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November 2019


Magnet Schools Assistance Program The NYC Department of Education Magnet Schools are schools of choice offering distinct, innovative, thematic learning opportunities for your child. Each federally funded magnet school offers specialized curriculum aligned to the school theme with student activities designed to promote academic excellence.

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Theme: Magnet School of Architecture, Engineering and Design Address: 18 Beaver Street Brooklyn, NY 11206 (District 14) Web: Telephone: 718.455.1000 OPEN HOUSE DATES November 20, 2019 9:00am December 18, 2019 9:00am January 15, 2020 9:00am February 12, 2020 9:00am

PS 196 Brooklyn

The Williamsburg Bridge Magnet School for Communication and Mixed Media Arts

P.S./I.S. 157

Theme: Magnet School for Civic Leadership in Health and Science Address: 850 Kent Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11205 (District 14) Web: Telephone: 718.622.9285 TOUR DATES Middle School Tour November 1/ November 8/ November 15/ November 22 Time: 8:30am Elementary School Tour December 6/ December 13/ January 3/ January 10/ January 17/ January 24/ January 31/ February 7/ February 14 Time: 8:30am

P.S. 196

Theme: Magnet School for Communication and Media Arts Address: 207 Bushwick Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11206 (District 14) Web: Telephone: 718.497.0139 OPEN HOUSE DATES November 27, 2019 8:30am December 18, 2019 8:30am January 22, 2020 8:30am

P.S. 123

Theme: Magnet School for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics Address: 100 Irving Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11237 (District 32) Web: Telephone: 718.821.4810 OPEN HOUSE DATES November 13, 2019 9:30am December 18, 2019 9:30am

M.S. 582

Theme: Magnet School for Multimedia, Technology and Urban Planning Address: 207 Bushwick Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11206 (District 14) Web: Telephone: 718.456.8218 OPEN HOUSE DATES Every Tuesday from 10:00am - 12:00pm Call to schedule an appointment.

OPEN HOUSES / SCHOOL TOURS AVAILABLE IN THE FALL For additional information call the schools or contact: Reza Pootrakul, Magnet Director Email:


November 2019

pg. 34

pg. 10 pg. 28

pg. 30

pg. 14

FEATURES 14 | Special Needs Developmental Milestones and when it’s time for Early Intervention 16 | Special Needs Five things one mom wishes she knew when her child received a special needs diagnosis 30 | The Ultimate Guide to Family Holiday Fun Festive things to do with kids in NYC this season

Stories & columns 4 | Editor’s Note Cue the holiday fun 6 | Mom Hacks The best healthy grab-and-go snacks for the whole family 10 | Gear The best baby carriers for city moms on the go

Family fun 34 | Calendar Unmissable events in Brooklyn and beyond for November

directory 18 | Special Needs Listings Our picks for Special Needs resources

20 | Parent’s Book Club Nicole Dennis-Benn latest novel, Patsy 24 | Ask the Expert Author and nanny Erika Veurik shares on how caregivers and parents can have stronger relationships 26 | Family Health What you need to know about the dreaded pink eye 28 | Mom Stories Essay: Rethinking the family photo 38 | We Asked What we are grateful for this Thanksgiving

on the Cover

Photo: Nick Lee | Hair & Makeup: Buffy Hernandez | Clothing: Rockets of Awesome* |

*Poppy (second from left) wearing her own t-shirt

November 2019 |


Editor’s Note Publisher: Hester Aba Executive Editor: Donna Duarte-Ladd Digital Editor: Katarina Avendaño Senior Adviser: Susan Weiss Director, Business Development: Mary Ann Oklesson Partnership Managers: Erik Bliss, Erin Brof, Mary Cassidy, Shelli Goldberg-Peck Ad Ops Coordinator: Charlotte Sauvagnat Art Director: Leah Mitch Web Developer: Sylvan Migdal Graphic Designers: Arthur Arutyunov, Connie Sulsenti Nina Gallo Photography

Cue the Holiday Fun For this month’s cover, we trekked to Central Park with our kids in tow, climbed up on one of the highest rocks, and had an exhilarating photoshoot with five energetic children. Afterward, we were exhausted. We learned a lot this day - a) have more coffee on hand for the adults b) kids are more likely to listen to other kids’ parents than their own own, and c) bring better snacks next time. Thankfully we have The Best New Snacks (page 6) in this issue, so you (and the New York Family Team) will have the best treats on hand for the entire family. In keeping with our “on the go” theme, we’re sharing a sweet round-up of baby carriers for parents perfect for city living (page 10). For parents wondering if their child is reaching their milestones and what the next step should be if not, check out When it’s time for Early Intervention on (page 14). And if you ever wondered how your relationship

with your child’s caregiver could be stronger, Author and Nanny Erika Veurink shares her thoughts in What a Nanny Wants you to Know (page 24). Last but certainly not least, New York City is glorious during the holidays. When I was a kid, I would watch holiday movies based in New York, and even on-screen New York twinkled. Our own kids and families who visit NYC at this time of year are in for a treat when they come here. This is why for our November cover, we have The Ultimate Guide to Family Holiday Fun (page 30). We recommend tearing out this section or heading to to print out the digital version to pop in your handbag or diaper bag this season. We hope you enjoy it! Donna Ladd Executive Editor

Graphic Design Intern: Elvia Caballero Editorial Contributor: Mia Salas Editorial Interns: Taryn Schofield, Keana Demming

Contact Information

ADVERTISING: (718) 260-4554 Circulation: (718) 260-8336

Address: New York Family Media/Schneps Media 1 MetroTech Center North, Third Floor Brooklyn, NY 11201

President: Victoria Schneps-Yunis CEO: Joshua Schneps Group Publisher: Clifford Luster

New York Family has been recognized for editorial and design excellence by PMA. New York Family is published monthly by Queens Family Media, LLC.

get in touch Share your feedback and ideas about family life in the city! Email us at and tag us at #newyorkfamily


Brooklyn Family | November 2019

Reproduction of New York Family Media in whole or part without written permission from the publisher is prohibited. All rights reserved. ©2019 Queens Family Media, LLC

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The Best Heal�hy Snacks

Some delicious options to keep us going, between busy workdays and after-school activities! BY KATARINA AVENDAÑO


et’s get real! Although having your three daily meals is super important, snacks are what keep us going between finishing a deadline at work or getting the kids to their extracurricular activities. With little time to spare, we need something that is going to do the job in between meals. If you haven’t already heard about these snacks, we think that it’s time that you put these on your radar and keep your kitchen pantry stocked.


Brooklyn Family | November 2019

1. LesserEvil Organic Popcorn “No Cheese” Cheesiness Next time you are thinking about popcorn, you have to try LesserEvil’s “No Cheese” Cheesiness. This organic, vegan popcorn makes a great alternative to other cheeseflavored popcorn. Not only is it healthier and a good source of fiber, it has a unique and tasty flavor, with a hint of coconut from the coconut oil that it’s popped in. This snack is a family favorite and a must for the kitchen pantry. Order from their website in cases of five, 12 and 25, or go to to find a nearby location where you can grab a bag or two.

2. Tortilla Chips Seasoned With Brussels Sprouts, Garlic, Onion & Parsley Kids may wrinkle their noses and say “ewww” when they hear that these tortilla chips are brussels sprout flavored. Well, they are in for a surprise and will be blown away with fantastic flavor. These chips are absolutely delicious, made with white corn and rice flour, potato flakes, and freeze-dried brussels sprouts. They are cut into triangle pieces, baked, and tossed into an array of spices that fully complete the chip — perfect for packing into a lunch for a little crisp treat! Go to to find a nearby location.


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November 2019 |




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3. PopCorners Kettle Corn You may have seen these at your grocery stores if you have made your way down the snack aisle. If you have, make sure to grab a bag because these are a snack game-changer. PopCorners bring corn chips to a whole new level. A personal favorite is their kettle corn flavor that is made with sunflower oil, cane sugar and just a pinch of salt. These crispy snacks are gluten-free, vegan, nut-free and dairy-free. Order from their website in cases of 12 and 40. Alternatively, you can use their store locator at to find a nearby location where you can purchase these snacks.

5. LesserEvil Egg White Curls Huevos Rancheros Who would’ve known that a breakfast favorite could be made into a snack? These paleo puffs are made from American Humane certified egg whites, avocado oil and have a slight kick of spice with each bite. They make a great option for your snack drawer at work or for your kids’ lunches. Order a case or find a nearby location at

4. Trader Joe’s Sun Dried Apricots Trio Pack This sealed trio pack of Sun Dried Apricots is a great snack to throw in your purse, backpack or really whatever bag. It makes for an easy way to get nutrients and they are also mess-free. You can find this snack within the dried fruits and nuts section at Trader Joe’s. To find your nearby Trader Joe’s, go to to find a location.

