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Nov/Dec 2020 established 1986


Holiday Toy

Gift Guide! Brooklyn Mom

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

Seeking Suburbia? We Have the Top Places to Move!


In-Person Holiday Activities and Virtual Events

Thinking of Changing Schools? Consider a Catholic education for your child. Whether learning from home or in class, our schools and hearts are open! Are you interested in helping your child succeed academically in a caring, structured and safe environment? Or moving to a new home? If so, now is a good time to invest in a Catholic education. Catholic schools provide a curriculum based on faith, respect, and service to others. And our Math/ELA proficiency test scores have outpaced New York public schools for each of the last five years. Financial assistance is available; families who apply early have better chances of receiving an award. Online admissions for 2021-22 open on December 1! Apply online at CatholicSchoolsNY.org/apply or arrange a Virtual Visit. We invite you to see the value of a Catholic education: reserve your spot at one of the upcoming VIRTUAL Visit information sessions being hosted by participating schools. Upcoming VIRTUAL Visit Dates December 1 and January 19 Call our bilingual helpline (646) 794-2885 or visit CatholicSchoolsNY.org/visit-a-school to RSVP

REIMAGINE LIFE Exceptional public schools • Graceful homes Family-friendly communities • Midtown Direct trains to NYC



Buying and selling homes for two decades along New Jersey’s Midtown Direct train line

Maplewood, South Orange, Montclair, Millburn, Short Hills, Summit, Chatham & Westfield cell: 973.220.3050 | www.victoriacarter.com office direct: 973.376.6748 | email: victoria@victoriacarter.comd 505 Millburn Ave., Short Hills, NJ 07078 | 973.376.4545

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November/December 2020 | New York Family



November/December 2020


pg. 48

pg. 40 pg. 42

pg. 32

pg. 54

FEATURES 8 | Connecting Moms Michelle Kennedy on the Peanut App and building a support system 12 | Real Estate The hottest suburban spots to check out and the real estate agents who are ready to show you your new home 22 | Health Expert tips on the “COVID back pain” phenomenon 32 | Family Fun 31 great family-friendly in-person activities and virtual events in NYC and beyond 36 | Land of Mothers How these moms find solace during COVID


40 | Celebrations Creative ways to enjoy life’s big days and memorable moments during COVID

38 | Gear 7 smart car seat options for New York parents

42 | Holiday Gift Guide Toys and stocking stuffer gifts — perfect for holiday gifting

52 | Mom Stories One mom realizes for the first time she is not able to spend the holidays with her extended family

48 | Family Fun Get away to family-friendly ski resorts in Upstate New York 54 | Vanessa Katzen: Home Made The founder of Decormate on blended family and making the home cozy

Directories 28 | Special Needs Listings

Stories & columns 6 | Editor’s Note Home and Holiday 26 | Education SAY: Stuttering Association for the Young shares with parents what to know about stuttering

NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020

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



wes tFIeld

Top-Ranked Schools ★ 22 Miles from NYC ★ Top 10 Places to Live in NJ

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6 Bedrooms | 4.2 Baths | offered at $1,575,000

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2 Bedrooms | 1 Baths | offered at $599,900

Frank D. IsolDI Coldwell Banker realty

209 Central avenue westfield nJ 07090 office: 908.233.5555 Cell: 908.787.5990 frankisoldi@gmail.com

TheIsoldiCollection.com #lovewhereyoulive Instagram: frankdisoldi twitter: @Homeswestfield Facebook: the Isoldi Collection

This information herein is derived from various sources that may include, but not be limited to, county records and the Multiple Listing Service, and it may include approximations. Although the information is believed to be accurate, it is not warranted and you should not rely upon it without personal verification. Real estate agents affiliated with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage are independent contractor sales associates, not employees. ©2020 Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. All Rights Reserved. Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage fully supports the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act. Owned by a subsidiary of NRT LLC. Coldwell Banker and the Coldwell Banker Logo are registered service marks owned by Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. Not intended as a solicitation if your property is already listed by another broker.

November/December 2020 | New York 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 32) and Virtual Fun in NYC and beyond to share. If looking to take a trip, we have an updated COVID piece on Family-Friendly Ski Resorts Upstate New York (page 48). And for the city dwellers looking for the calm of suburban life, we have the Top Places To Move (page 12). 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 42. 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 54) 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

Contact Information

ADVERTISING: (718) 260-4554 Advertising@NewYorkFamily.com Circulation: (718) 260-8336 Tina@NewYorkFamily.com

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 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


NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020

Reproduction of New York Family Media in whole or part without written permission from the publisher is prohibited. All rights reserved. ©2020 Queens Family Media, LLC

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November/December 2020 | New York Family


Connecting Moms Michelle Kennedy’s Peanut app helps new moms find friends and build a support system By Donna Duarte-LaDD


eeting new friends is a bit challenging these days; for starters, we are all wearing masks and have to keep a safe distance. This is why we touched base with mother of two, Michelle Kennedy, the founder of the mom app Peanut. The Peanut app works like a dating app where it connects mothers who have similar commonalities — meaning the app works (by an algorithm) to match you with moms you’ll click with. In the time of COVID, having a friend that shares and empathizes with what you are going through is pretty darn necessary. Whether it’s daily life or dealing with being a new mom — connecting especially now, is pretty much self-care in my book.


How does Peanut work? Peanut provides a safe space for mothers, expectant mothers, and those trying to conceive to build friendships, ask questions, and find support. Introducing you to women nearby who are at a similar stage in life, Peanut provides access to a community of women who are there to listen, share information, and offer valuable advice. Whether it’s understanding IVF, adoption, pregnancy, first years or nursery, and beyond, the app is a place to connect with women like you. Every day we hear positive stories of women who have connected on Peanut and created meaningful relationships. Stories range from one woman helping another with childcare when she went into labor, to another helping a woman prepare for a new

NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020

job interview after being let go from her previous employer at the beginning of the pandemic. I can’t imagine not being able to connect with new moms, I am best friends with the mothers I have known since my oldest was an infant. With COVID changing how new mothers connect, how can Peanut help connect moms? With social distancing measures put in place and many IRL meetups canceled, we’re seeing more and more women turn to Peanut to stay connected. We’ve seen 20% MoM growth since the outbreak of the pandemic and this is a testament to the fact that women want to connect with like-minded people who share their values. Peanut is the platform I wish I had when

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November/December 2020 | New York Family


“I’m a true believer that the more we talk about our experiences, the less isolating they become.”

I first became a mother. As we navigate new challenges in life, having a support network is so important. These are friends who can understand what you’re going through and offer a shoulder to lean on. From IVF struggles to coping with life as a new mother, we introduce you to like-minded women so you can feel heard, understood and less alone. I’m a true believer that the more we talk about our experiences, the less isolating they become. For moms who may feel disconnected these days from having space where they can have connections with other women, is Peanut a good tool? Knowing there are other women in the world going through the same feelings and emotions helps you know that you’re not alone. With many suffering from uncertainty and stress, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic, Peanut continues to play a vital role in helping women feel connected and understood. We have recently launched Bump Buddies to help combat feelings of anxiety

and loneliness amongst expectant mothers. With antenatal classes canceled and hospitals enforcing new policies on birth plans, it’s a very uncertain time to be a pregnant woman. We wanted to find a way to connect women going through the same challenges, so we introduced Bump Buddy groups to connect women with similar due dates. I was the first in my friendship group to have children and I found it hard being the only one, and that’s without the pressures of a pandemic. Every stage of pregnancy and motherhood is a new adventure, so being able to chat with women who are going through the same experiences can be life-changing.



NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020

Any tips on how moms can ‘make friends’ through an app? Once you’ve created your Peanut profile, I recommend exploring what women are nearby. The app will introduce you to women with similar interests who are at a similar stage in life, so you can help find like-minded friends. Sending a wave and initiating a conversation is a great start. Another top tip is exploring the Groups in Community. On Peanut there are groups for interests, life stages, and neighborhoods. Neighborhood groups are a great way to connect with women nearby, but I really love the life-stage focused groups. Whenever I’m experiencing something new with my 1-yearold, being able to post in a group and get answers from other women who have babies at a similar age is a lifesaver. I know that joining a new community can be daunting, but the best thing about Peanut is that you’re never alone. Whatever you’re going through, you can trust that another woman on Peanut has walked the exact same path.

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November/December 2020 | New York Family


real estate

9 Suburban Areas to Check Out By Serena norr


reaming of life in the suburbs? While many families are making the move with the prospect of more space and a more comfortable pace of life, it does require a lot of work and planning to find your dream home and your dream location! Below, we’re sharing the best places to move, focusing on excellent schooling, tight-knit communities, and being close to NYC. Plus, some key agents who can help you to get there.

Garden City and Manhasset, Long Island If you’re looking for a town with deep community roots, Garden City is ideal for families who seek calm from city life. A part of Nassau County, Garden City, is Patrick McCooey near the ‘city’ they love and, for many, a close work commute. A lifelong resident of Long Island, Alexander Oliveri knows the area very well and can help families relocate to their dream home. After a sales career, Patrick McCooey decided to follow his true passion for real estate and has been selling homes for the past 15 years all over Nassau County alexander Oliveri and the Hamptons. In Garden City, families will love the four-bedroom, three-bathroom Colonial at 140 Cambridge Avenue. Listed at $1,849,000, the gorgeous space encompasses 4,230-square-feet that’s set on an oversized 100x157 lot. Stunning details include


NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020

Colonial at 140 Cambridge avenue, Garden City 10-foot tray ceilings in the family room, beautifully landscaped rear yard, a chef’s kitchen with high-end appliances, granite island and bespoke cabinetry, detached two-car garage, woodburning fireplace, to name a few details. Contact Patrick McCooey at 516-236-4287, Alexander Olivieri at 516-306-7738 or via email at TheMcCooeyOlivieriTeam@compass.com


Park Slope to Montclair

Brooklyn to Bloomfield

Mid-town to Glen Ridge

Bed Stuy to Glen Ridge

My expert team and I have helped countless city dwellers seamlessly transition to the suburbs. First, to find the right community. Then, the right home. Let us help you too.




201-396-2927 amy@amyowensteam.com



amyowensrealestate November/December 2020 | New York Family


reAl estAte

Pelham/New Rochelle, NY Lower Westchester neighboring towns, Pelham and New Rochelle, are great options for families looking to stay close to NYC while being in the suburbs. Pelham offers a small town with great character and a charming center, while Owen Berkowitz New Rochelle is a small city with a bustling downtown, waterfront parks, and a Historic District. Both are located close to nature trails, beaches, weekend farmers’ markets, artisan food, great schools, and offer short commutes to Grand Central Station on the MetroNorth train. When you’re ready to move, reach out to Owen and Carol of the Berkowitz Marrone Team, who have helped many Carol Marrone families relocate from the city to the suburbs, which they also did themselves. To relocate to Pelham, they listed a stunning six-bedroom home, 4.1 bathrooms Victorian at 998 Prospect Avenue. The home also boasts tons of amenities like a huge dining deck, a spacious mudroom, eat-in kitchen, a central air, a two-car garage, and 3,592-square feet of space, to name a few amenities. It is

998 Prospect Avenue., Pelham, New York also within close proximity to Prospect Hill school and a nearby playground. Contact: Owen Berkowitz at 914.819.7622 or via email owen.berkowitz@elliman.com; Carol Marrone at 914.419.4000 or via email carol.marrone@elliman.com; Brooklyn2westchester.com; berkowitzmarroneteam.com

New Canaan, CT A town in Fairfield County, New Canaan is around an hour away from NYC, renowned for both classic Connecticut architecture as well as mid-century modern masterpieces. The school system is excellent with five public schools in the district and three private schools. New Canaan is also known for it’s sweet Amanda Bryan downtown area, filled with small shops, restaurants, and community events. To find the perfect home in New Canaan, Darien or Rowayton, reach out to Christine Saxe and Amanda Bryan. Longtime friends, colleagues and veteran realtors separately, Christine and Amanda joined forces to form Saxe + Bryan Properties at Compass in the fall of 2020. Christine saxe Amanda grew up in New Canaan, and after getting her MBA at Columbia and working on Wall St, she moved to Connecticut where’s lived for the last 17 years. She has great knowledge of several towns and understands of the nuances of moving from the city to the


NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020

54 Bridle Path lane, New Canaan, Connecticut suburbs. And Christine, a former interior designer, is known for not only being able to visualize potential in homes but also for being highly trustworthy, responsive, smart, and an incredible negotiator to help families find the right home. Contact Saxe+Bryan Properties at 203-246-1064 or via email at SaxeBryan@compass.com

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November/December 2020 | New York Family


reAl eStAte

Westport, CT Another tightknit community in Fairfield County, Westport, CT, is within close proximity to the Long Island Sound and renowned for its excellent schools and picturesque downtown area. Located along Long Island Sound, Westport is also known for its incredible beaches, parks, hiking, culture, recreation, Barbara Bross including public and private golf and country clubs, arts scene, and shopping. For a new home in Westport, Weston, Fairfield/ Southport, and the surrounding Doug Bross Alexander Chingas areas, check out the Bross Chingas Bross Team. Made up of Barbara Bross, Alexander Chingas, and Doug Bross, the team has been serving Fairfield County for over two decades, earning many awards like the #1 real estate agents in their service area. They currently have an incredible listing at 38 Maple Avenue South, Westport, CT. Featuring five bedrooms, the home is

38 Maple Avenue South, Westport, Connecticut situated on over 6,000-square feet of land that’s dubbed as a “park-like property” for its incredible amount of space. The house is also filled with oversized windows that allow for ample lighting, high ceilings, a gourmet kitchen, and so much more. Contact the Bross Chingas Bross Team at 203-454-8000 or via email at info@brosschingas.com

Maplewood/South Orange, NJ Maplewood is known for its gorgeous Tudor, Colonial, Victorian homes, diverse community, and easy commute to NYC. The area has something for every modern family with small shops, delicious restaurants, excellent schools, sprawling parks and playgrounds, access to recreational ac- Amy lutz tivities like tennis, ice skating, swimming, and gardens, and a local arts scene and events, such as Maplewoodstock Festival, Floods Hill in the summer, and Newstead 5K. When looking for a home, reach out to Amy Lutz of the Keller Williams and Realtor, The DeCicco Group. Amy was inspired to become an agent after she relocated from Brooklyn to the South Orange / Maplewood (SOMA) and knows first-hand what families are looking for. One of Amy’s hottest properties is at 8 Broadview Avenue, a stunning five-bedroom, five-bathroom home. Currently listed for $925,000, the picturesque home offers 9,300-square-feet of space, complete with a finished basement, custom storage, and a paved patio for entertaining.

