Team Spotlight – Miss Monica

Monica joined the Big and Tiny in Summer 2020 but it feels she’s been in the family forever! She looks after the  pre-school group at our Santa Monica location. Read on to learn more about Monica!

Describe yourself in two sentences.
I think I would describe myself as gregarious, hard-working, and passionate. I take pride in my ability to cultivate and nurture my personal and professional relationships, and I always try to put my best efforts toward taking care of the people and things that are important to me. 

What brings you the most joy about working with children?
What a difficult question! There are so many beautiful and exciting aspects about working with little ones. I would have to say that the one thing that brings me the greatest pleasure is having the opportunity to witness a child develop any kind of new understanding. This could be anything from grasping a challenging educational concept,  acquiring new social/interpersonal skills, or even accomplishing the seemingly simple task of learning how to tie their own shoes. In a child’s eyes, every new accomplishment, big or small, means the world to them. They are in a state of constant learning and development, and it is an absolute joy for me to witness it.

What is the biggest challenge about working with children?
While working with children is (in my opinion) the best opportunity one could receive, it certainly has its challenges. One of the most heartbreaking things to witness is when a child internalizes a mistake or perceived failure as a personal shortcoming. When they begin to believe that because they can’t accomplish something that is seemingly easy for others to accomplish, or if a classmate tells them that they don’t want to be their friend anymore, it can feel like the end of the whole world to them. So, my fellow educators and I always do our best to help them understand that no matter what, they are wonderful, capable human beings that are cherished and loved without a doubt. 

Describe your day at Big and Tiny?
Each day is always so different from the last, so it’s always a constant surprise! Typically, my day will begin with me greeting my wonderful coworkers. We always make sure to check in and see how everyone is feeling. Next, I begin to prepare for the day by getting materials ready for class. Afterwards, I get to greet my little ones and their families, which is my favorite part of the day! They are (usually) so excited and happy to see everyone and tell us what’s on their minds. Next, we begin our day with circle time, which consists of songs, books, games, and/or movement activities based on our theme of the week. Later, we enjoy a snack and some free play before we move onto literacy or math. Afterwards, we do some cool and totally messy sensory activities before lunch. To be honest, the mess is half of the fun. Later on, we do some art, games, and reading. Lastly, we end our day in Tinyland playing silly games, listening to music, making art, or doing whatever crazy fun we decide to get into that day!

What is your favorite activity to do? And what’s your favorite song?
My absolute favorite activity that I’ve done with my kids so far would have to be our gratitude tree. Before Thanksgiving break, we sat around our “tree” in Tinyland and took turns telling the class about one person or thing that we were grateful for. We would then write down what they shared on a leaf and the children would tape their leaves onto our tree. It was such a pleasure listening to the little ones really get the chance reflect and share what they value the most. Other times it was just plain funny to watch them soul-search until they finally decided that they were most grateful for roller coasters or something silly! We added to our gratitude tree every day since the beginning of November, and it was such a joy to watch our tree grow with each passing day. 

What’s your life motto?
I’m not sure I would say that I have a life motto, but one quote that I hold dear to my heart is:
 “The two most important days of our lives are the day we were born and the day we find out why.” – Mark Twain 
I am fortunate enough to have discovered my purpose in life. I know in my heart that I am supposed to work with children in some capacity for the rest of my life. It brings me the utmost pride, joy, and a great sense of accomplishment to be able to do so.

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Member’s Spotlight – Blaise Cannon

Blaise is a marketer, architect and devoted dad to Atlas. We learn more about his incredible career and loved hearing about his parenting tips.

Describe a typical work day?
I wake up at 5.30 to jog in my neighborhood, I get my exercise out of the way because when I get back my son Atlas wakes up. After breakfast, we head to Big and Tiny at Second Home in Hollywood. Once I drop off Atlas in the Big and Tiny pods, I settle in the courtyard or on the roof at Second Home to check emails and catch-up on any overnight or earlier timezone developments.

