Category Archives: CLASSES & THINGS TO DO

MOMpreneur Monday: The Salt Suite

MOMpreneur: n. defined as a female business owner who is actively balancing the role of mom and the role of entrepreneur.

Happy Monday Modern Boca Moms! Welcome to our next installment of Mompreneur Monday on MBMom, highlighting Florida businesses and brands that were founded by female entrepreneurs and fellow Mommas.

MBM_MomprenuerMondays_500


Today’s featured MOMpreneur is the co-founder of the Delray Beach and Lake Worth locations of The Salt Suite, Jessica Helmer! Salt Suite South Florida!

 Salt Suite South Florida


I’m always intrigued when I find a business in South Florida that I haven’t encountered in New York City previously.  I mean, Boca’s Shake Shack is soooo 2010. 😉

I, like many others, consider NYC to be the center of the universe.  Therefore, anything that’s worth anything has ‘been done’ there first, right? Continue reading MOMpreneur Monday: The Salt Suite

Fun at the Boynton Beach Schoolhouse Museum & Learning Center

My two boys and I recently visited The Boynton Beach Schoolhouse Museum & Learning CenterMy sons just LOVE this museum because their Train Exhibit is second to none. Any #trainobsessed youngin’ is bound to be impressed!

I’m getting ahead of myself here…

Let’s start up front. This is where you are graciously greeted by the lighthouse manager, Hannibal Pierce. Some of the little ones may be a bit intimidated. It took a few visits for my boys to warm up to him.

Boynton Beach Schoolhouse Museum

He is a wealth of knowledge on all things concerning Boynton Beach, including where its name originated.

We hit the Boynton Beach Schoolhouse Museum first floor exhibits to learn all about farm life. The boys were able to milk the cows and drive the tractor. This is while they are learning all about fresh farm produce and its benefits. (My hippie heart skips a beat!)

Boynton Beach Schoolhouse Museum

Lo and behold, we always spend a large bulk of our time at the awesome Train Exhibit.

Boynton Beach Schoolhouse Museum

Equipped with all the “bells and whistles” (pun intended), there is a station where you may purchase your tickets and climb aboard! Needless to say, this is where the action happens.

The kiddies are able to shovel coal, greet passengers and even ring the bell! The train table is where the fun is. All the kids scramble to take their place at the table. And, all the “helicopter” parents claim their spot to keep a watchful eye on their tots.

I say this with love, I too was once a “hovercraft” myself, but I’ve now since been reformed.

Boynton Beach Schoolhouse Museum

Boynton Beach Schoolhouse Museum
This is what happens when you let them figure out how to share on their own. No hovering necessary!

Fun fact: The term “Helicopter Parent” was actually coined by the (in)famous Dr. Haim Ginott, child psychologist. He is also the author of “Between Parent & Child,” a book that reads like a parents’ love letter to children. It encourages Mom and Dad to communicate with their kids on a platform of mutual respect and dignity. He’s sort of the “Godfather” of the “gentle”, “conscious” or “human” style of parenting that is growing in the natural community today. You can find more on that topic HERE.

The Boynton Beach Schoolhouse Museum fun isn’t over yet though. There’s more to be had upstairs!

Upstairs is filled with more enjoyment for kids and parents alike. There is a tube maze for the little ones to run and play and learn all about amphibians. There are comfy seats for parents too. There’s also plenty of sailing fun at the boat exhibit and even a puzzle/sensory area for the really tiny tots.

Across the way on the second floor is a grocery store, gas station, post office and doctor’s office ready for imaginative play.

Boynton Beach Schoolhouse Museum

Boynton Beach Schoolhouse Museum

Boynton Beach Schoolhouse Museum

This is usually a big hit, but on this day, the boys were ready for lunch!

There is no eating or drinking in the Boynton Beach Schoolhouse Museum, so we headed to the “Stage” area outside. My kids were happy to pause and have a snack. There are plenty of cool spaces, benches or picnic tables in the surrounding parks around the museum. But, who can eat while looking at this????

Boynton Beach Schoolhouse Museum

We usually end our museum visit with a good time at the Kids Kingdom Playground with lots more imaginative and playful fun.

Growing up in today’s “tech age”, there are plenty of kid zones and play places that have battery operated toys, TV’s and even video games. Not to take away from the fun at any of these locations, but with the current over-saturation of “device-led play” and the addiction to said devices (said the mommy blogger…), it’s refreshing to find “plug free” zones where the possibilities are endless and imagination can run wild.

