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Make A Summer Scrapbook with Us!

Do you take tons of photos, but never print them out?  Do you find it difficult to schedule in the time to make a photo book your friends can flip through?  Are you looking for a creative outlet so you can take some time for yourself?  

Well you are in luck.  Love Jac is launching our next workshop to help you create, share, and connect through art: Love Jac Scrapbooks.  Our first project is a complete summer scrapbook called “Our Best Summer Yet!”  You can register here.

Love Jac Scrapbooks are based in gratitude and the desire to make the most of life.  The goal is to capture all those moments, experiences, and memories - big and small - that combine to paint the full picture of your life.  We help you create and then document those moments in a fun personalized style. We prompt you to tell the story you’ll want to share with your family and friends.  A Love Jac Scrapbook is a work of art because you make it with your two hands and it can be used to help you connect with those who flip through your memories.  

We hope you will join us this summer to create your very own Love Jac Scrapbook! 

HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL GET

  • Layout Planning Guide
  • A 6x8 album filled with 30 pocket-pages
  • Journal cards, stickers, and embellishments to customize your scrapbook
  • 2 two-hour craft sessions
  • A completed scrapbook to treasure and share.

(LET US HELP: you can also have 100 of your photos cropped, printed, and sized for pocket pages for an additional cost) 

“Our Best Summer Yet” is more than just a scrapbook.  This workshop will help you organize your summer so that it's easy to document.  We will give you ideas to create fun photos that will capture both the big adventures and the everyday pleasures.  

Two weeks before our workshop starts, you will receive a layout planning guide. We will give you the space to lay out your album and get things in order…make list of all the fun you had and take a moment to reflect on everything in your life that you are grateful for.  We will help you decide what moments and details to include in your album. 

The workshop includes a 6x8 pocket-paged album.  We believe pocket-pages are the easiest and most efficient way to scrapbook.  By giving you guidelines of where to put photos and journaling cards, pocket-pages eliminate the fear of the blank page.  It also gives you a designated place for you to create something beautiful.  Each album will include 30 of these pages and a template to help you plan out the book.

We love creating, but even more we love creating TOGETHER, so this workshop will take scrapbooking - typically something you do alone - and turn it into a social event!  It’s inspiring to see what other people come up with and helpful to have a group to run your ideas by.  Each meet up will include coffee and pastries in a peaceful environment that will allow your creativity to run wild!  

Our first meeting will be on Saturday Sept 8th.  Just after summer has come to a close and while your memories are still fresh we will meet and conquer (in our opinion) the biggest hurdle of the scrapbooking process - deciding which photos to print.  Let us help you jump over this hurdle.  Bring your computer or phone and we will all sit down and decide together the best photos for your album.  We will help you make those hard decisions because we know how hard it is to make a choose when it is photos of your own children.  If you'd like after this meet-up we will take care of the labor intensive process of cropping and printing your pictures, while you continue enjoying life.

We will also use this session to plan out your album and start adding journaling cards.  We will walk you through the best way to arrange your photos and how to incorporate your journaling cards.  You will get your own set of stickers, paper, and embellishments to use and keep!  Plus, you will also have access to our curated art-box of craft supplies featuring date stamps, wooden & clear stamps, and journaling pens and markers.  For two hours you can chat with friends while writing, cutting, glueing, and stamping to your hearts content. 

When you arrive at our second meet-up on Saturday 15th we will jump right into crafting.  If you have chosen for us to help you with the photos, your photos will be cropped, printed, and trimmed - waiting for you to do the fun part!!   

We will add any finishing touches - this is honestly our favorite part.  Stickers, mementos, and ephemera, oh my!!  Really get your creativity flowing.  You can now take a step back and look at your album as a whole.  What more does it need?  What stories do you still want to tell?  Now’s the time to get it all in there.  At the end of class we will share our albums with the group. 

By the end of this second get-together you will have the majority of your book complete.  You can bring your book home with you and work on it whenever you feel the need to create.  

Throughout this entire workshop you will have the opportunity to meet and get to know other creative individuals.  You will learn our Love Jac scrapbooking tips and tricks that you can take with you as you continue to document your life.  And most importantly you will have given yourself six solid hours of creative time dedicated to you.  Most of us don’t take enough “me time” these days.  We want to help change that.  Creating a scrapbook is a wonderful way to appreciate all the good that’s in your world and reflect on the life you have.  Sharing with it with your friends is a wonderful way to connect with them.  We would be honored if you joined us in this creative process.  You can register here.

If you'd like to see some of the scrapbooks I've made in the past, you can check out our Summer 2014 Album, Our Disney Album, and Georgia's Baby Book.

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Mother's Day A Mekelburg's

A big thank you goes out to all the parents who came out to our Mother’s Day Card Making Workshop this year.  The gorgeous sunny Saturday morning was filled with smiles, art, and most importantly celebrations of mom!!  This was our third year helping you create handmade cards for mom and we felt like it was time to take it up a notch.  With the help of our new Clinton Hill friends we were able to put together a wonderful social gathering centered around creating, sharing, and connecting through art.

As Mother’s Day approached and we started to plan our annual Mother’s Day Card Making Workshop, we decided we wanted to honor our love for Clinton Hill and hold the workshop in our new favorite neighborhood!  Our friends at the JCC suggest Mekelburg’s and the rest is history.  From the first time we stepped out on their back patio we knew it would be a perfect fit.  As with everything else in Clinton Hill, the people were so kind.  The back patio was filled with caring parents ready to create with their kids.  

