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Nov/dec 2020


Holiday Toy

Gift Guide! Brooklyn Mom

Vanessa Katzen on interior design, mixing it up at home and keeping your space cozy

Expert Tips on Understanding

Stuttering in Children


In-Person Holiday Activities and Virtual Events

Developing Global Leaders of Innovation and Discovery “As an innovator I want to find new ways to travel to the moon and stars!”

“As an innovator I want to find new ways to travel to the moon and stars!”

“As a global leader I will help all people get the resources they need so that they can have better lives.”

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Visit our website at www.lindentree567.com to register for an upcoming Virtual Open House Nov. 16th • Dec. 17th • Jan. 11th For more info, contact Allison Walsh allison@lindentree567.com Linden Tree Elementary School Magnet School for Global Leaders of Innovation and Discovery 1560 Purdy Street Bronx, NY 10462 www.LindenTree567.com


November/December 2020


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pg. 20 pg. 26

pg. 16

pg. 24

FEATURES 6 | Health Expert tips on the “COVID back pain” phenomenon 14 | Family Day Out The best spots for ice skating 16 | Family Fun 31 great family-friendly in-person activities and virtual events in NYC and beyo 20 | Celebrations Creative ways to enjoy life’s big days and memorable moments during COVID

24 | Vanessa Katzen: Home Made The founder of Decormate on blended family and making the home cozy 26 | Holiday Gift Guide Toys and stocking stuffer gifts — perfect for holiday gifting

Directories 12 | Special Needs Listings

Stories & columns 4 | Editor’s Note November/ December Home and Holiday 10 | Education SAY: Stuttering Association for the Young shares with parents what to know about stuttering. 22 | Gear 7 smart car seat options for New York parents

on the Cover Photo: Yumi Matsuo | yumimatsuostudio.com Hair & Makeup: Buffy Hernandez | buffysaintmarie.com Art (in photo): Almagul Menlibayeva

November/December 2020 | Bronx/Queens Family


Editor’s Note

NewYorkFamily.com Publisher: Clifford Luster Executive Editor: Donna Duarte-Ladd Digital Editor: Katarina Avendaño Senior Adviser: Susan Weiss Digital Director: Erik Bliss Partnership Managers: Erin Brof, Mary Cassidy, Shelli Goldberg-Peck Ad Operations Manager: Rosalia Bobé Art Director: Leah Mitch Web Developer: Sylvan Migdal Graphic Designers: Arthur Arutyunov, Connie Sulsenti Editorial Contributors: Jana Beauchamp, Mia Salas Nina Gallo Photography

Home and Holiday We all know that gigantic map when at a mall or an amusement park, there is the red dot called an ideo locator declaring ‘you are here.’ This is how we can sum up where ‘we’ all are. We may have wanted to be somewhere different or the past year not to have had the hardships that many of us experienced, but we are and still are getting through it. Personally, I have learned that I love New York more than ever. This is why we have 31 In-Person Holiday Activities (page 16) and Virtual Fun in NYC and beyond to share this month. For kids, the holidays are on. According to Marissa DiBartolo, Editor in Chief, The Toy Insider and the ‘insider’ who helped us on choosing some of the right gifts this year, “when you take away family vacations, trips to the zoo, and all kinds of things like that, you’re left with a little more budget to bring

some fun into the home. Toys are a great way to bring everyone together,” shares Marissa. Check out our Holiday Toy and Stocking Stuffer Guide, page 26. And while staying home is pretty much the theme right now, contributor Hester Aba (hester.co) chatted with this month’s cover mom, Vanessa Katzen (page 24) of Decormate, on interior design, mixing it up at home, blended family, and keeping it cozy. Lastly, thank you to all our contributors who helped us tremendously and continue to work on getting the stories, updates, and information out to you, the readers. We are grateful for your readership and the sense of community we have with you all.

xo, Donna and New York Family Media

Editorial Interns: Grace Benninghoff, Augostina Mallous, Brooke Thompson

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New York Family has been awarded the PMA Gold Award for Excellence both overall and in Website Design


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 editorial@newyorkfamily.com and tag us at #newyorkfamily


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November/December 2020 | Bronx/Queens Family



Back Soreness and Pain in Kids Expert tips on the “COVID back pain” phenomenon, the pandemic’s unexpected side effect By Donna Duarte-LaDD, Dr. Christen russo


very day my son uses our living room as some sort of ninja gym. I would love to tell him to stop, but I live with it as I know he isn’t getting his usual exercise, and frankly, sitting in a chair all day is not great for any of us. This is why we chatted with Dr. Christen Russo, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, who shared with us about back pain in kids and when it is a red flag and time to check with your child doctor and most importantly, how to keep our kids active and (try to) lessen back problems.

You have been receiving many inquiries from parents about back pain in kids—is this ‘COVID back’? Prior to the COVID pandemic, I would see about two to three patients a month in the office with back pain. As a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, I still thought that was a lot – back pain in children, at any age, is not normal. All of a sudden this summer, as I started to see patients “normally” again, I was seeing back pain pop up on my schedule 2-3 times a day, sometimes seeing 5-10 patients a week with this complaint. I think there are a couple of reasons working together creating this “COVID back pain” phenomenon. First, our children are less active – there are little to no organized sports, sub-par physical education experience (despite teachers trying really hard!), lack of recess time – and children are supposed to be on the move. Depending on your child’s age, current guidelines suggest they need somewhere between 60 – 180 minutes of vigorous activity daily. The lack of activity is further compounded by a breakdown in our children’s ergonomics. We took for granted the important simplicity of a school desk, which really creates the ideal ergonomic environment for children to sit in and learn at for several hours a day. In March, many parents picked their children up from school never imagining they would still be sitting at our kitchen struggling to learn math from a Zoom teacher. Here we are though – and there’s a good chance that your child is not sitting with the best ergonomics on their side. This sets off


a cascade of poor posture that when combined with lack of physical activity is landing these children on my examination table. When in my office, parents are telling me a story of their children looking like hunchbacks and sometimes gaining weight. I notice a child sitting on the table sponsored by the letter “C,” a rounded back with their neck dipped as if they are holding a phone or tablet all the time. It has been eye opening. After seeing a few dozen children like this, I made it a mission to reach as many of my patients as possible to try and avoid this dreaded “COVID Back Pain.” I then got the idea to do a webinar, hoping to reach more people. With the help of three amazing pediatric physical therapists who I work with, we put together a short webinar for parents focusing on recognizing, treating, and preventing this condition. What sort of tips can help kids with these pains, do ergonomics help? Trying to recreate old routines from school

NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020

days, or create a new remote routine, is our best bet to try and move through some of this pain. A combination of structured activity combined with improved ergonomics should make a world of difference. As far as activity – making use of the few breaks teachers can give with a consistent stretching or yoga routine (or even running up and down the stairs!) can be extremely helpful. Having a morning routine, regardless of the remote learning schedule is a great way to set the tone for the day, and if possible parents and children can do it together – taking five to ten minutes in the morning together to start the day off right. Improved ergonomics does not have to mean spending hundreds of dollars on fancy chairs or standing desks. Simple is really best here – again, think back to the child’s school desk. An easy rule to remember is the 90-90-90 rule, which basically says everything should be at 90-degree angle to each other: feet on the floor, hips flexed sitting at 90 degrees, and eyes focused in front so the neck is not compro-

mised. This may mean raising the tablet or computer to eye level (you can use boxes or books for this), placing cushions on chairs, and sometimes bringing the floor up to your child so their feet are resting on a box or stool. I know my son has 5 minutes to ten-minute breaks between Zoom classes, What can kids do on these breaks that help with back pain and neck soreness? I would recommend putting the screen away – even though it might be tempting to watch a TV show or something. For sure, get up and move! It can be something as complex as yoga or as simple as running up and down the stairs in your home or apartment building. Weather dependent of course, but perhaps a short walk or skip or jog, shooting hoops, or having a catch are other good options. When is the pain a sign that a doctor is needed? Like I mentioned, back pain in children is never normal. This “COVID Back Pain” is similar to adult-type low back pain – which is the 3rd most common reason to see a doctor in the United States! While it is a nuisance,

