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January 2021 established 1986


How to maintain your kids’ well-being (during a pandemic)

Fun Winter Activities for Kids A Brooklyn Babe,

Denise Nicole

, on Family Time, Staycations & Self-Care

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January 2021 NewYorkFamily.com

pg. 30

pg. 28

pg. 18 pg. 34

FEATURES 8 | Books Meaghan Murphy, author of “Your Fully Charge Life” on moving forward with positivity and finding the ‘yay’ 18 | Real Estate If you’re looking to make a move to the suburbs this year, we have some great choices 30 | Staycation The William Vale in Brooklyn 32 | Emotional Support A parents’ guide to positively maintaining your child’s wellbeing 34 | Denise Nicole: True Beauty Denise Nicole of A Brooklyn Babe on staycation, homeschooling and Black mom wellness 40 | Travel Visit Buttermilk Falls Inn & Spa


NewYorkFamily.com | January 2021

Stories & columns 6 | Editor’s Note January - Embracing a New Year 12 | Ask The Expert Style expert Kate Powell on cutting the clutter and taking stock of what your closet truly needs 16 | Education It’s on for winter activities both online and in-person 28 | Ask The Expert Starting your baby on solid foods 42 | Giving How to help your fellow New Yorkers

pg. 16

Directories 26 | Catholic School Listings

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January 2021 | 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

Embracing a New Year There is no magic wand that will change circumstances dramatically on January 1st; as we go into 2021 with gratitude and hope, the world is still in a pandemic, and New York is in and out of COVID lockdowns/ restrictions. Thankfully a vaccine gives us hope of recovery; although a slow one... it is on the horizon. Our first issue for this New Year focuses on moving forward and advice from some pretty cool moms. Meaghan Murphy, author of “Your Fully Charge Life” (page 8), shares on moving forward with positivity and finding the ‘yay’ in life. And while sweats have been the most prominent fashion statement for many moms (guilty) in 2020, perhaps we can change it up a bit with advice from style expert Kate Powell’s who shares tips cutting the clutter and taking stock of what your closet truly needs (page 12). For parents with babies, Jenny Best of Solid Starts (page 28) gives tips on how to move your baby

into solid foods. We also have a round-up of the Top Towns (not far from the city!) to move to 2021 (page 18). This month’s cover features Denise Nicole of A Brooklyn Babe (page 34) and her adorable family. I met Denise a few years back while she struggled with her daughter’s stroller on the subway stairs. It was appropriate we met while one mother worked to move heavy gear and another lent her a hand. While we all seem pulled together, we all know that parenthood is challenging, and some days it is about being there for another, just about showing up. Denise shares on staycations, self-care, and family time-pretty good goals to focus on in 2021.

xo, Donna and New York Family Media

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 | January 2021

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January 2021 | New York Family



Happy 2021! Meaghan Murphy, author of “Your Fully Charge Life” on moving forward with positivity and finding the ‘yay’ By Donna Duarte-LaDD


s we entered into a new year (yay!), many of us are asking ourselves how, after one heck of a year and with pandemic not really over, do we move forward? And move towards a path with some positivity. We spoke with Meaghan Murphy, the Editor and Chief of Woman’s Day magazine and author of the new book (can be preordered now and is out 2/23/21) Your Fully Charged Life, which in a nutshell, shares her story and a guide to how you can work towards energy and happiness. And most importantly, how you can create your own opportunities. As an editor myself, I have worked with and known Meaghan for almost two decades (OMG, Meaghan?!). She has pepped talked me out of some low moments — sometimes in the first five minutes of a conversation. I am excited about this book and personally working towards positive vibes and thankful for this busy mama taking the time to answer a few questions as we go into 2021! First, why are you so happy? I trained hard to live happy! The same way I lift weights to tone my biceps or lace up my sneakers to keep my heart strong, I consistently use science-backed strategies from my book Your Fully Charged Life to


NewYorkFamily.com | January 2021

strengthen my optimism, resilience and positivity muscles. The good news is that anyone can live with an upbeat, can-do mindset and more YAY. I’m proof: My nickname was Grumpy as a kid! It is a New Year when many of us make resolutions or rethink a direction of a particular part of our life yet we are (still) in the midst of a global pandemic. How can parents find the positive right now? Every day, every hour, sometimes moment to moment, you can consciously choose to act in a positive way or look for the positive in situations. Making that choice gives you the energy to make more positive and energizing choices, fueling a cycle that keeps your batteries charged. Here’s an example: A few weeks ago we got the dreaded call that a family we had an outdoor dinner with tested positive for COVID. Immediately I went to the bad place as I stared at my children waiting for symptoms. I’m asthmatic. No doubt I’ll need to be hospitalized. There goes the private in-person

school we’re paying for thanks to quarantine. And then I checked myself: What’s one positive action I can take? Elderberry smoothies! That led to earlier bedtimes and no alcohol (for me!) to boost immunity. By the end of the 14 days, we were COVID-free, I was down a few pounds and actually enjoying being back in our little bubble doing more puzzles. It just took that one tiny little action step to springboard me onward! How can moms set up goals for the year? First of all, I don’t think any of us need to hustle harder or chase a big dream, nor constantly strive for “growth” or some measure of success to find meaning, value and fulfillment in life right now. Most days, surviving is winning! So what if you made the goal to relax, take a deep breath and give yourself permission to pursue energy, positivity and well-being for the sake of feeling your best, within the context of the life you’re already living and the things you’re already doing: spending time with family and friends (together or socially distanced), going

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to work, raising a family, trying to be a good person and live a good, happy life. That’s enough. You’re enough. How can one cultivate gratitude? Having an attitude of gratitude is truly the secret to happiness. The easiest way to cultivate gratitude is to do what scientists would call actively prioritizing positivity. Don’t worry, that’s way easier than it sounds: Just take a hot second daily to recognize what’s good in and about your life and why it’s happenings. That’s it. I call it “finding the yay” and I ask myself and my kids at dinner or before bed: “What made you says YAY today?!” Sometimes it’s the fresh guac (the avocados were ripe!) on Taco Tuesday and other times it’s acing a spelling test. We’re essentially keeping an oral gratitude journal, which feels way more fun and less homework-y than an actual gratitude diary. I even started a @theyaylist Instagram account to virtually share the good. This is a big one for so many of us, how do we learn to say ‘no’ more?


NewYorkFamily.com | January 2021

“Having an attitude of gratitude is truly the secret to happiness.”

You have to be stingy with your yeses! The secret is really filling your days and spending your energy ONLY on those things that truly matter to you and give you energy back. It’s not about saying no and doing less, nor saying yes a lot; it’s saying YES to only more of what charges you. If you

choose wisely—meaning you’re truthful with yourself about what really matters and gives you energy—you can reap the benefits of being active and busy without also feeling overwhelmed or drained or burned out by it all. I love this quote from Dr. Caroline Leaf, a neuroscientist, mental health expert and author: “True mental self-care is not chocolate and spa days. It’s making choices each day that create a life you don’t need to regularly escape from.” Make your YESes matter so you don’t need the face mask!

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ask the expert


Fresh Start for Your Wardrobe

A stylist expert advice on cutting the clutter and taking stock of what your closet truly needs By Kate Powell


020 was ... a year. Things that mattered before fell to the wayside and the juggling act of working, parenting, and surviving filled all the open spaces in our brains. The fact that we can all tell the tale is a testament to our strength and resiliency as families. But as we head into 2021 with a light on the horizon it may be time to clear some of that space in our minds (and our closet) for better days ahead. If there is one big lesson from 2020 we can all agree on is to keep it simple — cut out the clutter and the unnecessary burdens. As a stylist, this philosophy holds true for your wardrobe as well. And as we prepare for the winter months ahead with lots of time indoors, it may be a great time to take a long hard look at your closet and find some more


NewYorkFamily.com | January 2021

peace there too. Here are some ideas and lessons learned after a decade weeding through New York closets. It’s ok to admit you made a mistake and let that piece go anyway I cannot tell you how many closets I’ve tackled in my career that have at least one item purchased more than 10 years ago with the tags still on. When I inquire, the answer is always “I’ve never worn it so I felt bad getting rid of it.” I get this. Writing it, it seems insane but living it is a different story. For both emotional and financial reasons, the idea of buying something and not wearing it can be truly guilt inducing. So we hang onto it in the hopes that one day, inspiration will strike and we will suddenly find 10 outfits that we can

make with that piece. Let me dispel this for you. You will never wear it. Instead these items take up valuable closet space and valuable mental space — a daily reminder that you “wasted” money. Time to let it (the guilt, the piece) go. Your closet should bring you joy and anything in it should be exciting, something you can’t wait to wear. Admitting you made a mistake and sending an item packing is OK. When you invest in quality pieces, you can consign them when you’ve finished with them We’ve all heard that we should invest in quality over quantity but for a lot of us, all we see is dollar signs. Now, I’m not advocating that every item in your wardrobe, no matter your budget, should be pricey designer items. What I am suggesting though is that buying