This year we structured our intimate event more like our class.  Georgia O’Keeffe was our featured artists and we talked all things flowers. We read a special Mother’s Day book “Hats Off to You,” provided step-by-step instruction on how to make the most special handprint card.  Once everyone had created the perfect card for their mom, we opened up free creative time.  The children rotated between play doh, a collaborative art piece, bubbles, and our photo wall.  There was plenty of time for parents to get to know each other, enjoy the beautiful weather, and savor the delicious food (and beer).  

Once we announced we were having this event at Mekelburg’s, all of our friends told us how much they loved this place.  “Meks,” as they referred to it, appears to be a fancy delicatessen, but as you walk through the maze of delicious food, it opens up into a cozy bar.  A couple steps up through the back door brings you into their secret garden of a patio….the perfect place for a morning of crafting.  If you haven’t visited Mekelburg’s yet, we highly recommend it.  It’s located at 293 Grand Avenue between Clifton and Greene.  We all loved both the smoked salmon tartine and chocolate babka french toast. If you’re a beer lover they’ve got a plethora of options for you to try!  

Thank you Alicia and Jheremy at Mek’s for helping it go smoothly.  Thank you to your kind and caring staff.  Thank you to Caryn at the JCC in Clinton Hill for helping sponsor the event as well as the whole team at Sawyer.  Everyone loved their goodie bags!!  And an extra special thank you to Team Love Jac: Viktoria and Michael who have become part of our family over the years.  Can’t wait to continue organizing events like this for the community.  

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May 5th - Mother's Day Card Making Workshop

It's that time of year again, the flowers are starting bloom and Mother's Day will be here before you know it!!  We are happy to announce we will be hosing a Mother's Day Card Making Workshop this year! Similar to the past two years, your little one will create a personalized "hand" made card for the mom (or grandma) in their life inspired by Georgia O'Keeffe.

This year we are teaming up with the JCC and hosting the event at Mekelburg's.  We are structuring our morning more like our typical classes.  There will be storytime, a collaborative art project, and, of course, the Mother's Day card.  We will have kid's dance music, a photo wall, and plenty of delicious food to order!

Mark your calendars for Saturday May 5th at 10am.  You can register here.  

Moms, you can either send your chid with dad, grandma, or a friend and get some "me time" the week before Mother's Day.  Or use this as an opportunity to make art with your little one.  Either way, you are guaranteed a card you will treasure forever this Mother's Day.

If you want to see photos from this event in the past, you can check out this blog post.

We've had an amazing time hosting this event for the past two years.  As a mom, it makes me so happy to be a part of YOUR Mother's Day.  Being a mom can sometimes feel like a thankless job, but I hope getting this card on Mother's Day helps remind you just how wonderful and amazing it is to be a mom.  

We look forward to meeting you and spending the morning making art!! Don’t forget to secure your spot by registering ahead of time. If you have any questions feel free to send me an email.

Event Info:

Saturday May 5
10am
Mekelburg's
293 Grand Avenue (between Greene & Clifton)
Brooklyn, NY 11238

 

For other things mom related...check out the review of last years event, another fun card to make with hand prints, and our favorite baby SMASHbook filled with all those memories from the first two years of our daughters life (here's a YouTube flip through video).

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Our 2018 YouTube Channel!!

Hello, 2018!!  Yes, yes, we know it is almost April, but we’ve been so busy producing YouTube videos for you, that we forgot to tell you about them!!  Starting in January we’ve been producing weekly card-making videos and monthly planner videos!!  We also plan to share our progress in "The Love Jac Scrapbook Challenge of 2018” with you, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. 

Currently you can enjoy a card-making video every Monday and a planner video every month!

Make Art To Mail

Make Art To Mail is our weekly how-to card making tutorial.  I show you how to make a handmade card with just a few supplies and some time to sit and connect.  We believe art has the power to make you happy.  We hope these videos inspire you to make some today and mail some happiness to a friend.

Each video is dedicated to a person in my life who has made a positive impact.  I love sharing these quick stories as a way to thank those people for making my life better.  I hope hearing these stories allows you to reflect on the wonderful people in your life as well.  

If you’ve been watching, thank you.  If you are just hearing about this now - Great News!  There are 11 videos for you to binge watch!  The full breakdown is below…

Plan Your Creative Time

Each month we are sharing a planner video where we discuss all things productive and creative.  If you’re like me, you don’t have a lot of time to sit around and think, “hmm…what should I do now?”  I’ve found the best way for me to fit creativity into my life is to schedule it in.  Plan Your Creative Time is your personal pep-talk to find that time for yourself to get creative.  Each month has its own challenge to inspire and expand your creativity.  Plus, I show you what I was actually able to fit in from the month prior.  

In January we discussed my planner system, how to turn your to-do’s into creative opportunities, and the benefits of chunking up your time.  January’s creative challenge was WORDS! 

In February we discussed the benefits of knowing what actually has to get done and my obsession with stickers.  If you secretly enjoy watching the show, Hoarders, this video is for you!!  I share with the creativity I fit into January, which included watercoloring, my daughter’s birthday invitations, and a fun after-school craft.  Inspired by Valentine’s Day, February’s creative challenge was HEARTS.

