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February 2021

newyorkfamily.com


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contents

February 2021 NewYorkFamily.com

pg. 14

pg. 28 pg. 20

pg. 10

pg. 26

FEATURES

Stories & columns

20 | Dental Getting your kids’ teeth back on track

6 | Editor’s Note February - Love Notes

22 | Real Estate 6 suburban towns families are flcking to from the city

8 | Tech Apps that help moms with self-care

26 | Melissa Ben-Ishay — A Sweet Take After Sour Year The mini cupcake empire’s creator on comfort zones, resilience, and why her team means everything to her

10 | Education Everything you need to know about Catholic Schools in 2021 28 | Beauty 5 products that can help you with mask breakouts and skincare 30 | Mom Stories What raising a child with Autism looks like for me

Camps 14 | Camp Safety Covid-19 safety changes for summer camps 31 | Virtual Summer Camp Fairs

Directories 16 | Charter School Listings

on the Cover Photo: Yumi Matsuo | yumimatsuostudio.com Make-up by: Jenn Dockendorf | jenndock.com Produced by: Donna Duarte-Ladd Written by: Cris Pearlstein | crispearlstein.com

(sign-up for Cris’s newsletter at crispearlstein.com!)

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NewYorkFamily.com | February 2021


Parents & Teachers: Parents & Teachers: partners in education partners in education

Apply today at Apply today at SuccessAcademies.org SuccessAcademies.org Apply to Success Academy today Apply to Success Academy today ApplyToSA.org ApplyToSA.org Outstanding, Outstanding, free free public public education education February 2021 | Brooklyn Family Outstanding, free public education

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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

February — Love Notes It is hard to believe we are already into the second month of 2021. We are happy for those who have received vaccines and hoping more are on their way for all who are patiently waiting. If you are starting to get the kids back to visiting the dentist, we have everything you need to know on safety protocols and what you can expect at your next visit, Teeth Back on Track (page 20). Looking into Catholic schools? We have an update on how Catholic Schools (page 10) are ensuring that students receive the best education while safely weathering this pandemic. Speaking of making it work, New York Family has moved our popular camp fairs to Free Virtual Camp Fairs. Much like speed

dating for parents, our virtual fairs will find the right camp for your kids. Register now, (page 31)! While parents still are juggling much these days, taking care of yourself needs to be top on the list of things to do. We have five apps that will help you on giving yourself some virtual Self-Care (page 8). Lastly, hello, it’s February, and we have Melissa Ben-Ishay, founder and CEO of our favorite cupcakes, Baked by Melissa (page 26), on this month’s cover. Contributor and writer Cris Pearlstein (crispearlstein.com) shares on this amazing mom, co-founder, and CEO of the best mini cupcakes in NYC.

Editorial Interns: Sabrina Lee, Augostina Mallous, Brooke Thompson

Contact Information

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

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

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

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

2020

New York Family is published monthly by Queens Family Media, LLC.

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

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Reproduction of New York Family Media in whole or part without written permission from the publisher is prohibited. All rights reserved. ©2021 Queens Family Media, LLC


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tech

Apps That Help Moms with Self-Care By Donna Duarte-LaDD

W

hether you are an introvert or an extrovert many mothers have shared that they feel disconnected from how we lived life a year ago. While virtual life can be both a blessing and a curse, it can also serve as a lifeline. Here are 5 apps that help focus on mental health, gratitude, or can serve as a tool to help you get through the day. Daily Self-Care: Shine Founded by two former work colleagues who realized that the support they provided to each other was instrumental. This support was “everything,” as they state on Shine, and they wanted to help more people. The Shine premium account offers many tiers of daily support. Start your morning with the ‘Daily Shine,’ a 9-minute breathing exercise that sets an intention such as helping you when life throws you a curveball. Or working on letting go of the past. You can ‘check-in’ for the day and click on the mood you are currently feeling or click on gratitude. Depending on your perspective, the app will provide you the tools to help your work through this feeling. For example, when I clicked that COVID19 was a worry, I was presented with a helpful article on “How to Build a Routine during the Pandemic.” The app offers a library of meditations (800 plus) from some pretty cool people covering topics that affect many mothers, such a COVID-19, Black Mental Health, and a biggie for moms, sleep. With gentle nudging from Shine, it will be suggested to write out a helpful mantra for the day or read or post it on the community board. Gratitude Journal: Presently If you own an Android and are looking to document what you are grateful for this year, then you may want to try Presently. This free app (and ad-free, whoo hoo) lets you record daily entries as well as a jaunt down past gratitudes. As busy parents know, it is easy to drop off from self-care; you can set helpful daily reminders to keep your practice going. It will also nudge you to share your thoughts by presenting you with an array of questions that get the brain and heart reflecting. You can treat Presently as your personal diary and keep your entries to yourself or share them with others. The app allows you to import and export entries.

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Meditation & Yoga Support: Insight Timer If anxiety or lack of sleep has been an issue for you, the Insight Timer app is a free app that has become quite popular. Insight Timer shares yoga, meditation, and live sessions that can help with sleep and anxiety. There is even a mediation guide the kids can join in on from the wildly optimistic and happy Goldie Hawn, “Keep Your MindUP For Your Brain”. . One of my personal favorite meditations is from the author and wellness consultant Alexander Elle “Re-Centering In Times Of Uncertainty.” If you would like to take your practice to the next level by having access to their library of micro-courses, you can sign up for a subscription that is $60 for the year. Vision Boarding: Canva Vision Boarding is when you create a ‘board’ that helps you set goals for the future. It is best to set a realistic number of goals, dig into old magazines, cut out words and images. A modern approach would be to design an

’a board’ via an app. Whether you craft on paper or your device, your board should feel inspirational and aspirational. Canva is free and offers fun fonts; using an array of templates, and you can add images, edit, change up with gorgeous filters, icons, and shapes. The app is free, but you are charged for any premium elements you add to your design. You can download in PNG, JPG, and PDF formats. Mood Self-Care: MindDoc If you suffer from depression, anxiety, or an eating disorder- MindDoc is a selfmanagement app that offers insights and monitors your mood. When many people do not have as many human connections as we had pre-pandemic- MindDoc can be a useful tool in self-management for mental health disorders. Not to replace a therapist or a psychologist, this app is when you need to check in with your feelings, and helpful words and calm help you. The app costs anywhere from $4.49 a month. MindDoc ranges from $24.99 to $47.99 a year.


