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February 2021 NewYorkFamily.com

pg. 18

pg. 12 pg. 34

pg. 14

pg. 36


Stories & columns

21 | Dental Getting your kids’ teeth back on track

6 | Editor’s Note February -Love Notes

24 | Real Estate 8 suburban towns families are flocking to from the city

8 | Tech Apps that help moms with self-care

34 | Family Day Out 11 of the best spots to go snow tubing 36 | 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


NewYorkFamily.com | February 2021

12 | Family Fun Make Serendipity3’s Frrrozen Hot Chocolate 10 | Beauty 5 products that can help you with mask breakouts and skincare 14 | Education Everything you need to know about Catholic Schools in 2021

Camps 3 | Virtual Summer Camp Fairs 18 | Camp Safety Covid-19 safety changes for summer camps

Directories 20 | Charter School Listings

on the Cover

23 | Books Andrea L. Gerson’s timely kids’ books

Photo: Yumi Matsuo | yumimatsuostudio.com

42 | Mom Stories What raising a child with Autism looks like for me

Produced by: Donna Duarte-Ladd

Make-up by: Jenn Dockendorf | jenndock.com Written by: Cris Pearlstein | crispearlstein.com

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

Parents & Teachers: Parents & Teachers: partners in education partners in 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 21). Looking into Catholic schools? We have an update on how Catholic Schools (page 14) 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 3)! 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 36), 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. Donna Ladd Executive Editor

Editorial Interns: Sabrina Lee, Augostina Mallous, Brooke Thompson

Contact Information

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

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


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

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


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


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.


NewYorkFamily.com | February 2021

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.

February 2021 | New York Family



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


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


NewYorkFamily.com | February 2021

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

mom beauty

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

Get close to ‘La Bella Lingua’ without leaving home

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


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Serendipity3’s Frrrozen Hot Chocolate Chef Joe Calderone shares the famous recipe! BY MIA SALAS


ave you started craving your favorite NYC eats lately? It’s around that time of year — post-holiday season, below 40-degree weather — when we ditch the New Year diet and give in to the delicious and comforting food that we’re constantly surrounded by in the city. But with NYC restaurants still closed, it’s a bit harder this year to get our hands on our cravings. Just when you thought you wouldn’t get to enjoy your Serendipity treats for quite some time, Serendipity3’s Chef Joe Calderone is sharing his recipe for the iconic Frrrozen Hot Chocolate. So get the family together, grab your aprons, and get ready for sweet and sugary goodness, right in the comfort of your own home! If you’re not too familiar with Serendipity, here’s the run-down: it’s been around since 1954 and it’s famously known for decadent desserts, like their world-famous Frrrozen Hot Chocolate. With their grand ice cream sundaes and other over-the-top desserts, Serendipity makes us all feel like kids again. In addition to their hot chocolate recipe, they offer ice cream pints, shipping nationwide, that come in fun flavors such as Unicorn Bliss Sundae, Salty Caramel Pretzel, and Cookies & Cream Remix. So you can have yet another bite of Serendipity at home while you wait for the restaurant to open back up again. We know you’re probably running out of quarantine, at-home activities to do as a family. It can get especially boring for our kiddos to be cooped up for a while, and especially stressful for us NYC parents to keep coming up with ways to entertain them. Combine that with our craving for NYC food and Serendipity’s timeless & delish reputation, Chef Joe Calderone’s Frrrozen Hot Chocolate recipe is the perfect solution. Choose an extra chilly day to stay at home in your PJs and make hot cocoa or plan a “movie and hot chocolate” night for your family. Without further ado, check out this incredible recipe, guaranteed to bring a smile to your little one’s faces:


NewYorkFamily.com | February 2021

INGREDIENTS: 1/2 cup of milk 1/2 cup of Serendipity Frrrozen Hot Chocolate Mix 1 1/2 cup of ice 1 large scoop of Serendipity Frrrozen Hot Chocolate Ice Cream Whipped Cream 1 tablespoon Chocolate Shavings 1 tablespoon of Red/Green Sprinkles 1 tablespoon of white snowflake sprinkles 1 sugar Holly Sprig 1 Maraschino Cherry (optional)