In March we discussed my love/hate relationship with the word hustle and using my monthly planner to celebrate little wins.  I share some of the fun creativity that went into planning my daughter's birthday party and how a creative unique date was as good for our marriage as scheduling personal creative time for myself.  

Thanks so much for watching and adding to the discussion!!  Be sure to subscribe so you can be notified as soon as I post a video.  Please leave a comment below the videos and I will respond to you ASAP.  I’ve learned so much from you already.  Can’t wait to keep the conversation going.  

Now here's the Make Art To Mail Breakdown…

ONE WORD

In this video I show you how to use markers and just one word to create a card that will make an impact as soon as your friend opens their mailbox.  

Supplies:
cardstock
3 different colored writing utensils
sharpie
scissors
glue
envelope 

 

This video is dedicated to my BFF Lindsay.  Big shout out to all the moms out there doing everything and making it look easy, cause I know it’s not!

COLLAGED CARD

In this video I show you how to use magazines to make a vision-board style card that will connect with you friend!

Supplies:
magazine
scissors
glue
cardstock
envelope 

This video is dedicated to BFF Katrina (yes I have multiple BFFs).  Her eye style and design has always inspired me!! Do you have someone in your life who has always inspired you?

 

EMOJI CARD

In this video I show you how to make the perfect card for when you can’t find the right word to say…and only an emoji will do!!

 

Supplies:
yellow card stock
red card stock
pencil
sharpie
scissors
glue
bowl

 

This video is dedicated to my friend Amanda.  We met when we first became moms! Our mommy group will always have a place in my heart…and in the emoji world it definitely brings out the “crying with gratitude” emoji.  Amanda always responds to my instagram posts with the perfect emoji!!  Do you have a favorite emoji?  

HEART CUT-OUT CARD

In this video I show you how to make a simple heart cut-out using a quick home-made stencil.  We will use newspaper to give it that nostalgic feeling a newspaper evokes.  The envelope on this card also has a peek-a-boo window that is sure to get your friend's attention.  

Supplies:
card Stock
scrap piece of paper or a stencil
pencil
brightly colored piece of paper
newspaper
paint
paint Brush
scissors
glue

Plus, 
envelope and packing tape

 

This video is dedicated to my husband Chad and our early days of dating...going to church, reading the paper, walking around Greenwich Village, and daydreaming about the future.  I feel so fortunate we are living out these dreams today.  I seriously didn’t know it would be THIS great!!

OMBRE HEART

In this video I show you how to use two shades of ink to create an ombre effect.  I matched the card and the envelope so it is all coordinated! 

Supplies:
card stock
envelope
two shades of ink in similar colors
your favorite stamp

 

This video is dedicated to my crafty soul sister Anushka!  There’s nothing like a friend who shares your same interests.  It’s so fun to get excited together about planners, stickers, and washi tape!!  But, truthfully, it’s her friendship that means the most to me! I hope you have someone like Anushka in your life!!

HEART ENVELOPE

In this video I show you how to create a heart envelope that is sure to make your friends smile when they open their mailbox.

Supplies:
fun card stock for envelope
card stock for card
scrap paper
pencil
stapler

 

This video is dedicated to my dad!  I’m totally a daddy’s little girl, even now in my 30s!!  He helps me talk through any situation I’m dealing with.  Do you have that one go-to person you call when you need to talk through things?  My dad has this talent for listening to how I feel and then gently giving me some advice.

HEART STENCIL

In this video I show you how to use a pencil eraser to stamp perfect little circles.  We will make a quick heart stencil and use it to make both a filled-in heart (for the card) and an outlined heart (for the envelope).

Supplies:
card stock
envelope
thick card stock
pencil
scrap paper
pencil with an unused eraser
ink pad
tape
scissors

 

This video is dedicated to my cousins Kate & Rose.  Isn’t there something amazing about hanging out with family!  I hope you get to spend some quality time with family this week.


RAINBOW MARKER STRIPES

In this video I show you how to simply tape markers together to create a clean design.  Once you have them taped, let your creativity go and see what else you are inspired to create!

 

Supplies:
card stock
envelope
markers in rainbow color
tape

 

This video is dedicated to Creative Mornings.  Do you guys know Creative Mornings? If not, your life just got better!!  Check them out here.  Also, their podcast is so good!!!  Here are two of my favorite episodes:  Dallas Clayton & Tiffany Pratt.  Thank you, Tina and the whole Creative Mornings' community, for fostering my creativity and introducing me to so many other creative people I have been able to connect with!

RAINBOW THANK YOU CARD

In this video I show you how to make a rainbow thank you card with a wooden stamp and my FAVORITE rainbow ink pad!  Plus, I use my wash-tape supply to create a beautiful corresponding envelope! 

Supplies for Card:
card stock
ink pad in the colors of a rainbow
stamp

Supplies for Envelope:
envelope
washi rape in rainbow colors

 

This video is dedicated to Rachel Hollis!! In her words she built a multi-million dollar company and a google search bar!!  I discovered her about 6 months ago and she’s been inspiring my every since. Her book Girl Wash Your Face just came out.  It was her podcast Dais, that got me hooked!  Her energy is contagious and her belief in her tribe is sincere.  Check out her YouTube channel here.  Some of my favorite videos are this one and this one!  Thanks Rach for giving me the pep-talk to start this YouTube channel!!