Coming Soon in Montclair

February 2021 | Brooklyn Family

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Education

Catholic Schools

Everything you need to know By Mia SalaS

C

hoosing a school for your little scholar is always a time-consuming, challenging process. The global pandemic surely hasn’t made this process any easier for us New York parents as we navigate the oh-so-many options for school and try to figure out what school even looks like these days-- blended, in-person, virtual etc. To save you time (and stress!), we’ve got the scoop on Catholic Schools in New York City and Westchester.. If you’re considering a Catholic School for your kiddo, read on to learn about how these schools are getting creative with lesson plans, maintaining community, taking safety precautions, and so much more. First things first, you should know that The Archdiocese of New York invested over $18 million to ensure schools could open on time and without incident for the 2020-21 school year. School principals worked with the Catholic Schools Reopening Advisory Council to draft an opening plan that would get your little ones back onto a regular schedule. What we love about their plan is how accommodating and flexible it is for different family situations. For example, St. Anselm Elementary School is “offering the option of five full days in-person, hybrid and/or full remote to meet the needs of each family and the implementation of a Social-Emotional Program through a guidance counselor from Catapult Learning.” Catholic Schools like St. Anselm Elementary recognize that a cookie-cutter approach simply won’t work, because each family is different. That’s why, you can choose your child’s learning format depending on what you feel comfortable with and what works best for your family. While not every family is comfortable

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with in-person learning, we love that it is an option. Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens have provided five days a week, in-person learning since the beginning of the school year. “Every member of our school community has truly dedicated themselves to keeping our schools as safe as possible in the wake of this Coronavirus pandemic, and the results prove these efforts have worked,” says Dr. Thomas Chadzutko, Superintendent of Catholic Schools. Yet with the pandemic still carrying a lot of uncertainty, some Catholic Schools are currently teaching fully remote. Cardinal Spellman High School explains: “We started in September with a hybrid schedule...In recent weeks we have switched to full remote with the rising cases in the state of New York. It is our hope to be back to hybrid learning on February 1st.” More than ever, we want to know as NYC parents that schools are ready to adapt quickly, and that is just what Cardinal Spellman High School did. While the goal for NYC Catholic Schools is to offer 5 full days of classroom instruction whenever possible, they are also fully prepared to move to a virtual platform to maintain the health and safety of their students, faculty, and staff.

Speaking of health and safety, you may be wondering how NYC Catholic Schools are taking precautions and making sure that your little one returns home happy and healthy. Maria Regina High School says: “All students are required to complete a daily Health Screening through the app SchoolPass...Students and staff entering the building have their temperature checked before signing in and moving to their classes for the day....Lunches are pre-ordered and individually bagged. We have increased our maintenance staff to deeply disinfect our school building each night after students and staff have left for the day”. While the classroom certainly looks different this year with social distancing, temperature checks, and Zoom club meetings, the most important takeaway is that Catholic Schools are here to support you and your family along the way. We love how Cardinal Spellman High School started #SpellmanStrong on social media to lift spirits and maintain community online. Supporting families financially is also a priority. St. Catharine Academy says: “The fact that SCA provides an iPad to every student as part of tuition created a level playing field for all students whether they


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February 2021 | Brooklyn Family

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Education

were in school or remote. We created The Pandemic Fund last spring to assist families struggling with tuition payments...We have also provided food gift certificates for families in need with support from the Sisters of Mercy.” Catholic Schools also support your kiddos by maintaining normalcy when possible. St. Raymond Academy for Girls explains: “The Academy is keeping with traditions such as hosting virtual spirit week and Christmas activities.” St. Joseph’s School was also able to move one of their beloved traditions online: “In a regular school year, we have family coffee houses in our auditorium hosted by our talented music teacher, Bridget Hogan...Virtual coffee houses began in March and have been going strong ever since.” Catholic Schools are truly going above and beyond to not only establish normalcy, but continue to grow and develop. Kerry Schmid, Dean of Student Life and Athletic Director at St. Catharine Academy, says, “While many schools have suspended their service program and requirements, we have done more than ever before. All of our service opportunities have been done remotely and have provided students with an opportunity to serve others in a safe manner.” We all know that support also means communication. So if you choose an NYC Catholic School, how will you stay informed with what’s going on? “Our families stay connected to the school community via a number of channels,” says St. Raymond Elementary School, “We post updates of important information for parents both on our school website and on our Facebook page. In addition, our principal Eugene Scanlon emails updates to all parents and also sends home hard copies of announcements...Mr. Scanlon also publishes his Monthly Messages newsletter, which goes to parents and is also posted on our website.” We appreciate how St. Raymond Elementary School provides not just one, not just two, but multiple outlets for communication. St. Brendan School adds that “teachers are in contact with the families daily; we continue to maintain open lines of communication and supply updates on a weekly basis and as needed.” It’s always great to get to know your little one’s teachers, but it has become more important than ever! St. Brendan School, alongside other NYC Catholic Schools, emphasize “direct outreach from the teachers” so that you can stay upto-date with your child’s progress and the

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school’s guidelines. And let’s not forget the power of social media to connect us-- NYC Catholic Schools have made clever use of social media channels to get info out quickly. Maria Regina High School says: “Our social media sites have been growing increasingly active, so parents and extended family members get a glimpse of what a typical MRHS experience has been like.” Now that you know all about the current state of NYC Catholic Schools, you may still have some more general questions about whether a Catholic School is the right fit for your kiddo. Well, we’ve got you covered with that too. Here’s the rundown: Catholic values and academic excellence guide NYC Catholic Schools. Students learn in an environment where respect, courtesy, and service to others are always part of the curriculum. Not only do these schools offer Math, Religion, English language Arts, History, and Science, but they have expanded technology in the classroom and STEM programs. The most recent New York State Education Department Examination results show that Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of New York outperformed New York State and New York

City Schools in performance growth over each of the past five years. Immaculate Heart of Mary, for example, has over 90 years of exceptional Pre-K to 8th grade education, and it’s been recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. But New York Catholic Schools are about a lot more than academic results. “When you send your children to Catholic school you are sending them for the community,” explains one parent in a recent Archdiocese of New York survey. Another parent adds: “My children love their school. It is like family to us. They love their teachers. The teachers are the backbone of the school.” Community is a foundation at these schools, and it’s been a top priority to maintain during these challenging times. When asked about how remote learning is going, one parent notes: “Our school has handled distance learning well, and my child still feels connected to his classroom. He’s made growth despite not being in a physical classroom.” Want to learn more about Catholic Schools and see if they’re the right fit for your family? Visit catholicschoolsny.org, check out catholicschoolbq.org, you can also go online to book a virtual tour.


