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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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November Mommy of the Month

Meet Jasmine Snow! Creator of one of our favorite products and momma of two!

Jasmine's decision to produce her product locally:

This is my first time every producing any kind of product so I felt really strongly about keeping everything right in my back yard. I wanted to be able to look at samples right away, or walk over to the factory to check something out if there was a problem. It gave me a bigger sense of control over the entire process and made me feel like I was in the loop the entire time. I also love the factory that I produce out of. Every time I walk in they know me, give me a hug, ask about the kids, and that gave me such comfort as well. This was my baby and I wanted to make sure I could coddle it every step of the way!

Jasmine on being a Mom & a women in business:

There’s a lot of ups and downs to being a working mom but also a mom in business. I work for myself and I’m just at the very beginning of what I feel is my big career, so hustling and leaving the kids for that is tough with a lot of guilt. But it’s so rewarding to be able to tell Isla that I love what I do, and even better to show both of my kids how to be independent and make their own money and stand on their own two feet. Independence is so important to me. 

Jasmine on coming back to OC:

I love coming back down to Ocean City because as an adult and as a New Yorker I can appreciate it for all the things that I took for granted growing up. The quiet streets (in the winter!), Driving a car, and the fact that it really is a place where everyone knows your name. It’s home!

Jasmine's favorite part about raising her kids in New York City:

Everything! I love the idea of raising my kids in New York and giving them so much access to culture, opportunity and all different walks of life. I came here a girl from a small town who mostly only ate chicken fingers (lol!), and I love that my kids have the chance to absorb so much more simply by living in this city. I feel so lucky that I get to raise them here but have the best of both worlds and can bring them home with me to the shore in the summers. 
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