Our Experts

Our experts are moms & dads, the people whom we trust to help us to curate the best quality toys from around the world for your Little Pnuts Special Deliveries. Each expert brings to the team a special skill and unique ability from their own experiences. We believe they have a love for children as strong as our own and have the same goals and mission that we have in bringing you the very best toys for your Little Pnuts.

 

Jan Weiner

Director of Cathedral Montessori School

Jan Weiner received her BA in ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Elementary Education and Reading Specialist from the Fairleigh-Dickinson University ­­in Madison, New Jersey. She earned a Masters in Education with a concentration in Early Literacy and a minor in Gifted Education from the University of New Orleans in 2005 where she was named Outstanding Masters Graduate Student.  She has attended summer institutes on the Teaching of Reading and Writing at Teachers’ College, Columbia University.  She is currently pursuing her Doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction, with a minor in Early Intervention, at the University of New Orleans.Jan received her American Montessori Society Early Childhood Credential from Missouri Montessori Teacher Education Program, in St. Louis, Missouri in 2010.    Since its inception in June, 2010, Jan has served as the Director of Cathedral Montessori School.  She stays current in the field of Montessori education by attending national and international conferences and is actively involved in professional Montessori organizations.Jan taught first grade for fifteen years at a New Orleans Independent School where she designed and taught language arts, math, and social studies curricula and incorporated the use of literacy workshops enabling the improvement of differentiated instruction.  She continues to engage in literacy by teaching literacy courses as an adjunct professor at the University of New Orleans.

 

IMG_3404BWSqMisty Scott

Learning Specialist and Montessori Teacher

Misty is a former Learning Specialist and Montessori teacher who used to have her own private practice where her primary focus was to help all children find the joy in learning, especially in math and science.  Misty’s niche was working with students with learning disabilities, as well as those on the autism spectrum. Misty closed her practice once M entered our world, and needed some individualized attention due to food allergies.  Prior to having her own practice, she was a Montessori teacher for 4th-6th grade for eight years.  She has both an Elementary I and II Credentials with the American Montessori Society (AMS), and is also a certified Montessori Consultant through AMS.  Misty graduated from Baylor University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology with a Minor in Chemistry and Math. Misty then continued to get a Master of Science Degree in Education with an emphasis on Curriculum and Instruction.  Misty has had the honor of using her educational experience to help several private and public schools write their curriculum.

You can find Misty blogging on her site, The Motley Toddler.

 

Nilong & the BoysBWSqNilong Vyas

Pediatrician and Sleep Consultant 

Dr Nilong Vyas is a Pediatrician by trade and a mother at heart of two beautiful boys. She was born in India and moved to the states when she was five. She was raised by educator parents and went on to achieve a master’s degree in public health from Tulane University and completed medical doctorate at LSU. After completing her Pediatrics residency at children’s hospital in New Orleans, she joined private practice at Lake Vista Pediatrics. After working there for 7 years, she decided to start her own sleep training consulting business called Sleepless in Nola. She is a firm believer in sleep and good sleep habits. She says ‘from good sleep comes good eaters andgood readers’. It helps kids develop both socially, emotionally and educationally. She is our resident expert of all things medical for our Little Pnuts.

 

Jessica Howard

Educational Play Blogger, Founder and CEO of Kids Night Out, Parents Night Off 

Jessica Howard’s career as an educator spans 14 years. The companies she has worked for include: Bright Horizons, the New York Junior Tennis League, the Upper West Side Playgroup, the Police Athletic League and the Harlem Children’s Zone. She has worked as a volunteer for La Petite Academy, the YMCA, the Boy and Girls Club, among others.

While working at Bright Horizons, Jessica came to realize the benefits of educational babysitting. So she decided to become an entrepreneur, and proceeded single-handedly to build Kid’s Night Out, Parents Night Off from the ground up, while continuing her education and working full-time. She believes that this experience made her stronger and better able to assist families in crisis.