“There’s a good chance that your child is not sitting with the best ergonomics on their side. This sets off a cascade of poor posture that when combined with lack of physical activity is landing these children on my examination table.” it does not set off alarms for me and I feel confident that with some minor adjustments we will land on the other side of this effectively. With help from pediatric orthopedists, physical therapists, and pediatricians we will overcome this phenomenon. Pain that seriously concerns me is when I hear about “red flags.” I do not like it when children can point to their pain with one finger – consistently the same spot day after day. I get worried when children need pain medication – specifically anti-inflammatories – to relieve the pain. Any pain associated with neurologic symptoms – numbness or tingling, pain shooting down the legs or arms, bladder, or bowel compromise – that for sure

gets my attention. Red flags warrant further workup – X-rays or advanced imaging like CT or MRI – but COVID Back Pain can be managed without imaging simply by making some adjustments to our new daily life practices. Dr. Christen Russo specializes in the nonoperative and operative care of pediatric orthopedic patients, from pre-natal to adolescent care and consultation. She has a particular interest in clubfoot and other foot deformities, congenital hip dysplasia and pediatric trauma. Dr. Russo approaches care holistically, recognizing that pediatric patients are not just little adults and have different needs based on their unique family, education, and athletic dispositions.

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November/December 2020 | Bronx/Queens Family




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NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020



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November/December 2020 | Bronx/Queens Family



What to Know About Stuttering Sage knowledge and tips from SAY: The Stuttering Association for the Young


hile many parents have been home with their children helping, guiding, and teaching through remote schooling, many are also having to understand the needs of their child when it comes to a special need that needs to be addressed, such as stuttering. Many may recall 13-year-old Brayden Harrington’s brave speech at the Democratic National Convention that shined a national spotlight on stuttering. While as many as 5% of children stutter, there is much to be educated on stuttering, which is why we connected with the nonprofit organization SAY: The Stuttering Association for the Young who shared on this special need that is not often addressed in mainstream media. SAY shared with us their sage knowledge and tips on what they call “Stuttering 101.”

What is stuttering? Stuttering is a complex communication disorder. It is not easy to define because it looks very different in each person and can even change over the course of a person’s lifetime. As many as 5% of young children stutter, and approximately 1% of all people – that’s 70 million people! Although no two people who stutter are exactly the same, we can generally understand stuttering in three connected parts: Surface behaviors – qualities of speech that you can see and hear, e.g. Sound repetitions (“Let’s ride in the c-ccar”) Sound prolongations (“Hey, that’s mmmmmy toy”) Silent blocks (“Let’s read a —– book”) Secondary characteristics – other body movements when a person is stuttering. This can include eye blinks, leg shaking, lots of tension in the throat, or many other characteristics.


Impact on attitudes and emotions – Some people who stutter may not be bothered by their stuttering at all. Many others, however, struggle with shame, embarrassment, anxiety, or low self-esteem. For some, the impact on quality of life can be far more significant than the surface behaviors. Impact on everyday life – Many people who stutter go to great lengths to try to hide their stuttering. As a result, they may avoid or struggle with many ordinary situations, such as ordering at a restaurant, introducing themselves, or reading aloud in class. Children who stutter may also face bullying or teasing at school because of the way that they talk. Each person who stutters will have different surface behaviors and different degrees of difficulty with their speech. But it is important to recognize that stuttering is much more than what we can see and hear.

What causes stuttering? Many factors contribute to stuttering as a child develops. Up-to-date research says that stuttering has a genetic link. This can result in a person having small differences in how his or her brain is organized for speech and

NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020

language. Other contributing factors may include the child’s temperament, emotions, and language development. It is important to know that stuttering is nobody’s fault. Stuttering is not caused by anything parents do. Core stuttering behaviors are involuntary, which means that they cannot always be controlled. Many people find ways to work around or minimize the impact of their core stuttering, while speech therapy and support groups can play a role in helping individuals to better understand their speech. But it is different for everyone. How should I act around someone who stutters? Just be yourself, and remember – the main difference between a person who stutters and a person who doesn’t is that the person who stutters may need some extra time to talk. See our Listening Tips below for more information. Can stuttering be cured? Stuttering cannot be “cured” like a disease or illness, and there is no approved medication to treat stuttering. However, speech therapy and support groups have been shown to help

children who stutter reduce the negative impact of stuttering on their lives. Young children (typically age 2 ½ to 6) often see reduced stuttering behaviors as they continue to grow, and it is thought that early intervention speech therapy makes a difference. Listening Tips These tips are provided to help make your interactions with a person who stutters a more positive, communicative and supportive experience. Please be patient. You may be tempted to finish sentences or fill in words, but please refrain from doing so unless you know the other person well and have their permission. Although you may have the best of intentions, completing another person’s sentences may feel demeaning. Of course, if you guess the wrong word, the communication difficulties only increase. Try to refrain from comments such as “slow down,” “take a breath” or “relax.” To many people who stutter, this advice feels patronizing.

It is important to know that stuttering is nobody’s fault. Stuttering is not caused by anything parents do. Maintain eye contact and try not to look embarrassed or alarmed. Just wait patiently until the other person is finished talking. Be aware that people who stutter often have more difficulty speaking on the telephone. In particular, saying “Hello” can be a special problem. Please be extra patient in this situation. People sometimes wonder if it’s OK to ask someone questions about their stuttering. This is certainly a judgment call and stuttering should not be considered a taboo subject. However, some people who stutter are sensitive about it and may prefer not to discuss the subject. By following the rules of common courtesy, everything should be fine. A person’s stuttering sometimes makes it harder to understand what they are saying. If you do not understand what is being said, don’t be afraid to simply say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand what you just said.” No matter how much of a struggle it was for them

to say it, this is preferable to pretending you understood or guessing what was said. Let the person who stutters know by your body language and actions that you are listening to what is being said, not how it’s being said. Be yourself and be a good listener. SAY: The Stuttering Association for the Young is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides support, advocacy, and lifechanging experiences for young people who stutter, ages 3-18. Since 2001, SAY has offered comprehensive and innovative programs that address the physical, social, and emotional impacts of stuttering. Through Camp SAY residential summer camp, Camp SAY Across the USA regional day camps, Speech Therapy, and Confident Voices creative arts programming, SAY builds a community of acceptance, friendship, and encouragement where young people who stutter can develop the confidence and communication skills they need to thrive.

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NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020

Autism Behavioral Consulting Services Karen Bottalico, SAS, SDA (516) 851-8330 kbottalico2002@yahoo.com An Educational Consultant serving Queens and Long Island and the NY Metro area. Working directly with families, services include: Evaluating placement and service options; Accompanying parents throughout the entire CPSE or CSE process which includes meetings, screenings, observations and extensive education history reviews. Other services include Staff Training, School -Based Consultation, FBA Assessment and BIP Implementation, ABA and Verbal Behavior Training Techniques, Behavior Management Strategies, Home/School Intensive Behavior Intervention Services, Crisis Intervention and Prevention, Home-Based Services and Parent Education Training. Call for more information.

