well as frequent reminders of hand washing. Additionally, they sanitize all classrooms at the end of the day.” - Rita E. Schuchardt | Director, Marketing and Recruiting. Continued on page 20

Our Town


Lifestyle Report continued from page 19

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“Our entire staff has been trained on the current CDC, State, and ACA (American Camp Association) guidelines, which provide specific criteria to enable camps and childcare facilities to remain open. For all of our camp programs, campers entering the building at the start of the day will apply hand sanitizer provided by us or be given the option to wash their hands. Specific staff members will sanitize tables, toys, playground/gym equipment, bathrooms and more on an hourly basis and after use by campers; and we will operate at a smaller capacity to ensure we can provide the cleanest, safest, and best possible experience.” - Eric Homansky, Head Coach Way2Play Sports

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As always my friends, when life gets you down... Get up, Dress up, Show up and NEVER EVER Give up! If you would like your business featured in the LifeStyle Report please email: tara@ourtownmonthly.com Tara has spent 23 years in the national news media. Her experience includes on-air beauty expert, host, speaker, lifestyle reporter as well as branding and professional presence facilitator. You can watch Tara 24 hours a day, 7 days week on the Gem Shopping Network hosting high fashion jewelry shows. She is owner, publisher & editor of OTM as well as writer of the LifeStyle Report.


Our Town









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Escape from the U.S.A.


s the number of people who are fully vaccinated for COVID increases, I’m seeing an increase in the number of clients who are ready to travel outside of the United States. In last month’s article I discussed my top choices for domestic travel so this month I wanted to share with you some of my top choices for travel this spring and summer outside of the US. Mexico has been my most-popular international destination both preCOVID and post-COVID. With direct flights, fabulous resorts, great food, and amazing service, Mexico is always a great vacation option. Getting into the country is a breeze since there is no pre-travel testing requirement or pre-travel authorization needed for entry. The main tourist areas - Baja California Sur (Los Cabos), Quintana Roo (Cancun, Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel), and Riviera Nayarit - have received certification from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) which is a distinction given to destinations that fully comply with ‘Safe Travels’ protocols based on the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Resorts are doing a phenomenal job with their safety protocols and are operating at a limited capacity. I personally traveled to Los Cabos in late October and was incredibly impressed with the safety and cleaning protocols at the resorts I stayed at. Another great destination outside of the U.S. is Turks and Caicos. Turks and Caicos is a great choice for both families and couples and offers a number of wonderful resorts. The beaches are stunning and the water is the most gorgeous shade of turquoise blue. Entry into the country is relatively easy – a PCR test taken five days prior to arrival, travel insurance that offers specific coverages, and a health questionnaire are needed to

By Heather Meliski

get the pre-travel authorization required for entry. Turks and Caicos is also WTTC certified. It’s no secret that I love Saint Lucia so it won’t come as a surprise that it is also on the top of my list. The island is so beautiful and lush, which is why it’s nicknamed ‘the Hawaii of the Caribbean’. I typically recommend Saint Lucia as a destination for couples but there are several good family resort options as well. Make sure to stay in Soufriere during your vacation so you can enjoy the views of the Pitons. There are a number of amazing resorts near the Pitons, most of which offer open-air accommodations. All travelers to Saint Lucia must submit a PCR test taken no more than five days prior to travel and must complete a travel registration form. Aruba is also a fantastic option for a vacation outside of the U.S. The island is a foodie paradise, offers a number of great resorts, and has gorgeous beaches. Aruba also has the highest number of sunny days in the Caribbean so the chances of rain during your vacation are low, and it is located outside of the hurricane belt so you don’t ever have to worry about a hurricane impacting your vacation. For entry into Aruba, you will need to purchase Aruba Visitors Insurance, complete an online Embarkation/Disembarkation card, complete a health statement, and have a PCR test either prior to travel or pre-pay for a PCR test to be taken at the airport upon arrival. Aruba is also WTTC certified. As an added bonus, all of these destinations can be reached by non-stop flights out of Atlanta. If you’re ready to escape, one of these options may be perfect for your next vacation! Heather Meliski, Global Travel Senior Advisor 678-522-4495 heather@ yellowshoetravel.com YellowShoeTravel.com 1517251236924_fb Yellow Shoe Travel - Heather Meliski @yellowshoetravelheather


Dr. Nanette Cook, OB-GYN

4480 N. Cooper Lake Road / Suite 220 / Smyrna, GA 30082 PAGE 24

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Spring Cleaning Dilemma

What do I do with all those pesky paint cans laying around?