At 1pm I go to the Big and Tiny pods and feed Atlas his lunch after he wakes up from his morning nap. I then focus on an afternoon of work before picking up Atlas at 4.30pm and driving home. I love to cook for the family and once Atlas is in bed, I catch up with my partner or we like to watch TV with a glass of wine (we have been watching the shocking the NXIVM documentary on HBO Max).

What would be your tip(s) for any new working parent?
The biggest game-changer for me, especially during the most intense pandemic restrictions, have been to just own the time where you can’t get much done. My partner is an essential worker, so I was at home with our son for the most of each day.

At first, I was trying to work and parent simultaneously during his wake windows. Perhaps others are better at multitasking than I, but I found I wasn’t doing either working or parenting very effectively and it left me feeling down on myself and generally disappointed with how each day was going. I resolved to just be a parent during the time when he needed engagement.

Rather than having the laptop out while he tried to get my attention from the floor, we went on walks and I gave him (mostly) undivided attention. I found the additional work time that was required in the evening or at night did not significantly increase, and I felt much better about the work I was doing and the kind of parent I was able to be.

What are your favorite things to do as a family in Los Angeles?
We love packing a picnic and walking around the CalTech campus in Pasadena with Atlas in the stroller. There is a lovely pond filled with turtles that is a big time attraction for the kids and the architecture and grounds are a peaceful respite for the adults.

How do you take time for yourself? (When you get time for yourself!)

I don’t get too much, but my partner is really supportive of me paddling out to surf at least once per week. Usually I set out before sunrise on either Saturday or Sunday to meet up with a buddy or two somewhere in West Malibu for a few waves. I can still usually be back home in time for lunch and an active afternoon with the family.

How do you deal with failure?
In the abstract, I usually beat myself up about it for a time and then resolve to never let it happen again. More tangibly, I usually seek some intense physical activity like a hilly trail run or a marathon surf session. Compensating with a bit of time in isolation is also helpful for me, a kind of monastic reflection period, whether through those physical activities or a long drive–something along those lines.

What has been your biggest achievement professionally?
While working at an architecture firm in Paris some five years ago, I got to contribute to the team working on the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which opened at the beginning of 2018. In particular, I developed an algorithm that optimized the design for the Grand Vestibule, the first gallery in the procession of the museum, and the result is what you see built there today! I even have a tattoo on my right forearm to commemorate its completion.

 (Courtesy of The National)

What are your hopes for 2021?
I hope that we will get a chance to be a family out from under the dark cloud of pandemic. Our son was only out of the hospital for about six-weeks when LA went into lockdown. While I definitely look forward to the day when we can eat at a cafe or ride public transportation, not having family nearby has been particularly complicated since he hasn’t got to spend much time at all with relatives. I am most hopeful that will change in 2021.

 

Member’s Spotlight – Kate Insley

Kate is a designer and mother to Penelope. She has been a member of our Silver Lake location since we opened! From the UK and having lived in NYC, she had to find a support system in LA. Read on to find out more! 

What do you do?
I design retail spaces, installations and displays, mostly for fashion brands, along with managing their visual merchandising needs. I am also working on a personal project that I am hoping to launch in Spring 2021! 

You’re from the United Kingdom, what took you to Los Angeles? 
Short answer is my husband is from here. We met in New York, but I was living in London at the time. I moved to the US in 2017, and lived between NY and LA. I prefer the open space, the nature, the healthier lifestyle and the weather in Los Angeles, whenever I was getting on the plane back to NY, I was always sad to be leaving the LA climate. For those reasons, we decided to have our baby in LA and set up life here, instead of being back and forth. 

For you, what’s the key difference between the UK and USA?
So many things, but the one thing I like most about living here, is the opportunities the US has to offer. There is an openness to being able to follow, achieve and succeed in what you do. You can wear many hats, instead of being pigeon-holed to one. People here have many jobs, different jobs, jump industries etc., and that’s normal and accepted more easily I think.

What is the biggest challenge of being a working mother?
Having some downtime and time to yourself to recharge. 

What is your biggest achievement to date?Probably my daughter and my husband. Making a wonderful and healthy little girl is everything, watching her grow, learn, discover and love is so beautiful.

Kate Insley

Bringing up a child far from home can be tough, what support groups or organizations have your turned to? 

