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February 2010 Established 1986

Deputy Mayor Kevin Sheekey and family at NYC’s Marriage Bureau.


Deputy Mayor Kevin Sheekey And His Wife Robin On Raising A Family In The City They Love





Meet The Dad Behind “The Lightning Thief”


+++++i&YUSBPSEJOBSZw$VTUPNFS3BUJOHJOThe Lila Guide: New Parent Survival Guide ,JEWJMMFOBNFEi#&450'wCZNew York Magazine

Camp Kidville 2010! Camp Starts May 10th

Registration is Underway! Campers and their counselors visit different classrooms where specialists lead them through all kinds of activities - gym, arts and crafts, music, and hands-on exploration.

upper east side: 163 East 84th St. (btwn 3rd & Lexington) NY, NY 10028 phone: 212.772.8435

Little Maestros @ 69th St. 344 East 69th St. (btwn 1st & 2nd) NY, NY 10021 phone: 212.772.8435

200 Church St. (corner of Duane) NY, NY 10013 phone: 212.362.3923

upper west side:

park slope (annex):

466 Columbus Ave. (btwn 82nd & 83rd) NY, NY 10024 phone: 212.362.7792

808 Union St. (corner of 7th) Brooklyn, NY 11215 phone: 718.569.2150

tribeca (annex):

Ages: 18 months – 5 years

Camp Kidville is the hottest and coolest place to play in the spring and summer! $MBTTFTt#JSUIEBZ1BSUJFTt*OEPPS1MBZTQBDFt#PVUJRVFt"/%.03& Camp continues for 16 weeks through the week of August 23rd, unless noted. Camps start and end according to session dates in 2, 8, 12 and 16 week increments. Call your local Kidville location for specific pricing information.

Event dates:

February 17th, 2010 at 8:00 AM


The Princeton Review 2315 Broadway at 84th Street

Advanced registration is required. Call 646.613.9500 or email to reserve a spot today!

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City Of Love =<9IL8IP)'('

When’s the last time you and your spouse went on a truly memorable date? Not just dinner and a movie—but something that was special and fun and a little different and reminded you why you were together in the first place? (I don’t remember either.) As parents, it can be easy to let our romantic lives go by the wayside, but our relationship with our significant other has just as big an impact on our family life as our parenting does. So, with a ;\glkp nudge from Valentine’s Day, we’ve included a special tip sheet that’s full of DXpfi B\m`e inspired date ideas for parents (page 44)—from sports adventures to artsy J_\\b\p 8e[?`j rendezvous to a few outings where you can even bring the kids along. (Have N`]\IfY`e FeIX`j`e^ they been to the top of the Empire State Building? Have you?) 8=Xd`cp @eK_\:`kp And what would Valentine’s Day be without a gift for mom? For dads K_\pCfm\ K?< who are looking to go beyond the last-minute flower routine, our style editor compiled a guide to stunning jewelry at many price points, as well as F=K?< some creative non-jewelry alternatives (page 46). And here’s a good tip for 8KK?< DFM@<J1 dads: recruit your child into a covert craft project expressing their love for their mom. Then you won’t need the jewelry. Speaking of love, we didn’t embark on our cover story this month thinking that it would be a good complement to our Love and Romance package…but it certainly feels like one. Deputy Mayor Kevin Sheekey and his wife, children’s photographer Robin Caiola Sheekey, not only brim with love for each other and their two adorable children, but are the kind of New Yorkers who, settling here as adults, fell in love with the city and made great neighbors and friends. They embrace New York with the ebullience of children—and we encourage you to read our interview with them (page 40). It’ll probably remind you (if you need it) of why you love the city, too. We thank the Sheekeys for allowing us into the inner circle of their lives. As we settle into the New Year, many of us are working on making significant changes in our lives. For a lot of families, that involves taking a more proactive approach when it comes to health. To that end, our Family Wellness package features several helpful articles: an interview with NYC mom and environmental journalist Alexandra Zissu about how As parents, it can be easy families can be smarter consumers, from buying local foods to to let our romantic lives avoiding BPA in plastics (page 56); “sneaky” tips from moms Missy go by the wayside, but Chase Lapine and Larysa Didio on how to make exercise a daily our relationship with our part of our children’s routines; and our annual guide to the city’s significant other has just as top hospitals—an invaluable resource that acquaints parents with most cutting-edge medical facilities in the city, should they ever big an impact on our family the need them. life as our parenting does. Last, in every issue we try to profile a notable venue in the city offering families something unique—whether it’s creative classes, state-of-the-art facilities or an inspired vision. This month, our “A Special Place” column is dedicated to the wonderful Y’s of the city, including the 92nd Street Y, the McBurney Y, and others. While they’ve always been at the heart of their neighborhoods, in recent years they’ve become increasingly family-friendly. In our report, we explore some of the innovative programs they’re offering families that are just as forward-thinking as they are affordable—something we’re all looking for a little more of these days. The city’s Y’s are important community resources that bring families and friends together. What’s not to love about that? Have a Sweet February, K<E@EEFM8K@M< 989PGIF;L:KJ



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New York Family | February 2010



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DON’T MISS THIS MONTH’S SPECIAL EVENTS: New Parent Luncheon: Pediatric Safety with Baby-Be-Safe Looking for an easy and fun way to meet other new parents? Bring your baby to the JCC for an informative speaker and a tasty lunch. Learn important safety techniques every parent should know. An expert from Baby-Be-Safe will provide first aid and emergency preparedness tips. Mon, Feb 8, 11:30 am—1 pm, $18/$20 FPANPL01W0

3-D Parenting Three dimensional (3-D) parenting is how our past influences the present in the way we parent. Gain a better understanding of who you are and how it affects your day-to-day decisions with your children. Find your own parenting voice distinct from the influences of your family of origin. Facilitated by Carolyn Meyer-Wartels, LCSW of Parenting Horizons. Tue, Feb 9, 7—8:30 pm, $20/$25 FPADIM00W0

Winter Camp for Children 3—10 Years When school's out, let the JCC fill your child's day with fun! Sports, games, crafts, swimming, science, cooking and whole lot more. Our staff of talented counselors will help make your child's winter break a blast! Price and length of day depends on how old child is. Tue, Feb 16—Fri, Feb 19




10% price rollbacks on many Young Families and After School classes! Free trial classes are available upon request. From sports to the arts, science to dance, and everything in between, JCC classes are unparalleled! All children ages 4 months to 18 years are welcome.

Purim Family Carnival Try your hand at our carnival games, feast on Purim goodies, and have a ball at our annual Purim Carnival. Dress to impress in your favorite Purim costumes. The whole family is sure to enjoy this joyous day! Sun, Feb 21, 10 am—1 pm, $13/$15 in advance, $15 at the door, Children under one are free FFNPFC00W0

Photo: Robin B. Langsdorf

Amsterdam Ave at 76th 646.505.5708 A beneficiary of UJA-Federation


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32 February 2010 volume 23, issue 9



6 22 24





THE HEART OF THE CITY Deputy Mayor Kevin Sheekey and his wife, Robin, on their love for the city, their kids, and each other

44 48



LOVE & ROMANCE Valentine’s Day gift ideas for moms (page 46); and out-ofthe-ordinary date night ideas for parents (page 44)

FAMILY WELLNESS Our annual guide to the city’s top hospitals for families (page 48); the authors of a new book share “sneaky” ways to get kids to exercise (page 56); and an interview with Alexandra Zissu about her new guide to eating and grocery shopping responsibly (page 54)

New York Family | February 2010

STARTING OUT 10 smart products that make life as a new parent easier


GROWING UP It’s often said that girls learn better without boys, but is the reverse true—do boys learn better without girls? A former headmaster offers a surprising look at single-sex education

A SPECIAL PLACE A tour of the city’s most prominent Y’s, with a look at the innovative and affordable programs they offer families


BUZZWORTHY The latest trend in baby bathtubs; a new children’s clothing store on the Upper East Side; and more ideas for February

WELCOME TO THE FAMILY News from New York Family, including upcoming events, contests and giveaways, and other noteworthy happenings

68 70

10 IDEAS Our monthly roundup of things to do in the city

KID CULTURE The month’s best live performances and museum exhibits for families (page 70); plus, an interview with Rick Riordan, author of the popular Percy Jackson series, whose bookturned-movie, “The Lightning Thief,” graces the big screen this month (page 80)

IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD 808 Columbus Avenue brings luxurious, family-friendly rental homes to the heart of the Upper West Side; plus, this month’s three dream homes


From global influences to touches of the Wild West, this season’s children’s fashions incorporate a whirlwind of creative looks

EDITOR’S NOTE City of love

What kids learn from creating art; plus, great art classes in the city



CAMP COUNTDOWN Tips for saving money on summer camp


ON SECOND THOUGHT A single mom learns the art of guy’s night in order to bond with her teenage son


THE COVER: Kevin and Robin Sheekey with their children, Dillon and Samantha. Hair by Erik Davis from The John Barrett Salon at Bergdorf Goodman. Makeup by Danilo Omo using MAC cosmetics. Robin and Samantha are wearing jewelry from Me&Ro. Photography by Thaddeus Harden ( Shot on location at the Marriage Bureau at the Office of the City Clerk.

What are you doing this Summer? At Solaria Riverdale, over 20 Sleepaway and Day Camps will be presenting their Summer programs Chat with an American Camp Association-NY expert

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640 West 237th Street Riverdale NY 10463

EDITOR AND CO-PUBLISHER Eric Messinger emessinger ART DIRECTOR Mitchell Hoffman mhoffman EXECUTIVE EDITOR Leah Black STYLE DIRECTOR Joy Sherwood jsherwood DEPUTY ART DIRECTOR Jessica Balaschak PRODUCTION MANAGER Mark Stinson mstinson DEPUTY PRODUCTION MANAGER Heather Mulcahey hmulcahey PHOTO EDITOR Andrew Schwartz SENIOR EDITORS Katie Main kmain Meira Drazin mdrazin CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Daniel S. Burnstein, Heidi Green, Thaddeus Harden, Jennifer Lee, Josh Lehrer, Sarah Merians CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Janet Allon, Shaina Gopen, Theodora Guliadis, Lisa Loverro, Jennifer Maslowski, Brittany McNamara, Tanisia Morris, Arielle Patrick, Lyz Pfi ster, Hannah Rubenstein, Erika Thormahlen, Mary Squillace, Robin Saks Frankel, Kate Willard

GROUP PUBLISHER Alex Schweitzer 212-284-9735, aschweitzer

Phillips Exeter Academy Summer School July 4-August 7, 2010 Five weeks of exploration and discovery.

PUBLISHER John Hurley 212-268-3086, jhurley ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Mary Ann Oklesson maoklesson SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER Jane O’Donovan jodonovan SALES ASSISTANT Patrick O’Connor pjoconnor CIRCULATION John Baxter jbaxter Joe Bendik ADVERTISING COORDINATOR Jennie Valenti jvalenti BUSINESS MANAGER Shawn Scott ACCOUNTS MANAGER Kathy Pollyea kpollyea

We offer Residential/Day programs for motivated students. You will enjoy full access to our campus with its state-of-the-art Phelps Science Center, the world’s largest secondary school library, and expansive athletic facilities. Our UPPER SCHOOL program is for students entering grades 10, 11, 12 or PG. ACCESS EXETER, a program of accelerated study in the arts and sciences, is open to students entering grades 8 or 9. For more detailed information please visit our website. 2 0 M a i n S t r e e t S E x e t e r, N H 0 3 8 3 3 - 2 4 6 0 Te l 6 0 3 . 7 7 7 . 3 4 8 8 S F a x 6 0 3 . 7 7 7 . 4 3 8 5 e m a i l s u m m e r @ e x e t e r. e d u


New York Family | February 2010

MANHATTAN MEDIA PRESIDENT/CEO Tom Allon tallon CFO/COO Joanne Harras jharras FOUNDING PUBLISHER Barbara Witt MARKETING DIRECTOR Tom Kelly tkelly EVENTS MANAGER Stephanie Musso smusso New York Family is a division of Manhattan Media, publishers of AVENUE magazine, Our Town, West Side Spirit, New York Press, Mitzvah Magazine, The Capitol, City Hall, City Arts, Chelsea Clinton News, The Westsider and The Blackboard Awards. © 2008 Manhattan Media, LLC | 79 Madison Avenue, 16th Floor, New York, NY 10016 | t: 212.268.8600 | f: 212.268.0577



Presidents Day is often celebrated as a day off from school, but it can also be a day of teachable moments with your


R RUB-A-DUB-DUB Every so often we come across a trend in baby products that we just can’t help but love. Currently, we’re liking European-inspired bucket bathtubs like the Tummy Tub ($44.95) and the Spa Baby ($44.99; pictured). Designed to mimic the feeling of being in the womb, the tubs allow your baby to sit upright and be covered to their shoulders in warm water—kind of like a baby-sized hot tub! Recommended for ages 0 to 10 months. Details:;

child. A great book to read with children is “Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out,” ($29.99; ages 9 to 12) featuring trivia, speeches, artwork, poems, and stories about the White House and its inhabitants by over 100 children’s book authors and illustrators. Or, for a multimedia experience, pop in the new DVD, “So You Want To Be President” ($14.95; ages 5 to 11), narrated by Stockard Channing and featuring four animated stories about America’s political life, including an adaptation of the Caldecott Medal-winning book of the same name. Details: Available on

R SCREEN TURNERS In today’s high-tech age, it isn’t surprising that kids want to do everything online—including read books. Luckily, there are some great websites that encourage literacy and reading. Just a few we love:, featuring illustrated comics, folktales, Chinese fables and more stories accompanied by audio narration; Storylineonline. net, which features videos of famous celebrities reading books aloud, with the option for kids to follow along onscreen; and, an online library featuring some of the best of children’s classic and contemporary literature available for download (note: there’s a fee).

R A NEW CHILDREN’S STORE Looking for some beautiful children’s clothes? Baby CZ, which opened on the Upper East Side in August, offers classic children’s fashions sporting high-quality fabrics and tailored looks. You’ll find layettes, dresses, cotton knitwear, cashmere sportswear, and accessories such as blankets and hats for ages 0 to 12. There is even a small collection of cashmere sweaters for Mom. An extra bonus: The store has plans to host children’s storytime hours. Details: 820 Madison Avenue,

February 212-288-8030,



Celebrate this Valentine’s Day with a special mother/daughter outing—tea for two! You can find just the right tea for you and your tot at the whimsical Alice’s Tea Cup ( Bemelman’s Bar at the Carlyle Hotel hosts a Madeline Tea Party and sing-along for grade schoolers every Saturday afternoon

RE FOR MO EAS D I TIPS &SIT VI o y w ne rkfam

( The Russian Tea Room’s kids menu includes PB&J on Blini and Little Pigs-In-A-Blanket, plus delectable sweets like red velvet cupcakes ( At The Waldorf=Astoria’s Tea for Tots, kids learn about tea history and etiquette over a three-course repast, then gather around Cole Porter’s baby grand to sing tea-themed tunes ( The Afternoon Tea at American Girl Place is the ultimate mother/daughter/doll bonding experience ( And chocolate lovers needn’t feel left out! Instead, enjoy a steaming cup of hot chocolate at City Bakery (


New York Family | February 2010


ction • ert Instru p x E • s ie cilit


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The Best Sports Classes, Hands Down. Chelsea Piers offers Manhattan’s best and most comprehensive selection of sports programs for children. Combining world-class facilities and age-appropriate curricula, our professional staff provides athletes the opportunity to learn and grow through sports.