RAINBOW OIL PASTELS

In this video I show you how to use oils pastels (aka Craypas!) to enjoy creating a simple rainbow postcard.  

Supplies:
water color post cards
oil pastels
wipes

 

This video is dedicated to my cousin Perego.  He’s an incredibly talented artist living in Florida.  For our wedding he painted us the most incredible portrait and then had all the guests add to it at the reception.  If you ever have a chance to watch him perform live, please do so, you will have an incredible time.  You can check out his website here.

RAINBOW CARDBOARD POST CARD

In this video my daughter Georgia and I will show you how to make a fun rainbow post card that anyone would love to get in the mail!!  It was so much fun creating together.  We hope this inspires you to make something with someone soon.

Supplies:
cardboard
bowl (with a 6 inch diameter)
markers in rainbow colors
pencil
sharpie
glue
cotton balls
scissor

 

I let Georgia dedicated this video and she chose her brother Conroy!!  It was so sweet and sincere.  And demonstrates exactly why I love this girl so much!!  


 

 

 

 

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Sunday May 7th Mother's Day Card Making Lunch

Attention Brooklyn and New York City friends: We’ve got your back for the second year in a row!!! Mother’s Day is approaching and we don’t want you to be scrambling around Sunday morning trying to make a card for the mom in your life!!

Come to Die StammKneipe (aka DSK) the Sunday before Mother’s Day (May 7th) from 11am to 1pm and we will help your little one make the cutest card for mom!! We will provide all the supplies and inspiration, you just need to show up with your little one and enjoy an afternoon lunch at DSK.

Admission is $20 per child and includes the card, an additional piece of artwork, $8 towards food and beverage, and $2 to tip the staff!! You can secure your spot here.

Moms, use this as an excuse to get some well deserved “me time.” Send your child with their dad, grandparent, or favorite “aunt”, while you do something just for yourself. Then on actual Mother’s Day you can fully enjoy sharing the entire day with the little one(s) who made you a mom!

And in all honesty, if you’d like to come spend May 7th with you child while they make you a card, you are more than welcome to come and enjoy a crafternoon together!! Trust me, you will still cherish this card forever even if it’s not a surprise.

We had an amazing time last year hosting this event. We look forward to meeting you and spending the afternoon making art!! Don’t forget to secure your spot by registering ahead of time. If you have any questions feel free to send me an email.

Event Info:

Sunday May 7 // 11am – 1pm // DSK Die StammKneipe // 710 Fulton Street (at South Oxford) // Brooklyn, NY 11217

For other things mom related...check out the review of last years event, another fun card to make with hand prints, and our favorite baby SMASHbook filled with all those memories from the first two years of our daughters life (here's a YouTube flip through video)

 

 

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Love Jac Mail: The Workshop! Join us today!

We are so excited to announce our latest project: Love Jac Mail: The Workshop!

It is a year-long online workshop that will help make it easier for all of us to send more mail and stay a little more connected with the people we love.

Here’s how it works:

Click here to join our workshop…Love Jac Mail: A Year of Staying Connected! Right away you can get started. We’ve created five short videos breaking down what it takes to actually get your letters in the mail. Watch them when you can and follow the instructions to start getting organized. You can do it all at once or little by little.

 MONTHLY WORKSHEET

A week before each month begins you will receive an email from us giving you access to that month’s worksheet. It will include a calendar listing popular holidays, fun facts, and some quirky holidays that will put a smile on your face!  

The worksheet will also provide to you with a place to list your monthly letter writing goals, schedule in your time, and be realistic about what you can accomplish.

3 MONTHLY VIDEOS

In addition to the worksheet, each month you will have access to three short videos.

  • An outline of the month, which will help us all get ready for what’s to come.
  • A creative challenge to help you fit in some extra craft time for yourself.  We will also give you some go-to tricks to make your card sending a little more fun.
  • A recap of what we accomplished the previous month, so you can see what worked and what didn’t work for us.

FACEBOOK GROUP

Once you have entered the workshop you will receive an invitation to our private Facebook Group where you can share your progress and get other tips from fellow workshop members. It will be a place where you can be inspired and also confess your struggles so you can get help from your new friends.

DISCOUNTS

Each month we will offer discounts on our products, as well as other stationery companies that we have partnered with. Over the years, we’ve gotten to know many extremely talented artists that create beautiful, sophisticated, and funny greeting cards. We are excited to introduce them to you, if you don’t know them already.

If you want to be the person who sends good old-fashioned snail mail, this workshop is for you. If you want to become more organized and have an easy system to getting those letters in the mail, join us. If you’d like to become friends with other people who have a love for written correspondence, we look forward to meeting you!

The workshop is open now and will go until the end of 2017.  It only costs $39 for the entire year. If you join before December 25th, you can use the code “FRIENDS” to save 25%.  If you have any questions, please email me at jac@lovejac.com.

We look forward to seeing you in the workshop!!

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ICS Winter Fair - Sunday December 4th

We are so excited December is here.  As we begin the last month of 2016, I am revisiting my One Little Word, documenting the month through my December Daily scrapbook album, and enjoying everything holiday as much as possible.  

We wanted to let you know we will be selling our cards this Sunday, December 4th at The ICS Winter Fair.  It will be take place at St. Joseph's High School at 80 Willoughby Street in Downtown Brooklyn from 10am - 4pm. 

