Westchester Family - January 2021

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January 2021


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

Virtual Camp Fairs! page 31


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pg. 24

pg. 30

pg. 28

FEATURES 8 | Books Meaghan Murphy, author of “Your Fully Charge Life” on moving forward with positivity and finding the ‘yay’ 26 | Emotional Support A parents’ guide to positively maintaining your child’s wellbeing 28 | Denise Nicole: True Beauty Denise Nicole of A Brooklyn Babe on staycation, homeschooling and Black mom wellness

pg. 14

Stories & columns


4 | Editor’s Note January - Embracing a New Year

18 | Catholic School Listings

10 | Ask The Expert Style expert Kate Powell on cutting the clutter and taking stock of what your closet truly needs

on the Cover Photo: Yumi Matsuo | yumimatsuostudio.com

14 | Education It’s on for winter activities both online and in-person

Hair & Makeup: Buffy Hernandez | buffysaintmarie.com Location Shoot: The William Vale | thewilliamvale.com Kids’ Cover Clothing: Kidpik.com

24 | Ask The Expert Starting your baby on solid foods 30 | Giving How to help your fellow New Yorkers

January 2021 | Bronx/Westchester 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. LynnMarie Hanley, Nina Spiegelman Ad Operations Manager: Rosalia Bobé Art Director: Leah Mitch Web Developer: Sylvan Migdal Graphic Designers: Arthur Arutyunov, Connie Sulsenti 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 10). For

parents with babies, Jenny Best of Solid Starts (page 24) gives tips on how to move your baby into solid foods. This month’s cover features Denise Nicole of A Brooklyn Babe (page 28) 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

Editorial Contributors: Jana Beauchamp, Mia Salas Editorial Interns: Sabrina Lee, Augostina Mallous, Brooke Thompson

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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


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

Bronx/Westchester Family | January 2021

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

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?

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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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January 2021 | Bronx/Westchester Family


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


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

Bronx/Westchester Family | January 2021

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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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.


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

Bronx/Westchester Family | January 2021

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 had anything but a normal fall last year. 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 New York 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


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 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

Bronx/Westchester Family | January 2021

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.” New York and it’s surrounding towns 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



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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

Bronx/Westchester Family | January 2021

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, there are amazing winter activities for your family to join in on the educational fun.

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Serving children 2 months–14 years of age Age appropriate activities including: tween trips, bowling, swimming, golf, drama, sports, water slide, zip-line, climbing wall, arts & crafts, computers, air castle and more!

Call for a Tour and Appointment! 914-592-3027 2170 Saw Mill River Road, Elmsford, NY www.AcresOfAdventureSummerCamp.com All protocols and guidelines from the DOH & CDC are being followed.

Gymnastics Classes Develop Strength, Flexibility, Balance, Coordination, and Confidence Ages 20 Months & Up Boys & Girls • Beginner–Advanced


Private Lessons • Private Classes Private Pods • Private Parties

Developing potential, enriching lives and creating community since 1944

Contact us today to learn about opportunities for safely-delivered in-person music lessons, small instrumental ensembles, and performance opportunities. Limited space is now available for our spring semester. 2QOLQH R΍HULQJV DYDLODEOH LPPHGLDWHO\

www.hbms.org Flexible Tuition Structure | Financial Aid Program Welcoming All Ages!

A supportive, joyful learning environment, a focus on the whole person, exceptional teaching, and a multifaceted curriculum.


Our Program Emphasizes Skill Progression and Safety Through Basic Skills, Drills, Apparatus Training, Floor, Uneven Bars, Balance Beams, Vault, and Tampoline

Sign up now for our upcoming semester! At Equalize Fitness

GymCats Gymnastics & Birthday Party Center One Odell Plaza, Yonkers (Exit 9 off Saw Mill River Pkwy)

914-965-7676 • info@gymcats.net www.Gymcats.net

January 2021 | Bronx/Westchester Family


catholic Schools Directory | Special Advertising Supplement

Celebrating academic excellence in the Dominican tradition Study



Just Actions

Cardinal Spellman High School One Cardinal Spellman Place, Bronx 718-881-8000 x 206 cardinalspellman.org Cardinal Spellman High School, a co-educational 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 sign-up for the exam, take their virtual tour, and learn more about Spellman!Â

Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of New York

Dominican Academy (D.A.) unites excellence in education with a vibrant, faith-based community IN the heart of Manhattan’s Upper East Side. D.A. has been recognized twice as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education, and by Niche as the #3 Catholic Girls School in New York State for 2021! 4HE ONLY ALL HONORS SCHOOL FOR GIRLS IN .9 3TATE s #LASSES NO LARGER THAN STUDENTS s STUDENT ACTIVITIES s #OMPETITIVE FOUR YEAR GUIDANCE PROGRAM AND COLLEGE PLACEMENT

Interested in admission as a 9th grader or transfer STUDENT #ONTACT OUR !DMISSIONS $IRECTOR -ADELEINE -ETZLER BY PHONE EXT OR EMAIL AT admissions@dominicanacademy.org.

Catholic College Preparatory School for Girls



Bronx/Westchester Family | January 2021

New York, Bronx 1011 First Avenue, New York NY646-794-2995 catholicschoolsny.org Supporting Hearts and Minds. Learning from home or in class, Catholic schools and hearts in Manhattan and The Bronx are open!These schools welcome families looking for personalized learning in a secure, nurturing environment. Personalized learning takes students to the next level, allowing teachers to tailor their lessons according to each student’s learning style, whether in class or from home!Invest now in a Catholic education: online admissions for 2021–22 are open. Apply before April 15, 2021, and save $100/ child in registration fees. Or book a VIRTUAL Visit at any Manhattan or Bronx schools. Visit catholicschoolsny.org/ admissions or call our bilingual Parent Helpline 646794-6885.Â

Dominican Academy (D.A.) 44 East 68th Street, New York, NY 10065 212-744-0195 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 programâ€? 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.â€? 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



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!



To Reserve Your Spot Email admissions@straymondhighschool.org or Call 718-824-5050 x106 College Preparatory Curriculum Honors Division 100% College Acceptances Individualized Course of Study Advanced Placement Courses State of the Art Technology Three new Science Labs

Two new Computer Labs Music and Art Studios College Counseling Championship Athletic Teams Intramural Sports Extracurricular Clubs and Activities Community Service Program

Fitness Center Batting Cages Fully Air-Conditioned Classrooms

Chromebook Program College Credit Program with Pace University

Now Accepting Applications for September 2021!



Tuition Frozen for all Four Years

Scholarships and Financial Aid Available

www.straymondhighschool.org • 718.824.5050x106 2151 St. Raymond Avenue, Bronx, NY 10462 For more information email admissions@straymondhighschool.org TACHS EXAM CODE 115 January 2021 | Bronx/Westchester Family


catholic Schools Directory | Special Advertising Supplement

Prep forms leaders in faith, scholarship, and service; the Fordham Prep experience lasts a lifetime.

Preston High School 2780 Schurz Ave., Bronx, NY 718-863-9134 Prestonhs.org Located on the East River, in the Throgs Neck neighborhood of the Bronx, Preston High School is an all-girls private Catholic school that offers a liberal education in a nurturing environment. Our student community reflects our city’s diversity, and our broad curriculum gives students the skills they need to become compassionate, courageous leaders. Preston offers both remote and in-person learning opportunities, over 33 clubs and extracurriculars, dual college credit classes, and AP classes with SUNY Albany. 100% of our graduates are accepted to colleges and universities across the country. We hope you’ll join us for Virtual Accepted

Students Night on February 4, 2021, at 6:30 pm—see your acceptance letter or check your email to register. Visit prestonhs.org/admissions to finalize the enrollment process, pay your registration fee, learn about scholarships and grants, and more!

offer an exemplary academic curriculum supplemented with visual arts instruction, weekly music lessons, physical education, and technology classes. They provide an early drop-off breakfast program and aftercare services until 6:00. Scholarships are available.

St. Brendan’s School 268 207th St., Bronx 718-653-2292 stbrendanschoolbronx.org For more than 100 years, this school has provided a quality Catholic education to its students in grades pre-K through 8th. They strive to educate the spirit and develop the intellect in an environment that emphasizes Christian values and creates an atmosphere fostering responsibility and courtesy. Your child will receive a strong academic education in structured surroundings. Selfdiscipline, responsibility, and self-motivation are among the benefits of the school’s program. Teaching the whole child is a priority, and they

St. Catharine Academy 2250 Williamsbridge Rd., Bronx 718-82-2882scah.org St. Catharine Academy has been preparing young women in the Mercy tradition for college success, leadership, and engagement in the world since 1889. They offer a rigorous academic curriculum, including Advanced Placement Courses, Regents Courses, and Academic Honors. A 1:1 iPad program is included in tuition, which allows the students to access their textbooks and take notes on their iPad provided by SCA. Graduates have earned over $111 million in academic scholarships and grants

over the last six years. They welcome young women of all faiths and backgrounds.