8 Broadview Avenue, Maplewood, New Jersey


NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020

Contact Amy Lutz at 646-239-5248 or via email at AmyLutzNJ@gmail.com.

142 Parade Hill Rd, New Canaan, CT

Gramercy Park, New Canaan CT

Move right into this gorgeous, stylish home moments from New Canaan's village. Oversized flat back yard with pool site, five en-suite bedrooms, four finished floors, with great proportions all around.

Chic and sophisticated modern townhouse at Gramercy Park in the heart of downtown New Canaan. Unit #2, with a private elevator and garage, is part of a 10 residence enclave offering both privacy and community with its unique combination of town houses and flats anchored by a community clubhouse, firepit, girl and green space.

111 Cherry Street, New Canaan, CT 06840 saxebryan@compass.com November/December 2020 | New York Family


ReAl eStAte

Montclair/Glen Ridge, NJ Montclair and the Glen Ridge area have been a popular destination for years. With a mix of classic homes from the late 1800’s-1930’s as well as modern offerings, Montclair and Glen Ridge are known for their tree-lined streets, parks, vibrant downtown area with restaurants, Amy Owens galleries, and special events. The area also has an excellent public school system and is only 30-50 minutes to Penn Station via the Midtown Direct train lines or bus options to Port Authority. When looking to relocate to the area, work with Amy Owens of Keller Williams — specializing in New Jersey commuter towns since 2003. Amy and her family know the city to suburban move well having relocated in 2001 from the Upper West Side to Glen Ridge. She also knows and understands the home restoration process, having restored an 1860’s Victorian and a 1907 Craftsman Tudor in Glen Ridge. Amy noted, “My attention to detail and to motivating all parties makes me successful as a realtor. I enjoy taking care of the extras for my clients, whether it’s meeting with a contractor, hiring a cleaning staff, or helping to stage a property for sale.” In addition to buying, Amy and her team also have relationships

64 Forest Avenue, Glen Ridge, New Jersey with investors, contractors, tradesmen, and local connections, which can significantly benefit buyers and sellers. A recent listing is this picturesque barn-style home at 64 Forest Avenue, Glen Ridge, NJ, featuring four bedrooms, five bathrooms, and .26 acres. Additional amenities include a dramatic foyer, chef’s kitchen with Carrera marble, stunning woodwork, and a spacious yard. Contact Amy Owens at 201-396-2927 or via email at amy@amyowensteam.com

Short Hills, NJ Families looking for a home within close proximity to New York City can find what they need in Short Hills, NJ. Just 23 miles outside of NYC, Short Hills is characterized by beautiful tree-lined streets, excellent schools, and bustling small downtown. When looking to move, reach out to Victoria Carter Victoria Carter of The Victoria Carter Group, Weichert Realtors. A resident of New Jersey since 1994 and a professional in the real estate industry since 1998, her team has experience buying and selling in all of the major towns along the Midtown Direct train line, including Maplewood, South Orange, Montclair, Millburn, Short Hills, Summit, Chatham, and Westfield and understand the differences with all the school districts, commuting, recreation, and social offerings. The group currently has a charming listing at 55 Highland Avenue, featuring seven bedrooms, 5.2 baths with 6500-squarefeet of space. With 19th century origins, this two-story center foyer home includes wood-burning fireplaces, crown molding, soaring vaulted ceilings, chandeliers, large windows, stylish French doors, a galley kitchen with professional-grade appliances, a remodeled master suite, a sun-drenched in-law


NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020

5 Highland Avenue, Short Hills, New Jersey apartment, and much more! Contact Victoria Carter at 973-220-3050 or email at victoria@victoriacarter.com. More info at Victoriacarter. com

Bross Chingas Bross Presents... The top real estate team serving Westport, Weston and Fairfield, Connecticut




Waterfront with dock | $7,999,000

5 bedrooms | Pool | $1,095,000

6 bedrooms | 5+ Acres | $3,950,000




4 bedrooms | Pool | $1,999,000

3 bedrooms | $835,000

5 bedrooms | $2,399,000




4 bedrooms | $999,000

5 bedrooms | Block to beach | $2,549,000

6 bedrooms | $1,750,000




New Modern masterpiece with pool | $4,850,000

Existing Beach House | $2,800,000

5 bedrooms | 2 acres | $2,399,000

Barbara Bross Alexander Chingas Doug Bross 203-454-8000 www.BrossChingas.com Info@BrossChingas.com 355 Riverside Ave. | Westport, CT 06880

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage fully supports the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act. Owned by a subsidiary of NRT LLC. Coldwell Banker and the Coldwell Banker Logo are registered service marks owned by Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC.

November/December 2020 | New York Family


real estate

West Orange, NJ Around 30 minutes from NYC, West Orange is a popular relocation town that offers an easy way to stay connected to city life while having refuge in the suburbs. Popular for its greenery and parks, including the Eagle Rock Reservation, Thomas Edison National Park, and the Joanne Watkins South Mountain Reservation — that’s great for wannabe (and novice!) hikers. The area also includes the South Mountain Recreation Complex that features the Turtle Back Zoo, Treetop Adventure and miniature golf. There are a variety of restaurants, shops, bakeries, and coffee shops located throughout the community. The schools are also great with 12 public schools in the district as well as private schools. There are ample housing options available from stately historic homes in Llewellyn Park to newer homes. To purchase your suburban home, contact Joanne Watkins of Keller Williams Midtown Direct located in Maplewood NJ. A resident of South Orange for over 20 years, she has been actively involved in the community and served on the local PTA board for many years. Joanne has personally renovated homes and can help buyers

listing provided courtesy of Keller Williams Midtown Direct realty see past design obstacles. Her goal is to help you find the best home based on your needs and make the process as seamless as possible. Contact Joanne at 973-986-2606 or via email at JoanneWatkinsHomes@gmail.com

Westfield, NJ Westfield is one of the hottest towns for modern families with a prestigious school system with 10 public schools, a convenient commute via train or bus to New York City, and a bustling downtown with tons of shopping and dining options. Westfield also offers access to Frank Isoldi 211 acres of parks, golf courses, and recreational facilities, and buyers will find tons of picturesque homes that range in style from Victorian to Colonial-style as well as modern homes. When looking for a home, reach out to Frank D. Isoldi of Coldwell Banker. A lifelong resident and second-generation native of Westfield and a broker sales associate affiliated with the Westfield East office, Frank has a fantastic listing at 10 Hawthorn Drive, Westfield featuring four bedrooms, three full and two partial bathrooms, and 3,169-square-feet of space.

10 Hawthorn Drive, Westfield, New Jersey


NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020

Contact Frank Isoldi at 908-787-5990 or via email at frankisoldi@gmail.com. More info at TheIsoldiCollection. com

The McCooey-Olivieri Team. Your trusted real estate advisors. From Manhattan to Montauk. Work with one of Long Islands top real estate teams for all your real estate needs.

TheMcCooeyOlivieriTeam.com TheMcCooeyOlivieriTeam@compass.com +BsoWK^ K ddO|Ś˜”™à•–™à—•›šę Alexander Olivieri | 516.306.7738

1695 Northern Blvd. Manhasset, NY

182 Seventh Street Garden City, NY

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Compass is a licensed real estate broker and abides by Equal Housing Opportunity laws. All material presented herein is intended for informational purposes only. Information is compiled from sources deemed reliable but is subject to errors, omissions, changes in price, condition, sale, or withdrawal without notice. No statement is made as to the accuracy of any description. All measurements and square footages are approximate. This is not intended to solicit property already listed. Nothing herein shall be construed as legal, accounting or other professional advice outside the realm of real estate brokerage.