Check out our new site! We’ve given our New York Family website a major makeover

Visit newyorkfamily.com to check it out and sign up for our weekly newsletters! February 2021 | Brooklyn Family

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camps

Safety Changes for Summer Camps What you need to know about adjustments for COVID-19 By Jess Michaels

L

et’s talk about camp safety. It’s impossible to predict exactly where we will be with COVID-19 by summer, however, both day camps and overnight camps operated last summer successfully amid a global pandemic and campers had a safe, fun and healthy summer. Camps have put numerous protocols in place to mitigate the risk of COVID and while no environment can be 100% COVID free at this time, the summer camps that operated in the region had either no COVID cases or very few positive cases which were effectively managed and didn’t spread among the camp community. Camps have a blueprint on how to operate safely during COVID and the good news is that even the camps that didn’t open last summer, will be open for this summer. Here are a number of safety measures that camps implemented last summer. You can expect to see many of these changes at camp but all final decisions will be made closer to the summer with COVID changing so rapidly. Although camps may look a little different than in summers past, the core fundamentals of what makes camp so special and valuable for children such as gaining independence, building self-esteem and making new friends in an outdoor environment, remain the same and these opportunities feel more important now than ever before. Day Camp Safety Daily Temperature Checks – Children and staff were required to have their temperatures taken daily before attending camp. If your child had a fever, they were asked to stay home for a certain number of days and some camps required a negative COVID test or a note from your pediatrician before returning to camp. Daily Health Screening – Families were asked to fill out daily health screenings. If

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a child or staff were exhibiting any COVID symptoms or had traveled to certain states, they were asked to stay home from camp. Reduced capacity – Camps ran at a reduced capacity of campers to maintain social distancing guidelines. Outside activities – Because the spread of COVID is reduced when outdoors, many camps ran outdoor programs and maximized their outdoor space. Hand hygiene – Hand hygiene was a top priority at camp, with additional hand washing and hand sanitizer stations throughout camp. Children cleaned their hands before, during and after activities. Many camp directors reported a decrease in common sicknesses over the summer because of diligent hand hygiene. Cohorts/pods – Camp groups acted as cohorts where they stayed together throughout the day and didn’t intermingle with other groups. State guidelines will determine if cohorts are needed and if so, the size of them for 2021. Additional cleaning & disinfecting – Camps have always cleaned and disinfected equipment and activity areas but with COVID, those cleanings increased throughout the day and included a deeper cleaning. Lunch– To limit the number of people gathering together, lunch times were staggered and lunch took place outside. Many camps also switched the way they served lunch from family-style or buffet to prepackaged lunches. Rainy Days – Because camps ran activities outside for the most part, some camps built in “rain days” last summer, very much like snow days where there wasn’t camp on extremely wet days.

Masks – Last summer, all staff wore masks and children wore masks on buses and when social distancing couldn’t be maintained. Eliminated activities – There were certain activities that were eliminated from the camp program because of too much contact with other people or equipment. Busing – Some camps decided to run busing last summer and some didn’t but camps will do busing in 2021. Due to social distancing guidelines, there may be less children on each bus this summer, children may be wearing masks and children may sit alone, with a sibling or with a camper from their group. Field trips – While out of camp trips have always been fun, camps eliminated them last summer to reduce exposure to other people. Field trips will be determined by each camp and final decisions on them will occur closer to summer when directors can evaluate where the state is with COVID-19. Overnight Camp Safety Testing – The use of COVID-19 tests was part of how overnight camps were able to mitigate the risk of COVID at camp last


summer. Both campers and staff were required to take a test a number of days before camp and then again once at camp. Testing wasn’t the one magic bullet but was used as part of a multi-layered system to mitigate the risk of COVID at camp. Testing may look different this summer as advancements in testing occur and final decisions on testing will occur closer to summer.

Outdoors – Overnight camps used their vast outdoor space to help mitigate the risk of COVID and spent as much time outdoors as possible which reduces the risk of spreading COVID.

All camp gatherings – One of the most special parts of overnight camp is when the whole camp comes together for all camp gatherings. After it was deemed safe to all come together, these larger camp gatherings were able to occur safely.

Masks – Masks were used when social distancing couldn’t be maintained between cohorts or when an all camp gathering was occurring.

Dining – Each camp that opened did dining differently however campers ate outside more frequently and some camps staggered eating times.

Temperature checks & Daily Health Screening – Like day camps, camper and staff had their temperature taken each morning and a health screening was given daily at overnight camp.

Inter-camp Games – While intercamp games have long been a tradition of overnight camps, last year there were no inter camps to mitigate the risk of COVID. Decisions on inter-camp games will be made closer to summer.

Visiting Day – Last summer, the overnight camps that ran didn’t offer a visiting day. This was because the camp session was shorter and also it ensured the bubble they created at camp remained COVID free. Decisions on Visiting Day will be made closer to the summer depending on rates of infection at the time.

Cohorts/Pods – With the goal of all campers being able to come together after a period of time, many overnight camps had cohorts or families where those campers started camp together and only intermingled with their cohort for the first 2-3 weeks of camp. As time went on and camp was deemed COVID free, campers were able to come together as a camp while also maintaining distancing between other cohorts. It is too early to tell whether camps will need to have cohorts and pods for the summer.

Cleaning/disinfecting – As with day camps, there was an increase in cleaning and disinfecting around camp from equipment to facilities. Hand hygiene – Camps increased hand hygiene among campers and staff with additional hand washing and hand sanitizing throughout the day. Overnight camp directors also reported less common sicknesses because of the additional hand hygiene.

Camp trips – Trips outside of camp were eliminated last summer. What camp trips will look like this summer will all depend on what the rates of COVID infection are in the states the camps are located in and where the campers are traveling to. Speak directly with camp directors at New York Family’s Virtual Camp Fairs: newyorkfamily.com/camps-nyc February 2021 | Brooklyn Family

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charter Schools Directory | Special Advertising Supplement

Brooklyn Charter School 545 Willoughby Ave, 3rd Floor, Brooklyn 718- 808-6271 brooklyncharter.org Our vision: At BCS we have a precious opportunity to prepare children to be successful and to engage them in making meaningful contributions to the world in which we live. Our mission is to provide a rigorous academic program supported by the Arts and Technology that cultivates the whole child. Through achievement and creativity, and in partnership with our families, students will develop the necessary confidence, intellectual capacity and leadership skills to prepare them for an evolving global society.

Brooklyn Dreams Charter School 259 Parkville Ave

Brooklyn Excelsior Charter School 856 Quincy St

Williamsburg Charter High School (WCHS)

Applications available for the 2021-2022 school year Upcoming Virtual Open Houses: March 6th and March 20th, 10am - 12pm

WCHS offers: • Advanced Placement (AP) and Syracuse University Project Advance (SUPA) classes • Special Education (SPED) and English as a New Language (ENL) services

• Student-driven course selection • Social emotional supports • Visual and performing arts, extracurricular activities, and athletics

Visit www.thewcs.org to

APPLY NOW 198 Varet Street Brooklyn, NY 11206 admissions@thewcs.org

347-217-6995

Brooklyn Scholars Charter School 2635 Linden Blvd, Brooklyn nhaschools.com National Heritage Academies (NHA) operates three tuitionfree, public charter schools in Brooklyn: Brooklyn Dreams Charter School, Brooklyn Excelsior Charter School, and Brooklyn Scholars Charter School. Each school, based in its own building, shapes instruction to build on the strengths and abilities of each child. Our goal is to see every child build the knowledge, skills, and character they need to excel in school and life. As a network, all NHA schools share a common vision, while each school enjoys the flexibility of tailoring its program to meet the needs of its community. To find a school in Brooklyn, visit nhaschools.com.