We hope you can stop by, say hi, and get some of your holiday shopping done.  The day will be filled with performances and crafts for the kids.  If you are around on Sunday, we hope you pop in!

We have also designed a special card inspired by the amazing teachers at The International Charter School.  If you've been following along, you know that last year I toured what feels like every elementary school in Brooklyn.  After the long - more emotional than necessary - process we ended up at ICS.  We couldn't be happier.  Every day Georgia comes home happy and often she exclaims "Best Day Ever!"  She's been teaching us new songs and dances, telling us all about Ray Charles, and explaining how to sound out words.  The experiences she has been having at school have been creating new fun experiences at home.  From finding out how our whole family Ziggalows, to having a dance party to "Shake It Off", and my favorite - watching my mom A Tooty Ta.  She's loving school and sharing the things she loves with us.  I'm guessing this happens at most schools.  I'm sure it just feels extra special because it's our first time having a kindergartener.  

As a way to say "thank you", I designed a card to let the teachers know the direct impact that are making on our lives.  Simply fill it out when something touching happens at home and send it into school the next day.  This is just a little way to make sure the teachers know what they are doing at school is making our children's lives better even beyond school hours.  We hope getting this card makes the their day a little brighter.  All of the proceeds of this card will go to the Parent Organization at The International Charter School.  We've printed a limited run of these cards, so if you'd like to buy a pack, stop by on Sunday!

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We Love The Little Gym - Brooklyn Heights!

I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about The Little Gym for years now. If you follow us on Instagram you know we refer to it as Our Happy Place. Our family is now at the point where we have phased out of the parent-child classes and I wanted to finally share with you exactly why we love The Little Gym – Brooklyn Heights. If you are already a Little Gym fan I think you will relate to some of our experiences. If you are on the fence about joining, I hope this will give you a little insight to what it can offer you and your child. Because we had such an exceptional experience, I decided to sit down with Little Gym teacher, Ms. Marika, to find out just how they have built such a fun environment that is routed in early childhood development and teaches skills way beyond the balance beam.

I can still remember when we first started at The Little Gym – Brooklyn Heights. The weather had just turned cold again and my daughter was about to turn one. We desperately needed an indoor option that would get us out of the house. The Little Gym seemed like the answer. At first glance – it was extremely clean, the staff seemed friendly, and everything was padded so we didn’t have to worry about her falling and getting hurt. But then, I found out how much it cost. I was slightly in shock since this was our first real dive into year-long classes. I remember thinking “maybe this is why people say kids are expensive.” The woman on the phone kindly invited us to attend a trial class. I happily went with no real intention to sign up. I mean, we had definitely not factored this into our budget. As we sat together in a small circle on the big red mat, Ms. Jodi sang the welcome song and Georgia happily began shaking the beans. Within five minutes I knew this place was for us. I remember emailing my friends to see if anyone else wanted to join and joking that they should get used to my wardrobe because I wouldn’t be buying any new clothes for the next several years. Nearly five years later I can easily say The Little Gym has been the best investment (and readjusting of our budget) we have made since having children.

The Little Gym has provided us a safe place for our children to learn valuable skills far superior than a somersault. In small ways - such as waiting their turn in line, pushing themselves to try something new, and cheering on their friends – they are fostering significant character traits. They are building the foundation for key values, such as respect, friendship, and teamwork – all within the fun and friendly environment of play.

We knew all of this didn’t just happen so we sat down with Ms. Marika to find out just how The Little Gym – Brooklyn Heights seemed to know exactly what my children needed at each stage of their young life. We hope this information and our experience helps you make a decision if you are considering The Little Gym.

IT ALL STARTS AT THE MAIN HEADQUARTERS

The Little Gym is a franchise, so the majority of their philosophies and overall approach to early childhood education starts at The Little Gym’s main headquarters. They establish the structure and provide each branch with a class template. All of their core beliefs are routed in fun and usually come with a cute slogan. “’We take Fun Seriously”, “Be a Citizen Kid”, and “We are a Springboard for Life” are just a few. Ms. Marika has been to Little Gym Conferences and expressed very strongly the importance The Little Gym Corporate puts on looking at each child holistically. It’s not just about physical skills, it’s about the child as a whole….physical, emotional, mental, and social. She also really appreciates the way Corporate sets up the classes. First they do things as an entire group, then they break it down into smaller groups, and finally there’s open play. She has seen first hand how this really benefits the child’s experience.

THE AMAZING TEACHERS

The Little Gym – Brooklyn Heights is managed by Charles Kim. He also oversees the branch located in Tribeca. When I asked Marika just how they ensure the framework from Corporate made it to the children of New York City she spoke very highly of Charles and his hiring process. This didn’t come as a surprise to me because we often see Mr. Charles. He’s always holding the door for us or helping move strollers. You can tell he is in charge without micromanaging. Marika said when he hires new staff he looks for a background in child development. Whether it is past child care experience, college classes, or a major or minor in child development, all of the staff that is hired has an interest in children and helping them learn. He almost always hires college graduates, which I personally think makes a big difference compared to a high school student looking for a side job.

Once hired, the staff does in-house training. They are given instruction on what to expect at each age. Ms. Marika said it’s a continual learning experience. First an employee starts in drop off classes with the older children and then goes down to parent/child classes. The senior staff goes to workshops and trainings organized by The Little Gym Corporate.