November/December 2020 | New York 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-

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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 | New York 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

It is important to know that stuttering is nobody’s fault. Stuttering is not caused by anything parents do.

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.

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.

Experience The IDEAL Difference

In our diverse and inclusive community and within our robust academic program, IDEAL students recognize their potential to effect change and are equipped with the tools to do so. They strive for excellence in and out of the classroom and recognize and draw out the potential for excellence in their peers. They possess the self-awareness to advocate for themselves and the compassion to stand behind others. They not only appreciate but also seek out difference, understanding that only in community are we IDEAL.

IDEAL is New York’s only K-12 independent inclusion school, where we celebrate the tremendous social, emotional, and academic growth born in a diverse and nurturing educational community, both in-person and online. Visit our website to learn more about IDEAL’s rigorous and differentiated program, innovative social justice curriculum, and uniquely inclusive community, and also about IDEAL’s Next Steps Transition Program, open to students aged 18-21. IDEAL is currently accepting applications in select grades for 2020-21 placement

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November/December 2020 | New York Family


special needs Directory | Special Advertising Supplement

Camp Lee Mar

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• Fun traditional summer camp activities • Academics • Speech and language therapy • Daily living skills • Teenage campers enjoy social dancing every week with an end-of-summer “Prom” • Optional trips during the summer • Exceptional facilities featuring air conditioned bunks and buildings • Junior Olympic heated pool • Caring Nurturing Staff • Lee Mar L.I.F.E. (Living Independently Functional Education) Program. Launched during the summer of 2015, the unique feature of our L.I.F.E. Program incorporates everyday living skills into a personalized daily program. We have a fully functional apartment specifically for this program with a large kitchen, washer and dryer, two bathrooms, a living room and bedroom.

Winter Office: Camp Lee Mar Ph: 215-658-1708 Fax: 215-658-1710 Email: ari@leemar.com Like us on Facebook Please visit us on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. On YouTube you can view parents and campers talking about their experiences at Lee Mar.


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Achieve Beyond Pediatric Therapy & Autism Services 631-385-7780 achievebeyondusa.com info@achievebeyondusa.com Achieve Beyond believes that early intervention services make a difference and provide pediatric therapy to children and students ages infant-21, aiding each child to reach their full potential through education, therapy and family support in over 30 different languages. They offer initial screenings, parent or school consultations and comprehensive evaluations. Their professional and licensed staff is committed to serving special needs children with physical and developmental disabilities/ delays. Services are provided in home, clinic, or community environments. They offer speech and language therapy, occupational and physical therapy, special education and more.

Atlas Foundation For Autism Atlas School 252 W. 29th St., 3rd Floor, New York 212-256-0846 atlasforautism.org info@atlasforautism.org The Atlas Foundation for Autism houses the Atlas School as well as speech, OT services, music, afterschool classes, and weekend social skills groups! Atlas is different in its approach to working within modalities that address communication, emotional and social thinking, as well as behavior and selfesteem!

Gillen Brewer School New York, NY 212-831-3667 gillenbrewer.com Founded in 1992, this school provides a family-oriented, early childhood program for children ages 2.8 to 10 years old with language-based and non-verbal learning disabilities. They offer a 12-month program that provides developmentally appropriate academic instruction, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, play therapy and counseling,

music, art, science, technology, sports and physical fitness. Learning and growing in a secure and nurturing environment, our students develop the skills necessary to overcome challenges. They work closely with their families to instill self-confidence and build a strong foundation for lifelong learning and independence.

The IDEAL School of Manhattan 314 West 91st Street New York, NY 10024 212-769-1699 theidealschool.org/admissions The IDEAL School of Manhattan is New York’s only K-12 independent inclusion school. In their diverse and nurturing K-12 community and within their robust academic program, IDEAL students of all abilities recognize their potential to effect change and are equipped with the tools to do so. They strive for excellence in and out of the classroom and recognize and draw out the potential for excellence in their peers. They possess the self-awareness to advocate for themselves and the compassion to stand behind others. They not only appreciate but also seek out difference, understanding that only in community are we IDEAL.

The Keswell School www.keswellschool.org 331 West 25 Street New York, NY 10001 An Integrative Model for Educating Children and Teens with Autism. Founded upon the belief that students with a diagnosis of Autism deserve to have a joyous and enriching school experience. The Keswell School is a specialized private school offering an intensive therapeutic 40 hour school week in small classrooms with a 1:1 student to teacher ratio. The day includes all aspects of learning from communication and academics to play, socialization, community and life skills. We use a multidisciplinary team approach of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Speech therapy, and


Offering Clinic and Home Based Services for Behavioral (ABA) and Speech Therapy We are centrally located in Forest Hills, Queens and we also provide home based services throughout the 5 boroughs, Long Island, Hudson Valley and the Capital District. We are in network with most major insurances and have private pay options available

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• Private, 12-month, special education program • Providing Hybrid and At-Home Learning options • Serving students ages 2.8-10 years old with language-based and non-verbal learning disabilities • Ensuring the health and safety of our students while instilling self-confidence and building strong foundations for lifelong learning and independence

Uncovering the Specialness in Every Child™ Contact: Julian Parham Santana Director of Admissions julian@gillenbrewer.com | 212-831-3667 410 East 92nd Street, New York, NY 10128 www.gillenbrewer.com Instagram: @gillenbrewer

November/December 2020 | New York Family


special needs Directory | Special Advertising Supplement

Occupational therapy in which the disciplines work cooperatively to advance the student’s ability to communicate, learn, and manage behaviors. Our goal is to love our students for who they are while continuing to push them to achieve their goals toward independence. For more information contact Ivy Feldman ifeldman@ keswellschool.org

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.

Plugged in Band 781- 444-1879 info@pluggedinband.org Plugged In is a non-profit program for students (ages 10-18) committed to creating an inclusive, loving, and diverse community empowered to change the world. Plugged in is inclusive in all ways- we respect and embrace differences. We encourage students to

The Westchester School • NYS approved and funded non-public school providing therapeutic and educational services to students diagnosed with AU, MD, ID, OHI, OI, ED, & PWD, ages 3 - 21, with locations in Yonkers & North Salem • Ungraded, self-contained classrooms with a student to staff ratio of 12:1:4 & 8:1:2 in SchoolAged classrooms and a ratio of 10:1:2 in Preschool classrooms. • Customized classroom instruction based on IEP goals, enhanced with SMART boards, IPads, and computers in every classroom • Counseling, Behavioral Services, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, as well as Speech and Language Therapy


• Assistance with transitioning to post academic life by providing Vocational and Job Skill opportunities • Adaptive Physical Education and a Sensory Room

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NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020

express themselves freely through their music. No one will be turned away. We welcome all instruments and musicians of all experience levels and abilities including those with special needs. As part of our commitment, we offer a limited number of scholarships through our Inclusion Fund.

