NJF: How did you end up in Cedar Grove?
Anna: We’re both from Bloomfield, NJ—I attended Montclair State University and Danny went to William Patterson. We have family here, so we knew we would stay. When we were house hunting, we looked all over the West Essex area. We wanted a small-town feel, but didn’t want to go too far from our favorite people and places. Cedar Grove fit the bill.
What do you like best about your town?
It’s close-knit: People patronize the local businesses and everyone roots for each other. There are tons of young families and great people here. We all met just being outside doing yard work or gardening. After I had my first baby I was truly overwhelmed by everyone’s kindness—they all brought food and gifts. Everyone gets to know each other on a personal level, which I love.
What do you do for work?
I am on maternity leave with my third child, but before that, I was a special education teacher. After each kid, I took a one-year leave and then went back part-time, three days a week. It was the best of both worlds because on my days off, I could really focus on the kids and getting house stuff done. Dan is a senior account manager at Doka USA, a formwork supplier for construction companies.
When I was working, we had a nanny two days a week and my father also watched the kids for us. We paid the nanny $15 an hour and I found her through the Montclair Mommies Yahoo group. My work-life balance was very good when I worked part-time, but the hardest thing was finding enough time in the day to get everything done.
What’s a typical Saturday night?
A movie and popcorn with the family. Sometimes my parents watch the kids and we go out with friends. We like Lombardi’s in Cedar Grove (599 Pompton Ave.), Salute in Montclair (173 Glenridge Ave.) and trying new restaurants.
What’s your favorite thing to do in NJ with the kids?
I’ve been going to the shore since I was a child, and now we spend summers there at my parents and in-laws’ houses in Island Heights and Manahawkin. We also spend a lot of time at the town pool and do a ton of local activities, like town soccer, the YMCA, festivals and apple and pumpkin picking. In the winter our town community park is great for sledding, and this year I’m looking forward to introducing the boys to ice skating.
—As told to Michele Silver