Ms. Marika talked about how they hire many different types of personalities and backgrounds when it comes to their teachers. There are outgoing teachers, quieter teachers, silly teachers, teachers with dance backgrounds, teachers with gymnastic experience, and teachers that just love children. After The Little Gym many teachers go on to get their Masters or continue to work in child education. Different children click with different teachers.

Ms. Marika believes each child is different so it’s good to have different teachers to choose from. I could see that just in my two kids. Conroy loves to pretend that he’s a super hero, or an adventurer, or an animal. He gets in that world and he wants you to come along for the ride. When we were doing summer camp classes it was the first time he went to The Little Gym without me. At first he was a little sad, but as soon as Ms. Jocelyn realized he was “Gekko” and Conroy realized she was excited to play along, he was immediately ready for me to leave. His imagination continued into the regular year and Mr. Liam happily plays the part of “Cat Boy” while he teaches class. If that doesn’t demonstrate how focused these teachers are on each individual child, I don’t know what does. 

Georgia was also up for an adventure, just not as talkative. I still remember the day that she said her name out loud in front of the entire class. For some reason she would get so shy during that part of opening circle. She had no trouble hanging from the high bar or balancing on the beam, but when it was her turn to say her name she would refuse. I truly believe Ms. Kim was equally as proud the day she said it loud and clear. I basically burst into tears.

KNOWING THE NEEDS OF THE COMMUNITY

For us, one of the biggest benefits that I hadn’t previously thought of before joining The Little Gym - Brookyln Heights was the instant community. Knowing the needs of this community is another reason The Little Gym is so successful. 

Warning: I’m about to get a little sappy here. For us, The Little Gym was like a safe-zone…a worry-free zone. Yes, it starts with all the padding and the fact there isn’t much the kids could get hurt on, but in continues with the music they play. Especially when we started, it was often music from the 50’s - when life seemed less complicated. On hot days it was the cool air conditioning we needed and on cold days it was the warmth. There was no pressure to be returning emails or cleaning the house because it wasn’t accessible. It was 45 minutes of not checking my phone, not thinking about traffic or bicycles flying by, not concerning myself with anything or anyone else besides my daughter (and later my son).

The Little Gym recognizes that for city kids this space is our “space.” Most of our apartments are small and when it’s too cold (or too hot) for the park this is where kids can be free. This is where the open play is extremely beneficial. In addition to your weekly class, you also gain access to the open play sessions. The Little Gym knows how important this is to families and has even added additional times when there was enough interest.

In our early days at The Little Gym, it was the base of our schedule. I was determined to get my money’s worth, so we would go to our class + one open play per week. I remember one specific time when I was having a horrible day…we had spent the entire morning at the Verizon store trying to figure out some problem. When we left I was spent…and probably on the verge of tears…. we popped into the open play and it fixed everything. I was immediately in the best mood.

Being a stay-at-home (and sometimes work-at-home) mom, The Little Gym provided an escape from home and from work. It was a moment in our day to refocus and remember why I decided to spend my entire day with my child. I would fill with pride when they tried something new. There were constantly little moments of pure happiness…their excitement when the bubbles come out or when they figured out “slap and clap” on their own. I remember seeing older kids climb up to the high bar while their parents would stand by proudly. As I spotted my daughter as through I was an extension of her body, I thought, “how do those parents have so much confidence?”. Then just weeks later, it was me standing back, video taping Georgia as she swung like a monkey without any hesitation. I can easily say The Little Gym helped me grow as a parent as much as it helped Georgia and Conroy grow as kids.

The Little Gym has built a community. Charles stresses the importance of being friendly, caring, and always helping with strollers. This is a huge help for us city dwellers, because our stroller is basically our car – and many times it’s difficult to maneuver. All the staffers are there for us if we need something. There were days I forgot wipes and even one time I forgot a diaper! The Little Gym never hesitates to help a parent or nanny in need. Their bathrooms are extremely clean. Living in Brooklyn, that in itself is a luxury.

THE LITTLE GYM IS FOR EVERYONE

Marika emphasized that The Little Gym is for all children. The focus isn’t to become an Olympian or do everything right. It’s about taking one step at a time, trying new things, and having fun. It’s very easy to switch classes if something’s not working or if your child’s nap schedule changes. They want you and your child to have the best experience possible and it is truly felt.

As a parent, I want to emphasize that The Little Gym is for all types of families. My experience is from the stay-at-home mom’s perspective because that’s my life, but I can say from observation that children who come with nannies, babysitters, and other relatives get to experience it all the same. When we’re in class we are all one. Everyone is on the same page. I’ve found that it’s the perfect place to emphasize the importance of waiting your turn and sharing. This can sometimes be difficult at the playground, but at The Little Gym the rules are set from the beginning and everyone follows them. The Little Gym also makes it easier for working parents to experience class. They have many class options on the weekend and the early classes are perfect for parents who can go in to work a little late. I’ve watched parents start their day beaming with happiness and pride because of the wonderful experience they got to have with their child. One week towards the end of each session Little Gym has “Show Week” where the children get to show off their skills. Everyone is invited to come to class and it’s usually packed with parents, grandparents, and friends there to support their little one. 

The Little Gym understands as parents, we are busy. So they have figured out how to be a part of our schedule and our lives without getting in the way. The occasional email about your child is a welcome in your inbox and the option to have a birthday party there is a weight off of some parents’ shoulders.