Rebecca School 40 East 30th Street New York, NY 10016 212-810-4120 www.rebeccaschool.org Rebecca School follows the DIR/Floortime™ (Developmental, Individualdifference, Relationship based) model of Dr. Stanley Greenspan. We believe every child deserves the opportunity for an educational program that recognizes their individual potential. Using a developmental and interdisciplinary approach, we create a program that meets student’s unique needs, celebrates their strengths and embraces their passions. At Rebecca School, building meaningful, respectful relationships is the foundation of learning. With collaboration between school, home and the community, the learning goes beyond the classroom. Our goal is to move a student up the developmental ladder to become thinking, relating, communicating members of his/her community.

The Westchester School 45 Park Avenue Yonkers, NY 10703 914-376-4300 westchesterschool.org The Westchester School is a New York State approved,

non-public school that provides educational and therapeutic services to students from New York City, Westchester County, Long Island, and Connecticut. The school views all children, regardless of functioning level or handicapping condition, as children with potential for growth and development. Historically, educational programming, particularly for the severely handicapped was primarily concerned for easing the burden of those who cared for these children. Changes in legal standards and sociophilosophical perspectives made this an excessively limited and limiting approach. The rationale for program and selection of educational objectives is based upon the developmental needs of the individual child.

The 13th Child Autism & Behavioral Coaching ABA Therapy Rebecca McKee, MSED, BCBA rebeccabusiness13@gmail.com 718-316-8057 uneepi.com The 13th Child Autism & Behavioral Coaching, Inc. is an ABA consulting company focusing on individuals living with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Building pro-social skillfulness & interpersonal inclusive behaviors remain the targets. Families can benefit by learning the fundamentals of Applied Behavior Analysis, in order to create harmony in their homes. The 13th Child Autism & Behavioral Coaching, Inc. believes all people are entitled to a high quality of life including achievement, creativity, friendships, mental reliance & wellness.

We’re so Social

Follow us @newyorkfamily on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and tag us #newyorkfamily in your NYC adventures!

REBECCA SCHOOL Learning Through Relationships

Rebecca School works with students with neuro -developmental delays in relating and communicating, ages 3-21. Each child has unique strengths and our goal is not to fit the child to the program but to fit the program to the child. For more information, please contact:

Elizabeth O’Shea Admissions Director


Ensuring that Children and Young Adults with Autism Experience School as Joyous and Enriching

• Specialized private school • Intensive therapeutic 40 hour school week • Small classrooms with a 1:1 student to teacher ratio • Integrated teaching model • ABA • Communication • Academics • Play • Socialization • Community • Life skills

The Keswell School www.keswellschool.org 331 West 25 Street, New York, NY 10001

November/December 2020 | New York 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 | New York 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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November/December 2020 | New York Family


Land of Mothers How these moms find solace during COVID By Donna Duarte-LaDD


ow that school has started, and moms have worked to get into a rhythm, one of the many things I have heard from my fellow friends is that they are going about their day, yet there are days when we all miss other mothersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; connection. I personally will find myself a bit sad. I let myself ride it out, remind myself that life has changed, and the relationship I had daily with other mothers has become a rarity and now more of a reason to cherish. This is not gloom nor depression, and we all enjoy happy moments, but there is a sense that something feels a bit adrift. If you feel this way, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not alone. Although experts (hello, we love e-therapy) can share how to manage these moments, it is also helpful knowing how other moms are working through their funks in the time of COVID. We asked a few moms to share what brings them some joy, whether it is in self -care, connecting with friends, or just taking in the quiet of the morning.


NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020

“It’s been madness during COVID with homeschool and working! But I do take a class (usually playwriting) once a week where I have some semblance of “me time” in my basement.” Serena Norr, writer and New York Family Contributor, @weekendjaunts, @norternwestchestermoms

“My self-care check in to step away from the sadness is through music and movement. I’m going to be doing a LOT of that this winter, lol.”

“I think the phrase that I keep coming back to is one that was shared with me as a new mom navigating my way, and that is put on your oxygen mask first. As mothers, we are continually giving and taking care, but we need to remember to take care of ourselves as well. If we don’t take time to breathe and refuel, we’ll start to break down and not be able to take care of everyone else as well. Self-care is so different for everyone; for me, it usually means doing some kind of movement, whether it be high intensity for even 15 minutes, or doing something that is just for me and my sanity. It’s also taking time to be creative and sit down to make something. For you, it might be getting into bed earlier than usual with a good book or watching a show. I would say that self-care should leave you feeling fuller (30 mins on IG isn’t going to do that). Making a little time and committing to it is important; the days I don’t get it done are the days I feel most guilty and least accomplished.”

Natasha D’Anna of TwinDollicious

Sasadi Odunsi, Brooklyn Bead Collective, and Ambassador for Every Mom Counts

“Keeping my hands busy has been a gamechanger for me! I’ve gotten pretty crafty during the pandemic, and so after I put my daughter down to sleep, I pull out my lanyard or beads, and I just start making things. Then I send them to my closest girlfriends, my mom, sister, and cousins. It gives me an excuse to write them a handwritten note and send them something I made with my own hands. It’s a solitary act that ends up being something that connects me to them.” Writer and New York Family Contributor, Cris Pearlstein

“I put on makeup when I go out, even if it’s just to grab a coffee or run an errand. It makes me feel good about myself and maintain some semblance of normalcy.” Tricia, writer, and editor of NiHaoNewYork.net

“My girlfriends and I have made a habit of finding a funny parenting meme or short video and sharing it via text at the start of each week. It’s a great way to laugh and remind ourselves that we are all in this together, and though we might not see each other, we are still there for each other.” Denise Courter of Fidi Families

“After months of being in survival mode, I’ve found that carving out “metime” is crucial when most of the day is spent doing brain gymnastics between work and parenting. For me, that means getting up a little earlier for an early morning walk when the streets are still quiet. There’s no motive other than to move and be with my surroundings.” Kaity Velez, parenting writer, and creative strategizer

November/December 2020 | New York 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 | New York 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 | New York 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 | New York Family



2 1 3


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 | New York Family



8. Seuss The Grinch: Uno Rugged - You’re A Mean One, Sketchers.com, $85 9. LEGO® Harry Potter™ Set - Hogwarts™ Astronomy Tower by the LEGO Group , zulily.com, Ages 9 +, $99.99 10. VTech KidiZoom Creator Cam,target.com Ages 5-10, $49.49

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NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020

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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



By Mia Salas

November/December 2020 | New York Family



Get Away to Family-Friendly



eed a winter getaway? Take a ski trip with your family in upstate New York. There are a ton of ski resorts and ski slopes to choose from, so we rounded up our top picks. Many of the resorts have gentle slopes and “ski school” for kids and adults, so no prior ski experience is necessary to have some family fun. We’ve even included the updated COVID-19 policies for each resort so that you can know ahead of time what to expect. Start packing your bags for your next weekend stay at a New York ski resort! Kissing Bridge

10296 State Road, Glenwood, NY 14069

Kissing Bridge Snow Sports has 39 slopes spread out over 700 acres. It offers a variety of courses perfect for beginner and intermediate skiers, as well as courses designed to test the skills of advanced skiers. Although Kissing Bridge has plenty of space and slopes, it isn’t a resort. It has four on-site dining options, but it doesn’t have a lodge or on-site accommodation. However, the sheer size of this ski area coupled with easy access to local dining and lodging might make it worth the drive from New York of just over six hours. There are also new policies in place due to COVID-19. Masks and social distancing are required, and all ticket sales will be pre-sale/ online. Daily lift ticket sales are limited. All lessons including children’s instruction and school ski clubs will be required to secure advanced online reservations, and there are a reduced number of spots available. Ski and snowboard lessons will only run Thursday through Sunday, and there will be no indoor


breaks or hot cocoa. To read more about COVID-19 policies, head to their website at kbski.com/updated-covid-mission/. Thunder Ridge Ski Area 137 Birch Hill Road, Patterson, NY 12563

