Friday, May 29, 2015

Planning For Your Child's Future - Florida Prepaid College Board

All the planning in the world cannot prepare you for parenthood. Part of being a mom or dad is learning to "dance the dance" as they say. That tricky balance of knowing when to hold on and let go. Thinking ten steps ahead, only to learn you will eventually have to go with the flow. There are so few things that are guaranteed or absolute on this parenting journey. I find security in planning for the moments I can expect, while learning to ride the wave of the unknown. Part of that planning includes a college fund for my boys.

Growing up without a college savings plan in place for myself, there was no assurance I would get to attend the school of my choice, even if I was accepted. Part of this left me with an unsteady feeling that I hope to avoid with my children. It's driven me to want to start planning, and start it early. Growing up I watched  my mom work tirelessly to return to school and struggle with debt from school loans.

May 29 is National 529 day and Florida Prepaid is trying to increase awareness about college savings and the Florida 529 Savings Plan. Student loan debt has reached $1 trillion nationally. Today, many graduates are facing the workforce strapped down with thousands of dollars in debt.

What is Florida Prepaid?

Florida Prepaid is the largest, longest running and most successful prepaid program in the nation and we are here to help Florida families understand the importance of investing in education and make it is easy to do so. Florida Prepaid offers two types of savings options: Prepaid Plans and 529 savings plans. There are five different types of Prepaid Plans, and they can only be purchased during Open Enrollment (which usually runs from Oct.-Feb.).Every college savings plan opened with us represents an investment in a child’s future, and in our state. 

What is a 529 Savings Plan?
529 savings plans are named after section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code 26 U.S.C. § 529 and are designed to encourage saving for future higher education expenses of a designated beneficiary. Many states offer 529 savings plan options, including Florida Prepaid. Florida 529 Savings Plan can compliment a Florida Prepaid Plan and provide a tax benefit on other college costs.

Money from a 529 plan can be used for tuition, fees, books, supplies and equipment required for study at any accredited college, university or vocational school in the United States and at some foreign universities. The money can also be used for room and board, as long as the fund beneficiary is at least a half-time student. Off-campus housing costs are covered up to the allowance for room and board that the college includes in its cost of attendance for federal financial-aid purposes. Qualified education expenses do not include student loans and student loan interest. There is legislation currently going through Congress that will expand the qualified expenses.

The Florida 529 Savings Plan
The Florida 529 Savings Plan can be started at anytime and only requires a $25 initial deposit to open. Even if you can’t save for your child’s entire college education, starting something is always better than doing nothing. The funds in a Florida 529 Savings Plan can be used for any qualified higher educational expense, including tuition, room & board, textbooks, graduate school and much more. This gives you extreme flexibility to use the funds as you see fit, for whatever your child may need. And should those needs change during his/her college years, individuals are free to adjust as well.

The Florida 529 Savings Plan offers you the ultimate in flexibility. Simply choose from the investment options, then contribute as much and as often as you’d like to suit your budget and goals. Each investment option, such as our popular age-based option that automatically allocates contributions based on the age of the child, is independently run by professional investment managers. There are 11 investment options let you invest in any way you feel comfortable. From more aggressive to more conservative options, and with age-based and fully customized approaches, you have as much control as you want over how much you invest and where it’s invested. And as the years go by, you’re free to change contribution amounts and how they are allocated at any time. 

Click HERE to start planning for your child's future today!

Essentially yours,


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

LEGOLAND Florida Hotel & Theme Park - Where Imaginations Run Wild!


LEGOLAND Hotel Florida is open just in time for some summer fun! Read all about what they have to offer and check out some awesome photos of all things LEGO here on Modern Boca Mom.

Essentially yours,

Friday, May 22, 2015

Donate Stuff & Create Jobs - Enter to Win $100 Giveaway!

Disclosure: This giveaway is sponsored by Bloggin' Mamas. I was not financially compensated for sharing this information. Win a $100 Amazon Giftcard

Donate stuff. Create jobs.

There’s never a bad time to clear the clutter out of your home or garage or to do a wardrobe purge. When you donate your stuff to Goodwill, the revenue from the sale of your donations helps fund job training and placement opportunities for people with disabilities and disadvantages directly in your community. That’s cleaning with a purpose.
Goodwill in currently running the “Donate Stuff. Create Jobs” campaign. Thanks to the programs and support services made possible by donations of clothes and household items, more than 261,000 people earned jobs in 2013 – that’s one person finding a job every 27 seconds of every business day. So you’re literally donating your stuff AND helping to create jobs.

