Father and Son Shop Time

Father and Son Shop Time

“Daddy!” the boy squeals as he flies into the shop, wrapping his arms around his father’s legs. 

“Arthur boy!” his father exclaims. 

“Walk, please!” his mother warns…for the millionth time. 

“Can we do shop time, Daddy,” Arthur asks.

“That sounds great! Beth, is it ok with you if we have shop time after we close today?” Andrew asks with the “you know it will be good for him” look in his eyes. 

Looking forward to getting the boy home, I respond with exhausted elongated words – “Yeah, that’s fine.” 

But it is good for our now 3 year old son. And it’s good for Andrew to be able to share that special time with him. It’s certainly a benefit when your dad owns an auto repair shop. It’s a unique experience that few other kids his age enjoy. 

If you have been a client for any amount of time, you have recognized that Andrew is a good teacher. That’s one benefit of his music education degree and he applies this with our son, especially during their Shop Time.

What Do They Do?

Arthur is always interested in what Andrew is up to and does his best to emulate him. 

Arthur loves to help out around the shop and Andrew loves to give him practical jobs.

Learning opportunities abound at the shop!

With Andrew’s degree in music education and Arthur’s interests in everything music and everything in Daddy’s shop, this was a big hit! This is just a short clip of the beginning of their music exploration around the shop.

Finding out how things work around the shop can take a lot of different forms, but this is one of the most fun to date. I think Central Florida amusement parks have a rival!

These are just a few examples of the fun Andrew and Arthur have during their shop time. Many of them, I haven’t been around for. They will look for little treasures that Arthur can hide away in his pockets, do an oil change together, or just explore how different tools work. Arthur has been around the shop since his birth and is now capable of being helpful with small tasks. He truly completes our family business.

What a treasure trove of learning for a little boy!

Keeping Your Car Healthy While You “Shelter in Place”

Keeping Your Car Healthy While You “Shelter in Place”

It’s been a month, now, since the U.S. President declared a national emergency due to COVID-19. Many of us have been confined to our home since then. More recently, we are required to stay home aside from essential work or errands. That means, we’re not driving as much. I can’t even remember the last time I got gas for my car (Gas prices?!!). Just because you aren’t driving your vehicle, doesn’t mean you don’t need to keep up with it’s care…or maybe because you aren’t driving your vehicle that’s all the more reason to attend to it.

There are several opportunities to get on top of your vehicle’s needs and some of them don’t even cost a single penny. 

Educate Yourself

Taking the time to educate yourself about your vehicle and how to maximize your investment probably isn’t high on your priority list when your life is busy with work, school, kids and just life in general. In our present circumstances, however, why not set aside some time? 

Like many of you, whatever work projects you had going on before the COVID-19 crisis have been turned on their head. My goal this year was to facilitate a series of seminars about vehicle ownership to equip people for making confident decisions in keeping their vehicle safe and reliable. Now that life has become virtual, I jumped on the bandwagon and reformatted my seminars into a Facebook Live series. I hope you take the time to join me!

Taking control of your vehicle’s maintenance and repair budget

April 4, 2020

Session 1: Can you really budget for repairs and maintenance? (Watch it now!

Session 2: Demonstration: DIY maintenance with Andrew and Arthur (Watch it now!

Session 3: Q&A with Andrew and Bethany (Watch it now!

Women, You’ve Got This!

April 16

Session 1: How to find a man mechanic who will treat you right (Watch now…)

Session 2: Demonstration – What to do when you get a flat (Watch now…)

Buying used affordably, safely, and reliably

May 2 – 9:00am – 11:00am

Session 1: Make a wise investment in purchasing a used vehicle (Watch it now!)

Session 2: Demonstration: Important information a vehicle can tell you (See Session 1)

Session 3: Q&A with Andrew and Bethany (Watch it now!)