ave you ever started a cleaning or an organization project and found that the things that you own tend to multiply? A few weekends ago, we were organizing our garage and came upon a daunting pile of paint that we had been ignoring for years. We then found big, heavy ones in our basement, single gallon cans in our storage closet, stains and sample sizes hiding everywhere! Some of the paint traveled with us from our last house, we inherited more in the new house...okay, a lot more, and THEN there was the old touch up paint from various projects over the years. Asking around, it became obvious that most people have excess paint at their homes and they have no idea what to do with it. Throw it away? Nope, that’s illegal. Solidify it? That’s messy, time consuming...and where do you even start? There has to be an easier way. Through a quick Google search, I found that Atlanta Paint Disposal offered the best all-around solution to our problem. They’ve been in business for over a decade with great reviews!

After calling Atlanta Paint Disposal, one of their friendly and knowledgeable representatives walked me through every option! They offer both a drop off and a contactless pickup service. Atlanta Paint Disposal has various partnerships throughout Metro Atlanta through their drop off program and in a lot of cases the pickup service is the same price as the drop off. While the drop off option was appealing, for me it was a no-brainer to book a pickup. The pickup was convenient and I didn’t even have to be home. They did exactly what they said....they showed up on my scheduled day, picked my paint up from my driveway, processed my credit card, and emailed me a receipt. To my relief, my paint was gone after all of these years! Y’all this was seriously, the easiest solution to something that had stressed me out for way too long! So now we have a clean garage, the cars are neatly parked inside, and my paint found a way to live on through Atlanta Paint Disposal’s recycling program! If you have leftover paint, don’t waste another second, call them at (404)333-8763 or go to their website at www.AtlantaPaintDisposal.com for more information or to schedule your pickup online! ~ testimonial from a happy APD customer

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facebook To Track Facial Expressions On Virtual Reality Devices By Kimberley Watkins-Swenk


he Gift Of The Season. one of the big hits of last holiday season was the Oculus VR device. Both of my boys spent the vast majority of Christmas Day on their devices. I loved it because they were out of my hair and not fighting.

And guess what? There is nothing you can do about it at the moment besides not using these VR devices. Facebook is determined to make virtual reality mainstream (if it isn’t already) and collect data from those interactions.

I am not exactly sure how my youngest logged into my Facebook account via his Oculus VR account and started broadcasting his VR experience in real-time on my Facebook page, but he did. The funny thing is some of my friends started commenting on the live feed. “Great job, Kimberly!” Like I would ever play virtual reality ninja wars and broadcast it on my Facebook page.

Why do you ask? To make money by selling the information to people like myself. If I know your eyes spend more time in the upper left-hand corner, guess where I will place an ad? The upper left-hand corner. If I understand you scrunch your eyes when my ad appears, I need to make the ad easier to read. You, my friend, are the product.

And just so you know, you need a Facebook account to use Oculus, hence why my page was highjacked by a ninja warrior fighting ten-year-old. The Sneaky, Sneaky As with most things in life, nothing is free. This affordable, highly addictive, immensely entertaining experience has a cost. And it turns out the latest cost of this VR experience is losing some, or some would say, more, personal data. Data more intimate than which sites you visit and causes you follow - your facial expressions and eye movements will become data points for marketers like myself shortly. Any idea who owns Oculus? Facebook. Don’t worry. Facebook isn’t tracking your eye movements and facial expressions on your computer or smartphones - just on virtual reality, specifically Oculus VR and the new Ray-Ban smart glasses. Additionally, Facebook is pushing out VR hardware at cost (hence, Oculus VR is so affordable) to grow its data collection pool.


Some people are more bothered by personal data collection than others. I usually have a very laissez-faire attitude to private data collection because I understand its uses. But something about facial recognition tracking unnerves me. Maybe it is the newness, perhaps because I haven’t used those data points in my work. Virtual reality is no longer a big thing in my house, so I don’t have to confront this issue in the immediate future, but there is no promise my boys won’t pick their Oculus devices tomorrow. How will I react if and when my boys decide to jump back into the VR? No clue. Will I tell the boys their eye movements and facial expressions are being tracked? Yes. Not sure what I will do beyond that - maybe leave it up to them to decide? Or maybe bounce the responsibility over to my husband?!?!?!? Kimberly Watkins-Swenk is a social media professional and also OTM’s Digital Content Director & Editor. Kimberly and her family split their time between Smyrna and Durango, Colorado. She is married to Jason and has two sons, Luke and Chase, and two cats she loves more than anything.

