by Amaya Papaya's Mom on September 30th, 2018

Earlier this year, at Amaya Papaya, I began hearing talk about a character named Blippi. The children were singing songs about trucks by the character, and the parents spoke of an uncle turned YouTube star by videos that he began creating for his nephew. In the spring, a parent booked a party and requested that the theme be Blippi. Aside from his signature outfit and the things mentioned in the lounge, I knew very little about the character. Upon research, I discovered that Blippi was very educational and a lot of fun! If you have never watched a Blippi episode on YouTube, do it! Your little one will thank you. 
Blippi wears a collard blue shirt, orange glasses, a bow tie and suspenders. I knew that I wanted to incorporate these elements into the cake table and backdrop. Blue curtains and a blue table cloth was used to mimic Blippi's shirt. Using my Cricut, I cut glasses, a bow tie and large buttons to complete the shirt. I chalked the words Happy Birthday. 
At Amaya Papaya our chalk board backdrop is a unique element for birthday parties. On it, I chalked the birthday boys name and his age. I added teal, light blue and orange balloons to compliment the cutout image of Blippi within the chalk art. 
For the favor bags, strips of orange paper and small bowtie cutouts were glued onto aqua bags to look like Blippi's shirt. They were so simplistic and cute! 
Blippi talks about trucks a lot. The cake was a pull apart cake shaped like a truck!  On the cake table I used big Tonka trucks and for the center pieces I cut out dump trucks and a Blippi image using my Cricut. Each cut out was hot glued individually to wooden dowels and stuck into a glass jar filled with orange crinkle paper. Each place setting had a truck coloring sheet with orange underlay for a pop of color. I like using coloring sheets at the place settings for toddlers and preschoolers to avoid the spread of germs on plates and napkins by curious little ones. 
This was a super fun party. The birthday boy even came dressed in his own Blippi outfit! He even had the signature Blippi hat! 
Are you in Central Florida? Would you like to host your little ones Blippi party or another unique theme at Amaya Papaya? Log onto our website for more information. 

by Amaya Papayas Mom on August 30th, 2015

Sensory Play encourages children to explore all of their senses. From touch, taste, sight, smell, and sound, stimulation of the senses help children become better aware of different environments and experiences. 
It is so easy to get your child involved in sensory play since it is all around them! Take them to the beach to play in the sand, smell the salt water, hear the waves crashing on the shore, see the seagulls flying above their heads, or maybe just sit and eat the delicious snacks you all brought.
 In almost all situations, you can identify all the senses to your child. Talk to them and ask them about what they are experiencing and what it reminds them of. Just don’t be afraid for them to get down and dirty because they are learning after all!

Join us this week during our Baby Buddies group on Tuesday or one of our Sensory PLAY Thursday sessions for Amaya Papaya University as we blast out of this word on an Outer Space Journey of the senses with water bead PLAY "on the moon"  

by Ashlei King on August 17th, 2015

Our story all started on a beautiful day in the Fall of 2014. It was October 15th and my beautiful baby boy was just 3 days old and we were released to leave Winter Park Memorial Hospital. 
Because of financial reasons, we decided to cloth diaper our little guy. It was unknown and lonely waters as not a single person I knew used cloth diapers. Family and friends all thought I was crazy for trying it and was told that I wouldn't stick with it. What those people didn't know, we didn't have a choice. My wonderful husband, Sean, was taking on the difficult task of now supporting a family of 5 All. By. Himself. I didn't even know how we were going to make it. I was terrified. Our finances on thin ice, I recovering from a traumatic c-section, and I was a MOM! The realization that I was now responsible for this precious life was surreal. I had no idea what I was doing. 

This is where Kelly Martin steps in, the owner of Baby Bottoms Boutique. As if the word owner could encompass all of what this wonderful woman is. Throughout the last couple of months of my pregnancy, I endlessly emailed her, asking a million and one questions about this taboo thing we HAD to venture in, of cloth diapers. Kelly was ever so patient with me, answering all of my concerns and reassuring me that it was all going to be ok. So, we set it up and committed to getting a Cloth Diaper Newborn Rental for 3 months. We went for the 3 months in hopes that we could get enough money saved up to fund our little Isaiah's fluff. In order to maximize our time with the rental, we arranged to pick them up the day we were released from the hospital. 
So here I am, feeling like my body will split apart if I dare stand straight or move in any direction, fresh new baby in tow, and we make our way to Amaya Papaya.

We initially intended to have Sean go in, pick up and go, but the diapers hadn't been dropped off yet. So we parked the car, Sean took Isaiah inside, out of the heat, to change him. I very slowly hobbled my way across the street into a place I unknowingly would one day call home. 
Here is where I met the amazing Yolonda Tyler. All I can say is "Wow!" I came in and was greeted so graciously and with such sincerity. That's not something that I'm used to experiencing in this rough world we live in. I filed that thought away as I was trying to focus on moving one foot in front of the next. She offered me a seat and I slunk down in the first lounger near the play lounge entrance. By then, Sean comes back out with the baby and places him in my arms. I looked around and asked Yolonda, "Is there somewhere I can breastfeed the baby??" For those that knew me before I had Isaiah, you'd know I was very modest when I came to showing off my skins. But in a way that only Yolonda could say, she tells me, "Feed yo Baby!". Those 3 words from a complete stranger, empowered me and gave me the courage to publicly breastfeed my child for the first time. In that moment, feeling physically and mentally defeated from labor and delivery, I felt STRONG! I felt confident. I told myself, "I GOT this!". 