DIRECTIONS: In a blender, add 1/2 cup of milk, 1/2 cup of Frrrozen Hot Chocolate mix, and 1 1/2 cups of ice. Blend to a smooth consistency. Pour into a bowl, and place one large scoop of Frrrozen Hot Chocolate Ice Cream on top. Add whipped cream to top the Frrrozen Hot Chocolate. Place snowflake sprinkles on top of the scoop of ice cream. Add chocolate shavings and red/ green sprinkles to top the whipped cream. Enjoy!

Coming Soon in Montclair

February 2021 | New York Family



Catholic Schools

Everything you need to know By Mia SalaS


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


NewYorkFamily.com | February 2021

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 | New York Family



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


NewYorkFamily.com | February 2021

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.

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February 2021 | New York Family



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


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


NewYorkFamily.com | February 2021

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 | New York Family


Charter Schools Directory | Special Advertising Supplement

Capital Prep Harlem Charter School 1 E. 104 Street, New York, NY 10029 info@capitalprepharlem.org Founded by Dr. Steve Perry and Sean “Diddy” Combs, Capital Preparatory Schools’ mission is to provide historically disadvantaged students with the college and career readiness skills needed to become responsible and engaged citizens. Capital Prep Harlem offers scholars grade 6-12 a comprehensive education with a Social Justice lens, resulting in a community of lifelong learners and leaders. 100% of Capital Prep graduates have been accepted to 4-year colleges since the first graduating class in 2006!

Inwood Academy inwoodacademy.org Inwood Academy for Leadership is a grade 5-12 charter school in and for the upper Manhattan and Bronx community. Our mission

is to empower students to become agents for change through community-focused leadership, character development, and college preparedness. We have an inclusive, supportive and rigorous academic approach, allowing us to serve students of diverse backgrounds and abilities and help them each thrive. Applications are open for all grades, with the greatest number of seats available in our incoming fifth grade class. New students will receive free school supplies and two uniform tops at start of year. Inwood Academy gives lottery preference to students learning English as a new language. Apply online at inwoodacademy.org/ admissions or call 212-3040103 (Mon-Fri 9AM-4 PM) for assistance in applying.

Manhattan Charter School 100 Attorney Street—New York, NY 1002 212- 533-2743 Manhattan Charter School 2

220 Henry Street—New York, NY 10002 212-964-3792 manhattancharterschool.org We are two small public elementary schools educating children in grades Kindergarten through Fifth. We believe in the importance of an intimate school culture and learning environment, and are committed to offering a well-rounded education designed to help students develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. This means that there are never more than 25 students in a class, and that all students receive weekly French, Art, Physical Education, and Technology instruction, in addition to daily music instruction all beginning in Kindergarten. We pride ourselves on delivering challenging, standards-driven instruction and fostering a culture of high expectations. Both schools offer afterschool. We are dedicated to demonstrating that all

children, regardless of race or economic status, can succeed when given equal access to quality education.

School in the Square Charter 120 Wadsworth Ave, New York, NY 10033 718- 916-7683 schoolinthesquare.org School in the Square (S2) is a charter K-8 elementary and middle school in the Washington Heights and Inwood communities that engages, educates, and empowers its students to respond mindfully and creatively to life’s opportunities and challenges. S2 draws its name from the concept of the public square, where communities come together to solve problems and celebrate successes. We envision S2 as a place where students, families and educators are seen, heard and inspired, and where students build the academic foundations, emotional

APRIL 1st 20

NewYorkFamily.com | February 2021

ONE DECISION TODAY prepares your child for a future full of choice APPLY NOW for GRADES 5-12 Apply online at inwoodacademy.org/admissions or call 212-304-0103 (Mon-Fri 9am-4pm) for assistance to apply over the phone Sign up for our upcoming Virtual Open Houses at: www.schoolinthesquare.org/enrollment/open-house-info