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WINDOW CLEANING FIRST 25 WINDOWS Valid for Whole House Window Cleaning

Removing, dusting or cleaning window screens is a separate and independent service.


PROMO CODE OURTOWN25 Applies to standard window cleaning. Excludes non-standard, storm/encasement or oversized windows.




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Discount rate based on 2,500 sq. ft., 2-story dwelling. Larger sq. footage or any 3-story elevation requires on-site estimate.




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Great reasons to sell your house this spring!

By Deborah Ratchford


hen selling a house, most homeowners hope for a quick and profitable transaction that puts them in a position to make a great move. If you’re waiting for the best time to win as a seller, the market is calling your name right now. Here are some great reasons why this is the perfect time to sell your house. 1. There is a high demand from homebuyers. Buyer demand is strong right now, and buyers are active in the market. Buyers are continuing to flock to the new listings as soon as they hit the market. Buyers quickly learn that their offers need to be strong and clean to win the contract. Most often the winning contract is higher than the asking price. Many buyers lose out on the first attempts in the offer process. This situation will continue to make it a great seller market. When your house is positioned to get a ton of attention from competitive buyers, you’re in the best spot possible as the seller. 2. There aren’t enough houses for sale. Purchaser demand is so high; the market is running out of available houses for sale. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) also reveals that, while home sales are skyrocketing, the inventory of existing homes for sale is continuing to drop dramatically. Houses are essentially selling as fast as they’re hitting the market – in fact, NAR reports that the average house is on the market for only 21 days, and much less than that in some hot areas. 3. You have a lot of leverage in today’s market. Clearly, many more people are interested in buying than selling this spring, creating the ultimate sellers’ market. When this happens, homeowners in a position to sell have the upper hand in negotiations. According to NAR, agents are reporting an average of 3.7 offers per house and an increase in bidding wars. As a seller, this means the ball is in your court – so much so that you can use your


leverage to negotiate the best possible contract. Demand is there, and now is the perfect time to sell for the most favorable terms. 4. Don’t forget that it’s a great way to use your home equity. As of the end of 2020, the average homeowner has gained much equity over the past year, and that number continues to grow as home values appreciate. Equity is a type of automatic savings (it’s like free money) that grows during your time as a homeowner and can be put toward bigger goals like buying your next dream home. When homeowners gain enough equity in their homes, they are more likely to consider using that equity to purchase a larger or more attractive home. That’s the wealth effect of rising equity. In today’s housing market, fast rising demand against the limited supply of homes for sale has resulted in continued house price appreciation. 5. It is so important to find a home that meets your needs. So much has changed over the past year, including what many of us need in a home. Spending extra time where we currently live is enabling many of us to re-evaluate homeownership and what we find most important in a home. Whether it’s a house that has the features suited to working remotely, space for virtual or hybrid schooling, a home gym or theater, or something else, selling this spring gives you a chance to make a move and find the home of your dreams. Bottom Line: Today’s housing market belongs to the sellers. If you’ve considered making a move but have been waiting for the right market conditions, your wait may be over. Contact a real estate professional so you’ll be positioned to win when you sell your house this spring. The Ratchford Realty Group would love to find you your dream home. Deborah Ratchford - Top Producing Realtor with Proven Results!!! Keller Williams Realty Cityside Debratchford@kw.com 678-570-4779

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Expires Apr 30, 2021

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• Weekend Appointments

All doctors at Cumberland Animal Clinic have extensive experience in medicine and surgery for dogs and cats. We are conveniently located at the corner of Spring Road conveniently and Village Parkway in Smyrna. in yrna.

Monday thru Friday 8am-6pm Saturday 8am-1pm Sunday CLOSED


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The owner is a Master Groomer, member of the Georgia Groomers Alliance & the IPG

“Shadow drools for blueberries! And she kills for a good tummy rub”

COME SEE US IN SMYRNA! 3988 Atlanta Rd SE #112 Smyrna, GA 30080

770-319-0095 www.thedandydogspetspa.com

OR WE’LL COME TO YOU! We service all of Cobb County


We love being a part of your family story and we look forward to seeing you soon! TRAINING | LODGING | PLAYCARE | GROOMING | RETAIL

4 0 4 . 6 0 3 . 9 7 4 4 | K-9COACH.COM

Let’s celebrate life and enjoy this time with our dogs.