To receive regular updates on more upcoming seminars and other helpful information, please like our Facebook page, @Marinelli Auto Service

Make A Plan

Start Simply

Do you check your engine oil, coolant, power steering fluid, and windshield washer fluid on a regular basis? Do you regularly check your tire pressure? What about your windshield wipers? The more familiar you are with your vehicle based on its basic health, the more likely you are going to be invested in keeping on top of keeping it that way. 

Focus on Prevention

The more you know about your vehicle, the better you are prepared to take measures to prevent nasty surprises and set a practical and affordable budget for maintenance and repairs. 

When was the last time you had a really thorough inspection on your vehicle? Do you have a comprehensive list of your vehicle’s current, upcoming, and future needs with an understanding of their benefit to your vehicle’s safety and reliability? If so, then you are prepared to prevent your vehicle’s needs from being urgent and likely more costly than if you waited until components start to fail. 

By working with your mechanic to compile this information and talk through what decisions you need to make about maintenance, repairs, and your budget, you can save yourself a lot of worry, time and money. If you haven’t done this – or maybe it’s just been a while – or you don’t know where to start, please reach out and we’ll be happy to help you begin this process. 

Stay Current

Having a plan in place for maintaining your vehicle is only beneficial if you act on it. Schedule regular maintenance and repairs according to the number of your vehicle’s needs and the budget you have set. We like to see our clients do this in conjunction with oil changes – why go back and forth between the auto repair shop for multiple things when you can leave it for a day or so and get them taken care of at the same time in a regular interval?

We know that time is precious! Plan ahead to a time when going without your vehicle is going to cause the least amount of stress. Many of our clients schedule service for when they are going out of town – if it’s just going to sit in the driveway, why not use that time to get some work done? Speaking of sitting in your driveway – many of you have been driving your vehicle so little that you can’t remember the last time you got gas. If you aren’t an essential worker and life has slowed down, now is the perfect time to jump into this process. 

Communicate Regularly with Your Mechanic

We understand that this health crisis has affected many of your jobs and income. Maybe you had planned on getting some work done on your vehicle but now your budget has changed. By staying in regular contact with your mechanic about repairs and maintenance due and your current budget, you can navigate together the best course of action, even if that means re-evaluating your initial plan to meet a change in budget. 

We are happy to help you tailor your vehicle’s next service appointment to your current budget. Don’t hesitate to reach out!

If you have any questions, concerns, or support during this unusual time, please get in touch with us. We want your vehicle to be safe and reliable but, more importantly, we want you and your family to be safe and well. 

-From The Mechanic’s Wife

Working from Home with Kids

Working from Home with Kids

As we watched from the other side of the world, we sent our “thoughts and prayers” to China as COVID-19 swept their nation this past December and into the new year. I, like many, thought, “Oh, that’s sad,” then moved on with our daily lives as the news drifted in and out of our fast paced lives. The virus quickly travelled west as Europe started putting up red flags – Italy getting hit especially hard. Various international business and parenting Facebook groups that I follow cried out as they were quarantined in their homes with their family – children especially going stir-crazy. These virtual group members supported them and offered ideas for passing the time and expending pent-up energy. 

March greeted us and the deadly virus was no longer on the other side of the world. It was in our backyard. Before we knew it, the Coronavirus lingered by our front door as it haunted our every move. We began to argue about it’s severity, about precautions, and whether the media is fear mongering.

Then reality hit. Schools, businesses, the entire entertainment industry – including the American’s beloved national and collegiate sports teams – shut down. Now so many of us, if we’re blessed enough to still have a paying job, are working from home – myself included. 

Our kids are also at home because childcare and/or schools are closed (again, our family is no exception), which poses a conflict. How can I be productive working from home when my kids are home? You’re probably also asking, since my kids are not in school, how do I keep them engaged in academic activities so that they don’t fall behind once schools open again? 

Social media has allowed these families to come together and support each other in schooling their children at home. Teachers have piped up and offered assistance. Many of these families have never considered homeschooling and never had the opportunity to learn how to teach a child, much less actually do it. Adding the need to be productive with your own work, this has been a major challenge for most families in the U.S. 

