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june 2012

Established 1986














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Success Starts Here.

You will be amazed how much your child will achieve at World Class Learning Academy. From the age of two, your child will begin learning a new language. From age three, your child will discover reading. And from the age of four, they will learn a musical instrument. Imagine what your child will achieve by age 11. Chosen by over 1500 schools worldwide, our innovative, international curriculum helps students achieve well beyond expectations for their age. World Class Learning Academy is part of a successful network of international schools where students’ accomplishments rank among the highest in the world. Students from our schools have been accepted to the world’s most renowned colleges and universities, including Harvard, McGill, MIT, Oxford, Princeton, and St Andrews.

To find out more, call to schedule a private tour.

World Class Learning Academy, New York An International School for Children Ages 2-11. Part of the growing network of World Class Learning Schools in the US and abroad. Inspired. Successful. Empowered.  •  212.600.2010  •  44 East 2nd Street  •  New York, New York 10003  •

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How Kelly Killoren Bensimon Is Raising Tween Girls, Running Manhattan & Staying As Hot As Ever

40 | SUMMER STYLIN’ Bright & Bold Swimsuits, Shirts & Sandals For The Smallest Sun Worshipers

42 | THE GREAT (LOCAL) OUTDOORS The Best Of Beaches, Camping, Nature And Water—In And Out Of NYC

50 | THE DAD CHRONICLES In Celebration Of Father’s Day, We Asked Some Of Our Favorite Local Dads For Their Best Parenting Stories

56 | IN THE BALANCE A Conversation Between Five Working Dads

HOME & AWAY 60 | ON THE MARKET Behind The Scenes With The Close-Knit Kleiers Of HGTV’s Popular Selling New York

The Wonder Of It All

8 | CONTESTS & SPECIAL EVENTS A Taste Of Two Forks, Hersheypark Giveaway, Plus A Day With Dora At The Bronx Zoo

14 | SCOOP The New Gluten-Free Bakery, Scholastic’s Summer Challenge, The Broadway Lullaby Project And More

16 | IT’S MY PARTY Birthday Celebrations At Gymtime Rhythm & Glues, Taste Buds And The Craft Studio

18 | A SUMMERTIME LYSST Divamoms’ Lyss Stern Scouts Some Special Items For Summer—Plus, A Few Great Ideas For Father’s Day Gifts

20 | A SPECIAL PLACE One Of The City’s Leading Children’s Activity Centers—apple seeds—Takes Its Offerings For Kids Across The Globe, And Now Finally Uptown


The Cover: Sea, Kelly and Teddy (left to right) Photography by Seth Kushner. Styling by Monica Cotto. Hair by Bradley Irion. Make-up by Quinn Murphy. On Kelly: Alice & Olivia yellow sequin tank from Bergdorf Goodman; AG Adriano Goldschmied teal jeans; her own sneakers and jewelry. On Sea: AG Adriano Goldschmied hot pink shirt; Tart Collections white cami; Tractr cove blue 5-pocket basic skinny jean; her own sneakers. On Teddy: Splendid Littles striped tank in palm; Joe’s Jeans fuchia jeggings; her own sneakers. Shot on location at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park.

A South African Trip Opens The Eyes Of An NYC Family

Dr. Harvey Karp’s New Guide To Slumber Will Help Children And Parents Alike Sleep Better



Fun With Food This Father’s Day

Dive Into Summer With These Water Safety Tips


32 | GROWING UP A New Book, The Mama’s Boy Myth, Makes The Case For Moms Who Like To Raise Their Boys Closer

12 | A NEW DAY AT CONEY Between New Rides And Classic Attractions, Coney Island Is, Once Again, A Hit With Families

On Kelly (above): Theyskens’ Theory jeans and sequin jacket from Bergdorf Goodman;

66 | THE LAST WORD The Acclaimed Author Of Friday Night Lights Returns With The Heartfelt Book, Father’s Day— The Story Of His Intellectually Challenged And Gifted Son

her own t-shirt; Guiseppe Zanotti white leather and gold metal sandals.

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June 2012 | New York Family


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EdiTOr ANd CO-PUBLiSHEr Eric Messinger emessinger @ SENiOr EdiTOr Whitney Casser wcasser @ ASSOCiATE EdiTOr Kat Harrison kharrison @ ArT dirECTOr George W. Widmer gwidmer @ PrOdUCTiON MANAgEr Ed Johnson ejohnson @ ASSiSTANT PrOdUCTiON MANAgEr Quarn Corley qcorley @ PHOTO EdiTOr Andrew Schwartz aschwartz@ CONTriBUTiNg PHOTOgrAPHErS Heidi Green, Thaddeus Harden, Michael Jurick CONTriBUTiNg WriTErS Jessica Kobrin Bernstein, Natalie Diaz, Meghan Gearino, Elizabeth Raymond, Joy Sherwood, Briehn Trumbauer, Mia Weber, Stephanie Wolf PUBLiSHEr John Hurley 212-268-3086, jhurley @ ASSOCiATE PUBLiSHEr Mary Ann Oklesson maoklesson @ SENiOr ACCOUNT MANAgEr Gina Waldman gwaldman ACCOUNT MANAgEr Jennifer Lesser jlesser @ SPECiAL PrOjECTS dirECTOr Alex Schweitzer aschweitzer NEW YOrk BABY SHOW Rebecca Martin 212-284-9732, rmartin @ ASSiSTANT TO THE PUBLiSHEr Laura Mishkin lmishkin @ CirCULATiON Joe Bendik jbendik@ AdVErTiSiNg COOrdiNATOr Jennie Valenti jvalenti @ BUSiNESS MANAgEr Shawn Scott sscott@ ACCOUNTS MANAgEr Kathy Pollyea kpollyea @ Manhattan Media PrESidENT/CEO Tom Allon CFO/COO Joanne Harras FOUNdiNg PUBLiSHEr Barbara Witt dirECTOr OF digiTAL Vinny DiDonato vdidonato @ WEB PrOdUCTiON MANAgEr Jaime Negron jnegron @ WEB PrOdUCTiON COOrdiNATOr Kathryn Fortuno kfortuno @ WEB dEVELOPEr Peter Hintz phintz@ 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. Š 2012 Manhattan Media, LLC | 79 Madison Avenue, 16th Floor, New York, NY 10016 | t: 212.268.8600 | f: 212.268.0577


New York Family | June 2012

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editor’s note

Whenever I come across any kind of reference to Coney Island’s mythic standing in American history—Disney before there was Disney—it’s a little much for me because as I experienced it, Coney was something very different: it was home, or thereabouts. I grew up a block away from Bay One in Brighton Beach, which is the eastern end of the famed boardwalk that extends west to the Aquarium and then to the Cyclone and Coney’s other attractions, and then to one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city (the Coney which visitors don’t know). I grew up with the Wonder Wheel (which you can see on our cover) being as organic to the horizon as the North Star is to the sky. If you haven’t lately, I hope our Coney Island cover—featuring model and lifestyle guru Kelly Killoren Bensimon and her lovely daughters—inspires you to share a day in Coney with your kids (see my tip sheet on page 12); at the very least, to make

sure you take on a few special plans of your own this summer. This issue can help. For more inspiration on the local front, we have a really good and quirky insider’s guide to the best of nearby beaches, camping, nature and other outdoorsy fun (page 42). With summer in mind, we also have an adorable round-up of kids swimsuits, shirts and sandals (page 40), and a much more serious, but totally essential, read on water safety (page 28). The other special theme in June is fatherhood, and this year’s coverage really rocks: with a series of favorite parenting anecdotes from local dads (page 50), a round-table of working fathers sharing their perspective on the work-life balance conundrum (page 56), and an interview with the author of a new book arguing that it’s perfectly okay for mothers to be

Seth Kushner

The Wonder of iT all Round and round we go. over-the-top in their love for their sons— if anything, it makes them better men (page 32). There are other treats in the issue worth highlighting, but I keep glancing at our Coney Island cover and thinking about a date I once had at the end of high school that greatly benefitted from a trip to the Wonder Wheel. Hmmm… Maybe we’ll shoot our July cover in Brighton Beach. A Wonderful June To All, ERIC MESSINGER EDITOR

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Improve Up to TWO GRADE LEVELS! One-On-One Tutoring and Intensive Summer Programs Grades Pre-K to 12 Reading comprehension & writing Multi-sensory math

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Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS


Say “¡Hola!” to a summer of fun with this incredible Dora the Explorer trip to the zoo giveaway!

This is your child’s chance to meet Fátima Ptacek—the 11-year-old Queens girl who plays the voice of Dora—in person. Fátima will spend some time with your family, exploring the Bronx Zoo and enjoying lunch. The itinerary will include stops at Dora & Diego’s 4-D Adventure (Nickelodeon’s high-speed on-screen chase from the tropical rainforest to the icy Arctic) and the zoo’s big summer exhibit, The Wild Forest - A LEGO(r) Safari, where little ones will encounter LEGO animals across the park, including rhinos, a zebra, lemurs and more. The winning child will also visit the Build Zone at the Dancing Crane Pavilion and a mystery mural that will eventually reveal a wildlife LEGO image. For more details and to enter, visit and click on the Contests & Giveaways tab for details. Deadline to register is Friday, June 29.


If you’re keeping your fingers crossed for a family getaway this summer, here’s your chance to win an amazing trip to Hersheypark to discover your family’s ultimate rush! Just three hours from NYC, Hershey offers guests 12 roller coasters, more than 20 kiddie rides and 9 distinct water attractions at The Boardwalk at Hersheypark, in addition to live shows and entertainment throughout the day. And one lucky family of four will win a 2-night and 2-day stay at the park and lodge. Can you say “sweet tooth paradise”? For more details and to enter, visit and click on the Contests & Giveaways tab for details. Deadline to register is Friday, June 29.


Join the city’s most generous animal lovers at the Bideawee Ball on Monday, June 11 at Gotham Hall NYC. This is a chance to enjoy an evening of cocktails, dinner and dancing, meet other furry friend-minded families and support an organization dedicated to helping people and animals build safe, loving, long-term relationships. Plus, you’ll have the chance to win fabulous auction prizes. For more information, visit


A night in Central Park can be magical for children. Add to that a carnival and a special charity event and you’ve got something for the whole city to enjoy. The Carnival Night For Kids on Wednesday, June 13 is a fun-filled evening with rides, games, raffles, food, live music and more—and all proceeds benefit the Coalition for the Homeless’ youth programs. For more information, visit


The second annual Taste Of Two Forks on Saturday, July 14 promises to be the top culinary even of the season. Taking place at Sayre Park in Bridgehampton, the delectable celebration will feature some of Long Island’s best restaurants—think fresh produce and local seafood—and wineries. This is an over-21 event, so parents only! For more information, visit


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Fa m i ly F u n g u i d e Lower East Egg-citement

Through June ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK? [Ages 6+]

The Liberty Science Center kicks off summer with an illuminating new exhibit, In The Dark. Aiming to ease darkness anxiety in children, this interactive show will display how animals and organisms have adapted to cool, dim conditions for centuries. Learn about dark caves, deep forests and the unknown that is the ocean floor. In The Dark boasts interactive displays, walk-through dioramas and even a few creatures. Don’t miss the re-created nighttime forest featuring glowing mushrooms and illuminated fungi. Free with museum admission. 222 Jersey City Boulevard, Jersey City, 201-200-1000,

[All Ages]


Swindler Cove Park is a natural gem in the heart of urban Harlem. Featuring a forest and one of NYC’s only saltwater marshes, here families can catch up on their bird watching. On June 2’s Family Day, the New York Restoration Project’s staff and educators will lead games, hikes and nature projects such as DIY birdhouses. Kids also have the chance to meet-and-greet with the animals that call the park home. Pick up some gardening tips while you’re there, as expert gardeners will be onsite for tutorials and questions. Free, 11am-3pm. 10th Avenue & Dyckman Street, 212333-2552,

For more event picks for families, check out our Family Calendar at events


New York Family | June 2012


Great events

for June

Katie Milford




[All Ages]

[All Ages]

Cobble Hill Cinemas’ Big Movies for Little Kids program is teaming up with the Children’s Museum of the Arts for their Second Annual Student Film Festival. Aspiring filmmakers are welcome to view and gain inspiration from the short film submissions of their peers, ages 4-18. Your kiddo can vote for their favorite, and then the top three will premiere later in the month at the series’ annual Drive-In Movie Night on June 15. Children who didn’t submit will still get their directorial debut in the event’s animation booth! $7/person, babies are free, 4pm. 265 Court Street, Brooklyn, 718-596-9113,

Summer is the season to get wet, so head to Coney Island for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s newest exhibit at New York Aquarium, A-MAZE-ING Water. This unique display, running through Labor Day, honors World Oceans Day. Children and their companions will magically turn into a tiny, but important, drop of water and travel through a 1,500-square-foot maze of thrilling waterways. Interactive experiences will allow kids to ride a zipline through pollutants, assemble water cycle puzzles, spin a wildlife wheel of facts and also learn more about the importance of water. Free with aquarium admission. Surf Avenue & West 8th Street, Brooklyn, 718-265-3474,

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Fa m i ly F u n g u i d e


1 0 G r e at e v e N t s

Jewish Museum, the Guggenheim and The Met, among several others. Enjoy performances from Sammie & Tudie’s Imagination Playhouse and Silly Billy. Mini-artists can partake in endless arts & crafts while face painting, magic shows and electrifying jugglers will round out this free evening of cultural fun. 6pm9pm. Fifth Avenue between East 82nd and 105th Streets, 212-606-2296,

Begins June 12 MADISON SQUARE ROCKS [All Ages]

Summer at Swindler June 10 LOWER EAST EGG-CITEMENT [All Ages]

Take the family to the Egg Rolls & Egg Creams Festival, sponsored by the Museum at Eldridge Street—dedicated to celebrating the Lower East Side’s Chinese and Jewish communities. Believe it or not, these two very different cultures value their deep-rooted traditions in the same way: by keeping ancient customs present, while also adopting new ones. This free fest is full of music (toe-tapping klezmer), dancing (the tricks of Chinese acrobats) and art. Be sure to snag a quick language lesson in Mandarin or Yiddish! And of course, both kosher egg creams and traditional egg rolls will be available for noshing. 12pm-4pm. Eldridge Street between Canal and Division Streets, 212-2190888,