6. Protein Bites Looking for a way to incorporate more protein into your family’s diet? Protein Bites are absolutely perfect for that with a chocolatey, truffle-like bite. These Bites are not only packed with 6 grams of protein, but they are also loaded with great flavor from sunflower seed butter and dairy-free chocolate. Order online or find a store at


Brooklyn Family | November 2019

7. Bare Baked Crunchy Fuji and Reds Now that we are in the fall season, these Bare Baked Crunchy Fuji and Reds make the perfect seasonal snack. You get the sweet apple taste paired with the crisp and crunch of the chip. And parents, the best part about this ingredient list is that it’s just apple — that’s it! They make a great source of fiber and there is no sugar added. See where you can buy these at 8. Trader Joe’s Bamba This peanut snack is definitely a TJ’s fan favorite. These snacks are light, crunchy and are bursting with peanut flavor. Finding this popular Israeli snack is not easy to come by, but Trader Joe’s makes it happen! These delicious, peanut-like snacks are packed with flavor but are actually made with just four simple ingredients: corn grits, peanut paste, palm oil and salt. You can find these in the snack aisle of Trader Joe’s at 99 cents a bag! To find your nearby Trader Joe’s store, go to and stock the pantry up.

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The Best Baby Carriers for New York CitY MoMs

Best Infant to Toddler Baby Carrier: Tula Tula offers six different carriers, each with various features and functions. Our pick is the Explore, which provides maximum versatility. The Explore allows you to carry your baby in six positions, accommodates newborns to toddlers weighing 7 to 45 pounds, and offers adjustable head support. The Explore uses breathable and lightweight material and has a cool mesh carrier panel to keep you and your baby cool. The three width settings allow you to adjust the carrier as your little one grows, and the removable hood provides protection from the sun and privacy while feeding your baby. The Tula is the rebel baby carrier brand in that they are very stylish. While most carriers play it safe with solid colors, these baby carriers are famous for boasting fun prints such as animal print patterns, floral, stars, polka-a-dots, and more, all in fun pops of color! Explore Baby Carrier $179,


Brooklyn Family | November 2019

Best Affordable Baby Carrier: Infantino Flip 4-in-1 Convertible Carrier Ever wish that you could simply adjust the seat of your baby carrier as your little one grows instead of buying a whole new one? With Infantino Flip 4-in-1 Convertible Carrier, you can! There are four ways to carry: baby-facing in with a narrow seat for newborns, facing in with a wide seat for older babies, facing out with a narrow seat for babies with head control, and back carry with a wide seat for older babies and toddlers. The easily adjustable seat makes sure that the baby carrier is the perfect size for maximum comfort for your baby. We also love the Wonder Cover Bib, which attaches to the inside of your carrier when facing in, and across the folding rest when facing out. The Wonder Cover Bib protects your clothing and carrier from spit-up and drool â&#x20AC;&#x201D; no outfit changes needed throughout the day! We not only love this carrier for being well made and affordable, but it is also lightweight making it a great carrier for travel or to keep in the stroller. $27,

By Donna LaDD

Best Stylish Baby Carrier: Artipoppe Zeitgeist Baby Carrier Artipoppe is a bit like an honorable mention as purchasing this line of baby carrier entails purchasing through its UK website. Founder Anna van den Bogert designs her stylish carriers with all mothers in mind, which is why we are a bit obsessed. If we werenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t done having babies, we would be sporting one of her ethically designed carries that are checked and finished in the Netherlands. The Zeitgeist Baby Carrier has front and back carry options that provide an ergonomic position. The padded waistband and cushy padded shoulder straps help distribute weight with neck and shoulder comfort. The style comes in gorgeous prints, we are loving the baby leopard print as the leopard is truly a classic and perfect for us city moms.

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Windmill environment encourages children to: • learn naturally at their own pace • reach their natural potential • find and develop their own interests • get the individual attention needed to thrive • develop interrelationships, community and leadership skills, and promote understanding Our Montessori curriculum and environment encompasses:

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follow us on Facebook and Twitter Windmill is non-sectarian. Licensed by The New York City Department of Health Affiliated with The American Montessori Society

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Best Functional/Multi Use: Lillebaby The Complete Carrier We have to start with the style of Lillebaby carriers because they’re truly one-of-akind! Lillebaby offers versatile, solidcolored baby carriers for the parent who’s looking for a more classic look. A baby carrier that will blend in and match with any outfit. Lillebaby also caters to the parent who’s looking to make a fashion statement. Disney Baby features characters from The Incredibles 2, Minnie Mouse, and Mickey Mouse. Minnie Classic has an adorable pink background with Minnie Mouse silhouettes in all directions — perfect for your little girl! The Incredibles 2 will make both you and your little one feel like superheroes with the colorful blocks of color and the silhouettes of all five of The Incredibles. But the fun doesn’t stop with Disney, Lillebaby also collaborated with World of Warcraft to produce a rainbow, creative design of these little creatures. On to the structure and design, we love The Complete, which offers six carrying positions. Accommodating infants and toddlers weighing 7 to 45 pounds, The Complete also has a zip-down front panel to control your baby’s temperature with breathable mesh. Store your essentials in the slim pockets, adjust the straps and seat, and toss the carrier in the wash — all Complete carriers are machine washable! The Complete $120-$190,


Brooklyn Family | November 2019

Best for the Parent who Carries 24/7: Ergo 360 With a softly structured carrier design, Ergo Carriers are not only comfortable for both parent and baby but comforting, as you can keep your baby close to you at all times with the freedom and flexibility to still go through your daily routine. The Ergo 360 lets you carry your little one in every position: front carry- facing parent, front carry- facing out, hip carry and back carry. No need to take a break from the baby carrier or feel any stress on your body, because the Ergo 360 has both lumbar support for lower back comfort and adjustable padded shoulder straps for neck and shoulder comfort. You can even breastfeed in the Ergo 360! The carrier is machine washable and has a lifetime guarantee, so if for any reason you find a defect, Ergobaby will replace your carrier at no charge: the ErgoPromise! If your infant is between 0 and 4 months (7-12 pounds), you can purchase the newborn infant insert to go along with the carrier. Comfort is always a priority, but we also care about style, and Ergo 360 comes in lots of adorable patterns and colors. Let’s not forget dad, this is a great carrier for both mom and dad as it adjusts well to whoever is wearing it and fits well with different heights. This is important as some carriers can either be too bulky on petite frames while not fitting at the right points on a tall frame. The Ergo is our pick for the baby being carried 24/7. $160, ergo. com

Best Newborn Carrier: BABYBJORN Baby Carrier One Air Offering five types of baby carriers, BABYBJORN specializes in making life more comfortable in the early years for parents and families. A family-owned company, BABYBJORN sold their first baby bouncer in 1961 and debuted their first baby carrier in 1973. With a strong foundation and history, you can trust that both you and your little one are in good hands with a BABYBJORN carrier. A noteworthy feature of BABYBJORN is their commitment to stressing the role that dads play. They included dads in their baby carrier ads since the 1980s and developed unisex designs for baby carriers that both parents can use. Of all the baby carriers, we love the Baby Carrier One Air, which fits newborns and toddlers ages 0 to 3. Made of airy and cool mesh, the fabric is both soft and keeps you and your baby cool. The size, seat area, and head support are adjustable, so you can modify the carrier as your baby grows. On a personal note, this carrier has been used by staff at New York Family as well as fellow mom friends. All loved it, but most have shared that once their babies reached that bulky toddler stage, they moved on to carriers that we made more specifically for toddlers. BABYBJORN also collaborates with Save the Children to raise money to provide a better life and fight for children’s rights all over the world. Carrier One Air $219.99, All Baby Carriers $79.99-$219.99, babybjorn. com

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November 1, 8, 15, 22 4:00 to 5:00 PM Guitarist and singer Ora Fruchter will have your preschooler singing and dancing. Of course, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll welcome Shabbat with challah and grape juice, too!

December 2, 9, 16 9:30 to 11 AM Movement, music, and stories bring Jewish ideas about the world to life for toddlers and preschoolers. First three Saturdays every month.

Learn about all our activities for kids and adults. Sign up for emails at November 2019 |


Special needS

When It’s Time for Early Intervention Your child’s developmental milestones and what to do if they are not met By Jean Sheff


s soon as your child is born their health and development become your paramount concern. Family and friends are sure to ask if your little one is rolling over, crawling, walking or talking. It’s best not to get pulled into comparing your child’s progress with others, but it’s also important to educate yourself on what the childhood developmental milestones are so you can recognize if your child might need early intervention services. Milestones defined Vicki Iannotti, M.D., Chappaqua Pediatrics, a division of Boston Children’s Health Physicians, LLP, says there are volumes of material written on children’s developmental milestones, as it is the cornerstone of what pediatricians do for children. “Currently, one in six children in the U.S. has a developmental disability,” Iannotti says. “It is the stance of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that general pediatricians take a more active role in the evaluation and diagnosis of developmental delays than in the past.” At birth, pediatricians assess newborn babies through a physical exam. The results, and the newborn’s prenatal history, age of gestation, maternal health, and delivery give an initial picture of the newborn’s development. “There are five streams of development that when typical, occur in an orderly, timed, sequential pattern, affecting each other in a predictable manner,” Iannotti explains. The five streams of development are gross motor, fine motor, language, visualmotor problem solving, and social skills. See the side bar for specific examples of childhood developmental milestones. Other tools The AAP recommends the use of a formal questionnaire, “Ages and Stages,” to assess development in each of the five areas at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, 18 months, 24 months, 30 months, 36 months, 48 months, and 60 months of age. “The questionnaire is completed by the child’s parents, as they know their child best. It identifies strengths and any areas of


Brooklyn Family | November 2019

Developmental Milestone Examples

Vicki Iannoti, M.D. describes Gross Motor Milestone Development across a child’s first 15 months and Language Milestone Development in a child’s first 3 years.

