Playroom Makeover – Create the Space Your Child Needs, Without Losing YOUR Mind!

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I found out I was pregnant with my firstborn the day we signed a one year lease for a one bedroom apartment.

We ended up sticking it out until we found a place we were really comfortable with– we found it when I was about 6 months pregnant. Too close for my comfort, but at last we found it. I fell in love with this quaint townhouse in a desirable neighborhood. Quite possibly for the playroom opportunities.

There was an awesome sized room right off of the kitchen, pretty centrally located in the home. I decided this was going to be a really “fun” room. Playroom planning began at about 4 months old (overachiever alert). I started to realize that everyone was willing to contribute to my madness and soon the toys just flowed in from friends and family members.

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The problem with this was that I didn’t have much say on what toys made the cut or not, and before long my beloved playroom was looking like a toy graveyard! I always knew I wanted to keep things simple “toy-wise”, and that less would be more.

It just seemed to get out of control so quickly.

Reading up on plenty of research over the years about the importance of “true play” and how commercialized childhood has become, I was determined to make a drastic change. The theory is that there are different types of play, each inspired and driven by the toys that are offered to the child.

“Imitation Play” is inspired by single-use toys such as Spiderman or any action figures, pistols from cowboy sets, swords from pirate play sets, etc.. These toys can only be used for a single purpose, so the opportunity for imaginative play is limited. A gun can only be a gun, a car that lights up only has one function and the fun can run out pretty quickly, therefore fostering a need for endless single-use toys to occupy a child’s time (See how this can be attractive to the toy industry?). “Imitation Play” takes place when a child is acting out a scene from a cartoon or movie, they are only repeating what was seen or heard. This isn’t pure creative play and doesn’t require much imagination, therefore isn’t exactly ideal for a developing brain.

“True Play” is encouraged with open-ended toys, such as blocks, erector sets, play dough, etc…

Open ended toys can be ANYTHING, therefore inspiring endless imagination and creativity. A stick could be used as a sword in an epic battle one moment, or as a Maestro’s baton while composing a symphony another. Play Dough can be formed into a worm one moment and then change into a train or a ball. The possibilities are endless and completely up to the child.

Toys as a whole are believed to be an introduction to children as parts of the world and parts of themselves. The materials we surround them with at the earliest stages in life set the stage for the type of environment they accept, and build around them as adults. The types of material we offer to them at such an impressionable age sends a message and communicates values that we wish to instill as parents.

If we surround a child with an endless supply of plastic, bright, shiny light up toys that require not much interaction from them and is completely disposable, can we really be upset with unmotivated, entitled children with no real sense of appreciation or responsibility? Hey, I didn’t do the research (don’t kill the messenger), but I have to say it all adds up for me and my family at least. I’ve definitely noticed a difference in the children of my generation and the technology-driven, disconnected adolescence I see in schools and on television today.

Anyhow, I decided it was time for a change and I slowly but surely removed everything battery operated or mostly plastic. I started by watching what they no longer played with and removed it from the room to see if they would notice it even went missing. Then, I started removing toys that served only a single purpose (most not all at once) and kept it outside of the playroom.

My next job was to give the room some functionality and “flow”. By observing the setup at a couple of my favorite play spaces at Sunflower Creative Arts or The Bees Knees in Boynton Beach, along with following a few of my favorite blogs for inspiration such as www.YouAretheRoots.com, www.TheKavanaughReport.com or www.ImagineOurLife.com. These are all women whom I admire and respect; they are incredible moms with wonderful blogs.

I get a lot of questions about our Tot School / Play Room area, so I’m going to give a tour / breakdown of this high traffic area of our home!

Tot School is all about learning through play and immersion. Its framework lies somewhere between Montessori and arts and crafts. It’s popular with our boys and really just gives us new fun and interesting ways for us to spend time being creative. I’ve acquired some additional shelving over time to accommodate the different activity trays / invitations to play. Here is an outside view of the room:

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The alphabet mural was a wonderful project that took quite a bit of time because I handpicked each letter separately and then had to paint them all. Pinterest has lots of different variations of this mural that I love. Pinterest can single-handedly end save my marriage depending on the week.