Thunder Ridge Ski Area offers skiing options for beginners as well as advanced options for those with a little more slope time under their belt. With 22 trails, three chairlifts, four magic carpets, a variety of levels of difficulty, lessons for children and adults, and local dining and lodging options, it’s worth the one and a halfhour drive north of the city. For those looking for a day or weekend outing, the close proximity makes Thunder Ridge a great choice. Thunder Ridge is looking forward to their winter ski season, and they are preparing for it safely by following COVID-19 protocols. Given the large size of the outdoor area, Thunder Ridge is confident that they can still bring friends and family together through winter recreation in a fun and safe way with social distancing guidelines in place. Hunt Hollow Ski Club 7532 County Road #36, Naples, NY 14512

Hunt Hollow Ski Club is just under five hours from New York City, but it’s almost exclusively interstate driving, which makes it much easier. In addition to being an easy drive, Hunt Hollow has the slopes and amenities that more than make up for its distance from the city. Their 300-acre winter sports area features 80 acres of trails, 2.5 miles of cross country trails, and slopes ranging from The Gauntlet, a double black diamond, to six beginner courses. Hunt Hollow also features a lodge, ski shop, and

NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020

dining. There are no accommodation options on-site, but plenty can be found in the area, making this a great ski getaway for families. Hunt Hollow Ski Club follows Ski Well, Be Well: Ski Operating Best Practices in response to the global pandemic. Face coverings are required in both indoor and outdoor spaces, and several measures are in place to ensure social distancing. Nobody will be required to ride a ski lift with someone they do not know, and cleaning and disinfecting strategies will keep high-touch areas safe. Mount Peter Ski Area 51 Old Mt Peter Road, Warwick, NY 10990

fact, it’s better than okay for our purposes! Maple Ski Ridge offers simple slopes, simple pricing, and a great introduction to skiing and snowboarding for all ages. It’s a two and a half-hour drive from NYC, but at almost all interstate driving. With lodging availability nearby, the family and beginner-friendly slopes of Maple Ski Ridge might be just the thing for many New York families. How will Maple Ski Ridge keep your family safe and healthy? They plan to limit indoor access to food purchases and restroom visits, and they will be monitoring the number of guests at Maple Ski Ridge. They will be operating at 33% of hourly uphill lift capacity. Daily area use passes will be sold online this year. Though they will still offer them at the window, it is highly recommended that you purchase online because there will be a limited number of daily passes available. Masks are required at all times, and only one parent/guardian can accompany their kiddo to drop off at their lesson. Read more at mapleskiridge.com/covid-19. Titus Mountain Ski Center 215 Johnson Road, Malone, NY 12953

Mount Peter Ski Area is just over an hour from NYC! It offers slopes ranging from basic to advanced black diamond trails along with snow tubing. They offer skiing and snowboarding lessons for both adults and children, including the popular Pete’s Pals, designed to introduce skiing to the youngest of future slope riders. They’re famous for their FREE beginner lessons on weekends and holidays. Although it’s not a resort, there are plenty of lodging and dining options available nearby. Clear guidelines have not yet been outlined regarding COVID-19 policies, but Mount Peter is aware of their important responsibility to keep all guests and

employees safe and healthy. As they parse through the document of restrictions and guidelines that came from NY government, they’ll be making some decisions about what their winter season will look like, so stay tuned at mtpeter.com/covid-19-updates.

Located just north of Titusville Mountain State Forest and at five and a half hours from NYC, Titus Mountain Ski Center is a bit of a trek. However, all that driving pays off once you finally arrive. Although it’s not as fancy as Whiteface (see below!) the skiing is good, the prices are far cheaper, and it offers slopeside accommodations and dining. When you factor in slopes ranging from double black diamond to green beginner courses and ski lessons for kids and adults, Titus Mountain makes for one of the best valued familyfriendly ski resorts in upstate New York. Masks are required at all times, except when eating/drinking or skiing. Lifts are restricted to members of the same party, and ski lessons have no more than 10 people. There is thorough disinfecting and cleaning of rented equipment, and outdoor capacity on the mountain is reduced to 25% during “peak” days or if multiple trails are closed due to unseasonable conditions. Toggenburg Mountain Ski Center

Maple Ski Ridge

1135 Toggenburg Road, Fabius, NY 13063

2725 Mariaville Road, Schenectady, NY 12306

With twenty-one trails to fit every level of skier, Toggenburg Mountain Ski Center makes for an excellent getaway for ski lovers of any age. There are instructional classes for both children and adults and delicious dining at the Foggy Goggle. Be aware that there is no lodging at the center itself. However, it’s not

For those looking for family-friendly ski resorts in upstate New York, the biggest selling point for Maple Ski Ridge is its simplicity. It will never be an upscale, highdifficulty ski mecca, and that’s okay. In

November/December 2020 | New York Family



difficult to book a place to stay in the nearby area. Although it offers excellent skiing, between the four-hour drive and having to book external lodging, it might not be everyone’s travel cup of tea. Face coverings have to be worn at all times, except when eating, skiing, and riding. Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting procedures have been implemented throughout the facilities and all staff members are required to complete a temperature and health check at the beginning of each shift. Capacity in all food service areas will be limited to 50%. They plan to add a “Grab & Go” shack at the South end of the Base Lodge as well. Lesson sizes will be limited, and reservations will be required by all guests. Oak Mountain Ski Center 141 Novosel Way, Speculator, NY 12164

Oak Mountain Ski Center focuses on great skiing and affordable pricing. It’s called a center and not a resort because it has no dining or lodging options, but in this case, that’s completely acceptable. After all, when you’re on a skiing trip, you want great skiing. Oak Mountain has that in abundance. With four lifts, 22 trails, four snow tubing lanes, and miles of snowshoeing trails, Oak Mountain has something for everyone. They also offer top-notch ski instruction for both kids and adults. Although it’s an almost four-hour drive from NYC, Oak Mountain has several excellent dining and lodging options nearby. There is reduced capacity in all buildings in response to COVID-19. Masks are required at all times, except while hiking, biking or seated while eating or drinking. The Acorn Pub & Eatery is open for dinner service with limited capacity to allow for the appropriate physical distancing. It is highly recommended that you make reservations in advance. Windham Mountain 19 Resort Dr., Windham, NY 12496

At about a two and a half-hour drive from New York City and under an hour from Albany, Windham Mountain Resort makes for an easily accessible family ski trip. It combines the welcoming comfort that the Catskills area is known for with the amenities skiers usually only find at big mountain resorts out west. With a variety of slopes, lessons for all age groups, available ski-in/ ski-out lodging, great dining options, and even a spa, Windham Mountain practically guarantees a great experience for every skier. Things will definitely look different this season. The Children’s Learning Center will


be closed for the whole season, so no daycare or nursery facilities will operate. Capacity restrictions will be in place and on-site ticket purchases will not be available on capacityrestricted days. You can follow the “red” day, “green” day calendar and plan accordingly! Indoor lodge capacity will be restricted to 50% and you must get ready at your vehicles because no lockers or cubbies will be available at the base lodge and no bags may be left at the building. Advanced registration for rental equipment will be required. Read more at windhammountain.com/covid19 Greek Peak Mountain Resort 2000 NY-392, Cortland, NY 13045