 Check out this quick PSA: You can even calculate how much your donation helps your local community by using Goodwill’s Donation Impact Calculator. Simply input the items you’re donating to calculate the number of hours of career counseling, on-the-job training, résumé preparation, financial planning classes, and other services you’ve helped provide someone facing challenges to finding employment.

We’ve all seen those shopping haul videos and photos on blogs and social media. In fact, several of my friends make them about their thrift shop finds from Goodwill.  But we would love to see a “Reverse Haul” video or photo that shares what you plan to donate instead using #DonateStuffCreateJobs.

Share a video or pictures of the items you plan to donate and use the donation impact calculator to let the world know how many hours of on-the-job training you could be creating with your used stuff – stuff that doesn’t help anyone when it’s stuffed in the back of your closet or under your bed.   

 Bloggin' Mamas is supporting the Ad Council in spreading the word about Goodwill®, by sponsoring this $100 Amazon Giftcard Giveaway. It runs 5/19/15 12:01am EST through 6/2/15 at 11:59pm EST, and is open to US residents 18+. ENTER BELOW! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Alex's Lemonade Days - Fighting Childhood Cancer, One Cup At A Time!

When I first started planning my son's first birthday, we decided in lieu of gifts we wanted party-goers to donate to St. Jude's Cancer Research. We wanted to use the opportunity to help a worthy cause. There are few things more cruel than having to watch your child battle a beast such as cancer. To continue that support we are encouraging you to participate in Alex's Lemonade Days. An annual event that takes place June 12th - 14th, and we'd love for you to join us in helping to fight childhood cancer, one cup at a time!

Lemonade Days is held each year during the second weekend of June - the time of year when Alex always held her lemonade stand - to honor Alex and all of our childhood cancer heroes.

Meet Alexandra "Alex" Scott:
Alexandra "Alex" Scott was born to Liz and Jay Scott in Manchester, Connecticut on January 18, 1996, the second of four children. Shortly before her first birthday, Alex was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a type of childhood cancer.  A day after her fourth birthday, Alex received a stem cell transplant and informed her mother, "when I get out of the hospital I want to have a lemonade stand." She said she wanted to give the money to doctors to allow them to "help other kids, like they helped me." That year with the help of her brother she raised an amazing $2,000 for "her hospital." News spread of the remarkable sick child dedicated to helping other sick children. People from all over the world, moved by her story, held their own lemonade stands and donated the proceeds to Alex and her cause. 
In August of 2004, Alex passed away at the age of 8, knowing that, with the help of others, she had raised more than $1 million to help find a cure for the disease that took her life. Alex's family - including brothers Patrick, Eddie, and Joey - and supporters around the world are committed to continuing her inspiring legacy through Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.

Since Alex’s first front yard lemonade stand, there have been more than 20,000 ALSF lemonade stands held across the country and world. Alex’s Lemonade Stands make a meaningful difference at any time of the year, however Lemonade Days is a time when supporters join forces and hold stands simultaneously to be a part of their largest annual fundraiser.

To participate and host a Lemonade Stand of your own, visit and register by June 5, 2015 to request a free fundraising kit and to access downloadable materials for your lemonade stand. The kits include needed materials; posters, banners, thank you notes, fundraising tips, and more.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Play It Forward!

Being a mom to two Seedlings at the Sunflower Creative Arts program, I am a HUGE advocate for P L A Y. Naturally, when I heard the Palm Beach County Boys & Girls Club had a "Play It Forward'"campaign I was interested in helping out.

May 4th the Boys & Girls Club launched the “Play it Forward” program, which encourages donations of gently used or new sporting and gaming goods for use at the 13 Palm Beach County-area Boys &Girls Clubs this summer. This exciting drive will serve over 6,000 boys and girls between the ages of six and 18 by providing them with gently used sports equipment and game consoles. 

Summers days in South Florida are long and hot, so there is plenty of need for indoor and outdoor game equipment. Children outgrow equipment so quickly it's easy to dig up something that no longer suits their age range.
I've already started rummaging through the boys Play Room to find equipment to donate. This is also a great opportunity to lead by example and show your kids the importance of "Playing It Forward." The Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County are committed to keeping children happy, active and safe during the long summer months. For drop off locations and more info you can visit Play It Forward online.

Essentially yours,


Monday, May 18, 2015

Love Is Sweet.. A Toast to Ten Years of Marriage!