Brooklyn Rise Charter School 475 53rd Street - 2nd Floor Sunset Park 347-470-9833 info@brooklynrise.org www.brooklynrise.org A tuition-free public charter school that builds the knowledge, habits, and mindsets for academic success, ensur-

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NewYorkFamily.com | February 2021

ing all kindergarten through fifth-grade students are on the path to college. Their conviction is that all children should have access to and can succeed in a rigorous college preparatory school environment regardless of economic status, zip code, race, family education level or home language. Currently enrolling Kindergarten through 3rd grade for the 2021-2022 school year.

Explore Schools Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, Flatbush, and Canarsie 718- 989-6730 exploreschools.org information@explorenetwork. org At Explore Schools, students are taught the academic skills they’ll need to succeed in a college-preparatory high school – and, just as importantly, to love learning right now. A network of elementary and middle schools, they offer a rigorous and inclusive academic program, with small-group instruction, an extended school day, Common-Core aligned curricula and enrichment classes. Their classrooms are joyful and safe spaces. They are proud of their school culture, which is characterized by hard work, achievement and mutual respect between students and adults. Parents are an important part of their community. They encourage your involvement and volunteering efforts. They welcome English Language Learners and students with special needs, and offer special education, counseling and support services. Their schools are located in Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, Flatbush and Canarsie.

Launch Expeditionary Learning Charter School 1580 Dean Street, Brooklyn 718- 715-1191 launchschool.org Launch is a 6th – 8th grade middle school located on the border of Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights where every child and every family is known well and cared for, and every student develops both their intellect and their character in order to achieve


WHERE KIDS SUCCEED ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE • MORAL FOCUS

NATIONAL HERITAGE ACADEMIES operates public charter schools in Brooklyn. Each school has its own building. Brooklyn Dreams Brooklyn Excelsior Brooklyn Scholars Charter School Charter School Charter School 259 Parkville Ave

856 Quincy St

2635 Linden Blvd

K-8 • Tuition-Free • Safe Seats Available • Apply Today Visit nhaschools.com or call 929.364.4141. February 2021 | Brooklyn Family

17


charter Schools Directory | Special Advertising Supplement

more than they thought possible. Launch partners with NYC Outward Bound Schools and EL Education to bring our vision to life! Students have the opportunity to learn with purpose, develop their character, and unleash their potential through compelling hands-on learning and a deep sense of belonging and personal agency. Launch is a restorative justice school where all students are supported

to be their best. We offer many different extracurricular opportunities for students including our daily free after school program, and academic, arts, and sports enrichment through our community partners. Launch students attend the very best college preparatory high schools in New York City and beyond. Students can apply on our website or by phone. Join us for a Virtual Information Ses-

"The school that everyone calls home." Contact us to schedule a virtual tour and apply now:

Our mission is to provide a rigorous academic program supported by the Arts and Technology that cultivates the whole child. Through achievement and creativity, and in partnership with our families, students will develop the necessary confidence, intellectual capacity and leadership skills to prepare them for an evolving global society.

Check out our new site! We’ve given our New York Family website a major makeover

Visit newyorkfamily.com to check it out and sign up for our weekly newsletters! 18

NewYorkFamily.com | February 2021

sion: Tuesday, February 9th at 6:00pm OR Wednesday, March 17h at 6:00pm

LEEP Dual Language Academy Charter School 5323 Fifth Avenue, 2nd Floor, Brooklyn 917- 819-LEEP (5337) leepacademies.org LEEP Dual Language Academy Charter School is a Spanish-language immersion elementary school in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Enrolling at LEEP Academy will give your child the academic, cognitive, and cultural benefits of speaking a second language, along with a challenging academic experience—and no tuition bill. The school is led by a proven leadership team and experienced teachers from across Latin America and the United States, all of them fully bilingual. Now accepting applications for the 2021-22 school year. Applications are free and open to children entering K-2, regardless of language background. The school will grow to serve K-5, with a possible continuation into middle school. DOE school bus service is available from most neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Afterschool programs are available until 6pm daily, including arts, exercise, and homework help in English and Spanish. Apply by April 1 to make sure your child is included in the admissions lottery!

Success Academy Charter Schools Schools in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens & The BronxElementary School, Middle School, High School 646-597-4641 successacademies.org Admission is open to all NYS children, including those with special needs and English language learners. Students are admitted by a random lottery held each April. The 47 schools serving 20,000 students in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and The Bronx are able to operate with greater independence than zoned schools, but are held strictly accountable to the state for student performance. The schools function as one system and as students

advance, teachers and school leaders collaborate on each child’s academic and social emotional welfare to ensure scholars transition smoothly. An engaging and rigorous approach is tailored across each school level to teach core knowledge and critical thinking and then develop the independence and self-advocacy skills scholars will need to excel.

Uncommon Schools NYC 718- 363-5024 uncommonschools.org/ enrollnyc Uncommon Schools NYC is a free K-12 public charter school in Brooklyn accepting applications in grades K through 8 for fall 2021. Our 24 schools provide a loving yet rigorous learning environment that guides each child to success in college and beyond. Join Uncommon NYC in developing today’s learners into tomorrow’s leaders! Apply today at uncommonschools.org/enrollnyc or call (718) 363-5024. Application deadline is April 1st.

Williamsburg Charter High School 198 Varet St., Brooklyn 347-217-6995 thewcs.org admissions@thewcs.org The Williamsburg Charter High School unites youth, families, staff, teachers and the community at large in providing young people with the tools necessary to make sense of the world, preparing them in their journey to become citizens of the local and global community. Young people accomplish this through participation in a liberal arts education that includes language, literature, writing, science, history, mathematics, the visual and performing arts, technology and explorations in disciplines designed to teach justice, independent thinking, respect and compassion for themselves and others as well as the skills of critical thinking, communication and research. Visit our site to join one of our upcoming Virtual Open Houses and to Apply for the 2021-22 school year.


A SPANISH�LANGUAGE IMMERSION ELEMENTARY SCHOOL IN SUNSET PARK, BROOKLYN LEEP Dual Language Academy is now accepting applications for the 2021-22 school year. Applications are free and open to children entering K-2, regardless of language background. The school will grow to serve K-5, with a possible continuation into middle school.

Apply by APRIL 1 to make sure your child is included in the admissions lottery! DOE school bus service is available from most neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Afterschool programs are available until 6pm daily.

APPLY TODAY FOR 6TH, 7TH, OR 8TH GRADE

Twice the Language, Twice the Opportunity!