Sky Rink • 212.336.6100 Learn To Skate | Figure Skating | Hockey Prep | Ice Hockey Leagues

The Field House • 212.336.6500 Soccer | Gymnastics | Basketball | Dance | Rock Climbing Martial Arts | Youth Fitness Classes | Leagues | Sports Clinics

The Golf Club • 212.336.6400 Private Lessons | Afterschool Programs | Weekend Clinics

Sign up for Presidents’ Week & Spring Break Camps! Feb. 15-19, March 22-26, March 29-April 2 Gymnastics, Multisport, Little Athletes & Jr. Golf


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23rd Street & Hudson River Park Visit for a complete listing of sports classes available for both kids and adults.

Welcome to the Family Prizes




There are great summer camps for every family budget and every child. And whether you’re looking for the right sleepaway camp, local day camp, or specialty camp, our popular and well-regarded (and FREE) camp fairs, co-sponsored by the American Camp Association, offer parents and children the opportunity to meet over 50 camps and camp directors. In February, we’re hosting a camp fair for families on Sunday, February 28th from noon to 3pm at the Solaria, a luxury-family friendly building in Riverdale (640 West 237th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues). Families who pre-register for the camp fair at, and attend, will be entered to win five tickets to the big circus (“The Greatest Show On Earth”) at the end of March at Madison Square Garden. We hope to see you at the Camp Fair!




NEWYORKFAMILY.COM Looking for a way to stay informed about parenting life in the city? Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter! It features fun, savvy and timely tips on weekend activities, shopping leads, and other trends local parents love knowing about. You’ll also find special deals, promotions and prizes for readers—as well as event invitations to exclusive New York Family-sponsored events. One more bonus: the newsletter gives readers access to a digital edition of our print magazine each month. To sign-up for the newsletter, visit newyorkfamily. com and click on the “New York Family Club” box.


New York Family | February 2010

New York Family has teamed up with pink-wearing party girl Moey to offer one reader a free semester of Moey’s Music Party classes—valued at $450! Held at Gymboree on East 81st Street between 1st and York Avenues, Moey’s Music Party inspires learning and selfexpression through singing, drama, games and movement—not to mention plenty of glittery, feathery fun! To enter to win, write to us at newyorkfamily@, putting “Moey’s Music Party” in the subject line, by Monday, February 15.

Bob Johnson

Daniel S. Burnstein

Mo’ Moey!

The Secret Lives of Mommies Romi Lassally, the founding editor of the lifestyle section of the Huffington Post, created the website to provide an anonymous space where moms could share what they considered their “mommy misdemeanors” without being judged. She then compiled some of these online confessions into the book, “True Mom Confessions: Real Moms Get Real.” It’s a funny and provocative read—and we have 5 books to give away! To enter to win, write to us at newyorkfamily@, putting “True Mom Confessions” in the subject line, by Monday, February 15.

See Your Kids "Beam"

Gymtime is the savvy parent's resource for recreational and educational activities for children ages 6 months to 12 years old. We offer: ■ GYMNASTICS ■ MOMMY & ME CLASSES ■ SPORTS & FITNESS ■ TAE KWON DO ■ COOKING, ART & MUSIC CLASSES ■ COMBO CLASSES ■ BIRTHDAY PARTIES

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For more information and a full list of classes for your child visit:




CAR SEAT CONVENIENCE: You spent hours figuring how to install the car seat correctly, but what do you do when you need to clean it? Try a Nomie Baby car seat cover. It easily slips on and off and goes right into the washing machine, making messes easy to clean. Available in infant and toddler car seat sizes in six colors. Details: $36; STARRY NIGHTS: Every night you can have starry skies with the Star Egg Nightlight designed by J. Schatz. The handcrafted ceramic nightlight is shaped like an egg with tiny pinpricks all over that create a celestial effect in baby’s nursery. Available in eight colors. Details: $135; FLY SAFE: Flying with an infant and baby gear can be a hassle, but the CARES airplane seat belt and buckle device will lighten your load. The only harness-type child aviation safety restraint certified by the Federal Aviation Administration, it frees you to check your car seat with the rest of your luggage and focus on keeping your little one entertained. Designed for kids 22 pounds to 44 pounds, it’s easy to use and weighs only one pound. Details: $74.99; BABY BITES: Introducing solid foods is exciting and nerve-racking. You have visions of baby developing a fond-


New York Family | February 2010

Smart Buys

For Baby 10 Innovative Products That Make A New Parent’s Life A Lot Easier ness for broccoli, but also worry about keeping those early bites small enough. Tiny Bites food shears were specifically created for cutting baby’s food and are much faster to use than a knife and fork. The stainless steel blades are dishwasher-safe and airplane travel-approved. Details: $10.99; BURP CLOTH REVISITED: From the very first day of parenthood, a burp cloth becomes part of your uniform. The BurpieBlocker takes a nursery basic and makes it better. The soft, absorbent cloth comes with a handy neck strap to keep it securely in place, so you can focus your attention on other things, like getting back to sleep. Details: $15; SKIN SAVER: Diaper rash can upset even the happiest babies. Booty Goo is a fast-acting diaper rash ointment that clears up rashes and helps prevent future irritations. Many moms prefer it over other well-known brands and even say it can help clear up baby’s eczema. Details: $6.99; CLEAN AND GREEN: Founded by two dads who are self-proclaimed “cleanfreaks,” Babyganics Household Cleaners is a line of organic cleaning products for your home. They’re formulated without any man-made products or chemicals and are safe to use around babies. Details: Prices start at $3.99; BEST BIB: Kiddopotamus’ Bibbity Rinse & Roll Bib may be the last bib you ever need. It has a scoop-like pocket at the bottom that catches errant bites, and the soft flexible material can be rinsed off and rolled up for travel. Best of all, the Bibbity is free of BPA, PVC, phthalates, latex and lead. Details: $5.99; BAG IT: Hip parents on the go will appreciate the Go GaGa Gondola diaper bag. It has an ergonomic strap that distributes the weight across your back, as well as fully lined and insulated bottle pockets and a cell phone/iPod pocket. The foam bottom means you can place the bag on a flat surface without it tipping over. When you’re past the diaper stage, it can hold a laptop. Details: $98; HAVE A DRINK: Little ones love to drink out of mommy and daddy’s water bottles, but don’t yet have the control to keep from spilling everywhere. The Lil’ Topper fits on just about any water bottle so your little one can sip without getting soaked—and the 2” diameter top means it’s not a choking hazard. You no longer have to worry about forgetting the sippy cup at home. Details: $4.95; Robin Saks Frankel is the founder of both Crib Notes (, a free monthly e-newsletter for parents of kids ages 0 to 2, and Facebook’s “The Greatest Friday Playgroup Ever,” a weekly playgroup for uptown moms.

What images will you choose to celebrate your pregnancy? Will they tell of your rich heritage, your passions, your hopes for your child? You are welcome to call to discuss the possibilities...

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La Scuola d’Italia is a private unique Italian/English bilingual and bicultural school reÁecting the best features of the Italian and American education. Graduates attend North American as well as Italian and European Union best Colleges and Universities. Knowledge of the Italian/ English language is not a pre-requisite for admission to Pre-K through 9th grade. La Scuola d’Italia is chartered by the Board of Regents of the State of New York and by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Italy. The School is a member of the New York State Association of Independent Schools. For more information, please call 212-369-3290 or email

Growing UP


A Former Headmaster Reflects On What Motivates Boys To Learn And Why Single-Sex Schools Are Often An Excellent Option


n his memoir, “Boys Should Be Boys: A Headmaster’s Reflections,” Brian R. Walsh revisits his 30 years as a private school headmaster—first at a co-educational school outside of Boston, and then at The Buckley School, an all-boys K-7 institution in New York City. Here, Walsh shares what he’s learned about how boys and girls learn differently—and what it means for students, parents and schools. What does it mean to say, “Boys should be boys”? It means that you understand what boys are and you treat them accordingly. How has your experience led you to conclude that boys learn better in an all-boys environment? Between the ages of 5 and 15, girls are a year and a half more mature on average. So in the primary grades, boys are getting clobbered in learning to read and write, and their defense mechanism is to label certain things “for girls.” I wasn’t so aware of this until I came to Buckley, and saw boys without girls. All the myths about boys being without girls—such as they are more aggressive, more bullying, and so forth—were simply not true. With girls, they’ll either clown around or they hold themselves in.


New York Family | February 2010

Boys Without

How do boys process information differently than girls? They process things more quantitatively. Everything is in rank order. Every little boy knows who is the best writer, the best artist, the best whatever. And they love to compete. A good example of that would be those math games where you have to fill out as many pages of arithmetic problems as you can in a certain amount of time. In general, boys love this. Girls hate it. So at Buckley we did a lot more competitive things, often in teams, and they just relished it. What other teaching techniques did you stress at The Buckley School? One approach is recognizing what they can do and what it’s unfair to ask. When I was at Shore Country Day School, if you went into a Lower School classroom and a little boy was dropping his pen, you could hear the impatience as the teacher said, “Johnny, if you drop that pen one more time...” When I came to Buckley,

the teachers were trained to work with boys, so they would see Johnny drop his pen four times and they would know it’s because of poor fine motor coordination—he wasn’t throwing it or trying to misbehave. How do boys relate to their teachers differently than girls? Their relationship with their teacher is not an important factor in their learning. The competence of the teacher is important, but the relationship is just incidental. Female teachers always tell me, “The boys never take anything personally.” And they don’t. Whereas a girl will often fret that her teacher doesn’t like her? That’s right. And if girls have a good relationship with a teacher or coach, they’ll go through the wall for them. It’s a genuine motivating factor. And I think that has to be respected. You can’t say to a girl, “Well, who cares if she likes you or not?” It doesn’t make sense to her.

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Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not big on talking in kitchens: How do boys relate to their peers â&#x20AC;&#x153;How was your day?â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Good.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Do you differently than girls? Males form like your teachers?â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Yeah.â&#x20AC;? Monosylfriendships based on what they are lables. But in cars, listen to him, and doingâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;their mutual interests, their heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll talk. They are more comfortable toys, if you will. Men are friends with in cars. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t ask me to explain that. the guys they do stuff withâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;men they bowl with, or fish with, or watch What should families keep in football with. Same with boysâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;[in mind when making the decision kindergarten] the boy who is a â&#x20AC;&#x153;big between a co-ed block guyâ&#x20AC;? goes over and a single-sex and plays with the big â&#x20AC;&#x153;Between the ages of school for their blocks. Then two other 5 and 15, girls are a boys? First of all, big block guys go over year and a half more New York City and play with him, so is a wonderful heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s got two friends. mature [than boys] When he comes home on average. So in the laboratory of different approaches his mother says, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Did primary grades, boys to teaching. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s you make any friends?â&#x20AC;? are getting clobbered the last bastion â&#x20AC;&#x153;Yes.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;What are their of single-sex names?â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know.â&#x20AC;? in learning to read education, and But theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re friends. And and write.â&#x20AC;? the next day, they will it not only has top-notch single-sex schools, but also play together. top-notch co-ed schools. There are parents in New York who may have How do boys relate to their partwo sons and they may send one to a ents differently than girls? When I counsel parents, I always tell them that co-ed school and one to an all-boys school. It does depend on the boy. boys will talk in cars, not in kitchens.

Often the more mature boy who has an easy relationship with girls is much more suited to a co-ed school. And at the co-ed schools, opposite-gender teachers should understand how their opposite-gender students are processing things, whether they are boys or girls. You ended the book by maintaining that the most important part of a boyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s development is learning to be kind. Why did you end the book this way? Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s always been the bottom line for me. I would always end the school year by saying, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Always be kind.â&#x20AC;? Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not that girls are kinder, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s that they are more sensitive to what that means. Girls can be viciously unkind because they know what kindness is. Boys, when they are unkind, often do it unconsciously, whether itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an inappropriate comment, or baiting that goes over the top. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s very hard to teach adolescent boys where to draw the line. But thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what they need to know, and thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s such an important part of being a good human being. j

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ith all the sources of children’s programming in the city, it can be easy to overlook some of the most important family centers of all: our neighborhood Y’s. For decades they have been at the heart of communities throughout the city—but just because they’re tried and true doesn’t mean they’re not also forwardthinking. From competitive preschool programs to inspired after-school classes to state-of-the-art athletic facilities, the city’s Y’s are just as innovative as they are affordable—something we’re all looking for a little more of these days. Here, we’ve highlighted just a few of the local Y’s we think are notable, but keep in mind there are many more throughout the city.

14th Street Y Walking through the cozy halls of the 14th Street Y, with colorful artwork hanging from the walls, friendly greetings from staff, and parents and kids shuttling to and fro, you get a true sense of connectedness. “This is not just a place where you come and buy a class,” says Kiki Schaffer, director of the Parenting, Family & Childhood Center. “We’re a place where you come and plug into a community.” Though a Jewish organization, the 14th Street Y boasts a diverse membership—for instance, 14 languages are spoken among children enrolled in the Y’s preschool and members come from a variety of religious backgrounds. And the 14th Street Y is growing in popularity. A recent renovation, including a modern lobby filled with cheerful yellow chairs and a new stateof-the-art fitness center, has caught the attention of many passers-by—many who didn’t know the Y had been there since 1996—and has sent new membership applications through the roof. Though its preschool and infant and toddler programming make it a


New York Family | February 2010

14th Street Y


l u f r e d Won From Fitness Centers To Nursery Schools To Parenting Seminars, The City’s Ys Have Never Been More Family-Focused, Offering Parents And Children A Place To Exercise Both Body And Mind—And To Connect With Their Community “hub” for young families, the 14th Street Y remains a place for families to return to as they grow older. A robust after-school program, covering everything from art to ballet to homework help, summer and holidays camps, athletic facilities including the fitness center, pool, and basketball courts, and senior classes mean both children and adults can find their footing here.