Gross Motor Milestone Development • 1 month old: can lift their head off the table when lying prone • 2 months old: can lift their head and chest off the table when lying in the prone position • 3 months old: can lift head and upper chest up to elbows bearing weight on their forearm • 4 months old: can lift themselves up to support weight of upper body on wrists and can roll from prone to supine • 5 months old: can roll from supine to prone (back to front) and can sit up with support • 6 months old: can sit up without support • 9 months old: pulls himself up to stand and cruises along furniture • 12 months old: taking steps unassisted • 15 months old: child is running.

Language Milestone Development • 1 month old: alerts to sound

potential concern to monitor,” Iannotti says. In addition, Iannotti says, at wellchild visits pediatricians use the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT), a validated developmental screening tool for toddlers between 16 and 30 months of age. It is designed to identify children who may benefit from further evaluation. When to be concerned Parents should be concerned when their child’s development in any area is not made over one to three months of the expected time frame, or if development regresses. “If a child has a delay of six months or more in meeting milestones in one or more

• • • • • •

2 months old: social smile 3 months old: coos 4 months old: laughs 6 months old: babbles 8 months old: says “dada” and/or “mama” non-specifically 10 months old: understands “No”, says “mama” and “dada” specifically 12 months old: follows one-step commands with a gesture, twoword vocabulary 18 months old: points to one picture, identifies greater than two body parts, has a seven- to 10-word vocabulary 21 months old: points to two pictures, 20-word vocabulary, twoword sentences 24 months old: follows two-step commands, 50-word vocabulary, two-word sentences 30 months old: understands the concept of “I”, points to seven pictures, uses pronouns 36 months old: follows two-step commands, 250-word vocabulary, uses three-word sentences.

areas of development, it is significant and should be evaluated further,” Iannotti says. Evaluation can include medical genetics, pediatric specialists including neurology and developmental pediatrics, ENT, and/or audiology to name a few. Iannotti says if parents are concerned they should schedule an appointment with their pediatrician to initiate an evaluation. “They should not wait until a scheduled wellcare visit,” she advises. The importance of early intervention The good news is many developmental delays can be positively addressed. “Evaluating de-

velopmental delays, determining a diagnosis, and establishing a treatment plan usually involves specialists in neurodevelopmental pediatrics, physiatry, and a therapeutic team of specialists and educators who provide the necessary interventions over a period of months to years,” Iannotti says. Keep in mind that from infancy to age 3, your child can receive help through early intervention services. The Individuals with Disabilities Act, a federal law, requires states to provide early intervention. You can request a free evaluation from your state’s early intervention service program. If your child qualifies, services may be provided to your child at no cost. A team of educators will develop an Individualized Family Service

Plan for your child. The evidence for early intervention (EI) is irrefutable, Iannotti says. EI programs support parent-child interactions, provide parental education on child development, reduce parental stress and guide parents to become strong advocates for their children. “Neurocognitive research has shown that there are optimal periods of brain development, more recently termed “sensitive periods,” during which learning is most efficient and almost critical to future success,” Iannotti says. Intervention during these early, sensitive periods of development can maximize the child’s functional potential and further minimize the secondary behavioral, social, and emotional problems that often stem from

developmental delays that are not addressed until school age. In short, EI and targeted therapy has proven to be of tremendous value. What can parents do to help their baby reach their milestones? “Parents provide the nurturing environment that facilitates brain development, feelings of security and stability to promote emotional well-being,” Iannotti says. “Reading, talking, singing, playing on the floor, supporting motor development through playful situations, and teaching through experiences has immeasurable benefit to the developing infant and child.” Jean Sheff is co-publisher and editor of Westchester Family. November 2019 |


special needs

5 Things I Wish I Knew When We Received a Special Needs Diagnosis By Gena Mann


DD NOS,” said the developmental pediatrician to my husband and me that summer day in our Upper Eastside apartment. With those six letters — which are so meaningless, nobody even uses that term anymore — she changed the entire course of our lives. At the time, I felt shattered. We finally had an answer to why our beautiful brown-eyed, 2-year-old boy would run in circles, page through the same board books over and over again, and had zero interest in interacting with other children. The answer felt like all of the dreams we had for his future — sports, prom, and college evaporated with this diagnosis. This was 15 years ago. At the time, I knew not one fellow parent who had a child with autism. I knew nothing about interventions and therapies and diets. I allowed myself about a day to hide and cry and feel sorry for myself. The next morning I woke up and started the research. Research that was not at the level it is now. It was the early days of Google. I didn’t know which search words to Google. I found a friend who put me in touch with another NYC mother whose child had been diagnosed the year prior. She patiently sat on the phone with me, suggesting the agencies and therapists I needed to contact. Through this one mom, I was able to connect with a support group where I learned from their hard lessons. I found helpful advice and resources to help my son. This new community gave me a jump start in helping me to learn how to navigate this new world of being a Special Needs Mom. My second son was diagnosed five years later at the very other end of the spectrum: verbal, social, some would say “high functioning,” but with a host of other challenges. As I write this, with the benefit of 15 years of experience raising not one, but two children on the spectrum, I wish I could tell my 31-year-old self so many things. If you are reading this and are facing a recent diagnosis of any kind of developmental difference for your child, I can tell you the


Brooklyn Family | November 2019

top 5 things I wish I knew when I heard those six letters. 1. The child that developmental pediatrician was talking about was still the same delicious, loved, the spectacular child he was before she added those six letters after his name. My husband expressed this wisdom that very same day. He will still have a beautiful life, he will make a difference, he is still our boy. This has all proven to be true. 2. You cannot try every single intervention that exists. Well, you can, but you will be bankrupt and likely no further along than if you hadn’t. Do research. Different interventions are better for different kinds of kids — so, at least some stuff that is evidence-based and widely known. And then try some stuff (therapies/supplements/ experimental treatments/healers, etc.) here and there that “speak” to you. Try one new thing at a time so you can really see what is helping. 3. Celebrate and nurture your child’s strengths. They may be wildly different than you thought they would be. My son used to make incredible art using candy on my bathroom floor. He was happy and calm when he did it, so we bought bags of candy and let him set it up on our bathroom floor! He has since moved on to other types of artistic endeavors working with his hands. You never know where it will go. 4. Set your child and your family up for success. Try to resist the urge to do all of the “kid” activities your friends are doing with their kids. I used to insist on going apple picking every fall because it is a standard autumn family activity where we live. It was a sensory overstimulation nightmare for my kids, and we sweated and struggled every time we went when they were little. I eventually found activities that were more

appropriate for my kids (a special needs gymnastics class, therapeutic horseback riding, swimming), and these have been amazing and way less stressful. 5. Fight your city/town/school district for everything your child is entitled to. My personality is someone who never ruffles feathers. But when it comes to my kids and what they need academically and socially and emotionally to thrive, I am unstoppable. I know the law (and surround myself with people who know it better-advocate, lawyer) and I will not stop until they have everything. Gena Mann is an experienced Photo Editor from New York City working for brands such as Elle, O, The Oprah Magazine, and CosmoGIRL! She left magazines shortly after her second son was born and her first child was diagnosed with autism at 2-years-old. Gena knows first hand how lonely, terrifying, and costly it is to navigate everything that comes with having children with special needs—and the special needs moms around the world she connected with on Instagram felt exactly the same way. Together, Carissa and Gena decided the best way to support special needs moms was to create a modern lifestyle app that would help special needs moms make meaningful connections in their neighborhoods and find resources they could trust. The Wolf + Friends app is what I wish I had when my son was first diagnosed with autism.

November 2019 |


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Brooklyn Family | November 2019

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Parent’s Book CluB

Discover New Stories with Us!

ozier mohammad

NovemBer Theme:

Thankfulness By Mia SalaS


ovember is the month of Thanksgiving, in which we take the time to think about what and who we are thankful for. Our Monthly Pick puts life in perspective and raises questions that you may have never considered before. We encourage you to think about the things that make your life meaningful, and then express that appreciation.

