I had no idea what joys and challenges motherhood would bring. In 2009 I had my son and quickly realized that ”What to Expect When Expecting” missed a lot of important things. There was no advice on what to do with your infant, how to socialize and be comfortable in the new mom role.
I signed up for a weekly 50-minute mommy and me class across town just to get out of the house. I would call my husband and uncomfortable laugh at least twice a month that Hunter had fallen asleep and I was just going to turn around and come home. I kept thinking how amazing it would be if someone created a play space that had flexible hours, clean spaces, neutral colors, less plastic, eco friendly, somewhere I could meet other parents trying to navigate through parenthood and a laundry list of things I would do differently than the available options.
Over the next 3 years I gathered bits and pieces of information. (A lot of Bay & Bee came together during middle of the night feeding sessions.) In January of 2013 I had my second child, when it came to leaving the house, now with 2 kids, I ran into the same problems as before. Now, I needed a space where my toddler could explore and be engaged while keeping my newborn comfortable. No one had built this magical space to gather and let children explore in a clean, safe environment. It was time to do something.
My Friend, Zuzia, had a baby 3 weeks before I had my second. We began talking about this indoor play space that focused on community and decided now was a great time to go for it.
We are so excited about Bay & Bee, thrilled to offer an eco friendly- community oriented play space.
Monica Pharr- Owner/Founder
Monica is originally from California and has an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania, with a concentration in Ceramics. Before children she travelled around a bit, living in California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Hungary. Monica settled down in Neptune Beach with her Husband Jake and set up a ceramic studio. In 2009 Surprise! Baby #1was on the way and life would never be the same. The next little stretch has been all about finding balance and since Hunter seemed to have survived the first three years, Monica and Jake decided to have another baby. Now she spends her days keeping the kids alive, working on Bay & Bee and dreams about sleeping through the night. Someday.
Zuzia Soldenhoff-Thorpe – Owner/Founder
Zuzia was born and raised in Poland. Faced with a post-communist reality, Zuzia worked multiple jobs while in high school and college in order to support herself and her travels to 40+ countries.
Zuzia has conquered the Himalayas, trekked through jungles in remote Indonesian and Nepalese areas, scuba-dived world’s best reefs, ventured through Australian deserts trailing wild camels and horses, lived with Native Indians in South America, and has enjoyed yoga and meditation with Monks in Myanmar.
She has also worked in the corporate arena in London, Sydney, New York and Florida. Her background includes extensive experience in marketing and advertising management for companies ranging from small internet startups to major corporations like Microsoft, The Boston Globe and Volvo. Zuzia resides in Atlantic Beach, FL with her husband and two young children, Emilia and Jan. she enjoys surfing and traveling. It is her ideal position to be able to bring her world experience and research to many families in our community.
Ashley Rowe- Play Space Manager
Ashley grew up in New York where she graduated from Purchase College with a BA in Psychology and Early Childhood Development. Her extreme disdain for all things cold and snowy brought her to Jacksonville in 2008.
Ashley is Bay & Bee's manager and resident babywearing educator. Since joining the team in 2014 Ashley has gotten married and had a baby of her own, Jude - who can often be found taking every book off the shelves at Bay & Bee. When Ashley is not at work she loves to spend time with her little family, enjoys the occasional netflix binge, glass of wine, and sleeping through the night once in a blue moon.
Alyssa Pradella- Play Space Assistant
Alyssa Pradella was born in Springfield, Massachusetts and moved down to Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida when she was just four years old. She is currently attending Florida State College of Jacksonville, majoring in Early Childhood Education. She's been babysitting ever since she was thirteen years old which drove her to get her degree in education. In her free time she loves going to the beach, spending time with friends, taking her dogs to the dog park and is a huge sports fan.
Kelsey Wells- Play Space Assistant
is originally from Nashville, Tennessee. She moved to Jacksonville Beach in 2014 to pursue a career in Digital Marketing. After 1 year in an office setting she decided she would rather spend her time with children on a more flexible schedule. She now is a nanny for 2 families and works at Bay and Bee on Wednesdays and the weekend.
When she isn’t caring for children, she is taking online classes to obtain her second degree in Computer Information Technology, traveling, taking photographs or writing. One day she hopes to own her own Digital Marketing and Website Management company. Kelsey is really passionate about helping others and working hard while maintaining a healthy balance between work and play.
Phoebe Mullis- Play Space Assistant
Phoebe has lived in Jacksonville since she was 6 and couldn’t imagine living anywhere that doesn’t have a beach nearby. Growing up as the middle child taught her how to take care of herself and her younger siblings. She is now attending Florida State College at Jacksonville. Phoebe works at Bay & Bee on the weekends, babysits a lot and takes an interest in child behavior characteristics and development. She also works at Books-A-Million during the week, where she gets to broaden her love of books. Besides reading, her hobbies include stargazing, traveling, writing and constantly trying new things.