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The work bench is a great place they practice motor skills and its all just made up of different pieces they can create / build with, definitely a keeper! The bin on the side is filled with balls and their fave throwback dinosaurs they can pretend to ride to their hearts’ content.

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The chalkboard wall is always a hit, every couple of months I slap on a new coat for their blank canvas and see how it develops over time. I figured if I gave them a place they were allowed to draw on the walls, I would limit the accidents of them actually drawing all over my walls. This has worked, to some degree. There were a few minor incidents, but hey it’s part of the process! I also have their puzzle basket and the infamous Montessori Pink Tower. They absolutely love this tower and can play with it for hours.

I knew I had wanted a “Cozy Corner” where they could nestle up and “read” books. They have one at Sunflower that the kids love and I wanted to re-create that quiet space here at home. I found some on Pinterest called a “Book Nook“, I keep it close to the books and some fun little ‘touch n feel” books in a basket as well.

Next up are the shelves…

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Here I have some of the Montessori materials such as the Cylinder Sequence Blocks, Zipper Practice Board, Alphabet Box and Number set. These grow with the boys and they delve into new ways of approaching them each time. I added a globe for some of the matching trays I plan on tackling this year and of course STUFF, which is mostly finger paint. I keep the “class plant” here as well. It aides in teaching responsibility and the difference between “living” and “non-living” objects.

The middle shelves are where we keep books and some toys that are great for play like wooden blocks, lacing beads, art supplies like crayons, colored pencils, glue and paint brushes. All accessible to them as they need. As well as a few goodies like their fave truck and a basket with all of their dinosaurs and animals. Mostly Toobs from Safari Ltd. that are a hit with us!

It’s also home to our “class pets” Henry & Maury (R.I.P. Percy), our hermit crabs.

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The rest of the shelves hold Instruments and their Super Sorting Pie, along with another favorite truck and their erector set. These all get switched out as I put out trays for a new week of adventures.

Up top is the Montessori inspired crayon sorter, these are actually Del Monte fruit cup cans that I was able to clean out and paint, then screw onto a piece of 2 x 4. (Yes I did buy the fruit cups and dump out the sugary processed fruit, all in the name of a crafty project!)

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They also have their own music corner (just like Mommy) next to their instrument basket, piano and record player. Many a jam sesh is enjoyed here!

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Alas, the infamous train table! Where all the action goes down.. I love that their obsession at least requires them to use their imagination building new tracks every day and working together to create new scenarios.

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Did I mention the wonderful storage options this provides? #ThriftyMomScore for $35!

Over on the Art wall, is the Kitchen Set. This beloved natural all wood kitchen is home to hours of creative play and plenty of “birthday pies” for Mommy. (Don’t even ask how long this took to build on Christmas Eve.)

On this wall, we display any art or pictures that mean something to the boys; they do get to choose which makes this space even more special.

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Here they’ve chosen their geometric tape art projects and Evan’s Seedlings class picture. They also have an original painting by #MBCDad and a sweet picture of Evan on his beloved trike in his pajamas (my favorite).

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Throughout the space I’ve tried to help incorporate bits and pieces of themselves, personal touches that make it feel like its truly their space. The “Play” sign that they helped to paint, or the picture gallery of some of their play time together. The hanging art display where they dry their art or just proudly display which piece they wish that day. This space is constantly evolving, because they are constantly growing and changing.

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I wanted a safe space at home where they could do so freely, creatively and expressively. In my research, I’ve found plenty of articles supporting the theory that the window for the most creative and expressive time in a child’s life is in the first six years, coincidentally the same time frame in which compassion and empathy are taking form in a child’s development.

I don’t want to spend that time cramming facts, shapes, colors or even reading and writing techniques down their throat. I hope to instead provide a space where they can learn about themselves, strengthen their creative muscles, fall in love with life and hone their craft whatever that may be.

You only get one childhood, I intend on letting them have it. It’s a sacred space that shouldn’t be tainted with ulterior motives, adult agenda or coercion. The way I see it, they have the rest of their lives to feel the pressures of fitting in and doing what is expected of them. Even then, I hope they follow their dreams because they took the time to learn what those dreams were early on. Because they were allowed the time to truly be themselves and learn what it is that makes them shine.