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ask the expert

Your closet should bring you joy and anything in it should be exciting, something you can’t wait to wear.

a little less and spending a little more opens the possibility that you can consign your clothing when you feel done with it. Not only is this financially lucrative but it helps aid in the psychological process of purging. Also, from an environmental standpoint, giving your items new life with a new owner is far superior to discarding them. If discarding your items is too unsettling, try doing a clothing swap with friends The physical act of getting rid of clothing is really hard for many people. I had a client once who stored all of her “give away” clothing under her bed for two years and then moved them to her new apartment. The struggle is so real. So if the idea of giving things away — especially things you’ve never or rarely worn — is too upsetting think about doing an exchange with friends. You may still have a pile of items to give away at the end but at least you will know a few items are getting another chance at love. It’s ok for your clothing priorities to change In my 20’s I was a heels-all-day, trend-of-theweek junkie. Now, a mom of a toddler in my mid 30’s and I just can’t. I’ve taken stock of the realities of my life and how I want my feet to feel at the end of the day and my priorities have shifted. And that’s OK. Take stock of your life and where your clothing priorities lie and purge from there. For me it was a lot of stilettos and cheap trendy items in favor of luxurious classics and investment shoes that don’t hurt. Find your outfit standard One of the reasons that a purge can be really hard for a lot of people is because as individual pieces, most of your wardrobe would be considered OK. Things fit and and they are in decent shape so why get rid of them? But there is a big difference between things fitting and things being amazing and totally “you.” What I advise clients to do is to find the one outfit you absolutely love, the one that makes you feel like a million bucks. Take a photo of yourself in it. Now, how do all your other items stack up? Does that little sun dress from your 20’s make you feel unstoppable? Or does it make you feel like a little kid? It’s ok to let something go for no other reason than it doesn’t fit the image of who you are right now.


NewYorkFamily.com | January 2021

These are not the only clothes you’ll ever own. Lastly, I think people worry that if they get rid of clothing they will never be able to replace items whether for budgetary reasons or time or lack of desire. But purging opens up your closet so that you can see where your actual needs are. Instead of hanging onto 5 blazers that never quite work, now you are free to realize that what you needed all along was a leather jacket instead. There will be more clothing in your life, I promise. And by homing in on your style by eliminating the clutter, shopping will be an even more enjoyable and exciting process. Hire a pro I get it. This is all easier said than done. There is a reason I have a job doing this for a living. Tackling your closet, filled with emotional purchases and sentimental items is no easy task. Half way through you find yourself playing dress and having absolutely not idea what you are trying to achieve. A little objective oversight can be truly cathartic. A stylist can strip away the emotional

lens through which we tend to see our clothing — and our bodies in said clothing — and give you an opinion based on what the world is seeing and what your clothing is saying. Many stylists, like myself, are offering virtual appointments as well as in-person appointments, depending on your comfort level. And you can often find packages that include shopping and digital outfit creation as a way to round out the experience. Whatever need you have, a stylist is here to help so don’t hesitate to reach out and ask any questions or divulge any (seemingly) embarrassing issues … we’ve seen it all! Kate Powell is a career wardrobe stylist who works with everyone from Fortune 500 executives to stay-at-home parents. Kate got her start working on What Not To Wear and translated her experience on the show to help everyday New Yorkers. From closet makeovers, to shopping, to guides on how and when to wear your clothing, Kate Powell aims to help her client’s save time, money, and energy in the pursuit of self expression. Check out Kate at PowellStyling.com and follow Kate @KatePowellStyling

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Education education

Winter Activities & Extracurriculars Give your kids a great mix of education and fun this season — both in-person and online By Mia SalaS


e’ve had anything but a normal fall here in NYC. Between at-home and in-person learning, virtual birthday parties, and Zoom or FaceTime at the Thanksgiving dinner table, we’ve really been experiencing unprecedented times. But NYC is resilient, and so are its parents — somehow, someway, we’ve navigated the global pandemic and have tried our best to establish normalcy in our little ones’ day-to-day lives. With the winter season here, you’re probably looking to get your kiddos back onto a more regular schedule with extracurricular activities. We’ve got the scoop on how winter activities are different this year so that you can start planning for the season! Organizations recognize that winter activities are extra important this year, and they are ready to support your kiddos. David Meyers of Rock on Music School says: “Outreach through music is needed now more than ever. At Rock on Music School, I use the energy and flow of music to build social connections and creative thinking.” Kids need to not only be on a schedule, but connect with others, whether virtually or in-person. It goes without saying that many


NewYorkFamily.com | January 2021

organizations have switched to an all-online platform for their activities and classes. The benefits to learning online is you no longer have to find a class that meets around the block from your apartment or on route to work, the options are limitless. Location conceinvency used to be such a determining factor for choosing an extracurricular, especially with our busy NYC lives. But now it’s a much different story with at-home learning. Claire Graves, Director of Marketing at the Atlantic Acting School, says: “Converting all of our acting classes for kids and teens to a virtual experience has allowed us to reach students across the globe! Serving students outside of our physical NYC area not only helped diversify our student base, but it has also given us the opportunity to connect with a greater number of new students and parents!” Claire even adds that there may be a more long-term place for virtual learning: “We hope to continue some kind of virtual programming in the future so that we may better serve our newly expanded community.” Because organizations have expanded their reach with remote learning, you don’t only have to enroll your kiddos in activities that are down the street, or even within

the city for that matter. Plugged in Band explains: “We have traditionally served the Boston area, but we are now able to offer our programs and classes online to people all over the country.” NYC certainly has an overwhelming amount of top-level, engaging after-school activities, but it’s worth seeing what other places have to offer as well. Perhaps your child is really interested in digital audio production, and Plugged in Band may be just the organization for them! Not only do you have more options, but your kids will get to be immersed into a more diverse and enriching learning environment as they are surrounded by other little ones from all over the city, state, or even country and beyond. For example, Crescendo Music Academy got creative this year with Zoom: “Because of the power of the Internet we were able to expand our reach and include students from other parts of the US with very different and interesting approaches to their instruments. We were then able to connect all our students and have them all perform for each other during our monthly live Zoom concerts.” Speaking of creativity, organizations are getting very creative this winter as they plan their programs. We couldn’t be more impressed by how they’ve transitioned from

in-person to virtual learning. Take Musical Munchkins, for example, a musical education program for little ones: “We’ve encouraged parents to be creative in using the equipment and instruments which are part of our curriculum, improvising with toy musical instruments, kitchen pots/pans/utensils for making music at home. Additionally, we have offered an Amazon website where parents can purchase a gig bag that includes most of the instruments we use regularly.” Flexibility and innovation are key for winter activities this year! Belle School of Music is another example of inspiring creativity when it comes to activities. After shifting to online learning, the school notes: “The lessons are dynamic, stimulating and FUN. After decades of experience we know how to keep our students engaged and motivated. When they enjoy something they succeed at it!” Like Belle School of Music, many of these organizations have been around for a while, and they quickly and successfully shifted online while maintaining the same excitement that their programs offer to little ones. Some organizations are even getting creative with the very platform for learning itself. Crestwood Music Education Center has “converted almost 500 of their students to online lessons via Facetime, Skype and Zoom”, and Dr. Cano adds: “How wonderful it is to be able to continue to bring the gift of Music during such challenging times.” Zoom is quite popular these days, but it isn’t the only platform that organizations are using to move their programs online. Facetime,