St. Helena Elementary School Parkchester 2050 Benedict Ave. 718-892-3234 sthelenaschoolbronxny.org A culturally diverse Middle School Accredited Catholic school that educates children from full-day pre-K to 8th grade in the Park Chester/ Castle Hill section of the Bronx. The school motto is “It’s Fun to be Good!” Students in grades 1 through 8 have a schedule from 8 a.m to 2:35 p.m. daily. Students enjoy two periods of gym, computers, and library each week in state-of-the-art facilities. Extracurricular activities include boys’ and girls’ basketball, track, bowling, volleyball, Cub Scouts, and summer camp. The graduates have earned over $300,000 in college scholarships. The Principal is Rich Meller.

PRESTON HIGH SCHOOL We have faith in Your future

Why Preston? ࠮ VM NYHK\H[LZ HJJLW[LK [V H wide variety of colleges & universities ࠮ +\HS JVSSLNL JYLKP[ JSHZZLZ HUK AP classes with SUNY Albany ࠮ *SHZZ VM ^HZ H^HYKLK million in scholarships and grants ࠮ 6]LY JS\IZ HUK L_[YHJ\YYPJ\SHYZ [V L_WSVYL·IV[O PU WLYZVU HUK virtually ࠮ 9LTV[L HUK PU WLYZVU SLHYUPUN opportunities

Virtual Accepted Students Night February 4, 2021 at 6:30 pm See your acceptance letter or check your email to register for the webinar.

;V HJJLW[ V\Y VɈLY VM HKTPZZPVU ]PZP[ WYLZ[VUOZ VYN HKTPZZPVUZ Finalize the enrollment process, pay your registration fee and so much more!

2780 Schurz Avenue, Bronx, NY 10465 • 718-863-9134 • PrestonHS.org


Bronx/Westchester Family | January 2021





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

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



Live Virtual Open House www.straymondacademy.org For more information contact

718-824-4220 ext. 1052 or email


1725 Castle Hill Avenue Bronx, NY 10462 A Community of Commitment, Faith, Respect & Learning

Tuition Will Remain the Same for All Four Years!

January 2021 | Bronx/Westchester Family


catholic Schools Directory | Special Advertising Supplement



In person hybrid learning available; COVID safety protocols in place; on-site sanitizing staff

The philosophy of St. Brendan’s School is to provide a quality Catholic education so that each child can develop his/her full human potential. We place the teachings of the Catholic faith at the core of the curriculum so that religious values permeate all subject areas. We continue to welcome all who seek and appreciate a value- centered, quality education.

268 East 207th Street, Bronx, NY 10467 718-653-2292 stbrendanschoolbronx@gmail.com StBrendanSchoolBronx.org

St. Raymond Academy for Girls 1725 Castle Hill Ave., Bronx 718-824-4220 saintraymondacademy.org A small Catholic high school for young women in an urban setting, St. Raymond Academy for Girls, inspires their students to reach their God-given potential in a safe, supportive, and diverse environment. Through a state-approved curriculum and extracurricular activities, they encourage their students to seek and value truth. By empowering them with an education that promotes a commitment to excellence, self-discipline, and strong Christian values, they challenge their students to become successful and accountable in a dynamic society. To learn more about the school, they invite you to take a virtual tour on their website.

St. Raymond Elementary School


Gives Your Child A Step Ahead With A Solid Academic Foundation, Catholic Values and A Warm, Caring Learning Environment

Experience the facilities and learn about the activities enjoyed by all our children. • • • • • • •

Before and After-School Programs Breakfast Program Lunch Program Children’s Choir Accelerated Mathematics Program Basketball and Cheerleading Active & Devoted Home/School Association

• • • • •

Italian language studies Boy and Girl Scout troops Mobil Computer Lab Smartboards in every classroom Physical Education — huge gym

• • Middle School Robotics Team


ST. THERESA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL 2872 St. Theresa Ave., Bronx, New York 10461 Telephone 718-792-3688 Visit our website at sttheresaschoolbronx.org