I feel modestly prepared to take on this task with my preschooler. Our life has not had a “normal” routine since he was born more than 3 years ago. I have never really “left” my job; I’ve switched back and forth between working from home and working at the shop. I’ve had to work full-time for the past 18 months while still having our son around for a good portion of the day. I’m fortunate that Andrew and I both have education degrees, tons of experience with kids, and come from families full of teachers. My mom and mother-in-law have especially been helpful, having decades of experience teaching preschool – elementary school children. 

In the time I’ve wandered back and forth between working from home and working at the shop with a toddler in my care, I’ve learned some great lessons that have made this full-time working and schooling from home a reasonably smooth transition.

1. Create a routine and stick to it

Think about what a normal routine was like for your child when they were in school and/or childcare. Write out that hourly routine and consider how you might replicate that at home. Just like you have a normal routine for your work-day, they also have a school-day routine that keeps them grounded and productive.

Older children may have been sent schoolwork packages to keep them on track with each subject in their curriculum, but what about electives and extra-curriculars? How many times a day did they have recess? Did they have a set reading or study time? What time did they eat lunch? What time did they get to school/come home from school? 

Like the older children, keep babies’ and toddlers’ snacks, lunches, and quiet times on a similar time schedule. Just because they don’t get tested or graded, doesn’t mean you should usurp learning activities. Keeping their minds engaged and challenged both keeps them occupied, learning and growing. Occupying them in something meaningful may allow you some precious moments to focus on your work while they’re occupied. 

The big difference for the younger kids is that their attention span is much shorter and they are less independent in learning tasks. Where you may be able to block out an hour for a 10-year old to engage independently in an activity or two (45 minutes engaged activity, plus instruction and wrap-up), I suggest keeping younger kids’ focused learning activities to a 30 minute time-slot (15-20 minutes engaged activity, plus instruction and wrap-up). Fill in gaps between structured learning with free play – playing is learning!

Believe it or not, kids actually thrive on order and routine, especially when things get a little out of whack. They might resist at first, but stay the course and be consistent. Provide this daily security during such an uncertain time.

2. Prioritize school routines and weave work throughout 

I know that you are doing your best to get the same amount of work done at home as you do in the office. With kids around, that is unlikely to happen (sorry!). However, you can set a new work pace and accomplish realistic goals if you are wise in how you manage your time. 

First of all, if you have two parents working from home at the same time (bonus!), you are more likely to be successful in your work goals if you coordinate responsibilities. Take turns in teaching and learning times with the kids. Figure out which subjects you each thrive in and divide them up. When one parent is with the kids, the other parent gets uninterrupted work time. If you plan well, even the parent working with the kids can sneak in some work while the children are focused on a task.

Secondly, plan your childrens’ schedule first, then sort out where you can fit your work priorities in that framework and what work tasks are best to do when. If you try to work your kids’ schedule around your work priorities, you are going to feel frustrated and agitated by your kids’ need for attention and end up spinning your wheels. On the other hand, if they are content and engaged in their work, you can manage your own time accordingly. For example, if my son is working on an art project, I know that I need to keep my attention on him, lest paint get all over my whole house, but I can probably be checking and responding to email during that time. I save my focused projects for when he’s engaged in play (i.e. play dough works miracles!) or napping. 

Finally, if there’s absolutely no way around needing some focused work time (i.e. you have a scheduled phone or video conference), don’t feel bad about a little extra TV time in the middle of the day. Find something that everyone agrees on and that, if possible, would be intellectually challenging for the kids. Afterwards, have a conversation with them about a moral or ethical conflict between characters or the good or poor choices a character made. I’ve been known to do this after my 3-year-old has watched the movie Cars for the thousandth time (Wow, Lightning McQueen was truly a selfish jerk until he met the folks in Radiator Springs!). 