1580 DEAN STREET AT THE CORNER OF TROY WWW.LAUNCHSCHOOL.ORG

SCAN TO APPLY

5323 Fifth Avenue, 2nd Floor | Brooklyn, NY 11220 (917) 819-LEEP (5337) | www.leepacademies.org

Uncommon Schools New York City

We are dedicated to serving all students. Language learners (ELL) and students requiring special services are encouraged to apply.

February 2021 | Brooklyn Family

19


Dental

Teeth

Back on track How to return your family to safe and healthy dental care By LiLya Horowitz, DDS,FaGD

A

nother year has flown by, and if you are a parent, you have taken into account all the things that did not happen as planned in 2020. Things like family vacations and celebrations, you may not have gotten a haircut for yourself recently or gone to the gym in the last 10 months. Many of these things were probably beyond your control, and some are still not possible due to safety restrictions. However, one thing necessary that you may have neglected last year is taking care of your family’s dental health. Your oral health mirrors your overall physical health, and many times, it is your dentist that may spot or diagnose a problem before your physician. Your mouth contains evidence of inflammation, stress, sleep deprivation, gastrointestinal issues, and many more things beyond your typical achy tooth. For children, early orthodontic intervention may be the key to prevent a lifetime of sleep and breathing issues, as well as unfavorable facial and airway development. It is important to have a dentist check your teeth regularly so that we can catch minor problems before they turn into larger ones that often become much more expensive to fix. Having a plan to keep your teeth healthy with consistent care and dental visits will ensure that you have a happy, healthy smile for the rest of your life. This is why going to the dentist for you, and your family has never been more important. Is going to the dentist safe? This is a common question and concern. Dental offices have always been at the forefront of infection control and safety,

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long before the COVID-19 pandemic. Since aerosols are produced from most dental procedures, most dentists have already maintained strict infection control protocols. The adjustments we have had to make due to the pandemic have been relatively easy to get used to. A study by the American Dental Association found the COVID-19 rate among dentists is less than 1%.1 Some things you may want to look for is a dental office that clean, modern and has embraced modern technology to make dental care for your family safe, convenient, and easy. Surgical grade air-filtration units, strict PPE, and social distancing protocols should also be a must when looking for a new dental home. As of January 4, 2021, dental practices of all types became eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines.2 If you have any specific concerns about a particular office and cannot get a clear picture through their website, there should be an easy way to contact that office available to address your concerns. If you

find that you are being brushed off or given unclear answers, it is probably a good idea to find an office that aligns better with your needs. Find a dentist in your neighborhood I am a big believer in supporting your local businesses, and now that many of us are working from home, it may be the perfect time to find a dentist right in your neighborhood. It is always nice to avoid taking public transportation, especially with kids in tow, and it always makes it easier to return for any follow-up visits and stay on track with regular ones. I don’t know about you, but physically picking up the phone and speaking to another human to make an appointment for something is a significant barrier in me making this appointment. For this exact reason, 24/7 online scheduling is a big plus in my book for any business I would like to use. As a mom, sometimes the only times I am thinking clearly without outside voices


Your oral health mirrors your overall physical health, and many times, it is your dentist that may spot or diagnose a problem before your physician. or an avalanche of thoughts may be at 9 pm after the kids go to sleep (or maybe 5 am), but it’s definitely never at a time when I would realistically expect an actual person to answer the phone. It also can allow you to reschedule that appointment to accommodate any changes easily. There have been some changes in protocols at the dentist, and you may have some questions. You may want to get those questions answered in advance. You may also want to be able to have your new patient paperwork completed before and have any dental insurance verified before you bring the entire family. Finding an office that implements virtual consultations, paperless online forms, and is staffed with a great patient care coordinator to walk you through the process is important for a smooth and seamless visit. Find an office that can care for the whole family As a parent, I find it much easier for me to use the same healthcare provider for everyone in the household for routine visits. This is why you may want to take advantage of seeing a family dentist that sees children and adults. Pediatric dentists do cater exclusively to the younger patient population it is up to you to decide what will work the best for you and kiddos. Family dental offices like ours offer safe family visits, where you can book all your appointments back to back and feel comfortable knowing that at the time of your

Dentist Lilya Horowitz in her Brooklyn office. visit, your family will be the only patients we have in the entire office. There are televisions on the ceiling with wireless noise-canceling headphones to entertain and distract both children and adults, as well as age-specific snacks and goodie bags to take with you when you leave. Modern practices work with you to verify all insurance and new patient paperwork and answer any questions about your visit virtually so that from the moment you arrive, you will be led straight to the treatment room with no time in the waiting area. We welcome parents to come into the office with their children at the time of their appointments if this makes you and your children feel more comfortable. After your visit, knowing that offices offer touchless payment solutions and can answer any follow up questions that you may have via text and email to avoid any extra phone time creates additional peace of mind. Life as a parent in NYC is not easy, and

keeping your family’s dental health in check should be simple. Getting everyone in your family back on track with their dental health is a must for beautiful and healthy smiles in 2021. Dr. Lilya Horowitz opened Williamsburg-based dental boutique Domino Dental in September 2019. As a Brooklyn native, Dr. Lilya values the importance of having great dental care at the fingertips of New Yorkers and offers comprehensive dental care for the whole family. Dr. Lilya is in the top 6% of general dentists in the country. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Rochester and completed her advanced dental degree at New York University’s College of Dentistry. She started her career working at other dental practices in Manhattan and now designs dream smiles at Domino Dental. RefeRences 1. ADA study finds cOVID-19 rate among dentists less than 1% 2. Governor cuomo Updates new Yorkers Vaccination efforts Across new York

February 2021 | Brooklyn Family

21


Real Estate

6 Suburban Towns Families are flocking to from the city

By Donna Duarte-Ladd

I

t may seem like there is a mass exodus out of the city — I count eight families from my neighborhood who have moved away in the last year. Many have left for different reasons. Financial, schools, one friend wanted to be near the ocean. Another wanted to be near her parents.

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All of them say the same thing. They decided to move for their family, but they all wanted to be close enough that New York City still feels part of their lives. Making the decision to move to the suburbs for some may be an easy move, while others need a bit more intel to move to your new home. I get it; here are six places to check out that are worth moving to and not far from your first love, NYC.