Fast forward to January 2015, I go in to drop off my cloth diaper rental and pick up our package of our first diapers. We were picking up 12 diapers. I, like a kid in a candy store, took my time and picked out all the different colors I wanted. Isaiah was snuggled up in my Moby wrap fast asleep. Now let me share something with you that took me aback. When I came in the doors of Amaya Papaya on that day, Yolonda did something that no other business owner has ever done to me. She. Remembered. Our. Names! And maybe to someone else, that may not seem like a big deal, but it meant the world to me! This is the second time she'd seen us and she remembered us and when we first came in months back. I admire her, I can't even remember if I'm wearing my pants that day but not Yolonda. She remembered my family. 

Now we jump into February. I was running a few errands nearby and decided to stop in on a Tuesday. I had heard that a baby group had started up and wanted to check it out. I didn't have a dime on me, no work, new baby, you know how it is. When I walked in, there wasn't a single person there. I thought, "huh! oh well". So I took the opportunity, since I was already there, to take a small glance (yeah right lol!) at Baby Bottoms Boutique and all the lovely fluff. 
Yolonda asked, as I perused Heaven on earth, if I had come for Baby Buddies. Sadly, I said no as I had no money to pay for it. I also thought to myself, "even if I DID have the money, what's the point of taking an infant to an indoor playground??"  Boy! Was I wrong!
She decided to let us come in and do the Baby Buddies program, just for Isaiah. I was like, sure, why not. I didn't want to be home, that's for sure! First thing she asked was if I had done bubbles with him. I was like, "noooo, he's a little baby." I never even thought as that being something to do with a newborn. So she pulled out this biiiig rainbow parachute, got the bubble machine in place, and we sat little man down in one of the Prince Lion Heart chairs smack dab in the center. She read to him a story about a little rubber duck. Man! What a great story teller! Even I was into this little cardboard book! Then she turned on the bubble machine and sang her bubble song. Isaiah was absolutely fascinated! Trouble is, when the bubbles would get near his face, he'd hold his breath. Weirdest thing I've ever seen! She carefully would wave away the bubbles and sang to him. Then she took out a wooden box of different colored scarves. One by one, she pulled them out, teaching him about colors and playing hide and seek. He was entranced. It was as if I didn't even exist, he was so fixed on his Mrs. Yolonda. 
We've been hooked on AP ever since! 

Shortly after, I was offered to become an AP Ambassador. I was now volunteering at a place that had become my home away from home. Yolonda put value in a place I never thought I'd have the chance to visit until he was a toddler. Her passion for children, the care and concern for her guest and the people of the community is astounding. These 2 women, Kelly and Yolonda, have touched my family in a way I don't think they could ever understand. These powerful, hard working mom's inspire me to be better. To reach out to other people and help them as I have been helped. I love the community that we have built and love seeing it continue to flourish. Seeing all the moms and dads come every week to Baby Buddies gives me such joy in knowing, we have each other. We all lovingly support each other, you all are so beautiful. 

Today, I am proud to say that I am a Baby Bottoms Boutique and an Amaya Papaya Ambassador!

Ashlei King is also the Happy Mama Orlando for Happy Family Brand Foods.
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by Night Lite Pediatrics on January 25th, 2015

by Rita Barnes ! guest blogger on March 5th, 2014

If you're a parent, then at some point you've heard it said:  It takes a village to raise a child. It's just a little ditty meant to soothe us parents who've realized that raising a baby is physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting  work and that sometimes we need to be rescued.

For some, this rescuing may come in the form of a frantic midnight phone call to grandma the first time our child's temperature reaches the dreaded 100.4 degrees. For others, it may be dropping our little ones off at a friend/sibling/cousin's house just so we can have even an hour of desperately needed quiet,  alone time. It even comes in the form of the unsolicited advice at the check-out line which at the time may seem like criticism but, upon further review,  turns out to be the best parenting tip we've ever received.

During these early months of uncertainty and sleep deprivation, when our self-confidence has been shaken down to our very core, we come to understand the true gravity of this message. It takes a village to raise a baby.

This simply means that it's okay to ask for help.  Parents are not infallible, and not only is it okay to ask for help, but it is expected that  help will be needed. We don't come home from the hospital with our babies knowing what to do - -  the learning has just begun.

There will be times when we need to relinquish control and take a moment for our own mental sanity. Even for the stay-at-home moms who may not need child care on a daily basis, sometimes you need to let someone else take your child off your hands for a bit so you can simply run some errands in peace!