My goal at #CampMom this past summer has been to find as many of these natural playscapes as possible. It can be a bit tricky as it gets unbearably hot in the South Florida sun! But, places like The Schoolhouse Museum and their affordable Family Member Package make that possible. A membership purchased at the Schoolhouse Museum will also get you into a list of “sister” museums nearby such as:

• Boca Children’s Museum, Boca Raton
• Explorations V Children’s Museum, Lakeland
• My Jewish Discovery Place Children’s Museum, Plantation

Hopefully we will see you there next time!

Essentially Yours,

Erika

The Modern Boca Crunchy Mom


Have you been to the Boynton Beach Schoolhouse Museum & Learning Center?  Comment below about your experience!

The Great Boca Swim Lesson Debate

TRUTH TIME: I have been 50% excited and 50% dreading this swim lesson debate post.

It’s summer in South Florida and water safety is certainly an important topic, but I didn’t realize until #dailybabyavery and I started researching and trying out different local swim schools and teaching methods, how polarizing and scary this subject can really be among parents. The swim lesson debate is real! If you are a parent and you have already given this some thought, there’s never a better time to look into Thornhill private swimming lessons (if you live in this area of Canada) to get your kid familiar with the water and learn some important life skills.

You’ve been living under a social media rock if you haven’t seen the latest news about Turtle Power for James Edwards. Several of my featured businesses have either held or attended local fundraisers for James, who experienced a near-drowning in a pool and is currently recovering. Sadly, his story is probably more common than we realize.

So, I am willing to push forward and share my recent “swim lesson experiences” with you, Modern Boca Moms, in an effort to help you make more informed decisions about how you choose to teach your kids about water safety. Just as long as you choose SOMEONE (preferably a professional) to teach your kids about water safety.


However, I’m adding a disclaimer to this great swim lesson debate post: The following is my personal experience only. I am not a swim instruction expert and furthermore, not professionally endorsing any single method of swim lessons or water survival as they can all add value. It depends on your child.

MBMom was given two complimentary lessons at each South Florida swim school featured below in exchange for editorial consideration in this swim lesson debate feature. This is with the exception of Itty Bitty Swimmers, where I personally observed 3 lessons because of the method utilized (ISR).


Annette’s Swim School

The Great Boca Swim Lesson Debate

What You Need to Know:

  • No pressure swimming lessons focused on fun
  • Ages 6 months & up
  • Adapted Aquatics certification for special needs
  • American Red Cross CPR & First Aid classes available
  • American Red Cross Authorized Provider
  • Private & group lessons available at your pool or ours
  • Serving Boca Raton & surrounding area

The Great Boca Swim Lesson Debate

Located in West Boca, #dailybabyavery took two private swim lessons with Annette’s Swim School owner Annette Fuller. A mommy herself, she was very patient with us (it was our first lesson EVER) and held Avery’s attention with a combination of songs and interesting toys while teaching us various swim techniques.

The Great Boca Swim Lesson Debate

The pool where she instructs is outside, but beautiful and very quiet with a changing room/bathroom for Mom or Dad available approximately 25 feet from the pool. I appreciated that since I was in the water with #dailybabyavery and had to ditch my wet suit before even attempting to get in my car post-lesson.

One of the most important things I learned from Annette was to count to three before starting each swim technique. It signals to the child to get prepared or hold his or her breath. It’s also important to repeat each technique three times for consistency’s sake. I knew her swim lessons had some impact when I found myself singing the Annette “songs” at home when practicing in our own pool!

The Great Boca Swim Lesson Debate

Since it was Avery’s first set of lessons (and she cried most of the time as you can see below; which luckily I found to be pretty common among kids her age, phew! I’m not a bad mom!), I stuck around to watch some of Annette’s other students. She calls them her “little fishes” and that’s a pretty accurate description!

The Great Boca Swim Lesson Debate

The MBMom assessment?

If you want private lessons at her pool OR yours, Annette’s your girl. She has a devoted base of parents and kids and there’s a reason. I really enjoyed working with her.

She also provides all new parents/students with an informational packet, beach ball and “Water Watcher” whistle from the USA Swimming Foundation because Annette’s Swim School stands behind water safety and fully believes drowning is preventable. Amen.

Annette’s Swim School

www.annettesswimschool.com


Quality Swimming

The Great Boca Swim Lesson Debate

What You Need to Know:

  • Swim Lessons for all ages- Private & Group
  • Lifeguard and CPR Certified Teachers
  • 3 South Florida locations
  • Mission is to teach water safety and instill in all students a love for the water

The Great Boca Swim Lesson Debate

For the purpose of this post, #dailybabyavery and I attended two classes at Quality Swimming’s West Boca location (even though they have three), at a great pool attached a local preschool. During this round of testing, we attended one group class and one private lesson.

The Great Boca Swim Lesson Debate

The instructor, Michelle, was so friendly and welcoming. I really liked working with her in both the group and private settings.