What would you like to change about your playroom? Tell me about it!

Essentially Yours,

Modern Boca Crunchy Mom


If you would like some more information on the effects the toys you introduce may have on your child you can check out this article at: http://www.becomingminimalist.com/why-fewer-toys-will-actually-benefit-your-kids/

You can also check out the following books:

The Case for Make Believe or Consuming Kids both written by Susan Linn
Taking Back Childhood by Nancy Carlsson-Paige
The Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv Continue reading Playroom Makeover – Create the Space Your Child Needs, Without Losing YOUR Mind!

MOMpreneur Monday: CHARM (Children are Magical)

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

Welcome to our next installment of MOMpreneur Monday on MBMom. This is where we highligh Florida businesses and brands that were founded by female entrepreneurs and fellow mamas.


Today’s Modern Boca MOMpreneur is Jaclyn Stapp, founder of CHARM (Children are Magical). This group aims to heighten awareness of children’s issues. They also provide underprivileged youth with the tools for a fulfilling future through education, encouragement and valuable resources.

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We are officially entering the season of GIVING MBMoms, so today we would like to introduce you to an awesome non-profit organization right in our own backyard: CHARM (Children are Magical).  

CHARM derives its inspiration and purpose from its MOMpreneur founder’s own life experiences. She was one of five siblings raised by a widowed single mother. Jaclyn experienced firsthand the dilemma of ‘need’ with few available resources. Yet, she had a passionate calling to meet needs of other families around her in similar circumstances.


Hi Jaclyn! Tell us a little bit about your family & philanthropic background pre-CHARM…

The greatest mentor in my life is my mother, who has been the living inspiration throughout my growing years. She raised me, my sisters and brother while also teaching us to give time and service to others. My mother embraced opportunities for creating a better life for herself and her family.

No matter our own need, we were always raised to be grateful for what we had and find ways to give back.  

Jaclyn and her mother

I have paid that example forward with my own children, encouraging them to give back and to mentor others. They have been part of my work with Ronald McDonald House and National Voices for Equality, Education and Enlightenment.

Traveling around the world, I have always been compelled by children and family issues. 

So why start your own charitable organization?

CHARM (Children are Magical) began because I wanted to meet needs in my own neighborhood.  Whether it was by helping someone with groceries, homework or providing simple family services. I have become more and more aware of those needs, especially those of children and families throughout my life.

Volunteering at children’s hospitals, schools, and feeling the impact that crises can have on children and families—a crisis like Japan’s tsunami or perhaps a family losing their housing or the opportunity to attend school—big and “not so big” crises can be devastating. 

My purpose for CHARM is to create a point of contact where children and families can be supported with encouragement, tools and valuable resources in connection with other agencies. This allows them to rebuild a stable home and successful future, despite the situations they face.

What sets CHARM apart from other non-profits?

CHARM is unique because I have a personal commitment to give every child and family ownership of “hope and a drive to succeed. We make that possible through collaborative partnerships with other agencies, a sort of “one-stop” connecting point for building a better family together.

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What are your goals for CHARM?

My focus is to nurture CHARM and grow it nationally. It all begins by realizing the needs around you and South Florida is a blessed community in many ways.

Still, there are so many needs, and so many ways to help, within a few miles of every community. I recently visited with young mothers in Lancaster, PA who slept in their cars with their children after losing housing.

There are all kinds of needs that often go unnoticed in every part of the country, in every neighborhood. 
What exciting things are coming up for CHARM?

We have partnered with Mason Harlie to create “I AM STRENGTH” bracelets, with proceeds benefiting CHARM. There are also other levels of contribution through our website, www.childrenaremagical.org. 

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We’re thrilled that you launched in South Florida! What do you love about living and growing your non-profit in our area? 

South Florida is a wonderful area for raising a family, which is why so many families choose to live and work here.  That commitment to family, family values and stability is a wonderful reason for the local community to lend support to CHARM. Our vision and focus is dedicated to building stable, safe, nurturing environments. Children can reach for their dreams, and find strength, skills and empowerment to make them come true.