Skype, and Zoom each have their own unique benefits, and we love that activities this season are experimenting with a variety of online platforms. While a lot has changed with how winter activities will look this year, the goal of these activities has remained the same. Collina Italiana, an immersive Italian language and cultural center in Manhattan, explains: “Every virtual class feels personal. At Collina Italiana, we believe you must immerse yourself in the Italian culture in order to truly learn the language. Our approach is to constantly expose our students to Italian traditions, culinary secrets, folklore and words.” Like Collina Italiana, Hoff-Barthelson Music School has “been able to continue to successfully engage students of all ages in musical learning, allowing them to stay connected to their teachers and to each other in a virtual environment, and to benefit from music’s power to connect and comfort, even across distance”. Virtual learning doesn’t change the overall impact of the extracurricular experience. Many organizations are also still offering a variety of program options, even amidst the challenge to move them online. Challenge Camp says: “Our program is known for offering a wide variety of STEM and Arts enrichment electives and we wanted to provide the same breadth of options. Our virtual format had over 110 electives, and the campers took the classes for the entire session which let them go in depth into areas of interest.” Things are certainly different

this year, but you can feel confident that some things have also remained the same. Yes, many classes and activities are online, but there are select ones that are offering in-person options. You may be wondering what measures these programs are taking to ensure the health and safety of your kids. Collina Italiana mandates temperature checks, masks, social distancing, a COVID questionnaire, and students have to bring their own writing utensils. Currently, they only have in-person private classes, no groups. Similarly, Crescendo Music Academy states: “Next to the obvious minimum safety measures that are required by all of our teachers and students, such as face masks, face shield, hand washing/sanitizing, social distancing and frequent window opening for fresh air, we also prepared Covid health forms that need to be completed by all parties before, to ensure an extra level of safety beyond the obvious and make sure in writing that teachers, parents and students understand how serious we take those measurements.” Whether you opt for a fullyonline or in-person program, you can be sure that your little ones will be staying safe at their extracurriculars. Now more than ever, winter extracurriculars are super important to establish a sense of pattern in our kids’ day-to-day lives. From Zoom to in-person private classes, kitchen musical instruments to online concerts with kids from around the world, winter activities in NYC are ready for your family to join in on the educational fun. January 2021 | New York Family


Real estate

The Top Towns to Move to in 2021 If you’re looking to make the move to the suburbs this year, we have some great choices By Serena norr


020 was, for many of us, a time to take stock of where we are in life. New York families are making big moves, looking to relocate to a suburban town near NYC, so the city we love is still close enough to commute to and be near loved ones. For those who can work from home, the lure of the move to the suburbs has never been more favorable. And we got you covered, dear reader. Below, we’re sharing some of the hottest suburbs featuring great schools, bustling communities, nature, access to the arts, and more.

Maplewood, NJ A popular destination for NYC families for years, Maplewood is known for its charming appeal, quaint downtown, arts and culture scene, entertainment, fairs, and an excellent school system. A township of Essex County, the area is also only 30 minutes from NYC, offering a best of both worlds scenario for those who don’t want to be that far from the city. Mark Slade of Keller Williams noted, “Maplewood’s Village, its downtown shopping district, is noted as being the only one in the state of New Jersey that doesn’t have a stop light and is actually not on a county or main road; you have to make a purposeful trip off a county road to make your destination.” He added, “Maplewood’s centralized park, known as Memorial Park, was designed by the Olmstead brothers who designed NYC’s Central Park.”


NewYorkFamily.com | January 2021

listing: 17 Courter, Maplewood, NJ This gorgeous home includes six-bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms with 3,563-square-feet. Built in 1925, the home features a renovated kitchen, large spacious rooms, a recreation room, and much more. It’s also located within close proximity to the train station, downtown Maplewood, and Memorial Park.

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sladehomes@gmail.com www.goodhomesforgoodpeople.com www.bedroomcommunitiesofnyc.com January 2021 | New York Family


Real estate

Westfield, NJ Located in Union County, New Jersey, Westfield is dubbed as a “classic town for modern families” that’s only 22 miles outside of NYC and close to Newark Airport. Westfield is also known for its incredible school system that includes six elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school. Families can also enjoy access to numerous parks, greenery, golf courses, recreational facilities, and a vibrant shopping and dining destination with over 450 stores! The area is also rich in culture and architecture where you’ll find many Victorian and Colonial-style homes situated on tree-lined streets. Agent Frank D. Isoldid of Coldwell Banker noted, “There is a home on Dudley and one on Elm Street that is said to be the inspiration for the famous Addams Family house.”

listing: 231 Kimball Avenue, Westfield, New Jersey Built in 1900, this eight-bedroom, bathroom-bathroom singlefamily home has never been on the market and is quite a gem. Known for its expansive windows, the stunning home also has a detached garage, central air, and even a barn and a child’s play home where kiddos can explore and have access to space. The property is also located within close proximity to downtown, schools, and NYC transportation.

liviNgstoN, NJ A township in Essex County, Livingston is 20 miles from New York City that is renowned for its excellent public schools. Largely residential, the area has many small businesses and restaurants within three shopping areas, including Livingston Mall. Shira Rost of Compass noted, “Livingston offers a myriad of activities for adults and children. There are communitybased programs, concerts, movie nights, and wonderful community facilities including two pools, tennis and basketball courts, and playground areas.” For the arts, families can enjoy performances from the Livingston Symphony Orchestra, the Livingston Community Players, the Children’s Theater of Livingston, and the New York Ballet. The public school system comprises nine schools and four private schools. The area also has tons of community parks with more than 470 acres of trails as well as access to zoned areas in its natural state.


NewYorkFamily.com | January 2021

listing: 22 trafalgar drive, livingston, NJ Rost noted, “An entertainer’s dream home, this rare property showcases a seamless blend of glamorous style and effortless living inside and out.” The five-bedroom, 6.1 bathroom home is located on an acre of manicured grounds with numerous amenities like a library, an in-house movie theater, gym, and billiards room. With 6,500-square-feet of space, the home is also outfitted for outdoor entertaining with a salt water pool, outdoor grill and kitchen, gas fireplace, built-in all-weather television, and sports court, to name a few benefits.

Top 1% NJ Realtors ® * 2019

Circle of Excellence Sales Award New Jersey Realtors 2010-2020

America’s Best Real Estate Agent Award Real Trends 2019

Modern real estate advisor

Schedule a personalized tour through Livingston and other New Jersey towns before the spring real estate market starts!




Shira Rost Licensed Real Estate Salesperson M: 973.768.9003 | O: 856.214.2639 shira.rost@compass.com | shirarost.com


Shira Rost, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson. Real estate agents affiliated with Compass are independent contractor sales associates and are not employees of Compass. Equal Housing Opportunity. Compass is a licensed real estate broker located at 90 Fifth Avenue, 3rd Fl. NY, NY 10011. To reach the Compass main office call 212 913 9058.

January 2021 | New York Family


Real estate

MaMaroneck, nY Located in Westchester County, the village of Mamaroneck is a common hot-spot for transplants that’s only 40-minutes on the MetroNorth from NYC. Mamaroneck is also nearby to many attractions like Otter Creek Preserve, the famous Walter’s hot dogs, and beautiful Harbor Island Park with access to boating and water views. Nature lovers will also enjoy having access to Hommocks Conservation Area with its 10.6-acres of woodlands and Leatherstocking Trail, a 2.5-mile long trail that extends to 15 miles to neighboring towns. Jennifer Ross of Compass noted, “Mamaroneck is a beautiful, coastal suburb that boasts a vibrant downtown area with restaurants, shops and amenities and also provides for access to beaches, boating, and nature.” She added, “There are a variety of neighborhoods with housing options that range from in-town apartments to modest homes to luxurious waterfront properties.” The excellent school system comprises six public schools in the Mamaroneck School District, including four elementary schools, one middle school, one high school, and four private schools. The downtown area is filled with small businesses, restaurants, ice skating rink, Olympic-sized pool, and shops that offer a charming appeal.

listing: 505 rushmore ave, Mamaroneck, nY When looking to relocate to the area, this threebedroom Colonial is a great fit for families. Located in the Orienta neighborhood, the home features a renovated kitchen, renovated bathrooms, a landscaped, fenced-in, and a private backyard. The home is also located a block away from the parks, beaches, and amenities of Harbor Island

Montclair/Glen ridGe, nJ Glen Ridge is a quaint town in Essex County and a sister town of Montclair. The area offers excellent schooling with four schools for grades pre-K-12. Realtor Amy Owens noted, “Glen Ridge Public School District is a highly-rated, public school district with a student-teacher ratio of 13 to 1. The district’s average testing ranking is 10/10, which is in the top 10% of public schools in New Jersey.” According to Glen Ridge Borough, “Glen Ridge is home to some of the most well preserved examples of residential architecture from the turn of the 19th Century.” This includes homes from the Victorian and Edwardian era as well as the work of some many famous architects like Frank Lloyd Wright. Neighboring suburb Montclair is also a great place to move that’s only 12 miles away from NYC. It’s close proximity makes it easy to have access to the city while still enjoying the benefits of space in the suburbs. Families will discover a “city-like” feel with access to small businesses and a fantastic restaurant scene featuring ethnic dining options. Amy noted, “The Montclair area is incredibly diverse; community and culturally oriented and a perfect blend of suburban/urban living.” They both offer easy access to NYC with 6 train stations in Montclair and 1 in Glen Ridge.