Family Speech Center 718-939-0306 familyspeechcenter.com familyspeechcenter@verizon.net At Family Speech Center certified Speech-Language Pathologists are trained professionals who evaluate and diagnose adults and children to identify specific speech, language or swallowing difficulties. Services include speech-language evaluations and treatment for individuals with articulation and stuttering problems. Assessment procedures depend on the age of the client; very small children are assessed in an informal play-based environment. Medical plans and Dept. of Ed IEP’s are accepted for both preschool and school age children. Operated by Niki Stagias-Coulianidis, MA, CCC-SLP and Errika NathenasDimitrakis, MS,

Long Island Center for Speech Locations across Suffolk and Nassau, NY 1-844-5-SPEECH lispeech.com Specializing in the treatment and correction of language disorders, memory and auditory processing difficulties, fluency, voice disorders, motor planning disorders, deviate swallowing, tongue thrust, feeding problems/aversions, thumb sucking, articulation disorders and oral facial muscle weakness, Janine Stein,

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Premier HealthCare 212.273.6272 yai.org/premier Premier HealthCare offers primary care and specialty outpatient services to everyone and specializes in serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Operating five New York City clinics in addition to telehealth services, Premier offers primary care, dentistry, pediatrics, psychiatry, podiatry, neurology, dermatology, endocrinology, and ophthalmology. Through Premier’s co-located affiliate YAI’s Center for Specialty Therapy, patients can receive additional services, including psychological testing; occupational, physical, and speech therapies; and nutritional services, among others. Premier’s doctors and nurses are not only outstanding medical professionals, they are also uniquely trained to care for patients with disabilities. Premier provides the top-level service, attention, and care that every patient regardless of ability deserves.

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November/December 2020 | Bronx/Queens Family


family day out

Skating in the City! By Grace BenninGhoff


ce skating has always been an iconic New York winter activity. Even though things look different this year in so many ways, ice skating is one winter activity we can still enjoy! It’s outdoors, it’s socially-distanced, and these New York rinks have plans for COVID-conscience skating this winter. Bank of America Winter Village – Bryant Park Between 5th and Avenue of the Americas and between 40th and 42nd Street 212-768-4242 Open: October 30 – March 7

Bryant Park Winter Village is the ultimate spot for some holiday fun! From food to shops to ice skating, this makes a great day out with the family. Due to Covid, ice skating with be fully outdoors, and skating sessions will be timed. Families will need to book these reservations in advance online and face masks must be worn when ice skating. The Rink at Rockefeller Center – Midtown 5th Ave between 49th and 50th Streets 212-771-7200 Open: November 21 through January 17th

The most iconic New York skating spot, this is the most picturesque spot to skate in the city. This year they are open from October through April and will be limiting the number of skaters on the rink to abide by public health guidelines. Tickets are on sale in advance and guarantee your spot on the ice for your time slot! Everyone will be required to wear a mask while skating. This is the ideal spot to take family photos while enjoying a classic New York experience.

to be a bit less crowded than The Rink at Rockefeller Center, so it’s a great spot to avoid crowds. Wollman similarly offers reservations for skating in advance as well as the day of, but with Covid restrictions and the number of skaters, an advanced reservation is a good idea. This rink still offers free admission and more room to skate around than many other rinks in the city, making it a great place for beginners and advanced skaters alike to really enjoy the ice. Riverbank Stare Park – Upper Manhattan 679 Riverside Drive 212-694-3600 Open: Beginning of November through mid-March

Riverbank is not just an ice skating rink, it’s also a 28-acre multi-level landscaped recreational facility, rising 69 feet above the Hudson River. This is an ideal spot to spend a winter day as a family, enjoying the skating rink, wandering around and taking in views of the Hudson. The skating rink is outdoors but covered, making in Covid-safe but perfect for a rainy day.

Wollman Rink – Midtown 830 5th Ave. 212-439-6900 Open: Late October through early April.

The Rink at Brookfield Place – The Battery 230 Vesey St. Open: Throughout the winter until March

In the heart of Central Park, Wollman Rink offers a respite from the bustle of the city, and gorgeous views of the skyline. It is also likely

This beautiful New York rink is a spot where professional skaters train, it also has beautiful views of the Hudson and One


NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020

World Trade Center. This is also among the largest rinks in the city. They also offer lessons and public skate hours by reservation. Lasker Rink – Harlem 830 5th Ave. 917-492-3856 Open: Late October through mid-March.

Another Central Park rink, but off the beaten path. If you want to avoid crowds and longer wait times this winter, this is the place to go. The rink provides nice views of the park, plenty of space to skate. LeFrak Center at Lakeside – Prospect Park Near the Lincoln Road and Parkside/ Ocean Avenue entrances 718-965-8951 Open: Mid-December and throughout the winter

This massive outdoor skating rink at Lakeside in Prospect Park offers ice skating, curling, broomball, hockey, and figure skating all winter. With Covid-19 precautions, space will be limited and all skaters will be required to wear a mask and maintain distance on this ice. This is a great way to get your family out for some fun adventures during the winter!

Due to COVID-19 please check the website for days and times before you hit your favorite rink!

Shop Here



et k r a M oliday



– NOV 6



Catholic College Preparatory School for Girls


A. Brass Coaster from American Design Club, $30 B. Cushion - Letter Love Pink On Milky White from Atsuyo Et Akiko, $72



C. Team Solar Crew Tee in Pink from Atsuyo Et Akiko, $44


D. Wild Brooklyn Lavender from D.S. & Durga, $65

Virtual visits, real Community! Dominican Academy has been recognized twice as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education and is ranked the #3 Catholic girls high school in New York for 2020-2021!



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• During this global health crisis, D.A. remains committed to excellence in education and the safety of all members of our community. Students always receive live instruction 5 days a week as part of our Distance Learning Program or Hybrid Learning Model. • Located in an historic mansion on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, D.A. is easily accessible by the 4/5/6, E, F, and N/Q/R trains. • A diverse community of 250 students come from all 5 boroughs of New York City, Connecticut, Long Island, New Jersey, Westchester, and abroad. • D.A. stands alone as the only all-honors high school for girls in New York, offering 20+ electives and 15+ Advanced Placement courses.

• We are proud of our 100% graduation rate, with graduates in our Class of 2020 averaging over $395,000 each in merit scholarships and grants. • Student-Faculty ratio of 8:1, with 90% of faculty holding at least one advanced degree • Our unique Service Learning Program encourages students to engage in service and to understand the role of Faith in their lives. • 30+ clubs and 8 Varsity teams: Basketball, Cross Country, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Indoor and Outdoor Track, and Volleyball. • A well-rounded Performing Arts curriculum with required Drama, Music, and Dance classes.

CHECK OUT OUR NEW VIRTUAL TOUR ON OUR WEBSITE OR CONTACT OUR ADMISSIONS OFFICE TODAY! Want to reach engaged parents across New York City? Collaborate with the New York Family Media team to spread the word about your launches, promotions and news. Reach us by emailing info@newyorkfamily.com or calling 718.260.4554

DominicanAcademy.org / 44 East 68th Street, New York, NY 10065 T 212.744.0195 / F 212.744.0375 / @DominicanAcademy Direct all questions to Madeleine Metzler, ‘07, Director of Admissions at 212.744.0195, ext. 131 or admissions@dominicanacademy.org. November/December 2020 | Bronx/Queens Family


family fun

Holiday Fun!