The appropriate gift on your tenth wedding anniversary is supposed to be tin. At least, that's what they say. Before my husband and I became parents, we had all kinds of different ideas for our first big milestone anniversary. In the old days (pre-kids) we would make a habit of going away to celebrate. We purposefully got married in April not only for the incredible weather pretty much everywhere, it's a great time of the year for travel (I also saved on flowers for the wedding, everything was in bloom!) Since the kids are so young, and we're not ready to be away from them for an extended period of time, we decided on an anniversary gathering.  "Shabby Chic" was the theme, it's all about the burlap and lace! We decided to keep it really small and simple, mostly bridal party and family were invited.

I've always loved crafting, I can't help but throw myself into whatever event I land upon, the devil is in the details people! When I started gearing up for my wedding ten years ago a planner was born! I literally bought a book titled, "Fire Your Wedding Planner." I dove head first and didn't come up for air until the day of the wedding (barely). The fun part for me is creating all the tiny details.  For my our wedding I just about made everything from scratch, I've spent many a night hot gluing myself to stuff, all in the name of love of course!
Who doesn't love a take-out box favor?

Customized Programs
Place Card Table
Customized Place Cards & Holders
Bridal Bouquet of Roses and Stefanotis
Cake Table

Ten years ago you had to work with your florist to create bouquets from scratch as well as discuss cake designs and concepts with your baker. Before Pinterest started improving parties across the world, crafty folks were forced to get uber creative and use their imagination. It was all about web surfing, magazine clippings and inspiration boards. On any given day I could be found hoarding swatches of fabric, hot glue and perhaps some bows here and there. I loved every minute of it and it was all worthwhile, our wedding was fantastic and there wasn't a cloud in the sky! And yes, I did consult the Farmer's Almanac to check and see what time the sun would be setting on my wedding day so that I could be sure and get the sunset in all of our wedding photos (quit judging me).

Don't get me wrong, I'm a sucker for Pinterest and pulling ideas from where I can. There's just a rush I get when I've created something I've never seen anywhere before. That's one of the reasons I love Crafster, an awesome crafters site with plenty of incredibly original ideas from some insanely talented people.

For the tenth anniversary party I decided to take a back seat and get some decorations from some of my favorite Etsy shops and share them all with you! Etsy is a wonderful site where you can support local shops with local goods for sale (a great tool for all you budding party planners trying to step up your game!)

Let's talk invitations.. We had scheduling issues so the invitations were actually sent very late but nevertheless they were adorable! Proteus Marketing & Design provided these mason jar invitations that were too cute to pass up! They were double sided with a really cool linen effect that blended perfectly with the party decor.

Speaking of decor...

The awesome Amanda of Chalkity Chalk made us this lovely chalk sign we kept on display. I love how it ties into the invitations! We decided to go with lots of candlelight to keep the mood intimate and romantic. The rustic appearance of the candle holders from The Birch House Market went perfectly with our "Shabby Chic" vibe. I purchased garden stakes from the Dollar Store (score!) to hang mason jars and candles along the walkway with the gorgeous lace rosettes hand crafted by the talented Sunshower Flowers. The picture unfortunately does not do these justice, they are so delicate and ornate, perfect for any occasion!

Guests were encouraged to sign our "Guestbook," our vintage type writer picked up at a thrift shop last year. We chose organic popcorn as favors and thanked everyone for "popping by."
This beautiful vintage burlap/lace garland from The Pickled Peanut was just right to help decorate our vintage Baldwin piano. I'm thinking we should have called this the "Vintage Shabby Chic" theme (there seems to be a pattern here).

Just next to the favor display was the bar. In keeping with the flow, we offered our guests their pick of a mason jar with tags to fill out so they could keep their glass. We served the red wine in moonshine jugs and the hard liquor in these awesome vintage (there it is again) "genie in a bottle" type colored decanters. The adorable 'DRINKS' sign with jute was provided by the Lace, Twine & Burlap shop and the cool straws were from Party Paper Straws. It's always fun to serve a signature cocktail for your party, this time around we went with a Raspberry Moscato Sangria, it was dee-lish! 

Whenever I am entertaining, I call on my good pals over at Naked Wines for a case of the good stuff. They have an awesome program and you get $100 off of your first case! #MBMWineClub

Now that we've got the drinks covered, let's move on over to the sweets!