Real estate

Westfield, NJ Located in Union County, New Jersey, this town is only 22 miles from Manhattan. Westfield’s commuters dream town is dubbed as a “classic town for modern families” rich in culture and architecture. Whether working remotely or from home, one reason families are moving to this town is it’s quick access to the city. Families benefit from top-rated schools, which includes six elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school. Families can enjoy access to numerous parks, greenery, golf courses, recreational facilities. And no need to venture far to shop and dine on delicious food as Westfield is known for its vibrant shopping and 231 Kimball avenue. agent: Frank D. Isoldi / Coldwell Banker dining with over 450 stores! Westfield has that bustling energy where young families are moving about their days’ mixed residents who have been there upgrade boasting quality craftsmanship throughout and gorgeous for generations making for a community that feels warm and curb appeal. This remarkable home is situated on professionally welcoming. landscaped property, including a two-car attached garage, a Frank D. Isoldi of Coldwell Banker, the realtor of this droolcovered patio, and an additional two-tier bluestone patio boasting worthy house, says, “Set on one of Westfield’s most recognizable a fireplace and a stone station with grill and refrigerator, perfect streets, the impressive home underwent an extensive addition & for entertaining.“

MoNtclair/ GleN ridGe NJ You know who you are, the city folks, who swore they would never leave the urban life. But now, a few kids later, a flexible job, and the need for space have you searching for a home in a diverse community. At only 12 miles from New York City, Montclair/Glen Ridge beckons. Amy Owen of Keller Williams understands her clients and shares, “Montclair is the closest suburb with a city-like feel, boasting many of the characteristics city dwellers fear giving up!” Amy is right. City folks will feel at home with Montclair’s bustling restaurant scene that, even in the time of COVID, have pivoted to safely serve up the eclectic located on Glen Ridge’s most prominent street — a classic and immaculate Colonial range of dishes from the many available featuring beautiful original details and modern updates, 7 bedrooms, and 3.2 baths. Close to dining options. The downtown area downtown. agent: amy Owens/ Keller Williams has lovely stores that feel special. On Bloomfield Ave, you will find one of my favorite shops, Parcel, where you can shop for gifts, handmade excellent public schools and top-rated private schools. Amy shares, stationery, and trinkets from all over the world. Since schools are “Nearly ninety percent of Montclair High School graduates go on on the top of many reasons families move to the suburbs, new to post-secondary institutions of higher learning, including Ivy residents will appreciate that the Montclair school system offers League universities and dozens of highly competitive schools.” February 2021 | Brooklyn Family

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ReAl eStAte

Maplewood, NJ I speak the truth when I share that I have lost count on how many of my friends have moved to this picturesque town. At only thirty minutes from the city, I get it. The NJ Transit train has a midtown direct that can get you into the city in under 45 minutes. The tree-lined streets and beautiful houses beckon even the most hardcore city type. The town is rich in diversity, with many religions and lifestyles welcomed. The schools are high performing. Mark Slade of Keller Williams Realtors’s own son recently graduated from Columbia High school, and he shares, “The schools are very good. We have students matriculating to the Ivy League Schools, but also to renowned worldwide universities as well as schools like Juilliard. Columbia High School is purported to have the widest variety of AP-Advanced Placement courses and offers a tremendous number of sports and clubs.”

17 Courter features a designer open kitchen, spacious rooms, 6 bedrooms and/or office space, and 3 and one-half bath. Close to the train station and downtown Maplewood and Memorial Park. Agent: Mark Slade, Keller Williams

Rye, Ny If you are looking to go coastal, you are going to want to check out Rye, New York. Yes, it is a suburban town, yet it is unique in many ways. It has 34 acres of public beaches as well as five private beach clubs. There are also a public golf course for more family fun (okay, maybe that’s for the adults) and a public pool, parks and the historic Art Deco amusement park, Rye Playland. Located in Westchester County, Rye is a 40-minute trip on Metro-North Railroad to Grand Central. Both public and private schools in Rye City are rich in academic and extracurricular offerings and 51 Green Avenue. Agent: Fiona Dogan / Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty offer top education choices for families. A home we recently spied at 51 Green Avenue really caught neighborhoods, it is just steps from the beach, town park, marina, our eye. Fiona Dogan of Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty clubs, shops, restaurants, and an award-winning elementary noted, “It’s a contemporary Colonial that recently underwent school. For today’s work-at-home environment, a fourth bedroom/ a total luxury renovation. Situated in one of Rye’s premier guest suite/office is quietly tucked away.”

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ReAL eSTATe

Short hillS/ Millburn, nJ At 25 miles from Manhattan, Short Hills/Millburn in New Jersey is ideal if looking to truly live the contemporary suburban life, yet still have an easy commute to the city. Many fashionistas know this area for premium shopping, so trekking to the city is not needed. Also, many Manhattanites take pride in their parks, and so does Short Hills/ Millburn, which are surrounded by gorgeous parks. The schools are topnotch with a ranking of #2 in Niche 2021 Best School 55 Highland Avenue, Short Hills. Agent: Victoria Carter/ Weichert Districts in New Jersey. Houses in Short Hills/ Millburn NJ, are beautiful, with many having cool design addelevator or private staircase, conducive to multi-generational ons. living as well as many quiet retreats throughout the residence Real Estate agent Victoria Carter of Weichert shares that to facilitate working and studying from home.” The Millburn her latest house listing at 55 Highland Avenue in Short Hill Township website shares the fun fact that “Short Hills was the encompasses “A fully-equipped in-law apartment accessible by first planned commuter suburb in America.”

rye brook, ny You had me at “village.” At 3.5 square miles, Rye Brook is a village in Westchester County nestled between Greenwich & Rye. For families who think moving hours away is the only way they will find an idyllic community, you will be pleasantly surprised and in awe of Rye Brook. The express train is a 40-minute ride to Grand Central, and peak service clocks in around 20 minutes. To get to the train from your home is a 5 to 10-minute drive. And what is it like to live in a village? Fantastic shopping and dining can be found throughout the town. Trusted realtor Kori Sassower of Compass also shares, “The town itself has two fantastic parks where the kids can run & play. Great Located on 71 Windingwood Road is brand new construction on .4 acres for under $1.7 pretty amazing! 4,000 SF with 5 bedrooms. The location is amazing in the heart of desired sports fields, beautiful beaches, hiking Pine Ridge Neighborhood. Agent: Kori Sassower/Compass trails, a famed downtown concert hall, golf, pool, and tennis clubs. Whether you are going to a homecoming game, enjoying a movie in Pine Ridge of town that you see your neighbors in your front yard, but your Park, celebrating Rye Brook’s annual birthday bash at Crawford backyard is private. The streets are filled with kids, dogs, strollers, Park or letting the dogs run in the dog park, you will find there walkers, and runners.” much to be entertained by in this wonderful town. People fall in If looking for a laid back vibe close to the city, this is one spot love with Rye Brook for its true neighborhood feel. It is the kind to check out. February 2021 | Brooklyn Family

25


Melissa Ben-ishay

A Sweet Take After a Sour Year Baked by Melissa’s founder and creator on comfort zones, resilience, and why her team means everything to her By Cris Pearlstein