June 12 ARTY BLOCK PARTY [All Ages]

The city shuts down 23 blocks of Fifth Avenue for The 34th Annual Museum Mile Festival, a summer soiree unlike any other. Rain or shine, this is your chance to check out ten of the cultural greats: El Museo del Barrio, The


This summer marks the big 1-0 for the free, weekly Madison Square Kids Concert Series. June features groovin’ groups like The Deedle Deedle Dees, Alastair Moock & Friends and Shine & The Moonbeams. We’ll be marking our calendars for Audra Rox, who promises to kick off the tenth anniversary in style. Be sure to check out the entire schedule online for future performances by The Suzi Shelton Band, Recess Monkey and The Dirty Sock Funtime Band. Free, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30am. Madison Avenue and 23rd Street, 212538-1884,

Begins June 14 SUMMER IN THE SQUARE [All Ages]

Union Square Park’s free Summer in the Square series is the perfect way to spend your pre-weekend day with the family in the great outdoors. Bring baby out to the playground at 10am for Mommy & Me Yoga classes, hosted by Bija Kids. Children’s entertainment and activities begin at noon, ideal for picnicking. Or take advantage of the free salsa, Zumba and hip-hop classes sponsored by the renowned Peridance Capezio Center beginning at 6pm. Each week winds down with a Music in the Square concert featuring acts from rock, jazz, folk or international genres. Free, Thursdays, 10am. East 14th Street and Broadway, 212-460-1200,


Were you and/or your spouse absent during your child’s birthday because of active military duty? If so, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum has an epic fiesta planned just for your fam! The Military Family Birthday Party is a special way to honor families who give so much to our country. The first-time celebration will include all the traditional b-day activities: balloons, singing, arts & crafts and, of course, yummy birthday cake. Kiddos and parents alike will also have the opportunity to meet other military families and swap stories. Reservations are required, 4-7pm. 145 Brooklyn Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-7354400 x164,

June 23 GONE FISHIN’ [Ages 5+]

In celebration of aquatic ecology, Central Park is hosting a free Family Fishing Celebration. This catch-and-release event takes place at the now-flourishing Harlem Meer, stocked with largemouth bass, sunfish, pickerel and carp. The New York Microscopical Society will even host a microscope activity to investigate aquatic organisms. And for all the nonfishermen of the family, fishy arts & crafts will keep hands busy, along with storytelling from the Magic Goldfish. No registration is necessary, 12-3pm. Dana Discovery Center, 110th Street between 5th and Lenox Avenues, 212-860-1370,

Gone Fishin’

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CONEY Between The New Rides And The Classic Attractions, Coney Island Is, Once Again, A Hit With City Families BY ERIC MESSINGER Slowly and now reliably, Coney Island has revived to the point where it offers local families one of the most fun and special days anywhere in the city. Here are a few tips from someone who grew up nearby and still goes back with his kids. *The Aquarium: I often recommend starting a day in Coney with the New York Aquarium, taking in the crowd-pleasing sea lions, plus all sorts of exotic and marine life. (Note: The Aquarium has the most ample parking lot in the area.) *The Cyclone: If you like roller coasters, the historic wooden Cyclone is one of those experiences that just has to be had, and usually more than once. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether to tell the uninitiated about the first drop. *Luna Park: In the last few years, several large swaths of Coney Island have basically been reconceived and rebuilt under the umbrella name Luna Park, which was one of the great anchors of Coney Island in the past. The remakes bring a lot of varied and wonderful rides and games, so toddlers can have their thrills but so can tweens and teens. One of the new sections, the Scream Zone, incorporates several new roller coasters, including the Steeplechase (another history-minded tribute). *Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park: There’s no better way of immersing yourself in Coney Island than by enjoying the gentle swaying and big vistas of the iconic Wonder Wheel. A proud second-generation operation, Deno’s also features a kiddie park with 17 rides, and a few other classics for adults, including Spook-A-Rama and Bumper Cars. *Nathan’s Famous: I don’t know why it’s true but it is—Nathan’s hot dogs taste even better when purchased at the


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original home in Coney Island. Same for those thick wedge fries. *Totonno’s: As long as we’re on the topic of food, it’s worth noting that the original Totonno’s, widely recognized by pizza foodies as one of the city’s great brick-oven joints, is also in Coney Island. *The Brooklyn Cyclones: A lower division off-shoot of the Mets, the Cyclones offer fans the full “Minor League” treatment with lots of special promotions and events that are perfect for families. My favorite: Stay after the game on Friday night and watch the fireworks. *Beach & Boardwalk Pointers: 1. The Atlantic Ocean doesn’t hit Coney Island head-on; it’s more like a very big inlet, so the waves are almost always kid-friendly. 2. Looking west along the boardwalk, you’ll see the really long Coney Island fishing pier. For a taciturn tribe, fishermen typically love introducing their passion to kids. 3. At end of the day, you could also walk east on the boardwalk, savoring the breezes and the human parade, and end up in Brighton Beach for dinner at a Russian restaurant. If you see a kid looking out the window of his apartment building, that was once me. Eric Messinger is the Editor of New York Family. FOR MORE INFO ON CONEY ISLAND, VISIT CONEYISLANDFUNGUIDE.COM. FOR MORE GREAT IDEAS FOR SUMMER FUN AROUND THE CITY, VISIT NEWYORKFAMILY.COM.

5/18/12 6:11 PM


The Unauthorized Harry Experience A Parody by Dan and Jeff

FAMILY FOUR PACK – SAVE $80 Visit for details.

LIMITED ENGAGEMENT NOW PLAYING or 212-239-6200 Little Shubert Theatre 422 W 42 St, NYC (btw 9th & 10th)

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KeepiNg pareNts iN the KNow


Make Meaning, a favorite family activity destination, has opened a new location on the Upper East Side! Walk in anytime (reservations are not needed, but always recommended for classes) and partake in a number of unique projects on offer. Crafty kiddos will enjoy ceramics, jewelry-making or getting creative with paper. For something different, check out the soap-making or glass jewelry projects. One of the most popular new offerings is scrumptious cake decorating. Pre-baked, blank canvas cakes are available in various sizes and include incredible decorating materials like edible glitter and disco dust. The best part? You get to take your beautiful treat home and chow down! For more information, visit



gLUtEN-FREE…AND SWEEt AS CAN BE New Yorkers with Celiac Disease or a gluten allergy will find a dessert mecca at the Upper East Side’s newest sweet shop, Pip’s Place: The Gluten Free Cakery. Founder and creative mastermind Denise Cummings created this gluten-free sanctuary after her 14-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Celiac disease in 2007. Store bought items just weren’t cutting it, so Cummings took to her kitchen and reinvented the glutenfree wheel. Her culinary creations were so tasty that she decided to take her treats mainstream and open a bakery. Pip’s Place will serve an array of over 40 glutenfree goodies—all approved by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization. Items such as chocolate layer cake with mocha frosting, raspberry pinwheels and peanut butter cup cookies will have sweettoothed city strollers going back for seconds. For more information, visit


Music, literature and film all by Broadway’s best—and for a good cause! Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project is a stellar multimedia compilation aimed to support finding a cure for breast cancer. The 2-CD collection features 26 original lullabies written and performed by Broadway stars like Michael Cerveris, Kate Dawson, Audra McDonald, Vanessa Williams and many others. Also included is an illustrated children’s book with a foreword by legendary actress Julie Andrews. Plus, since the entire project was taped, purchasers will receive a copy of the documentary film. Proceeds will be donated to various breast cancer charities. For more information, visit


SChoLAStIC SUMMER ChALLENgE Keeping a kid academically engaged during the summer can be tough. But our friends at Scholastic have created the perfect solution with their Scholastic Summer Challenge, a program which aims to keep up literacy all summer long! Every time a child finishes a book, he or she can log those minutes at and help to break the world record for total number of summer reading minutes by kids. Parents will receive weekly emails regarding their child’s progress, along with book lists and expert tips. To make this all the more fun, Scholastic is introducing their Reading Timer App, which allows readers to log minutes and win prizes while on-the-go. Free for iPhone and Android users. For more information, visit


Bring Dan Zanes to the breakfast table. Families can enjoy a little piece of the children’s folk musician while they eat as Dan Zanes teams up with Fishs Eddy for a special dish collection. With Zanes’ music on popular rotation at this New York City store, they decided to collaborate on a unique set of bowls, plates and cups featuring quirky musical motifs like tubas, cellos, guitars and bongo drums. The dishes, designed by Donald Saaf and recently available at the Fishs Eddy store, range in price from $10.95 to $12.95. Or, simply purchase the entire set for $36.85 in a charming gift box. For more information, visit



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Milstein Science Series

Great Barrier Reef SUNDAY, JUNE 10

11 am – 6 pm Milstein Hall of Ocean Life Free with Museum admission


olphins, sea turtles, sponges, and rays—discover the biodiversity of the Great Barrier Reef and learn how we can protect it through hands-on activities and presentations for the whole family. At 5 pm, view a special dome screening of Coral: Rekindling Venus, an immersive underwater film that captures the beauty and complexity of coral ecosystems. CORAL: REKINDLING VENUS WILL BE SHOWN DAILY IN A MINI-DOME THEATER IN THE MILSTEIN HALL OF OCEAN LIFE FROM MONDAY, JUNE 11–SUNDAY, JUNE 24.

Proudly sponsored by the Paul and Irma Milstein Family. Open Daily | Central Park West at 79th St. | 212-769-5100 |

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Miguel Reich celebrates his 5th birthday at Gymtime Rhythm & Glues. 1. The birthday boy sports a flushed smile—it’s a friend sandwich! 2. Partygoers hang happy. 3. Miguel, brother Mateo and parents say “cheese.” Will Darth Vader join in on the fun? Photos by Andrew Schwartz ( 1


Claire Cheng celebrates her 5th birthday at Taste Buds. 1. Birthday girl Claire takes a short break from mini pizza making. Y-U-M! 2. A sweet treat that’s pretty and pink. 3. Claire sneaks in a grin mid-bite. 4. Let’s play a game: Hug someone, pass it along! Photos by Heidi Green (







Twins Carly and Reese Lesser celebrate their 6th birthday at The Craft Studio. 1. Carly and Reese celebrate in style with a Barbie birthday cake courtesy of Food Emporium. 2. Carly flashes a thousand-watt smile during limbo time. 3. Reese gets crafty with a plaster butterfly. 4. Looks like these little ladies had the same idea! Photos by Andrew Schwartz (

SeARChinG foR The RiGhT BiRThdAy TheMe foR youR ChiLd? ReAd “ChooSe youR own AdvenTuRe” AT newyoRkfAMiLy.CoM.


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BY LYss sterN HERE’S tO SUMMER—a season of sun, scorching temps, sand and, of course, DivaFabulyss fashions and finds. From running around during the week, to heading out of town on the weekends, these must-have items will add style to any summer. Also stylish: giving something special to the dad in your life on June 17. Here’s a shortlist of gifts to please any parent. 1. Missoni Home Collection Lara Towel. Known for their eye-catching prints, this Missoni towel is perfect for standing out in the sand. $225; DDC, 181 Madison Avenue, 212-685-0800 2. SoJanie Plain Jane Wallet This simple, elegant wallet features 18 slots for cards, plus a pocket for cash and even a cell phone. $140; 3. Eric Javits Swinger Hat This wide-brimmed topper blocks 95% of UVA/UVB rays. $350; 4. Wines By Wives Celebrity Wine of the Month Club Each month, members receive two bottles of wine from around


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the world—one red, one white— that are selected by stylish celeb wives. $29.95/month; 5. Babajaan Maiara Silk-Georgette Kaftan Easy, breezy fabric and a royal purple hue make this beaded kaftan essential for any day by the water—and the cocktails and sunset dinner that are sure to follow. $590; FOR DADS: 6. Jack Spade Waxed Linen Boxed Duffle Dads who plan to do weekend traveling this summer (and beyond) will appreciate this

lightweight and durable duffle bag. Interior pockets make toting items a cinch. $525; 7. Apple New iPad Incredibly fast, crisp and clear for surfing the Internet, reading a book or perusing family photos, this third-generation iPad is sure to meet Dad’s on-the-go standards. $499 and up; 8. Bottega Veneta Woven Leather iPad Case A top-of-the-line iPad deserves a top-of-the-line “home”, like this woven leather style. $630; 9. Odin New York 07 Tanoke Fragrance

Odin’s most recent scent-sational fragrance should be on everyone’s Father’s Day shopping list: the crisp, woody 07 Tanoke, which has notes of spicy ginger, bitter orange and black pepper. $125; 10. ESPN “30 For 30” LimitedEdition Gift Set Thirty films that chronicle some of the greatest sports stories of the last thirty years? Well, that’s just what the sports-loving dad in your life wants. $49.99; Lyss Stern, an Upper East Side mom of two, is Founder of—where Sex and the City meets Mommy & Me.