 The incredibly talented Brandy's Bites provided the delicious red velvet cake and the insanely moist carrot cupcakes! How cute is that mason jar design???

The "Sweets" table was adorned with tiny wooden cylinders in keeping with the rustic theme. We kept our thermal signature plate from our wedding all these years and our guests had fun finding their personal messages from ten years ago. The burlap cake banner came from Rustic Daisy Designs and the burlap "Love is Sweet" banner was provided by Bridget from At Company B. This particular fabric garland from Liquid Stars Fabric Creations & More was perfect for the dessert table, it was just long enough and the beautiful color and patterns don't photograph nearly as good as it looked in person.
Who can resist balloons wrapped in tulle?
The key to any party is knowing who to invite. Keeping it close and personal for this occasion was just the right move. We wanted to relive some memories with close friends and family that have watched us grow as a family over the years. This way we could spend more one on one time with everyone and perhaps even enjoy a little jam sesh at the end of the night!

This cool sign was provided by SoCal Wedding Gal.
The gorgeous pink and mint colored backdrop was created last minute by the lovely Chrissie at Party Paper Scissors, she is a busy mom and she still found the time to create this custom banner for our party! The lovely "10" banner from Raw Edge Sewing Co. on the right was filled with such detail and we loved having this over our food table. We kept the food light, just appetizers and desserts is all you need! Mmmmm...
Adorable Heart Garland by 10 Paper Lane.

It doesn't matter which way you go when celebrating your special anniversary. Whether it be a lavish two-week trip to Hawaii (how I miss you Maui), or a small gathering of friends and loved ones that may or may not end in spontaneous performances and lighting heart lanterns on fire at 3am  outside your house desperately trying to catch the wind (don't ask). All that matters is what brought it all together in the first place, love... And love should always be celebrated!

Essentially yours,


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Join the 5th Annual 'KIDS TO PARKS DAY'!

Children, families and schools in communities across America will celebrate their local, state and national parks and public today on Saturday, May 16th in commemoration of the 5th Annual Kids to Parks Day. National Park Trust estimates more than 500,000 people will attend park events across the country in what is fast becoming America's national day of play. What are you doing today? 
National Park Trust (NPT) launched where park events are listed by state and city, and the website features helpful downloadable tips and activity guides to help children, families and teachers plan park adventures. Those who pledge to participate at the site will also have a chance to win a grand prize, a Nikon COOLPIX L830 camera.

Families can pledge to participate at When they visit a park today, May 16th. Kids and parents are encouraged to tweet #kidstoparks or send in photos to Pictures will be posted and shared online.
"Five years ago, NPT launched this grass roots movement to encourage families to discover and celebrate our country's parks and public lands and water. Families, schools, park officials and elected officials have embraced this fun event – a national day of outdoor play – and it is fast becoming America's unofficial kick off to summer," said Grace Lee, executive director, National Park Trust.
"This year's Kids to Parks Day takes on special significance as the National Park Service prepares to celebrate its milestone Centennial celebration in 2016 and recently launched its Find Your Parkcampaign. In hopes families across America will use Kids to Parks Day as a great reason to celebrate our National Parks and connect with favorite parks and public lands.

National Park Trust's Kids to Parks Day is in support of the First Lady's Let's Move! Initiative, which is also celebrating its 5th year anniversary. NPT collaborators include: the National League of Cities, America's State Parks, American Academy of Pediatrics, National Park Service, National Recreation and Park Association, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Boy Scouts of America, US Play Coalition, National Geographic Kids, American Hiking Society, Children & Nature Network, National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, Outdoors Alliance for Kids, National Environmental Education Foundation, City Parks Alliance, and American Recreation Coalition.
It is also the signature event of NPT's popular Buddy Bison® School Program which teaches environmental education. Through its woolly mascot Buddy Bison, NPT encourages children to "Explore outdoors, the parks are yours!" Sixty schools in 18 states and Washington, D.C., have participated in the Buddy Bison school program, which provides classroom resources, lesson ideas and fully funded park trips that enhance and expand school curricula. We absolutely love this!  There aren't enough schools aware of the dangers that come with "Nature Deficit Disorder." The sooner we as a society recognize this as an actual danger, the better.
In 2012, NPT launched the Kids to Parks Day National School Contest. This year, NPT awarded scholarships to 51 schools in 28 states benefiting 3277children, grades pre-K through 12 in Title 1 schools. The scholarships will help students put their ideas into action and visit, learn, steward and play in their local, state and national parks and public lands this month. 'NDD'  has become such an issue in this tech driven era that even pediatricians are writing "prescriptions" for more time outdoors in children.
Elected official are also recognizing the importance of keeping outdoor play alive. The U.S. Senate recently introduced a resolution in support of Kids to Parks Day.
National Park Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to the preservation and protection of our nation's critical parks and public lands and the engagement of our youth – especially those who are underserved – with nature. As people spend more time indoors and as successive generations grow up with less of a connection to nature, NPT wants everyone to have an American park experience. To achieve this, NPT is preserving parks today and creating park stewards for tomorrow (;

