Why you should come to Exchange Place Plaza on June 10th?


Not that any of us need a reason to strap the kids into the double stroller and get out of the house, but sometimes we need a little motivation (or at least a destination.) Never fear – JCFamilies is throwing (another!) party. Save the second Fridays for the next five months for the Feministival.

The JCFeministival is a monthly party-in-the-park type event that brings local female business-owners out of their shops and gathers them in the sunshine overlooking one of the world’s most beautiful skylines. (Did someone say Springtime selfie?)

Imagine yourself (and your entourage – screaming children are especially encouraged) wandering around the Exchange Place Plaza on a Friday afternoon while the kids are suddenly clapping to music, or focusing on a magician, allowing you to socialize with other women who absolutely understand your simultaneous need to hold your kids close and watch them run far, far away. Don’t worry about forgetting the snacks. There’ll be food there.

At the Feministival, you’ll have the opportunity to watch the water glisten and chat with women who somehow had the wherewithal to start and grow businesses. You’ll connect with women who are passionate about their work, women who have something to share with the world. Women who, in addition to being your almost neighbors, are also health care providers, artists, and educators. Women who inspire.

Come find me! I’ll be the one with the messy-bun and the black t-shirt that one of my kids just spilled yogurt on. (Oh wait. That’s all of us.)

 who You! And your kids. Everyone’s invited!

 what JCFeministival!

 where Exchange Place Plaza

 when Second Fridays, 3-8 pm (5/13, 6/10, 7/8, 8/12, 9/9)

 why To support local female business owners, to make friends, to watch

 how If you’re not up for a walk, the Light-Rail stops at Exchange Place, the kiddies giggle, to bask in the glory of our city and so does the PATH.

Mel Kozakiewicz is the founder and CEO of The Moxie Group, a consulting company for all your marketing needs.

Picky eater or feeding disorder? Meet Alyssa Kane: Feeding Specialist and Speech Language Pathologist in Jersey City

 Alyssa Kane speech language and pathologist in Jersey City





Alyssa Kane, speech language and pathologist in Jersey City

Author’s Note: Except for Alyssa Kane, all names have been changed to protect the privacy of the families and children under Kane’s care.

 Alyssa Kane speech language and pathologist in Jersey City
Alyssa Kane – Speech Language Pathologist

After multiple choking incidents, Emily Carter realized that her 2 ½ year old son Jayson was not chewing his food. He had a difficult relationship with eating, and even at 2 ½, he hadn’t transitioned properly to solid foods – a transition that generally takes place around 1.

“We felt scared and overwhelmed,” Emily remembers, “and out of our depth. Jayson was diagnosed with ‘failure to thrive,’ was in the 4th percentile on growth charts, and was extremely fearful of food.”

Upon a friend’s suggestion, Emily met with Feeding Specialist and Speech Language Pathologist, Alyssa Kane. (Note: While Speech Language Pathology is a broad field with many different areas of focus, Alyssa primarily works with children who have feeding and/or swallowing disorders.)

“Alyssa is a wonderful human being—warm and welcoming—and terrific with children. Jayson took to her immediately.” And so, for the next year and a half, Alyssa worked with the Jayson and Carters.

“Alyssa engaged Jayson in exercises and games to teach and encourage him to chew. Later, Alyssa helped us introduce new and more complex foods, increasing the number and types of foods he would eat. He only ate pasta and baby cereal at age 2.5, so it was an incredible accomplishment on her (and his!) part to move to a wider variety of foods. Alyssa also connected us with a nutritionist who helped us create meal plans and ideas that dovetailed with what we were working on with her. For us, Alyssa was a miracle worker and it’s not too far from the truth to describe her as life saver,” said Emily.

When asked, Alyssa does not refer to herself as a miracle worker, but she is passionate about her work. “My love for this kind of stemmed, and I’m happy that I took on this end of speech language pathology. I feel very fortunate to have chosen a profession that I love so much.

“Moms feel anxious, overwhelmed, and lost when their children aren’t eating correctly. 95% of the parents I work with probably feel that way. They’re nervous about their kids’ nutrition and hydration and they’re spending all day trying to feed their kids. Their doctors tell them to keep going, or they get advice from parents or friends that ultimately isn’t useful. ‘Eating is instinctual,’ they’ll hear, or ‘Don’t worry. He’ll figure it out.’ And I think some parents don’t understand that they’re not the reason that their child is struggling. They think it’s their fault. Simply, it’s not true,” she explains.

Anita Klein, another mother whose child has worked on feeding with Alyssa, whole-heartily agrees. “Our son Miles underwent cardiac repair surgery at just three weeks old. He was not feeding well. We wanted to get him to eat and thrive,” she said, “but it wasn’t coming together.

“Before I met Alyssa, I had no idea that babies as young as weeks old could have feeding issues, or that there was help. I thought it was instinctual too, and was blown away that it wasn’t.

“It isn’t a bad thing to have trained eyes on your child. There is a difference between a picky eater and a child who needs assistance, and there is nothing wrong with you or your child if you need help. You’re not alone. Working with Alyssa has given us tools to help Miles try out new textures and foods, and make eating fun instead of a chore.”