NewYorkFamily.com | January 2021

listing: Glen ridge, nJ A lovely stone & stucco English Colonial located on Glen Ridge’s favorite North End street, this spacious and charming 5BR/3.2BA Colonial combines timeless details and modern updates. A fully fenced yard, flexible work from home or remote schooling space. Two fireplaces, two-car garage accommodates a growing family. A beautiful and classic Colonial located on Glen Ridge’s favorite street. Insider tip, “Don’t tell anyone, but people from all over bring their kids to trick or treat here.”


Coming Soon in Glen Ridge

Coming Soon in Glen Ridge

Coming Soon in Bloomfield

Coming Soon in Montclair

We're preparing some great homes for you in 2021 Don’t wait for Zillow! If you'd like to be one of the first to know about new listings in the Montclair area, send us an email for the inside scoop!




201-396-2927 amy@amyowensteam.com


amyowensrealestate January 2021 | New York Family


Real estate

short hiLLs/ MiLLburN, NJ Short Hills, an enclave of Millburn, is a popular commuter town that many families move to for the excellent schools and access to nature—known more as a residential community with a storybook downtown with a post office, pharmacy, and drug store. Millburn, on the other hand, is the entire suburban township. Realtor Victoria Carter noted, “Short Hills has separate elementary schools, but the same Middle School and High School as Millburn.” In Millburn, this includes eight schools -many of which were previously ranked as “America’s Top High Schools” in Newsweek. There is also plenty to do in the area with access to nature at Taylor Park, Greenwood Gardens, Cora Hartshorn Arboretum and Bird Sanctuary, and the South Mountain Reservation where families can enjoy their zoo, fishing, hiking, and more. The area is also home to smaller shops in downtown Millburn, Short Hills Mall, and the Paper Mill Playhouse.

Listing: 55 highland Avenue, short hills, NJ With 19th century origins, this two-story center foyer home in Short Hills, New Jersey, is charming with its understated elegance. Wood-burning fireplaces with carved wooden mantels, crown molding, soaring vaulted ceilings, and chandeliers grace the home, and large windows provide soft ambient light. Stylish French doors open to a timeless wrap-around porch and side patio are just a few of the special touches of this unique home.

Lewisboro, NY Located in Northern Westchester, Lewisboro is made up of six hamlets: Goldens Bridge, Cross River, Waccabuc, South Salem, Lewisboro, and Vista. This area is renowned for its easy access to nature with 4,000 acres of protected land where you’ll find beautiful hikes, trails, and even options for skiing. Some popular attractions include Lewisboro Town Park, Leon Levy Preserve, Mountain Lakes Camp, Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, and the Trailside Nature Museum, which is actually the oldest museum of its kind in the US. However, the area does not have it’s own center of town but borders Ridgefield, CT and is close to Katonah, NY. The area is also very safe. Donna Blais of Laurel Ridge Townhomes noted, “Lewisboro was ranked, according to Safewise, the safest town in America for the last four years.” She added, “The area has been rated as a top public school district located in South Salem and named the “best school district” in New York state in 2018.”


NewYorkFamily.com | January 2021

Listing: 321 overlook Court, south salem, NY A stunning three-bedroom, two-full and two-half bathroom home with 3,000-square-feet of living space. Currently under construction, the sun-filled townhouse offers spectacular lakeside views and includes access to pools, tennis, and a basketball court.

#OneTeam #OneCounty #OneMission : Find Your Place in Westchester


Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker Licensed as Jennifer Y. Ross jennifer.ross@compass.com M: 914-844-0272 @jenniferross.westchesterliving @JenniferYRossRealtor A thought leader in the From NYC to Westchester Living consideration, Jennifer is also the co-founder of The Westchester Living Team, a purpose-built nine-member team comprised of an elite cadre of real estate professionals living and working across the four corners of the County - Northern, Southern, Sound Shore, and Rivertowns - Jennifer & TWLT offer clients seamless, unparalleled and intimate knowledge wherever their real estate advisory needs take them. From a vintage Victorian in Larchmont to a custom-built new construction in Scarsdale to a classic Colonial in Chappaqua to a modern home with river views in Irvington to a weekend retreat in Bedford, the Westchester Living Team at Compass knows the “ins” and “outs” of buying or selling a home in one of the most competitive real estate regions in the country. Jennifer & the team are uniquely suited to help clients navigate the buying or selling process armed with local knowledge, proprietary technology, and the expertise to assure a smooth, streamlined approach to the process.

www.compass.com/agents/westchester-living-team/ January 2021 | New York Family


catholic Schools Directory | Special Advertising Supplement

Cardinal Spellman High School One Cardinal Spellman Place, Bronx 718-881-8000 x 206 cardinalspellman.org Cardinal Spellman High School, a coeducational college preparatory school, was founded by the archdiocese in 1959. Cardinal Spellman offers College Credit, Advanced Placement, Regents, Honors, and Elective Courses. A 13-acre campus is located in the Bronx’s Tremont section, equipped with two all-weather athletic fields and track, a fitness room, a weight room, and an auditorium that has stage facilities and seating capacity comparable to professional theatres in NYC! Spellman prides itself on small school friendliness with big school opportunities! If you missed the TACHs Exam, Spellman is offering an online Admissions Exam on 1/16! Visit their website to signup for the exam, take their virtual tour, and learn more about Spellman! 

Dominican Academy (D.A.) 44 East 68th Street New York, NY 10065212-744-0195 dominicanacademy.org The only all-honors high school for girls in New York State, D.A. unites academic excellence with a warm, faith-based community on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Sponsored by the Dominican Sisters,

D.A has been named twice as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. Their 250 students commute from all five boroughs, Westchester, Connecticut, Long Island, and New Jersey to take advantage of D.A.’s small classes, well-rounded academic program, and four-year guidance program. Each year, 100% of D.A. graduates attend prestigious colleges and universities across the U.S. and abroad. Interested in admission as a 9th grader or transfer student? Contact Admissions Director, Madeleine Metzler at 212.744.0195, ext. 131 or admissions@ dominicanacademy.org.

Fordham Preparatory School 441 East Fordham Rd., Bronx, NY 10458 718-584-8367 fordhamprep.org/admissions A Catholic, Jesuit, college preparatory school located on the historic Rose Hill Campus adjacent to Fordham University offering an “individualized honors program” for all students including 20 Advanced Placement (AP) and multiple advanced and honors classes.  Qualified seniors may also take classes at Fordham University.  A program of retreats, days of renewal, and a 4-year service program provide a soul stirring experience that sees students become “men for others”.

The athletics program includes 18 varsity sports and offers over 70 clubs and activities. Student diversity is one of the special features of Fordham Prep, with the school striving to include qualified students of limited financial resources by providing substantial financial assistance. Fordham Prep forms leaders in faith, scholarship, and service; the Fordham Prep experience lasts a lifetime.

St. Joseph’s School - Yorkville 420 East 87th Street, New York, NY 212-289-3057 sjyorkville.org Founded in 1880, St. Joseph’s School - Yorkville is a co-educational Christian community for students in PreK-3 through Grade 8. At SJSY, the whole child is nurtured, by providing a rigorous academic education, while also fostering social-emotional growth, character development, and a commitment to service. The culturally diverse student body hails from all five boroughs. Schedule a school tour to meet the Principal and witness students engaged in joyful learning with their peers and thoughtful, dynamic teachers. Come and experience this warm and supportive environment where each child is known individually and cared for as a person.

We’re s� S�cial

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


NewYorkFamily.com | January 2021



Financial Aid Available! 100% Graduation & College Acceptance Rates. 50+ Clubs/Activites & 30+ Sport Teams. 20 AP College Level Courses. $40+ Million Raised in College Scholarships by Class of 2020.

