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February Mommy of the Month

February Mommy of the Month

Meet this hardworking momma and learn about her focus on living a healthy outdoor lifestyle right here in Ocean City!

Katie on balancing work and motherhood:

This definitely goes back to my favorite quote! "Be stubborn about your goals. Be flexible about your methods". I still work on this everyday but its the idea of embracing chaos, being flexible, and keeping priorities in check. Cuddling a sick kid comes before answering messages. Recognizing when I'm working online and when I'm just wasting time online and adjusting accordingly. Accepting that every little thing will never be checked off my to-do list (like fully accepting that, actually embracing that!). Two huge ways I continue to work on this mindset are 1.) taking in something positive everyday, through a book or podcast and 2.) self care. No matter how big the to-do list is, these are nonnegotiable and I can see a difference when I'm doing them consistently. Rachel Hollis is my go-to for positive resources (book or podcast) and sleeping in or unplugging from social media are my favorite self-care ways. 

How Katie's family got into living such a healthy lifestyle:

When Matt and I first met in 2012, we were actually both in the middle of our own individual health journeys. We both had lost 10-15 lbs soon before we met and we were both really passionate and excited about it. Diving more into nutrition and fitness became a big part of how we bonded and learned about each other throughout our dating history. We ran races together, experimented with healthy recipes, watched health documentaries. The cool thing about health is that you can always keep learning more, trying new things, because its such a huge realm and because our bodies are so dynamic and constantly changing. So we've just never stopped since! 

Katie's advice to moms looking to be more healthy for them and their babies:

Do not do everything at once. Pick one thing to focus on - something small and specific, maybe like drinking a certain amount of water per day or increasing your daily vegetable servings  - master that - and then add something else! Also finding a friend or a group who may also be focusing on the same things is essential! Having some who can relate, keep you accountable, and who can listen for both when you miss a goal or when you achieve a goal, will really increase the chance of longterm changes. 

Advice Katie wishes someone told her before becoming a new mom:

  Is it bad that I want to say buy white socks?! Having a little girl meant I had PLENTY of socks, with every pattern and frill you can imagine on them! After I brought her home and started dressing her I realized I had no plain white socks!!! This is an actual problem because infants don't usually wear shoes, so it's pretty obvious if your socks clash haha! But in all seriousness, its to ask for help and accept help when it's offered. You and your baby both need a happy mama, a present mama, not a superwoman mama who can do everything by herself! This also ties into the idea of embracing that you cannot do all the things. Even as a toddler mom there are days I never get a chance to make dinner or put off making appointments and that is okay! 

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January Mommy of the Month

Joy Geller

Momma to Aaron, Michael, and Oliver & creator of
LuvJoyy Personalized childrens blocks and stools

Joy's reason for starting LuvJoyy:

Before I had kids I started a headband business called Luvvjoy. I hand made elastic headbands. It was the first thing in my life that was truly mine and really helped boost my confidence. Once I had kids, life just took over and I put it on the back burner. Fast forward to last summer when I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer. It was a challenging year, to say the least. In addition to all the treatments and mobility issues, I was having a really hard time with losing my independence and control of my life in general. I got really depressed and wanted something for myself, a distraction. Since I can't physically work(long hours standing) because of the damage from the cancer I knew I needed something not as physically demanding, but that would still bring me joy:). I bought a machine called the cricut and thought name blocks would be cute.

Joy's inspiration behind her work:

When we were younger, my mom made my sister a wooden step stool. It has her name on it and she still has it to this day. She has kept it from house to house and  I love that it still is used even now for her kids. it brings back such good memories every time we use it (adults too!). I wanted people to share the same experience and have their stool for generations to come.

Joy's take on being a part of such a large family:

The best thing about being a part of a large family is built-in best friends! Of course we weren't all this close growing up, but as we got older we did. We are now obnoxiously close, all of us, and literally love/hate each other every day. It doesn't get more honest, funny and laid- back then us. We would die without each other, literally.