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One Of The City’s Leading Children’s Activity Centers— apple seeds—Takes Its Special Offerings For Kids Across The Globe, And Now Finally Uptown BY Erika ThormahlEN The story goes something like this: Two moms cram their double-wide strollers into a freight elevator on their way to a mommy & me music class. Sizing up each other’s cargo, they strike up a conversation. “Twins?” “Twins.” “Hi, I’m Alison.” “Hi, I’m Allison.” “I’m from Jersey.” “Really? I’m from Jersey.” For most, this might be nothing more than the cliché meet-cute of a beautiful (if potentially confusing) friendship. For Allison Schlanger and Alison Qualter Berna, it was the opening scene of an equally bright business partnership. Along with their respective husbands, Craig Schlanger and Bobby Berna, the moms would soon become Co-Founders of apple seeds, an all-in-one play space in Manhattan’s Flatiron District bringing birthday parties, varied classes and even kiddie haircuts to the five-and-under set. At the time of their chance meeting back in 2005, the two sets of parents bonded over raising twins as the entrepreneurial stars


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aligned: Allison had just left her career as an executive producer at MTV; Alison was struggling with how to transition from her position at UNICEF into something that would mesh with motherhood and keep her mind active; Craig was considering his next move from Wall Street as a trader, while Bobby had already established a résumé as a business development executive working with start-ups. Meanwhile, in the city blocks surrounding Madison Square Park where the Schlangers and the Bernas lived, changes were afoot. “Even though all these families had moved in, the neighborhood hadn’t caught up and was still very commercial and business-oriented,” explains Allison—hence the freight elevator setting during that initial introduction. So, the foursome took matters into their own hands. And nine months after their first official business meeting—where a bottle of red wine helped get the creative juices flowing—apple seeds was born. The buzz was immediate. The team sold memberships based solely on design sketches to parents in the nearby Madison Square Park area. “We had several hundred members before we opened on March 1, 2007,” says Alison. Her husband, Bobby, adds: “I continued on page 22

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party themes, what members know think early on, we knew we were on to and love about the Flatiron location something.” can now be found Uptown as well, Just like the couples’ two sets of right down to the playground’s big twins—Sam and Ari Schlanger, and yellow taxi. “That playground is the Madeleine and Sydney Berna—now exact same whether you’re in One age seven, apple seeds has been Columbus Circle, here in the Flatiron growing. With licensed partnerships or in Dubai,” says Alison. Even the in Dubai, Mexico City and Mumbai, non-toxic cleaning products have been the facility’s carefully documented reordered for the new space. curriculum and design features have The only change that comes been packaged and implemented across with expansion, perhaps, is the the globe. Closer to home, there are team’s renewed dedication to their now apple seeds-branded playgrounds classes, from art and yoga, to in several residential buildings science and soccer. “The bigger we sprouting up around Manhattan—with get, the deeper we’ve gone with signature NYC-themed interactive the curriculum,” declares Allison. stations, like a grocer’s deli next to Though an eventual apple seeds Central Park. school might be a dream-come-true “From a business perspective, for some, Alison reminds preschoolapple seeds was designed with happy families: “We always knew the intent to scale it,” says Craig, we weren’t a school and we never when talking about the company’s Fun in the indoor playground call ourselves a school. However, impressive growth. And while the we recognize the huge responsibility business’ popularity has been gathering when you have a child at a key steam with licensing deals, the team learning age in your environment 45 has notably waited to open a new minutes every week.” space in Manhattan under their own Classes emphasize confidencemanagement—until now, with their building and play-based socialization new full-service venue on the Upper like songs for seeds, a music program West Side. developed in-house by Ray Andersen. “People were asking us when we Known to apple seeds enthusiasts first opened, ‘When are you gonna as mr. RAY, Andersen wrote all the move Uptown?’ and it always felt music and lyrics for songs for seeds. premature,” says Allison. Though bobby, alison, allison and craig Incorporating an original soundtrack friends and brokers were constantly performed by a live band with a game pitching the team retail space leads, the show-esque spinning wheel, the class is their standout offering— team felt like they weren’t quite ready in terms of experience and and is headed for the Upper West Side too. timing. “[Now,] we’re confident exporting this to the Upper West While the opening of their new location may be the latest Side or to Dubai,” Alison adds. addition to the apple seeds family, it is not the only one. With their long-time staff and meticulously developed programming ready to go, the final puzzle piece proved difficult Befitting of their parallel beginnings, both Alison and Allison each welcomed a third child with the same synchronicity with to fit: finding the perfect place. “You really have to find the which their friendship began. Born just two months apart, right space at the right price and that’s hard to do. It took Alison’s Jack and Allison’s Dov are currently deep in the throes years,” says Craig. of toddlerhood. Translation: these mompreneurs are sitting in What cinched the deal for the Upper West Side? “The on classes not as owner-observers, but as pleased participants location,” he responds succinctly. “And the ground-floor access,” all over again. Alison chimes in, speaking to the frustration of any caregiver who “I have a new fire in my belly about apple seeds,” Allison has arrived late to their toddler’s art class thanks to a filled-tosays beaming. “apple seeds is part of both of our families, it capacity elevator. really is like another child. We work as a family here.” Located on West End Avenue between 69th and 70th Streets, smack in the heart of a neighborhood teeming with young families, Erika Thormahlen writes about fashion, family and travel the newest apple seeds feels very much like the original. That is no from NYC. mistake; the team is betting on parents’ universal desire for a safe, clean, fun place to take their kids. Explains Allison, “We always say we built apple seeds to be your basement, your backyard, your own personal park.” To read more abouT apple seeds’ beginnings, check From its play-based curriculum to its ever-popular birthday ouT “double The Fun” aT


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Sleep Happy The Happy Baby, inc.

Dr. Harvey Karp’s New Guide To Slumber Will Help Parents And Children Alike Sleep Better BY JeNNa Helwig Pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp has done more to transform how parents comfort and quiet their babies than almost any other expert. Now, the author of The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler on the Block is back with more must-have advice. In his latest book (which comes out this month), The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep, Dr. Karp shares his snoozing secrets for babies through preschoolers. Here, he shares why you shouldn’t hesitate to wake a sleeping baby and why bedtime starts in the morning. After writing The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler on the Block, why did you decide to write a book solely focused on sleep? Sleep is the number one complaint that new parents have. There were so many things I observed that I felt weren’t properly communicated about [it]. The idea that you can teach your baby to sleep better is comforting. But, is it really possible? [Of] the vast majority of people whose children have sleep problems, it’s because they’ve trained their child to expect sleep. So if we can train them to the wrong expectation, why wouldn’t we be able to train them to the right expectation? What are most parents doing wrong when it comes to sleep training? The first thing is, they’re doing nothing for the first three or four months because they’re being told there’s nothing you can do. But, we know that babies learn even before they’re born, and certainly in the very first week of life you can see your baby learning… So the biggest mistake is to wait three or four months before you start establishing those [healthy sleep] cues. The next biggest mistake is to establish the wrong cues. And then the next


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biggest mistake is to think that your only other option at that point is to let them cry it out. What are the biggest myths about baby and toddler sleep? The biggest myth about infants and older kids is that any child sleeps through the night. We all wake up in the middle of the night. We just roll over and go back to sleep. So the goal is not to have a child sleep through the night. The goal is to have a child who can get themselves back to sleep when they wake up if they’re not really hungry or needing you. One almost heretical idea you recommend is that you should never put a baby to bed while already asleep. I can hear parents gasping! [Laughing] At that point people hang up on me!… If the goal is for your child to learn to fall asleep on their own in the middle of the night when they wake up, assuming they don’t need you for some important reason, then you need to start teaching them to do that. Otherwise they only learn one way to fall asleep—being rocked or nursed or cuddled… So let them fall asleep in your arms; that’s not a problem. But when you put them in bed, tickle them a little bit, scratch the bottom of their feet a bit, jostle them. Get them to open their eyes and look around just a teeny bit. How do you feel about parents letting their baby “cry it out” as a sleep training strategy? We’ve done a good job teaching [babies] that crying works to get our attention. That’s really what we spend the first three or four months trying to teach our children. We don’t really want our kids to be suddenly learning, “you’re going to cry in a dark room all by continued on page 26

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1:48:53 PM

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yourself forever, and no one’s going to come and get you.” Having said that, sometimes if you’ve gotten into a bad habit…crying it out is not the most terribly traumatizing thing in the world…when you do it correctly. How can good sleep help protect babies and children against obesity? One thing is that when you’re sleep-deprived it changes your metabolic balance so you become insulin-resistant. You change the hormonal balance in the body so even if you’re eating the same number of calories, you tend to gain weight more easily. And then of course if you’re tired, you’re more mopey so you’re less likely to exercise, and then you’re more impulsive in your decision making. Studies are showing now that in toddlers who are sleeping under nine or ten hours a night they end up having more obesity and more attention issues when they get to be preschoolers. You say that for older babies and toddlers, bedtime starts in the morning. How so? Bedtime is all about cooperation, feeling respected, feeling that you got a lot during the day that made you so in love with your mom and dad that you’re going to follow what they want at night even though you don’t want to. So that means [parents offering] a lot of choice-giving, respectful listening during the day, sympathizing with their children’s feelings, good communication…so that you don’t get into power struggles at night. What else can parents to do? One specific thing that I really like people to practice during the day is to make a “Beddy-Bye” book about the nighttime routine. Take photographs or cut out pictures from magazines or do drawings. Review that with your child during the day, review it before naptime. What happens is that your child starts to anticipate what is supposed to happen at night and is more likely to go along with what is expected… [Also], immediately before bedtime it isn’t just: brush your teeth, read a story, go to bed. For many kids you should give their brains cues like dimming the lights, turning off bright screens and turning on white noise in the background. Why do you call toddlers “cave-kids”? With The Happiest Baby, the key concept is that [babies are] born three months too soon. When you understand that concept then everything else kind of makes sense about what you need to do. With The Happiest Toddler, the key concept is that

parent’s night out with dr. Karp On Thursday, June 21 at 7:30pm, Dr. Harvey Karp will star in a special live event, Parent’s Night Out with The Happiest Baby & Happiest Toddler, for expecting moms and dads, and parents of infants and toddlers, at local movie theaters. Watch as Dr. Karp reveals the surprising tips and tricks that have made his celebrated books and DVDs among the top parenting guides in history. Tickets are on sale now at


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they’re uncivilized, they’re primitives. If you understand that they’re cave men, then when your child throws something at your head or spits in your face, you understand that having a twoyear-old spit at you is very different than having your 22-year-old spit at you. So that allows you to cut yourself some slack, to not take it so seriously, because you understand that it’s a work in progress. It’s going to take until your child is four or five or six to really understand the rules about sharing and taking turns and being polite. Tell us more about your work with toddlers. For me, the toddler work is much more important than the baby work, [because] what happens between eight months and five years of age becomes the foundation for who your child is going to be for the rest of their lives and the relationship you’re going to have with them… In part, it’s about lessening temper tantrums, but much more, these [parenting] skills are about good communication, teaching patience, helping kids feel confident, respected and helping them develop intimate relations. Give us an example. One helpful concept is magic breathing. Even at two or three years of age you can start teaching your child how to take relaxing breaths. Ultimately that becomes a very powerful tool for the rest of your life. So what should parents do when trying to help their toddlers and preschoolers cope with fears at bedtime? A big mistake some parents make is they think that if they acknowledge somebody’s fears, they’re validating or encouraging them. It’s important to understand that emotions never go away unless they’re aired and have a chance to be respectfully heard. If you could convince every parent in America to follow one piece of sleep advice, what would it be? [Laughing] To buy the book! Jenna Helwig, Founder of Rosaberry, is a culinary instructor, personal chef and freelance writer. She blogs for Yummy Delicious at To read a full profile of dr. Harvey Karp, see “THe HappiesT docTor” aT

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SaFeR SWimming

Dive Into Summer With These Water Safety Tips For Children And Parents BY Gavriella Mahpour While we all look forward to the waterlogged joys of summertime (dips in the pool and dives in the ocean!), it’s important to be aware of the increased health risks that accompany water play, especially with young children. To get a better sense of water-related risk and how to properly manage it, we spoke with Jim Spiers—President, CEO and Owner of SwimJim aquatic education programs and Board Member of the Swim For Life Foundation—for his advice on how to stay safe. At what age should children start learning to swim? We start children at six months. It is a great time for exploration and bonding for the parent and child. The truth is that every age is a great age to learn to swim if you have never learned before. You are never too old or too young to learn to swim.

Swim For life’s “Safer 3” program Safer Kids covers the behaviors necessary for both kids and parents to promote water safety. These water safety tips include constant responsible supervision by adults, along with swimming skills attained through ongoing qualified instruction for kids. Safer Water means identifying where the risks are with any body of water (bathtubs, pools, spas, lakes, rivers or oceans) and learning how to reduce those risks. For example, installing barriers such as isolation fencing around a backyard pool would reduce the risk of unauthorized access to the pool by young children.


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What are common hazards for the tub, the pool and ocean? More children drown in bathtubs than in any other product in the home. Most cases involve a child left unattended in the tub. The biggest pool hazard is lack of supervision. Other issues are the lack of layers of protection such as fencing and gates that close automatically and lock. Issues for the ocean are lack of appropriate supervision such as trained lifeguards, currents and overconfidence of skills. How many child drownings occur each year in the U.S.? An average of about 240 children under five years old drown in swimming pools nationwide each year. But the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) also has reports of about 110 children under five who have drowned in other products in and around the home each year. These products include bathtubs, hot tubs, spas, buckets and other containers. The second leading cause of accidental death in the U.S. for children ages 1-14 is drowning. continued on page 30

Safer Response overviews emergency response techniques and emergency action plans as a path to water safety. Learning cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and First Aid, as well as having a phone by the pool at all times, are just a few of the water safety tips covered.

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Do you recommend that children wear water wings in the pool? I feel that water wings and floatation give the parents and the children a false sense of security. There is no better prevention than an attentive parent or water watcher, swimming lessons and gates that close automatically, fences and other multiple layers of protection. Should children learn to swim in group or private lessons? Some children require the quieter, more focused approach of private [lessons]. Other children learn better in a group environment. Positive peer pressure, and learning through watching is a strong motivator for young children. What would surprise parents the most to learn about water safety? There is no replacement for supervision no matter what the age or skill level. What should you do if you see a child drowning? First, swim to where there is a lifeguard and notify the guard immediately. Second, if you are on your own, yell for help. If you are a swimmer, take something with you that floats and go retrieve the child. Call 911, follow their instructions and stay on the phone until help arrives. Non-swimmers should yell for help, find something like a pole to reach the child and bring them to the side. Call 911, follow their instructions and stay on the phone until help arrives. How can parents learn CPR to ensure that they are prepared for water-related emergencies? There are many groups that offer CPR. Classes are usually about six hours long. Parents can contact their local Red Cross office or go online and look at the American Heart Association website ( for classes in their area. Are there any water floatation devices (pool rafts, water noodles, etc.) that are unsafe for children under a certain age? All floatation devices are best used when the person using them has swimming skills or an adult within arm’s reach in the water. The safest floatation device is a U.S. Coastguard Approved Lifejacket. Reminder, lifejackets should be worn by everyone on all boats and by non-swimmers in open water environments. Lifejackets in pools should not replace proper supervision. What is the greatest water safety issue facing NYC children? Lack of proper supervision. If you look at the statistics, most drownings in any body of water are due to lack of supervision and proper risk management. Also, lack of swimming skills and overconfidence. There are so few pools in the city and not everyone has the means or access to swim programs.