I encourage you to "Get Outside" and join us in observing 'KIDS TO PARKSDAY'! Look out parks, here come the #NatureTrackers!

You can follow National Park Trust on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. Don't forget to post your park pics today and use the hashtag #kidstoparks!
Essentially yours,


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The ULTIMATE Mother's Day Gift..

Becoming a mother has been the best gift in the world. Teaching me so much about myself and even more about the world around me. Nothing can compare to the love a mother has for her child, so when approached with questions about what I'd like to do to celebrate this holiday, naturally I'd like to spend it with my family. Moms come in all different shapes, sizes and colors. Families all have different dynamics that work for them. There are plenty of ways to celebrate the different personalities of that special mom in your life. In my opinion, here are a few that top my list:

"Belly Love, Take Me Away..."

As a mom of two boys, I find myself devoting every ounce of sanity to the daily needs of my children. Sometimes, leaving my tank on empty. Part of being a mom is learning when to recharge your batteries. Taking some personal time to love on yourself will help you and fill up your tank. This allows you to return renewed and better than ever, ready to take on anything that may come your way. Belly Love Spa has created a special Mother's Day Spa selection that's perfect to accommodate all of the mama's in your life. 

I recently enjoyed one of the best Pumpkin Facials on the planet! Although Belly Love Spa is the leader in Prenatal Spa Treatments and Ultrasound Technology, they cater to ALL women. There are spa packages and (newly added) acupuncture treatments available for the New Moms, Veteran Moms or Moms-to-be in your life. Gift Certificates are available, as well as their new membership program! You can learn more or schedule an appointment by visiting Belly Love Spa online. If you hurry you can still snag one of the Mother's Day weekend appointments, there is still some availability!

"A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.."

Life with littles' can get pretty busy, sometimes we get so wrapped up in carpool and soccer practice. Before you know it the years just whizz on by. I'm a self-professed "Mamarazzi" and like a lot of moms, I don't want to miss a moment. Ironically, that's just what happens when your so obsessed with capturing the moment on camera that you don't really enjoy it.  Half of the reason I'm always snapping away is because I know no one else will. We have a million artsy / funky/ sweet and tender pictures of my husband with our boys. I, may have one, two if I'm lucky, and the second was a selfie that cuts off the better half of my face (I've been cursed with the arms of a T-Rex people). This holiday give the "TMZ Mommy" in your life a break and let the professionals handle business. Courtney Studios is an expert in capturing those unique moments with your children and the personality of every individual in your family. I simply cannot wait for my "Mommy Shoot" with my boys! This is a gift that will be treasured forever! You can schedule an appointment for your one-of-a-kind shoot by calling Courtney Studios at (954) 367-682, or visiting them online.
Fur-babies count too!
"Take A Hike!"

I have to say this may be one of my favorite gift ideas of all. For nothing more than it's simplistic and delightful nature. In a time when it feels as though everything is moving at the speed of light, where "social media" has created a nation of anti-social individuals, and talking has turned into texting. Taking a simple walk with the ones you love can be the best gift of all. Susan Caruso, founder of Sunflower Creative Arts, once told me she likes to take a long walk with both of her boys every Mother's Day. This is especially perfect for moms of older kids, life can get busy and taking the time to show up and get connected is a gift in itself. 
The Three Musketeers

“Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can't make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you'll never get back. Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time.
It is not enough to just say relationships are important; we must prove it by investing time in them. Words alone are worthless. "My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action." Relationships take time and effort, and the best way to spell love is "T-I-M-E.”

― Rick WarrenThe Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here for?

A few of the places perfect for taking long walks with some of your favorite people are The Green Cay Nature PreserveGumbo Limbo Nature Center or The Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens.

Whichever way you decide to go while shopping for the perfect gift for Mother's Day, just know that your presence is gift enough..

-- Said pretty much every Mom Ever!

Essentially Yours,