Joy's advice to new moms:

The best advice I could give a new mom is to be present, Don't think about what you have to do or what you could have done. There will always be wash and dishes and birthday parties to go to. Instead of cleaning up the breakfast dishes, when your 2 year old says "mommy, will you play school with me?", DO IT. Play with them, go swimming and don't worry about getting your hair wet. Let them go run in the rain, let them crack the eggs when you bake and let them sleep in your bed without feeling guilty. The best thing I learned after my diagnosis is that life is too short. You could wake up one day and realize the life you knew was over. I did. But make a new life where you live and love.


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December Mommy of the Month

December Mommy of the Month

Meet Ocean City Momma of 2, Jill Kozakowski!

Jill's love for her community:

My favorite thing about living in such a tight knit community is the PEOPLE! There exists a familiarity among residents and a spirit of collective support that you can't find anywhere else. Whether it's Caitlin at Bowfish greeting my children by name, or staff at the Lindsy James salon, Alyse’s shoes, Mew to You, Miss Helena’s Consignment boutique, 7th Street Surf Shop and Glazed Over welcoming us with enthusiasm, every interaction feels personalized and sincere.
My dad and Sebastian go to the Acme every Monday, and the employees treat them like local celebrities. And I'm always taken aback by the willingness of other local moms to help us out with childcare when we're in a pickle. I also LOVE the Community Center, Arts Center and our incredible library too! Between its family values and amenities, the tight-knit community is what we appreciate most about living here.

Jill on growing up close to the sea:

Growing up close to the ocean is a dream come true! As my Pop-Pop used to say, “There’s nothing like the smell of salt air”. The sights and sounds of the ocean can lull a baby to sleep, and it has so many healing properties. For my kids, the ocean is basically nature's greatest playground. During the summer, they spend countless hours playing in the waves without a care in the world. It's really special to watch. Even in the dead of winter, the ocean's beauty and power make you feel so engaged and present.

If Jill had one super power:

If I could have one mom-super power I would like to be invisible. I would love to see how my children conduct themselves in the presence of others. The best compliment I receive is when others tell me how kind and respectful my kids are. I would love to observe Sydney and Sebastian in different settings without me around. I'm proud to know they're growing and developing into pretty stellar humans. Once again, I am eternally grateful for our “village” that has guided them along the way.

Jill's values on shopping local:

I love shopping in Ocean City! It's comparable to shopping in a Hallmark Movie. Ocean City boasts so many locally-owned businesses that offer something for everyone. Christian and I really enjoy walking our children around Asbury and on the Boardwalk. Whether it's casual browsing or finding the perfect gift for a friend or loved one, having daily access to specialty shops with high-quality products is a fringe benefit we don't take for granted. And during a time when so many brick-and-mortars are struggling to compete with online retail giants, supporting local business is important for all of us. Not only do local shops add to the unique charm and fabric of our town, they're a critical part of our economy.

Jill on balancing work & motherhood:

Balancing work and motherhood can certainly present its challenges, but having a strong support system has proven vital. The saying “It takes a village” absolutely applies to our family. Christian (my husband) and I are both fortunate and grateful that we're able to share a home with my parents. They enrich our children's lives daily with ukulele playing, dancing, and homework assistance. My parents also accompany Sydney to and from school several days a week and watch Sebastian, which includes taking him on their daily 5-mile walk on the boards, to toddler time at the Library and out to lunch. Their daily involvement affords our children opportunities we'd otherwise be unable to facilitate due to our stringent work schedules. We also have an incredible babysitter, Jenny, whom we trust completely with the care of our children on the days (weeks) when my parents are traveling or have other obligations.
Another tip I'd suggest is to implement a shared calendar. Sydney is involved with many activities after school and on the weekends, and the shared calendar is a tool we use to effectively manage our busy schedule and alleviate miscommunication.
Finally, I'd say maintaining a healthy and positive perspective is key to achieving balance. During times when I feel particularly spread thin, I remind myself what a blessing and a privilege it is to hold the titles of both Mother and Teacher. My two kind and loving children are life's greatest gifts, and my job as an educator has been a source of great pride and fulfillment for the past 19 years. 
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