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Connect with CHARM (Children are Magical) on Facebook and Twitter!

Learn more about how you can help at: www.childrenaremagical.org.

The Ribbon is CUT! What’s NEW at Boca VIPediatrics?

Sponsored Boca VIPediatrics Ribbon Cutting WM


Boca VIPediatrics is OFFICIALLY open for business…that is according to the Boca Chamber of Commerce and friends and family who helped Dr. Chad Rudnick and his Mompreneur wife Ashley Rudnick celebrate their grand opening and ribbon-cutting on October 30th!

Modern Boca Mom was invited to attend the party and it truly was a community affair.

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Dr. Rudnick even took the time to take a selfie with moi!

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We tried!

And then the ribbon was cut, which meant it was time for MBMom to ask what was NEW at Boca VIPediatrics! 

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Luckily, Ashley their VIP Director, filled me in.

  1. There’s a new monthly payment plan! You don’t have to foot the entire annual membership fee at one time. “The new monthly payment plan is comparable to a cable bill or daily Starbucks (you’re busted Modern Boca Moms!), but you get your family’s own private pediatrician that is always on call to answer your questions, 24/7.”
  2. The membership is all-inclusive. “What a lot of people don’t know is that the membership fee is all-inclusive of all sick and well office visits, vaccines, house calls, and 24/7 access to reach Dr. Rudnick via his cell phone. There are no copays. So it works out to be a predictable cost for ALL your child’s healthcare, and your insurance is used for more serious or in-depth care or prescriptions (hospitalizations, labs, x-rays, etc.).”
  3. You only need your insurance for the big stuff… “Similar to car insurance, which you wouldn’t use for routine things like oil changes or flat tires, only the big things go through insurance. This way, we can provide the BEST possible care for our patients, and we’re never incentivized to do things TO our patients, rather FOR them, without an insurance company telling our patients what’s covered and what’s not. It’s nice for our VIP families to know that they have unlimited sick or well visits, and they’ll never get a bill from us or their insurance company for our care.”

Since their grand opening in July, Boca VIPediatrics has had an overwhelming response from the community for accessible, convenient, and affordable pediatric care. Concierge pediatric care. In fact, they are drawing near to reaching their patient cap!

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Ashley told MBMom, “Our VIPs tell us that their favorite feature is being able to use a “virtual visit” or send a text and save an office visit by having their child’s issue evaluated on the spot. Whether it’s FaceTime to listen to a cough or take a look at a rash, a text message that asks about medication dosage, an email that asks, ‘Hey, is this a good baby product?’, or a phone call any day of the week that allows moms to speak directly to Dr. Rudnick about any concerns they may have about their child from eating, to sleeping, to behavior, and most importantly, staying healthy.”

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She went on to say, “The national average of time spent with a doctor is 8 minutes. In our practice, we block out an entire hour so you never have to feel rushed to ask questions. Of course, if you want to be in and out, we can do that too! With our very cozy staff of just 3, we want to take the time to get to know all of our families so that you get the “small town” doctor’s office feel.”

“The house calls have also been a big hit with our VIP families. The house calls are done for urgent after-hours care and also for the first newborn exam, and we have saved many an ER trip by offering this service to our VIPs. The statistic is 1 in 5 kids end up in the ER every year – which is pretty staggering. If we can save a family from having to go to the ER by being available after-hours for a house call or office visit, the family has saved not only the traumatic experience of being in an ER, but hours of waiting and potentially thousands of dollars,” said Ashley.

That is unbelievable to me (but verified by Dr. Rudnick and Google!).

After speaking with Ashley, Dr. Rudnick and several attendees at the ribbon-cutting celebration, this Modern Boca Mom now believes that Boca VIPediatrics is bringing a much needed change to the pediatric health care industry, right here in Boca!

Hey, you have to start somewhere…


Sponsored: This post was sponsored by Boca VIPediatrics. All opinions expressed in this blog post are my own and not influenced in any way by the sponsor.  Any statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with provider. Please refer to this site’s Disclosure for more information. 