W

hen I was a fashion editor at a big magazine a lot of companies sent me gifts. The best ones came in white pizza-style boxes. The boxes were from a new company that everyone was buzzing about, Baked by Melissa, and were filled with tiny bite-sized cupcakes. My coworkers and I were thrilled every time there was a delivery. I’d open the box and we’d all stand around it, surveying the bounty and calling dibs on the ones we wanted. Each cupcake was a beautiful little work of art, as cute to look at as they were delicious to eat. The flavors were so unique, and the fact that each cupcake was barely bigger than a quarter meant you could actually try them all without getting sick. By 2012 it got to the point where I was probably eating them three times a week—and then bringing home extras for my husband who loved them as much as I did. My favorite flavor was Peanut Butter & Jelly, which was at once nostalgic and modern. Eating it was like taking a bite of the most perfect little sandwich, with the exact right amount of peanut butter and the exact right amount of jelly. But there was also Chocolate Chip Pancake, Red Velvet, S’mores, Cookie Dough, Cinnamon Bun, and Tie-Dye, among many others. The Tie-Dye cupcakes were the most eyecatching little treats I had ever seen, featuring a bright swirl of colors, like hot pink and electric blue. They were the real star of the show and, not surprisingly, they became the brand’s signature. In fact, it was the flavor that inspired the original brand logo, which they still use today. Fast forward to 2021 and those tie-dye cupcakes remain the number one best sellers. But the variety and creativity of flavors is really what makes the brand special. They always have at least 18 flavors at any given time, and are always working to create new ones.

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By “they” I mean founder Melissa Ben-Ishay and her husband Adi. They met on the day she opened her first store in SoHo and have been making cupcakes side by side ever since—she conceptualizes the flavors and he brings them to life as Director of Product. They have two daughters, Scottie age 5, and Lennie, age 2.5 and live across the river in Hoboken, NJ. I caught up with Melissa to hear how it’s been to run a business during a pandemic, what advice she has for other entrepreneurs, and what it’s like to work with your husband. What has been the biggest challenge in owning your own business during a global pandemic? It’s hard to pick just one! There is no option to fail. There is no playbook for how to get your business through a crisis like this, but that’s probably why I have learned so much over the past year. Also, I feel an incredible responsibility to my team. The added pressure I put on myself to get us through it made it more challenging, but I love a good challenge. Although I would never choose to run a business during a global pandemic, I am trying my best to focus on the silver linings and the personal growth I have experienced with my teammates over the past year. So what were the silver linings? Did you have any surprising victories in 2020 that you wouldn’t have expected? My team is without question my silver lining of 2020. Our team was able to pivot overnight to an e-commerce only business. They worked harder and smarter than ever before, often working early mornings, late nights, and through the weekend. Our team is what got us through 2020. What kind of pivots did you take in order to keep your business going? To keep our business running first and

foremost we had to keep everyone safe. We immediately purchased PPE for the whole team, built plexiglass dividers for our retail stores and the bakery, and implemented social distancing guidelines. When we reopened our stores in June, we moved to pre-packed, pre-assorted boxes, and we only allowed one customer in the store at a time. Another big change we made was having only one team member working one shift a day—this meant shorter hours of operation, yes, but it also meant increased safety for our team, for our customers, and for the community. It was the right thing to do. What advice would you give to a mom who is trying to start a business? When you are setting out to start your own business it really has to be your top priority. My biggest piece of advice to any parents just starting out is to make sure you have a strong support system. Having people who love and support you will provide the encouragement you’ll inevitably need when you aren’t feeling super positive. You also need to find people who are willing to help out with childcare. Once you establish your support network it is then essential to understand what you are great at, and what you’re not. It’s important to identify where you are not the expert, and then bring people in to do that work. I did not build Baked by Melissa on my own, not even close. I surrounded myself with people who had skills I did not have, and together we founded this incredible company. I know your husband is also your business partner. How does that work as far as living and working together? Do you have any ground rules or boundaries set up? My husband, Adi, and I met on the day we opened our very first store in SoHo. He was bartending at a nearby bar and a customer asked him, “who is this beautiful woman?” to which he responded, “she’s going to be my wife.” And he was right! Since we met at the beginning of the Baked by Melissa journey, all we knew was spending all day every day together


elected by my board to step in—I was in shock. The role was extremely outside of my comfort zone, which I usually love, but I was scared. Looking back, I think being scared is ultimately what made it exciting for me. I thought it would be temporary until we found the right person to fill the role for the long term, but I quickly learned that the right person for the job was me all along. I went from stepping into the CEO role to leading our company through our busiest holiday season ever, right into Valentine’s Day, which is our single busiest week of the whole year. And then, as if that wasn’t enough, hello global pandemic! Talk about CEO bootcamp. Of course I hate that we are in a pandemic, but I have loved the business challenges that came along with it because I’m grateful for all I’ve learned. Through these unique experiences as CEO I have gained self-confidence I did not have before. I am living proof that you can do absolutely anything you set your mind to. I think women in general do not give themselves enough credit and we don’t go after things the way men often do. I didn’t even think I wanted to be CEO of Baked by Melissa, my own company that bears my name. Shame on me! If you’re reading this please close your eyes and think of something outside of your comfort zone that you want to accomplish. You can do it. Women can do anything men can do and more. We can have babies. Don’t ever forget that.

Photo by Yumi Matsuo

working on the business. Since COVID, I split my time between working from home and the bakery, where Adi works. We work well together. I think setting clear structure and expectations is the key to a successful working relationship—and a successful marriage, for that matter. We have laughed together so many times since March because we’re truly good at being together. We’ve spent more time together over the past year than we have in a while. It reminds us of

the first years of our relationship and how we first fell in love. What was the biggest change in your dayto-day life once you became CEO in 2019? Does it feel good to have even more control over your company? Or is the responsibility overwhelming? When I became CEO in December of 2019 I didn’t even really want the job. Our current CEO could no longer be in his role and I was

So what can we expect from Baked by Melissa this year? For now we are focused on Valentine’s day, our busiest time of year. This Valentine’s Day we have partnered with the non-profit organization Good Grief that provides free and unlimited support for children, teens, young adults, and families coping with loss. For every February Fix 25-pack sold we will donate $1 to help fund their peer support programs. When the 14th rolls around I ask you to think about the people in your life that you love most. Reach out to them. Check in. Tell them you love them. If you’re anything like me, you’ll send them cupcakes, and by doing so, you’ll also be supporting Good Grief and the many people that have lost someone they love dearly. What do you think your daughters are learning from seeing their mom run her own business? I love this question. I hope my daughters are learning that women can be great moms and great leaders. I also want them to understand that hard work equals fulfillment. My daughters see first hand that women can do anything. February 2021 | Brooklyn Family

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MOM BEAUTY

Mask� & Y�ur Skin 5 products that can help with the outbreaks and irritation BY DONNA DUARTE�LADD

W

earing masks are necessary, and while we do our part during the Covid-19 pandemic by wearing these safety measures, some of us are breaking out. According to Dr. Gretchen Frieling of GFaceMD, these breakouts are called “Maskne.” Dr. Frieling shares, “Maskne,” or mechanical acne, is multifactorial and a major problem with the current pandemic. The major contributors include warm to hot temperatures of the skin, damp skin from saliva and moisture retention under the mask, and the pressure of the mask on the skin. The warmth under the skin can lead to clogging of pores and acne since higher temperatures are a breeding ground for bacteria.” While how long we will be wearing these safety essentials is unknown, one thing we can update is our skincare routine. Dr. Frieling concurs, “A solid daily skincare routine is paramount to skin health in mask-wearing times.”