Shannon Saavedra- Party Assistant
Moved to Jacksonville from the Pacific Northwest four years ago to enjoy the sunny beaches of florida all year round. In her free time she enjoys taking her son to the movies, camping with their cub scout group and riding rollercoasters at Orlando's theme parks. Hopes to one day be a professional ice-cream taster.
Brooklynn is a Jacksonville Beaches native. She is currently attending University of North Florida pursuing a degree in psychology. Her goal is to ultimately get her PsyD and become a practicing child psychologist. She has been taking care of kids since high school and has a passion for making a difference in the lives of children. In her free time she enjoys taking pictures, listening to music, and writing!
Eric Wendorf- Musician
He performs either solo or exclusively with the folk blues band, ‘Al Poindexter and River Rise’ on the main stages of many folk and blues festivals, Bay & Bee, The Fringe Eatery on Edgewood, Three Layers Cafe, Jacksonville International Airport, private and public schools, public libraries, private parties and outdoor markets.
Eric has performed music in other countries such as Uruguay, Argentina, Australia, Africa and throughout the United States and when not performing music, Eric is a also a world ranked competitive swimmer and swim coach.
After the 1988 Olympic Games, Eric retired from professional cycling and became a member of the US Masters Swimming Association(USMS) ranking top three in the nation consistently in the 50, 100, 200 butterfly and 200 and 400 individual medley events from 1992–1994 and 2010. In 2013 he was a 5 time medal winner at the Masters Pan Am Games. In August of 2014, Eric will be competing in the same events at the Masters World Championships in Montreal.
Eric gained international experience by swimming in South America for the country of Uruguay and competed against teams from Argentina, Chile and Brazil. Over 30 years of aquatic experience have led him to coach excellent summer and US Swimming age group programs as well as high school and master’s swim teams in Indiana, Colorado, California and Florida. Currently, he coaches the Piranhas Swim Team at Cecil Aquatics Center.
Taneen Delancey- Mommy & Me Yoga Instructor
Taneen received a Bachelor’s degree in Interpersonal Communication and a Master’s Degree in Educational Counseling from the University of Central Florida. Taneen has always taken a holistic approach in both her career and life focusing on nutrition, health, family, and community. Her goals have always been to educate and empower others with the tools necessary to flourish as the healthiest and happiest self.
Now a work-at-home mom of two beautiful children, she applies the same approach to caring for her own family. It was only natural to also apply this way of thinking to their family businesses. As founder of Fitly Fitness and co-founder of evolved Natural Solutions, Taneen takes pride in educating and empowering others in making healthy lifestyle choices.
In addition, Taneen take great joy in woking with children and families helping them reach their physical development goals through Fitness and Yoga. It is a privilege working at Bay & Bee and The Goddard School coaching children to move, bringing awareness to healthy choices, and making fitness FUN!
Hobbies: Playing with, teaching, and inspiring their children • Loving her husband• Spending time with family and friends • Cooking healthy and delicious meals • Incorporating fitness into their daily activities • Motivating & encouraging others to reach their health, fitness, and life goals • Exploring the beauty of the outdoors • Going to the beach • Traveling • Hiking • Party planning • Decorating their home to reflect their love of nature, adventure, and children
Jennifer Walker- Mommy Classes Instructor
Owner of Mumda, Birth & Postpartum Doula, Pilates Specialist, Childbirth Educator
Jennifer is passionate about movement and the healing arts. A certified CD(DONA) birth and postpartum doula, Pilates specialist, childbirth educator, and dancer. Jennifer holds a MFA in Dance and Education and 20+ years of experience in movement and healing arts. As a birth doula she integrates her movement expertise to help women with optimal baby positioning, progression, comfort and provides constant support throughout the labor process. Jennifer creates a calm environment by employing relaxation techniques, providing comfort through touch and mindful visualizations.
Kelly Johnson- Nature Exploration Class Instructor
Kelly Johnson (BFA, MA) is an artist, author, Montessorian, and children's gardener based in Neptune Beach, Florida. Through her books, illustrations, workshops, consultations, blog, and eCourses, Kelly inspires children and adults across the globe to connect with their natural world through gardening and the arts. Contact Kelly and join the world of Wings, Worms, and Wonder for more creative nature connection fun!
Jaime Hamilton- Circle Time & Sign Language Class Instructor
Jaime moved to Jax a few years ago with her husband and three small children. She is a retired professor of Communication Studies after having taught for Indiana University for 15 years. She has had many wonderful opportunities to explore the world, while teaching at the University of South Wales as an international professor. Her teaching journey started as a sign language interpreter, which led to many years of educational service thereafter. Jaime also makes beautiful ponchos that can be found at Bay & Bee's store and bakes gluten free muffins, cakes, cookies, cupcakes and more. You can check her GF creations and order some here.
Jaime's journey has led her and her family to Jacksonville where they call home.
Theresa Stormy Michiels- Creative Dance Instructor