Fun Facts: DY staff pick kids up from neighborhood schools and bring them back to the Y for after-school programs. D“Japanese Playday” is a class of crafts, songs, and games taught entirely in Japanese for toddlers age

‘s 22-36 months. DThe “New Moms Stroll-In” dropin class lets moms with newborns meet and discuss their early parenting concerns with other moms. DThe 4-lane heated pool offers free daily family swim times for members, as well as a women’s only swim time. D“Tails and Tales,” a kindergarten and first grade after-school enrichment program, teaches kids about animals through real-life interaction with various critters brought in by a zookeeper. 344 E 14th Street, 212-780-0800, —Kate Willard

A New YMCA Last month Brooklyn welcomed a new YMCA: the YMCA Sports Complex at Park Slope Armory. Thanks to a $16 million renovation, the old Park Slope Armory (built in 1895) has been transformed into a state-of-the-art athletic facility. It now includes 4 multipurpose courts for soccer, volleyball and basketball; 20,000 square feet of exercise space (including 50 pieces of cardio equipment); and a 1/8-mile track. Families will especially love the facility’s Toddler Open Art Space, guitar and keyboard classes for teens, and the site’s many sports programs. 361 15th Street, 212-912-2580, —Brittany McNamara

92nd Street Y A walk through the 10-story 92nd Street Y on a weekday afternoon is something like reading a lift-the-flap book—peek behind one door and you’ll find a piano lesson in progress; behind another door, kids gather around a pottery teacher in a room filled with bowls ready for the kiln; behind still other doors, children cook, sing, and sketch cartoons. Founded in 1874, the 92nd Street Y has a simple mission: to enrich people’s lives and help them grow. As a Jewish Y, “all of our programs are based on the values that are part of what it means to be a Jewish institution—to enrich the lives of families and promote healthy development from infancy on up,” says Fretta Reitzes, the director of the Goldman Center for Youth and Families. To that end, the iconic Upper East Side community center offers an array of programs to meet the needs of its families, like The Parenting Center, established in 1979—before the word “parenting” was even in the public’s vernacular. Other standout programs include The Nesher Program for Children with Developmental Disabilities, and the Teen Center, which brings in professionals from companies like Goldman Sachs, Derek Lam and Si-

mon & Schuster to offer career advice. “It’s about supporting life-long learning and helping people find ways to be part of the community,” Reitzes says.

Fun Facts: DThe Parenting Center offers drop-in programs where parents can discuss important topics with specialists while their children play nearby. DThe 92Y’s Art Center boasts five fine art studios, two ceramic studios, four jewelry studios, three electric kilns, one gas kiln and 24 potter wheels. DThe 92nd Street Y has the only ozone pool in the city. DAt the 92Y’s Kaufman Concert Hall, tiny dancers perform recitals on the same stage where Alvin Ailey and Martha Graham once danced! DThrough the Feldberg Project on Political Perspectives, teens hear from guest lecturers like Cornel West, Henry Louis Gates and Mos Def. 1395 Lexington Avenue, 212-4155500, —Shaina Gopen

McBurney YMCA Sitting on the cusp of the West Village, Chelsea and Union Square, the doors of the McBurney YMCA beckon, “Enter here to be and find a friend.” McBurney YMCA

92nd Street Y It’s a motto that the McBurney YMCA takes seriously. “We want to be able to provide a whole level of services— from a basic gym to a place to build better relationships with friends and family members,” says LaKeisha Harris, senior program director for Youth, Teen & Family. Though the oldest Y in the city (it’s 139 years old), the McBurney YMCA exudes a welcoming modernity from its six-year-old home on 14th Street (it was previously located on 23rd Street). One of its main draws is the large, glistening pool that can be seen from the lobby through floor-to-ceiling windows. Its other impressive facilities include aerobic studios, a basketball court and a fitness center. Affordable family memberships and relatively low-cost programming for members and non-members alike mean the McBurney Y reaches families of all economic backgrounds. For those who cannot afford their programs, the McBurney Y offers assistance; the Strong Kids campaign, offered at YMCA’s city-wide, ensures that no family is turned away because of the inability to pay. And with childcare, a preschool, and programs for ages 6 months to 18 years—as well as plenty of classes for adults — there’s something for every member of the family to take part in.

Fun Facts: DA preschool prep class for toddlers features active learning activities ranging from gardening to creating storybooks.

February 2010 | New York Family


A “Y” By Another Name

West Side YMCA DMiddle school students from 5th-8th grade can participate in the “Middies After- School” program, where time is divided between homework help, computer labs, culinary and visual arts, sports, and service projects. DThe Teen Center provides a safe, free and fun place for teens ages 11 to 18 to socialize, hold discussion groups and exercise every Saturday night. DA free Single Moms Group meets once a month to offer support and discussion. DIn addition to summer camps, the Y hosts day camps during school holidays and vacations. 125 West 14th Street, 212-912-2300, —Kate Willard

West Side YMCA Does your child want to learn how to swim? Act in a play? Speak Spanish? The West Side YMCA offers all these activities and more. Founded in 1896, it is the largest YMCA in the country and New York City’s largest private youth-serving organization, encompassing eleven floors and approximately 440,000 square-feet on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Says the facility’s teen director, Cassandra St. Vil, “The West Side YMCA offers opportunity, location, leadership programs, a beautiful facility, and so much more.” Centered on “core values” of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility, it’s a place that offers both fun and educational programs as well as a chance to connect to community. Its impressive facilities include


New York Family | February 2010

two swimming pools, saunas, a gym, a track, six workout studios, six squash/ racquetball courts, a pottery studio, a stained-glass studio, a café, a theater, a teen center and lodging accommodations. Perhaps most attractive to families, however, is its preschool. Founded in 1964 as a cooperative—an ethic that holds true today—it is a nurturing, play-based program that allows children to learn pre-K readiness skills in colorful, sun-drenched classrooms and playrooms.

Fun Facts: DIn addition to the preschool, the West Side YMCA offers an extended day program, Tender Care, for children of working parents, ages 6 months to 5 years. DAn after-school program serves children from pre-K to 12th grade, combining daily activities such as swim, sports, dance, and civic engagement projects with reading and homework time. DIt’s home to the Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater, a 140 seat space with shows and programming for kids and families. Tennessee Williams ran lines on the historic stage. DFree monthly Family Fun Fridays feature games, activities, movies and snacks for kids and parents. DOffers free two-hour babysitting for children 12 months to 7 years while parents utilize the facility’s pools and gyms. —Hannah Rubenstein 5 West 63rd Street, 212-875-4100, G

JCC While it may not be a “Y” in the strictest sense, the JCC in Manhattan functions in much the same way—offering a wealth of community-building programs, activities and events to families on the Upper West Side and beyond. “Our mission is to reach a broad constituency of families,” Heather Brown, director of young family programs, says. “We’re here to build a community, and our classes really are built around that vision.” The center offers families, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, everything from cooking to arts to swimming to gymnastics to parenting classes. The JCC runs the Saul and Carole Zabar Nursery School—which serves 180 children ages 2-5 years—and two pre-nursery programs, “Not Quite Nursery” and “Magic Clubhouse.” The center holds seminars for parents on navigating the city’s preschool admissions process, as well as regular community events like Family Shabbat Dinners on Fridays. The center also operates several wellregarded programs for children and adults with special needs. “As a community center, we’re a place that serves people at all ages and stages of life, and embraces them regardless of their challenges,” says Dava Schub, associate executive director of programming. 334 Amsterdam Avenue, 646505-4444, —Katie Main

Not every kid wants the same kind of camp, and we want happy campers! That’s why Summer at St. Bart’s offers three options that include swim every day: St. Bart’s Day Camp • June 7–August 20 • Ages 3 ½ to 7 Swimming every day Sports and fitness Arts and Crafts Science Dance and Movement Drama Island Sports • June 21–August 20 • Ages 7 to 13 Swimming every day Arts and Crafts Athletic instruction: Tennis • Soccer • Football • Basketball • Kickball • Baseball Adventure Camp • June 21–August 20 • Ages 7 to 13 Swimming every day Arts and Crafts Science Sports and fitness Dance and Movement Drama Around the city trips...two per week: Yankee Stadium tour • Top of the Rock • The Duck Tour The Metropolitan Museum • and so much more… Summer at St. Bart’s offers flexible scheduling, the Breakfast Club, Lunch and After Camp program. To register or schedule a family tour contact Eileen Reddy at 212.378.0203, or look at our website

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The Right Art Class Can Teach A Child To Think In New And Creative Ways—And Have Something Special To Show For It

Hi Art!


or many people, the idea of enrolling in art classes conjures up visions of figure drawing, still-lifes of polished fruit, and bland landscape paintings. But times have changed. Art classes, offered to children anywhere from 18 months to 18 years, are as diverse as the city itself—kids can learn how to sculpt, draw Japanese anime, create pottery, construct 3D shapes from 2D images, and even combine mixed-media projects with opera, in addition to more traditional courses. Still, in an age where kids can sign up for any activity, from ice skating to violin lessons, why choose art? According to Cyndie BellenBerthézène, founder and director of HiArt!, which hosts art workshops for kids, “Learning to appreciate art and be impacted by art is invaluable, and [something] which carries over into real life.” She adds that “it doesn’t matter if your kid is Picasso or not”—children of all ages and skill levels can reap the rewards. In addition to proven developmental benefits, such as improved handeye coordination, refinement of fine


New York Family | February 2010

motor skills, and increased attention span, art expands kids’ emotional and intellectual development. Whether through painting or pottery, art classes encourage creativity, teach students to use their imaginations to confront and solve problems, boost self-confidence, and allow children to explore their own ideas in a positive environment. And it’s not just about creating art you can hang on your wall. To learn to appreciate art is just as impor-

tant. Natasha Schlesinger, founder of ArtKids, which introduces kids to the city’s museums and galleries through classes and tours, says that by learning about art and visiting museums, kids “can travel through time, space, and cultures without necessarily having to go places.” Art teaches kids how to explore the world and “think outside the box,” she says. But how do parents know when their child is ready to enroll in a

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class? Wendy Miller, owner of Kids at Art, a children’s art studio and gallery, says that “every child is different,” but that the greatest indicator is the ability to focus. Lindsey Johnson, the owner of the walk-in art space, Craft Studio, agrees. “Children are ready to make art by the time they’re 2,” she says. “As far as coming in for a structured class, it depends on attention span.” Many classes for younger children include parents/caregivers as partners, and encourage adults to promote independence and creativity in their children’s creations. Parents should emphasize that “painting a turtle orange with purple polka dots” is not only permitted, says Johnson, but encouraged. Once children demonstrate an ability to focus and a general interest in manipulating materials, creativity is a skill that can be developed once a child gains more confidence. With the variety of art classes available to kids, parents should look for a few key things in deciding which would be the best fit for their child. First, more important than the kind of medium being used is the opportunity for kids to use their imagination. Miller says that, especially for younger children, it is important to choose a class that emphasizes “structure in an unstructured way”—i.e. painting a pre-cut shape with the freedom to mix up and change colors as part of the learning process. Jamie Kelty, a teacher at the Children’s Museum for the Arts, advises that, “When looking for a class, finding one of interest is important and also one with a good level of challenge, exploration, and discovery.” Also consider the environment in which a class is being taught. Johnson recommends looking for a positive space with “lots of color, that is encouraging of creativity.” In the end, whether it is “Wee Arts” for one-year-olds or “The Next Dimension” 3D class for tweens, there is an art class for every child, whatever the ability or interest. Remember, it’s never too early—or too late—to learn how to paint, draw, sculpt or collage. And it’s never too late to color outside the lines. G


New York Family | February 2010

ms and classes These local children’s progra ir inner artists. the h wit ch put kids in tou


From Global Influences To Wild West Motifs, This Season’s Children’s Fashions Offer A Whirlwind Of Creative Designs


The weather still has a chill in the air, but shelves all over the city are filling up with spring merchandise. This season promises to be one of spirit, style and imagination, offering many colors and style influences—from ship to shore ensembles, to globally-inspired looks, to outfits reflecting the Wild West. Follow us along as we awaken our senses to the varied looks and styles of spring…


New York Family | February 2010


Ralph Lauren

he color stories making a splash this season range from soft pastels and neutrals to bold and bright colors (and even a touch of neon). Kids might wear monochrome neutrals such as white and black for a more formal look, kick back with shades of pastel pink, sky blue, mint, lilac and lemon yellow, or, if they’re feeling adventurous, strike out on the town with bold shades of cobalt blue, raspberry, sunburst or Kelly green. Primary colors such as



cherry red, sunshine and earth blue will also be popular and let kids show off their confidence. Navy and white will be the season’s most popular colors, with nautical looks sailing back in on everything from clothing to accessories. With their crisp and bold looks and clean lines, these fashions exude a whimsical feel kids will appreciate. From wide stripes to thin lines, it’s stripes galore. For everyday wear you will see them on t-shirts, shorts, and dresses as well as accessories. On the tennis court, boys and girls alike will give off the charm of old-world club style with pleated skirts paired with striped cardigans and chevron stripe February 2010 | New York Family


Sperry Topsider for stride rite

sweaters and vests paired with white pants. Whether you are on the beach, at the pool, or in your cabana, the stripes of the season will follow you wherever you go. Global-inspired touches will infuse everything from clothes to shoes. Whether it’s a taste of India in the form of beading and embroidery, or a touch of raffia from Madagascar, children will feel influences from around the world with the varied embellishments offered. Tribal references will also be prominent as exotic prints turn up all over clothes and accessories—as do a touch of natural stones for an earthy look. If biker chic is more your child’s style, there’s plenty of leather to go around. Hardware, such as studs and chains, will be on everything from Jacadi clothing to belts. Don’t remember the ‘80s? Well, smiley faces and lightening bolts along with shades of neon in fuchsia, tangerine and lime will refresh your memory! You will feel as if you are in a time warp with paint splattered t-shirts and off-the-shoulder tops reminiscent of the movie, “Flashdance.” Love the sweet look of delicate ruffles and simplistic patterns for your little girl? Vintage looks of lace and eyelet in this season’s dresses will evoke a feminine feel. Faded florals as well as patterns in gingham, madras and solid linen can be found in many collections, Naturino with some pieces showing a bit of ruffle on the sleeve or hem. Tank dresses are everywhere, too, whether with a gathering of elastic at the bust in an A-line shape or in a straight silhouette in which a subtle color along with a faded pattern evokes a feeling of years past. Boys will be wearing a sporty look that is neat and clean. Evoking a feeling of Old Hollywood are cable vneck sweaters, crests on blazers, and Bermuda shorts— all with a classic, tailored look. Bold colors and patterns create a little jazz in shirts, which are offset with a solid trouser or short. Kick off your boots as prairie looks from the good old U.S.A. hit the shelves this season. Denim will be popular in various shades and treatments, whether in jeans, skirts and dresses, or shorts. Pair these with gingham or plaid tops in a variety of colors. Faded floral blouses and dresses are a must, with bandanas as a choice accessory. And dresses in madras prints will give off the feel of the Old West. Anything goes this spring when it comes to shoes. Girls shouldn’t leave home without their sandals, which will be embellished with natural stones, rhinestones, jewels and flowers. Meanwhile, boys’ sandals will feature earthy leather straps. Boat shoes are back in solids and madras prints, and, along with sneakers, will have rope details on the sides to fit in with the season’s popular nautical look. And jellies are not just for the beach anymore: Add a jewel to their assorted vivid color choices, and away you go! Mary Janes will also be popular in shades of metallic. When it comes to color choices, black-and-white is a great choice—you will see many white and black patents for girls, while boys will be seen in black leather loafers for family get-togethers and holidays. G Nina