Patsy Nicole Dennis-Benn

Patsy leaves her 5-year-old daughter, Tru, behind in Jamaica in search of love and a better life in America. But when Patsy arrives in Brooklyn, she discovers that America is not what she thought, and meanwhile, Tru struggles with her own questions of identity and sexuality.


Brooklyn Family | November 2019

Weaving through the lives of Patsy and Tru, Dennis-Benn presents a passionate, moving, and fiercely urgent novel that gives voice to a woman who looks to America not to give a better life to her family back home, but instead for the opportunity to choose herself first. Nicole Dennis-Benn is the author of the novel Patsy(Norton/Liveright, June 2019), and the debut novel, Here Comes The Sun (Norton/ Liveright, July 2016). Dennis-Benn is a Lambda Literary Award winner and a recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts Artist Grant. Dennis-Benn has previously taught in the writing programs at Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, NYU, Sarah Lawrence College, and City College; and has been awarded fellowships from MacDowell Colony, Hedgebrook, Lambda, Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Hurston/Wright, and Sewanee

Welcome to New York Family’s Parent’s Book Club! Each month, we feature a different Monthly Pick novel, all of which have several copies available in the New York Public Library. We encourage you to start your own book club with friends, loved ones, and neighbors, using our Monthly Pick as your book of the month. Host meetings to discuss the novel with our discussion questions, and enrich your perspective of the book with our author interview on NewYorkFamily. com. We hope to connect NYC families and encourage more “me time” for parents.

Writers’ Conference. Dennis-Benn was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. She holds a Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. She lives with her wife in Brooklyn, New York. To read our interview with Nicole DennisBenn, visit! Nicole DennisBenn shares her motivation for writing Patsy and what she hopes that readers take away: “I’m an immigrant myself, but when I came to the United States, it was more for college. Yet as I was actually coming into myself in New York City, I realized that there are other immigrants around me who do not have this


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November 2019 |


Parent’s book club

Discussion Questions You read the book, now we have the discussion questions here to guide your book club meeting! We hope that these questions will spark thoughtprovoking, intellectual, and even controversial discussions about the novel.

opportunity. I started teaching at the College of Staten Island, and I would commute with these individuals who were going off to their various jobs as construction workers and nannies. I was looking around, and I was like, wow. My imagination kicked in, and I started wondering who they were before they left their country, what they brought with them, and what they left behind. And that’s how Patsy came to be. Then I was looking up on the subway advertisements, and I saw the beautiful beaches and signs of Jamaica, and there’s the irony of us hustling to work, but there’s these ads appealing to tourists to go back to our country for things we couldn’t partake in. We had to come here to America to make life a lot better for ourselves and, for the most part, for our families as well. “I really want readers to actually empathize with a character like Patsy. When you walk around, especially in a place like New York City, there are so many immigrants existing and also so many mothers who are unwilling to raise their own kids, women who happen to choose themselves because they weren’t given the opportunity to find their own identities. Creating a woman like that on the page is important to me, and so I hope my readers will also see that and become more empathetic towards those individuals as well.” We hope you enjoyed reading and discussing Nicole Dennis-Benn’s Patsy. Our Monthly Pick for December isn’t your typical, merry holiday read — that would be boring! Here’s a hint: it’s a lovely spark of thrill and suspense to spice up your holiday season.


Brooklyn Family | November 2019

1. How did your opinion and understanding of Patsy’s decision to leave Tru for America change over the course of the novel? 2. The work that Patsy does in America is considered a lower ranking than the job she had in Jamaica. Why do you think Patsy is determined to stay in America, despite her struggles? 3. How does Tru’s relationship with her father change throughout the novel? 4. Why do you think Patsy rarely contacts Tru? 5. Just as we have conflicted feelings towards Patsy’s decision to leave Tru, similar feelings arise in Cicely’s decision to stay with her husband. What were your thoughts on their marriage? Does Cicely have a point — can we blame her if life in America is easier with a husband? 6. If you had to describe Patsy in three words, what would they be? 7. Look back at times in the novel when Patsy was happiest. What was the cause of this happiness? How about Tru? 8. Describe the different portrayals of motherhood in the novel, including Marva, Patsy, Mama G, and the various moms who Patsy works for as a nanny. What are the characteristics of a “good” mother? What other factors influence the ability to be a “good” mother? 9. Do you find that there’s pressure put on women today, in any society or culture, to have kids? Is there a stereotype or assumption about women who decide not to have kids? 10. Patsy does not want to be a mother, but she can’t get an abortion because it’s illegal in Jamaica. How does Patsy’s story impact your perspective of reproductive rights? 11. Share a passage from the novel that stood out to you, and explain why you chose it. 12. Take a look at the novel’s cover. How does the cover reflect and add to the story? Consider the colors, background images, images in the front, and orientation/font of the text. 13. Patsy is very much about identity as

Patsy and Tru struggle to find where they fit in, who they are, and what they can be. What composes an identity? Is identity stagnant or shifting? Why does how we define ourselves matter, and in what ways does it matter to the characters in the novel? 14. Tru’s mother leaves her when she is very young, and yet her absence dictates the remainder of Tru’s childhood. How does our childhood shape our adolescence and adulthood? 15. Both Tru and Patsy journey on parallel explorations of love and sexuality. How does society, both in Jamaica and America, serve as an obstacle to Tru and Patsy in this self-exploration? 16. There’s a tension between Tru and her half brother, as they both deviate from gender stereotypes. Tru takes the sporty, strong route and her half brother is considered weak. Who enforces these gender stereotypes in the novel and who else defies them? What gender stereotypes do you still notice and society today? 17. Despite the title being Patsy, the book ends with Tru. Tru’s story gets the last word in the novel. Do you think that there’s a significance to ending with Tru instead of Patsy? What do you anticipate for Tru’s future after the book ends? Patsy’s? 18. In Patsy’s letter to Tru, she explains how she didn’t want to raise a daughter in this world, as Tru would face the inevitable challenges that come with the society and culture that she was born into. Do you ever feel similar concerns about raising children in today’s society? How do you deal with these concerns? 19. In addition to being a brave and creative storyteller, Dennis-Benn is also an incredible writer in the way that she crafts sentences and conveys such emotion through the written word. Share a line or passage where you appreciated DennisBenn’s writing style or technique. 20. How has Patsy changed, confirmed, or challenged your previous beliefs, opinions, and perspective?

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ask the expert

What a Nanny Wants You to Know How to build a stronger understanding and communication between caregiver and parent By Erika VEurink


inding a good family to nanny feels like winning the lottery, that is, if the lottery is sustainable employment rooted in mutual respect and open communication. After years of “ok” nannying experiences that seemed to blur together, I’ve recently celebrated a year with a family I feel lucky to work for. My connection to the boys has been crucial to the success of the whole endeavour. Their parents’ support of my pursuits within the role and outside of it have been, too. Beyond that, there are a few things that have made this experience not only lovelier, but more worthwhile, than the rest. It all started last August, after a few frantic months of working as an office coordinator for a fashion label. I was burnt out, fresh out of undergrad, and in desperate need of some time to sort what was next. I thought back to work experiences I had enjoyed in the past. Babysitting came to mind almost immediately. I logged back into my online nannying profile, updated my profile picture, and hoped for the best. After sorting through a sea of cryptic postings, I came across a simple request for an after-school sitter for two boys. I applied. My future employer responded. We talked on the phone briefly. I went over to the apartment to meet the family that weekend. First impressions This wasn’t my first Nannying in New York Rodeo, not by a long shot. Over the years, I’ve been a babysitter in virtually every neighborhood. The best experiences always involve being introduced by the parents to the children upon first meeting. It sounds simple, but there have been a few occasions where I’ve had to request an introduction before showing up at hopefully the right door step in order to be greeted by what I assume to be the right child. These first meetings are much like first dates — a bit awkward, usually ok in the end, but imperative for determining if there’s any chemistry. I’ve been on a few first meetings that resulted in a polite decline of moving forward, and thank goodness. Once, I walked into a cluttered, cat hair coated basement


Brooklyn Family | November 2019

apartment, only to be abandoned with a 2-year-old while the mother took a work call. Another time, I leaned on a stack of books I’d set up as a prop for a Facetime introduction that promptly toppled onto the floor. When I met the family I babysit for now, I felt instantly at ease in their sunny apartment. The boys and I connected over their latest Lego creations. The parents were calm, kind, and attentive. There’s something to be said for gut reactions, especially when it’s work as personal as caregiving. Talk about timeline After an excellent first meeting, I was thrilled to receive an offer from my employers. Thanks to a comfortable and candid conversation during our first meeting, I felt confident moving forward. I knew what hours would be kept, how compensation would work, and even what to expect for sick day procedure. Taking the time to sort this all out before I even began gave me a sense of assurance and made me feel prepared. It doesn’t necessarily have to be formal, but both parties benefit from honesty, especially when it comes to future plans. No one wants to be stranded without support. In my current position, a formal contract outlined expectations plainly. I apprehensively mentioned graduate school as soon as I started applying last fall. My employers met my nervousness with generosity and encouragement, reaffirming the truth that discussing early and often fosters the healthiest lines of communication. When I was accepted to my first choice low residency program, I couldn’t wait to share the news. Communication is key Channels of communication are just as important as the act of corresponding. I’ve worked for families that expected constant text messages while I was with the children. One mother asked for a photograph of her child every hour, on the hour. There are only so many smiling in the swing photos one can take, come hour three in the park. Another parent insisted on leaving written summaries in a notebook before I went home. “Normal day. Made pasta for dinner.