Pull Up a Seat at Farmer’s Table Boca Raton

Sponsored

Farmers Table WM


When I ponder dining out in South Florida…Boca Raton especially, I dream of fresh organic and locally-sourced food, craft cocktails and eating outside. Bonus points if there’s a pool nearby!
Which is why as we approach the Thanksgiving season, I am grateful for Farmer’s Table.
For a few reasons…read on to find out what they are! 

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Love this place! Skirt by Kiki*C

Modern Boca Mom was invited to sample their fall menu last month and it did not disappoint. It’s not surprising considering that Farmer’s Table has won several dining awards AND it’s completely packed every night.
Now with “season” in full swing, I’m pretty sure we’ll need to book our reservations a week or more in advance!

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I invited my lovely sister Lauren to join me and of course we started off with their amazing signature cocktails with fresh ingredients.

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Cucumber Cooler 

Crop Organic Cucumber Vodka, Fresh Cucumber
& Mint Lemonade, Splash of Gingerale

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Razzmatazz Martini

Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka, Fresh Raspberries,
Shrub & Co Grapefruit Syrup, Agave Nectar,
Sparkling Soda

It was so nice, #ModernBocaAunt ordered the Razzmatazz TWICE!
The service was great and our waiter recommended the Shrimp & Roasted Corn Flatbread to start along with an order of Chicken Meatballs. Is your mouth watering yet? And that’s just the appetizers…

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Few people realize that not only is Farmer’s Table an amazing stand-alone restaurant (keep reading for an exclusive announcement below), but it also functions as the Wyndham Boca Hotel’s special event catering source, serving the same quality food to event guests as they do in the restaurant.
That means main courses like THIS:

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Braised Prime Short Rib with Brussels Sprouts, Organic Yam Mashed, Black Skillet Wine Sauce

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Bison Chopped Steak with
Yukon Gold Steak “Fries,” Edamame
Corn Succotash, Mushroom Dem

That is NOT your typical wedding food…
And how can you forget dessert? I chose the mini vegan cupcakes (I like tiny desserts) and my sister went with carrot cake. Again, delish.
And somehow I still felt ‘healthy’ treating myself! That’s a win in this MBMom’s dining book.

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Farmer’s Table Philosophy
“Our commitment to fresh, honest food begins with sourcing exceptionally clean ingredients from the best local farms so we know exactly where and how everything is produced. We believe the preparation and creation of a dish is just as important as the taste, which is why our focus is real food: fresh, healthy, delicious, satisfying dishes without excess fat, sodium or preservatives.” 
“We call our cuisine “feel good food” for several reasons. First, it’s good for you: nutritious and nourishing to the body without depriving you of flavor or satisfaction. Furthermore, it’s good for the community, as we support local farmers and artisans. Finally, it’s good for the planet, because we use eco-conscious purveyors and also implement environmentally friendly practices in our kitchen. Our food energizes the spirit and satisfies the senses, supporting the wellness of people and the planet.”

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Farmer’s Table will be launching a NEW Private Dining Room in late December for special occasions– wedding rehearsal dinners, birthday parties, corporate events and banquets for all occasions. And like I said in my last post about the Wyndham Boca, they have a beautiful event center upstairs for larger events, and smaller venues for private dining as well.
#dailybabyavery loved it when we took her to visit earlier this year. 🙂

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And here’s my favorite part/the special announcement I teased:

Soon, they will have a POOLSIDE BAR (!!!), so you can enjoy drinks right by the pool and/or in the outside lounge area. SCORE!

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The fun thing about Farmer’s Table that I hear is many people go back night after night so that the restaurant begins to feel like home: everyone says ‘hi’ to each other, and it just feels comfortable and home-y!
The next time you have a special occasion, think about celebrating at Farmer’s Table! I really feel like it has become my go-to, community restaurant. Don’t you want to experience what everyone is talking about?

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Sponsored: This post was sponsored by the Wyndham Boca Raton. All opinions expressed in this blog post are my own and not influenced in any way by the sponsor.  Any statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with provider. Please refer to this site’s Disclosure for more information. I have been compensated or given a product or service free of charge, but that does not impact my views or opinions.

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