New York Family | February 2010



In The

CITY By Eric Messinger

Originally From Washington, D.C., Deputy Mayor Kevin Sheekey Has Been One Of The Most Influential People In City Government Throughout The Bloomberg Years. But His Proudest Accomplishment? Being Part Of A Wonderful Family, Of Course

Photography by Thaddeus Harden (


New York Family | February 2010

he city’s Marriage Bureau, like its kind everywhere, used to be charmless and bureaucratic, the last place you’d want to be on your wedding day. It’s very different now. It’s attractive, welcoming, well-run, and even a little whimsical. (Newlyweds can take pictures in front of a faux backdrop of City Hall—just like we did for this month’s cover photograph.) Many people contributed to the transformation of the Marriage Bureau, but it happened because Deputy Mayor Kevin Sheekey believed it was important and made sure it happened. And though it’s hardly a significant public policy achievement, isn’t it a wonderful statement of how New Yorkers should be treated on one of the most important days of their lives? It’s also a small but telling reflection of Sheekey’s character. Not surprisingly, Sheekey is married himself. He and his wife Robin Caiola Sheekey originally met in first grade in Washington, D.C., and met again years after college. In 2001, Sheekey ran Mayor Bloomberg’s first campaign, and when the Mayor won—remember, this was in the immediate wake of 9/11—Kevin and Robin moved to the city from Washington with their infant twins, Samantha and Dillon. We interviewed the Sheekeys in January at their apartment on the Upper West Side and talked about their novel perspective as parents raising children in a city that Sheekey, who is one of Mayor Bloomberg’s closest advisers, helps to run. The twins are now inordinately pleasant and charming eight-year-olds. They let us talk uninterrupted for about an hour and a half! Let’s say we’re old friends from D.C., and now I have two young kids of my own and am thinking about moving to New York. Based on your last eight years here, what would you tell me? Kevin: If you live in Washington, it basically feels like you live in the suburbs. New York can seem like a big, scary city. When I started running the Bloomberg campaign in 2001, I was flying back and forth, and every Friday night I would get home and Robin would say, “If he wins, we’re not moving to New York.” And I would say, “Don’t worry, we’re not going to win.” That

I would think that being a Deputy Mayor as well as a parent offers complementary perspectives on city life, and I wonder if there have been many times when you’ve thought, as a parent and city resident, Why can’t that be fixed or be improved? But then you put on your Deputy Mayor hat and you know the answer why. Kevin: It’s the opposite actually. I happen to be in a great job working for a great mayor, and I go to work thinking there’s nothing you can’t do. I worked on Capitol Hill for 10 years, and there you’re never really addressing the issues of constituencies, not directly, almost never. Compare that with last night. At six o’clock we started mobilizing to help Haiti, and by eight o’clock this morning I had 30 great people in a room, put them in leadership teams, and everything came into place—outreach to the business community, relief outreach, staffing for the call centers, updating the website, getting the word out through social media, outreach to churches. It was amazing to see. By nine o’clock, I was off doing the next thing.

The Sheekeys at the New York City Marriage Bureau.

worked until the day in November when it was clear that we had won, and then Robin and I were forced to decide whether to move here or not. But the thing you quickly discover about New York City is that it’s actually a great place for little kids! I think that has a lot to do with the playgrounds. Our playgrounds are amazing. When I grew up, you had the alley. Playgrounds are so much better than the alley! Now that the kids are little older, do you still feel as positively about raising them in the city? Robin: It was the best decision we ever made. We’re having so much fun. And it’s not just the parks; it’s the museums, schools, friends, the convenience of everything, the whole deal. Kevin: And I happen to think it’s going to keep on getting better because they aren’t going to get behind a car when they’re teenagers.

So working in local politics and living in New York hasn’t beaten you down yet? Kevin: Oh no. This may sound a little shallow in the context of politics, but the city amazes me every single day. I feel like I will always feel like a tourist here. I was walking over to the East Side last week, returning my sister’s dog after we babysat it over the weekend, and I’m at 79th and Lexington, and I look up and think, I can’t believe I’m standing at 79th and Lexington. Look at this! How cool is this? How do your kids perceive your job? Do they understand that there are unusual aspects to it, like that most daddies don’t speak to the Mayor all the time? What do they call the Mayor, “Uncle Mike”? Robin: It hasn’t at all affected them yet. They’re just waking up to it. February 2010 | New York Family


Who Wants

To Be In Pictures?

Before she and Kevin had children, Robin Caiola Sheekey worked as a development director for organizations like the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington. She has also long been an avid photographer, shooting events and portraits, and last year she launched Central Park West Photography, with a focus on families and family portraiture. For more info, visit

Kevin: They’re mostly excited about the Mayor’s dogs than everything else. Bonnie and Clyde are the coolest part of the deal. Robin: And the Mayor is Mayor Mike. Kevin: There’s been a lot of good stuff over the years. When they were about six months old, they marched in their first parade with the Mayor. The Gay Pride Parade. In the stroller with the flags. I think Diana [Mayor Bloomberg’s girlfriend, Diana Taylor] carried one of them. This year they are actually studying New York City in their class. So Samantha decides to write about the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, and on the day of the lighting, we went over there with the Mayor. They got to be in the back of the Mayor’s car, and then they got to sit up front when the tree was lit. How great is that? What are some of the more ordinary things you like to do as a family? Robin: We love to get to the other boroughs, especially for ethnic meals. I love Arthur Avenue [in the Bronx]. Hands down, I love going over there. We’ll go to Greek restaurants in Queens. One of the coolest things we’ve done as a family has been participating in programs like the Million Trees Campaign—just getting out there and planting trees together. We planted a lot of trees in the Bronx. I actually organized our whole school to go out and help, so we brought around 250 kids, parents and teachers. It was wonderful.


New York Family | February 2010

What are Dillon and Samantha like? What qualities come right to mind? Robin: Dillon is creative, funny, shy initially, but not once you get to know him. He’s so caring. He’s not a rough-and-tumble boy. He’s a sensitive, artistic boy. Kevin: Samantha is the more aggressive of the two, loves soccer, very athletic. Even her teacher said to us something like, “I just want to be Samantha Sheekey,” referring to her positive attitude and confidence. And Dillon is everyone’s best friend. Teachers love him. He gets along with boys and girls. Loves music, loves painting. Robin: If there’s a commonality, I would say it’s how really nice and kind they both are. They’re just great kids. How do the twins get along with each other? Robin: They’re each other’s best friend. In terms of siblings, they don’t fight much. I don’t know if it’s because it’s a boy and a girl and they’re less competitive, but they don’t fight much. Kevin: It is very difficult to put one in a time-out because the other one tends to run in and start articulating the defense: “He didn’t do it, and if he did do it he didn’t mean to do it.” “She didn’t do it. If she did do it, I didn’t see it.” They’re ready for the plaintiff ’s bar association already. What are some of your biggest joys and biggest challenges as parents lately? Robin: Things are always changing as the kids go through different stages.

But I’m trying to savor every minute right now because I feel like there’s a very big transition going on. They’re transitioning out of being young children. They’re becoming more independent every day. Kevin: For me, it is basic DNA. As parents, we are fiercely protective of our kids. You want your kids to do well, you want them to have every opportunity, you want to make sure they work hard, you want to make sure they have the right friends, that they enjoy themselves, that they’re not hurt, they get what they need. But it’s a constant balancing act. You want to make sure your kids aren’t spoiled, you want to be firm but not too firm. I feel this intense, sort of animalistic need to provide for and protect my kids. And at the same time I wonder about how to implement those values correctly. What advice do you have for parents starting out with twins? Kevin: Patience is probably the single greatest gift you could give any parent, because at times they’re going to drive you crazy, and your job is to be the parent. Your job is to try to keep your composure and to try to keep working with them. With twins, you feel like you’re in a club, particularly when they’re younger. You see other people with twins—they’re in the club. And it turns out the club is getting bigger and it has nothing to do with it running in the family; it’s reproductive medicine that’s growing this club. And you should no longer ask someone with twins if they run in the family, because chances are they don’t. Robin: And if they’re a girl and a boy, don’t ask if they’re identical. That happens more than you might think. Kevin, you must have an overwhelmingly demanding job. And Robin you have a growing child photography business [see sidebar above]. How do you two work as a team to handle family time and parenting responsibilities? Kevin: First of all, I’d say that I’m home for dinner every night, and Robin would tell you I’m never home for dinner. So given that, the truth is

probably in between. For me, dealing with the city is much easier than dealing with the kids. I have management responsibilities at work. I sort of feel like the Vice Principal. But at home you have a cooperative relationship, and that’s a tougher deal. You’ve got to work together. You’ve got two sets of responsibilities, two folks bringing different ideas to the table at times. At work, adults are pretty good at taking orders, but kids tend to be a little more difficult. I don’t know that I ever feel stressed at work. That’s an extraordinary remark coming from someone who, among other things, ran the Republican National Convention in New York in 2005. Really? Robin: Kevin has a unique ability to come home in a good mood. He’s always on his Blackberry, but he can come home and be present and be with the kids. “For me, dealing With that said, I do all the with the city is household work. He’s a much easier than cleaner actually, but dealing with the kids. great I do all the bills and the I have management family stuff. responsibilities at Kevin: The Blackberry is defi nitely a point of conwork. I sort of feel tention. like the Vice Robin: At the table. Principal. At work, But joking aside, family is adults are pretty everything to us. It’s our good at taking priority over everything orders, but kids else. And we really do make an effort to eat totend to be a little gether as a family as much more difficult.” as possible. We even take all our vacations with our extended family. It’s really something. I know you’ve known each other for a long time. Where did this story begin? Robin: We actually went to first grade together—we lived in the same neighborhood in D.C. My older siblings babysat for Kevin and his sisters. I’m one of six and he’s the oldest of three. He went to college with my brother at Washington University in St. Louis. And after that we started dating—that was the reintroduction. Any recollection of knowing each other in first grade? Kevin: No, we couldn’t even find the class photo. Robin: But my siblings remember babysitting for Kevin. Has he changed much since then? Robin: Yes! His parents described him as a quiet kid, if you can believe it. Kevin: Let me explain that in this way: They both worked. G

February 2010 | New York Family


bucket of balls at the driving range at The Golf Club at Chelsea Piers on the Hudson River (

If You Like To Bond Over Arts & Culture…

A couple spices things up with a cooking class at the Institute of Culinary Education.


Dinner & A


Fun And Romantic Ways To Spend Valentine’s Day (Or Any Other Day Of The Year) With Your Other Half If You’re Looking For Adventure… Get your heart pumping with a sports-themed adventure. You’ll have a newfound love for your partner once he survives a high-flying trapeze ride. At the Trapeze School of New York, you can learn to fly 23 feet off the ground (newyork.! Prefer to stay closer to earth? Cheer each other


New York Family | February 2010

on as you climb the 30-foot replica of the Brooklyn Bridge at Brooklyn Boulders ( If competition is what makes the sparks fly, reserve a table at Wang Chen’s Table Tennis Club, where you can bond over an intense ping-pong match ( Or, put a little more power behind your swing at The Baseball Center of New York ( For a more laid-back sports date, bond over a

The city’s museums, art galleries, performance spaces and other cultural venues offer up plenty of opportunities for education, reflection, and yes, romance. Couples who like to get in the groove can learn African dance moves in a beginner’s class at Djoniba Dance Centre in the East Village ( Or, sit back and enjoy free, live music from around the world over dinner and a glass of wine at BAM Café, Brooklyn Academy of Music’s beautiful, starry-ceilinged performance space (performances are on Friday and Saturday evenings) ( February is a great time to visit the Japan Society, where English speakers can catch a subtitled version of Kenji Misumi’s breakthrough 1962 film, “Destiny’s Son,” running through February 19. Afterward, relax in the institution’s Japanese bamboo garden, replete with a serene waterfall ( Last, if you haven’t been to The Cloisters yet, now’s a great time. While the gardens aren’t in bloom, the building’s winding passageways and underground rooms—filled with statues, furniture, and the famous Unicorn Tapestries— make for a romantic escape from the cold (

If You Want To Fall In Love Like A Tourist… New York is full of iconic landmarks. The tourists have checked them off their list, but have you? There’s something timelessly romantic about a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge—it’s a sure-fire place to fall in love with the city all over again. For even more dramatic views, head to the Top of the Rock; the observation deck has been the site of many a proposal ( Take in the city from a completely different angle aboard a cruise—Circle-Line offers one- to three-hour trips where you can cuddle aboard the boat’s deck and take in some of the city’s famous landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty ( Last, ever shared

a romantic dinner for two in Central Park? From “When Harry Met Sally” to “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” the Central Park Boathouse has found its way into a variety of romantic movies over the years (

If You Want To Make A Night Of It… Instead of retiring to your apartment for the night, why not hire a sitter and return in the morning? Visitors come from around the world to stay in New York’s hotels, and you can, too. It’s a great way to relax, catch up with each other, and order room service! You can find great deals on city hotels on sites like and A few hotels worth noting: the Library Hotel, where each room is adorned with books dedicated to one of the Dewey Decimal System categories—there’s also an onsite reading room, poetry garden, and a Writer’s Den with fireplace; the Mandarin Oriental at the Time Warner Center, where every room features a breathtaking view of Central Park (there’s even an on-site spa!); and The Inn at Irving Place, two converted townhouses featuring elegant rooms adorned with stunning antiques. The hotel is so hush-hush that its name isn’t even on the door (

If You’d Like To Tickle Your Taste Buds… Why share just one romantic dinner, when you can take a cooking class and learn to feed each other for a lifetime? For those who are a bit wary of the kitchen, a “One Pot, One Pan” or “Simple Suppers” class at The Social Table ( may be just the right fit. More advanced chefs may like an evening class at the Institute of Culinary