31 great family-friendly in-person activities By Mia SalaS


ur Holiday Guide surely looks different this year. NYC traditions like Macy’s Santaland and the Holiday Lights at Bronx Zoo have been reimagined in response to the pandemic. Some have moved online, and others have changed the format of the event to adjust to social distancing protocols. But we know how iconic NYC is during the holiday season, so you can still expect plenty of options for family fun. Not sure what classic NYC lighting ceremonies and wintery activities are still happening this year? We’ve got you covered. Read our guide to get the scoop on the holiday season in 2020! Manhattan Bank of America Winter Village Skate reservations are now open! Ice skating at Winter Village is now a fully outdoor experience, and the Holiday Shops have a reconfigured layout with fewer shops to allow for more spacious walkways. This magical winter village in Bryant Park will still be happening this year with changes to keep your family healthy and safe. Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree It wouldn’t be Christmas in NYC without the Rockefeller Tree. Coming this holiday season, the 2020 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree will be displayed on The Plaza between West 49th and 50th streets and Fifth and Sixth avenues. Additional details about this year’s Tree and the Lighting ceremony will be announced soon, so stay tuned for updates about COVID-19 protocols. The Origami Holiday Tree The American Museum of Natural History is gearing up for their famous Origami Tree, which will run November 25, 2020 through January 10, 2021. The theme of this year’s 13-


and virtual events in NYC and beyond

foot tree is Cranes and Colors, featuring 1,000 brilliantly colored origami cranes, presented as symbols of peace and good wishes as New York continues to endure the many challenges posed by COVID-19, and drawing inspiration from The Nature of Color special exhibition, which explores the role and power of color in the natural world. NYCRUNS Winter Classic 5K The 5K tradition continues on December 6, 7 am-noon! There are several COVID-19 protocols in place, and aspects of the race are subject to change, but for now, register online to secure your family a spot. This race will start and finish near 108th Street inside Riverside Park. You’ll wind through treelined paths and waterfront walkways on this totally traffic-free and peaceful course. Water at the finish will be delivered in a goodie bag along with Gatorade, Dole Fruit Bowls in 100% Juice, and other snacks. LuminoCity Festival With limited capacities, social distancing, and many more protocols to protect your health and safety, LuminoCity is confident that they can deliver a spectacular festival of lights this holiday season. This immersive wonderland of lights in Randall’s Island Park runs from November 27, 2020 through January 10, 2021. LuminoCity Festival features all new light art installations spanning several acres. Each of the three parks illuminates the night with beautiful sculptures inspired by nature, history, and magic. $22 Kids ages 3-12, $38 Adults. Baked by Melissa Holiday Flavors Baked by Melissa never fails to surprise us with fun flavors throughout the year, and the holiday ones are our favorites! These delicious bite-sized cupcakes are right up kids’ alleys because they can try a bunch of flavors

NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020

without getting full on one. There are lots of options for holiday packages online, but you can also grab-and-go at a NYC store near you. Cupcake flavors include Snowball, Chocolate Babka, Caramel Hot Cocoa, Cookie Blizzard, Candy Cane, Snowcap and many more. Magnolia Bakery Holiday Gift Guide Winter 2020 Magnolia Bakery is a NYC classic, especially during the holiday season. Each year, they put out a Holiday Gift Guide full of decadent treats, and this year is no different. But no need to buy these treats as gifts only! Treat your family to Magnolia holiday cookies, banana bread pudding, cakes, cupcakes, and more. You can even choose a “dessert party” day to share an assortment of Magnolia desserts this winter. Grand Central 2020 Holiday Fair Get ready for Grand Central’s holiday gift fair! The 2020 Holiday Fair has been redesigned to comply with state and federal governmentrecommended social distancing guidelines. Although smaller, this year’s Fair retains all the festive charm that makes it such a popular experience for vendors and visitors alike. This is a great opportunity to do some of your Christmas shopping and get your friends and family unique gifts that they’ll love. Central Park Horse and Carriage Rides Experience Central Park’s winter wonderland with a horse and carriage ride. Visit wellknown attractions like Belvedere Castle, Strawberry Fields, Bethesda Fountain, and the Mall. Each carriage will be detailed and sanitized fully every day. Seats will be sprayed after each ride and hand sanitizer/wipes will be available for guests. If you’re looking for a peaceful winter activity, this is perfect for your family!

getting bigger and brighter out in Brooklyn with each passing year. In 2020, expect to see massive, professionally-done light displays (some costing upwards of $20,000!) at Dyker Heights. Homeowners compete to see who can present the best light display, and NYC families get to tour the breathtaking holiday decor. This is a must-see for 2020. Winter in Prospect Park There’s always a ton to do at Prospect Park, and the holidays are no exception. While events are still up in the air because of the pandemic, the park has so much to offer that you can choose any day to stop by. We recommend a snowy day so that you can go sledding with your family and ice skating at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside. Brooklyn’s Largest Menorah Visit Brooklyn’s Largest Menorah in December! For each day of Hanukkah, there will be a menorah lighting celebration, featuring live music and great company. Social distancing protocols will be in place, but you are still welcome to bring your friends and family to the lighting of this huge menorah in Prospect Park. Sledding at Brooklyn Parks Brooklyn is home to some of the best spots to go sledding as a family. We love Fort Greene Park, which has four different hills to choose from, but there’s also Hillside Park and Sunset Park. You could even go on a Brooklyn sledding self-tour and try a few of these sledding spots out! Queens Winter 2020 at Queens County Farm Queens County Farm is such a joy throughout the year, but we especially love the fall/ winter season. On December 26-28, 12-4 pm, the farm will host a free Holiday Open House (with COVID-19 guidelines in place). There will be kids crafts, tours, and much more!

Macy’s Herald Square Holiday Windows This year, Macy’s will have a special window that gives thanks to our frontline heroes, essential workers, marchers for equality, and to all New Yorkers staying hopeful and showing resilience. Stop by to see all six windows at Herald Square. From neon lights

spelling out “Thank You” to elves busily decorating in a city landscape scene, these holiday windows showcase the spirit of New York. From November 19th – January 1st. Brooklyn Dyker Heights Christmas Lights Starting in the 1980s, Christmas started

Sledding in Queens Parks Gear up for prime sledding season by making a list of your must-visit sledding slopes. Queens boasts some of the best sledding areas, so you’re in luck. Astoria Park and Juniper Valley Park are two of our favorites, but we also recommend Forest Park and Bowne Park! 12th Annual Jackson Heights Winter Caroling Sing & Stroll On December 12 from 7-10 pm, bring your family to this outdoor caroling event. Bundle

November/December 2020 | Bronx/Queens Family


family fun

up, because it will definitely be cold! You’ll get to sing winter and holiday songs of all faiths, languages, and cultures as you stroll through Jackson Heights. Meet in front of Cassidy’s Ale House, corner of 31st Ave & 75th St in Queens. Holiday Skating Program at World Ice Arena Check out the Holiday Skating Program at World Ice Arena! This is great for your kiddos who are looking to get some time on the ice in a safe environment. Class sizes are limited due to COVID-19, so register soon. The December program runs from the 26th to 31st. the Bronx holiday train Show at nYBG The New York Botanical Garden returns with its magical Holiday Train Show this season. Note that this year, with tickets and capacity very limited due to enhanced safety protocols that include social distancing, the only way to see this captivating display is as a Member, Patron, Corporate Member, or Bronx Community Partner. Marvel at model trains zipping through an enchanting display of famous New York landmarks each re-created from natural materials such as birch bark, acorns, and cinnamon sticks. The show will run November 12-January 31. nYBG Glow This all-new outdoor experience illuminates New York Botanical Garden’s landmark landscape and Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. With lots of room to spread out, explore a glowing world of color and light! Pictureperfect installations fill the Reflecting Pool and enliven surrounding gardens and collections. You’ll even get to enjoy artistic ice carving displays, roving dancers and musicians, plus more outdoor fun. The event will run November 27-28, December 5, 13, 18-19, 26-30, January 1-2, 9. holiday Lights at Bronx Zoo This iconic light show full of plenty of winter-themed activities is perfect for some family fun. There will be five animal lantern safaris, ice-carving demonstrations, holiday treats, costumed characters, wildlife theater, stilt walkers, and more! The lantern safaris, spread out throughout the park, each showcase a different wildlife region and will lead you on a fun, safe, and leisurely tour of the attractions. The event is on select dates from November 20-January 10, and tickets must be purchased in advance.