W , ATER R E T A W EVERYWHERE A List Of Where To Learn Water Sports Locally SWIMMING

14th Steet Y 92nd Street Y Aqua Skills Asphalt Green Clown Fish Swim School Imagine Swimming New York Sports Club Physique Swim School SwimJim Take Me To The Water Your Local YMCA


Big City Fishing Catch-And-Release Fishing Go Fish Governors Island Lower East Side Ecology Center Sheepshead Bay Steeplechase Pier


Downtown Boathouse Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Manhattan Kayak Company New York Kayak Company


Atlantic Yachting Hudson River Community Sailing Hudson River Sloop Clearwater Manhattan Sailing School Offshore Sailing School


Are there any final water safety tips you can share? Always have a water watcher who is trained in CPR and First Aid. Have all of the emergency numbers posted. Swimming lessons are very important but should not replace an attentive water watcher.

CoreysWave Surf Lessons, Montauk Ditch Plains Beach, Montauk Rockaway Beach Skudin Surf, Long Beach Surf 2 Live, Long Beach

Gavriella Mahpour is a contributing writer for New York Family. She has a B.A. in English from Stern College for Women.



New York Family | June 2012

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LIKE MOTHER, LIKE SON Kate Stone Lombardi and her son, Paul

A New Book, The Mama’s Boy Myth, Makes The Case For Moms Who Like To Raise Their Boys Closer BY JESSICA KOBRIN BERNSTEIN When she was raising her two children, Kate Stone Lombardi—a seasoned journalist for The New York Times for more than two decades and mom to now 26-year-old Jeanie and 23-yearold Paul—was taken aback by the assumptions of so many people around her saying that it was best to distance herself from her son to avoid him becoming a “mama’s boy.” But Stone Lombardi’s parenting instincts went against all of the advice that she was hearing—and synthesizing years of research combined with hundreds of her own interviews with mothers, sons, fathers and experts, she presents a solid argument to those naysayers in her book, The Mama’s Boy Myth: Why Keeping Our Sons Close Makes Them Stronger (Avery). Both the data and the personal anecdotes demonstrate that fostering a close mother-son relationship results in emotionally evolved, empathetic and successful men. What inspired you to write The Mama’s Boy Myth? There was nothing in popular culture that depicted a motherson relationship in a positive way. The only thing in books [and] movies were negative images of controlling moms and this weak,


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wussy boy who was never going to grow up to be independent. My relationship [with my son, Paul] didn’t look anything like that—I wanted to know where this was coming from. In your opinion, what is the importance of the mother-son relationship? Moms teach their boys to recognize what they’re feeling, talk about it and [then] start to develop empathy for others. They work at every stage of the game to develop emotional intelligence and it doesn’t make boys weak or dependent. It equips them to navigate life later on. Has there been any backlash surrounding the book? I had an excerpt printed in the Wall Street Journal and some of the comments—more than 200—were really angry, most of them from men. One saying, “Your son sounds like the kind of kid they would have beaten up as a child.” This really surprised me because this book is really good news—I love boys and men, and I think fathers are very important. This book is just about mothers and sons.

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Tell me about any positive feedback. [There have been] a lot of positive comments from sons—one that made me really happy was [from] a veteran of the Afghani and Iraq War, your typical guys’ guy. He talked about how his mom made him a better parent and soldier. How do these close mother-son relationships differ from helicopter parenting? What I’m talking about is maintaining an emotional connection to your son and letting him develop into the full person that he is. My generation encouraged what used to be considered masculine traits, like pursuing education, in our daughters so we should also be encouraging emotional intelligence in our sons. What kind of dialogue do you hope to spark with your research? My hope is that we start to have a conversation about some of the assumptions we’re making. We’re still looking at the mother-son relationship like it’s 1955. I’m tired of these old stereotypes. Tenyear-old boys still need their moms and 17-year-old boys still need their moms. Freud cannot be avoided with a topic like this! Freud was clearly a brilliant man but he wrote the Oedipus complex in 1899. He was not writing a parenting guide for 2012. He was talking about the subconscious and, over the years, it’s [been] distorted into a prohibition against mother-son relationships. He was never against mothers and sons having a normal, close relationship.

“My generation encouraged what used to be considered masculine traits, like pursuing education, in our daughters so we should also be encouraging emotional intelligence in our sons.” Do you think there is a double standard when it comes to the father-daughter relationship? When dads are close to [their] daughters, everyone thinks it’s great. A dad can do anything with his daughter—she can be his little princess or he can push traditional boundaries by putting her in a football jersey or teaching her something mechanical. If a mom spends too much time with her son or teaches him something traditionally female, moms get pushed

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back—leave that kid alone, let him be, stop bothering him. Mothers don’t get as much leeway with their sons as dads have with their daughters. Your book is clearly a study and not a parenting manual. What advice do you have for new mothers of boys? Follow your instincts. Your son needs you, and it’s good to keep [him] close. Spending time with your boy, as [he] gets older, away from the rest of the family, fosters closeness. There’s something primal about the motherson relationship throughout life at every stage. What about for mothers of older sons? It is never too late to reach out and establish a bond. Early imprinting is important, but I’ve spoken to many moms who early on bought into the cultural expectations that they should push their sons away, and later reached out to their sons with positive results. It was sometimes as simple as a mom calling her son and saying, “I miss seeing you. Want to go for a walk?” You also have a daughter. What’s motherhood been like with both of your children? Raising both a son and a daughter in this culture sometimes felt like a strange balancing act. I was encouraging my daughter to excel in school, work hard, to be athletic, not to fold when faced with adversity. With my son, I was concerned about not losing [his] sweet side as he got drawn into the male culture of toughness. Really, I just wanted both of them to develop their full human potential. How does your mother-daughter relationship differ from the one you have with your son? No one ever criticized my relationship with my daughter, which was equally close but in some ways more intense than my relationship with my son. I think I identified more with my daughter, and that was both good and bad. Adolescence was much rougher with her, too—I think because we are more alike, she felt a greater need to establish a break from me. Now that she is an adult, we are very close. But no one ever criticized my closeness with her, and especially, now that she’s an adult, nobody seems to think it’s weird that we g-chat all the time, comparing notes on the minutia of our day. With my son, I would get messages [from others] to back off at every stage. Jessica Kobrin Bernstein is a teacher turned overtired, over-educated SAHM of two. She lives with her husband, toddler, kindergartener and hundreds of books in Manhattan. You can find her parenting rants, recipes and reviews at June 2012 | New York Family


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how Kelly Killoren benSiMon iS raiSing two tween girlS, running Manhattan & Staying aS hot aS ever BY WhitNeY Casser

PhotograPhy by Seth KuShner Styling by Monica cotto hair by bradley irion; MaKe-uP by Quinn MurPhy

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elly Killoren Bensimon is a name that rolls off the tongue with unusual grace. But it’s a name that was relatively unknown to those outside of the fashion world until the former model hit the reality television scene with Bravo TV’s The Real Housewives of New York City in 2009. From then on, Bensimon’s life in the spotlight took on a whole new dimension. Rather than spending her days posing for fashion photographers and writing about style, the leggy mom found herself letting cameras inside her home and into the most personal parts of her life as a New Yorker. The result was a whirlwind two-plus years of filming, socializing and embodying her Housewives mantra: “I’ve created a great life and I love living it,” which eventually evolved into the more playful: “I’m living the American Dream, one mistake at a time.” To her credit, Bensimon is usually the first to admit her mistakes, but the past year seems to have been one of very few missteps. The prolific writer, successful career woman and mother of two tween girls has become a celebrity ambassador for the Food Bank For New York City, worked as Guest Editor for AVENUE magazine and acted as a judge for the Miss New York USA 2012 pageant. This spring, she also ran a local half marathon to raise nearly $10,000 for Generosity Water—a nonprofit that brings clean drinking water to areas in need. During the race, a paparazzo stopped her midstride. Fearing the worst, Bensimon braced herself for the expected onslaught. “He said to me, ‘I just want you to know that you’re the only celebrity I’ve ever seen who says you’re going to do something and then you actually do it,’” Bensimon recalls. “I was sweating like a pig, but I literally started to cry because I was so moved.” Aside from running around the city (in more ways than one), what is perhaps most exciting in Bensimon’s life right now is her latest publishing venture. She has just released her fourth book, I Can Make You HOT!: The Supermodel Diet (St. Martin’s)—and is donating a portion of the proceeds to Generosity Water. In a nutshell, the book is an easy-to-navigate guide to nutrition and wellness, with recipes and hot tips by which Bensimon lives her life. The title acronym, Healthy Options Today, is meant to inspire readers to make the best choices for themselves—whether it’s deciding on a dish to make for lunch or picking out what to wear to feel confident. “Anyone can look like [this], you just have to work at it,”


she says, referring to her fit-as-a-fiddle figure. For Bensimon, what originally started out as an idea for a cookbook evolved into something much greater. And although it took her only a month to write the book, the lessons found within its pages were learned over time. “When you meet people who are living on $39 a week for food, you have a totally different perspective on making healthy choices,” she says, thinking of her charity work with the Food Bank. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Bensimon details some of the extreme measures that supermodels go to in order to stay thin—and some of the methods she tried during her early days in front of the camera. As a former pro model, she’s learned a lot about health and nutrition. “I was a healthy American girl from Rockford, Illinois,

“The Bensimon girls, they have rules… They have to be polite and shake people’s hands. They have to write ‘thank you’ notes.”

and when I came to New York they were always telling me to lose weight—always telling me to lose ten pounds,” Bensimon remembers. Like most living, breathing human beings, Bensimon became frustrated under the pressure and did quite the opposite: dieting, but also eating Dove bars and complaining about not losing weight. Fast forward ten years. As an expectant mom, she gained fifty pounds during both of her pregnancies, eating what her body craved and letting nature take its course. But she didn’t let weight issues or motherhood keep her from following her career ambitions, such as writing for Hamptons magazine, launching ELLE Accessories, penning three books on culture and style, and blogging about her daily adventures. In fact, all her weightwatching and mothering seem to have done quite the opposite. “I’ve done a lot in the past fifteen years and my whole perspective changed because [of] my desire to want to be a better person for my kids,” she says. But her résumé of career accomplishments—from book deals to fashion features—seems to pale in comparison to her family life at home. “I’m most proud of my girls,” Bensimon gushes. “When you have kids, all of a sudden, your Kelly’s HOT Tip On How To Eat Healthy priorities change.” To get a sense of where those priorities started, A great way to combine your meat and vegetables is by stuffing. Stuff cabconsider how Bensimon began modeling at the age bage, sweet peppers, tomatoes, or even onions with ground meat, chicken, of 16. As a result, she experienced all the glitz and or turkey seasoned with salt and pepper. Bake until the meat is cooked through and the vegetable is softened. If you mix the ground meat with the glamour of New York’s fashion scene early cooked rice, you’ve got a whole meal in one neat package. on. It’s a fast and fabulous lifestyle that might lure other women into a routine of living for the For Kelly’s Impromptu Pepper Party recipe, see I Can Make You moment. But Bensimon seems to have transcended HOT! available in bookstores now. the here-and-now. Copyright © 2012 by Kelly Killoren Bensimon. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission. continued on page 38


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As a working parent, Bensimon has always known that the juggle can be a struggle. “With working, everything that I do that is away from my kids has to be 100 percent exactly what I want to do,” she says. “Otherwise I would be taking time away from my kids.” Bensimon’s daughters, Thadeus Ann, 11—who goes by “Teddy”—and Sea Louise, 14, are “New York kids with a Midwestern attitude,” according to their mother. “They’re synthesizers. They’re able to acclimate too, which is very unusual for that age, because most tween kids are just so narcissistic,” Bensimon says. “My girls, fortunately, are super interested in a lot of different things.” And as far as larger parenting philosophies go, Bensimon runs a tight ship. “I just want my kids to have really strong values and to be raised with integrity, more so than anything,” she says with conviction. “The Bensimon girls, they have rules. They’re not like other girls. They always have to be polite and shake people’s hands. They always have to say ‘thank you’ and ‘please.’ They always have to write ‘thank you’ notes. They always have to be respectful of other people.”