Which, to Alyssa, is the goal. “Raising children is hard,” she says, “I want to help parents feel like mealtimes are enjoyable and pleasurable for their family.”

Alyssa primarily works with kids from the age of 0-3, but these kinds of issues can arise throughout adolescence. “There are lots of reasons kids can have feeding disorders,” she says, “There are sometimes medical issues like premature birth, gastrointestinal concerns or underlying cardiac conditions. Other feeding disorders could be a result of sensory or developmental disabilities. Or you may have a very typically developing child who is just having a hard time with chewing or transitioning to solids.

“And their feeding concerns vary too. Let’s say you have a 24-week preemie. Typically in the NICU, they’ll try to bottle-feed, but these children aren’t able to coordinate sucking and breathing on their own, so we’ll try a technique called pacing which involves taking a lot of breaks. Other children have cardiac conditions and they fatigue quickly. Maybe they’re at high risk for aspiration (food going into the lungs), or reflux or in some cases, they have severe issues where they’re refusing to eat.”

In addition to her job at the hospital, Alyssa sees patients in the privacy of their homes, and at their convenience. When first meeting a concerned parent, Alyssa sets up a consultation session where she completes an initial evaluation to understand the child’s medical and feeding history. (Often there’s an underlying medical issue, but not always.) Then she’ll observe the child eating (or resisting, depending). She’ll also provide recommendations and referrals, as well a full written evaluation to be sent out to whomever the family wishes.

Think your child might have a feeding disorder? Consider contacting a feeding specialist if the following apply to your child:

  1. Feeding refusal including arching away from bottle/breast, crying, pushing food away, parents needing to use distractions in order for child to accept food
  2. Prolonged mealtimes (greater than 30 minutes)
  3. Irritability or fatigue during feeding
  4. Difficulty transitioning to solid food (including purees and/or table food) at appropriate age
  5. Difficulty chewing
  6. Coughing, gagging, choking, vomiting during mealtime
  7. Difficulty breathing while eating
  8. Not growing and gaining weight appropriately
  9. Recurring pneumonia or respiratory infections
  10. Child eats only a limited repertoire of food items (beyond “picky eaters”)

To learn more, or to contact Alyssa, visit her website at http://alyssakane.wix.com/alyssa-kane

Written by Mel Kozakiewicz (msmel1979@yahoo.com) for jcfamilies.com

Downtown Pharmacy in Jersey City

Downtown Pharmacy, More than just a drugstore. New Location in Park Avenue, Jersey City

Downtown Pharmacy in Jersey City

There is nothing like a convenience store when you are a parent right?. Those stores where you can solve almost all your problems in one visit. Imagine this scenario, you have a birthday party coming up but also some playdate this week, you run out of fruits and snacks and you want to impress your significant other tonight with an anniversary dinner, but Oh wait!  You need to pick your prescriptions up as well.

If you live in Downtown Jersey City, we have a place where you can do this and more with no crowd and in a beautiful and comfortable space, plus they have a cute little shopping car for your kid to have some fun too.

Downtown Pharmacy in Jersey City

For over 10 years, Downtown Pharmacy has been a staple in the Paulus Hook community. Now the shop’s progressive owners have opened a second location right on Park Ave in Jersey City. More than just a drugstore, Downtown Pharmacy has become a versatile community hub that’s true purpose is to serve the neighborhood and its people. Having tailored the store to its nearby residents, Downtown Pharmacy carries just about anything one could need on a daily basis. Manager Alex Pan states, “We built our business based on the needs of the people in the community and their requests.”

Downtown Pharmacy in Jersey City

The new location, like the original on Essex Street, offers everything from organic food to natural salon products. Downtown Pharmacy also have open requests as well, in the rare event that they do not carry what their customers are looking for. What’s more, the shop has geared itself towards the needs of local families, particularly those with a new child. The shop carries brands such as Babyganics, Honest Company, California Baby, and other high-quality product lines ideal for those who want to choose the best for their kids. In addition, both locations allow moms who are nursing to rent hospital grade Medela breast pumps. While the quality of hospital grade breast pumps such as Medela are preferred to many commercially sold pumps, the rentals can also be more cost efficient, especially in the short term.

Downtown Pharmacy in Jersey City

Downtown Pharmacy may have a vibrant upscale look, but the shop prides itself on being affordable as well. For instance, its staff provides free delivery to local residents for anything from prescriptions to groceries (customers are also able to refill prescriptions via smartphone). Downtown Pharmacy is nostalgic of the days when being the community drugstore meant being the focal point of the neighborhood, and in many ways, they have become just that. “A lot of the time customers are at work, then can refill their prescription through mobile and we can deliver their prescription to their doorman at no additional cost,” said Pan. “We want to be helpful to our community.”

Downtown Pharmacy’s new store is located at 18 Park Avenue in Jersey City. To learn more call: 201-885-2939 or visit them at: http://www.downtownpharmacy.com/