Jessica’s philosophy of education and child development consists of love coupled with firmness, when necessary, as well as a focus on major milestones. In addition, she believes that the educator must take into account the unique attributes of every child in his or her care.  Finally, she believes that the most effective way to engage children and promote their independence, develop intellectual interests and foster social growth is to harness the child’s love of fun, so she emphasizes the role of play.

Jessica did her undergraduate work at Metropolitan College of New York (formerly Audrey Cohen College), receiving a degree in Professional Studies in Human Services.  She is currently pursuing an M. Ed. in Early Childhood Education and Child Development at Ashford University.

You can find Jessica over at ParentsNightOff.com

 


Cat R. Wall

Creative Mama of all Things Magical

Cat Wall is a makeup artist, Mom and self-professed “tip” junkie. Her versatile makeup style and technical skills have firmly established her reputation as an industry leader and her 18 years of experience as a makeup artist for print, runway and film have made her the go-to makeup artist for many in the industry. Her client list includes Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, Kristen Stewart, Jon Hamm, Neil Patrick HarrisPresident George W. Bush, Katie Couric, Kathie Lee, Rachael Ray, Emeril Lagasse, Hoda Kotb, among many, many others.

As a child, Wall was always playing with her mother’s makeup and remembers being “fascinated by the colors and how the products felt in [her] hands.” After law school left her feeling less than enthusiastic about it as a profession, she took at job at a department store working for a big cosmetics line. “Standing, waiting for sales bored me so I began grabbing anyone who walked by to put makeup on,” Wall says. “It wasn’t long until I had built quite a following.” Soon after, a regular client gave Wall’s name to her fashion photographer brother and months later he called her as a last-minute replacement – which “changed my life and career path,” she says

In 2008 came the birth of her son and with that a whole new layer of life experience and education. Makeup Artistry requires travel, so it is not uncommon to find Wall trussed like a pack mule hauling Makeup Kit and child to and fro from some of the more luxe fashion capitals in the world. “Part of being a makeup artist is thinking on your feet, Indulging and pleasing your client, knowing how to adapt and being able to pull magic out of a hat… could you think of a better career to prepare you for motherhood?,” she laughs. From all of this experience she says, “I am always gleaning new ways to travel with a child, ways to make it more fun, easier. I have always loved “tips & tricks” so its fitting I get to collect and share them by writing about them!

Stephanie Haass

Early Childhood Activities Expert & Blogger 

Stephanie Haass knows firsthand how motherhood can take your life in exciting and entirely unexpected directions in the blink of an eye!  After earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Texas Christian University, Stephanie practiced for seven years as a Speech-Language Pathologist specializing in autism spectrum disorders and early intervention in both school and private settings. She particularly enjoyed collaborating with teachers and administrators to design strategies to help students with disabilities succeed in mainstream classrooms. Driven by a passion for her profession, Stephanie has spoken at both state and national conventions on a variety of topics pertinent to autism, inclusion, and language development, and was two years into the doctoral program at the University of Texas at Dallas when she received the amazing (and terrifying) news that she was expecting a set of bouncing boy/girl twins.  Suddenly, she was trading thoughts of dissertations for diapers and not regretting it for a second!

After the premature delivery of her babies in 2011, Stephanie was determined to provide them with as much developmental stimulation as possible as soon as they were home from the NICU.  Drawing upon her therapeutic background, she planned simple activities for them designed to encourage development in many different areas (cognition, language, fine/gross motor, etc.).  As the twins got older, she teamed up with another mother from her neighborhood and began hosting structured play dates in her home featuring fun educational activities created from common household items and art supplies.  Always a writer at heart, Stephanie began blogging about early childhood activities as well as her other creative pursuits in 2012.  You can read all about her adventures in parenting and creativity at Twodaloo.com

 

Jennifer Haas

Mom of Four, Activity Expert & Blogger 

I am a Mom of four…well sort of :)Full time Mom to two boys of my own. Seven months and seven years. And step-mom to two, eleven and nine. Married to my best friend, living in East Coast suburbia. Life is good!