But, I’ll be totally honest (and this has nothing to do with the swim school): Avery’s crying was basically cut in half when we attended the group class. It must be because she sees the other kids succeeding (or not), but I think group classes are the route we personally need to take going forward.

Back to Quality Swimming

Who knew an “obstacle course” could help with swim instruction? As you can see in the photos, there is a tunnel and specially built platforms so students can stand unassisted in the middle of the pool. It totally resonated with #dailybabyavery. #modernbocadad is even considering building one for our home pool!

The Great Boca Swim Lesson Debate

Again, this class used song and repetition to reinforce swim techniques, but it relied more on props to help teach…which was a good thing, especially for kids needing distraction, like Avery.

The Great Boca Swim Lesson Debate

The MBMom assessment? If Quality Swimming has been in business since 1986, then they’re doing something right. And, if you’ve noticed your child does better in a group setting vs. private, this is a good place to start. Plus, the lessons are a lot of fun! The only negative I could find is that there wasn’t easy access to a changing room for Mom or Dad. I noticed most of the other moms just throwing on a towel and shorts and heading out after class. It wasn’t a deal-breaker for me, but it’s worth mentioning.

Quality Swimming

www.qualityswimming.com


Itty Bitty Swimmers

The Great Boca Swim Lesson Debate

What You Need to Know:

  • Infant Swimming Resource’s (ISR) Self-Rescue™ swimming program is a 4-6 week course, scheduled 5 days per week, Monday through Friday, for 10 minutes each day

  • With a focus on safe, customized, one-on-one lessons by certified Instructors, ISR’s survival swimming lessons emphasize health, ongoing program evaluations and parent education to deliver the most effective and safest results in the industry

  • The ISR program is for children 6 months to 6 years of age

  • Lessons taught by Liz Goldring at the Peter Blum YMCA in Boca Raton

The Great Boca Swim Lesson Debate

ISR.

I’ve noticed that parents either embrace or are appalled by this method of swim instruction. After sending Liz Goldring, owner of Itty Bitty Swimmers, an introductory email telling her about what I was trying to accomplish with this post, she set me straight about ISR. And that’s a good thing!

I was intrigued and went to observe three classes for myself. However, I won’t lie when I say her email intimidated me…just a bit…

The Great Boca Swim Lesson Debate

Per Liz:

ISR was developed 47 years ago. We do not only teach children how to swim, we also teach them how to Self-Rescue (TM) should they find themselves in an aquatic emergency. ISR is much different than any traditional swim instruction for many reasons, but the biggest is safety. Becoming an ISR instructor is a very rigorous process. We are trained in many areas including precise behavioral observation, sensory-motor learning, anatomy, physiology, behavioral theory, proprioception, behavioral chaining, and many many more acute theories and practices. Of course all instructors are CPR and first-aid certified.

The Great Boca Swim Lesson Debate

The lessons are 100% tailored to each child and their pace of learning. Each day, the instructor will work with the child to progress through the program at their own pace.

The lessons are held 5 days per week, Monday through Friday for a maximum of 10 minutes per day. Yes, 10 minutes!

Why 10 minutes? Well, surprisingly, children will fatigue at or before 10 minutes of sensory-motor learning. One of our safety protocols is a vasoconstriction check throughout the lesson to measure fatigue (pressing on the surface of the skin). Once the vasoconstriction check shows we are at our max for the day we get out of the water. This is the safest for the child. Not only is it dangerous to teach a fatigued child, it is non-productive as well.

The program generally takes 30 consecutive lessons for children to master the skills of either Rollback to Float (children 6 months to 12 months and not yet walking) or Swim-Float-Swim (12 months and walking up to 6+ years old). A child is not considered skilled in either the FLOAT or the SWIM-FLOAT-SWIM until they are able to independently perform these skills both in swim attire and full clothing.

Now you can see why I was a tad intimidated, right?

However, reading all of that in an email versus seeing ISR in action (in person) was a totally different experience. It was pretty amazing and the kids were actively learning…in their first week even!

I give the parents credit. I am kind of a sucker when it comes to my baby crying (although I hear that dissipates after the first week or so), but the parents I witnessed were full on cheerleaders despite their child’s resistance (hesitation?) to the lessons. And clearly, Liz’s sense of calm and capability were the reasons they were so confident.

By the way? This kid was my hero. He was laughing and enjoying his entire lesson. I hope his mom is reading this swim lesson debate post.

The Great Boca Swim Lesson Debate

The Great Boca Swim Lesson Debate

The Great Boca Swim Lesson Debate

The MBMom assessment?

This is the most scientific of swim lessons if I’ve ever seen one. ISR is not for everyone…and I’m not referring to the crying, but the time commitment. You need to be able to get your child to his or her lesson 5 days per week for a month or more. That’s too much for many parents. But, the data is there. And HERE are some of the success stories.