“The worst parenting advice that I ever got was: just let kids be kids. I think that’s the worst thing you could ever do!” The hands-on mom doesn’t mince words when it comes to her style of parenting. “If they’re in a mood to have a tantrum, they have to remove themselves…” she says. “We’re strict. We don’t play around.” At the same time, Bensimon encourages her girls to push the boundaries and discover the wider world for themselves. “The worst parenting advice that I ever got was: just let kids be kids. I think that’s the worst thing you could ever do!” she says with a laugh. “If you let kids be kids, then you’re not encouraging them to learn and exposing them to different things.” It’s clear that the mom of two has given her mothering strategies a lot of thought—not to mention, the consideration she gives to how she co-parents with the girls’ father, fashion photographer Gilles Bensimon, who lives next door. The former model takes a refreshing approach to her relationship with her ex-husband, whom she first met on set while shooting for ELLE. “One thing that bothers me about some divorced parents is that they’re always criticizing the other person. Well, if you didn’t love them so much, then why did you marry them in the first place?” she wonders. “I also just think it’s really disrespectful to the children.” Her approach seems to be working. Sea and Teddy come across as lively, gracious and highly self-aware young girls. They’re playful with one another, loving towards their mom and not afraid to try new things. When asked about her daughters, Bensimon takes as much care to compose her descriptions as a pianist would a concerto, or a photographer would a portrait. “Sea is really, really pragmatic, but she’s also incredibly


New York Family | June 2012

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creative,” Bensimon says. “She really loves to write. She’s a great tennis player—a natural athlete. She is probably the nicest girl I’ve ever met in my entire life. And I’m not just saying that because I’m her mother!” As far as younger sister Teddy goes, Bensimon praises her creativity. “She is care-free. She is dynamic. She’s an incredible pianist; she plays by ear. She’s really, really talented.” With summer on the horizon, the Bensimon girls look forward to a sun-soaked season on the East End of Long Island where the haze of the city fades at the shoreline. “I can’t wait to be out there [horseback] riding, bike riding and just being at the beach,” Bensimon says. “I love the Hamptons. The beach culture is such a huge part of my life.” Whether it’s making pancakes, letting the dogs and kids run around, or simply getting some sun, Bensimon is anticipating the sweet release of finding some downtime. But that’s not to say that she won’t miss Manhattan. Some of her favorite local spots include the Metropolitan Museum of Art (where she’s involved with the Costume Institute), SoulCycle in Union Square, Nobu in Tribeca, Delicatessen (where Executive Chef Michael Ferraro is a great friend of hers) and Barrio Chino for Mexican cuisine on the Lower East Side. “I just love their spicy margaritas,” she says. “You have to wait two hours, but the food is really, really good and worth the wait.” Another thing that might be worth the wait? Mr. Right. But Bensimon isn’t hoping for someone to come running down Fifth Avenue and sweep her off her feet. She’s a bit more practical about the matter. What she really wants is someone who has a good education and confidence. “I definitely want to get married again,” she says. What kind of love is in store for Bensimon remains to be seen, but in the meantime, she apparently has a lot of love for NYC. “I feel really lucky to be able to live in a city like this because I’ve met so many unbelievable parents and they’ve been such great friends,” she says. “They encourage me to do all of this!”

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10 BY WhitNeY Casser Whether your family hits the sandy beach, the cool pool or the sweltering city streets this summer, your kids should look as fresh and fun as possible on warm weather days. Here are some hot picks for keeping them stylish this season.


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SWIM 1. Candy Striped Bikini Top by 77kids by american eagle

Nothing is more fun in the sun than sweetly striped swimwear. For girls ages 5-14, this cute-as-a-button bikini combo will take you from sandcastle-building to wave-riding all summer long. $12.50 (top), $12.50 (bottom),

2. Paisley Swim Set by Cabana Life

With a commitment to sun safety, Cabana Life offers some of the best in sun protection wear for kids. This swim shorts and rashguard set for boys provides 50+ UV protection, not to mention a healthy dose of cool. $45,

3. Floral Tankini by Jantzen

With its playful floral pattern, this retro-inspired tankini is perfect for athletic gals who don’t mind a bit of girly girl frill. The front-gathered ruffle trim adds a touch of whimsy to an otherwise sporty suit. $24-25,

4. South Hampton One Shoulder Swimsuit

by Snapping Turtle Kids To make a day at the seashore—or poolside—chic and complete, let your water baby dive into this one-shoulder wonder. Plus, stainless steel closures help diapered swimmers change in and out of their suits in a snap! $60,

5. Swim Board Short by Quiksilver

Cowabunga! If your kid can hang ten, let him do it with flair in these surf-ready board shorts. The color blocking and side cargo pocket mix fashion with function. $24,

SHIRTS 6. Brooklyn Children’s Museum Patterns Kids

Graphic T-Shirt by Brooklyn Industries Designed and printed in BK, this über-cool graphic shirt slithers out of a creative partnership between Brooklyn Industries and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. This tee for tots features imagery of the museum’s mascot, Fantasia, as she glides across 100% cotton. $28,

7. Surf Graphic Tee by The Children’s Place

What’s cuter than a faux-layer surf tee for your littlest dude? Made of 100% cotton jersey, this crab-themed tee boasts a tagless neck label and effortless style. Available in size 18-24 months. $9.95, 

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8. Pink Gerry Tee by Geekie

Made with 100% fine jersey cotton, the girls Gerry Tee is a pop of color with graphic gravity. Geekie’s bespectacled, mohawked logo adorns this geek chic shirt with a fearless style all its own. $22,

9. 77 What’s Up! Graphic T by 77kids by american eagle

Can your bundle of joy say “Aloha”? Surf babies 0-18 months will love this soft, stretchy cotton crew neck. And it can speak for your little Hawaiian princess if she’s too young to speak for herself! $14.50,

SANDALS 10. Girls Jellies by Trumpette

A throwback to the ‘80s, these adorable jellies will keep the littlest feet cool and chic. Pair them with a flowy sundress or floral shorts and, best of all, they can get wet! $7,

11. The Original Sandal by Salt-Water Sandals

This classically designed shoe for summer is available in a whopping 13 colors—metallics, neturals and brights! From a company selling sandals since the 1940s, this strappy purple pair is both timeless and hip. $36,

12. Chill in Tropical Fabrics by Chooze

Chooze shoes are fun for kids in more ways than one: The right and left make a matching pair but they’re never the same design! These super comfy flip-flops are made out of 100% vegan materials and are so bright and cheerful, they’ll have little ones staring at their toes all summer. $22-24,

13. Ritmo Sandal by iPANEMA

With its easy-to-use “set and forget” closure (perfect for busy city kids!), the iPANEMA sandal seamlessly combines comfort and style. Girls will adore the beaded floral detailing and the bold pop of pink. $24,

14. Magnolia by Kors Michael Kors

Featuring an adjustable velcro strap, the Magnolia t-strap sandal is a mature look for young ladies. The braided jute overlay gives the shoe a natural touch, perfect for casual wear on warm days. Available in champagne gold and silver. $54,


June 2012 | New York Family


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The B es Beac t Of hes, Camp in And W g, Nature And O ater—In ut Of NYC


You and the kids may be dyed-in-the-wool urbanites— but come summer, that doesn’t mean that you don’t crave cooling ocean breezes and sand between your toes, yearn for the chance to break out binoculars (you just have to find them first) and gaze up at the stars, and desperately want to set up a tent somewhere other than your coop’s living room. Here’s how you can get out of your walk-up and into the NYC “wilderness” as soon as the weather warms.


New York Family | June 2012


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BEACHES BEACH MOST LIKELY TO INSPIRE A RAMONES SONG Rockaway Beach | Queens “It’s not hard, not too far to reach” crooned the Ramones in their 1977 song about this urban coastline which stretches for miles along the Rockaway Peninsula. Near 103rd Street, there is a wider swath of beach for the taking and past 73rd Street, the packed sand gives way to a quieter, dune-studded conservation area (with seven playgrounds and the city’s only surfing zone sprinkled in-between). Don’t miss July’s 17th Annual Sandcastle Contest for creative kid-builders. BEACH BOARDWALK WITH A RETRO FEEL Point Pleasant Beach | New Jersey On this slice of the Jersey shore, you’ll find a mile-long boardwalk (dubbed Jenkinson’s) with an old-timey, but not-toocheesy, vibe. Buff lifeguards cruise the beach on those groovy dune buggies, candy apples practically sell themselves and mini golfers roam free. KITSCHIEST BEACH & BOARDWALK Coney Island | Brooklyn Embrace this end-of-the-line (subway, that is) beauty in all of its in-your-face glory. Ride the historic, wooden Cyclone coaster or catch a Brooklyn Cyclones baseball game at MCU Park. Or start off summer with a splash by donning appropriate Ariel attire and marching in the Annual Mermaid Parade on Saturday, June 23 at 2pm. You could also just people watch while enjoying a hot dog and crinkle-cut fries at the original Surf Avenue location of Nathan’s Famous. IF KITSCHY IS NOT YOUR THING Manhattan Beach Park | Brooklyn Originally built as an exclusive resort for wealthy bathers, Manhattan Beach features barbecuing areas, basketball, handball, volleyball and tennis courts, baseball diamonds and playgrounds. It also proves to be a calmer and quieter alternative to its Coney Island neighbor. In June, kids will delight in watching all of the horseshoe crabs emerge from the Atlantic Ocean as they lay their eggs on the beach.

MOST SWIMMING OPTIONS Jones Beach | Wantagh This world-class swimming hub boasts 6.5 miles of ocean beach, a gentler bathing area ideal for little ones and two swimming pools. When you tire of the backstroke, head to the boardwalk for a round of miniature golf or visit the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center. It’s an hour and fifteen minutes via the LIRR to Freeport, where buses pick you up and drop you off right at the beach. WORTH THE TREK Robert Moses Beach | Fire Island While it lacks in proximity, it makes up for it in spades by being calmer, cleaner and less crowded than its more conveniently located counterparts. Offering five miles of beautiful ocean beaches, as well as amenities like chair and umbrella rentals, concessions and restrooms with showers, Robert Moses Beach is the perfect summer daytrip destination. (Though, that easternmost stretch called Lighthouse Beach is clothing-optional.)

CAMPING COOLEST CAMPING FOR KIDS Fridays and Saturdays in July and August, families can join the Urban Park Rangers ( for an overnight camping experience in New York City. The night includes a cookout and other evening activities like stargazing, nocturnal walks, orienteering, nature crafts, campfires, fishing and bird-watching. The program is free, but registration is required and campers are chosen by a lottery system. Participating locations include: Van Cortlandt Park | Bronx Marine Park | Brooklyn Central Park | Manhattan Alley Pond Park | Queens High Rock Park | Staten Island continued on page 46

SHELLIEST BEACH Sandy Hook | New Jersey A mere 40-minute ride from NYC on the SeaStreak Ferry, this 1,665-acre barrier peninsula offers views of the Manhattan skyline, free tours of its lighthouse—the oldest operating one in the country— and miles of sandy shores perfect for beachcombing. BIGGEST WAVES Long Beach Park | Nassau County Get your surf groove on at this five-mile stretch of sandy white beach, the westernmost of the outer barrier islands off of Long Island’s south shore. An hour’s ride on the LIRR, Long Beach boasts some of the most killer waves around. Sign up interested youngsters (ages five and up) for lessons at Skudin Surf.


New York Family | June 2012


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MOST MAGICAL STARGAZING The City That Never Sleeps is not the ideal venue for aspiring astronomers, but there are still a couple of places that offer the least light pollution—perfect for spotting shooting stars. Floyd Bennett Field | Gateway National Recreation Center | Brooklyn Great Kills Park | Staten Island BEST PLACE TO SNOOZE WITH ANIMALS Family Overnight Safari | Bronx Zoo This popular family event books up early and features a picnic dinner, hands-on animal experiences, scavenger hunts, games, sing-alongs, guided walks and a sea lion wake-up call.

NATURE BEST FOR BIRD-WATCHING Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge | Gateway National Recreation Area | Queens Look for long-legged waders like egrets, herons and ibises; shorebirds like sandpipers and plovers; and a variety of songbirds such as olive-sided flycatchers and blue grosbeaks at this bird sanctuary—one of the largest in the northeastern United States. MOST MAGNIFICENT TREE Magnolia Tree Earth Center | Brooklyn The 40-foot Magnolia grandiflora at this nature center was declared a living landmark in 1970 and is an excellent way to teach your kids about the importance of trees (and sadly, their rarity) in urban landscapes. PERFECT RAINY DAY ACTIVITY IN CENTRAL PARK Charles A. Dana Discovery Center Central Park | Manhattan The kids had their heart set on exploring Central Park, but it’s raining cats and dogs. Now what? Dash between the raindrops to the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center for a perfect (not to mention, dry) view of the 11-acre Harlem Meer and learn all about the wildlife found there, including great egrets, cormorants and bullfrogs. BEST NATURE CENTER IN DISGUISE The Henry Luce Nature Observatory at Belvedere Castle | Central Park | Manhattan From this vantage point, you can view migrating hawks and monarch butterflies, turtles sunning themselves on pond rocks and birds flitting about the Ramble. Plus, there’s plenty to see inside the Woodlands and Water Discovery Room. OLDIE BUT A GOODIE Alley Pond Environmental Center | Alley Pond Park | Queens Tucked inside the 635-acre Alley Pond Park, this nature center—which opened in the ‘70s— was one of the city’s first of its kind. Its Animal Room lets kids get up close and personal


New York Family | June 2012


with the likes of Bernie the Corn Snake, Loke the Prairie Dog and Henry the Ring-Necked Dove. It boasts a myriad of family programs including nature walks on the Alley Pond Nature Trail, nature photography classes, animal care training and stargazing workshops. GREAT FOR BAT-WATCHING Bats abound in the city, but during the day they stay tucked away, hanging upside down and hiding from predators. The best time to see them is in the summertime at dusk, especially on humid evenings. Here’s where to go to catch a glimpse of these furry, flying creatures: The Gerritsen Creek Nature Trail Marine Park | Brooklyn The Great Hill | Central Park | Manhattan Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge | Gateway National Recreational Area | Queens Spring Pond | Blue Heron Park | Staten Island THE BEST OF BOTANICAL GARDENS New York Botanical Garden | Bronx Oh, the many reasons to visit this massive, gorgeous garden this summer: the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, the country’s largest Victorian glasshouse; the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden featuring a boulder maze, hedge maze, a natural wetland and Discovery Center; and the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden—where kids can dig, plant and grow in one of the many hands-on gardening activities on offer. Brooklyn Botanic Garden | Brooklyn This oasis is home to the country’s longest operating Children’s Garden (it opened in 1914) and its 52 acres are the perfect size to explore with young ones. Go in June when the Cranford Rose Garden’s blooms are at their most magnificent. Queens Botanical Garden | Queens The Bee Garden houses plants and trees that attract bees or flavor honey—if nothing else, it provides an ample opportunity to have that proverbial talk with your kids (wink, nudge). The shady Woodland Garden, with its woodchipcovered walking trails and streams, will make the whole fam forget that you’re actually smack dab in the middle of Flushing. Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden | Staten Island Children will love the Connie Gretz Secret Garden, a charming space inspired by the 1911 children’s classic of the same name featuring a turreted castle and a hedge maze leading to its very own secret, brick-walled garden of dogwoods, roses, and other blooming trees and flowers. continued on page 48