I used to work full time, then I had Mr A. Then I worked part-time in a full time corporate world…. until now. I did IP telephony training. I know, technical stuff. I really enjoyed it though. I got to travel occasionally, but when I wasn’t working I got to be home with A. It was the best of both worlds. Enter the babycakes. He’s such a love, I just couldn’t leave him to return to work. At least not yet. So, in the meantime, to stay sane, I blog.  I have always had a love of photography and being home full time is allowing me to further pursue that. Yay for creative outlets!  These things currently keep my brain functioning in the adult world. I’ve been in a technical world for a lot of years and am excited about tapping into the creative side. My goal in life is really just to make every day a little bit special and that’s how “plain vanilla mom” was born if you will. I want my kids to remember every ‘plain vanilla’ day of their lives as a special one.

I value education and look for opportunities for learning in the little activities we do daily. We realize some of the best toys are not the store bought ones. I love doing projects and crafts with the kids and in the summer months I love to plant flowers and play outside.  I love a good book. Story time is a favorite among us. Even the big kids still like their nightly story in this house.  All that and I’m a girl!! I love to shop and you can bet I find time for a mani-pedi here and there.

You can read all about her adventures in parenting and creativity at PlainVanillaMom.com

 

 

Louise Fenton

Eco-Centric Mom & Director

Even before becoming a mother, child development and education has been a long-time passion for Louise Fenton. While still living in New York City, Louise had worked on several projects for Nickelodeon, the Noggin Network and as a producer of the Emmy award-winning PBS show, Reading Rainbow. She has always enjoyed very close relationships with her many nieces and nephews as they grew, during which time she acquired an especially avid interest in observing and participating in the ways in which they learned and developed. Her experiences with and love for each of her sisters’ children played a major role in her playful approach to parenting and multifaceted educational philosophy. Louise became known to her nieces and nephews as the kooky aunt willing to join in their mischief and more likely to be found dining at the kids table (or occasionally hiding with them underneath it).

When it came time to raise her own family, Louise took a long hard look at the world around her and felt rather oppressed by the commercialism and tacky consumerism that seems to invade all aspects of being a child in today’s society. She set about to combat this modern trend immediately. Louise feels rather strongly that protecting the planet for the next generation should be of the utmost priority when it comes responsible parenting. Not only is choosing a natural and low impact way of living better for our planet and the health of our children, the gadgety and commercial kinds of toys and entertainment really aren’t doing our children any kind of justice on a developmental level. They are better to build and imagine than consume and react.

Not only has “keeping it green” helped this household to rest better at night, it has secured a healthy respect for our natural resources and fostered creativity and imagination in at least one member of the future generation. Little Pnuts aims to do the same for a good many more.

 

Stefan Beese

Interior Design and Architect

Stefan Beese is a native German Production Designer and Architect who moved to Los Angeles in 1999, and currently resides in New Orleans, LA. Stefan has been an honored and certified member of the German Chamber of Handicrafts, after a three-year apprenticeship in carpentry in 1989. Graduating from the Polytechnic School of Art at Husum, Germany in 1992, with a Bachelor of Fine Art and Design, Stefan studied Architecture at the University of Applied Science, Kiel, and Interior and Production design at the University of Design and Media in Hanover, Germany.

As the father of two boys, Stefan is always on the search for new inspiration in kid-friendly environmental design.  Being from Europe his influences are very much that of the Scandinavian design, philosophies and practices.  Hand-crafted furniture and children toys have been a fascination since his early carpentry years working in Germany, where he started to develop toys such as Play Kitchens, Grocery Stores and Puppet Theaters or hybrids thereof. These days Stefan works with Little Pnuts as a consultant on children toy design, manufacturing process, aesthetics, durability and quality-control.