APPLY NOW / APLICA AHORA Accepting Applications 6-8th Grade at 6-8o grado en

120 Wadsworth Ave.

Aceptando Solicitudes K-1st Grade at K-1er grado en

108 Cooper St.



Lottery preference given to English Language Learners New students will receive f ree school supplies and two uniform tops at start of year Middle School: 433 West 204th St High School: 3896 10th Ave



“Zeta has become part of my family. That’s all we talk about when someone asks what school my son goes to. I can go on and on about how the school academics are and how they are helping him become his own person.” — Zeta Bronx 1 Parent Zeta Inwood 1 652 West 187th Street New York, NY 10033 Zeta South Bronx 425 Westchester Avenue Bronx, NY 10455 Zeta Bronx Mount Eden 1325 Jerome Avenue Bronx, NY 10452 Zeta Bronx Tremont Park 1910 Arthur Avenue Bronx, NY 10457 February 2021 | New York Family


Charter Schools Directory | Special Advertising Supplement

intelligence and leadership skills necessary to excel in college and professional life.

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 selfadvocacy skills scholars will need to excel.

Starting with a foundation of world-class academics, their complimentary social-emotional program emboldens students with the skills to thrive. It is extraordinarily important that children have the time and space to explore potential interests and passions. That’s why at Zeta, students engage in Specialist Classes as part of the school day, which may include art, dance, chess, music, sports and Taekwondo. Now until April 1, Zeta is accepting applications from pre-K through 4th grade for the 2021-22 school year.


Zeta Charter Schools

Zeta Inwood 1 - 652 West 187th Street, New York, NY Zeta South Bronx - 425 Westchester Avenue, NY Zeta Bronx Mount Eden - 1325 Jerome Avenue, NY Zeta Bronx Tremont Park - 1910 Arthur Avenue, NY zetaschools.org Zeta Schools are highperformance, next-generation schools with an innovative, whole-child approach, preparing children for a modern world economy.



A Free Public Charter Middle School A 2021 New York State School of Character Highlights: St HOPE 8th graders beat the city and state in English Language Arts and Math 98% of St HOPE scholars report that they feel safe at school, compared to 82% of students citywide St HOPE Special Education scholars far outperform the state of NY in both English Language Arts and Math Our classrooms are student-centered, with examples of project-based learning throughout the building Our scholars participate in a character-centered advisory program each morning

Now Now Accepting Accepting Students Students

Now Now Accepting Accepting Students Students

Daily instruction •• French beginning Ki Daily music musicDaily instruction French lessons lessons beginning in Ki music instruction • French lessonsin beg Small class size that allows for personal attention • Two Small classSmall size that allows for personal attention Two KK class size that allows for personal•attentio Daily music instruction • French lessons beginning in Kindergarten • Free After School Services

Two arts-rich K–5 Schools in Manhattan Afterschool Available

Daily musicDaily instruction • French lessons beginning Kindergarten • Free After• School Services music instruction • French lessons in beginning in Kindergarten Free After School Services Small size allows for attention Two schools Small class classSmall size that that allows for personal personal attention Two K-5 K-5 public elementary schools in in Manhattan Manhattan class size that allows for personal••attention •public Twoelementary K-5 public elementary schools in Manhattan

Apply NOW at: sthopeleadershipacademy.org/apply sthopeleadershipacademy.org


222 West 134th Street, New York, NY 10030

www.manhattancharterschool.org www.manhattancharterschool.org

www.manhattancharterschool.org www.manhattanchartersch

We’re so Social 22

NewYorkFamily.com | February 2021

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


Mamas We Love:

Andrea L. Gerson’s Timely Kids’ Books BY MIA SALAS


ere at New York Family, we’re always on the lookout for Mamas We Love– inspiring New York mothers who are truly making a difference, whether that be through owning a business, guiding other mamas on social media, or simply killing it as a mom within their family! That’s why, when we came across Andrea L. Gerson, mother of three, grandmother of five, and author of the stellar children’s books No Fuss Guss and No Worry Murray,, we knew we had to share. Gerson was an elementary school teacher for 35 years. In light of the global pandemic, we’ve come to learn just how important teachers are for our kiddos to grow and excel, so we were thrilled to hear about Gerson’s background in teaching. Gerson’s greatest joy was encouraging young children to become avid readers and enthusiastic writers, so she went on to write children’s books herself with the help of Tender Fire Books. When asked about how teaching has influenced her career as a writer, Gerson describes how all of the things she taught her students– similes, repetition, climax, plot etc.– she then used when writing her own books. Between her kids, grandkids, and the kiddos at school, Gerson was always surrounded by children, whether at home or in the classroom. It’s no surprise then that No Fuss Guss and No Worry Murray are impressively intune with the experiences and mindset of little ones. Gerson drew inspiration from multiple aspects of her life while writing the book: her beloved dogs, her loving family and their devotion to one another, and of course, her passion for teaching elementary school kids. “My husband was a medical miracle,” says Gerson. “He’s had cancer, transplants, and our dog always sensed what people needed. Each day the dog would always go right over to my husband first.” Family means so much to Gerson, and her books convey just that. Gerson adds about No Worry Murray: “My grandchildren really helped me. They were an active part of this particular book.” Her

grandchildren took photos of their dog, read over her book to give feedback, and much more. So what are Gerson’s books about anyway? No Fuss Guss tells the story of a black pug who lived a simple and happy life with his parents. That is, until his parents give birth to two baby twins. Suddenly, Guss’s life is turned upside down as his family moves into a new house and he adjusts to being to the big “brother”. Your little readers will love the heart-warming and hilarious illustrations by Iwan Yasin Agustin as they learn about the joy of change. This lesson has never been more timely as our kiddos have adjusted to virtual and at-home learning, switched up their daily routines, and have had a very different holiday season. We 100% recommend No Fuss Guss as your little one’s

next read. No Worry Murray is about an adorable Bernadoodle who doesn’t quite know who he is yet: Bernese Mountain Dog or Poodle? Gerson says that No Worry Murray is “really about accepting who you. Be yourself, don’t worry!”. Your kiddos will love Murray’s goofy and loving personality as they learn about self discovery and self confidence. Gerson’s creativity certainly shines throughout both books, from start to finish. While we definitely think her books should be at the top of your child’s reading list, we’re primarily interested in Gerson’s story– as a mother, grandmother, teacher, mother-inlaw, wife, and author. Gerson embodies the joy and beauty of family, but with her many roles, she also reminds us New York mamas that we really can do it all. February 2021 | New York Family



8 Sub�rban T�wns Families are flocking to from the city



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.


NewYorkFamily.com | February 2021

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 eight places to check out that are worth moving to and not far from your first love, NYC.

February 2021 | New York Family


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.”


NewYorkFamily.com | February 2021

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February 2021 | New York Family


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.”


NewYorkFamily.com | February 2021

Drive to +dos VOpsOo Train Station

10K Residents


Express train into Grand Central Station

The Schools

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Let the #1 agent in Rye Brook, Kori Sassower, guide you home.

The Good Life Awaits You in Rye Brook

Kori Sassower Team Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker in NY & CT m: 914.727.0169 | o: 914.223.7623 kori.sassower@compass.com korisassowerteam.com

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February 2021 | New York Family


ReAL estAte

MaMaroneck, nY Mamaroneck, located in Westchester County, is one of the oldest communities in Westchester and a top pick for growing families. I count Mamaronek as one of the top places I visit now as many of my friends have moved to this quaint town. At only a 40 minute commute on Metro-North, Mamaroneck is ideal for commuters who also want to have a suburban neighborhood way of living. With accessible schools — you can walk the kids to schools and catch the train as many homes are within walking distance. One of the main reasons many fellow parents I know moved to Mamaroneck is the A recently sold home in Mamaroneck-represented by Ann Marie Damashek of Compass schools. Favorite go-to realtor, Ann Marie Damashek of Compass, says of the school system, “There are two school public an A+ rating.The French American School of New York also has two districts that serve Mamaroneck; Rye Neck and Mamaroneck. Both campuses here. They offer both a bi-lingual immersion program and rank very high in the Niche Best Schools Districts in America, with an International program for all students, no french required.”