It means allowing others to empathize and guide you. Without the village, we as parents are likely to find ourselves feeling completely alone. Where to turn for answers? Where to seek comfort when we realize we've made a mistake? Where to find support in learning to forgive ourselves these mistakes? These are all questions answered by this village!

But, what about those parents who come home from the hospital and are without this "village" in the traditional sense? Not every parent is lucky enough to have a mother or a mother-in-law right down the road who is willing to help out on occasion. We don't all come from large families with siblings and cousins who are out there having babies as well. Plenty of us fly solo down the family route. And, of course, there are the many parents out there who are the sole caregiver to their little ones.

It wasn't too long ago I found myself to be one of these village-less parents. My family lives in California, and I live in Florida. While my mother in-law may live only a few minutes away, she's in her eighties and not physically in a position to offer too much in the way of hands-on help. My parents were only children, so there are no cousins, and my only sister has sworn off ever becoming a mother in favor of her career. Additionally, not one of my pre-motherhood friends has joined me on the mommy track.

When you're the only member of your group of friends to have a baby, you might as well resign yourself to the inevitable ex-communication from the group. True friends will wait it out with you as you become increasingly self-centered, single-minded, and flaky. These are the friends who know eventually the time will come when you've settled into your new role and will return to a sociable adult life. Unfortunately, though, most will think these changes are permanent and move on without looking back.

I went at it alone for the first six months of my son's life. To tell the truth, I was finishing up my undergraduate degree when my son was born, so I still had excursions out of the house on a regular basis distracting me from my village-less existence. School provided that adult interaction so many new mothers come to crave in the early days, and our babysitter (a graduate student I paid out of my student loan money), supplied the care-giving support I lacked elsewhere. However, once classes were over, and I was at home alone with my baby five days a week, I suddenly realized how lonesome it is to be a parent without a village.
Infants do not offer the greatest amount of interaction, and a person can run only so many errands during the day to keep occupied. It wasn't long before a delayed postpartum depression settled over me, and I became unglued. I felt on the constant verge of panic with my son who was experiencing chronic constipation due to nursing problems. Without anyone to turn to for help, the nursing problems continued, and the panic increased.

Luckily for me, a fellow mother and splendid woman saw the distress in my eyes and pointed me in the direction of Amaya Papaya Play Lounge. By this time,  I had made a few futile attempts to reach out and meet other moms. I'd looked into open gyms and "Mommy and Me" yoga classes, but there were always age limits or the price exceeded my budget limits. I'd met with mom groups through, but nearly all the moms participating in those groups had toddlers and often met right smack dab in the middle of my little guy's morning or afternoon nap.

When I heard about Amaya Papaya, it sounded perfect. It is a  place opened by a fellow mother who had become dissatisfied with the same problems I had faced with play places and mom groups favoring activities and schedules of older children. Though it took until her baby was three years old to open Amaya Papaya (named after her daughter Amaya), when her play lounge was finally open to the public, she remembered to include a special area specifically for babies ages 0 to 2!

Still, I didn't run right out and visit AP. My son and I continued to circle the story time circuit for a while, but eventually on a day story time was cancelled we were looking for something to do, and I remembered the advice of the woman who told me about a play place with a space for babies. I finally decided to give it a try.

Our first visit was at the beginning of the off-season, so it was fairly quiet. We went in the morning and were told our admission cost covered the entire day, something I never expected. I remember keeping to myself at first, just watching and listening that first morning, but we did return after my son's afternoon nap. The afternoons around Amaya Papaya are typically quiet and much more peaceful, very conducive to initiating conversations with fellow patrons.

This is exactly what happened when we returned that first afternoon. I sat and discussed my nursing problems with a perfect stranger and immediately felt comforted by listening to her experiences which were unlike my own, but difficult for her nonetheless. Seeing her sitting there with her healthy and happy three year-old daughter, I knew our problem was not as worrisome as I had thought and, in the grand scheme of things, I knew that this, too, would pass.

Driving home that day I noticed two things: I finally felt peaceful, and my son was so wiped out from all the play time he fell asleep in the car on the way home both times. After this, AP became a regular outing for us. We began visiting at least once a week, and suddenly life as a mom wasn't as lonely anymore.

It does take a village to raise a child, if for no other reason than to remind us parents we are not alone. Since some of us do not begin our lives as parents with a built-in village, we need to reach out to find the necessary help and support. For those parents, I recommend coming to Amaya Papaya Play Lounge For their sake and their children’s, they should allow this wonderful community to become their village.

Classes, parties, and open play offer selections for a myriad of opportunities to meet other parents. Advice abounds in the play room, and there are always open ears to be found. Before you know it, you'll go from being the mom seeking the help to the mom offering reassurance to others in need. Oh, did I mention it’s good for your child's social lives as well?  Amaya Papaya Play Lounge, where children play and parents learn.

Rita Barnes is the mother to almost 2 year old Paul, frequesnt customer at Amaya Papaya and an Amaya Papaya Ambassador.

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