Cardinal Spellman High School 1 Cardinal Spellman Place, Bronx, NY, 10466 (718)-881-8000 ext. 206 TACHS CODE 303 admissions@cardinalspellman.org Follow us @SpellmanBX!




Take our virtual tour and view more video content at fordhamprep.org/admissions


Located on the historic Rose Hill Campus in the Bronx, adjacent to Fordham University, a short walk from MetroNorth.


January 2021 | New York Family


ask the expert

When to Start Your Baby On Solid Foods Tips for parents on making the transition with minimal stress By MoM-in-Chief Jenny Best and the feeding experts at solid starts


ust when you’ve settled into a schedule with your baby and grasped the whole bottle-or breast-feeding thing, your pediatrician tells you it’s time to start solid food. For some parents, this is exciting news—a world of flavor awaits! But for most, it’s a confusing time riddled with anxiety. What’s the best first food? Should we be certified in infant CPR? How do we actually do this? Moving Target Starting solids is confusing for good reason: the rules of the game have changed—a lot. According to Amy Bentley’s book Inventing Baby Food, in 1880, the average age of starting solids was 11 months old. Processed baby food gave rise in the 1920s, and by 1950, the average age of starting solids fell to mere 4-6 weeks old. Today, the general consensus in the medical community is to start solids around 6 months old amid signs of readiness. While some pediatricians still advise starting babies on rice cereal and purées around 4 months old, it’s outdated advice: as of 2020, the American Academy of Pediatrics, U.S. National Institutes for Health, and World

Health Organization all recommend waiting until your baby is around 6 months old and showing signs of readiness to introduce solids. What we know now that we didn’t know in the 1950’s is that starting solids before 4 months old can displace the valuable nutrition from breast milk and formula. Starting solid food too early is also associated with unhealthy weight gain, both in infancy and early childhood, according to a study published in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Is Baby Ready for Solid Food? Most healthy, full-term babies are ready to start eating solid food around 6 months old. However, make sure your baby has reached these critical developmental milestones before you start: • Sitting: Baby can sit with minimal support • Head Control: Baby can hold head upright and steady for the duration of a meal • Reach & Grab: Baby can pick up objects and easily bring them to the mouth • Interest: Baby intently watches you eat, mouths for food, or leans forward for it If your baby is showing all of the above signs, they are ready! If your baby is showing just one or two, wait a week or two—babies develop rapidly, and a few days can make a world of difference when it comes to core strength, head control, and coordination. While there is no perfect way to introduce solid food to your baby for the very first time, there are three general approaches to feeding: • Baby-led weaning (infant self-feeds with finger food first) • Spoon-feeding • Combo feeding (a mix of spoon-feeding and self-feeding with finger foods). Regardless of the approach you take, solid food should complement—not replace—

Age of Introducing Solids

©Solid Starts 2021 Reference: Amy Bentley, Inventing Baby Food, 2014


NewYorkFamily.com | January 2021

breast milk or formula until your baby is at least 1 year old. Starting Solids: Purées or Finger Food? Contrary to popular belief, babies do not need to start solids with bland rice cereal and watery purées. While rice cereal and jars of watery carrots seem like the logical approach for starting solids, there is no developmental need for puréed food. In fact, the longer a baby is exclusively spoon-fed perfectly smooth purées, the more at risk they are for picky eating and food refusal according to a 2017 study published in “Current Nutrition Reports.” Will you damage your child for life by spoon-feeding them for a couple of months? Of course not. But know that babies are hardwired to explore food and instinctively know what they can handle. Babies are born with six protective reflexes (precursors to complex chewing) that exist solely to help them build

About Solid Starts Solid Starts is a mom-led team of pediatric food and feeding experts, doctors, nutritionists, and dietitians and is the world’s first comprehensive platform for starting solids. Solid Starts hosts First Foods, a free food database for babies that will ultimately house every edible ingredient in the world, complete with step-by-step instructions and how-to videos for introducing real food to babies. Operating as a social enterprise, Solid Starts offers complimentary resources to those in need. The platform serves more than 300,000 people from 175 countries worldwide and is the fastest-growing baby account on Instagram @solidstarts.

a map of the mouth. And by 6 months old, babies are developmentally capable of feeding themselves without the need for spoonfeeding or purees. Our feeding professionals ardently believe that babies with early access

to finger foods develop the oral-motor skills required for safe eating faster than spoon-fed babies. In fact, babies who start solids with finger foods are no more likely to choke on food than spoon-fed babies, according to studies published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics and Pediatrics. This knowledge—and the hope of preventing picky eating—is why many parents turn to a finger food first approach when starting solids. Plus, parents who serve babies from the family meal lay the groundwork for successful, non-picky eating habits: • Everyone in the family eats the same healthy food. • The baby or child does not get something different or special. • The child has control over if they eat and how much they put in their mouth. Best First Foods for Baby Nutritionally, the best first foods for babies

are those high in iron, protein, calcium, vitamins A, C and D, and zinc. Eggs, lentils, beans, red meat, and salmon are among our favorite first foods for babies because they are rich in these nutrients and include the omega fatty acids needed for optimal brain growth. But, food is cultural. In addition to nutrients, consider which foods you and your family love when choosing your baby’s first foods. Serve first foods as part of a family meal from the start, where you can model the enjoyment and skills involved in eating. So, take off that highchair tray, pull them up to the table for family dinner, and enjoy your meals together. Want to learn more? Visit SolidStarts.com or follow along on Instagram @solidstarts. Reviewed by: Kimberly Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT Sakina Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. Board-Certified Allergist & Immunologist (allergy section) Rachel Ruiz, MD Board-Certified General Pediatrician and Pediatric Gastroenterologist

January 2021 | New York Family


The William Vale in Bklyn This dreamy spot is the perfect staycation for New Yorkers By Donna Duarte-LaDD

can appreciate many offerings.

n the past ten months, many New Yorkers have been enjoying staycations, and lucky for us, there are some fantastic spots to stay at, which is why when shooting this month’s cover, we shot at The William Vale. Some of our team members at New York Family have checked in at “The Vale” for a night away from the kids, as well as had a social distancing meet up with a mom friend where we were able to have a conversation and a much needed a few hours away from remote life. The William Vale has all the feels one wants, whether it is a New York staycation, dining on good food, keeping the kids busy, and staying somewhere where safety is the utmost priority. Their safety plan is implemented through their Global Pandemic Response Procedure on utilizing safety for their visitors. Rooms are bright and chic, with views of both Brooklyn and the city. While there is much to take in at The William Vale, parents

Vale Rink at The William Vale Last year, a game-changer for locals and guests in North Brooklyn was when The William Vale was launching the Vale Rink for the Winter season. The 23rd-floor outdoor rooftop floor, already a gorgeous sight of the Manhattan skyline, was transformed from an outdoor rooftop into a magnificent Glice skating rink. Now open for a second year, the glice sustainable synthetic ice enables visitors to enjoy the rink in warm or cold weather. The rules: Although the rink is outdoors, there are safety rules that parents will appreciate. The rink is operating at reduced capacity, and guests must make reservations for a 50-minute session in advance at valerink@thewilliamvale.com And, of course, wearing a mask is a requirement. Hours of Operation: Wednesday - Friday: 2PM - 10PM



NewYorkFamily.com | January 2021

Saturday & Sunday: 12PM -10PM Price (Includes skate rental and locker use): Adults: $20 Children (12 and under): $12 Vale Park Many locals love to visit this elevated outdoor promenade for its green space and, on most days, the quiet. This space is open to both visitors and the public at no charge. Eat/Drink Whether staying at The William Vale or stopping by for the warm ambiance and a delicious meal (or a drink or two), you will want to try the Westlight or Leuca. These popular restaurants- spearheaded by Andrew Carmellini’s of NoHo Hospitality are unique, and each offers its own vibe. For Southern Italian fare, you’ll want to top by Leuca on the hotel’s first floor for Carmellini’s signature wood-fired pizza and LemonRicotta Pancakes for brunch. For an Instagram worthy and OMG view, you will want to venture up to the Westlight year-round rooftop bar on the

22nd floor. Featuring a terrace, you can sip the Winter special cocktails Frostbite (Glenlivet, Lillet, Banana, Honey, Walnut or a Snowbird (Mount Gay Rum, Aperol, Coconut, Pineapple) cocktails at one of the outside tables or cushions, or you can cozy up inside surrounded by floor to ceiling glass windows. Safety first. New York still has periods of indoor

COULD IT BE HUNTER SYNDROME? Talk to your doctor about this progressive, genetic disease,1,2 or learn more at:


Recurrent Ear Infections1

Abdominal Hernia1

and outdoor dining on pause, with things changing every week during this pandemic; delivery and take-out via Seamless and Caviar is available. For indoor dining when the Governor allows, the hotel implements extra safety measures such as increased sanitation, heightened cleaning, and contactless ordering via QR code to ensure visitors’ and staff ’s safety and well-being. We strongly encourage readers to go to Ny.gov for updates on closures and Covid safety measures.