WE LOVE THE LITTLE GYM 

In conclusion, if it’s not obvious already, we love The Little Gym – Brooklyn Heights. It has over delivered on the added joy it has provided to our lives. I’m so happy I was able to sit down with Ms. Marika and find out a little of the behind-the-scenes operations. Knowing all of this now makes it clear just why The Little Gym feels like home to us. The kindness, knowledge, and understanding of the staff are exceptional. When you pair that with the structure and fundamental philosophies for The Little Gym Corporate, you have a winning combination.

I have to thank all of our family and friends who have given gift cards and money to go towards our Little Gym tuition, especially Auntie Rachael. Without those gifts, I really wouldn’t have been able to buy new clothing over the last several years! If you are like us and were concerned about the expense, we highly recommend asking for gift cards towards The Little Gym in lieu of birthday and holiday gifts that will take up space in your small apartment. Even a small amount towards class is helpful. It adds up and can make a true difference in your child’s life.

I hope sharing our experience has helped some of you decide to join The Little Gym and watch your child have a wonderful time.  If you see us there, be sure to say hi!!

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Capsule Wardrobe - Summer 2016

After you’ve made it through the winter in New York City, something magical happens. The weather starts brightening up, you feel the warmth on your skin, flowers start to bloom, and everything seems possible. Long are the days of cursing the snow and navigating through slushy intersections and, all of a sudden, you are pushing that stroller with a skip in your step.

There was about a week when the weather was beyond nice but I hadn’t switched out my clothes and a whole new hatred towards my winter wardrobe developed. I couldn’t close my drawers and everything was too hot. When the frustration became too much to handle, I finally took an evening to sort my clothes on the bed. I purged some of them immediately and then put my summer clothes in the drawers so I could get to them. Once I didn’t feel like throwing everything out the window, I could function again.

My main goal of my summer capsule wardrobe was to focus on the number. After living with a capsule wardrobe for the fall and winter, it was obvious to me that I really only wear a limited number of clothes regardless of how many I have in my closet. I decided to go with my age as my goal number: 34! (I ended up with 35)

Once I had my clothes whittled down, I knew I had to get some new pieces. I wanted to have some comfortable dresses that could replace my mom uniform of last summer: a t-shirt and jean shorts. One morning I walked past a great sale at Banana Republic Factory Outlet and decided it was a sign!!! I gave myself a budget and tried on almost everything in the store. I came out of there with 11 new pieces – which I knew meant more editing at home, but I was happy about it.

 

My goals of this summer’s wardrobe is to:

#1: Substitute a more put-together dress for my standard uniform.

After reading many different mom blogs I knew this was possible even though it didn’t feel like it. No longer having to worry about needing to be breastfeeding-accessible also made this 100 times easier. So when the cute, stylish Banana Republic associate said that she thought my skirt was a little long, I smiled and said “It’s ok, I’m a mom, I need to be able to bend over and squat without having to worry about anything showing.” I walked away with four new dresses that were beyond comfortable and looked way more “put-together” than my cutoffs. I also bought two pairs of nicer shorts to help in this department. Don’t get me wrong, you will see me in jean shorts often this summer, but I’m hoping my black & white geometric pattern and the colorful bamboo leaf design make me feel a little more stylish.

 

#2: Take a Selfie Everyday so I know what I actually wore for later evaluation.

Alright, I’m finally posting this blog and the summer is behind us. I would say I failed at this goal. I tried. Sometimes I remembered, but it wasn’t a part of my world. In order to have succeeded at this, it had to be a habit and it just wasn’t. I’m not that upset about it. Here’s a little highlight of the times I did remember.

#3: Not worry if it feels like I’m wearing the same thing over and over again.

This is another area where I’m unsure if I’m succeeded. There have been a couple times when I thought, “Didn’t I just wear this dress two days ago?!?”, but I’m trying to not focus on that and enjoy the ease of getting dressed in the morning and the compliments I receive when people like my dress. If we get to the point where people start saying, “Did you wear that dress yesterday,” I will have to reevaluate!!

And now, I happily present you the clothes that have been helping me have a relaxed, comfortable, and enjoyable summer: My Summer Capsule Wardrobe.

 

TOPS: 12

BOTTOMS: 12 (6 SHORTS, 1 JUMPER, 1 LONG SHORTS, 1 OVERALLS + 3 PAIRS OF JEANS)

DRESSES: 8 

SHOES: 3

 

I’d say overall it was a good summer. Although, there are a couple outfits I don’t think I ever wore, for example, those fun black pants. That being said, I continue to learn more about my own style. Thanks for indulging me and checking out my wardrobe. Please, let me know if you have any tips that have worked for you!!

 

 

 

 

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Capsule Wardrobe Review & Winter 2015

Last fall after thinking about a capsule wardrobe for months, I decided to finally take action and just do it. I knew it wouldn’t be perfect, but I had to start somewhere…and I’m so glad I did. If you aren’t familiar with a capsule wardrobe, you can read more about it here and check out my first capsule wardrobe here.

WHAT I LEARNED FROM HAVING A CAPSULE WARDROBE

I have to say I love the concept, and I loved living it even more. This fall was my first capsule wardrobe. I went into it with the goal of stepping up my wardrobe game after falling into a strictly functional “mom wardrobe”. I was ready to put more effort into my appearance and, in turn, feel better about myself. In that area I absolutely succeeded. It’s true, when you put something on that you feel good in, you have an overall better day.