3. Involve the whole family in the process.

I already mentioned having mom and dad trade teaching time if possible. If you have children of multiple ages, you can also involve the older children in helping to teach the younger children. Not only does it give you some extra space, but it’s actually really beneficial to the kids. The older kids get to reinforce and feel confident in what they already know. The younger kids learn to trust their older siblings and establish a positive bond in their relationship with them.

Make this uncharted adventure a group process – for older kids, have them share what their daily schedule is like and work together as a family to develop your “new for now” routine.  For younger kids, get to know what their favorite part of their school day is and prioritize that in your schedule. 

Take time to find out what your children want to learn about. Find times where you can all work and learn together about a subject that interests one of the kids and continue to take turns. You can also look at what they’ve been learning at school and make it a group project for the whole family. Get creative and make it enjoyable for everyone.

4. Use the resources you have around you. 

If you don’t have a set curriculum, work sent home by your child’s teacher, or your child is bored and/or getting done with their work too quickly, you might need to come up with some additional material. Or, if they are being overly challenged and getting stuck, they may need some assistance. With younger preschool or kindergarten age children, you may not have much teaching content to go off of. Parents, I’m here to encourage you that you are not in this alone

I know that many teachers are concerned about kids around the country who are not going to be able to keep up with learning and want to help. Reach out to friends and family to see if they know anyone who is certified in your child’s learning level who might be able to tutor them virtually. Reach out to your child’s school to find out what resources they have available to families. Even my son’s preschool is providing resources and help to keep their kids learning, growing, and connected with their friends from school. 

For younger children, like mine, you may feel like you are starting from scratch. Consider where they are developmentally, the kinds of work that was sent home from school in the past months (i.e. Were they going through letters in a certain order? Colors? Shapes? Reading a certain type of stories?) and replicate some of those activities – practice makes perfect and they won’t get bored doing the same activities a few times. If they have a favorite, let them keep doing it and find ways you can change it up every so often. Even taking more time each day to read to them, play with your child’s toys together, or involving them in activities at home (my son LOVES baking and cooking – we talk about amounts, texture, temperature, etc and it usually becomes a science lesson of sorts). 

Finally, there are tons of amazing resources out there. One that I love for children from infancy through grade school is Dad Lab (Google it! – there’s a book, a YouTube Channel, Instagram, Facebook group, etc) which has tons of great ideas. Take a subject that interests your child (Arthur is really into space right now) so we use that interest and incorporate letter sounds of the planets, simple math, colors, etc to supplement his learning. We go online and watch videos about planets and look for images to talk about. 

Embrace the now

As the old adage goes, use this time to make lemons into lemonade. It’s incredibly difficult to turn on the news or Google “COVID-19” and not wrap your mind around that fact that this is not a Stephen King novel that we’re living – it’s real life. Our kids don’t need to hold onto that fear any more than we do. You may even have a friend or a family member who is ill with this virus or has succumbed to its horror. Andrew encourages me repeatedly to take one day at a time. Today, embrace the time you get to be home with your children. 

Remember the first day you put them into child care or their first day of school and the ambivalent pull of emotions that made you burst with pride and mourn the parting all at the same time (you, too, dads!). Hold onto these moments that you get to be together. When your child is resisting the school lesson or you are pulling your hair out because you can’t concentrate on your work proposal, just stop. Stop and take a breath and remember that you are all in this together. Take a break from what you are doing and find something fun to do as a family. 

These circumstances won’t be with us forever. Just like how the country found a new normal after 9/11, we will find a new normal once schools and workplaces are open again and life will – and must – go on for the survivors.

– From the Mechanic’s Wife

The Mechanic’s Daughter

The Mechanic’s Daughter

She answered the phone with a smile. Sitting in our old paint-faded Corolla with my little boy in the back seat, the increasing vibration was really stressing me. The calm voice at the other end reassured me that Andrew had plans to sort it out. It’s not often I get stressed about the vehicles I drive because, after all, I am a mechanic’s wife, but cars need what cars need. Mechanic’s cars are no more immune to needing eventual repairs and maintenance and repairs than a hairdresser needs a haircut.