Education (, where you can chop your way through any cuisine, from vegetarian cooking to the foods of Imperial Rome. Or, grab an apron and discover the fine art of French pastry in the Valentine’s Day Treats Workshop on February 13 at the French Institute Alliance Française, taught by French pastry chef Sylvie Berger ( Finally, escape the city for an afternoon to learn about winemaking with tastings, tours and romantic walks in the vineyards of Long Island (

If The Kids Are Along For The Ride… If leaving the kids at home is not an option, you can still have a memorable date with the whole family. Revisit some of your favorite childhood games at Dave & Buster’s in Times Square, or grab a drink at the bar while the kids challenge each other to a game of Skeeball or Dance Dance Revolution ( If bowling is more your speed, host a match at Bowlmor Lanes in Union Square ( Or take your cue from “Sleepless in Seattle” and head to the top of the Empire State Building (remember, the kid was there, too—and it was still romantic!) ( Everyone can experience the magic of the stars at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium, where science buffs of all ages will be wowed by the show “Journey to the Stars,” narrated by Whoopi Goldberg ( Finally, when’s the last time you joined the kids on the ice? Try bundling up the whole family for a trip to Wollman Rink in Central Park. What better way to hold hands with the ones you love the most ( G —By Tanisia Morris and Kate Willard

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February 2010 | New York Family


Health & FITNESS

NYU Langone Medical Center

New York Methodist Hospital

TOP HOSPITALS Our Family Guide To The City’s Best Medical Centers New York is known for having the best of everything, and our medical centers are no exception. From cutting-edge cancer treatment to emergency psychiatric care to educating families about childhood obesity, the city’s hospitals take comprehensive health care to the next level. But how do you find the right hospital when your family needs it? The search begins here, with our guide to New York’s leading hospitals. 48

New York Family | February 2010

Beth Israel Medical Center (Petrie Division) First Avenue and 16th Street 212-420-2000 Beth Israel Medical Center is a 1,368-bed, full-service tertiary teaching hospital. Beth Israel’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit provides critical care and offers a child life program that integrates art, music, play and pet therapy. The Continuum Center for Health and Healing combines traditional and alternative medicinal practices to create specialized care for families, and has teamed up with Donna Karan and Dr. Woodson Merrell to provide integrative medicine and cancer treatment through Karan’s Urban Zen Initiative. In addition, the Continuum Cancer Centers of New York—located at Beth Israel and St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center—deliver high-quality cancer care, emphasizing a team approach to cancer treatment. The Gerald J. Friedman Diabetes Institute at Beth Israel provides high-quality comprehensive diabetes care, raises awareness, conducts research and provides education.

rheumatologists, pediatric anesthesiologists, pediatricians, radiologists, nurses, social workers, case managers and therapists (physical, occupational and speech). Whether it’s the ability to play without pain or walk unassisted, HSS pediatric patients are on the move and able to enjoy an active childhood.

Lenox Hill Hospital 100 East 77th Street 212-434-2000 Lenox Hill Hospital, a 652-bed, acute-care hospital located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, has earned a national reputation for outstanding patient care and innovative medical and surgical treatments. The Florence Selwyn Klopfer FamilyCentered Maternity Care Unit consists of 11 modern labor, delivery, and recovery rooms, along with well-baby nurseries and a Neonatal Critical Care Unit. The 28-bed NICU provides intensive monitoring and treatment of low-birth weight and sick newborns. The Lenox Hill Hospital Radiology Department has a stateof-the-art Breast MRI imaging program

approaches to better understand, diagnose and treat cancer. Its doctors have unparalleled expertise in diagnosing and treating all types of cancer, and patients benefit from the multidisciplinary approach to care that offers the best opportunity for accurate diagnosis and the most effective treatment available. Memorial Sloan-Kettering uses the latest technology and the most innovative, advanced therapies, and the close collaboration between its doctors and research scientists means that new drugs and therapies developed in the laboratory can be moved quickly to the bedside, offering patients improved treatment options.

Montefiore Medical Center 111 East 210 Street 1-800-MD-MONTE Montefiore is a 1,491-bed medical center that includes four hospitals, a large home healthcare agency, the largest school health program in the U.S., a 23-site medical group practice integrated throughout the Bronx and Westchester, and a care management organization providing services to 179,000 health plan members. The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore is one of the most clinically and technologically advanced children’s hospitals in the U.S. Women’s Health Services provides a full range of high-quality, sensitive and responsive health services to a diverse community of women in the Bronx and nearby Westchester County, and offers services to meet the physical and mental health needs of women in all stages of life.

Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian

Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital for Special Surgery 535 East 72nd Street 212-606-1000 Hospital for Special Surgery is a center of excellence in the care of children with orthopedic and rheumatic disorders. From infants to adolescents, HSS’s commitment to improving the lives of young people with complex musculoskeletal conditions is world-renowned—the hospital receives more than 12,000 patient visits each year. At HSS, pediatric patients benefit from the expertise of a multidisciplinary team, including pediatric orthopedists, pediatric

and new Computer-Assisted Detection (CAD) software. Lenox Hill’s Department of Medicine’s large staff of primary care physicians and internists oversees families’ total health care needs.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center 1275 York Avenue 212-639-2000 Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is the world’s oldest and largest private cancer center devoted to prevention, patient care, research and education in cancer. Its scientists and clinicians generate

3959 Broadway 1-800-245-KIDS NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top children’s hospitals in the country. The Center for Prenatal Pediatrics provides specialized care for complex, high-risk pregnancies, from diagnosis to birth and beyond. The NICU cares for infants with a variety of life-threatening problems. Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital currently receives approximately 50,000 pediatric emergency visits a year, is one of only three level I Pediatric Trauma Centers in New York State, and offers one of the only pediatric psychiatric emergency programs in the country. Currently under construction is the 25,000-square-foot Alexandra and Steven Cohen Pediatric Emergency Department. The Carmen and John Thain Labor and Delivery Unit provides everything from routine screening tests to the most advanced diagnosis and management of high-risk births. February 2010 | New York Family


Mount Sinai Medical Center One Gustave Levy Place 212-241-6500 Founded in 1852, The Mount Sinai Medical Center is one of the country’s oldest and largest voluntary teaching hospitals. Mount Sinai is internationally acclaimed for excellence in clinical care, education, and scientific research in medicine. The hospital is also home to the world’s only center for the diagnosis and care of Jewish genetic diseases. In addition to pediatric primary care, Mount Sinai offers full pediatric treatment of heart, brain, and spine disorders; epilepsy; cancers and blood diseases; diabetes; gastrointestinal tract conditions; renal disease and hypertension; asthma and other respiratory system illnesses; sleep problems; allergies; and fetal and newborn conditions. The Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center provides medical, mental health and health education services to young people. The Jaffe Food Allergy Institute aims to expand and improve basic science and clinical research, patient care, and educational efforts in the field of food allergies.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center 622 West 168th Street 1-877-NYP-WELL NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center is one of the leading academic medical centers in the world, comprising the teaching hospital NewYork-Presbyterian and its academic partner, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. The MaternalFetal Medicine Program offers advanced diagnosis and management of high-risk pregnancies. Opening in January 2010 is the Vivian and Seymour Milstein Family Heart Center, a six-level facility that will offer comprehensive heart care services. NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia offers one of the most active and successful heart transplantation programs in the world; established in 1977, its surgeons have already performed more heart transplantations than any hospital in the U.S. For 100 years, the Neurological Institute has been an internationally recognized center for the treatment of brain disorders.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center 525 East 68th Street 1-877-NYP-WELL NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center is one of the leading academic medical centers in the world, comprising the teaching hospital NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medi-


New York Family | February 2010

Montefiore Medical Center cal College, the medical school of Cornell University. The Ronald O. Perelman and Claudia Cohen Center for Reproductive Medicine is one of the world’s most successful programs specializing in assisted reproductive medicine and infertility. The Iris Cantor Women’s Health Center offers the most comprehensive array of health care services designed specifically for women. The Hospital’s new Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute offers comprehensive cardiac care for the full range of heart conditions. The Phyllis and David Komansky Center for Children’s Health offers comprehensive pediatric care, with a team of leading specialists and stateof-the-art treatment options. The Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic offers behavioral health and psychiatric services for adolescents, adults and the elderly.

NYU Langone Medical Center 550 First Avenue 212-263-7300 NYU Langone Medical Center has stateof-the-art clinical programs in such specialties as breast, skin, and prostate cancer; child mental health; ear, nose, and throat disorders; epilepsy; neurology; and reconstructive and plastic surgery. Their neonatology program offers services in infant intensive care, cardiology, surgery, neurosurgery, genetics, gastroenterology and other areas. The NYU Child Study Center aims to improve the treatment of child psychiatric disorders. The NYU Comprehensive Epilepsy Center offers testing, evaluation, screening, treatment therapies and surgical intervention for patients with all forms of epilepsy. The Hassenfeld Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders ( edu) treats children with brain tumors, bone and soft tissue sarcomas, leukemia, vascular malformations, and platelet and blood-clotting disorders. NYU Langone Medical Center offers OB/GYN services as

well as care in maternal-fetal medicine, reproductive endocrinology and infertility, OB/GYN imaging, gynecologic oncology, urogynecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery and family planning. The hospital also offers world-renowned pediatric cardiac care as well as the full-spectrum of pediatric orthopaedic care.

St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center St. Luke’s Division: 1111 Amsterdam Avenue Roosevelt Division: 1000 10th Avenue 212-523-4000 (main number for both) St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital is a 1,076bed, full-service community and tertiary care hospital respected for high-quality clinical care and for its contributions to research. Roosevelt’s Birthing Center offers the freedom and comfort of a home birth while ensuring that medical help is not far away. Roosevelt Maternity, a wing of private postpartum rooms, offers deluxe amenities. Diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer are the hallmark of the Comprehensive Breast Cancer Center, but the center also offers other complementary services, like pre-surgery stress management sessions, yoga, meditation, support groups, nutrition counseling and more. The mission of the New York Obesity Research Center at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt is to help reduce the incidence of obesity and related diseases through leadership in basic research, clinical research, epidemiology and public health, patient care and public education.

St. Vincent’s Hospital Manhattan 170 West 12th Street 212-604-7000 St. Vincent’s, the academic medical center for New York Medical College in New York City, serves thousands of residents of


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panded pediatric ER; a pediatric Surgery and Endoscopy Center; and a new Pediatric Oncology Center, which provides the newest and most effective treatments for pediatric cancers and blood diseases. The Pediatric Neuroscience Center treats epilepsy, headaches, brain tumors, cerebral palsy, strokes, nerve injuries, and neurodevelopmental problems. The Norma Sutton Center for Neonatology cares for all high-risk deliveries and provides intensive care to sick infants in the NICU. Maimonides’ Kids Weight Down Program works to reduce child obesity by educating families about healthier eating choices and exercise.

Beth Israel Medical Center Manhattan’s West Side and Downtown. St. Vincent’s delivers an extensive range of gynecologic and obstetric services to women of all ages. The hospital’s level III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) provides stateof-the-art care for premature and critically ill infants. St. Vincent’s Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton Prenatal/Neonatal Supportive Care Program offers medical, psychological and spiritual support to parents who have had, or are expecting, a baby with a terminal condition. St. Vincent’s provides comprehensive inpatient and outpatient general and subspecialty pediatric care. Their Parent Education Program lays the groundwork for a child’s healthy future by

teaching new parents essential information about child development and family relationships.

Maimonides Medical Center 4802 Tenth Avenue, Brooklyn 718-283-6000 The Maimonides Infants & Children’s Hospital is the only accredited children’s hospital in Brooklyn, housing the only certified pediatric Echocardiology Lab in New York City; a 36-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; pediatric inpatient and intensive care beds; overnight accommodations for parents in all rooms; an ex-

New York Methodist Hospital 506 Sixth Street, Brooklyn 718-780-5500 New York Methodist Hospital, a voluntary, acute-care teaching facility in Park Slope, provides a full range of family, women’s and pediatric services to meet the health needs of growing families. The Hospital’s Institute for Women’s Health offers a full range of programs and services directed at providing healthcare for women at every stage of their lives, including gynecological and obstetrical care, genetic testing and counseling, urogynecologial services, midwifery services, maternity and childbirth classes and fertility treatment. n

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New York Family | February 2010

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Health & FITNESS


OT HList 5 “Sneaky” Classes That Help Get Kids Moving

Kids don’t have to do jumping jacks or join a sports team to stay fit. The city offers up plenty of innovative children’s classes that let little ones explore other interests while also getting a dose of exercise. Here are just a few. CIRCUS ARTS: Do your children like clowning around? Then they’ll love this class at Manhattan Movement & Arts Center, which explores clowning, juggling, group pyramids and prop manipulation, among other things—giving kids a workout while they perfect their circus personas. Ages 5 to 10 years. 248 West 60th Street, 212-787-1178, MAG: A combination of music, art, and gym (hence the acronym, MAG), this class at Gymtime Rhythm & Glues lets kids express their artistic sides while also staying fit. Half the time is spent in the gym, while the other half is spent taking part in creative music and art activities. Ages 2.6 to 3.6 years. 1520 York Avenue, 212-861-7732, HIP-HOP DANCE PARTY: Dancing happens to be excellent exercise, and kids will most definitely bust a move in this class at Kidville. Using new and “old-school” beats, kids develop their own funky style of rhythmic expression that is showcased in a recital at the end of the semester. Ages 4 and 5 years. Various locations in Manhattan, 212-772-8435, STORY TIME YOGA: Reading a book doesn’t have to be a sedentary activity. In this class at Karma Kids Yoga, instructors read stories aloud, stopping at opportune times to let kids act out yoga poses related to the plot—think animal and nature themes! Ages 0 to 5 years. 104 West 14th Street, 646-638-1444, LITTLE DRAGONS: This class at East Side Tae Kwon Do adds a dose of excitement to exercise: Kids can practice front kicks, axe kicks, punches, chops, and strikes in a safe and fun environment. Along the way, teachers also stress the importance of self-control and discipline. Ages 3 and 4. 325 East 65 Street, 212755-5982,


New York Family | February 2010

A Fitter


A New Book Helps Parents Sneak Exercise Into Their Kids’ Daily Routines (And Veggies Into Their Cookies) B Y K AT E W I L L A R D


ids today are spending an unhealthy amount of time in front of TVs and computers, contributing to the fact that 20 percent of children in the U.S. are overweight. Yet, as a parent, it can be difficult to find ways to encourage children to replace tube time with staying fit. In their new book, “Sneaky Fitness,” bestselling author Missy Chase Lapine and personal trainer Larysa Didio offer 100 simple ways to incorporate exercise into kids’ everyday lives—much the same way that Chase Lapine’s bestselling book, “The Sneaky Chef,” helped parents slip spinach into kids’ brownies. The activities include ideas for games, field trips, makebelieve and more that don’t feel like exercise but burn calories, build strength, and most importantly, are lots of fun. Why should we be “sneaky” when it comes to incorporating healthy changes into our kids’ lives? Missy: Sneaky is really another way of saying small changes can add up to big benefits. Why do you think kids today aren’t getting enough exercise? Larysa: There’s a host of reasons. One is increased schoolwork— kids have probably triple the load now than when we were kids. In addition to that, children spend up to three hours a day either on the computer, playing video games or texting. I also feel that the quality of food that kids are eating causes them to become more lethargic. Is your book mainly for inactive kids, or do you think all kids need more exercise in their lives? Missy: It’s absolutely for everyone because studies have shown that even for children and adults who do get in one hour of intensive exercise [each day], they tend to do less the rest of the day. Even more physically active kids can use some creative, fun ways to move. We can always be healthier. The idea of doing exercise for exercise’s sake can often be a turnoff to a kid. What’s the key to getting them excited about it? Larysa: Kids always have interests, so you just have to tap into that and figure out what motivates them. For example, if a child only wants

to play video games, I will mimic the exercises in real life and say, “Let’s see you kick like Kung Fu John!” Missy: Mostly what kids crave is fun and our attention, and that’s what this book gives parents—a way to be with their children by doing activities together. What are some of your favorite exercises in the book? Larysa: I love making an indoor hopscotch board in the house. What you can do is either take a water-based marker or masking tape and put that on the floor in your kitchen or on your way to your child’s room. [Kids] can’t help it—when you see a hopscotch board, you have to jump. Do you have a favorite activity for toddlers? Larysa: We have one for toddlers called window washer, where you can take shaving cream or colored crayons, and you let them either color your windows or your shower doors or tile— they have so much fun drawing pictures—and then give them a spray bottle and a squeegee to clean it off.