Greenwich, cT Greenwich, Connecticut, is my dream town. It is where you go when you are ready for some serious space (67 square miles) and ample greenery. City people love their neighborhoods, and Greenwich is known to be tight-knit. Realtor Karen Colella of Compass shares about Greenwich, “There is a remarkable sense of community in Greenwich. I am always overly impressed by the incredibly selfless time and energy Greenwich residents dedicate to improving the lifestyle of our neighbors and maintaining the beauty and resiliency of our town. We especially witnessed the unique character of our community recently during the COVID-19 pandemic.” And while many families move to Located on one of Greenwich’s premier, most sought-after streets. A charming white Greenwich for the town’s rural beauty, colonial with cozy nooks, gracious spaces, oversized double living room w/fireplace, custom schools are also a top reason families built-ins, formal dining room, powder room, sun filled kitchen with mudroom and more. choose to move here. Agent: Karen Colella /Compass The public schools offer diverse extracurriculars and frankly feel like private schools. The private schools are highly competitive, and private school options located nearby in Westchester and Lower if the right fit cannot be found in town, there are more regarded Fairfield County areas.


NewYorkFamily.com | February 2021



Wes tfield

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

945 Lawrence avenue, westfieLd • 6 Bedrooms | 4.2 Baths • Offered at $1,575,000

950 Minisink way, westfieLd • 5 Bedrooms | 6.1 Baths • Offered at $1,849,999

231 kiMbaLL avenue, westfieLd • 8 Bedrooms | 5.1 Baths • Offered at $1,750,000

February 2021 | New York Family



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.


NewYorkFamily.com | February 2021

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

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

www.theidealschool.org For more information, contact us at admissions@theidealschool.org or 212-769-1699


Lower School 314 West 91st Street April 8, 2021, 9 AM Kindergarten April 23, 10 AM Upper School 270 West 89th Street April 15, 2021, 9 AM

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 | New York Family



SNOW G N I B U T W 11 of the best spots near NYC BY BROOKE THOMPSON

inter is in full swing, so it’s time to bring out your winter boots, warmest coats, and favorite long-sleeved shirts to enjoy the cold weather. If you’re wanting to squeeze in more adventures during the winter season, why not take the kids snow tubing? There are many resorts offering snow tubing near New York City. What’s cool about snow tubing is that no experience is needed, the equipment usually comes with the cost of admission, and it’s an activity that can be enjoyed by all ages. Just think of the exhilaration of sliding down a hill/ mountain slope, the wind whipping your face, and the delighted screams of your family are all part of the fun of snow tubing. So what are you waiting for? Check out these 11 resorts that offer snow tubing near New York City. Where to go Snow Tubing Near New York City (Less Than Two Hours Away)

1. Mount Peter: Warwick, New York – One hour 51 Old Mt. Peter Road Warwick, N.Y. 10990

Mount Peter isn’t your average snow tubing place. This resort offers a multi-lane, 600foot tubing run that is built for speed and exhilaration. Your family will have the time of their lives as they tube down the mountain. They even have lanes built for riders 42 inches and under. The best part is that they have a carpet lift, so you don’t have to carry your tube up the mountain. Ticket prices vary on the day. On weekdays, it’s $30 for regular admission, while it’s $35 on the weekends and holidays. 2. Campgaw Mountain: Mahwah, NJ – One Hour 200 Campgaw Road


NewYorkFamily.com | February 2021

Mahwah, NJ 07430

This resort offers thrilling snow tubing that will delight your family. Tube down a snowy hill that fits your level of thrill riding before using the surface lift to bring you back up the hill without any hassle. Tubers must be at least 42 inches tall to go snow tubing. Tickets are sold six days prior to the day you would like to attend, so purchase your tickets online now before they sell out! 3. Holiday Mountain Ski Resort: Monticello, NY – 90 minutes 99 Holiday Mountain Road MonticelloNY 12701