Sledding in Bronx Parks Not sure where to go sledding this year when we get snow? Check out the scene at Claremont Park, Crotona Park, Shoelace Park, Ewen Park, and Franz Sigel Park. Each has something to offer, so grab your sled, scarves, and winter coats, and head out to experience the snowy park. near nYC Polar Bear Express Weekends in November and December Not too far away from NYC, The Polar Express in Phillipsburg, NJ is ready for your family! The train ride is one hour and 45 minutes, and the train is decorated with over two miles of lights. There’s a snack bar and gift shop aboard, and Santa will visit each family. As for entertainment, there are chefs, jugglers, elves, and more. $32 child, $42 adult, 100 Elizabeth St, Phillipsburg, NJ 08865 Riverhead Holiday Light Show Nov 19-22, 26-29, Dec 3-6, 10-13, 17-30 This incredible light show in Long Island is truly a spectacle. The lights in the show dance along with the music playing over your car’s radio, making it an immersive experience as you check out some of the never-beforeseen displays. Buy your tickets now. $23 per vehicle, Long Island Sports Park, 149 Edwards Ave, Calverton, NY 11933 Ski Resorts and Centers in Upstate New York Book your NYC winter getaway now! If you’re looking to take a short trip during the holiday season, we’ve rounded up the best familyfriendly ski resorts in Upstate New York and their updated COVID-19 policies. Some of the closest resorts/centers are: Thunder Ridge Ski Area, Mount Peter Ski Area, and Maple Ski Ridge. remote experienCeS Hanukkah Family Day at the Jewish Museum This virtual program will be streamed on YouTube for exciting events and activities for the whole family! Listen to festive music in a holiday-themed concert, sketch Hanukkah menorahs from around the globe on a virtual tour, create art together at home with multiple project ideas, see a drawing performance, and more. Free with RSVP, one ticket per household. Macy’s Santaland Macy’s has decided to move Santaland

NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020

online this year. But they have reimagined the iconic experience in a creative, engaging, and immersive way for your kiddos. And did we mention it’s free and there are no online reservations needed? That’s right! Santa can’t wait to hear all of the wonderful thoughts and wishes that your little ones have, and he will respond in his uniquely whimsical way through a pre-recorded, open-ended conversation. Your magical adventure begins online on November 27. Nantucket 2020 Annual Christmas Tree Lighting No need to travel this year to see this spectacular tree lighting, because it’s coming to your home! Over 150 trees will magically come alive in a blaze of light and well wishes will be given from island community members. Your family will love this virtual tree lighting. Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker Christmas Stream this beautiful production between December 19 and 29. Cozy up in the living room and watch this smash-hit holiday tradition at home. You’ll even get to take a trip backstage with the cameras for a look at how the magic is made. Hear it first-hand from world-class artists, designers, and the creators of this cherished production as you get all the behind-the-scenes action. Kings Theater in Flatbush, Brooklyn is more than ready for a virtual holiday season of theater. $24.99 general stream, upgraded packages available. Jewish Children’s Museum Virtual Workshops IGTV brings to you the Jewish Children’s Museum Virtual Winter Workshops! Kids can learn how to make hammered styled candles, confetti challah covers, marshmallow flowers, Shavuos snow globes, and more. The supplies needed for each craft are listed online, but you can also pick up a kit at the Museum for $3. Join live each Sunday, or do the crafts on your own time using the IGTV videos. Queens County Farm Virtual Wreathmaking Workshop Stay tuned for a virtual wreath-making workshop in December. Your kiddos will love this at-home craft, and your whole family can follow along. At the end of the workshop, you’ll have beautiful winter wreaths as holiday decor.



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HAC Family Services Inc. Bridging the Gap to Education & Success

Doris E. Stone 1165 University Avenue Bronx, NY 10452 (718) 588-1030 Highbridge Advisory Council* Day Care Center 1181 Nelson Avenue Bronx, NY 10452 (718) 681-5216 Early Childhood Center I* 1594 Townsend Avenue Bronx, NY 10453 (718) 299-3917

- Childcare (2-years to 5-years) - Family EarlyLearn CACFP - Headstart - Pre-school Evaluations - Universal Pre-K - Pre-school Special Education - Family EarlyLearn (6-weeks to 4-years) - 3-K for All program For more information contact the central office located at: 880 River Avenue Bronx, NY 10452 2nd Floor Phone: (718) 992-1321 Fax: (718) 992-8539 James W. Nathaniel, CEO HacFamilyServicesInc.org www.hacfs.org Nearly a half a century of service to the Bronx

Early Childhood Center III* 1399 Ogden Avenue Bronx, NY 10452 (718) 293-9196 Richard H. Mangum Early Learning Center 921 E. 162nd Street Bronx, New York 10451 (718) 590-0673 Marshall England Early Learning Center 800 Concourse Village East Bronx, NY 10452 (718) 742-2366/69 Head Start Program* 880 River Avenue 2nd Floor Bronx, NY 10452 (718) 992-1321 November/December 2020 | Bronx/Queens Family



Celebrations! Creative ways to enjoy life’s big days & special moments — even during COVID By Jana Beauchamp


ife’s special moments still want to be celebrated! New and exciting ways to celebrate big days are coming to life since large-scale, traditional celebrations are on hold in the current climate. We spoke to Laura Remmert, expert event planner and contributor for Martha Stewart Weddings, to learn about current event trends. We also spoke to celebration experts to get the scoop on the best innovations and products to help you make the most memorable milestone celebrations right now. According to Laura Remmert, event planner extraordinaire, a popular party trend is Micro Mitzvahs (just like Micro Weddings). Gather a group of close family and friends and plan a “micro mitzvah.” Celebrate with closest family and friends in person to keep the party small. The service can be available on Zoom for special guests who cannot attend in person. Work within the local rules and regulations for the event, noting guest count limits, social distancing, and utilize outdoor space when you can. To make these Micro Mitzvahs smart, safe, and sentimental Laura Remmert Events (lauraremmertevents.com) supplies gift bags to guests with hand sanitizer and custom masks, tables are spaced 6’ apart and guests were grouped with their family or friends they see on a regular basis. Laura also plans weekends away for the mitzvah. Start with renting a space where close family and friends can stay for the weekend, planning fun activities, the Mitzvah service, and a dinner to celebrate. Whether finding a family-friendly home rental, remote cabin, vacation villa, or resort rooms or cottages, there are many fun and diverse options. Laura tells us that any of these celebration styles can be for any type of party, too. She added, “We’re seeing a lot of “micro events” and a lot of trips for smaller groups to celebrate big life moments. One big thing we’re seeing is lots of fun personal details, special place cards for guests that can be


taken home as a keepsake, custom masks, and letters to each guest at their seat.” There are many ways to make celebrations as special as can be and celebrating in the style that’s just right for you is always the way to go! Birthday Fun When it comes to birthday celebrations for kids the most popular options are a small, smart, and safe, socially distanced gathering outside or a larger, virtual bash for your closest family and friends. Roof decks, parks, playgrounds, and green spaces are the ideal venues for socially distanced celebrations. Just don’t forget to BYOM — bring your own mask! For a party planning primer, visit our How to Have a Birthday Party Amid COVID. If going the virtual birthday party route, check out our Best Virtual Birthday Party Ideas for the best (virtual) party time! For both types of parties, having a party host with the most can make all the difference. DJ Natalie(babydjschool.com) is hosting parties and can host your virtual dance party on Zoom or bring the beat in person to the outdoor location of your choice! Virtual Dance Parties are a super fun way to connect with friends and family from afar! Her Zoom parties include a high-quality dependable stream; incredible audio, a fun look (DJ Natalie transforms her home studio into a disco with pulsing lights and a shimmering background); virtual jumbotron (her Spotlight Video feature is a fun way for DJ Natalie to highlight different guests and encourage participation); and more fun and games. Kids will enjoy group dances such as the Macarena, follow the leader, show and tell, dance contests, and more. You will party like a rock star! Family Holidays Make family holidays extra special while supporting local NYC business as well as innovative merrymaking services that are helping people find creative ways to celebrate holidays and every day. Tribute videos (tribute.co) make it easy as pie to create a meaningful video montage

NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020

for special moments from family and friends near and far so that your special someone feels the love. Plus, the Tribute is fun to make and simple to use. The Tribute Family “recognizes the deep impact COVID-19 has had on so many important milestones in our lives. We believe that in a time of unprecedented uncertainty and change, social connection is more important than ever, and we want to do our part.” It’s a gift they will treasure now and cherish forever. Sign Gypsies (signgypsies.com) is the largest yard greeting company in the U.S., delivering festive and colorful greetings in a big way. The Sign Gypsies yard greeting displays are great for homes, schools, and businesses. They create a custom yard greeting that’s as special as your guest of honor, and they handle the set up and break down of the greeting. They love bringing joy and it is sure to create a magical and memorable moment. Piñatagrams (pinatagrams.com) send some crazy fun in the mail. These unique greetings are an absolute experience to be there when you’re not physically there. They really bring smiles to people’s faces. The universal favorite is the standard donkey/llama version and then next best seller is the googly eyed. Customers pick a body type, enter customization for a message printed on the side of the piñata belt box, and hit send. There are even seasonal sensations right now like the vampire and zombie piñatas for Halloween and coming soon a reindeer piñatagrams with giant googly eyes for the holidays. It is crazy cool to be on the receiving end and seeing the smiles on faces. Send some piñata joy in the mail! Use code NYFAMILY10 for 10% off! Balloon Saloon (baloonsaloon.com) recently made Kelly Ripa’s 50th fabulous and can give you the royal treatment, too. Balloon Saloon brings the fun to any and every occasion with their joyful balloons. Balloon Saloon’s beautiful and celebratory creations will make a big day extra special. They can personalize every arrangement with balloon names, clusters, age numerals, and organic columns. Giant confetti filled balloons are so

popular now as well! They do an expert job to customize creations to clients’ likes and colors. Balloon Saloon has been bringing joy throughout Manhattan and now with a Covid business pivot is offering curbside delivery as well as delivery service to the outer boroughs and suburbs like Long Island and the Hamptons. You can even arrange a socially distant pick up by having Uber pickup and deliver your bunch of balloons. Cameo(cameo.com)special celebrity greetings are the new greeting card! Imagine getting a personal birthday greeting from Snoop Dog or Michael Rappaport! Cameo has 40,000 talent around the world and delivers personalized video messages, live zoom calls, direct messages, and more. Kids favs include personal greetings from the famous animals on Cameo, Coyote Peterson, David Henrie, and Fiona the Hippo. Since kids are following

their favorite people on social media without being able to interact, this is a special way to get a personal message, interaction, and birthday satisfaction. Simply find your perfect star match, check the price, and fill in the recipient and occasion (use the text box to put in a message with relevant info) and ask for the shout out. To make it extra memorable, add as much color as you can to ensure the recipient gets the most out of it! Cameo features every type talent and is sure to give the birthday kid major bragging rights! Jars By Dani (jarsbydani.com), delicious handcrafted cake jars, look amazing and taste even better! Jars By Dani are especially perfect for quarantine celebrations because they are individually packaged already so there are no worries about cutting a cake and everyone touching things since you have your own. The most popular flavor for kids and adults alike

is the cake batter but all of the varieties are delicious. We also love that most flavors are nut free and there are gluten free and vegan options as well. The sky is the limit with customization of the lids to have writing, names, photos, or whatever you wish. Jar By Dani makes variety packs so party people can pick and choose their flavors and customization and then ship nationwide for special occasions or any ordinary day to bring someone a smile and decadent treat. Celebrate your birthday or any day in sweet style using the 10% discount code NYFamily at checkout on JARSbydani.com Celebration Stadium (celebrationstadium. com/shop) is a family owned business filled with heartfelt ideas to keep the candle fun while staying safe. It’s a creative and cool way to put 1 to 100 candles on anything from cake to pizza to pancakes! Being able to move the dessert away and safely enjoy the tradition of blowing out candles without getting germs or candle wax on anyone’s cake is priceless. Order candles with the stadium or add DIY decorations like flowers or make flags or other personalized items or both!. The stadium (we adore the mirrored and hearts designs) can also be used for holidays not just birthdays! It’s these little celebrations with big impact that now more than ever bring people joy in everyday! Especially since the pandemic began, The Bouqs Co (bouqs.com) fab florals see more and more people sending flowers just because and they love that they’re helping people connect and share something beautiful from afar. Kaylyn Hewitt, The Bouqs Co’s lead floral designer gave us the scoop that one of her goto birthday gifts is a Bouq that includes a succulent in the assortment that can be replanted! It’s such a great way to give a gift that extends beyond the vase life. If you’re not sure which flowers to send and when, the site has helpful guides to direct you toward the best Bouqs for any occasion. Bouqs from the online catalog are customizable by size and most have two vase options. There are also matching/coordinating arrangements for a family in different places. Order Bouqs in different sizes, so you can show Mom some extra love with a larger arrangement while sending something a bit smaller to your sister in her studio apartment And don’t miss the seasonal specialties available in the Bouqs Co Fall Collection! And as you plan your celebrations, don’t forget to help others in need with great initiatives like the Birthday Party Project! They bring joy to children experiencing homelessness by bringing them the magic of birthdays! Enjoy every second of your celebrations, make magical memories, and spark joy!

November/December 2020 | Bronx/Queens Family



Car SeatS Everything you need to know, plus 7 smart options for New York parents

By Donna Duarte-LaDD


Check out newyorkfamily.com for all our car seat picks!