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MOST ECLECTIC COMMUNITY GARDEN Liz Christy Garden | Lower East Side | Manhattan Located on the northeast corner of Bowery and Houston Streets, the city’s oldest community garden houses: a pond home to fish and red-eared slider turtles, a wildflower habitat, wooden furniture perfect for afternoon storytime, a grape arbor, a grove of weeping birch trees, fruit trees, a dawn redwood, vegetable gardens, berries, herbs and hundreds of flowers. After racking up 20 hours volunteering, your family is granted a key. MOST SCENIC BIKING Here’s a sampling of some of the most family-friendly biking opportunities in all five boroughs. Don’t forget your helmets! Pelham Bay Park and Orchard Beach | Bronx A moderate 6.25-mile round trip that takes you through a mix of woodlands, beaches, bays, saltwater marshes and meadows. Owl’s Head Park to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge | Brooklyn An easy 4.5-mile round trip that offers stellar ocean views and cooling breezes on even the hottest days. 79th Street to the Little Red Lighthouse | Manhattan A 10-mile round trip that parallels the Hudson River and takes you to the lighthouse immortalized in the 1942 children’s classic, The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge. Alley Pond Park to Fort Totten and Little Bay Park | Queens A simple, scenic 6.5-mile round trip that takes you around Fort Totten, a Civil War fortress. Silver Lake Park | Staten Island An easy 1.3-mile loop that offers views of Silver Lake’s ducks, gulls and cormorants. NEW & NEAT NATURE-MINDED EXHIBIT Field Station: Dinosaurs | Laurel Hill Park Secaucus, New Jersey Just opening to the public, and the only permanent exhibition of its kind, Field Station: Dinosaurs boasts over 30 life-sized animatronic dinos set against the backdrop of the New Jersey Meadowlands (less than ten minutes from NYC) and lying at the base of a 150-million-year-old rock formation. Puppet and game shows, plus an archaeology site where kids can dig for reproduced fossils, are sure to please.

WATER WHERE TO RENT A ROWBOAT/PADDLEBOAT Loeb Boathouse | Central Park | Manhattan This 22-acre lake offers beautiful views of Bethesda Terrace and Bow Bridge and allows you four wooden boat landings from which to disembark and explore. It you’re feeling a bit too lazy to man your own oars, take a ride in an authentic Venetian gondola or rent a model sailboat on the Conservatory Water.


New York Family | June 2012


Meadow Lake | Flushing Meadows-Corona Park | Queens Created for the 1939-40 World’s Fair, the 93-acre Meadow Lake is New York City’s largest. Mark your calendar for The Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival on August 4-5. Lake Club | Clove Lakes Park | Staten Island This 5-acre lake features a stone footbridge and offers an ideal vantage point for spotting Canadian geese and ducks. COOLEST CANOE PROGRAMS The Urban Park Rangers Canoe Program Kids ages eight and older can take basic, intermediate and advanced-level courses on lakes, as well as the more challenging open waters of rivers and bays throughout the city including Crotona Park in the Bronx, Marine Park in Brooklyn and Willowbrook Park in Staten Island. Registration is required and participants are chosen through a lottery. Bronx River Alliance | Bronx The Alliance, in conjunction with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, offers both public and private canoe tours along the eight miles of the 23-mile Bronx River that are actually within the Bronx. THE FINEST FRESHWATER FISHING There is an abundance of spots in the city where you and the kids can reel in anything from catfish to perch to largemouth bass. Just remember that all fishing is catch-and-release only and that adults (but not kids) must obtain necessary state fishing licenses (except June 23-24, which are designated “Free Fishing Days” in New York State). Here’s where you can reel one in: Van Cortlandt Lake | Van Cortlandt Park | Bronx Prospect Lake | Prospect Park | Brooklyn Harlem Meer | Central Park | Manhattan Kissena Lake | Kissena Park | Queens Wolfe’s Pond | Wolfe’s Pond Park | Staten Island BEST CRABBING Crabbing is permitted pretty much anywhere except in the city’s parks. All you need is fishing line or string with a weight and bait attached. And unlike with regular angling, you get to keep and eat your findings, if you dare! (Visit for advice on eating what you catch.) Here are some of the best crab hangouts around: Under the City Island Bridge| Bronx Canarsie Pier | Brooklyn Various locations along the Hudson and East Rivers | Manhattan Pier 4 | Gantry Plaza State Park | Queens Lemon Creek Pier | Lemon Creek Park | Staten Island Jennifer Lehner used to practice law in Maryland. Now she practices parenting and writing in New York City, where she lives with her husband and three children, ages three, five and seven. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON SAFE FAMILY CAMPING AND MORE FUN IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS, VISIT NEWYORKFAMILY.COM.

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Nigel Barker

ChroniCles In Celebration Of Father’s Day, We Asked Some Of Our Favorite Local Dads For Their Best Parenting Stories EditEd BY Kat HarrisoN

Jay Bushara

Shamir Khan Dan Zanes


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omedian Bill Cosby may have written his hilarious, anecdotal Fatherhood in the ‘80s (remember that one?), but somehow we’re still going back to it for a few laughs every now and again. Sure, soap-on-a-rope is more like a dinosaur diorama nowadays (“Honey, it’s adorable!”) but just like him, these modern dads have stopped to pause and reflect on what exactly fatherhood and being a parent truly means to them. HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING When my wife went back to work, I used to sit with the baby in the evenings by a window watching construction on Columbus Avenue, hoarding ounces of frozen breast milk and jabbering nonsense until she came home. What were you supposed to do all day with someone who couldn’t even hold his head up? You walked, you shopped for groceries, you moved your car across the street. You read books—because it was something you’d learned to do somewhere, the baby didn’t seem to mind it (the baby minded everything), at least you weren’t jabbering, and if there were actually any residual benefits to be gained, all the better. It turned out I finally had a couple of other interests to share with my children, but books were the first indication we even belonged to the same species. −Jay Bushara is the Founder of an online children’s bookstore at ADVENTURE DAYS “Playground!” “Aquarium!” “L train!” “George Washington Bridge!” “Queens!” “Candy store!” One summer, I had the flexibility to take time off for “adventure days” when my sons were younger. Every morning, the boys would try to guess the day’s agenda. The parameters (with my wife’s blessing): to do something new, eat something new, travel a new way or go to a new place—some days we would conquer all. (And yes, one day, candy store was the right answer.) We walked across every bridge: Queensboro, Willamsburg, George Washington, Broadway, Brooklyn. We travelled by taxi (road and water), ferry, car, bus, trains and tram. We traversed neighborhoods across the five boroughs and ate foods from around the world. We marveled at animals from different zoos, complained in long lines at tourist spots, discovered amazing playgrounds, and most importantly, sprinklers. That summer, my boys lived each day as an adventure and found wonder in the world around them. While I had learned a similar lesson in my early 20s—backpacking in different parts of the world—I had unfortunately forgotten it. My sons helped me to rediscover my own sense of adventure. −Shamir A. Khan, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist ( and Founder of the NYC Private Schools Blog ( LIFE LESSONS—ONE RIDE AT A TIME I’ve always encouraged my children to be vocal and speak out if someone or something is not right.  As it happened, we were visiting relatives in California and the children wanted to go to Disneyland. Four hours into the trip, and with only two rides under our belts, a ride broke down. Because we were next in line, I asked the attendant to give us passes to be first in line when it was fixed. 


The attendant stated park policy was to give passes for first in line only if the ride broke down while you were on it. To spend so much time and money at the park and to only have been able to go on two rides was not right. With my family in tow, I quickly headed for the customer service office. My two kids, six and eight at the time, were a bit worried to see my angered reaction. Upset, they would have been okay to have just left the park, rather than to see me make a scene. But I had to make my point. As I approached the front office of the park, my family made it clear that I was on my own. I entered the office, explained my situation and after a little bit of persistence, the manager understood what had happened and refunded my money. However, park policy stated that I must be escorted out of the park by their security guards, as to not take advantage of my refund. So there I was, with my family nervously waiting outside, walking out of the front office with two security guards flanked at my sides. “See Mom! This is what happens when you speak up. They’re taking Daddy to jail!” −Dr. Mark Hochberg, DMD of the Manhattan Pediatric Dental Group SHARING IS CARING We had a great Saturday planned—a pre-birthday celebration for our eldest, soon-to-be 8-year-old. But before the festivities could even start, the birthday boy couldn’t seem to leave the bathroom. It didn’t take us long to realize he’d caught a stomach virus. How I wish he hadn’t gone back for that fourth bowl of pasta and white clam sauce, followed up by a huge dessert the night before! After a couple of days, the 6-year-old was out of commission along with his brother. Then came the wife, then the 2-year-old. I’ve never cleaned up so much ejected material in my life—the carpets, the sofas and the floors. Normally I wind up catching what the kids have right away. But I was spared this time and able to care for everyone. Boy did I feel lucky, and maybe just a bit superior. The virus ran its course with the four of them in the span of a week or so…and then I got it. But, this once self-proclaimed “bachelor for life” still wouldn’t trade his family for anything. (Or, the washer/dryer.) −Scott Chosed, Real Estate Consultant and Owner, Chosen Pictures THE “SOUND” OF INSPIRATION Far from the era when Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” was not just a popular song, but also an attribute adults lauded as the gauge for obedient children, I always believed that I tolerated noise better than most, considering I am the dad of six wonderfully boisterous kids. Recently, though, I went from tolerating the cacophony to embracing it. During a game of Pirates versus Aliens versus Zombies (or something like that), I watched in amazement as my kids transformed a quiet living room into a movie set. While the couches, lamps and chairs served as props, it was the sound effects that got my attention. Be it the pirate “aarrgghs”, the zombie moans or the blast of a ray gun, I was amazed at the vast array of June 2012 | New York Family


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them a set of values that they can stand on. But mostly what we try to do now is look at who they are and what sort of challenges and opportunities their own wonderful and unique personalities are going to present for them, and give them tools and tricks that can help them. Then, step back and watch in awe as they go into the world. −Keith Klein, Founder & Proprietor of Milk Truck, New York

Thaddeus Harden sounds that a human could make and amused at the fact that my kids had seemingly mastered many of them. Inspired, my kids and I collaborated to create a line of products based on crazy sounds. It was during this time that I realized the sweetest sound of all—the sound of children’s laughter. −Ari Weinstock, CEO of Wowopolis, created Sound It! Found It! and other games with the Wowopolis R&D team— his kids NATURE BY A KNOCK-OUT When our first son, Ry, was born, equipped with the parenting philosophies we had exhaustively researched, we set out to conquer childrearing with the right balance of love and discipline. We got him on a feeding schedule right away. By four months, he was sleeping through the night. And at just under a year, we weaned him off breast milk. As Ry grew into a happy, welladjusted child, we congratulated ourselves for our stellar parenting skills—we were naturals!

Keith Klein Then, the second baby came. Feeding schedule? Ha. Weaning? Ha-ha. Sleeping through the night? Yes, with one small wrinkle: It was happening in our bed. So what happened? How did we go from stellar to sucky? We didn’t. It turns out that in the whole nature/nurture argument, nature has a very powerful voice. So we have changed our approach. We still love them unconditionally—how deeply is maybe the most astonishing realization that comes from being a parent. We still discipline them (my boys call me Captain Kibosh). And we still work hard to give


New York Family | June 2012


EVERY DAY IS FATHER’S DAY In December 2003, I was faced with the loss of both my children from an out-of-control fire at their mom’s home. All three died. I lost my son on the 14th, my daughter on the 16th. I can’t even speak of all the details, I clench my teeth just thinking about it. My son was DOA but my daughter still lived, though in a coma, for two more days. In the most twisted way, I was grateful that my daughter lived two days longer after the tragedy. I prayed massively. I begged. I pleaded. And yet, I lost them both. An unspeakable tragedy—one that you might think is the end of the world. And in many ways, it was. It was so permanent. But, no matter the odds, no matter how gut-wrenchingly bad it seemed, life continued all around me. It almost seemed incredibly wrong that time just didn’t stop at that very moment. But, it kept going, and the healing did eventually kick in. Several years later, I’ve been blessed with a new beginning and an adamant wife wanting a child! I’ve been married now for four years and we have a beautiful 2-year-old son. Every day is Father’s Day to me. Though I look back with a huge amount of grief, time is always in the present. And every single minute that I can make a difference for my child, really does matter. −Thaddeus Harden is a portrait photographer specializing in commercial, sports-action and family portraits ( HUG IT OUT Because I was in the midst of the construction project that ultimately built the new Children’s Museum of the Arts, the summer of 2011 offered our family few opportunities to take a long vacation. We opted instead for renting a car and making a series of day trips to upstate New York. As the days wore on, my wife, Elaine, made sarcastic comments about my driving skills, especially going too fast around turns. At one family gathering, I mentioned that all the driving was “a pain in the neck”. My six-year-old daughter, Marae, ever-so cheerfully offered to the whole room that “maybe my neck hurt because of all the turns I made on two wheels”. The group’s raised eyebrows and glares told the whole story, and I didn’t offer a denial. I just shrugged and gave Marae (and her mom) a big family hug. −David Kaplan, Executive Director of the Children’s Museum of the Arts THE REAL PRIVILEGE As a stay-at-home father, I have the wonderful privilege of feeding my daughter three times a day. I use the word privilege a bit sarcastically because I often have to deal with her throwing food on the floor or at me, not eating, only eating chocolate bunnies for dinner or some other worrisome event. I know I am lucky to have food to feed her and a floor for continued on page 54