Listened to Hamilton soundtrack. Was beat at chess, again.” The journal entries stunted the natural flow of conversation, plus served as a constant reminder of my lack of improvement in chess. Now, I check in when my employer arrives home, usually debriefing on the day, catching up, etc. We email when I’m not with the boys and when I am, short texts or phone calls are exchanged. I love sending her snapshots of our days and even made a short film of favorite moments as part of a holiday gift. It feels empowering to be trusted and at the same time, know that both parents are accessible. There’s always a communication learning curve, in any relationship. But being able to speak to what feels most productive out of the gate can help to avoid missed memos or a general sense of overwhelming aloneness. Teamwork makes the dream work And nothing is worse, as a nanny, than feeling alone. Once, during a particularly spirited after-school argument with his sister, a child I was babysitting locked himself in the bathroom. I scoured cabinets for ingredients, resorting to homemade pancakes for dinner with pantry staples. The boy burst into the kitchen a minute later to alert me the tub was overflowing. The sister called from her bedroom at the exact moment informing me that the dog had peed on her rug. Neither of the parents could be reached and after an emergency group outing to the bodega for cleaning supplies and pizza, I collapsed on the velvet settee, until I remembered we were late for dance. Understanding my role as a nanny in the web of support that keeps the boys’ lives running smoothly not only takes the pressure off of the work, but also helps keep everything in balance. On any given day, I nod at the familiar ferry coordinator, greet the doorman, and smile at the neighbors next door. When family visits from out of town, I feel excited to catch up and thrilled for the extra attention for the boys. By introducing me to family members and family friends, my employers helped me to feel bolstered and supported — a veritable part of the family’s circle.

Build routines We take the stairs down to the scooters, snap on helmets, and race off to the ferry that always seems to beat us to the pier. We settle into our specific row, unpack snacks, and start a story, usually about a bad guy named Jason and always featuring a chase scene. We arrive home, unpack backpacks, and I start dinner. It took us about a month of trial and error to define this series of moments that set us up for a blissfully uneventful afternoon. And even on the days when we have an activity or engagement, the boys like to ask what we would normally be doing at that time. “We’d be waiting for the ferry,” or “We’d be running a bath,” serve as metrics for our time together.

In the past, lack of routine made it hard on everyone involved. Loads of last minute messages being exchanged with the parent could distract from the essential after school debrief on the walk home. Or interrupting a project could make moving to the next activity nearly impossible. Now, something as simple as choosing a recipe on Tuesday, shopping for ingredients on Wednesday, and baking on Thursday has become our tried and true rhythm. Plan ahead Some nights, the boys crack open the window and yell adorably indiscernible farewells from three flights up. Other nights, we race around

the hallway. However we say goodnight, my employers are always acutely aware of my departing on time. It’s a simple gesture that speaks volumes to their respect for my life outside of babysitting. Holidays when the boys are off school are discussed weeks in advance. Vacation time is always discussed months before. The more planning becomes customary, the easier it is to express flexibility when events come up. When I’m away at school or on holiday, I find myself missing the structure and delight of my time with the boys. I get back to the book I’m reading or the train I’m racing to catch, but not without gratitude for the work I love and the family that makes it possible. November 2019 |


family health

Keep an Eye Out for Conjunctivitis Pink eye can spread fast, here is what you need to know about this viral infection By Pramod Narula, m.d.

We are only a few months into the school year and already two of my daughter’s classmates have pink eye! Can you tell me more about the infection, how it is spread, and ways to make sure my children aren’t infected?


ink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is an inflammation or infection of the transparent membrane that lines the eyelid and part of the eyeball. This membrane, known as the conjunctiva, is usually clear. However, if irritation or infection occurs, it can become red, swollen, and uncomfortable. The cause of pink eye is commonly a viral or bacterial infection or an allergic reaction. Allergic conjunctivitis is usually a reaction to irritants such as animals, pollen, chemicals such as the chlorine found in pools, and cigarette smoke. Though the pink, itchy eyes are indeed uncomfortable, allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious, and the symptoms will fade once the irritant is removed. Most cases of conjunctivitis are caused by viral infections. However, both viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are very contagious, which is why early diagnosis and treatment is the best way to limit its spread. Pink eye may develop and show symptoms in one or both eyes. The most common symptoms include redness, itchiness, a gritty feeling, discharge that forms a crust during the night, and/or tearing. In the case of conjunctivitis caused by a virus, there is no simple “cure” – the infection simply must run its course while the body fights it off. The good news is, a case of viral conjunctivitis typically goes away in seven to 10 days, and children can usually return to school in three to five days. While those days can be very uncomfortable, nonprescription remedies such as warm or cold compresses can help to alleviate some of those symptoms. Unlike pink eye due to a viral infection, pink eye that is caused by


Brooklyn Family | November 2019

bacteria can be treated by antibiotics, and the child can return to school 24 hours after an antibiotic has been started, provided that symptoms have improved. The best way to avoid the discomfort of pink eye is to prevent the infection from occurring at all. Practicing good hygiene is the best way to control its spread. Make sure that that hand washing is frequent as her fingers will no doubt be near her eyes several times a day. Although hand-to-eye contact is the most common mode of transmission, objects such as make-up applicators or other

instruments that touch the eye area can also carry conjunctivitis from one eye to the other. There’s no need to panic; pink eye is a minor eye infection, but left untreated, it can develop into a more severe condition. If you suspect your child has pink eye, take her to the pediatrician as soon as possible, for her sake and for her classmates’ as well. Pramod Narula, M.D. is the Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at NewYorkPresbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital.

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November 2019 |


mom stories


FAMILy PHoTo When it comes to capturing what makes your family special, let’s all go after the truth By Veronica rogers



n the real is the beautiful. I read that line over and over again as I sat completely enamored with the photography on this photographer’s blog. Her images felt different. The images Yan Palmer took showed life in a way I had never seen — and I’ve seen a lot of photography. You see, I am a Creative Director and Prop Stylist by trade, which means I spend a lot of time crafting really pretty images. Images, that if I’m being totally honest, aren’t real at all. Take, for example, a crème blush makeup ad I did recently. To create the image we use the actual blush, plus we added in a little paint and some glycerin to achieve the perfect texture. The final images look like beautifully creamy makeup that you would definitely want to buy. But real? Yes — sort of, but with a few tweaks, of course. We live in a time where “real — sort of” has become the air we breathe. We talk often about loving authenticity and “keeping it real” on social media. But the “real” we see is often a filtered reality, similar to the makeup ads I style. This year, as another summer came to an end, I was faced with the annual question of “are we going to do family photos… again?” I am the mom to two beautiful girls, now 4 and 6 years old, and the wife of an incredibly supportive and wonderful man. As someone who creates photos for a living, it was surprising to my husband that my desire to take family photos had waned over the last few years. The thought of enduring the high stress experience had felt like too much for me at times. It always began with making a mental list of all the things I needed to make it happen: a perfect fall day with the right amount of brightly colored leaves on the ground, cute outfits for our family that all coordinate, and if we were getting really


Brooklyn Family | November 2019

i want to feel at ease in my space, play with my kids, and allow the photographer to capture the real moments we had with one another. into it (which I always did) pumpkins and a flannel blanket for us to sit on — to really play up the fall vibes. Next, I would begin to make a mental list of all the ways I could bribe my children to get them to stay still as they were corralled into a line, told what to wear, fidgeted with, and told to smile — really smile — no less than twenty times. My goal for our family photoshoots was to get it done before our summer glow faded into a depressed winter pale — that way, if we used the photo as our annual Christmas card, it would elicit the desired “Wow! They’re thriving!” reaction from friends and family. The art of styling consists of staying on top of all the tiny little details to design imagery that tells a story in creative and unique ways. It is a job that requires a certain level of perfectionism — so it is no wonder when it came time to take our family photo, the perfectionism would take over and tell me that this, too, was my opportunity to create another perfectly styled photo. Perfect outfit, perfect background, perfect smiles, and perfectly behaved kids equals a perfect photo. So simple, right? The reality would look more like a stressed out mom telling her

family what to wear, how to behave, to sit still and smile, and to listen to the photographer “or else,” totally unsure of where the “or else” would lead. Funny how much easier it is to control paint and glycerin than your own kids. As I looked at the alluringly raw photos Yan Palmer had taken of families within their own homes, I realized that these are the moments I want to remember. I want to remember what my home looked like at this very point in time. I want to remember what stuffed animals my 4-year-old was playing with and what her bedroom looked like. I want to remember the things we would do together around the house. I don’t need another picture of the four of us smiling at the camera. I want to feel at ease in my space, play with my kids, and allow the photographer to capture the real moments we had with one another as we just spent time together as a family. That kind of photoshoot excited me. One of my best friends, Megan Haughery, is a talented family photographer. She was the one who first introduced me to Yan’s work. She and I sat on my blue Formica countertops having long talks together about the idea of shifting family photography from controlled and posed to a more freeform depiction of reality within the family. She suggested the idea that she could shoot my family in our house this year. Do something different. As I looked around at my little rancher house, still a far cry away from the hopes of a big renovation, I hesitated at the idea. It seemed like a great idea in theory, but capturing my little family in our home felt vulnerable and out of control. But I wanted to take a step to shift my own thinking, so I agreed. Leading up to the shoot, the stylist in me wanted to change everything. Put a blanket here, a plant there. I wanted to change my curtains — just for the shoot — so the yellow wouldn’t be so “loud.” I was tempted to go prop shopping as I normally do for all my