Located north of James Kennedy State Forest and south of Tuller Hill State Forest, Greek Peak Mountain Resort is an outdoor adventurer’s dream. As the name implies, Greek Peak offers a variety of skiing options and opportunities. This family-friendly resort getaway also has an Adventure Center, indoor water park, and even a spa. At around three and a half hours from NYC, it’s a bit of a drive but still close enough to make a weekend trip out of it. The water park is open, but all guests will have their temperatures taken and recorded. The area will be vacated between time periods so they can clean and sanitize before the next group of guests is allowed into the pool areas. Similarly, at the Adventure Center, guests will be asked to complete a short health questionnaire including temperature screening upon arrival, and masks will be required. The spa is temporarily closed, but will likely open during the winter season. Willard Mountain 77 The Intervale Road, Greenwich Historic District, NY 12834

Willard Mountain is a no-frills downhill ski area. An ideal start mountain for kids or adults, Willard Mountain offers beautiful views, excellent pricing, and lights for night skiing. In addition, this off-the-beaten-path ski area is low on crowds, which makes it even better for newbies. Although it’s a simple place, it still has a nice lodge with dining and drinks in the lounge for warming up after a day of skiing. It’s a three-hour drive from New York City, and it has no lodging so you’ll need to do a bit of extra planning if you plan to visit this gem. Willard Mountain says: “Consider the 2020-21 Ski Season as a new ski trail, with new terrain, never ventured before.” Here’s what we love: if for any medical reason you are unable to use your pass or state mandates require them to close, Willard will roll

NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020

over credit to the 2021-2022 season! Social distancing measures are in place and indoor capacity is reduced. Hunter Mountain 64 Klein Ave, Hunter, NY 12442

One of the best family-friendly ski resorts in upstate New York, Hunter Mountain has so much more than just skiing. While the resort is home to plenty of trails, it also offers skiing lessons for children and adults of different skill levels, and beautiful on-site lodging including their lodge, the Kaatskill Mountain Club. With so many activities and excellent accommodations, it’s worth the just over twohour drive to get there. Only related parties will be seated together on the ski lift, maximum class size for Ski & Ride School will be six people, and group lessons will only be available for ages 7 and up this season. Kids ages 4 to 6 can take one-onone lessons. Restaurants will be opened with reduced capacity, and all transactions will be cashless. Equipment rentals will be available, but capacity will be monitored in the rental shop, so there may be long lines. McCauley Mountain Ski Area 300 McCauley Road, Old Forge, NY 13420

What McCauley Mountain Ski Area lacks in size, it makes up for in great skiing and a variety of slopes. Located in the heart of the Adirondack mountains, McCauley offers big mountain skiing without the big mountain lines and high prices. McCauley has skiing options for every skill level, from advanced double black diamond runs to blue and even green circles for beginner adults and kids. It’s a solid, four and a half-hour car ride to get there, but the quality of the slopes makes it more than worth it. McCauley is open for the 2020-2021 season, but there are guidelines in place to ensure every family’s safety and health. Their website also links to a handy list of restaurants in the area that offer indoor dining at 50% capacity so that you can plan out your stay. Whiteface Mountain 5021 Route 86, Wilmington, NY 12997

Located north and east of Lake Placid in the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness, Whiteface Mountain is one of the best ski resorts in all of New York. This resort offers plenty of downhill and cross country trails – all beautifully maintained – to suit a variety of skill levels. In addition, they offer ski lessons for kids, teens, and adults, as well as private lessons and an adaptive ski program. Visitors

ers to fill out their form in advance. Advanced registration will also be required for lessons, so it will be best to reserve them as early as you can. Stay up to date with their COVID-19 page to see the latest updates and policies. Holiday Valley 6557 Holiday Valley Road, Ellicottville, NY 14731

can enjoy the bobsled experience, Lake Placid Olympic Museum, and Olympic Center Tour. It’s a four and a half-hour drive from the city, but it’s well worth the road trip to get there. Advanced purchase online is required for all lift tickets, lessons, and rentals. Employees have daily health screenings prior to each shift, and there are cleaning procedures in place. Masks are required if you are within 6 feet of others or you are indoors. Winter may look different this year, but you will still have the same adventures, scenic vistas, and snowy terrains at Whiteface Mountain! Belleayre Mountain 181 Galli Curci Road, Highmount, NY 12441

Belleayre Mountain’s excellent skiing, reasonable pricing, and year-round activities make it one of the best family-friendly ski resorts in upstate New York. We love their heated gondola that keeps us nice and warm on the slopes. With a variety of downhill courses, a snowsports school offering classes for kids, teens, and adults, and summer activities like biking, hiking, and Belleayre Beach, this resort has something for everyone at almost any time of year. Located just north of Big Indian Wilderness, it is just over a twohour drive from NYC. Belleayre required that everyone wears a mask when within 6 feet of others or when indoors. Employees have daily health

screenings prior to each shift, and there are plenty of cleaning procedures in place to ensure your health and safety. Advanced purchase online is required for all lift tickets, lessons, and rentals, and indoor storage space is limited, so you’re encouraged to leave personal belongings in your vehicle. All indoor food and beverage locations will adhere to a 50% reduction in capacity. Plattekill Mountain 469 Plattekill Road, Roxbury, NY 12474

Located in the northwestern Catskills, Plattekill Mountain is a different breed of ski resort. This privately owned and operated resort, affectionately called “Platty” by the many ski enthusiasts who visit regularly each year, offers a unique family vibe that visitors love. Skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing fun can all be found on the mountain, but visitors will also find a welcoming atmosphere, plenty of smiles, and unique experiences. At just about a two and a half-hour drive from the city, it’s a great option for getting in some great skiing and feeling like you found a second home. Plattekill has been working hard to prepare for the upcoming season. Lift tickets will all be sold online this year to control capacity. You will still be able to purchase tickets at the mountain, but only through the online system and if tickets are still available. Rentals will also ALL be sold online and will require rent-

Holiday Valley is best described as a four-season ski resort. During the winter, enjoy skiing, tubing, cross country, and snowshoeing fun. Visitors can also take advantage of the classes offered. With plenty of upscale lodging, dining and activities, Holiday Valley really does offer everything anyone could ask for in a resort. It’s more than worthy of the six-hour drive it takes to get there. Guests must wear masks or face coverings at all times unless eating or drinking or while skiing or snowboarding down the slopes. Holiday Valley encourages you to purchase your tickets in advance online. There may be some busy holidays or weekends where they may need to restrict ticket sales. Indoor seating will be extremely limited. You should gear up at your car, limit your time spent indoors, and go straight to the lift where possible. Lift lines will also be reworked to allow for social distancing. Gore Mountain 793 Peaceful Valley Road, North Creek, NY 12853

Located on the eastern edge of the Siamese Ponds Wilderness, Gore Mountain has something for everyone all year round. In the winter months, visitors can take advantage of 110 trails and 14 lifts on New York’s biggest mountain. The resort also offers classes and private lessons for kids, teens, and adults. With a variety of beautiful accommodation options and delicious dining choices, the mountain is an all-season resort destination that’s widely considered to be the best in all of New York and in the upper echelon of the northeastern US. It’s well worth the drive of just under four hours from NYC to get there. Advanced purchase online is required for all lift tickets, lessons, and rentals in response to COVID-19. Indoor storage space is limited, so Gore Mountain encourages you to leave personal belongings in your vehicle. All indoor food and beverage locations will adhere to a 50% reduction in capacity. There will be a phased opening for ski school programs, and those taking lessons will need a health screening 24 hours prior. Note that they will not be offering indoor childcare services this season.