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her to throw it on but it is stressful and I worry. I worry if she is getting the right nutritional balance for her development; I worry about her future table manners; I worry about cleaning the entire area when she is done…three times a day! It is natural to worry—our instincts tell us to worry, feed, protect, nurture and love our kids. But I have learned after a few years of this that there is no sense in worrying the way I do. She is developing perfectly, she can complete full sentences and very often says, “No Daddy, I do not like it!” She says “please” and “thank you” when I do give her chocolate bunnies and kneels down next to me after meals with a paper towel and wipes the floor to help. For all my worrying, she is just like any other kid growing up and that is the real privilege. −Jack (Jake) Howard-Potter is an artist, blogger, stay-athome dad and triathlete ( BLUEGRASS ON THE RADIO For eight months in the year 2001, my band and I played every Sunday afternoon at a place in Chelsea called The Park. It was, and still is, a festive restaurant with a big outdoor courtyard. We played the day they opened and went from there. Families could come in for free and spend the afternoon eating and drinking and listening to our music. My daughter was about six at the time and we had our routine: wake up early, load the equipment into the station wagon, listen to bluegrass on the radio while driving to Chelsea and unload the gear. She would find a bartender to pour her some juice while I set everything up and then we would have breakfast together. Usually some of her friends would come by and they would run around among the families that filled the courtyard. September 11th happened during this time. The owners of The Park were incredibly understanding and this became our refuge, a place where we could have a semblance of normal communal life during those difficult autumn afternoons. Looking back, what I remember most are the drives—the bluegrass on the radio and the quiet of New York City early on a Sunday morning. This was our chance to really talk to each other. It was a magical time. −Dan Zanes, Grammy-winning maker of 21st Century allages social music WHAT’S BEAUTIFUL? Two years ago, my son Jack came riding along the corridor on his tricycle and bumped into my leg saying, “Dada, why do you take photographs of people?” I answered, “Well Jack, I take pictures of people to capture memories and things that are beautiful.” Jack retorted, “What’s beautiful, Dada?” Now this is a question that I have been explaining for years on America’s Next Top Model, so I thought I had this one...but looking down at his little face, I knew that I had to think of something that he could relate to. I was stumped for what seemed like an eternity. “Beautiful is your mother, Jack,” I stuttered back, to which he huffed, rolled his eyes and scooted away unimpressed! That night, I wrote down all the different things I find alluring when casting a model, an actress and what I found most beautiful in his mother: confidence, compassion, sense


New York Family | June 2012


of humor, motivation, energy, honesty, charm and spontaneity. All of which were inner-beauty attributes, which for a fashion photographer I realized may sound surprising. So I have Jack to thank for my first book. −Nigel Barker, fashion photographer and author of Nigel Barker’s Beauty Equation LIKE FATHER, NOT LIKE SON Fatherhood has taught me to manage expectations. If there were two things I looked forward to before the birth of my son, it was having a catch with him and just teaching him how to do things. My son, Calder, is now three and a half and has zero interest in sports beyond jumping up and down or off the couch. Scooter riding, no. Anything involving a ball, forget about it. He’s much more interested in drawing and playing with cars—neither of which are my specialties. I find myself trying to convince him to play sports with me to no avail. Adding to this is his stalwart refusal to take advice or help on any and all matters big and small. From getting dressed to drawing trains, he is simply not interested in hearing my opinion. I love this fierce independence, but I’m also dumbfounded by it. I had always imagined my son would look up at me with sheer admiration as I unlocked the secrets of the world around him. Instead, I find myself unable to convince him that I have a thing or two to teach him. I’ll continue to nudge (and even eventually beg) Calder to play ball with his old man, but in the end, I’m just as excited to support his inclinations and encourage him to simply be himself. −David Ludwig, Community Programs Director, Asphalt Green CONSTRUCTION WORK I ride my five-year-old to school every morning on a bicycle past the Second Avenue subway construction site. On a recent ride he asked, “What holds up the street?” “The ground,” I answered. “What holds up the ground?” “The earth.” “Did construction workers build the earth?” he asked. I started laughing. Considering a few short years ago my son was diagnosed with a learning disorder, I was thrilled my kid was putting me on the spot with such a great question. When my wife and I were told that our child had a learning disorder, it was one of the most devastating moments of our lives. Instead of burying our heads in the sand—and believe me, the temptation was there—we embraced the challenge to discover that there is a world of support for children like ours. Einstein didn’t speak until he was three. Mozart, Tesla and Newton displayed behaviors consistent with “spectrum disorder”. The only way to truly know your child’s potential is to give them the support they need. Wait. And then see. −Harold Stephan is a music producer and songwriter with the NYC production duo, The Ultras ( He and his wife share their experiences raising a special needs child through music at their blog, Parents With Angst ( FOR MORE INSPIRING, HILARIOUS AND RELATABLE DAD CHRONICLES, VISIT NEWYORKFAMILY.COM.

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IN THE BALANCE A Conversation Between Five Working Fathers (And One Professor, A Dad Too) On The Juggle Between Work And Home


New York Family | June 2012


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iven how dads are taking a much more hands-on role in raising children than they did even a generation ago, we think that it’s time to ask successful working fathers the same questions that female executives get asked all the time. How do you balance work and family? Can you excel in your career and be the parent you want to be? What has becoming a parent done to your career?

The ever resourceful Matt Schneider and Lance Somerfeld, CoOrganizers of the NYC Dads Group, brought together and moderated a small (but candid) cast of dads to discuss these issues. Joining the party is Dr. Brad Harrington, the Executive Director of the Boston College Center for Work and Family, who spends considerable time researching what working dads think they want out of work and life. (At the beginning of the conversation, Prof. Harrington presented some of his recent findings to the panel. Here, we present them in the sidebar below right.) The other panelists: • Scott Heiferman: Founder and CEO of Meetup; father of an 18-month-old girl. • Rob Candelino: VP Marketing at Unilever; father of an 11-month-old boy. • Eric Messinger: Editor of New York Family magazine; father of a 12-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy. NYC Dads Group: What is your definition of a “good father” in 2012? Rob: The principles that made a dad a good dad 20, 40, 60 years ago are still there: provider, protector, etc. What is new are the added expectations: caregiver, diaper changer, dinner maker, all that. Eric: Both you and Scott are first-time dads. Do you feel like you come by these added responsibilities easily, or is it a kind of personal code? Rob: It’s a bit of both. There is a pact that I made with myself, my wife and my son. I want to be involved. The last 11 months have been the most sleep deprived and stressful, but also the most joyous and happy. Scott: For me, it started with an ambiguous, almost ominous sense of responsibility—as in, Holy shit, I’m responsible for this thing. Then there is the sense of joy. This little thing needs you. . .and you do what you need to do because of love. Also, I entered parenting with a woman who advocates for women’s rights and she reset my expectations in a good way—about creating a balance in caregiving. NYC Dads Group: Rob, personally, are there things that you do now that you are a dad that affect your work? Rob: I’m trying to leave early to be home in the evenings. I could stay all night, but there are times now when I can’t take that 5:30 or 6pm call—I need to go to feed my son or give my wife a break. I’ve tried to be more consistent, but it’s a real struggle.


NYC Dads Group: How is it received by your colleagues, when you say you can’t take a 5:30 call? Rob: It’s absolutely fine. Unilever is that kind of culture. I just don’t think it’s common enough. Sheryl Sandberg’s announcement was uncommon because she’s the COO of Facebook, but it’s not uncommon for women to say that they have to go home to relieve the nanny, or feed their son, etc. What you don’t hear is a lot of guys saying, overtly, the same thing. I think we are only starting to scratch the surface of that now. Professionally, everything that Prof. Harrington found [see sidebar below] is consistent with what we’ve found as we researched for the launch of Dove Men+Care. Men reach a point in their mid-30s where they get “comfortable in their own skin.” The single greatest catalyst is the birth of a child. . . NYC Dads Group: Does the balancing act have a negative impact on your career aspirations? Rob: I think the only limiting factor is my own capacity. I work at good company that values these things, and to be honest, the opportunity is there if I want it. In my 20s, I moved my girlfriend and now wife several times, I travelled to over 40 countries, I’ve done a bunch of stuff that helped propel me and gave me the experience to put me in the position that I’m in now. I wouldn’t make those family trade-offs today, and whether or not that holds me back, I don’t know. I have to figure out how much capacity I have, how much I can contribute, and is that enough for this type of position or to get promoted. Frankly, I’m still trying to figure out what that right balance is, but I can tell you that I’ve scaled back the intensity of my job, because of this thing that has shoehorned it’s way in to my life that is infinitely more important to me. NYC Dads Group: Scott, tell us about the leadership you’ve taken in this area as CEO of Meetup? Scott: We introduced a one-month paternity leave, which many dads are taking advantage of. Policies are important, but continued on page 58

Dads By The Numbers: According To Prof. Brad Harrington A 2011 Boston College qualitative study about men transitioning into fatherhood looked at nearly 1,000 fathers with at least one child under 18 living at home. The dads were all employees for Fortune 100 companies. Here are some of the findings: 77% would like to spend more time with their children 76% said they would like a job with greater responsibility 58% said they’d like to get into senior management, or enormously demanding job 0.1% of dads had reduced hours after birth of child, 30% of wives home full-time, 26% working part-time (avg: 22 hours per week Many guys use flexibility, but on an informal basis: flexible hours/ work-from-home. When asked about balancing childcare responsibilities, 65% said it should be divided equally between both parents, but only 30% said it is currently divided equally. June 2012 | New York Family


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I just sort of model it. We’re a small business, 80 people, many dads and moms, so we’re asking the question: how do you build a sustainable company for the long run that is both competitive and a great place to work? I’ve been upfront about what I need to do to be a good parent and be part of a fast-growing company. Maybe that means I need to take the morning off to go to a music class. Modeling a culture that is healthy and is sustainable long-term is what I’m paying attention to. Eric: As the boss of bosses, you don’t have people to answer to decide whether you are going to a music class. By your actions, are you hoping to send the message to employees that it’s okay for them to make family a priority as long as they find other ways to get the work done? Is the message explicit or implicit? Scott: I do believe that more will be communicated by actions in company cultures. Explicit policies (like one-month paid paternity leave) are important, but I’m transparent about why I’m coming in late, which I hope will have an impact too. Eric: Rob, you used the phrase “scratching the surface” when talking about dads and their participation in raising children. My take on Prof. Harrington’s research is that, in general, we’re still not willing to go nearly as far as women are. Have we plateaued? Or what is this going to look like 10 years from now. Rob: What has changed is the definition of success. It was very clear generations ago that the predominant definition of success as a father was “provider.” Now, two of my best friends in the world are stay-at-home dads. How many SAHDs were around when we were kids? How many massively successful female executives were there? I believe, as society evolves, in lockstep with this transformation, success means finding a balance of professional and personal ambition… I’m not alone in this and I think as we go down the road, in ten years, it will be commonplace for dads to talk more openly about this. Eric: I’m wondering if women look at Brad’s research, and think, Yeah, guys get some credit, but they haven’t come far enough. Prof. Harrington: Things are changing fast and things will evolve over the next ten years, but here’s why you want to be skeptical about men taking giant leaps forward. I’ll give you three statistics: 1) Only 1 out of 963 dads scaled back at work, while 56% of their partners adjusted their schedule. 2) The average woman takes 12-14 weeks of maternity leave, fathers: 16% took no time off, 76% a week or less, 96% 2 weeks or less. Women are taking a month off for every day that these men are. 3) When there is an at-home parent, 3.4% of the time it’s a man, the rest of the time, it’s a woman. What we found in our study of SAHDs that will be released this month, is that an awful lot of them did it for pragmatic reasons. We now have a situation in which 25-30% of women are out-earning their


New York Family | June 2012


husbands. In those situations, men are more likely to adjust work schedule/be more flexible than women. Statistics tell us we’ve made progress, but we’re a long way from equity. [Although] women’s prospects professionally are increasing dramatically, which will have an impact on how couples make decisions. Eric: Matt and Lance, you two are on the cutting edge, you are still the anomaly, the guys who chosen to stay-athome while their successful wives go into the office every day and advance their careers. What are your thoughts on that decision and work-life balance? Lance: My wife and I made the choice that was best for our family. Me, being a public school teacher, I was able to take an unpaid leave, and come back to employment, and my wife is in a fast track career. . . We decided that we wanted one of us to be home, and it made sense that it was me. I went in with a lot of hesitation, I was nervous, but it turns out that it was the right decision, and the one that was best for our family. Eric: What’s the hardest part and best part? Lance: Hardest part is three-fold: 1) isolation, and that’s where the NYC Dads Group came in, 2) finding time for myself, and 3) dealing with those “hot” moments when I’ve had it. What you’ll find, is that these three are the same as for moms. Eric: I think it’s interesting that you didn’t include that you’re not living out any career dreams. Lance: When I transitioned out of corporate America into teaching, I had been successful in finance but I was burnt out. I chose quality of life, a teaching job that intrinsically made me feel great. What’s great about my job is that I’m a tenured teacher, and I do have aspirations to get back on track with that as well. And on the flip side, being at home the rewards are infinite. It’s the small moments that I get to enjoy with my son on a daily basis that I would never get to enjoy if I were working full-time. Eric: What about you, Matt? Matt: Personally, my feelings are similar to Lance’s. But in terms of the big picture, we started this conversation by saying that we want to ask working dads the tough questions that working moms have always been asked. We’re seeing that working moms and dads have many of the same concerns, and we have an opportunity to join together in to recreate 21st Century workplaces that fit the lives of 21st Century families. Senior leaders need to simultaneously create explicit policies that recognize the needs of parents and personally demonstrate how they are prioritizing work and life. This is good for families, but it’s also good for business.