For city dwellers without a backyard, do you have tips on utilizing public park spaces? Larysa: Snow couldn’t be better for fitness, and a lot of snow activities can alternatively be done outdoors in the sand. Making snow angels actually takes a lot of core muscles, as does getting up and down from the snow with a lot of heavy clothing on. What my daughter does is she makes a snow angel choir; she’ll make 20 or 30 snow angels, which will take her about an hour to do, and then she pretends that she is the conductor and she sings in front of all of her angels. Of the “Sneaky Fitness” recipes in this book, is there one that has been most popular with kids? Missy: I think the Sneaky S’Mores is probably the most exciting recipe because everybody loves S’mores, and my decoy method is to put two mini chocolate chips and two mini marshmallows on top of a cookie—nobody knows that the cookie has sweet potatoes, carrots, wheat germ, whole grains, and less than half the fat and sugar of a normal cookie. All they see is the marshmallows and chocolate chips on top, and they think they’ve won the lottery. G For more t ips, rec ipes, and act iv it ies, v isit

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Health & FITNESS


Confused About What Foods Are Healthiest For Your Family? In Her New Book, NYC Mom And Environmental Journalist Alexandra Zissu Teaches Consumers How To Shop And Cook Responsibly


What are some common misconceptions people have about organic food? One thing that a


he prevailing concern used to be whether something was organic versus non-organic. Now, consumers have a whole host of other things to consider when grocery shopping: Is the fish sustainable? Is the plastic packaging BPA-free? More than just buzz words, these terms represent important choices consumers make every day about their health. And while many of us want to make the right choice, it’s sometimes hard to know what that is when you’re standing in the middle of a cereal aisle. In an effort to help consumers translate their desire to eat healthily into smart choices, NYC mom and environmental journalist Alexandra Zissu wrote the new book, “The Conscious Kitchen: The New Way to Buy and Cook Food— to Protect the Earth, Improve Your Health, and Eat Deliciously.”

How would you describe a conscious consumer? It’s the sense of being aware of what’s going

on. Consumers need to take a step back and learn more about the food system, and from there make thoughtful choices for their families while recognizing that those choices are linked to both the earth and the people growing our food. How did becoming a parent change your outlook on food? It really made me appreciate what

my mother had done for me. I was raised in a whole foods house without processed foods and my mother was constantly cooking. We never had cool things that other kids had, like cookies and soda. I remember the greatest week in my childhood was when my mother bought the wrong box of cereal with sugar in it. My mother would now say that I have gone way beyond her, but for me [being a parent] solidified how important it is to sit down and eat things that we have picked and prepared.


New York Family | February 2010

lot of people don’t understand is that “organic” is actually a third-party certified government-regulated set of standards. When something in the market says “natural,” one might think that it means something, but it actually means nothing—it is not regulated by anyone whereas “organic” is. Other misconceptions are that it is too expensive, too hard to find or “not for me.” Aside from misleading terms like “natural,” what else should parents be aware of when reading food labels? Microwave-safe and BPA-

free—who is regulating these terms? There are some studies from Health Canada that show that bisphenol-A shows up in “BPA-free” plastic. Consumers need to understand that there is actually very little being regulated by the government. Meat and fish labels also need to be looked at closely, since pound for pound they have more toxic accumulation than other foods. In the book, I tell you where to download tiny wallet-sized information cards you can take with you when you shop. Do you have any shopping tips for families on a budget? Drop all packaged foods and instead buy

nutrient-dense food. Remove items from your cart like bottled water and chips and replace them with whole foods (e.g., whole chicken, heads of cabbage) that you can cook. Then, set yourself up for the workweek by cooking a huge amount of things on Sunday night. To save money, shop at the end of the day at farmer’s markets when they are trying to unload their [remaining] stuff. Being an NYC mom, what are some good sources for organic and local foods besides the obvious like the Union Square Greenmarket?

There are 18 winter markets in the city. Also, joining a CSA is an amazing thing to do, and there is an organization in NYC called Just Food ( that sets up CSA farms to deliver to various neighborhoods. If CSA isn’t for you, or there isn’t a greenmarket near you, there are a couple





Can you explain community-supported agriculture (CSA) in simple terms? You buy a

share in a farm, which means you give farmers money to plant their land before the season happens so it’s like an insurance policy for farmers. They know that the money is coming in, and the food they sell you is in the form of direct sales. You are also part of a community, so you help volunteer, such as by unloading trucks. Now that more parents are concerned about BPA, there’s a lot of talk about safe and unsafe baby bottles, but what other items should parents be concerned about in the kitchen? I

try to eliminate plastic food storage containers and replace them with containers made of glass, stainless steel or ceramic—tried and true materials that are safer. I know people say 2, 4 and 5 are the so-called “good plastics,” but do not put any plastic in the microwave, period.


New York Family | February 2010

Smart Sites

of things you can do to connect your kids with the land including: the Queens County Farm Museum, the Wyckoff Farm Museum, and community gardens. You can also [head out of the city] and take your kids up to Stone Barns and see things growing there. As [the mother of] a New York City kid, [I think] it is important to give [my daughter] a legacy and have her know what is going on with the earth and agriculture.

Need help navigating the grocery store? These websites are loaded with useful information. r Consumer Reports Food Labels ( Terms like “free-range” and “fair trade” can be confusing. With this website’s Label Report Card, you can see which labels are meaningful and which are misleading. r Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide To Pesticides ( In addition to providing an overview of pesticides and their potentially harmful effects, this site arms readers with a comprehensive list of fruits and vegetables ranked from highest to lowest pesticide load. It’s also available as an iPhone app for a quick refresher from the produce aisle. r Alexandra Zissu ( The author of “The Conscious Kitchen” has a list of helpful articles on her site, and plans to add more resources in the coming months.

If you could have readers take away one message from your book, what would it be?

Really think about your food, which is your fuel and your foundation. If you knew more about what you were putting in your mouth, I guarantee that nobody would eat at least half of what they are eating. If you choose to eat one thing over another you are also influencing supply and demand: It’s a political act, it’s a health act, and it is something our kids are watching us do. m

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Dream Homes This Month’s Featured Building Brings Luxurious, Family-Friendly Rental Homes To The Heart Of The Upper West Side 808 COLUMBUS AVENUE


nterested in settling into a luxury home your family can call its own, but without the strings attached to home ownership? Then you may find 808 Columbus Avenue to be a great option. “Our marketing slogan is ‘rent your home, own your life,’” says Peter Rosenberg, director of development at Stellar Management, the building’s co-developer. “We’re trying to give people all the benefits they’ll enjoy if they owned a home without having to actually commit to [it].” The rental building is one of five residential developments comprising Columbus Square, a new residential community located between 97th and 100th streets and Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues. It’s slated to be one of the most unique mixed-use complexes in New York City: Along with a total of 710 rental units, it includes 320,000 square feet of retail shops and restaurants. 808 Columbus was the first of the five developments ready for occupancy. The 29-story tower features 359 rental luxury apartments—a mix of alcove studios, one-, two-, three-, and four-bedrooms. The apartments have washer-dryers, floor-to-ceiling windows, roller blinds, soundproof oak strip flooring, and climate control systems for each room. The building also offers plenty of amenities to make family life

more convenient and enjoyable: Think two acres of elevated landscaped lawns, a children’s playroom, a residents’ lounge with private dining room and catering kitchen, a 70-foot mosaic tiled saltwater pool, a fitness center, a bicycle/stroller storage room, and valet parking. “We really set this [up] in such a way that families can live here [and be] extremely comfortable and very happy,” says Rosenberg. But the best draw of 808 Columbus might very well be its location: It’s directly across from Central Park, and nearby schools include P.S. 163, Mandell School, Metropolitan Montessori School, Trinity School and Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School. Plus, among the plans for Columbus Square’s on-site retail shops are a Whole Foods (which is already open), TJ Maxx, and Crumbs Bakery. What’s not to love? —By Tanisia Morris Address: 808 Columbus Avenue | Prices: Start at $2,375 | Architect: Costas Kondylis & Partners, LLC and SLCE Architects Developer: The Chetrit Group and Stellar Management | Interiors: Andres Escobar | Website:


New York Family

| February 2010


200 West 86th Street

200 East 69th Street

150 Nassau Street

Perched high on the 15th and 16th floors and offering fabulous views, this newly renovated duplex has special features such as a glass-enclosed den, sunken living room and windowed laundry room. The state-of-the-art, eat-in kitchen will please the most discerning chefs and opens to a large dining room. Aside from the master bedroom and two additional bedrooms, there are three full baths and a library or fourth bedroom which could also be used as a family room. The building has an on-site gym, playroom, doorman and concierge and is located in the family-friendly Upper West Side.

Providing the ultimate combination of indoor and outdoor living spaces, this elegant condo features a beautifully landscaped and furnished terrace accessible from every room. The apartment includes split-winged bedrooms, marble bathrooms, and a home office as well as an inviting entry foyer. There are also custom closets, custom bookshelves, herringbone floors, and a washer/dryer. The home is located within the Trump Palace, which has a fulltime concierge, doorman, gym, and courtyard.

Located steps from City Hall, schools, green parks, public transportation, and everything that Tribeca has to offer, this modern loft is ideal for families. The condo features 9â&#x20AC;&#x2122;4â&#x20AC;? ceilings, wide planked oak wood floors, a gas burning fireplace, a Bosch washer/dryer, a state-of-the-art open kitchen, a master bedroom suite with large walk-in closets, and oversized windows that offer expansive city views and let in plenty of sunlight. In addition, the pre-war landmarked building has a concierge, a gym, and an on-site garage.

Asking Price: $2,800,000 | CC: $3,173 Agents: Lisa Lippman, 212-588-5606; Scott Moore, 212-588-5608; Brown Harris Stevens 9 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms

Asking Price: $ 2,395,000 | CC: $2,683 Agent: Heather Swicicki, 212-350-2280, Prudential Douglas Elliman 6 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms

Asking Price: $ 2,149,000 | CC: $2,259 Agent: Garret Lepaw, 646-610-0321, Corcoran 5 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms

These were the prices as of January 13...

February 2010 | New York Family


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Tips For Making Your Child’s Camp Experience More Affordable


amp can be the experience of a lifetime, but in the hereand-now, budgeting for your child’s summer adventure may seem daunting. Fees range from $75 to more than $650 per week for accredited day and resident camps, according to the American Camp Association, with day camps being a little less expensive (weekly fees are about $182 on average) and resident camps being a bit pricier (with a

median weekly cost of $390). However, even as parents are pinching pennies, Adam Weinstein, executive director of the American Camp Association, says he hasn’t seen campgoers cut back on their summer experience. “Childhood only happens for a defined amount of time, and we’re finding that the last dollar parents cut is for their kids.” Saving money simply starts with developing some summer camp savvy. Here are a few tips:


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New York Family | February 2010

Research camps by cost. At American Camp Association-sponsored websites, and, parents can search for camps within specific price ranges. ACA associates can also provide guidance when it comes to selecting a camp that fits your financial situation. “We’re here to give parents options and find the best match for their children, values and pocketbooks,” Weinstein says. Register early. Many camps offer




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an early-bird rate in the fall, according to Weinstein. “By March hopefully people are starting to think about the summer 2011 experience,” Weinstein advises. “If they’re starting to look for 2011 in March, they’ll be in a better place to plan financially.”

plans to make affording camp more feasible. Inquire about financial assistance. “Nonprofit camps provide a substantial amount of scholarship money,” says Weinstein. In fact, according to the American Camp Association, around 90 percent of camps offer some sort of financial assistance in either partial or total tuition subsidies. These “camperships” are typically need-based, but don’t assume you make too much to qualify. It’s important for parents to ask if financial assistance is available and to apply early. Look into what is included in tuition. Typically, day camps include transportation in tuition, but resident camps may only offer limited transportation, such as a van ride from a major train station. Don’t forget to ask about fees for special programs or trips, laundry service, special equipment that may be required, service organization memberships, and whether or not you should send

“Childhood only happens for a defined amount of time, and we’re finding that the last dollar parents cut is for their kids.” Take advantage of special discounts and payment plans. In addition to giving discounts for early registration, some camps will offer savings for full-season enrollment or enrolling multiple family members. Some camps may also offer payment


New York Family | February 2010

spending money with your child. Find out the camp’s refund policy. Refund policies differ from camp to camp. While some will refund for illness or will give a total refund prior to a certain date, other camps will not refund at all. Most camps will ask for a small non-refundable deposit at the time of application, which may or may not go toward the total cost. Make sure you know the camp’s refund policy before you send any money. Camp is a vital component to a child’s education and development, according to Weinstein. So with the many options available for making it affordable, he stresses that parents should make sure they are choosing the correct camp for their child. “Find the right camp and then choose the right amount of time you can afford,” he says. “I’d hate for people to choose the wrong camp experience because it’s less expensive.” G Reprinted by permission of the American Camp Association © 2005 American Camping Association, Inc.