Holiday Mountain Ski Area offers snow tubing. Sessions are available Friday-Sunday. A two-hour session is only $20 and multiple, consecutive sessions that can be booked vary on the day. To go snow tubing, there is a height requirement of at least 44 inches. 4. Mountain Creek: Vernon, NJ – 90 minutes McAfee Vernon Rd, Vernon Township, NJ 07462

Race down a hill on a snow tube with your family at Mountain Creek. With more than five acres of trails to slide down, you and your family are bound to have a blast. When you are done racing down the hill, just pick your tube and ride their carpet lift back to the top of the hill for more exciting snow tubing. Tubing sessions last two hours, and riders must be at least five years old and 42 inches tall. If you want to enjoy snow tubing at Mountain Creek, be sure to make reservations online. 5. Shawnee Mountain Ski Area: East Stroudsburg, PA – 90 minutes

401 Hollow Road East Stroudsburg, PA 18301

Pocono Plunge Snow Tubing located at Shawnee Mountain Ski Area offers an adrenaline-inducing, winter activity that will leave your family smiling. Their snow tubing requires no special skills, just a tube and an adventurous spirit. Once you are finished sliding, hop on either of their two conveyor lifts to take you back to the top of the hill for more fun tubing. The park offers both single tubes and adult and child tandem tubes. Riders must be at least five years old and children under 46 inches can ride with an adult. Snow tubing sessions are offered in one hour and 30-minute sessions. Tickets are sold online only and cost $30 on weekdays and $45 on weekends. 6. Camelback Resort: Tannersville, PA – 1 hr & 40 minutes 193 Resort Drive Tannersville, PA 18372

Camelback Resort offers thrills and fun with their snow tubing experience. Choose from 40 different lanes to slide down the mountain to accommodate your level of thrill. Come back at night to slide down glowing lanes with their Galactic Snow Tubing. And the best part is – you don’t have to carry your tube back up the mountain. You can sit back on their “Magic Carpets” to give you a lift back up the mountain, so you can start sliding back down in no time.

1000 Montage Mountain Rd, Scranton, PA 18507

Head on over to Montage Mountain Snow Tubing Park and enjoy the crisp, winter weather. Montage Mountain offers two to four-hour sessions of snow tubing, depending on the day of the week. Tickets are $30 on weekdays and prices vary depending on the time during the weekends. Riders between 32 and 41 inches can ride in a single tube whenever the Kiddie Tubing is open. Riders over 42 inches can ride in the main tubing park. 9. Windham Mountain: Windham, NY – 2 hours and 30 minutes 19 Resort Dr, Windham, NY 12496

Check out Windham Mountain’s Adventure Park! With a range of activities including, skiing, ice skating, and snow tubing, your family will always be busy. Ride a 650foot, snow-covered slope with six lanes to choose from. When you are done snow tubing, enjoy the ride on a conveyor lift back to the top to repeat the snow tubing ride. Unlike the other entries on this list, there are no height or age requirements as long you can get in and out/ sit up in a tube. It’s $25 per person for a three-hour session.

Camelback Resort’s snow tubing sessions are two hours long, and they recommend purchasing your tickets online to reserve your session. Riders who are between 33 inches and 43 inches can ride in a double tube with an adult. Riders have to be at least 44 inches to ride alone. Where to go Snow Tubing Near New York City (More Than Two Hours Away) 7. Hunter Mountain Resort: Hunter, NY – 2 hours and 15 minutes 64 Klein Ave, Hunter, NY 12442

Hunter Mountain offers a 1000 ft. hill that is one of the biggest tubing hills in New

York. Slide down this thrilling, snowy hill before taking a ride on their surface lift appropriately dubbed “the Magic Carpet.” To enjoy snow tubing, tickets must be purchased within 48 hours of your desired date. Riders must be at least 36 inches to ride on a snow tube. A standard size tube is available for a two-hour session for $25 and can be ridden by anyone over 44 inches. A double size tube is $35 and available for a two-hour session as well. It can be ridden by an adult and a child between 36 and 44 inches. 8. Montage Mountain Resort: Scranton, PA – 2 hours and 15 minutes