¿PODRÍA SER EL SÍNDROME DE HUNTER? Hable con su médico acerca de esta enfermedad genética, progresiva,1,2 o conozca más en:


Infecciones recurrentes en los oídos1 Hernia abdominal1

Enlarged Tonsils/ Adenoids1

Amígdalas/ adenoides agrandadas1

Joint Stiffness1

Rigidez en las articulaciones1

1. Wraith JE et al. Genet Med 2008; 10(7): 508-516 2. Keilmann A et al. J Inherit Metab Dis 2012; 35(2): 343-353 Copyright ©2019 Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited, Lexington, MA 02421. All rights reserved. 1-800-828-2088. TAKEDA and the TAKEDA logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited. S46480 04/19

Aiden, 3

January 2021 | New York Family




A parents’ guide to positively maintaining your children’s well-being during a pandemic By Cara Zelas


istory can be our biggest teacher, if we reflect upon previous pandemics, we know that they do come to an end. With vaccines being trialed and implemented at a rapid pace, there is light on the horizon. Nonetheless, the past year has been rough and challenging, especially for families. With children’s education being disrupted during the pandemic and with ongoing school closures, hybrid and remote learning, Zoom fatigue and even the right access to technology, a lot of pressure has been put on the shoulders of parents and caregivers. It is difficult, at times, to maintain positive emotions within ourselves, let alone for our children. However as we move into 2021 and remote school continues for some children it is important to help children build positive routines, nurture emotional self-regulation and build resilience. Right now, we are all going through collective trauma. We may have different problems arise and challenges to face but many humans, on this earth, have been affected and lives impacted due to the Coronavirus. Despite this trauma, focusing on the positive, helps readjust our mindset. There is a theory called, Post-Traumatic Growth, which explains transformation following trauma. It was developed by psychologists Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun and theorises that when people endure struggles and adversity, that positive growth emerges.


NewYorkFamily.com | January 2021

“People develop new understandings of themselves, the world they live in, how to relate to other people, the kind of future they might have and a better understanding of how to live life,” says Tedeschi. Currently we are in the midst of the struggles and it’s hard and uncomfortable. In spite of this, remaining focused that positive growth will occur on a micro and macro level once things calm down and return to a new normal. Think of this time as a transformation. How can we do life better? What is important? What is not? Nevertheless, right now we are in the thick of it. And parents and caregivers are TIRED! Working from home, child-caring and educating seems unsustainable. Here are some strategies and tips on supporting you and your children’s emotional well-being that may help your family get through This New Year with firm footing. Keep Talking Clear and honest communication is important to maintain with your children. Listen, show understanding and acknowledge that this is an uncertain and difficult time. Successful communication can deepen relationships as it brings awareness to each others needs. Give feelings a name Noticing and naming our emotions can help diffuse a situation and assist children in processing their feelings. Naming our emotions helps us to step back and think about the choices you have in that moment. Give

your child prompts, for example, “I can see you are mad, sad, angry etc..” Acknowledge their feelings by giving it a name. Model a positive attitude We are in a time of crisis, it can feel at times like we are triaging what needs the most attention. We have been living in a world that is filled with fear in the air and anxiety hanging over our heads. But try and think of one positive thing, that you can focus upon. And in a moment of despair or sadness, bring your attention back to that one positive thing. When your child sees you being positive, they copy or model what they see. Sustain routine and rituals Parents- create a rhythm to your day, a routine that has flexibility but follows a similar path.. Be consistent with when you eat, work, play and go to sleep. Pepper your day with rituals: create a family dream board that you all add to; at bedtime, talk about one positive experience of the day; do a short breathing exercise together; make up a special hug that you give each other; or think up a little mantra or saying that you repeat, for example, “I love you to the moon and back.” Practice gratitude and giving Think of gratitude as one of your parenting tools to help build a positive attitude. Try and think of one thing you are grateful for. Make this part of your daily routine, and say it out loud and encourage the kidsto do the same. There is a lot of pain in the world right

now, it is at an epic magnitude of damage and despair, Do something, no matter how small, for someone who is experiencing trouble. Keep it simple, recycle a cardboard box and fill it with gently used books, items of clothes, toys and unused toiletries - and donate the box to someone in your community.

sing. Be active, if you can get outside for a walk, in nature or around the block, anything to get your body moving and blood pumping will improve your mood. Involve your child in the cooking and give them an opportunity to make the dinner menu one evening.

Maintain social Interaction Stay connected with others in a small group, where you can comfortably social distance and wear a mask but be together. Have your chikd kick it old school and have them write a letter or card to a loved one via smail mail. Make a video or record voice messages to send to family and friends.

Compassion and kindness for self Moms ask for the time out that you need. Enjoy some mindful moments during the day to take some deep breaths. Take a long shower. Get outside, go for a walk to begin or end the day. Watch a funny movie. Get lost in a new podcast series. Taking care of the self is vital, otherwise taking care of others is not sustainable.

Play This time is stressful but remember to make time for play, games and laughter. Make something together and get creative. Put on your family’s favorite tunes to dance and

Seek help Don’t suffer in silence. Talk to a family member or a close friend you can open up to and trust. Or seek alternative help from your doctor, they will be able to direct you

to a mental health provider to talk too. The pandemic has made telemedicine more accessible, you don’t have to leave your home and someone can help you in real time. This is not always easy. Take it day by day. Be in the moment and in the present instead of ruminating on the past or planning so intensively for the future. Keep in mind — this pandemic won’t last forever. Try and find some positives from this period in time and keep in mind the consequence of having a deeper understanding and appreciation for social connection, friendship, family and our own space. Take care. And keep positive. Cara Zelas is an author and educator originally from Sydney, Australia, and now living in New York City with her family and therapy dog, Little Dude. Cara and Little Dude visit hospitals and schools throughout New York City, delivering kindness and support to those in need. January 2021 | New York Family


True Beauty Denise Nicole of A Brooklyn Babe on staycations, homeschooling, self-care and staying centered

By Donna Duarte-Ladd


t only seems fitting as we go into a New Year amid a pandemic that we share on inspiring moms this issue. This is why we chatted with Denise Nicole of A Brooklyn Babe. Denise likes to describe herself as “just a mom.” But I know her personally as an amazing woman who shows her children the good and hope the world has to offer. A born and bred New Yorker from Rochester, Denise came to the city to attend FIT, met her nowhusband Dexter, married, and started a family. Mom to Dex, age 7, and Dakota, age 5, Denise shares via her site A Brooklyn Babe and social media her inspiring family trips in and near the city that are educational and won’t break the bank. She also shares her deep faith in God and tips on how moms can reconnect with their inner selves. She is that friend who will tell you the latest healthy snack you didn’t know you needed, tips on a great fitness routine, and encourages and cheers you along the way.


