Meet a Mom: Elizabeth (Liz) Kelly | Hudson County Moms

How many children do you have and what are their age(s)?
I have 2 boys. Ben is 4 and Sam is 18 months.

How long have you lived in Jersey City? What made you decide to live here?
I’ve lived in Jersey City for the past 7 years.
I grew up in New Jersey and moved to western Massachusetts for 5 years after college. After I got married, I knew I wanted to raise my kids close to my family, so I convinced my husband to move to NJ. Choosing Jersey City was a no-brainer—walking distance to great restaurants and shops, short ferry ride to NYC and Liberty State Park… We fell in love with the neighborhood and have been here ever since.

What’s your favorite family activity Jersey City?
We love walking along the water. My oldest is obsessed with transportation so we take a lot of mini adventures on the light rail and ferry boat. We love all the family-friendly events in Jersey City throughout the year, like All About Downtown Street Fair and Project Eats. Not to mention the wonderful farmer’s markets—such a great way to connect our kids with real food.

Where’s your favorite place to eat and/or shop in your town?
Where do I begin?!? My favorite places for coffee and to get work done are Sam AM and The Cliff. Both my husband and I love Mexican food and Jersey City has no shortage of Mexican restaurants. Our favorites are Taqueria, Orale, and Taqueria Viva Mexico for takeout. We also love the unique menu at Frankie and the family-friendly experience at Amelia’s and Hudson & Co. John’s Pizzeria has the best gluten free pizza. My favorite store is Hazel Baby. They have the best eco-friendly toys and clothing for kids. I love everything in their store but some of my favorite brands are Loved Baby, Babo Botanicals, Plan Toys, and Grimms.

What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Our youngest son, Sam, was born with a brain abnormality called Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum (ACC), meaning his corpus callosum never formed. The corpus callosum is the main pathway that connects the two sides of the brain and allows them to communicate. Since this “superhighway” isn’t working, the brain has to use ‘side streets’ (or other pathways) to get information from side to side. Amazingly, the human brain is so adaptable that many people with ACC are able to have independent, “normal” lives. They often have a variety of less obvious disabilities, such as learning to read, developing motor coordination and interacting in complex social situations. Confronting Sam’s diagnosis has been an emotional roller coaster, but we are so grateful that thus-far he’s only had mild issues with gross motor skills. We’re so thankful for In-Home Pediatric PT— Giselle and her therapists are the best!

Anyone special you’d like to thank for helping you through parenthood?
Oh man, they’re right when they say it takes a village to raise children. My husband and my mom have been my rocks these past 4 years. From an unexpected cesarean, to supporting me when I decided to have a VBAC, to all the scary prenatal MRI’s with Sam, to a diagnosis of postpartum depression — I can’t imagine life without these two humans. I’m also thankful for all the Jersey City mamas I met when I had my first son. Jersey City has so many wonderful ways of finding that important village that mothers need—like new mom support groups, meetups, and mommy & me classes.

Are you involved in a business venture, a local organization, a creative endeavor, or in the corporate world? Please share!
Yes – I brought Tinkergarten (a nation-wide program) to downtown Jersey City this past fall. Tinkergarten brings families together in a natural place in their community for classes where kids 18 months- 5 years learn through play. We help kids develop a variety of important capabilities, including empathy, collaboration, creativity, persistence, and problem-solving.
I absolutely love Tinkergarten’s mission and values, especially the emphasis on establishing a joyful community. As a mother, I’ve come to value this and aspire to someday help build supportive communities for new mothers. We know that parenthood is challenging and stressful. I love the different ways Tinkergarten supports families by providing valuable bonding time between children and parents/caregivers, while giving them a deeper understanding of early childhood development.

Being a Tinkergarten leader has been an exciting adventure. I don’t regret for a minute “retiring” from kindergarten teaching five years ago to stay home with my kids. However, I’ve always wanted to get back to teaching small children in some capacity. Being a Tinkergarten leader allows me to be home with my kids and also stay involved with teaching. Even better, I get to teach in the best possible classroom – nature.

How has this community been instrumental in getting you to where you are now?
I’m lucky to live in a place where parents understand the benefits of outdoor play. Jersey City also has an amazing online mama community in both Facebook and Instagram. Accounts like Jersey City Moms Network and Jersey City Mamas have helped me spread the word about Tinkergarten.

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