It’s important to note that this was the only set of lessons I attended at an indoor facility. Rain or shine, 365, it’s swimming time!

P.S. #dailybabyavery was happy to have a little break during this round of swim instruction. I’ve been working her hard for this swim lesson debate post! 🙂

The Great Boca Swim Lesson Debate

Itty Bitty Swimmers

lizgoldring.infantswim.com/instructor


Finally…

I really hope that this swim lesson debate post has educated you a bit more about the various swim instruction options that are out there for you and your family. I wish this had been out there for me when I started doing my research!

But that’s the key: RESEARCH. Make sure you do some digging if you want to be a part of the swim lesson debate and ask other moms about their experiences! We’re all in this together and we all want our kids to be safe in and around pools in South Florida.


Now, I want to hear from you! Which local swim schools did I miss? Do you have a favorite? Sound off in the comments below on the great swim lesson debate!

Getting into Gumbo Limbo Boca Raton…

Being the true New Yorker that I am, I’m always secretly plotting my escape back to my “sacred city”. Although I constantly complain about South Florida’s humidity, or lack of exposure to culture and the arts. Or consistently compare all of Florida’s food to dining experiences in The Big Apple (let’s face it, have you ever had better pizza or pastrami anywhere else?), perhaps I’ve overlooked some of the pros the Sunshine State has to offer like Gumbo Limbo Boca Raton.

Since becoming a mom, I’ve started to really learn to see things in a different light. I mean the kind of light that’s broadens your awareness to all of the simple treasures each city brings to the table. In South Florida it is most certainly the Marine and Wildlife Preservation. More specifically in east Boca Raton, it’s The Gumbo Limbo Nature Center.

Gumbo Limbo Boca Raton

Over the past year we’ve frequented the Gumbo Limbo Boca Raton space learning all about Marine wildlife and falling in love with the baby sea turtles!

We always start out front just passed the parking lot with the stationary sea turtles, the boys just love getting to “ride” them.

Gumbo Limbo Boca Raton

We usually make our way from there straight to the tanks outside (remember to bring sunscreen!), there we can see the two large tanks with plenty of sea turtles, and starfish!

If you’re lucky you can catch the sea turtle feedings and learn plenty about all the different kinds of turtles there are. The staff is mostly volunteer based and all very knowledgeable.

Gumbo Limbo Boca Raton

Gumbo Limbo Boca Raton

Next to the tanks is the shipwreck with lots of fun! There are plenty of eel, stingray and hammerhead shark to watch, and again there are plenty of volunteers around to answer any questions you or your little ones may have.

Gumbo Limbo Boca Raton

On our most recent visit to Gumbo Limbo Boca Raton, we discovered the “Elevation Tower”.

One of the volunteers mentioned the long walk up the 39′ tower and how it would ensure a lengthy nap. Off we went (I may have sprinted)! Now THIS was cool!

There are different trails that you can walk (or run if you’re  one of my boys) that are completely covered in nature and all the creepy crawlers it has to offer, they were obsessed with all the different spiders and webs.

Gumbo Limbo Boca Raton

Once we hit the stairs we were climbing to the top! About halfway I heard a few complaints about needing a snack, but it was fairly easy to maneuver with two toddlers.

Gumbo Limbo Boca Raton

The view alone was well worth the wait! Couldn’t help but get someone to snap a pic of us three musketeers, I so rarely make an appearance I’m so busy snapping away!

Gumbo Limbo Boca Raton

Everyone was happy and enjoying the breeze, a lovely reward after trekking in the hot Florida sun.

Gumbo Limbo Boca Raton

After snack and water, (totally not allowed up there) and a few too many scary “whoa I’m falling” games with a nervous mommy, we were ready to take the trip back down to solid ground. But not after taking in the moment and remembering to “just be”. All too soon they will be grown up and busy with their own lives, I try to embrace all of these simple special moments and collect them. Finding local treasures like this has allowed us to do that.

As promised, when we hit the bottom level the boys were exhausted. I decided to head towards the exit/parking lot, but not before we hit up some more creepy crawler exhibits and activities.

Gumbo Limbo Boca Raton

We didn’t quite get the nap at home as hoped, but they did fall asleep in the car. At least it was long enough for this busy mom to eat a snack in the car before we were off on our next adventure.

Each time we go to the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center we discover something new. Can’t wait to see what we find next time!


Erika is a Write-at-Home Mom of two boys, Evan & Nate. A self professed Bookworm and Advocate for Play, she created a blog called Essentially Erika that follows her journey getting back to basics and discovering what’s essential.  

You can follow Essentially Erika on FacebookInstagram & Twitter.