Megan Haughery of The Penny Gray Photography Co

Megan Haughery of The Penny Gray Photography Co

photoshoots. I had to keep reminding myself that there is beauty in the unfinished and the goal would be to remember my family and my life as they truly are. The day came, and it was the opposite experience of what I was used to when it came to the family photo experience. We were all relaxed, barefoot, and hanging out. I wore a dress because I wanted to feel flowy and free,

and my kids wore what they normally wear — my oldest always chooses the dress, and my youngest is always in some sort of cozy romper. We turned on the music, pulled out the books and paints, and laughed and played together with ease. There was no rush, there were no forced smiles. It helped that we all knew our photographer well, so there was no fear with her around. It was a good day. Not

all days are good days, and I hope to capture a not-so-great day, too — so we can remember that even when it was bad, it was good. When it comes to family photography, many of us have fallen into thinking that the stressed out family shoot is all there is. The goal of eliciting the “look how great they’re doing!” on the annual Christmas card has blinded us from what our hearts will long to look back on 20 years from now — and that is to remember the real moments in that one fleeting period of time in our life. When it comes to family photos, let’s all go after the truth. Let’s take that step of vulnerability and invite a photographer into our home to capture our family doing the things we love to do together. If a meltdown happens, let it happen. I promise that when you look back on those tears, you will be brought back to that very moment in time, with all its ups and downs, and it will feel perfect. We no longer need to create a filtered sublimity of our lives because the reality is that our lives are beautiful because we are human, we are alive, and we are connected. We feel love, we feel frustration, and we go through challenges. That is the human experience. Let’s begin to capture what it really looks like and continue to remind each other and ourselves that in the real is the beautiful. November 2019 |


The Ultimate Guide to

Terrific things to do with kids in NYC this season By Mia Salas


here are so many ways to get into the holiday spirit in New York City. We’ve got the classics, like watching the Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular and ice skating at Rockefeller Center, but we’ve also mixed in some less well-known ideas for holiday fun, such as the NYCRUNS Cocoa Classic 5K & 10K and holiday-themed storytimes at bookstores and libraries. Make the most of the holiday season before it’s over with our Ultimate Guide to Family Holiday Fun!

Manhattan As you stroll through the city with your family, take a detour to see the beautiful holiday window displays! Two of our favorites are Saks and Bergdorf Goodman on 5th Avenue. Last year, Saks presented the Theater of Dreams with a Broadway-themed display and performance. Bergdorf Goodman took a super sweet direction with a candy-themed display that all ages gravitated towards. We’re curious what these shops have in store for us this holiday season, but with their unique style and grandeur, you surely won’t be disappointed! What better way to get into the holiday spirit than with ice skating? Bryant Park has an ice rink in the Bank of America Winter Village with free admission, and the rink at Rockefeller Center is always a winter classic. Wollman Rink in Central Park is another great option, especially


Brooklyn Family | November 2019

with the picturesque Central Park views surrounding you as you skate. Make your kids’ dreams come true by bringing them to meet Santa Claus! There are many places to meet and greet Santa throughout the city, but some are more expensive than others. The best free or low cost options to see Santa are at ABC Carpet & Home in Union Square, Macy’s Herald Square,, Santa in Central Park, and Santa’s Corner at Bryant Park’s Winter Village. Be sure to bring your best camera to take adorable photos of your little ones with Santa Claus! Catch the Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular! Whether you’ve seen the show every year or have never seen it before, the Rockettes always dazzle their audience of toddlers, kids, teens, and adults. Ticket prices start at $25 and vary depending on the day and seat. Enjoy some holiday dancing with the “The Little Dancer… a holiday family musical,” which will be returning from Philadelphia to New York for its second production at Theatre 71 located at 152 W. 71st Street, right off Broadway on the Upper West Side. Recommended for ages 6 to 106, this musical will be running throughout December. Ticket prices run around $34 for most seats. Your Christmas tree may be great, but there’s nothing like the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. This enormous tree, with its multicolored lights, provides the perfect

Nick Lee

November 2019 |


backdrop for photos, which may even make it into your holiday cards! The Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place on December 4, 8-10pm, when the tree will be lit for the first time this year. The tree at Rockefeller Center isn’t the only tree that has a lighting ceremony; Holiday on the Hudson invites all families to their holiday tree lighting party! Enjoy live music, dancing, tree decoration making, and hot chocolate to keep you warm. The festive celebration will take place on December 7, 4:30-6:30pm, at West Harlem Piers Park on West 125th Street and Marginal Street. Don’t miss out on New York’s largest holiday festival, Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square on December 2, 5:30-9pm! Enjoy live entertainment by world-class performance groups, food tastings, including hot soups, drinks, and desserts from the Upper West Side’s top local kitchens, and the iconic tree lighting ceremony. Winter’s Eve also features plenty of kid-friendly activities, music, and holiday crafts. Head to Central Park Holiday Lighting on December 5, 5:30-6:30pm at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center! Meet Santa Claus, sing carols on the Plaza, and enjoy delicious hot chocolate and cookies. Then watch the lighting of several trees on Harlem Meer to kick off the holiday season! Looking to celebrate or learn more about Kwanzaa? Head to the American Museum of Natural History this December to experience one of the country’s largest Kwanzaa celebrations! There will be live performances, film screenings, a local artisan marketplace, and fun giveaways. Your whole family is invited to learn about African-American heritage and the cultural and artistic legacy of the African-American community. The holidays aren’t all about Christmas — they also include Hanukkah! On December 15, 11am-4pm, make your way over to the Jewish Museum to celebrate. Build a sculptural Hanukkah lamp, dance to Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights, sketch Hanukkah lamps from around the globe on a gallery tour, and watch a Haukkah story come to life through a drawing performance. Hanukkah Family Day is included with museum admission. Brooklyn Celebrate the holidays in a literary style with holiday and winter-themed storytimes at bookstores and libraries. Books Are Magic on 225 Smith Street features lots of storytimes for kids, including one with Elliot Kreloff: The Luckiest Snowball on November 24! POWERHOUSE on 8 th has Sunday storytimes with holiday specials, and of course, Brooklyn Library has plenty of storytimes to check out, generally on Saturdays. Watch the family-friendly, classic story of A Charlie


Brooklyn Family | November 2019

Brown Christmas come to life on stage! The show is on November 17 at 2 pm, and tickets are around $13, though the price may vary slightly depending on the seat. Make your way over to On Stage At Kingsborough at 2001 Oriental Boulevard to start your holiday season off with this heart-warming show, recommended for ages 4 and up. Interested in more holiday-themed theater? BAMkids is putting on the production of Muppet Christmas Carol on December 1 at 2 pm. Scrooge is forced to face the prolonged effect of his past misdeeds with visits from the ghost of the past, present, and future. General admission is $10, but kids ages 12 and under are $7. The performance takes place at the Peter Jay Sharp Building at 30 Lafayette Avenue. Bring the kids to the beautiful Kings Theatre at 1027 Flatbush Avenue to watch the beloved classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer live December 1st at 1 pm and 4:30 pm. Also, with Rudolph, you’ll see favorite characters from the beloved tv special such as Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, and more! The performance runs 90 minutes, including a 20-minute intermission. Dyker Heights Christmas Lights are back again this year for another magical display of Christmas! This well-loved and well-known NYC holiday display features life-size Santas, sleighs, snowmen, Christmas carols, and, of course, lots of lights. There’s an ongoing competition among neighbors in the area to create the best, most extravagant holiday display, which makes for a collection of spectacular sights. The Brooklyn Children’s Museum has everything you need to celebrate Kwanzaa with your family! As the 11th Annual Celebrate Kwanzaa!, on December 26-31, this is the largest family Kwanzaa event in NYC. Explore Kwanzaa’s seven principles, learn about the history of Kwanzaa, and embark on a fun exploration of culture and heritage through arts and crafts, activities, and discussions. It wouldn’t be the holiday season without a trip to Prospect Park to join in on the holiday-themed programming. There’s a Family Christmas Bird Count at the Audubon Center on December 15, 10am-1pm, and Winter Recess from December 26-30, which features games, nature explorations, DIY discovery packs, animal encounters, and more. Watch the New Years Eve fireworks on December 31 and January 1, and then prepare for Winter Zoo Wonderland. On weekends in December and January, learn about which animals love the cold temperatures and post your “Zoo Year” resolutions on the wall. The holiday season is also the season of treating yourself! How could you not with all of the delicious eats and sweets surrounding you at all times? Satisfy your sweet