or parents, a car seat is an important purchase. Parents look for a seat that is within their budget but most importantly fits their child’s safety and comfort needs. Topher McGibbon, founder of Kidcar. com (the only vetted driver car service with properly installed, age, and weightappropriate car seats) offers wise advice when shopping for a car seat, “EVERY car seat at our store has passed NHTSA’s safety standards. The BEST car seat is the one that fits your vehicle, the one that fits your child, and the one that you can properly install EVERY time.” And what about COVID? While we know that car seats can get pretty darn dirty, we know many parents are thinking about how we can keep our gear sanitized. The answer is pretty simple. Sarah Huff, Baby Gear Expert of Baby Quip (babyquip.com- the #1 baby equipment rental service) advises, “If you’re out and about with your car seat, it can pick up street dirt, exhaust, etc. from cars, so get them cleaned regularly. This is also a good idea if you have concerns about COVID-19.” What about car seat safety and when a child is ready to move to the next car seat? Expert Alisa Baer, MD Pediatrician & Co-Founder of The Car Seat Lady (thecarseatlady.com) shared these helpful tips for parents: Top Car Safety Tips 1. Everyone uses a safety restraint on every ride. No exceptions. Including Ubers, Lyfts, and taxis. Including adults riding in back. 2. Don’t rush the transitions, they aren’t milestones. Rear-facing to Forward-facing: Keep kids rear-facing in their convertible seats until


they are too tall (usually head 1 inch below the top of the seat) or too heavy. NY state law requires rear-facing until at least 24 months, but this is a bare minimum. Forward-facing to Booster Seat: Car Seats are seats where the child uses a five-point harness as their restraint. Boosters are seats where the child wears the vehicle’s seat belt across them as their restraint. To use a booster seat, kids should be AT LEAST 5 years old AND at least 40 pounds AND mature enough to sit properly during the ride (no slouching, no leaning over, no messing with the seat belt). Booster to Seat Belt: Kids need boosters until their body fits properly on the vehicle seat and the seat belt fits properly on their body without the help of a booster. Most kids are at least 10 years old before they can ride safely without a booster (NY state law requires boosters until the 8th birthday… but injury data shows that most kids need boosters a lot longer than this). The 5 Step Test is how to know if your kid can ride safely without a booster, 3. Don’t forget the tether! Every forwardfacing car seat has a tether, which is a strap that secures the top of the car seat to a tether anchor in the back of the vehicle. Tethers reduce how far forward the child’s head moves by at least 4-6 inches and thereby greatly reduces the risk of brain and spinal cord injuries. Tethers should be used on EVERY forward-facing car seat. If your forward-facing car seat is installed with LATCH, you use the tether strap. If your forward-facing car seat is installed with the seat belt, you use the tether strap. Not sure where the tether anchors are in your vehicle – check here. 4. Harness straps need to be snug — they’re a harness your child’s life depends

NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020

on. Most parents tighten the straps in the wrong order, leaving lots of slack in the belly & leg straps while thinking it is snug at the shoulders. These videos show how to buckle kids in a car seat — newborn and toddler/big kid. In colder weather, avoid bulky coats and snowsuits as most make the straps way too loose for the child’s body underneath. Instead, see here for recommendations on coats, snowsuits, and other cold-weather gear to keep your child warm AND safe in the car seat.

Best Lightweight Infant Car Seat Chicco KeyFit 35 Babyquip Expert Sarah Huff Pick

Pick an infant car seat that works with a lightweight stroller base — like the Chicco KeyFit 35 (car seat) and the Chicco Bravo (stroller) so that you can click the infant car seat in and out of a base in your car and into the stroller base really quickly. Especially helpful at valets or crowded parking areas where you need to be quick. If you need to walk from your car to your destination with the car seat, it needs to be light. And it’s great that the stroller folds up with one hand, so if you need to quickly fold it at a restaurant, or where they won’t allow strollers, you can do it easily, and the baby is still in the infant seat. No juggling. Price: $249.99

Best 2 in 1 Infant Car Seat - The Doona-Expert Pick Babyquip Expert Sarah Huff Pick

It’s a car seat and a stroller in one, so you can click the whole thing in and out of the car and transform it into a stroller in one motion. This one is really great for traveling since you can wheel it through the airport and then use the car seat on the plane. Price: $499

Best Transition from Rear to Forward Car Seat - Chicco NextFit Zip Max Convertible Car Seat

Best Infant to Older Toddler Car Seat - Nuna EXEC All-in-One

While most parents know it’s nearly impossible to keep gear clean — yet with COVID, many of us are taking extra precautions. The soft zip-off padding can easily be removed from the steel-reinforced frame and thrown in the machine, which is extra because it doesn’t hurt to keep a piece that is frequently used clean. Your little one can start using this seat from infancy (with a newborn positioner) to early toddler years. The change-up from the rear to forward-facing is a smooth transition, and the nine-position headrest is a thoughtful design that parents will appreciate. Zip-off padding is soft and machine washable for comfort and convenience. Price: $369.99

Parents soon learn that gear can add up. The Nuna EXEC All-in-One Car Seat may give some a bit of a sticker shock, but it is one of those gear pieces that are worth it. This car seat goes from rear forward to a booster seat. For many parents, this is the only car seat you’ll need at least until the age of 4. Exceptionally made with many design perks such as extra legroom design when rear-facing. It is airplane certified for traveling and has an 8-position recline. And as many parents know, we have a knack for carrying a lot with one hand while simultaneously working the gear with the other, which is perfect as the headrest has a 12 position head support. Price: $649.99

Best Booster Seat - Britax Grow With You™ Harness-2-Booster

Best Baseless Infant Car Seat - The Liingo from Clek

At a little over $200, this booster car seat is a great value for a well-designed booster seat. The booster Grow With You™ harness2-booster seat is an easy installation with quick-push LATCH connectors and has two side impact protection layers. Noteworthy is the SafeCell technology in the base which is designed to absorb crash energy. At 23 pounds, this car seat is quite sturdy; while we would definitely take it for long term traveling, we suggest the Britax Skyline High Back Belt-Positioning Booster Car Seat for on-the-go city rides. Price: $209.99

The Liingo from Clek is a baseless infant car seat(the only one in North America) and is ideal for parents on the go especially ones who hop in an Uber/Lyft as it can be installed using the European belt-path method (this video is super helpful on this method) or using the LATCH connectors (in a removable LATCH bin house) for an alternative method of installation. The Liingo works with the Baby Jogger, BabyZen, Bugaboo, Bumbleride, Silver Cross, Stokke, Thule, and Uppababy, using the MaxiCosi car seat adapter made by each stroller brand stroller base. Price: $229.99

Best Tech Car Seat - Evenflo Gold SensorSafe EveryStage Smart All-inOne Convertible Car Seat

Our pick if looking for a car seat that is roomy yet safe. Offering three stages of use that can last up to a decade. The Evenflo Gold SensorSafe EveryStage Smart All-in-One Convertible Car Seat can start from the infant stage and is convertible to the last stage of a booster seat. Installation is straightforward and, once installed, it sits in place. The seat weighs 30 pounds, so while sturdy — for us city folk, this is a car seat perhaps better to live in the car. The car seat prices at under $300, impressive as it features Sensor Safe technology to alert you of unsafe conditions such as unbuckling (my child does this), dangerous temperatures, staying in the seat too long, and if the child is left unattended. And of course, we do not mean to leave our child in a car, but we have many alarms and ring tones in our lives to remind us of important meetings; having one that chimes for our most precious human is nothing short of a brand having your back. Price: $279.99

November/December 2020 | Bronx/Queens Family


Home Made Brooklyn interior designer Vanessa Katzen on making a blended family work and mixing high and low in your home by Hester AbA


anessa Katzen is an in-demand and up-and-coming interior designer based in Williamsburg, as well as being mama to Jagger and step-mama to another three kiddos as part of a big, beautiful, blended family. We chatted to Vanessa about her design company, Decormate (thedecormate.com), how her business has been affected by Covid-19 and her advice (and super-affordable tips!) for giving your spaces a fresh look as we head into the winter. Could you tell us a little about how you got started with your career? Has it been a linear journey?