For another great article from matt and lance, see “Come together” at and for more about the nyc dads group, visit

5/18/12 2:09 PM

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of UJA-Federat

5/17/12 3:37 PM


ON THE MARKET Sabrina, Michele and Samantha



Behind The Scenes With The Close-Knit Kleiers Of HGTV’s Popular TV Show, Selling New York

BY D.J. DUCKWORTH PHOTOGRAPHY BY HEIDI GREEN With countless reality television shows available to watch at any given moment, most of us have witnessed how mixing family and TV cameras can make for fabulous entertainment. We’ve seen it all: train wrecks in the form of cheating spouses, friendships going from bad to worse and snarky comments slung across the screen. However, one hit show is taking a completely different approach. The mother-daughters team at the top real estate firm Gumley Haft Kleier and current stars of HGTV’s Selling New York shows us that a family business can make for great television without the drama—real or scripted. On Selling New York, Michele Kleier and her daughters Samantha Kleier-Forbes and Sabrina Kleier-Morgenstern give viewers an insider’s look into Manhattan’s highly competitive high-end real estate market. With clients like celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse and Prince Lorenzo Borghese, these ladies sell some of the hottest properties in New York City. And trust us, people are buying.

On a recent afternoon, the trio could be found at their favorite Manhattan spot: a Park Avenue apartment. But this property is not for sale. It’s the home of Michele and her husband, Ian—who oversees the daily operations of the firm—and also where the girls were raised. With three cell phones ringing non-stop and lots of cross-conversation flying through the air, the Kleiers opened up about business, the family and how it all began. Over forty years ago, Michele was in her hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, working as a computer programmer for IBM. When the company offered to move her to Manhattan and pay all of her expenses, she jumped at the opportunity. But the job didn’t last long. Soon, Michele decided to pursue a graduate degree in social work from Columbia. Although she was successful as a social worker, that part of her professional life ended abruptly. “I was trying to help a client who was unfortunately a drug addict and he threatened me with a gun,” she recalls. Pregnant with Samantha, Michele was too nervous to go back to work and instead took two years off. By what she calls a happy

Tips From The Kleiers For Navigating The NYC Real Estate Market • Work with a broker you trust (and like). You’ll be spending more time with them than you could ever imagine. • Be willing to go out of your comfort zone. If you want to live in a 10-block radius, be willing to look within 12 blocks. • See all of the properties in person. Never trust everything you see on the web or on paper. • Be open to the process. Make a wish list, but be realistic and willing to compromise.


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5/18/12 2:18 PM

accident, she ended up in real estate. “I was meeting [people] in the park and everyone was looking for apartments,” she remembers. “I just started working with people that I knew and it just went from there. I was obviously born to be a real estate broker.” At the time, the market was not nearly as fast-paced as it is today. “I used to take Samantha in a stroller and Sabrina in a snuggly on my appointments. And things were much more casual then. People thought it was the cutest thing,” says Michele. With this comment, the sisters laugh and reflect back on learning “coop” and “condo” along with their ABCs. But while the real estate business was engrained in their daily life, Ian and Michele encouraged their three children to work outside of the family trade. (The Kleiers’ son, Jonathan, died in 2009 from a heart condition.) Sabrina first worked in television and Samantha in public relations, but both of them eventually decided to join the family firm and have not looked back. Fast forward to 2012: Samantha and her husband, J.P. Forbes, are raising two children, 6-year-old Chase and 10-month-old Caroline. Sabrina and her husband, Rob Morgenstern, are raising 3-year-old Cooper. Today, the women recall watching their own mother early on in her career. “She was able to work and have no help and three children,” recalls Samantha. “Now, we couldn’t do this without help for our children. It’s different; it’s much faster paced.” When asked about the biggest challenge of raising her own kids, Sabrina notes that it’s “balancing so many different things and trying to have [children] think they are, of course, our priority.” “You kind of want to be ten people at once,” Samantha adds. Living by the motto “it takes a village,” Sabrina keeps her priorities in order while working at a hectic pace. “I won’t spend the day working and then spend the night going out and have [my son] be with a babysitter all day.” Having family in the city only a few blocks away allows the sisters to help each other out with childcare. One might think that working as a family, and spending weekends and holidays together would leave the Kleiers yearning for some time and space apart. But the sisters are adamant about living within a three-block radius of each other and their parents. “We’d both rather be in smaller spaces than give that up and go somewhere else,” Samantha says. “The dream is all to be in the same building at some point,” Michele adds—a poignant goal for real estate experts who seem to have their pick of the market. Keeping her children close to her was a well thought-out scheme for Michele. Even before she had kids, she knew they would not leave her side because according to her, “New York City is the best city in the world. Where else would they want to go?” “She also told us to marry orphans. Or at least marry people from out of town,” Samantha says. The three of them simultaneously burst out laughing. And their mother quickly confesses that she does not like to share her family. “They are the most interesting people I have ever met,” she gushes. “I think we all feel that way about each other. We never get tired of being together.” When Michele isn’t busy showing some of Manhattan’s most coveted properties to potential buyers, like Lagasse’s $13.5 million townhouse, she loves spending time with her grandchildren. Just don’t call her Grandma! Early on, Chase started calling Michele

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The Kleier women at home. “Mom” after hearing Samantha and Sabrina refer to her. Even more adorable, Chase likes to be on television, but he doesn’t like to shoot for the show. “He’s very elusive about it,” says Samantha. Recalling a moment from a family vacation in Florida, Sabrina explains how her nephew dealt with some curious fans. “Chase said, ‘Yep, it’s us. It’s the Kleiers. We’re Selling New York.’” It seems as though there are no clear divisions when it comes to separating the professional, personal and family lives for the Kleiers—even when it comes to their beloved dogs, which also travel with the group. When the HGTV camera crew asked to tape them in their Florida home while scrambling eggs for the dogs’ breakfast, they initially resisted. The women thought it was too personal to be shown in such a casual setting, cooking in the kitchen, rather than selling a multimillion-dollar property in Manhattan. But they finally gave in. “It was the kick-off episode and really set the precedent of us as a family,” Samantha says. What began as a tight-knit local fam has turned into an even closer clan to be watched from living room couches across the country. “There is no personal life,” Michele says with a laugh. “Everything is connected and I think in a good way. Except that we don’t have time to breathe!” D.J. Duckworth, a journalist, is a southern girl at heart. She and her family recently moved to New York City from Arkansas. She blogs regularly at and at



5/18/12 2:18 PM




Allison and Max have an animal encounter.

A South African Trip Opens The Eyes Of An NYC Family BY CLARA HEMPHILL As far as family vacations go, African safaris run original. Someone else does the driving (no wrong turns!), plans the menus and cooks the meals. There’s constantly changing scenery, from snow-capped mountains to a sandy beach on the Indian Ocean. And, of course, there are the animals: lions, elephants, hippos, giraffes, zebras, baboons, warthogs, rhinos and a bevy of bird friends. My husband and I chose a 12-day budget safari to South Africa for us and our two children, 18-year-old Max and 15-year-old Allison. While luxury safaris typically cost $500 per person per night, this one was about $150, including local travel, lodging, meals and our guides. While the more expensive safaris tend to lodge in private nature reserves, we stayed in cabins in national parks or small, time-share apartments in towns—often where middle class South Africans holiday. And instead of having multiple guides and cooks, we had a driver and guide who also did the cooking—and we helped chop vegetables and wash dishes as a team. We met the rest of the group—five fellow Americans and two British women—at our Johannesburg hotel at 6am, the first of many early mornings designed to maximize our chances of spotting wildlife. Piling in a van, we set off to national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, a seaside resort, a canyon and war battlefields remnant of the native Zulus and British colonialists. Most nights we stayed in cabins with proper beds and hot water. In Kruger National Park, round huts with thatched roofs called rondelas provided warmth. Our camps in the national parks were surrounded by fences, keeping the wild animals at a safe distance. For breakfast, we had cold cereal, bread and jam, and instant coffee. We’d drive for a few hours, naming animals along the way, and then have lunch in a park or roadside. Some days we’d hike through a canyon or on a wooded mountain trail or grasslands. At night, we would grill sausage or steak over an open fire and cook cornmeal mush and vegetables in a cast-iron Dutch oven. We saw the new South Africa, 20 years after the apartheid’s


New York Family | June 2012

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end. What struck us was the country’s staggering beauty, its progress and the problems still unsolved. In some respects, it is a First World country glued on top of a Third World nation. The tourist infrastructure is highly developed. The highways are as wide and well-paved as any in Switzerland and the supermarkets were as well-supplied as an American suburb. We had great cappuccinos and croissants in the coffee shops along the way. But step outside the mostly-white world of the prosperous middle class, and the astounding poverty hits you. One day we went to a village where the HIV infection rate was 30 percent. People live in thatched roof huts with a hole for a chimney. There are no jobs, so people travel long distances to work in the city; some are struck and killed by cars as they hitchhike on the super highways. But in spite of all this, there were signs of progress. A new school had just been built. Free lunch was provided, so the AIDS orphans could get at least one meal a day. For our kids, raised on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, it was eye-opening. I asked our guide whether he ever has young children on safari. He takes children as young as four, and customizes the trips with kid-friendly excursions to water parks. The camp we stayed at in Kruger had a swimming pool and plenty of places to run around. Younger children would enjoy the side trip we made to Cape Town to see a penguin colony or the wildlife preserve where we petted cheetahs. Still, we were glad we waited until our children were older to make the trek. With 11 official languages and a tortuous history, South Africa is a country that’s difficult to understand. We’re happy our children were mature enough to begin to grapple with the complexities of this corner of the globe. Clara Hemphill is the Founder of and author of three authoritative books on the best public schools in NYC. FOR MORE TRAVEL TIPS, VISIT NEWYORKFAMILY.COM.

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5/17/12 3:38 PM

h o m e a n d away

qualit y time

Fun with FooD thiS Father’S DaY Breakfast in Bed with a Side of laughter

From Funny Food: 365 Fun, Healthy, Silly, Creative Breakfasts by Bill & Claire Wurtzel. Welcome Books. Photographs © 2012 Bill Wurtzel. For more from Funny Food, check out

EditEd BY WhitNEY CassEr

With minimal cooking—only creative assembly required—kids can throw together a smile-starting breakfast in bed for Dad like this fruity car scene. Let little ones follow the simple step-by-step visuals to create a fun, festive food plate—courtesy of Funny Food: 365 Fun, Healthy Silly, Creative Breakfasts (Welcome Books), written by New Yorkers Bill and Claire Wurtzel ( For more funny ideas, go to where you can view a slideshow of oatmeal and fruit faces, produce critters, bagel people and more!

Prep Your Palate (And The Table)

Johnny Miller

The charming sweets stylist Amy Atlas has just released her book of mouth-watering eye candy, Sweet Designs: Bake It, Craft It, Style It (Hyperion). For older kids, tweens and teens, Atlas demos how to have fun with food by decorating not just edibles, but also the party table, serving platters and plates. With themes like Picnic in the Park, Game Night! and Pastel Pretty, you’ll be surprised by what photo-worthy treats your budding party planners can make with their sticky fingers. For more From Sweet DeSignS, check out


New York Family | June 2012

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5/17/12 3:38 PM

the last word

The Acclaimed Author Of Friday Night Lights Returns With A Heartfelt Book, Father’s Day—The Story Of His Intellectually Challenged And Gifted Son BY Buzz BissiNger When Zach was eleven or twelve I bought a Nintendo console for the family. I assumed Zach would have no interest in playing, nor did I think he would be particularly good at it because of the variety of mental processes and hand-eye coordination the game required. I bought it largely for Gerry [Zach’s twin brother], and of course I wanted in on the action as well. At first, Zach watched us playing Super Mario Brothers with his familiar detached look, far away in his own orbit. And then suddenly he started playing on his own. I was just gratified he was doing something besides looking at maps or old photo albums, but one day I asked him if he wanted to play me. I was eager to find an activity we could share, and I quietly promised myself that I would be gentle with him. He kicked the living shit out of me. He had memorized every move and every possible eventuality because the game, like calendaring, was predicated on precise, unchanging rules. As he played with robotic skill and focus, his tongue hung slightly out of the side of his mouth, the only indication he gave of being human. The look on his face wasn’t glazed exactly, but he wasn’t all there, as if he could play Super Mario Brothers without even looking at it, would know by the sounds the game made and his own internal timing exactly what to do in what sequence. He was lightning fast and machinelike, saying nothing except for a little “yea!” when he moved on to the next level. For someone who’d had terrible difficulty holding a pencil when he was younger and needed untold hours of physical and occupational therapy, his dexterity was remarkable. He knew the minute handling of all the controls, when to speed up and when to slow down to protect the rather stupid Mario, what buttons to push so Mario could jump or squash. His coordination, which he rarely showed anywhere else, was another testament to the power of his memory; it enhanced him physically. I played with him a couple more times, always with the same result. I barely made it past level one, and he made it to what seemed like level four thousand. My Marios died quickly, with that


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hideous deflating sound and subsequent poof of disappearance. His Marios were always being feted with stars and fireworks and offers of work at Goldman Sachs. I quit. Fathers never deserve to be humiliated by their sons like this. Instead I just watched. I extolled and congratulated and told him I was proud of him. He never said a word in return or altered his expression. Until he simply got bored one day and quit altogether. But I’m convinced that if he played the game today after a ten-year absence, he would be every bit as masterful, another chunk of information stored away forever on his hard drive. I always felt that there must be a way to use my son’s savantism to further enhance his day-to-day life. Because he could read maps so well and knew every street in downtown Philadelphia, the law firm thought he would make the perfect messenger. He did it once and never wanted to do it again. He was scared of making a mistake, but the job, however well suited he was for it, was simply too far removed from the routines that had guided his life. I thought at one point that he could be a tour guide for schoolchildren to the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News because of his encyclopedic knowledge of the building’s every nook and cranny and all of the people who worked there. But he wasn’t interested; again, he felt nervous about making a mistake in a job with too much flexibility and margin for error. His memory is a wondrous parlor trick. That is worth something. A great something because he clearly draws pride from it. But that is all. His brain truly did give him something wondrous at birth, communicating to the operators in the boiler room that the right hemisphere was interested in any unused parts that the left hemisphere was planning to dump. But his brain also took away interpretation and abstract thought and comprehension. If you don’t have those skills in life, what do you have? Super Mario Brothers? Excerpted from Father’s Day by Buzz Bissinger. Copyright (c) 2012 by H. G. Bissinger. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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New York Family June 1, 2012  

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