Pimples: Indie Lee Banish Solution

This clarifying and soothing solution contains ingredients that draw out impurities (the yuk) and soaks up oil. Zinc Oxide helps nourish the skin (something many of us need from wearing masks for hours) and minimizes dryness. One bottle usually lasts me a year, but I am now on my second bottle since the pandemic. I am not a beauty expert, just a mom who tests beauty products for work, and I love this product. $21 Exfoliating: Revision Finishing Touch

Finishing touch is beautiful exfoliation scrub that will remove dead skin cells

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with ingredients such as Polynesian Black Volcanic Sand (Silica) and ultra-fine Pumice. It leaves the skin hydrated but also receptive for intensive hydration. It is best for those with oily and acne-prone skin, suffering from maskne. $48 For Chafing and Redness: CeraVe Healing Ointment

If you have found that you are suffering from chafing and redness while you do not have breakouts, this, unfortunately, is common. Dr. Frieling says, Masks also absorb natural oils from the skin, which can cause irritation. When washing masks, harsh detergents


can also cause redness, irritation, and scaliness, especially if you already have sensitive skin.” The irritation and redness the doctor speaks of are not only annoying; it can be painful. When I was in the hospital with my son at the beginning of the pandemic, I wore a mask all day, even when I slept. I suffered from cuts and scaling behind my ears, and the nurses shared that a lubricant, much like we would use on a baby for diaper rash, helps tremendously. CeraVe Healing Ointment was a miracle worker on my skin and something I now use after a long day of maskwearing as a preventative measure. Another plus is this ointment has ample moisture while also protecting and soothing irritated skin. $19.99 For Mild Breakouts: Gel De Nuit Banish

The easy to glide on to breakout areas gel can be used

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on mild breakouts. Ingredients Kaolin and Bentonite Clays draw out the muck without drying to the skin. Added ingredients such as Wintergreen-derived Salicylic Acid and Vitamin-rich Noni, Tasmanian Pepper Fruit, Jasmine, and Burdock Root will exfoliate and nourish the breakout area. $19 Remove Toxins and Impurities from Skin: The Pore Purifying Clay Mask by Revision Skincare

The Pore Purifying Clay Mask by Revision Skincare is “a great treatment to use once or twice weekly to deeply cleanse the pores and diminish acne formation. Best if left on for 15-20 minutes, this mask contains salicylic acid for gentle exfoliation and freshwater silt and black iron oxides that remove impurities and toxins from the skin. The skin is soothed with cucumber extract, oat kernel extract, and bisabolol. A goto weekly detox, this is a super-effective treat for the skin.” recommend Dr. Frieling. $48

Music lessons

Piano Lessons For Everyone 135 Eastern Parkway

across from the Brooklyn Museum

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

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

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

February 2021 | Brooklyn Family

29


mom stories

Raising a Child With Autism and what it looks like (for me) By Donna Duarte- LaDD

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hen my son was first diagnosed with Autism, I decided that I would still do ‘normal’ things and advocate for him to live a ‘normal’ life. Boom. Wrong. It didn’t take long to learn that having a child with special needs means ‘normal’ goes out the door. Of course, I am only human, and what mother doesn’t want their child to live their best life? I soon realized that I, the parent, had to learn to support my child’s growth at whatever pace he was at the present moment. This means working at his level. And much like a rubber band that springs back after going forward, the progress many parents experience with an autistic child goes back and forth, with triumphs and setbacks. At least, this is what parenting looks like for my family and me. A Diagnosis is a GameChanger Having a child on the high spectrum with Autism changes your life. I have always been a fierce mother, but having a child with special needs has made me an advocate, caretaker, and an expert at saying ‘no’ to the bull sh*t that life can throw at you. A special needs parent will know what I mean; there is no time to waste. Sure, when I am at the playground, I admit it hurts my feelings not to be friends with a group of parents like I have with my oldest child. It saddens me to see children ignore my boy, but the truth is, he doesn’t even notice nor care. All he sees is the fun he is about to enjoy at the park. He lives in the moment, enjoying the time hanging out with me. So I put my big girl pants on and shake off my ego, and join in on the fun. Special needs parents soon learn that life isn’t always wrapped up in a beautiful package, and neither are human beings. It’s No Party The CDC describes stimming as “people with an ASD might spend a lot of time repeatedly flapping their arms or rocking from side to side. They might repeatedly turn a light on and off or spin the wheels of a toy car. These types of activities are known as self-stimulation or “stimming.” In the beginning, when my boy would stim, some parents would look at me with a

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NewYorkFamily.com | February 2021

hint of sadness or embarrassment — but I refuse to participate in a pity party. Yes, my kid outwardly shows what he lacks: speech, social cues, and delays, but what he does show are happiness and love, and if you can’t get on board with that, your loss. Parenthood can be a bit like high school. There are clicks, and there are the ‘cool’ moms. With my first child, I possessed the need to hang with other mothers. Those first few years of parenthood felt confusing and lonely, trying to navigate where I ‘fit’ in. It’s one reason I segued from the fashion world into parenting; I was figuring this new chapter out and wanted to share what I was learning. Yet with my second son, the hardships of finding a group I could commiserate with never happened. And this is okay. I have found that where both my child and I receive support (and yes, 100 percent, you need help in this journey as much as your child) is with my son’s ‘team.’ He has fantastic teachers, pare (classroom support), therapists, and doctors. For it takes many people and experts to get my son and the fam-

ily in a healthy state. And if reading this, you think, “well, you’re rich.” I am not. Some aid is from organizations that fit into my budget and have been worth it, and other assistance comes from his school and organizations we stumbled upon when looking for help. Pure Joy My son is four and a half. He is still young and living his best life. He will swing at the park during a snowstorm with a smile on his face; he can do circles around many a teenager with his mad puzzle abilities. When he sleeps, he sometimes has traces of cinnamon and butter at the corners of his mouth; and all I can think of is how lucky I am. He is pure joy. Of course, like all parenting challenges, there are days harder than others. Some days leave us both in tears. His future is one big mystery and frankly scary to wrap my head around, but if anything having a child with special needs has taught me is to cherish each day, and you will see the wonder and joy of life in spades.


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Brooklyn Family - February 2021  

Brooklyn Family - February 2021