November/December 2020 | New York Family


mom stories

Holidays During COVID: A Little Heartbreak and Sacrifice By Cris Pearlstein


iving far away from family during a pandemic over the holiday season is hardest. When my husband and I decided to pick up and move across the country five years ago, we never imagined a reality where a year would go by without seeing the people we love. But to be fair, we also never imagined a reality where getting on a plane was a health risk, where we had to wear masks to go outside, and where hugging was taboo. For a while the long-distance relationship we had with our family and friends worked. It involved lots of phone calls and FaceTimes, a constant stream of snail mail and email, and of course plenty of air travel. Whether we were flying home or someone was coming to visit us, there was always an inperson encounter on the calendar to look forward to—and we always made sure to make it home for the important milestones, occasions, and holidays. In fact, for the first few years it almost felt like we had never left. Thanksgiving we went home, and Christmas too, except when I was in my third trimester. Easter they came to us, along with Fourth of July and February break. I flew home for my sister’s 30th birthday, and showed up to my cousin’s Sweet 16 soiree. A friend’s engagement party was purposely planned around whether we would be in town, and one year we even made it home for Mother’s Day. We didn’t miss a thing. Fast forward to 2020 and it’s been almost a year that we haven’t seen any family or friends in the flesh. This is a tough pill to swallow, not only because we’ve missed out on so much, but because now we have a 2.5-year-old daughter. As any parent knows, a year is a very long time in a child’s life— they grow so fast and can change drastically in as little as a week. Turning a cute photo into a phone case, calendar, or framed momento was always a go-to grandparent gift for me, but I realized recently that’s no longer an option. She was a baby the last time she saw her grandparents, and the most recent photos I have with any of them feature grown-ups that look relatively the same, but a kid who looks completely different. A year ago she was a wobbly, babbling, mess of an


almost-toddler who was just starting to talk and find her voice. She sat buckled into a highchair for meals, and wore a bib while she ate. She sat in her stroller anytime we left the house because she couldn’t be trusted to walk without falling. But that baby is long gone. Now she runs and twirls and leaps every chance she gets, and I can have full-on, real conversations with her. She refuses to sit in her stroller now unless I bribe her with a snack, and she’s thriving in a full-time preschool environment. She’s the tallest kid in her class, and even though she’s not even 3 years old, she’s wearing size 4T clothes. To put it bluntly, if they saw her on the street,

NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020

odds are they wouldn’t even recognize her. Luckily, thanks to FaceTime, that’s not really true. FaceTime calls are as normal in our house as holding up the phone to your ear, and they’ve been a regular part of her life since the day she was born. She blows kisses, plays peek-a-boo, belly laughs, and screamcries with her grandparents through the screen, the same way she would if they were together. When she wants to hug them, she squeezes the phone to her chest. When she wants to kiss them, she puts her lips directly onto the screen—germs be damned. And when she wants to share her food she thrusts her hand forward toward the open mouth of

a grandparent on the other end. It’s all very cute, until you realize you don’t know when the next time she’ll actually be able to do any of those things with them in person. The six months before COVID-19 we were seeing family pretty often, sometimes traveling to them, but mostly them traveling to us. It was a revolving door of grandparents and siblings and cousins from August through December, with more visits planned for her birthday in March, and then Easter in April. We were in a good groove, but as the pandemic became more serious, and it became clear that traveling was a risky decision, we had to hit the pause button on all of it. We cancelled flights and delayed plans, thinking by summertime for sure we’d be able to see everyone again. August came and went, and September and October flew by in a wink. Now the holidays are around the corner and things are as up in the air as ever. Holidays were always a big deal in my family, and we always spent them together. No matter who hosted, you could expect lots of people, lots of food, and lots of

The idea that this year things will be different is hard to wrap my head around, especially when I think about my daughter and how I want her to experience the holidays. decorations. The idea that this year things will be different is hard to wrap my head around, especially when I think about my daughter and how I want her to experience the holidays. I feel strongly that even though she is only 2.5 she should participate in our traditions, understand how family and holidays are intertwined, and get a true sense

of all the fun and festive energy the holiday season brings. But pulling that off usually requires other people, going places, and doing things—none of which are possible right now. As I sit and write this essay there are no plans planned, no tickets booked, and no gatherings scheduled. I don’t know who we will see or where we will go, and while this may be a first for me, I imagine I’m not the only one. Since the pandemic has taken hold we’ve missed more moments and canceled more celebrations than we’d like to admit, like my daughter’s 2nd birthday party, Easter, the birth of my best friend’s child, and my mother’s 70th birthday. I want to do everything in my power not to add to that list, but I also realize that this year is about sacrifice. It’s about doing things a little differently than we may have done before. It’s about putting the greater good above what’s good for the individual. Most of all, it’s about making tough decisions now in order to have a better future. I do know one thing though... we will eat turkey and put up a tree, even if it’s just the three of us.

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November/December 2020 | New York 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-andcoming 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, how her business has been affected by Covid-19 and her advice (and superaffordable 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-athome 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


NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020

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

Photo by Yumi Matsuo

November/December 2020 | New York Family


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.”

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 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


NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020

Favorite affordable brands

• CB2 • Anthropologie Home • Ikea, • West Elm • Overstock.com (you would be surprised at how much Overstock.com has — this is my secret go-to — not so secret anymore.

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 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!

Photo by Yumi Matsuo

November/December 2020 | New York Family


“My job is a very intimate one. People are letting me into their sacred spaces.”

Images of some of Vanessa’s designs for Decormate.

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. What are your favorite NYC interior spaces that always inspire you? I always love experiencing hotels, whether it be a coffee in the lobby or a staycation. I find the Wythe Hotel, which is housed in a historic refurbished factory by the Brooklyn waterfront very inspiring. Also Tribeca’s Greenwich Hotel Shibui Spa. It’s a Japaneseinspired space surrounded by wood, water and stone elements. A great place to take a break and find inspiration in its simplicity.


NewYorkFamily.com | November/December 2020

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Dawn Knief is a licensed real estate salesperson affiliated with Compass. Compass is a licensed real estate broker and abides by Equal Housing Opportunity laws. All material presented herein is intended for informational purposes only. Information is compiled from sources deemed reliable but is subject to errors, omissions, changes in price, condition, sale, or withdrawal without notice. No statement is made as to the accuracy of any description. All measurements and square footages are approximate. This is not intended to solicit property already listed. Nothing herein shall be construed as legal, accounting or other professional advice outside the realm of real estate brokerage. Dawn Knief is a licensed real estate salesperson affiliated with Compass. Compass is a licensed real estate broker and abides by Equal Housing Opportunity laws. All material presented herein is intended for informational purposes only. Information is compiled from sources deemed reliable but is subject to errors, omissions, changes in price, condition, sale, or withdrawal without notice. No statement is made as to the accuracy of any description. All measurements and square footages are approximate. This is not intended to solicit property already listed. Nothing herein shall be construed as legal, accounting or other professional advice outside the realm of real estate brokerage.

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New York Family - November/December 2020  

New York Family - November/December 2020