Over the past couple months Andrew and I have had a stretch of maintenance and repairs due on our vehicles. It may be a tad easier for us sometimes because of our business, but it’s still an investment in time and money to keep our vehicles in a safe and reliable condition. We still have to be intentional about caring for our cars.

That calming voice on the other end of the phone knows how it is. Victoria’s grandfather and father are both mechanics and she grew up around their auto repair shop in Olathe, Kansas – between Lawrence and Kansas City. We first met her when she brought her Grand Am to us with some frustrating symptoms. It was an involved process but we must have done something right because a few months later she trusted us enough to come back when she experienced a tire issue. During that visit she waited in the office for a little while, engaged with our three-year-old and shared some of her passions with me. At the end of the visit we mentioned that if she knew anyone, we were hiring. I also happen to mention that if she was interested herself <wink, wink>, we’d be happy to talk with her about it. 

She was a fit! Now if you need a reminder that your vehicle isn’t going to crumble underneath you (it really won’t!) and that we’re going to help you make the right decisions for you and your family, Victoria will be here to walk you through that process. She’s earned her Associates in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Valencia College and is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in business from UCF. She aspires to using her education, skills, and giftings to serve and help others.

I think that one reason she fits in so well is that, similar to Andrew – the oldest of five kids and homeschooled – Victoria was also homeschooled with three older siblings. They were both very intentionally taught the value of problem solving and hard work from a young age. We can see that work ethic in how she’s jumped into her role, is absorbing everything we’re teaching her, and decidedly stepping outside of her comfort zone in areas where she’s gaining new experience. 

The daughter of a nurse and a mechanic, a close knit family that spreads across multiple generations, a children’s theater actress at her church, a love of dancing, and her weekend job of modelling wedding dresses (Yes, that’s right. She’s a model. Of wedding dresses. Any young men out there? 😉 ), she can find a way to connect to just about anyone. She has a knack for helping people feel at ease when they walk through the front door or reach out by phone, text, and email. She’s well-rounded, bright, warm, and friendly, and we’re feeling very fortunate!

If you’ve become a friend of the Marinelli’s, you may be wondering what’s happening to me, the Mechanic’s Wife. Well, I’ve never really felt completely at home in the client service’s position and always hoped that we’d find just the right person to take on that side of things. I’m most passionate about and feel most equipped for marketing, communication, community engagement, and staff care. 

Beyond that, Andrew and I have a sweet and very intelligent little boy who needs more time with his mom and dad. He needs a mom who can stay home with him when he’s sick and give him a daily routine that’s more suited to a young boy. Victoria being on board is allowing that to happen. She’s just the beginning of some very exciting changes for us, which I’ll be sharing with you soon! 

-The Mechanic’s Wife

Stop Scheduling Oil Changes

Stop Scheduling Oil Changes

Are you unintentionally becoming best friends with your mechanic because your vehicle is in the shop so much? You go in for an oil change 2-3 times a year and then in-between you end up going back for maintenance and repairs. It really adds up! While we’ve connected at a friend-level with several of our customers, we’d rather continue that relationship over dinner than under their car. The good news is that there are things you can do to regain control over the time and money you spend on your vehicle.

Get Your Vehicle Inspected Regularly

One of the ways we serve our customers well is changing the conversation from, “What can we do for your vehicle?,” to “How can we serve you so that you feel good about your vehicle?” In other words, how can we help you develop a long term plan to feel safe and confident in the vehicle you are driving? 

The first part of the answer is to get your vehicle inspected regularly. We offer two types of inspections at our shop – Comprehensive and Maintenance.

The Comprehensive Vehicle Inspection (CVI) is meant to give a detailed overall picture of your vehicle so that you can make long-term plans and budget for repairs and maintenance. We look over your vehicle top-to-bottom and front-to-back with a fine-toothed comb. You get a list with priority rankings addressing safety and mechanical needs, maintenance due, and items to recheck or revisit  later. The CVI is recommended about every 3 years. 