NewYorkFamily.com | January 2021

We chatted with Denise on her favorite spots for the family, homeschooling, and mom wellness. On your blog, you often share adventures around the city? What are some of the local places that you like to do with your kids? We love living in New York City. The culture and energy of the city is unmatched. We enjoy the parks, museums, and restaurants and feel very privileged to be surrounded by so many diverse options. Two of our favorite outdoor spaces to explore are Prospect Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park. Prospect Park, also known as Brooklyn’s backyard is like a beautiful forest in the middle of the urban landscape. It’s 586 acres of lush greenery, trees, a lake, and home to over 200 species of birds! Not to mention the zoo, playgrounds, tennis and basketball courts, and much more. We often find ourselves immersed in the nature trails, collecting acorns, or climbing trees. A big part of our homeschooling is connecting with nature; we learn a lot during these quiet times in the park. We bundle

Photo by Yumi Matsuo On Denise: Cyber Jammies, figleaves.com

January 2021 | New York Family


Photo by Yumi Matsuo

(Opposite) Denise with her husband Dexter. (Above) Denise tries to get some yoga in when she can.

up on some colder days too and explore all the beauty nature has to offer there. Packing blankets and hot cocoa for a winter picnic is great fun. Brooklyn Bridge Park, while lush, has a much different feel. There are small nature trails, grassy fields, playgrounds galore, and a promenade and stunning views of the Manhattan skyline and the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges over the East River. That view never gets old. We often picnic and play there, and I look up and all around, thinking what a blessing it is that we get to call this place home. I can’t believe we live here. I still remember the first time I read about the American Museum of Natural History in “The Catcher in the Rye.” I was so intrigued by Holden’s description of the museum; it was one of the first places I visited when I moved here. Now I take my children, and we sit under the big Whale and observe the animals frozen in time. We talk about their habitats and learn about space and walk the halls of this iconic and historic building regularly. I find myself, once again, lost in more moments of appreciation for all this city has to offer us. We loved visiting the Studio Museum in Harlem (currently closed for renovation), which had great kids’ art workshops. We walked the galleries with little pencils attempting to sketch the art we saw and how it made us feel. We saw work by artists like Amy Sherald and saw ourselves represented there. We also love visiting the Whitney Museum and The Met; when the kids are well-rested and full of snacks, we enjoy our experiences in the fantastic museums of NYC. Since the pandemic, you and your family have been taking some fun day trips around the city. Can you share a few places worth visiting?


NewYorkFamily.com | January 2021

In the Fall, we took safety precautions and traveled on a few trips close to NYC. Taking all the steps to stay healthy and be considerate of others, we really enjoyed ourselves. Getaway House in Catskills NY, was one of our favorite places. Their tiny cabins are fully equipped with all the basics. The lodgings are cozy with temperature control, a kitchen with a stovetop and mini-fridge, and a bathroom with a shower; you have all you need to unplug and relax. We especially loved hanging by the fire. They provide a fire pit and chairs as well as logs and fire starter packs. It’s also super stunning and connected to nature; each tiny cabin comes with an extra-large window with views of the forest surrounding you. There are other little cabins in the vicinity, too, so you have your privacy but don’t feel too alone out there. We enjoyed spending nights by the fire. We also took a road trip up to Woodstock, NY. We stayed at the cutest boutique B&B The Twin Gables of Woodstock. The little art hotel is full of personality, with each nook and cranny full of fun and bright accents. The orange feather chandelier to the rainbow steps and the bright red “Be Groovy or Leave’’ quote on the cute retro kitchen wall. My favorite part was the meditation studio. The white room with meditation pillows, greenery, and all the chill vibes was the perfect spot to sneak away to in the morning before the family woke up. I meditated and did yoga there, and it was such a beautiful and relaxing treat to have this designated space to do so in. There’s also a complimentary continental breakfast with your stay and a lovely rainbow gazebo in the backyard, as well as a fire pit. Within walking distance, there are many shops, restaurants, and even a little waterfall park. The Comeau Property is also less than a mile away from Twin Gables. The Comeau property is a park full of meadows, woods, and streams. It’s a wonderful area for walking, hikes, and enjoying the healing power of nature itself. We had a great time on the trails there. We also took a long weekend trip to Philadelphia and stayed at the Canopy Hotel in Center City. The design and service were impeccable. The astounding art and vibrant feel of the hotel made it so much fun to stay there. The on-site restaurant, The Wayward, has a great outdoor dining space with beautiful lights (and currently fire pits!) and delicious food. We had a great time exploring Philly, visiting the Reading Terminal food market, Sister Cities, and Love Parks. The kids were especially fascinated by the Magic Gardens art exhibition and had a ball running up the Rocky Steps. You have been homeschooling your kids for (how long?); any tips for parents at home who are remote teaching? What helps you with the kids when their attention starts to drift off? I’ve been homeschooling my children since January 2020. When I took them out of traditional schooling, a lot of people didn’t understand my decision. But we had discussed it and planned together. I had a

Photo by Yumi Matsuo On Denise: Helena Sweater in Rust, Alejandra Skirt in Brown all Mara Hoffman, marahoffman.com

January 2021 | New York Family


On Books

You often share on your Instagram (@abrooklynbabe) the best book reads for the kids; what are your five favs? There’s no way I could pick only five favorite books; we love reading way too much. There are five books we really love and always come back to because the messages are so valuable. • Incredible You by Dr.Wayne Dyer & Kristina Tracy • I am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes • Danbi Leads the School Parade by Anna Kim • The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson • When God Made the World by Matthew Paul Turner These books have powerful messages either about believing in yourself or understanding and being kind to others. I love the powerful messages and beautiful illustrations, diversity, and fun in these stories. My children love all of these books, and they spark some great conversations.

vision of homeschooling my children before they were even born. Most of our homeschooling is steeped in nature, literature, and art. We are finding our flow and learning so much along the way. As far as virtual school goes, setting a climate of closeness is always good, but even more so as things are changing and human contact is reduced. When kids can’t see their friends or are still adjusting to virtual school, setting a good foundation of a little extra TLC can be so helpful. I would recommend connecting emotionally as much as possible with your kids during this time, lots of eye contact, giving them your full attention without distractions (I know, so doable right now while most are working from home), even if it’s for five-minute intervals throughout the day, and many, many hugs. With so much being online right now, we all need that physical connection with our loved ones more than ever. I try to give my kids at least 20 hugs a day. I read somewhere that’s so powerful in helping them feel seen and loved. If I don’t get them all in throughout the day, we catch up before bed. No matter how our day has gone, whether my kids were on their tablets a little too long while I finished a project or if we spent the day doing science experiments and reading books together, we always catch up before bed. We talk about our days, get in those extra hugs, and I give them my full attention. For simple and practical things to do, especially when attention drifts, we take small breaks. Going for a quick walk outdoors can lift spirits. Nature is so healing, but if you don’t have time to go out, open a window wide, take deep breaths of fresh air, and talk about what you see outside. Five minutes of dancing, yoga, or shaking your sillies out is a game-changer too. Schedule a meeting with your little learner and discuss whatever they want, from how virtual school is going to what’s for dinner. It will make them feel seen and important. The meeting doesn’t have to be more than 10-15 minutes to make a huge impact.


NewYorkFamily.com | January 2021

On your lifestyle site, you address wellness for both Black mothers and mothers in general. While mothers are still dealing with a lot during this pandemic, what do you do to center yourself — any great takeaways for moms to implement in 2021? Creating a vibe is what helps keep me stay grounded. Keeping the energy high and curating corners of my home with light, plants, and candles. I place scriptures and affirmations around in plain sight for reminders throughout the day. I take at least five minutes in the morning and at night for intention setting, prayer, and reflection. When my husband comes home from work at night, there are always candles lit and usually music playing, palo santo or frankincense scents wafting through the air. I set the stage for calm — even when there is none. Turning everyday tasks and mealtimes into an event does wonders to lift the spirits and keep the vibe high in your home. This is something that I do for myself as much as for my family; we all love it. Take out the nice plates, let the kids drink juice out of fancy glasses, and light candles. I always, always play music. Rotate your musical selections, too, from your kid’s favorites (you’re not going to get out of playing the Frozen soundtrack) to the classics and current songs you love. Movement always helps my body feel good and endorphins high. Ten minutes seems to be the sweet spot for me to get some yoga in. That’s the point where my daughter usually starts to jump on my back or crawl under my downward dog. While some days doing yoga together works, and I can still do my flow, many times it does not. So I take my ten minutes when I can and then move on to the next thing. Staycations are also a great way to take care of yourself too. At home, there’s always something to do, whether it’s dishes, work, other tasks. Getting away from that environment can help refresh and reset. The William Vale is a beautiful hotel in Williamsburg with luxe accommodations and a rooftop restaurant with stunning views. Make it a date night and get away from it all. What are your goals or intentions for this New Year? For the new year, I’m working on building more community for moms and families. Connection and community building is so important to me. I’ve hosted family mindfulness, yoga, and self-love events in the past, and I’m looking for more creative ways to bring people together. Whatever that looks like in 2021, bringing people together along with their common experiences and opening their eyes to experiences different than their own. For my family, we are continuing to live life as the gift it is, learning all along the way. This homeschooling journey had been so beautiful and more about a whole way of life than simply my children’s education. I’m getting a new education as well, and I’m so thankful for all of it. Gratitude, that’s it; I’m working towards living in more gratitude every day.