ust last month, it was just around the corner, but now SPRING HAS SPRUNG and there could not be a better time for a new beginning! Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and the days are gradually getting longer and warmer. Hope is on the horizon in the form of vaccines and the flowers and birds agree, let’s celebrate life. What better way to safely enjoy this time than with our dogs outdoors? This month we are excited to share our teams’ favorite day hikes and experiences in the Metro Atlanta area with you. • Sweetwater Creek Park. Over three miles of winding trails that are varying in difficulty and length. Dogs who enjoy the water will love the option to swim in the lake or the creek, while dogs who prefer more space will be pleased with the wide trails and quiet forest. • Cochran Shoals to Sope Creek. With over 8 miles of trails to hike, Sope Creek is a wonderful spot with a great water play spot for dogs and their people alike. These trails tend to be busy on weekends and are narrower to walk. Once you reach the creek, many pups will be off leash to swim. So, skip this spot if your dog needs more space. • Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield. Offers over 20 miles of hiking trails that vary greatly in difficulty and space. Hike the meadows or the forest on well-maintained trails. Our personal favorites are the Cheatham Hill/ Kolb Farm Trail, which offers dogs needing more space loads of wide walking areas in the meadows. Second, is the Noose Creek Trail which has a wide, mostly sandy path, spaces to step off if needed and a great creek to play in mid walk. • Vickery Creek Trail. Located in Roswell, this hidden gem offers five miles of trails that are easily navigated. Walk through a hardwood forest and grab a break at a very nice sandy beach at the waterfall. This trail also includes

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a covered bridge and is very shady, offering a much-needed break from the hot sun. If your pup needs space, skip this trail as it is almost always very heavily trafficked. We hope you and your pup will get outdoors and enjoy these spots together. Also remember that we love to share in your experiences. So please make sure to tag us @k9coachatlanta on Instagram! As we pass one year since the pandemic, we want to again THANK YOU, our community and our clients, for your unwavering support this last year. We are even stronger and more dedicated to giving your dogs the best experience in Atlanta. We are always honored to serve you and your dog needs. Whether through training, camp, lodging, grooming or retail supplies, we are always striving to help you develop a lifetime of positive memories with your pup(s). We hope you enjoy the beautiful weather this spring and please be sure to take a little time to make sure everyone is ready to have fun! For additional information on this and other important topics, please see our resource library in the K-9 U section of our website at www.k-9coach.com.

Amber, Jarrette & the K-9 Coach Team


Boarding • day Care grooming • Spa Creekside is a 7,000 sq. ft. pet hotel with 2 acres of shaded property




First Groom Visit

A $20 Value! for Day Care guest


1360 Lockhart Dr. Near the intersection of McCollum Pkwy & Big Shanty Rd, next to Site One Landscape



Tours of facility available!

Temp Test

Serving the community for 33 years!

everyoNe Wants to look their very best, iNcludiNg our furry frieNds! Our Befur & After pet stylists are here to help your pet look fetching for those family pictures or selfies!

Whether your pet has been naughty or nice, go ahead and treat them to a facial, haircut or bath. They’ll be refreshed and ready for family gatherings. Reserve your appointment today! Give our pet stylists a call at 678-540-8522 and schedule some salon time for your fur baby!

No time to spare? We’ll come to you!

Make an appointment with our mobile grooming stylist. Call 404-966-9900 ASAP for Befur & After Mobile Pet Grooming! Don’t delay! Appointments are filling fast! PAGE 34

Befur & After Grooming Salon 678-540-8522 Befur & After Mobile Grooming 404-966-9900

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Deborah M Ratchford

Keller Williams Cityside 3350 Atlanta Road Smyrna, GA 30080

I Want To Sell Your Home Today!

DebD id it

C: 678-570-4779 O: 770-874-6205



NEW LISTING - with Elevator & awesome Theater Room!

Call the agent that knows the market and how to get over the asking price. Results Driven!!! Call today for your FREE market analysis. Looking for Listings and Buyers! Call Today! 678-570-4779


UNDER CONTRACT All information is believed to be accurate, but not warranted. Each Keller Williams Realty Office is individually owned and operated.

Ameris Bank Mortgage Services Barry Butler PAGE 36

Senior Loan Officer Member FDIC

600 Townpark Ln Ste 190 Kennesaw, GA. 30144 O 404.553.2621 C 770.365.7179 barry.butler@Amerisbank.com

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