Shortly after I built my capsule wardrobe, I took Jess Lively’s Life With Intention Online” course and we identified my values in four areas of my life. For possessions (i.e., my capsule wardrobe), I knew I wanted it to be comfortable, livable, and put-together. Just saying those words makes me feel good – wearing those clothes made me feel even better. For me in the wardrobe department, I already had the comfortable and livable down. It was the put-together I needed to work on. The days when I wore my red dress or my white top and jeans I felt better about myself.

Overall, I loved having a capsule wardrobe in the fall. It was one less thing I had to think about in the morning and I loved feeling better about my appearance. I learned what I enjoyed wearing (bright colors, comfortable dresses) and what my go-to outfit was (a nice shirt and good jeans).

And then came the winter and with it my winter capsule wardrobe. It came and went and I’m perfectly ok with that. Oh man….the winter in Brooklyn is brutal. This winter wasn’t nearly as bad as last winter but, mentally, it’s challenging.  It’s hard to dress cute when you know you’ll have to layer up constantly. Combine those factors with wanting to save some money and you get my winter capsule wardrobe: a sea of black and gray ho-hum. It was so blah I never posted the photos. However, I feel that this blog has helped me grow on so many levels, that I am going to share my wardrobe with you today. (I know you’re on the edge of your seat!)

So without further ado and to put it all behind us….here’s my WINTER CAPSULE WARDROBE.

TOPS: 19

PANTS: 4 

DRESSES: 5 + 1 pair of overalls

SHOES: 4

TOTAL: 33

I am so happy I started a capsule wardrobe and I feel there’s many areas to improve upon - that also makes me excited. Looking at my four goals of my fall wardrobe, I am going to rate them for both my fall and winter wardrobes.

My four goals…

#1. I want to be proud of how I look. I want to put in the effort and not have to apologize for my appearance.

Fall: A-

Winter: B

On my Tuesdays and Thursdays I definitely succeeded when it came to this goal. Both my kids were in school so I had more time to dress myself (and put on make-up). I’d also often have meetings on these days, so that gave me another reason to look my best. Even on Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays I felt good about the outfit I had on at The Little Gym or teaching Artists & Crafts. Many times I got compliments on my outfit and that would make my day and showed me that a little effort did go a long way! The reason my grade went down for the Winter Wardrobe is because I didn’t feel excited about any of my outfits. I didn’t go shopping to amp up my wardrobe – mainly because I wanted to save some money, but also because the winter tends to bring me down a little bit. In Brooklyn – especially when you spend most of your day pushing a stroller outside – you really need to layer up!! It makes it seem a little pointless. Although – on that same note, it’s probably the exact reason I should be putting on clothes that make me feel great. To help battle that winter blah head on! I will work on this next year.

#2. I want to get out of the “mom clothes” funk!

Fall: A

Winter: C

I think the moral of the story here is that the time I took to curate my fall wardrobe and really think about the pieces that built my outfits made all the difference. It’s what made this capsule feel “put-together” for me. In the winter, I simply edited down the clothes I already had. Many of my pieces were black, gray, or loose fitting. Let this blog be my reminder to put in a little effort next December.

#3. I want to put in the prep-work to curate a collection of clothing that makes me feel great.

Fall: A

Winter: C

This explanation is pretty much the same as #2, but I will give myself credit for editing my clothes down so that I could easily open my drawers. Plus, making the time to take the photos made me feel slightly better about my outfits. I mean, they are kinda cute when you look at them cropped and edited together on the computer!!

 

#4. I want to make it public & hold myself accountable.  

Fall: A

Winter: C

The winter came and went and I never even blogged about my wardrobe. I did take photos so that is at least a step in the right direction. And I did eventually share them, so that next winter I can really make some progress. My goal of this summer wardrobe it to take a selfie every day so that it’s documented what I wore every day. Don’t worry I won’t be posting it every day, but I will share it on the blog to hold myself accountable. I recently read Getchen Rubin’s book, Better Than Before, and identifying myself as an obligor has given myself permission to use what I need to in order to follow through.

 

Fall Wardrobe Retrospective:

My favorite outfit was definitely the red dress, especially when I paired it with my jean jacket. The bright color instantly cheered me up and it was comfortable.

Of the shirts, I could have easily edited it down a little more. I think there were four shirts I never even wore once. The same goes for the dresses. There were about three I never wore, or I’d put them on, not feel good about how I looked, and then change.

I’m not sure what’s with me and jeans this year! By the time the fall was over only one of those pairs of jeans were still wearable.

My overalls were and continue to be well worn! However, I think I only wore the black and white pantsuit once.

My shoes worked out pretty good, but it quickly became too cold for open toed sandals, so I just brought my boots out of the closet.

The biggest challenge of my fall wardrobe was the quick temperature change. I had many short dresses that I soon couldn’t wear because the temperatures got cold quickly.

 

Winter Wardrobe Retrospective:

My biggest takeaway is that I need to add color to next winter’s wardrobe. The rest is all a blur!

I hope this look into my closet has helped you decide if you also want to create a capsule wardrobe of your own.  I highly recommend it. I never once missed the clothes that I donated and I really enjoyed the ease of picking out something to wear every morning!! I’d love to hear about your capsule wardrobe and any tips you have for me, so feel free to leave a comment below.

 

 

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