My support group is Big and Tiny and friends I have made who also have children similar ages to Penelope. I honestly don’t think I would have returned back to work if Big and Tiny didn’t exist, and don’t know what I’d do without it. I have never felt separated from my daughter by working from Big and Tiny (she was only 4.5 months old when I returned back to work full time), so being under one roof is great, her being close to me was, and still is important, so I could breastfeed her, and see her when I was available. With both my husband and I working, I prefer this way of balancing work and child.

How do you take time for yourself? (When you get time for yourself!)
I do Pilates twice a week, to rebuild my body and my strength and breath. I also enjoy taking a bath, reading, relaxing, meditating after Penelope goes to bed each night. Those few hours are crucial to my wellbeing and energy for the next day. 

What’s been your biggest learning of 2020?
To keep things more local and not to travel as much, taking more care of our Planet. I have also loved reduced working hours and spending more time in the day with Penelope, right now I am working part-time, and that balance is great. 

Member’s Spotlight – Baja B

Beja is a professional photographer and mother of two. We talk about how she got into photography and the all important balance between pursuing her passion and motherhood. Check out her work here.

How would you describe your style of photography?
If I had to define it, I’d say my style is organic, genuine and connected. I’ve always had an admiration for classical painters, and I’ve spent a lot of time at the MET in New York City. I adore rich, deep, and bold colors; smooth but with texture.

How long have you been taking professional photos and how did your passion start?
I’ve been a professional photographer for 15 years, working in portrait, documentary, event, and production photography in New York City.
My passion started after graduating from college – I quickly discovered that tourism wasn’t my calling. Along with the uncomfortable realization that followed: what to do instead? I had also just moved to the US, relocating to Brooklyn, NY from Budapest, Hungary. I worked as a nanny for a family, and the dad, Dan Cordle, happened to be the kindest human I’ve ever met and an amazing photographer. He quickly became my mentor, teaching me to shoot and develop my own film. Eventually, I transitioned to digital photography and started freelancing as a professional.

What childcare support do you rely on when working in the field?
I have 2 young children: aged 6 and 3. My first grader is currently in a pod and my youngest is the happiest at Big and Tiny.
The only reason I’ve been able to return to work, and find the energy to pick up my camera again is thanks to Big and Tiny. She is excited to join her friends every morning and literally never wants to leave! Big shout out to all the wonderful teachers – they are the best!
And last but not least, I adore Keltse, the owner and creator of Big and Tiny – she gently reminds me, when I feel a bit lost in this pandemic world, of gratitude.

What are you most proud of professionally?
I feel the proudest and happiest in the moment I deliver the final portraits to my clients. I print and frame my own work, and I need to see their reaction when they open their package! It’s incredibly fulfilling. Having spent so much time with them, and their images, they’ve become friends.
A very close second, is receiving an email from a client, years after working together, telling me how much happiness they get looking at the art on their wall.

How do you confront failure?
It’s hard, but I accept it. I remind myself that giving up is the failure.
We recently got a book for our six year old called ‘A Kids Book About Failure’ by Dr. Laymon Hicks – it’s a good read for grown ups too. A quote from the book became our new mantra: “Failure is not final, it’s a part of the process.” If you don’t try, you won’t fail but you won’t grow either!

Children are not the easiest subjects to photograph! What is your top tip?
My top tip is to surrender and let children be themselves. I believe success in capturing children’s portraits depends on your mindset.
Prepare yourself to surrender and take your ego out of it – especially with younger kids. It is not in their nature to stay still; frozen in their movements. Instead, make a game of taking their photos. Get them to laugh. Be extra silly, they won’t be able to resist. Remember, our children are a reflection of us. If we feel good and at ease, they will too!
More practical tips: plan your shoot around their schedule. Avoid disrupting nap time, and use the time of the day when they are the most energized. Make sure they aren’t hungry (or hangry) and plan something fun afterwards, too. Ice cream is a great motivator. Last but most important: let them wear comfortable clothing, that you won’t mind getting dirty. They are kids, getting dirty means they had fun.

What’s your motto in life?
Always choose kindness.