Attention. That’s what kids with ADHD want. And that’s exactly what they’ll get at NYU Summer Program for Kids, the only seven-week therapeutic summer program in New York, specifically tailored to meet the needs of children between the ages of 7 and 11 with ADHD. • • • • •

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THE ACADEMIC CLUSTERS Cheshire C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation Problem-Solving: An Odyssey of the Mind Into Thin Air: Testing the Limits The Land and Sea Media and Society Exploring American Culture For information: Summer School Director Diane K. Cook 203-439-7400 or

Great Ideas for February By and



February 6

ALL ABOUT ANIMALS [AGES 4-19] At this animal workshop at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, kids can learn about both real and mythological creatures and create animal-inspired masks, sock puppets and clay creatures. Reservations recommended. 10 a.m.-noon; $8. The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue, 212-932-7347,

February 13 February 4-14



OPEN SESAME [ALL AGES] In “Sesame Street Live: Elmo Grows Up,” Elmo and his Sesame Street friends sing about what they want to be one day—Bert wants to become a forest ranger, Telly wants to be a cowboy, Elmo considers a career as a “weather monster,” and Abby Cadabby wants to be a fairy godmother! Show times vary; $15-$70. WAMU Theater at Madison Square Garden, 4 Penn Plaza, 800-745-3000,

LION LESSONS [AGES 4+] Join the Jewish Community Center and composer Margarita Zalenaia for “The Lion That Could Not Roar,” a fun musical romp featuring characters from “Peter and the Wolf.” Part of the JCC’s Saturday R&R series of performances for kids, the show will be followed by an interactive workshop with the artists. 2:30 p.m.; free. 334 Amsterdam Avenue, 646-505-4444,

February 5

MEET LANIE, AN AMERICAN GIRL [AGES 8+] The wait is over! The American Girl Store is hosting the “Girl of the Year 2010 Activity Day” to introduce girls ages 8 and up to their latest contemporary character: the outdoor adventure-loving Lanie! Girls will take part in a scavenger hunt and make their own nature-inspired notebooks and bookmarks. 4 p.m.; free. 609 Fifth Avenue at 49th Street, 877-247-5223,


New York Family | February 2010

Jean de Brunhoff, “The elephants carried Babar, Arthur, and Celeste in triumph.” Histoire de Babar, le petit éléphant, 1931. The Morgan Library & Museum.

for Kids Culture Guide


February 27


Agnes Barley, Untitled Collage, 2009. Photo by Cary Whittier

Experience the adventures of Babar the Little Elephant, Jean de Brunhoff’s popular children’s character, as they are put to enchanting music by The New York Chamber Soloists in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium. 2:30 p.m.; $25. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, 212-535-7710,

February 27

IT’S A DRAW [AGES 5-8] Ready to create your own masterpiece? Head over to The Drawing Center’s Family Art Workshop for art-making and discussion in conjunction with the exhibition, “Selections Spring 2010: Sea Marks,” on view through April 5. The exhibition showcases drawings representing the ocean by featured artists Agnes Barley, Jerome Marshak and Peter Matthews. Reserve in advance. 10:30 a.m.; free. The Drawing Center, 35 Wooster Street, 212-219-2166,

February 28




[AGES 3+] February 14 February 15-19

YOU WON’T GET BOARD! [ALL AGES] 92Y Tribeca invites families to rock out Pacific Northwest-style with Board of Education, a kid-friendly band created by Seattle pop band Central Services. Fronted by a former teacher and published children’s book author, the band serves up hilarious lyrics set to super-fun melodies. 11 a.m.; $15 (children under 2 free). 200 Hudson Street, 212-601-1000,




[AGES 6-12] Learn what it takes to wear a badge and fight the city’s toughest crimes during “Be a Detective Week” at the New York Police Museum. Kids will hone the skills needed to be a detective and explore the different units of the NYPD. Every day of this drop-off mid-winter recess program features new activities! 1 p.m.-3p.m.; $10 per day. The New York City Police Museum, 100 Old Slip, 212-480-3100 ext. 116,

February 15-21




Movie fans rejoice! Prospect Park’s Film Festival is back at the Boathouse and it’s as educational as it is fun. First up is The Discovery Channel’s award-winning series “Planet Earth,” offering an exclusive look at animal behaviors, with rare footage of snow leopards and birds of paradise. Primate lovers will adore PBS’ “Clever Monkeys” and its exploration of monkey culture, especially their child rearing and communication techniques. Check website for times; free. Boathouse at Prospect Park, Brooklyn, 718287-3400,

Park Slope Parents invites families to join Morgan Taylor, creator of the musical phenomenon Gustafer Yellowgold, for a night of whimsical pop tunes and funky animation. Popular musician and educator Jonathan Samson will open the show, and arts and crafts will be provided by ArtsCetera. 2 p.m.; $10 per ticket. The Bell House, 149 Seventh Street, Brooklyn, 718-643-6510, To submit an event listing, please email

Sign up for New York Family’s popular weekly e-newsletter with tips on activities, shopping, and parenting at For more great listings,

see, the online cityguide for parents.

February 2010 | New York Family



Culture Guide for Kids

New York International Children’s Film Festival


he New York International Children’s Film Festival returns starting February 26, and this year’s festival features over 100 films from around the world, including “In The Attic,” a stop-motion film from Czech animator Jiri Barta, and “Turtle: An Incredible Journey,” which follows the story of a single loggerhead turtle born off the coast of Florida. Festivities include Q&A sessions with filmmakers, workshops, panels and filmmaking workshops. NYICFF 2010 will take place from Feb 26 to March 21. Ages 3-18 (check film listings for specific audiences). For specific theater locations and film schedules, call 212-3490330 or visit —Tanisia Morris 92YTRIBECA


The community center’s BYOK (Bring Your Own Kid) Sunday music series invites families to enjoy some of the coolest kid-friendly music around. Catch Moey’s Music Party on February 7, Board of Education on February 14, David Grover and the Big Bear Band on February 21 and Uncle Rock’s CD release party on February 28! 200 Hudson Street, 212-601-1000,

On February 3, the families are invited to sing along with the Young People’s Chorus of New York City at Lehman College in the Bronx at this season’s second “Community Sing” event. 154 West 57th Street at Seventh Avenue, 212-2477800,

BROOKLYN ACADEMY OF MUSIC Dan Zanes kicks off the BAMFamily season on February 6 in the Howard Gilman Opera House. Plus, this month, the BAMKids Film Festival showcases children’s films from around the world, along with concerts, movie-making, face-painting, food and more. This year’s lineup includes 43 short and feature-length films from 19 countries. 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn,


New York Family | February 2010

bang, strings bow and winds toot! 68th Street between Park and Lexington avenues, 212971-9500,


This month, Literally Alive presents a new musical spin on the classic fairy tale, “Cinderella.” Preshow arts workshops precede every performance. The Players Theater, 115 MacDougal Street, 212-866-5170,

This theatre features fun plays for kids of all ages, many of which are adapted from children’s books and other literature. Through February 21, catch “The Little Mermaid,” an adaptation of the classic love story starring just two (very busy) actors! Opening February 27 is “The Velveteen Rabbit,” a nostalgic retelling of the beloved tale of a stuffed rabbit who longs to become real. 52 White Street, 212-226-4085,




The Lolli-Pops series for kids ages 3-5 presents “The Orchestra—A Happy Family,” on February 6 and 7. Little ones will learn how drums

From February 5-21, New York’s blockbuster theater for kids presents “The Enchanted Pig,” an offbeat, kid-friendly opera about a young princess

Tonight belongs to...

Broadwayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most haunting love story. or (212) 239-6200 MAJESTIC THEATRE, 247 West 44TH Street


Skirball Center For The Performing Arts

Showstoppers for Kids FOR ALL AGES


Culture Guide for Kids

This high-impact show features light effects, lasers and, of course, millions of bubbles, large and small, to create a dazzling production. New World Stages Theatre, 340 West 50th Street, 212-239-6200,

THE LION KING Disney’s blockbuster movie on Broadway is a combination of puppetry, actors, and special effects–a truly magical experience. For tickets, call 212-307-4747 or visit Minskoff Theatre, 200 West 45th Street.

MARY POPPINS The Supernanny takes to the stage in this hit musical by Disney. For tickets, call 212-307474 or visit New Amsterdam Theatre, 214 West 42nd Street.




n February 27, introduce your future thespians to the Bard through one of his most fanciful and popular romantic comedies, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” part of the Skirball Center’s Big Red Chair Family Series. Specially tailored for children, the show follows the playful Puck through a moonlit forest inhabited by a Fairy King and Queen, a donkey, a traveling actors’ troupe, and a mysterious love potion. —Heather Peterson who, at first vexed to learn that she is fated to wed a pig, winds up falling in love with her hog hubby, then travels to the moon and back to save him from a dreadful hex! 209 West 42nd Street, 646-223-3010,

NEW YORK THEATRE BALLET This ballet company is known for its “Once Upon A Ballet” series of one-hour performances for kids. Opening March 13 is “Cinderella.” Florence Gould Hall, 55 East 59th Street, 212-355-6160,

PUPPETWORKS This Park Slope-based not-for-profit features marionette puppet shows for children all year round. Performances are mostly based on children’s literature and international folk and fairy tales. Through March 28, families can catch “The Snow Queen” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” 338 Sixth Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-965-3391,

SKIRBALL CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS This NYU-based cultural center offers a “Big Red Chair” series of performances for families. On February 27, introduce your future thespians to the Bard through one of his fanciful romantic comedies, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” 566 LaGuardia Place, 212-352-3101,

SYMPHONY SPACE This theater’s popular “Just Kidding” series means there’s always somewhere to take the


New York Family | February 2010

kids on Saturday. This month’s lineup includes performances by Secret Agent 23 Skidoo (February 6), Key Wilde and Mr. Clark (February 13), Ralph’s World (February 20) and Astrograss (February 27). The Thalia Kids Book Club enables kids ages 9-12 to interact with their favorite book authors. 2537 Broadway, 212864-5400,

TRIBECA CINEMAS The Tribeca Cinemas Kids Club series continues with screenings of “Anansi” and “The Indian in the Cupboard” on February 6, and “Abby in Wonderland” and “Annie” on February 20. Each screening includes healthy snacks and is accompanied by a themed activity. 54 Varick Street,

TRIBECA PERFORMING ARTS CENTER On February 6, Tribeca PAC presents “Strega Nona,” a musical story based on Tomie dePaola’s beloved children’s books about a friendly witch who uses her magic to help her little Italian village. 199 Chambers Street, 212220-1460,

VITAL THEATRE COMPANY Vital’s performances for kids aim to provide children with an educational theater experience with fun productions and interactive theater workshops. Through February 28, families can catch “Uncle Pirate,” the story of Wilson, an average kid who discovers that his uncle is a pirate who can help him survive the fourth grade! 2162 Broadway at 76th Street, 4th Floor, 212-579-0528,

The Wicked Witch of the West finally commands the spotlight. For tickets, call 212-307-4100 or visit Gershwin Theatre, 222 West 51st Street.

MAMMA MIA! There’s not much to the simple plot about a woman finding her real father as she prepares to wed, but ABBA’s tunes keep the feet tapping. For tickets, call 212-239-6200 or visit Winter Garden Theatre, 1634 Broadway.


IN THE HEIGHTS This salsa- and Latin pop-infused musical is a portrait of life in Washington Heights. For tickets, call 212-307-4100 or visit ticketmaster. com. Richard Rodgers Theatre, 226 West 46th Street.

THE 39 STEPS A fast-paced, high-energy murder mystery blending elements of Alfred Hitchcock, a spy novel, and even Monty Python. For tickets, call 212-239-6200 or visit Helen Hayes Theatre, 240 West 44th Street.

BILLY ELLIOT A funny and heart-warming musical about a boy with a dream and a talent for dance. Based on the film, with a musical score written by Elton John. For tickets, call 212-239-6200, or visit Imperial Theatre, 249 West 45th Street.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA The longest-running show in Broadway history delivers mystery, love and heartbreak. For tickets, call 212-239-6200 or visit telecharge. com. Majestic Theatre, 247 West 44th Street.

WEST SIDE STORY The timeless story of star-crossed lovers, Tony and Maria, caught in the rivalry between teenage gangs in 1950s New York returns to Broadway. For tickets, call 212-307-4100 or visit Palace Theatre, 1564 Broadway. j

Children’s Museum of Manhattan Presents the Best of the Arts with festive holiday performances

© 2010 Viacom International. All Rights Reserved.

Be an Explorer like Dora!

During Presidents’ Week: Monday – Sunday, February 15-21 Receive a Dora Passport when you visit CMOM and look for Dora images throughout the museum ... including in our Adventures with Dora and Diego exhibit! Find an image and receive a sticker for your Passport!

¡Vámonos! Let’s Go! Be sure to bring your camera … Dora and Diego cutouts available for your one-of-a-kind photo opportunity!

You can also join our Raising Citizens Presidents Hunt from February 15 – 21. Presidents and First Ladies are roaming CMOM. See how many you can find … and what tales they have to tell.