The Maintenance Vehicle Inspection (MVI) is a smaller inspection that can be targeted toward specific vehicle systems or concerns and adapted from visit to visit. For example, the brakes may be a focus for one MVI, but if we then find all we need to know about the brakes, why bill you to look at them again the next time?  Rather, the prior inspection results can lead us to focus elsewhere on the vehicle. Maybe that next check focuses on the suspension. Or if we’ve already been there before, maybe the next inspection addresses nothing more than a battery test and checking on bulbs and wipers. Andrew likens the first MVI to giving your car a good handshake. It typically occurs at the same time as an oil change or other maintenance items due based on the vehicle’s age, mileage, and the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule. The MVI is recommended at least once a year, but ideally at every service visit (2-3 times a year).

Even if you already have a trusting relationship with a mechanic or do not live close enough to enjoy our services (although we do have people who drive an hour or more just to see us – all the more reason to make each visit count), you can still follow this general rule. Take your vehicle in for a thorough inspection every few years. For interim visits, ask your mechanic what is coming up on the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule and to look over any areas of concern (for example – tires, brakes, suspension, fluid levels.) Now, when your oil changes come due, plan a “service visit” for your vehicle rather than an “oil change.” The oil can be changed in conjunction with whatever other services are due, and if the car gets all that it needs in 2-3 service visits a year, you spend less time going to and from the mechanic shop and you minimize    “surprise” visits.

Save and Budget for Vehicle Maintenance and Repairs

If you are like me, you are checking your bank account and thinking that anything beyond an oil change seems like an expensive service visit! True, it might seem easier to pay for just an oil change at one visit, however, by keeping an accurate list of your vehicle’s needs, and keeping it short, you are setting yourself up to save money in the long run. (The “accurate” part of this is important; you want to be working with a shop that’s knowledgeable, competent and, we hope, caring). 

A small radiator leak now could evolve into loss of cooling system pressure and an engine-damaging overheat. Oil leaks can have a few ramifications, including contamination and deterioration of rubber components in the engine compartment. An overdue timing belt could break and, in many engines, can cause internal engine damage….and the list goes on and costs can build up quickly if you and your mechanic don’t stay on top of it. 

So, on the outset it could seem like it’s easier on your pocketbook to stick with “just” an oil change but when it comes down to it, you are saving yourself from more costly repairs tomorrow by keeping your vehicle maintained today by shifting your mindset to scheduling service visits. The question isn’t, “Should I?” but rather, “How can I?”

Andrew and I love to avoid debt, so we have set up different sub-accounts through our savings account for separate types of expenses. For example, we have a medical savings account to pay any doctor’s bills that might come up. One idea then, is to set up a savings account specifically for vehicle costs and pay into it monthly. For now, you can use it for maintaining and repairing your current vehicle and then, when it’s time to move on to a newer vehicle, you should have a healthy budget for which to purchase a reliable car or truck.

You need to figure out what works best for you so that you can know how much you need to budget each month for regular maintenance, repairs, and vehicle replacement. The information you get from a CVI and/or an MVI will give you a good basis by which to develop a reasonable budget. If done right, hopefully you won’t be forced to become best friends with your auto repair shop (unless you just really like them and want to invite them over for dinner, of course). Does this mean you will never have a problem with your car between visits? No, even new cars have a warranty for a reason, and it’s not possible to completely eliminate the potential for surprises. But a high-functioning shop can help limit the possibility of surprises, and we encourage you to look for that.

If you want to get started in this process, we’d be happy to help! If you can’t make the trip to Winter Park, Florida, start looking for a mechanic you can trust and build that relationship. Consider that an excellent shop can be well worth an hour-long trip to get there; especially if that shop helps to minimize the chance of vehicle problems in between service visits.

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