It’s a funny story actually! At the time I lived on Broad Street in lower Manhattan, I was a stay-at-home mom to a 6 month old and we were selling our apartment and moving to Tribeca. One of the realtors who was helping to sell our apartment fell in love with my style and asked if I would help her decorate her apartment in the West Village and it took off from there. I barely had any experience, but I’ve always loved interiors. My father, who is a mid-century furniture collector and art dealer always had an eye for interiors, so I grew up influenced by his passion. Being raised in Manhattan I was also always inspired by my surroundings. I would change my room around every season and my mom would let me! I had a jungle theme one month and hippie theme the next. That freedom of expression really stayed with me and I think brought me to where I am today. Has having kids affected your career? For the most part it has not. I do not take on too many clients at once. This leaves me time to attend to my children and clients in a way that feels good on both ends (along with


some loving help from family and friends). I like to give my clients as much personal attention as I can. My job is a very intimate one. People are letting me into their sacred spaces and I like to develop a friendship so they feel comfortable with the design choices “we” make as a team. Which is how my business name came to be: Decormate is your friend who helps you decorate. How do you make your blended family work? Are there any rituals or practices that you would recommend to others? When the love is there, anything can work! This is the main theme in our household. We are a family of six! Four amazing kids, my incredible love, Dean, and myself! At times it can get a bit hectic with everyone wanting to do different things, but we respect each other’s personal space, we make sure to communicate and sometimes we bicker, which is natural. As a step-family you need trust, consistency and safety. A good relationship with an ex is also very helpful for coparenting. I remain friendly with mine and have built a friendship with his current partner and growing family, which allows us to celebrate occasions and even hang out as one big family. Again, the more love the better! How has your business been impacted by Covid in 2020? At first, my business came to a complete halt. I had a townhouse project in the West Village that I was very passionate about and my clients decided to halt it half way and move to the west coast. Everyone was in a panic and we didn’t know what would happen next. There was a long pause, but something good can always come out of every situation. I now offer e-design, which

NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020

enables my clients to work with me in an interactive manner via video chat, which is perfect for social distancing. More than ever people are home and want their environment to look and feel good! Because everything is done online, I can work with clients regardless of where they are located. How would you describe your interior design philosophy? I love people and I love to help and this really comes through in my work. Also, I don’t believe it has to be expensive to look good. Style, in my opinion, is mixing high and low pieces. I can find something on the sidewalk, take it home and accessorize it and it will look just as chic as a store bought piece, except now it has a great story to go with it as well! What makes you cringe when you walk into a space? Clutter, clutter, clutter. As soon as I walk into a cluttered space I have the urge to move things around or eliminate them. No judgment, but I believe clutter hampers one’s ability to grow, creates anxiety, reduces one’s sleep and makes us less productive. I want to help each client feel good and that is my final objective. What common mistakes do you see people making when we’re trying to improve our homes? People usually think they need to spend a lot of money to improve their space. Sometimes I tell clients to take inventory of what they already have, to shop in their own space. It can just be as simple as rearranging, eliminating and swapping out a couple of pieces. Doing that can change the entire energy of a space. How much control do your kids get over the design of their bedrooms? Ha, not much, until recently! My 10-year-old step daughter is really growing into herself and discovering her personal

Vanessa on designing spaces for kids “Kids make the best art! Their walls are great canvases. As far as furnishing, less is more! I prefer to keep kids rooms simple and minimal. Over time that can easily be updated. As they grow, their needs will differ and it will be easier to renovate. “For kids homeschool spaces: you don’t need a large desk area for remote learning. Especially if you have a small space. Try improvising with tall side tables or small wall mounts. “Kids like to be cozy, create a safe and comfortable nook for them, with either a cute table lap or by a window.”

style. She loves anime (Japanese animation). She has created a collage on her entire wall off of black and white anime posters. I have to say its original and inspirational to see and reminds me of my childhood experiences with decorating. How often do you change or re-work your own spaces? Actually quite a bit and have been doing it since I can remember. I like to refresh and change it up. It brings clarity and new perspectives on things. Moving one item can make a huge difference, creating more light or space in your home and your mind! What are your favorite NYC interiors shopping recommendations? I love boutique and vintage furniture stores. I currently live in Williamsburg where there are quite a few shops in my neighborhood that I love popping into on a regular basis. Leif on Grand Street, Mociun on Driggs Ave and The Somerset House on North 6th Street are amongst my favorites. Photo by Yumi Matsuo

Visit Vanessa’s Interior Design at thedecormate.com

November/December 2020 | Bronx/Queens Family


H�liday Gift Guide Gifts that are perfect for the holidays and, most importantly, New York families BY DONNA DUARTE�LADD


NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020








Fisher-Price Walk, Bounce & Ride Pony, mattel.com, 9 MOS+, $49.99


2. My First Guitar And My First Soft Drum, gund.com, Ages 1+, $30 Each 3. Dolce Primo Kangaroo, magformer.com, Ages 0 +, hsn. com, $39.99 4. Wee GalleryExplore Playmat, maisonette.com, $89.95 5. New York City Baby oy Rattles | Hot Dog, estella-nyc.com, $20 6. Janod Pure Bird Xylo ,maisonette. com, $23.99 7. MON AMI, Uliana Plush Unicorn, monami-designs.com, $35

November/December 2020 | Bronx/Queens Family



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5 1.


JanodBaby Forest Fox Ride-On, maisonette.com, Ages 12 MOS+, $88.

2. Dimpl Digits, fatbraintoys.com, Ages 1+, 19.95 3. VTech® Myla’s Sparkling Friends™ Finn the Fox Toy, Buybuybaby, Ages 3-4, $14.99 4. FAO Schwarz Giant 69” Dance-On Piano Mat, target.com, Ages 3+, $39.99 5. Tinsel Yeti, gund.com, Ages 1+, $30



The Original Slinky Walking Spring Toy, Metal Slinky, target.com, Ages 5+, $3.89

7. Our Generation Doll & Pet Poodle Malia, target.com, Ages 3+, $25.49


NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020








Crayola Steam Paper Flower Science Kit, crayola.com.Ages 7+, $19.99

2. Power Rangers Playskool Heroes Mega Mighties Megazord Action Figure, 12-Inch, amazon.com, Ages 3+,$14.99, 3. Little Likes Kids - Musical Crossroads Jumbo Puzzle, amazon.com, Ages 5-9, $19.95


4. Star Wars The Child Animatronic Edition, target.com, Ages 3+, $59.99 5. A Game of Cat & Mouth, Ages 7+, catandmouth.com, $24.99 6. Make It Mine Make Your Own Comic Book, target.com, Ages 5+, $14.99


7. Botley 2.0 The Coding Robot, learningresources.com, Ages 5-10, $64.99

November/December 2020 | Bronx/Queens Family


STOCKING STUFFERS Gifts for $15 or less 1. WubbaNub Little YetiSeasonal Collection This beloved pacifier paired with a plushy friend has a fun seasonal collection that is a perfect gift or stocking stuffer for parents to be or a new baby in the family. $14.99, wubbanubonline.com


2. Rifle Paper Co. Planner This planner is simple, cute, and easy to stash in your bag if you are someone who needs their planner at all times. $14, riflepaper.com


3. Cable Protectors Protect your charger for your iPhone or iPad with these super cute cable protectors! $11.99, amazon.com 4. Mindfulness Card Packs Send some joy & calm to your loved ones this year with the Mindfulness Card Packs. . $14.59, target.com


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5. Avocado Food Huggers Keep just cut avocados fresh for a much longer time with food huggers. $12, foodhuggers.com 6. Sugarfina Cranberry Cocktail Bears If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re looking for a decadent stocking stuffer, the Sugarfina bears are a go-to. $8.sugarfina. com 7. Skercle If you have a loved one on your gift list who loves a part gadget, part hack gift, then the Skercle is for them. You unlatch the circular BPA, phthalate, and lead-free skewer- thread bitesize fruit and veggies on, and then reattach to form a perfect circle. Lightweight and easy to use, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll want to buy a bunch! $5.39 (pack of 3),skercle.com

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NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020


By Mia Salas

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Bronx Family - November/December 2020  

Bronx Family - November/December 2020