Father Thomas Derivan, PASTOR | Mrs. Josephine Fanelli, PRINCIPAL


Bronx/Westchester Family | January 2021

2380 E. Tremont Avenue, Bronx 718-597-3232 straymondelementary.org This school offers a fullday academic program for PreK3 through Grade 8 in a safe, nurturing, and academically motivating environment and a broad array of extracurricular activities. Their offerings include Catholic faith formation; advanced-level math and sciences; Italian; honors and enrichment programs; academic intervention and remedial programs; a full-time art teacher and strong music program, SMART boards in all classrooms; primary and middle-grade libraries; two science labs; two computer labs; a full sports program and fitness center; beforeand after-school programs; school nurse; air-conditioned classrooms; moderate tuition and financial assistance for those who qualify.

St Raymond High School for Boys 2151 Saint Raymond Avenue, Bronx 718-824-5050 x106 straymondhighschool.org

admissions@ straymondhighschool.org St. Raymond High School is a Catholic high school founded in 1960, offering a college preparatory curriculum that is uniquely designed to meet all students’ needs, encouraging critical thinking, creativity, and the ability to relate to the world. St. Raymond offers programs to students of varying academic ability levels, including honors, advance placement, and college credit. In addition to outstanding academics, St. Raymond has always been known for its championship athletic teams, extensive intramural sports program, and diverse extra-curricular activities. Enrollment 500; 97% of graduates attend college; Principal: Judith Carew; Tuition $7800 and fees $570; Virtual Winter Information Night: January 20, 2021, at 7 pm. Go to their website to reserve your spot or call 718-824-5050x106.

St. Theresa School 2872 St. Theresa Ave., Bronx, NY 718-792-3688 sttheresaschoolbronx.org Children are challenged by a stimulating academic, social and athletic curriculum infused with Catholic values. The program reflects an integrated learning experience for Pre-Kindergarten three year olds, Universal PreKindergarten four year olds, kindergarteners and students in grades one through eighth. Teachers, administrators, aides and other professionals impart their knowledge and extensive experience with enthusiasm and a truly caring respect for the children in their charge. The school provides before and after school programs, breakfast and lunch programs, choir, art, music, Italian language studies, computer classes, physical education and an accelerated mathematics program. St. Theresa’s offers children a place to grow and blossom with discipline and guidance.

We welcome young women of all faiths and backgrounds

St. Catharine Academy: Preparing Young Women for College Success, Leadership, and Engagement in the World Community

Core Values the SCA Way: • Educational Excellence through our rigorous academic curriculum (AP courses, Regents courses, Academic honors) • Compassion & Service • Concern for Women & Women’s Issues • World Vision & Responsibility • Spirituality Growth • Collaboration

“There could be no work more productive of good society ... then the careful instruction of women.” - Catherine McAuley

Join our Virtual Open House October 25th, 11:00am-2:00pm Register at www.scahs.org/openhouse20/

St. Catharine Academy 2250 Williamsbridge Road, Bronx N.Y. 10469 • 718-882-2882 • www.scahs.org


SS ,







St. Raymond Elementary School OWLEDGE

Where Your Child Is Part of Our Family FO

We offer full-day academic programs for Pre-K3 through Grade 8, advanced level math and science, honors and remediation programs, computer and science labs, sports, a fitness center, and a broad array of extracurricular activities.





Now accepting online applications for the 2021-2022 school year! Visit www.straymondelementary.org/online-application and click to apply online!

SS ,














St. Raymond Elementary School Fr. James Cruz, Pastor | Eugene Scanlon, Interim Principal 2380 East Tremont Avenue, Bronx, NY 10462

718-597-3232 • www.straymondelementary.org January 2021 | Bronx/Westchester 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


Bronx/Westchester Family | 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 | Bronx/Westchester 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.


“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

Bronx/Westchester Family | January 2021

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 | Bronx/Westchester Family


True Beauty Denise Nicole of A Brooklyn Babe on staycations, homeschooling, self-care & 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 now-husband 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. 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 im-


mersed 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 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

Bronx/Westchester Family | January 2021

visiting? 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

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.

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

enjoying the healing power of nature itself. We had a great time on the trails there. 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

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. Check out Denise on her site at abrooklynbabe. com and on IG @abrooklynbabe.

January 2021 | Bronx/Westchester 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


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.

Bronx/Westchester Family | January 2021

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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