tooth and stay warm with a donut and hot chocolate at Dough Doughnuts in Bed Stuy at 448 Lafayette Avenue! Choose from unique donut flavors, such as cheesecake, hibiscus, nutella, and salted chocolate caramel, as well as the classics, such as plain glazed and cinnamon sugar. Pair your donut with hot cocoa made from a blend of different chocolates with optional whipped cream. Looking for more holiday-themed crafts? Michaels Stores offers plenty of craft classes for kids for a low cost. The Michaels location at 252 Atlantic Avenue has make your own snowman ornament, paper Christmas decor, snowman cookies, and clay pot bell classes. The other Michaels location in Brooklyn at 410 Gateway Drive offers make your own Christmas ornaments, mini tree decorations, holiday wreath, and a gingerbread house classes. Prices range from free to $3 per child, but make sure to call ahead for availability. Celebrate Hanukkah with Brooklyn’s Largest Menorah in Grand Army Plaza. There will be a live kickoff concert on the first night of Hanukkah, and then stop by the menorah every day of Hanukkah to watch the next candle get lit. Kids will also receive small gifts, and everyone can enjoy hot latkes and live music. Lighting times are as follows: 4pm on the first night (December 22), 6pm on the second through fifth nights, 3:30pm on the sixth night, 7pm on the seventh night, and 5:30pm on the eighth night. Another amazing (and might we add, delicious!) Hanukkah celebration is The 11th Annual Latke Festival on December 16, 6-8:30pm at the Brooklyn Museum. Enjoy the best and most creative potato pancakes in the city. All proceeds go to The Sylvia Center, a nonprofit that focuses on teaching cooking in underserved communities. Ticket prices range from $75-$120 Our final favorite Hanukkah event for kids and families in Brooklyn is the Chanukah Festival at the Jewish Children’s Museum. There will be delicious food, arts and crafts, and games, all centered around celebrating Hanukkah. All ages are welcome to learn about the holiday and spend time with their loved ones at the museum on December 22. Queens See what Queens County Farm has to offer during the holiday season! There’s the Queens Farm Holiday Market, December 1-23, which features Christmas trees, wreaths, games, toys, handmade stuffed animals, and plenty of other unique items for gifts. On select weekends in December, sign up for a Wreathmaking Workshop, no experience necessary. Then right after Christmas, December 26-28, head to the Holiday Open House for kids crafts, fireplaces, tours, mulled cider, and more. Take the holiday celebrations from the farm to the garden at Queens Botanical Garden. Christmas in

the Garden features free festive activities, such as live musical performances, photos with Santa (additional fee), tree lighting, holiday crafts, and amazing sales at the shop. Get into the holiday spirit on December 8, 12-5pm, with your family. Bronx Williamsburg Oval Recreation Center creates a Winter Wonderland for families! Celebrate the holiday season with arts and crafts, music, games, and a special visit from Santa Claus. Have some free family fun as you learn about all of the winter holidays. Winter Wonderland takes place this year on December 14, 12:30-2:30pm. You can truly never get enough of Winter Wonderlands, so also check out Family Affair: Winter Wonderland at The Bronx Museum of the Arts. On December 7, 1-4pm, celebrate winter and the holidays with your friends and family at the museum. There will be plenty of festive art activities and games for kids ages 4 to 12 and their caregivers. Visit the iconic Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden between November 23 and January 26. The incredible display features more than 175 famous New York landmarks, and this year’s show showcases Central Park with its beautiful landscape, architecture, and history, including Belvedere Castle. In addition to the show, there’s The Poetry of Trains: Billy Collins and Young Poets readings of poems inspired by trains, the holidays, and NYBG. Kids can also explore Evergreen Express for train-inspired fun in the Adventure Garden, including a child-sized train, crafts, sing-alongs, and an outdoor puppeteer theater! Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or both, bring your family to the Holiday Lighting Ceremony at the New York Botanical Garden! Watch the annual tree and menorah lighting on December 5, 4-5:15pm. Gather around the tree or menorah for family photos and sing along to holiday jams with carolers. The Holiday Lights at the Bronx Zoo are back and better, bigger, and greener than ever! Stroll through the zoo to see the animal lanterns, animated sculptures, colorful designs, and beautiful, bright displays of holiday magic. Holiday Lights officially opens November 29-December 31 and January 3-5, but there are also preview days on November 21-24. Wave Hill always has something fun in store for kids, and the holiday season doesn’t disappoint. Drop in for a holiday-inspired Family Art Project during the winter months. Kids and parents will learn about the selected topic or theme, and then get creative together as they work on an exciting craft. Stop by Wave Hill anytime between 10am and 1pm for the Family Art Project! You’ll have a blast!

November 2019 |


family fun




Great Kid-Friendly November Events in Brooklyn By mia salas

FAMILY WORKSHOP: BEYOND GEOGRAPHIES November 2 Inspired by the exhibition Beyond Geographies: Contemporary Art and Muslim Experience, this workshop invites families to immerse themselves into art and culture. Get creative with two handson activities and explore the exhibition through a Gallery Scavenger Hunt! The workshop is best for ages 6 and up. Free with RSVP, 11 am-2 pm. BRIC House, 647 Fulton St., Brooklyn, NY 11217,





November 3 Calling all little ones ages 5 and under and their families for Let’s Build A Castle! Build a fort out of foam, pillows, and blankets using your creativity and imagination. Storytime and a snack are also included. Presented by the New York Society of Play, you are guaranteed a fun afternoon! Free for parents, kids $20, 12-2 pm. The Little Cool School, 569 Franklin Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11238,

BABY SHARK LIVE! November 8 Don’t miss out on this unique concert

experience with Baby Shark Live! Follow Baby Shark along on his journey into the sea as you sing and dance to new and classic songs, such as “Wheels on the Bus,” “Five Little Moneys,” and, of course, “Baby Shark.” Ticket prices vary, doors open at 5 pm, show starts at 6 pm. Kings Theater, 1027 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11226,

CLASSICAL KIDS FAIR November 10 Bring your family for an afternoon of fun at the museum! Enjoy live performances, check out the instrument petting zoo, engage in arts and crafts, participate in radio broadcasting workshops, and so much more! WQXR, the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, and The Little Orchestra Society will all be there to spice up the event with lively music. Free with museum admission, 1-5 pm. Brooklyn Children’s Museum, 145 Brooklyn Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11213,

GET UP, STAND UP! FAMILY WORKSHOP AND PERFORMANCE November 16 Learn all about hip-hop in this fun and interactive workshop! Performance poet and BAM teaching artist Jashua Sa-Ra leads families through games and dynamic demonstrations to introduce rhythmic, poetic, and performance skills. Afterwards, stay for the family-friendly concert, featuring hiphop artist Dumi Right. $5 for workshop, $10 for performance, 1 pm workshop, 2 pm performance. Peter Jay Sharp Building, Lepercq Space, 30 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11217,


Rachel Papo

The Brooklyn Museum hosts a Children’s Book Fair on November 23.


Brooklyn Family | November 2019

November 17 Watch your favorite holiday classic on stage and meet the cast after the show! Recommended for ages 4 and up, kids and families join Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, and the whole Peanuts gang in uncovering the true meaning of the holiday season. This feelgood story with spectacular music and acting is a great kick-off for your holiday season! $13, ticket prices may vary slightly depending on the seat, 2 pm. On Stage At Kingsborough,

Dan Norman

2001 Oriental Blvd., Brooklyn, NY 11235,

CARA’S CATERPILLARS November 23 Join Cara Samantha, who specializes in music for children, and her magical musicians in clapping, singing, and dancing at the library! Enjoy a variety of music, including pop, Motown, Disney, and family favorite songs. Cara recently sang on the Grammy award-winning children’s album “Home,” and she is ready to entertain your family! Free, 1-2 pm. Central Library, Dweck Center, 10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, NY 11238,

THIRTEENTH ANNUAL CHILDREN’S BOOK FAIR November 23 Young readers are invited to come meet their favorite Brooklyn authors and illustrators at this book fair! There will be author readings, illustrator presentations, book-related artmaking opportunities, picture books, graphic novels, preschool drawing, and more. Instill a love of reading in your little ones with this exciting celebration of literary and visual art. Free, museum general admission is a suggested donation, 11:30 am-4 pm. Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11238-6052,

POW! KIDS BOOKS SUNDAY STORY TIME: THE CLIMBING TREE BY JOHN STITH November 24 Follow the story of two brothers in The Climbing Tree by John Stith and illustrated by Yuliya Pieletskaya. Little Brother wants to climb the tree, but Mom says he has to wait until he’s older. When he’s old enough to climb, he discovers that Big Brother will always be a branch ahead, no matter how high he climbs. What will happen to this sibling relationship? Kids will love this engaging story with beautiful illustrations! Free, 11:30 am-12 pm. POWERHOUSE on 8th, 1111 8th Ave., Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY 11215,

Snoopy and Charlie Brown get in the holiday spirit in “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” at On Stage at Kingsborough on November 17.