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Visit Buttermilk Falls Inn & Spa Cozy up safely at this tranquil retreat in the Hudson Valley By Jana Beauchamp


or New York families looking to skip town, Buttermilk Falls Inn & Spa is the perfect fit for an easy, enchanting escape. In less than two hours you can arrive at the idyllic property and hike to a waterfall, visit with rescue alpacas, and enjoy the serene and beautiful 75 acres situated in the beautiful Hudson Valley. Buttermilk is the perfect balance of city luxury with countryside comfort for the whole family (you can even bring the dog). Start the day with a farm-fresh breakfast (think heirloom tomato omelets and vanilla pancakes), and then explore the grounds, from soaking in Hudson Valley views to hiking to the namesake waterfall. Take time for the afternoon tea service and then top off the evening with a farm-to-table dinner from Henry’s at the Farm. The lodging options are perfect for social distancing, plus the surrounding outdoors is eminently familyfriendly, including the Millstone farm and orchard and the Walkway Over the Hudson.


NewYorkFamily.com | January 2021

Cozy Up in Your Cottage The North Cottage is the perfect family home away from home. Pet and family-friendly, this most private accommodation sits atop a cliff overlooking the Hudson River. The rustic feel of the North Cottage and being alongside the Millstone farm animals reminds you that you aren’t in NYC anymore. North Cottage is an ideal set up for families with one queen bedroom and one bedroom with two twin beds. There is a full kitchen, bath, living room and dining area. It also has a wood burning fireplace that adds extra magic. The whole family will enjoy the breathtaking views of the Hudson River from the cottage’s airy living room while getting cozy by the fire. At present, Buttermilk Falls Inn is taking reservations for overnight guests, accepting reservations for Carriage and Guest Houses only. Explore All 70 Acres of the Beautiful Grounds Take in the fresh Hudson Valley Air and

enjoy a few days of the simple life. There are endless adventures to be had wandering through Buttermilk’s acres of shady woods from Swan Lake to the Buttermilk Falls. Kids will be delighted to explore the property while making their way though fields, gardens and visting with the farm animals along the way. There are peacocks, chickens, donkeys, and alpacas, oh my! City kids will love their new life on the farm and start talking to and naming the adorable animals. The Aviary House shelters heritage breed chickens, along with party of peacocks and the Livestock Barn is occupied by Angora goats, miniature donkeys, llamas, and a herd of rescued alpacas occupy the North Field. There is also a family of miniature donkeys at the Donkey House. Kids will ‘meet’ the heritage chicken that lays their eggs for breakfast and the miniature donkey who tries to play with the family dog. And don’t miss an easy and scenic hike to North Field to explore and visit with the rescue alpacas roaming on site. It is a definite must and one of the highlights. Farm to Table Feasts Millstone Farm’s kitchen garden, orchard,

(Clockwise from opposite page) The Swan Pond at the Buttermilk Falls Inn & Spa, the Riverknoll Living Room, and the Henry’s at the Farm Restaurant.

and beehives produce organic herbs, vegetables, fruit, and honey for bountiful breakfasts with farm-fresh eggs and afternoon tea, as well as for Buttermilk’s farm-to-table restaurant, Henry’s at the Farm. Henry’s at the Farm restaurant is open for service as well as at the Inn’s tented patio, with options for to-go and picnic dining. Henry’s has a delectable menu bursting with delicious local ingredients and flavors. Start

with a delicious salad or warming soup and don’t miss the Pork Shank Ossobuco, Hudson Valley baby bourbon BBQ sauce, maple glazed sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprout. There are pastas and pizzas for the kids, if they aren’t into the farm fresh foodie items quite yet. Safety First Buttermilk is large enough to easily social distance. They also established a specialized

“Llama Clean Dream Team” which is the COVID-specific sect of their housekeeping team. Everyone who enters the property gets their temperature taken and has to answer COVID screening questions. In addition to their regular rigorous cleaning and sanitation protocols, they added new technology like an industry-grade Sani-Quat sprayer which uses a fine mist that fully sanitizes all surfaces, including small, hardto-reach nooks and crevices. This technology has previously been employed in hospitals, schools, and food service facilities to eliminate cross-contamination. They also use a UV-C light wand that kills bacteria and viruses on all non-sprayable appliances and surfaces throughout the cottages and common areas. Buttermilk Falls’ extraordinary 75 acre Hudson River estate offers a remarkable selection of lodgings, a world class spa, a farm-to-table restaurant, an organic kitchen garden and orchard, trails and an animal rescue sanctuary. Millstone Farm boasts an organic kitchen garden, orchard, aviary, aviary and livestock barns for Buttermilk’s animal rescue activities. January 2021 | New York Family



How to Help Your Fellow New Yorkers 7 ways to volunteer & donate By Donna Duarte-LaDD


he pandemic has created new hardships and continuing challenges for our most vulnerable neighbors and many New Yorkers. If looking to volunteer or donate this year, here are a few of the organizations in need and who can use a helping hand. Relief for Restaurant Workers The pandemic has hurt many businesses in New York, and the restaurant industry is one of the hardest to be hit. In partnership with the Robin hood Foundation, ROAR (roarnewyork.org)is awarding grants to part-time and full-time workers, many of who have lost a tremendous amount of their yearly wages during the pandemic. This grant is on a first-come, first-served basis to restaurant workers facing economic hardship. Each grant is a one-time $500 award, and due to the unemployment rates being high in Queens and Bronx applicants, these boroughs are currently given priority. Help Deliver Contactless Deliveries to the Most Vulnerable We all know how darn hard it was to get to a market at the beginning of the pandemic. Many of us couldn’t leave the kids, and bringing them to the market was not ideal. Imagine if you are unable to get out at all? Invisible Hands (invisiblehandsdeliver.org) is a non-profit where if you are healthy, practicing social distancing, and Covid-free, you can help your community by performing deliveries in New York. First, you join; afterward, once you set up the Slack community channel that services your area, you can start shopping for a person in need. Kind of like InstaCart, but free for the person in need, and you give the gift of your time to your community. Win-win for all. Donate Blood The pandemic has changed how people give blood as blood drives heald typically within the community throughout the year have been


NewYorkFamily.com | January 2021

canceled. This has caused a deficit in how much blood we have in hospitals. NYC healthcare system needs 1500 donations a day to keep up with the demand. To donate blood, visit nybc.org. Give NYC Women and Girls Much Needed Feminine Hygiene and Feminine Products Shop Food Bank NYC’s Amazon Wish List (amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/CH1YOJ0WXB8Q) and help provide feminine hygiene products and other essentials for the city’s 1 million women and girls living in poverty. Make sure after you add to your cart to check the shipping address to deliver to Food Bank For New York City ATTN: Receiving’s Gift Registry Address. Volunteer and Help Frail New Yorkers via Citymeals on Wheels Citymeals (citymeals.org) on Wheels has volunteer opportunities to deliver meals, help in the kitchen, make homemade cards, and check in on frail New Yorkers. Donate Your Time and Pack up Food City Harvest (cityharvest.org) is New York City’s largest food rescue organization that feeds more than 1.5 million New Yorkers. Volunteers are needed to help pre-pack produce and pantry packs for easy distribution to City Harvest partner agencies and their Mobile Markets. Check online at cityharvest.org to read their Covid safety protocols, policies, and procedures.

Volunteer and Help Cook or Deliver Meals God Love, We Deliver-Covid Free volunteers, are needed to help cook, package, and deliver meals; you can also sponsor a Holiday Meal if you are refraining from physically volunteering right now. Visit glwd.org for more information. Drop Food, Clothing, and other Essentials Off at These Community ‘Stores’ You may have spotted a refrigerator at a corner or a street nook. Most are colorful; all are filled with free food and designated areas for dry and can foods. These community-led refrigerators have been helping many New Yorkers through the pandemic. Popular drop-offs are produced, grains, fruits, and even baby food. While some are known only within the community — fridges from @iohnyc (A New World In Our Hearts), @greenpointfridge, and @thefriendlyfridge can be found via Instagram. On IG, you can find updates, info on arrival, or what is needed in their area and throughout the city. Another way to give is at some of the free stores popping up around the city. While many are not formal ‘stores,’ neighbors help each other by leaving free items for the take. There are also organizations like North Brooklyn Free Store (@nbkfreestore) that are opening up chain like stores that offer the opportunity to donate your cherished clothing, books, school supplies, and other essentials for people in need.

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New York Family - January 2021  

New York Family - January 2021