KjaiqoaqiÅaj`haoolkooe^ehepeao Exhibitionsx>enpd`]uL]npeaoxNajp]hox?h]ooaoxProgramsxIai^anodel The Tisch Building 212 West 83rd Street New York, NY 10024 212-721-1223


Rubin Museum of Art

Culture Guide for Kids


AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY The AMNH’s exhaustive collections span human culture, the natural world, and the universe. Though the weather might be chilly this winter, find up to 500 tropical butterflies flying in a vivarium. Don’t forget to check out the exhibition “Traveling the Silk Road: Ancient Pathway to the Modern World.” Central Park West at 79th Street, 212-769-5100,

CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF THE ARTS This museum showcases art by child and adult artists, employing an artist-in-residence format in which teaching artists work directly with children and their families. On February 6-7, families can join the museum for the 2nd Annual Lunar New Year Family Festival, featuring performances, storytelling, art-making and more. 182 Lafayette Street, 212-274-0986,

CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF MANHATTAN This museum offers arts-based educational exhibits and programs in a variety of subjects, as well as extensive offsite outreach. On February 13, kids can learn some Mandarin from author Michele Wong McSween as she reads from her new book, “Gordon & LiLi Words For Everyday.” From February 15-21, families can take part in a “President Hunt” (see sidebar). On February 27, paper artist Carlos Molina teaches kids how to fold and cut paper into beautiful sculptures. 212 West 83rd Street, 212-721-1234,

GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM The museum offers family-oriented tours and drop-in workshops every Sunday, and families can drop by anytime and explore the museum’s exhibitions using a free activity pack. On view now is “Anish Kapoor: Memory.” 1071 Fifth Avenue at 89th Street, 212-423-3500,


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Centered on the World War II aircraft carrier Intrepid, the museum features a range of interactive exhibits. Catch traveling exhibit “Snoopy As The World War I Flying Ace,” showcasing 29 prints of cartoonist Charles Schulz’s military aviation-themed designs. During Kids’ Week (February 13-21), children can learn about science and space through exhibits, demonstrations, art projects and more. Pier 86, 12th Avenue and 46th Street, 877957-SHIP,



iscover the wonders of the cosmos at the Rubin Museum of Art’s Family Day on February 13. Families will explore the museum’s latest exhibition, “Visions of the Cosmos,” through activities like celestial dancing, cosmic crafting, storytelling tours, scavenger hunts and more. Kids can even step inside an inflatable planetarium and learn about the cosmos from educators from the New York Hall of Science! 150 West 17th Street, 212-620-5000, —Tanisia Morris


New York Family | February 2010

On February 28, families are invited to celebrate “Hinamatsuri,” or “Girls Day”—a doll festival held in order to wish for the health and future happiness of girls. Enjoy food and music and make your own “hina” dolls to take home. (Boys are welcome, too!) 333 East 47th Street, 212832-1155,

JEWISH MUSEUM The Jewish Museum features a permanent collection of more than 28,000 objects— paintings, sculpture, photographs, archaeological artifacts, coins, ceremonial objects and more—relating to Jewish heritage and history. On February 15, 16 and 18, kids can explore



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Culture Guide for Kids

Children’s y Museum of Manhattan

The foremost modern art museum in the world, MoMA aims to make its collections accessible to scholars and young children alike. Kids will love the fanged entrance to the otherworldly “Tim Burton” exhibition, which explores the full range of the filmmaker’s work, from early childhood drawings to props and costumes from movies like “Beetlejuice,” “Batman” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” The museum’s popular ongoing family programs include “Tours For Fours,” “A Closer Look For Kids,” and “Tours for Tweens.” 11 West 53rd Street, 212-708-9400,


his Presidents Day, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan presents “President Hunt,” its fifth installment of “Raising Citizens,” a year-long series of programs designed to inspire civic responsibility through American holidays, values and family stories. On February 15, kids can learn fun facts about our nation’s inspirational Presidents and First Ladies while participating in a “President Hunt.” Children’s Museum of Manhattan, 212 West 83rd Street, 212-721-1234, —Tanisia Morris

MUSEUM OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK Explores the history, present and future of the five boroughs. On March 4, the museum welcomes the exhibition “Charles’ Addams New York,” showcasing the watercolors, cartoons, pencil sketches and more from New Yorker cartoonist Charles Addams, creator of the set of macabre characters that came to be known as “The Addams Family.” 1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street, 212-534-1672,

NEW YORK HALL OF SCIENCE The Hall features the largest collection of handson science exhibits in New York City, and there’s lots going on there this month: Explore math concepts through interactive exhibits at Math Midway starting February 6; celebrate Engineering Day at the museum on February 15; rock out with the band Board of Education on February 17; and learn about the Science of the Circus on February 18. 47-01 111th Street, Queens, 718-6990005,

RUBIN MUSEUM OF ART Home to an extensive collection of art from the Himalayas and surrounding regions, the Rubin offers programs and events for families throughout the year. Kids ages 5 and up and their families are invited to Family Workshops every Saturday. On February 13, the Rubin invites families to join them for Family Day: Expedition Cosmos (see sidebar)! 150 West 17th Street, 212-620-5000,


the experimental world of artist Man Ray by designing fun mobiles using found objects. On February 28, celebrate Purim with The Dirty Sock Funtime Band (you won’t want to miss the band’s special rendition of “ClownaHagila”)! 1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street, 212-4233200,

METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART The Met’s friendly, interactive programs help children grow an appreciation for the treasures inside this world-renowned museum. This month, the Met welcomes the exhibition “Playing With Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage.” As a family, explore the Met’s collections with slide show orientations, films and sketching programs. Ongoing programs include “Start With Art at the Met” (ages 3-7),


New York Family | February 2010

“Hello, Met!” (ages 5-12) and “Look Again!” (ages 5-12). 1000 Fifth Avenue, 212-5357710,

MORGAN LIBRARY & MUSEUM Join the Morgan on February 6 for a workshop exploring the exhibition, “A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen’s Life and Legacy.” Children ages 6-12 can use paper doll templates, decorative papers and trimmings to design their own eveningwear! 225 Madison Avenue, 212-685-0008,

EL MUSEO DEL BARRIO One of the city’s leading Latino cultural institutions, the museum recently reopened after extensive renovations. Join El Museo for “Super Sabado!”—a free, day-long cultural celebration

For decades, New York City’s waterfront was its most important asset. Explore history at the Seaport through various interactive exhibits and activities. At the exhibition “New Amsterdam: The Island at the Center of the World,” visitors can see “New York’s birth certificate,” which documents the famous $24 purchase of Manhattan from the Native Lenapes. 12 Fulton Street, 212-7488600,

WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART The world-renowned Whitney houses a spectacular collection of 20th century American art. Through the fall, the museum offers familyfriendly programs like “Stroller Tours,” “Whitney Wees,” “Family Fun” art workshops, “Tours at Two” for families with kids ages 6-10 and “Artist’s Choice, Artist’s Voice” for families with kids ages 8-12. 945 Madison Avenue, 1-800-WHITNEY, j

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Author Rick Riordan On How “The Lightning Thief” Went From Bedtime Story To Blockbuster By Jonathan Davis n President’s Day, the movie “The Lightning Thief ” will bring teenager Percy Jackson and a cast of gods, demigods, monsters and more to the big screen. Featuring Hollywood luminaries like Uma Thurman and Pierce Brosnan, the movie may well turn out to be an American broadside to Harry Potter. “The Lightning Thief ” is an adaptation of author Rick Riordan’s wildly popular “Percy Jackson and the Olympians,” a series of novels for young adults. Set primarily in New York City, the five-book series is a tour de force of Greek mythology mixed with modern-day character development. Last month, Riordan spoke with New York Family via Skype from his home office in Texas about the popular series, the forthcoming movie, and his latest writing


New York Family | February 2010

project (hint: it’s expected to do for Egyptian mythology what Percy Jackson has done for the Greeks!). How did you come up with the idea for a story about characters from Greek mythology living in contemporary Manhattan? It certainly was not something I intended on doing. I was a teacher at a middle school in San Francisco and I was writing mystery stories for adults. In my class, I taught stories from Greek mythology and I started telling these to my son Haley, who was then a 9-year-old and who had been diagnosed with ADHD and was struggling in school. Just like in Greek mythology, I used myth to explain things that weren’t easily explainable to him. He became a demigod who was special, who had challenges yet who was dynamic and heroic and a good son and friend. What became the Percy Jackson series was told to him over three nights of stories.

Michael Muller

Culture Guide for Kids



You came up with the entire series in three nights? The quest was absolutely there. And then we picked locations that we knew and had visited as a family, like Los Angeles, Las Vegas and the Hoover Dam, so that my son could easily envisage where the action took place. Was it a challenge to combine Greek mythology with modern times and give the gods such modern-day personalities? It was really easy and

better for Percy’s world. My wife is a New Yorker, and her family had a farm out on Long Island. If I were a Greek god, I’d want to go to where the action was, and New York really is the nerve center of the United States. Do any of the characters in the books resemble folks in real life? Yes, a lot of them are amalgamations of people I know. Take Mrs. Dodds, the evil math teacher who turns into a Fury right at the beginning of “The Lightning Thief.” There is a Mrs. Dodds who’s a real math teacher I worked with in middle school. Rather than suing me, she is actually pleased to be in the book—she told me how her nephews called her after they read about her, and that now she’s famous! As for Percy, he’s a little of me and a little of my son. Haley was 9 when I started and is now 15. It is so interesting to see how he’s gone into his teenage years like Percy Jackson—he’s more confident about who he is and is just generally in a good place. He’s also a prolific writer and probably writes more than I do now.

one of the most fun things about writing the books. It seemed clear to me that Zeus would be dressed in pinstripes or Ares would be a biker driving through the Midwest. The myths mesh so well with the modern world because of the strength of the characters in them. You grew up in San Antonio and live there now. Why did you choose New York for the setting of the Percy Jackson series? New York was

You talked earlier about using the stories to deal with the challenges of learning disabilities. The series also addresses other complex issues, like broken homes and single parenthood. It’s unrealistic to write about the lives of children in any other way. The fact is that there is no perfect nuclear family out there. And the divorced family isn’t a modern notion. The Greeks were totally familiar with it: stepfathers, illegitimate and extended families, separated parents, widows. As challenging as they are, Percy’s struggles would have been well known to the Greeks. Why do you think these books have been so successful? It’s hard for me to think in the millions. But I can think in terms of anecdotes. Like the parent who wrote me about his child who has dyslexia but reads my books voraciously under the sheets at night. Like teachers who tell me that the Greek mythology books are all taken out of the school library. I think the

books’ success really grew organically, from teachers recommending them and children enjoying them. Does your family eat blue foods on special occasions, like Percy’s family? No, we don’t! It was a joke that grew as I wrote. However, I do eat orange food when I’m stressed out. On my first trip outside the United States to Canada, I found myself sitting in a car with orange soda, a pack of Cheetos and an orange. Do you miss being a teacher? I do—it was my calling. But I can’t write full time and be a teacher, too. I still like to think of myself as a teacher. There may not be 20-30 kids in front of me anymore, but now there are millions of kids. What can we expect from you in the coming months? A new series I’ve written called “The Kane Chronicles” has its first volume, “The Red Pyramid,” coming out on May 4. This series came out of four years of talking with kids who were asking about my next mythological books. The only thing as popular as Greek mythology is ancient Egyptian mythology, and so I have given a Percy Jackson-type spin to this world that’s been so formative to our experience. I have researched a lot and found all kinds of fascinating stuff to write about. It’s been one of my favorite projects. So are you and your family travelling to New York for the worldwide premiere of “The Lightning Thief” on President’s Day? No, I’m far too busy writing to come. I haven’t actually seen the movie and I wasn’t involved—I wouldn’t know how to make a movie! I’m afraid I have to ask you: Percy Jackson vs. Harry Potter in a fictional celebrity death match. Who’d win? (Laughs) I guess it would depend on who got the first shot! I wouldn’t want to call that one. Harry Potter and Percy Jackson have different personalities. Harry’s a little introspective, while Percy Jackson’s an ADHD, dyslexic, all-American teenager. G February 2010 | New York Family




Our Night



y son is teaching me the art of having a Guys Night. The plan came into being earlier this evening at the video store when I caught myself acting like a rather prissy girl. Ethan, who’s 13, generally likes the movies I choose—moving, thoughtprovoking films like “Stand by Me” and “Smoke Signals,” or clever comedies like old Woody Allen flicks. But he also loves raunchy comedies and violent action blockbusters that make me wish we didn’t own a DVD player. He’d picked out several such movies when I heard myself saying primly, as I had for the last 20 minutes, “No. That’s not my kind of film.” A moment later, he handed me the DVD “Taken.” “I guess we can’t get this,” he said. I read the cover. While vacationing with a friend in Paris, an American girl is kidnapped by a gang of human traffickers intent on selling her into forced prostitution. “Human trafficking? I don’t know. . .” I looked at Ethan’s disappointed face, then down at Liam Neeson’s alluring profile. I thought of the movie “Love Actually” with Neeson as a widowed stepfather. What made his character Daniel so endearing was the way he related to his stepson on his own level, as a friend. Give him this one, I imagined the fictitious Daniel say. “Okay. Go get us some popcorn.” “Who are you and what have you done with my mother?” Ethan said. When we got home, I filled a pasta pot with water. “What are you doing?” Ethan asked. “Starting dinner?”


New York Family | February 2010

“We just got a guy movie. We have to order pizza.” He handed me the phone. “And we have to eat it while we watch.” As Ethan knew, this was breaking a cardinal rule at our house. Having grown up in a family where “I Love Lucy” reruns took the place of dinner conversations, I’m very protective of dinnertime. Also, when I was married to Ethan’s father, we had a hard time communicating. Television didn’t help. Early on, we spent most of our meals sharing dreams and plans; but even then, we’d rent an occasional movie and he’d coax me into watching as we ate. Over time, I discovered that Richard liked to eat dinner in front of the TV whenever possible, a habit I found as depressing as I had in childhood. I promised myself that, if we ever had kids, dinnertime would be set aside for connecting. I’ve read that family meals do more for a child’s psychological well-being than participating in sports, religious activities, or school. For teens, a routine of regular dinners at home decreases the likelihood of getting into drugs, developing eating disorders, or becoming suicidal. I pondered all this while we waited for our pizza. Maybe I should veto the eat-it-with-the-movie idea. I’m sure he does plenty of that at his dad’s house, I thought grumpily. Then it hit me. That’s exactly why it was so important to Ethan. Richard was away on business. He must miss him. No wonder he wanted to bring a little of their ritual to our house. The pizza arrived, and I could

A Single Mom Relaxes Some Of Her Household Rules To Better Connect With Her Son

almost feel “Love Actually’s” Daniel smile approvingly as I carried the box into the living room. Ethan eyed the small paper bag I placed beside it. “Salad?” He shook his head. “That’s pussy food.” I considered chastising him. But this was Guys Night, and he was just being a guy. So now I’m eating pizza straight from the box along with my “pussy” salad. On the screen, Liam-as-Bryan is fighting off a dozen armed villains, moving like a superhero though he’s deep into middle age. It’s Guys Night, but I can’t help watching as a mother. A teenager is missing and only her father can track her down and save her from being sold into prostitution. I cling anxiously to Ethan. “Jeez, Mom,” he said. But I can see he’s enjoying being the brave one. “Don’t worry, Mom. You know he’ll save her.” Sometimes good parenting doesn’t look like the picture in our heads. This, for instance, looks like the complete opposite of the image I carry around. Yet I can feel that this movie night is as nourishing to our relationship as our usual family dinners. It’s good to be with Ethan on his own turf where he’s in charge. So I give him this, a night where the rules fall away and I join him as—more or less—one of the guys. r

“Who are you and what have you done with my mother?”

Ona Gritz writes a monthly column about motherhood and disability at Literary Mama. She is also a prize-winning poet and the author of two children’s books. Her essays have been published in numerous anthologies and journals.

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New York Family February 1, 2010  
New York Family February 1, 2010  

New York Family is a monthly family lifestyle magazine focused on the interests, needs, and concerns of New York City parents. The print pub...