STORYTIME WITH ELLIOT KRELOFF: THE LUCKIEST SNOWBALL November 24 A boy makes a snowball and is about to throw it when he hears “Stop!...Let’s do something else.” The boy and the snowball play in the snow all day, and then the boy puts the snowball in the freezer, where he meets frozen foods and ice. The snowball makes it through all of the seasons, making friends along the way. Little ones will love this storytime and will likely leave wanting a snowball of their own! Free, 11 am-12 pm. Books Are Magic, 225 Smith St., Brooklyn, NY 11231, November 2019 |


family fun

Featured event

Events Around the City By Mia Salas

AESOP’S FABLES November 1-3 Aesop escapes his master and embarks on a journey to Mount Olympus. He’ll learn many lessons along the way about overcoming challenges and thoughtful planning. This opera show features songs in both English and a mix of South African languages with a live score of marimba music. Aesop’s Fables is recommended for ages 7 and up. Tickets start at $17, Nov. 1, 7pm; Nov. 2, 2 pm and 7 pm; Nov. 3, 12 pm and 5 pm; show is approximately 70 minutes. The New Victory Theater, 209 West 42nd St., New York, NY 10036,

STORYTIME WITH JULIE FOGLIANO: JUST IN CASE YOU WANT TO FLY November 2 Just in Case You Want to Fly comes from the creators of the award-winning When’s My Birthday?. The story is all about growing up, facing challenges, and always having that parent-child bond, no matter how old you are or how far you have flown. Kids will love this heart-warming story with beautiful illustrations. Free, 11 am-12 pm. Books Are Magic, 225 Smith St., Brooklyn, NY 11231,

2019 BAYSIDE SPELLING BEE November 6 Start practicing your spelling bee words for Bayside’s Annual Spelling Bee! There will be a winner from all three age categories: 3rd-4th graders, 5th to 6th graders, and 7th to 8th graders. This is a fun way to encourage education outside of the classroom and boost your little one’s confidence! Free, 4:30-


Brooklyn Family | November 2019

Turkey Cupcakes Workshop November 23 and 27 Get in the Thanksgiving spirit with turkey cupcakes! Learn how to make a delicious chocolate cupcake that looks just like a turkey. The first workshop on November 23 is for ages 5

5:30 pm. Bayside Library, 214-20 Northern Boulevard, Queens, NY 11361,

DARTMOUTH FOOTBALL VS. PRINCETON UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL November 9 While you may associate the Yankee Stadium with baseball, get ready for the stadium to be turned into a football field! Come watch the two Ivy League schools compete and dress in the colors of the team you’re cheering for. Grab some hot cocoa, get spirited with the cheerleaders, and watch an intense and exciting football game as a family. Tickets start at $39 and vary by seat, 2 pm. Yankee Stadium, 1 East 161st Street, Bronx, NY 10451,

DIY FALL FEST GAMES November 9-10 Savor the remaining days of fall with DIY Fall Fest Games! Kids ages 6

to 8 with a caregiver and the second is for ages 2 to 5. $45 per child with one caregiver, Nov. 23, 9-10am; Nov. 27, 4:30-5:30pm. Taste Buds Kitchen, 109 West 27th Street, New York, NY 10001,

and up are invited to make their own fall-inspired games, such as ring toss, corn hole, and giant jenga. Drop in to Art, Artists & You for some fun and games that you can bring home to play with your family. Free with museum admission, 1-3 pm. Children’s Museum of Manhattan, 212 West 83rd St., New York, NY 10024,

DIY WRAPPING PAPER FAMILY ART WORKSHOP November 10 Get ready for the holiday season with this wrapping paper workshop! Kids and their parents will learn kidfriendly printmaking techniques to decorate their own wrapping paper. Everyone leaves with a full roll of their own wrapping paper to wrap their presents for the holidays. This event is recommended for kids ages 3 and up and parent participation is required. $40 for one child and parent, 10:3011:30 am. Private Picassos Art Studio, 237 5th Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11215,

NYCRUNS GO NUTS FOR DONUTS 5K November 10 Run a 5K with your family before the temperatures really drop in the winter months! Afterwards, enjoy jelly, frosted, glazed, sugared, and custard-filled donuts. Take in the amazing views of Manhattan as you run along the East River and get your adrenaline up by starting and ending the race on the Icahn Stadium track. There will be prizes for all age categories, including ages 9 and younger. $45 until online registration closes, $50 race day, 9:30 am. Icahn Stadium, 20 Randall’s Island, New York, NY 10035, nycruns. com

VETERANS DAY IN PROSPECT PARK November 11 Get excited for family-friendly programming on Veterans Day in Prospect Park! There will be lawn games, nature exploration, DIY discovery packs, animal encounters, carousel rides, and more. Spend the day in the park as you enjoy the last of the fall weather and have fun with friends and family. Free, additional cost for carousel rides, 12-4 pm. Several locations in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY,


David Andrako

Classical music comes to life with The Knights at BRIC on November 23. DDAT: NATIVE AMERICAN HIP HOP JAZZ FUSION FAMILY PERFORMANCE November 16 Named by NPR as one of the top 10 bands in the US - DDAT combines hip hop, jazz, funk and soul with an original southwestern feel. DDAT consists of four talented musicians - Chris Bidtah (Navajo) on vocals, Delbert Anderson (Navajo) on trumpet, Nicholas Lucero on drums, and Mike McCluhan on bass. Bring your family for an interactive and exciting performance with dancing, improvisation, live painting, and more! $14 adults, $10 members, $8 kids, $6 kids who are members, free for teens, Flushing Town

Music lessons

Piano Lessons For Everyone


THE KNIGHTS: FAMILY SHOW November 23 Experience the joy of classical music in a fun and interactive environment! In this one-hour family show, little ones will learn about classical music through hands-on experiences, singing, and dancing. The Knights are known for connecting with audiences of all ages, making education entertaining! $10 advanced tickets, $14 day of show, 2-3 pm. BRIC House Ballroom, 647 Fulton St., Brooklyn, NY 11217, bricartsmedia. org

Music lessons

SoundS of MuSiC Seasoned Performing Musicians with Extensive Teaching Experience

135 Eastern Parkway

Private Lessons for Children & Adults at All Levels

across from the Brooklyn Museum

Experienced, friendly teacher with MA in Music Student recitals twice a year • Six foot concert grand piano Near 2, 3, 4 & 5 Subways

Call me and let’s talk about what you or your child would like to learn Call Beth Anderson-Harold: 718-636-6010 or Email:

• • • •

Piano • Keyboard Violin • Oboe Recorder • Saxophone Flute • Clarinet • Vocal

718-232-2703 • Cell 646-752-7973

Daniel & Diana Barkan •

November 2019 |


We asked

Illustration by Elvia Caballero

What Are You Grateful for? My mantra is, don’t let the things you want make you forget the things you have. and what I have — my family, our health, and our freedoms @tarynmohrman — is more than enough for me. This season I am grateful for the support system I have that helps me stay sane as a mom! Between my mom, husband, neighbors, friends, and trusted caretakers, I know how incredibly lucky I am to have so many people in our lives. I know I would not be able to balance work, kids, and basically life without these special people who are there to help me on my parenting journey. @kaityvelez I am grateful for my husband, who helped me create my son. Without them, my personal life would be far less fulling. I’m thankful for my handful of best girlfriends — they keep me grounded and laughing. Last but least, grateful for my therapist and Lexapro — without, both I would not have survived my depression this year (seriously). @julesgarces I’m grateful to spend time with my daughter and reflect on what she has learned this first semester, and have some quality time with her over the holidays and learn about giving back. Plus it’s fun to stay up later and bond over festive movies and activities! @lessav 38

Brooklyn Family | November 2019

Join the conversation Tag us: #NewYorkFamily Follow us: @NewYorkFamily

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Visit us online today to RSVP for an event or schedule a tour. Upcoming Open House Events at Brooklyn Heights Campus Thursday, November 21, and Thursday, December 12 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Museum Mile

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Brooklyn Family November 2019  

Brooklyn Family November 2019