10. Greek Peak Mountain Resort: Cortland, NY – 3 hours and 30 minutes 2000 NY-392, Cortland, NY 13045

Greek Peak Mountain Resorts offers snow tubing in three-hour sessions for only $30 per person. Riders must be at least 42 inches tall and must ride alone in a tube. 11. Gore Mountain Ski Resort: North Creek, NY – 3 hours and 45 minutes 793 Peaceful Valley Rd, North Creek, NY 12853

Little Gore Tubing Hill at Gore Mountain features an 800-foot chute that allows for a thrilling snow tubing experience. Once you are at the bottom of the hill, you can ride their handle tow lift to take you back to the top for more snow tubing fun. February 2021 | New York Family


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


hen I was a fashion editor at a big magazine a lot of companies sent me gifts. Sometimes I would get clothes and sometimes I would get accessories. It was fun, don’t get me wrong, but too often the size was off, the color wasn’t something I’d ever wear, or I just simply didn’t like it. But then I started receiving these white pizza-style boxes filled with tiny bite-sized cupcakes. They were from a new company that everyone in New York was buzzing about: Baked by Melissa. This was way better than a too-small top or a scratchy sweater, and 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 Baked by Melissa cupcakes were on display at every work dinner, every press event, and every showroom appointment I attended. Eventually it got to the point


NewYorkFamily.com | February 2021

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 eye-catching 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. 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

Photo by Yumi Matsuo

February 2021 | New York Family


Photo by Yumi Matsuo

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?


NewYorkFamily.com | February 2021

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 goals do you have for 2021? When this all started my goal was to get our business through 2020 without having to close our doors for good. It was all about survival. But once we realized we would make it to the other side of 2020, the focus shifted to rehiring as much of our team as possible and reopening all of our stores. It was extremely daunting, but once again our team proved their dedication, resiliency and hard work. We are a much different business in 2021 than we were in 2020, and that’s ok. We learned that our company makes people happy during the good times and the bad. These days if you can’t celebrate in person, which many of us can’t, you can still count on Baked by Melissa to send something sweet to your loved ones and make them happy. 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

“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.” 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. You launched your first store in SoHo, but you live in Hoboken now. Do you like living across the river? When we opened our first store in 2009 I lived in Manhattan. We moved to Hoboken in 2015 right before I gave birth to our first child. My husband works full time in our bakery, which is located in New Jersey, and I was spending most of my time at our corporate headquarters based in Manhattan. We decided to move to Hoboken because it would allow us more time with our newborn and less time sitting in rush hour traffic. We could not be happier with our decision to move across the river. Hoboken is the perfect step between city life and the suburbs. It has all the benefits of living in Manhattan, but with a small town vibe—Hoboken is only one square mile! We have made so many new friends through our children since moving here and could not be happier to call Hoboken home. Was selling tie-dye loungewear on your site a natural progression of your brand? Or was it a response to the rise of cozy, comfy quarantine fashion? We actually started working on our tie-dye loungewear well before COVID. How could Baked by Melissa NOT offer tie-dye apparel? In fact, I can’t believe it took us as long as it did. We got very lucky with the timing of our launch because everyone was at home wearing sweats thanks to the lockdowns. We sold through our inventory in days! 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 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 February 2021 | New York Family


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. What’s your favorite recipe from your cookbook, Cakes by Melissa: Life is What You Bake It? My favorite recipe from my cookbook has to be the hot cocoa icing and the hot cocoa glaze. Those two recipes perfectly capture my personality and the way I create because I love to bake outside the lines! When I was in college I used to take a red Solo cup, fill it with cereal and milk, and add a packet of hot chocolate mix. It was delicious! Those recipes—plus our cereal cake—are directly inspired by that old college snack. And of course I also love the tie-dye cake! It is without question the most popular recipe in the book and it’s so damn delicious. I feel like as you grow up and life holds you more accountable, at least you can feel like a kid again through baking and eating fun desserts.

Melissa with her husband Adi and daughters Scottie and Lennie.

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 day-to-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 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


NewYorkFamily.com | February 2021

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. What do you hope they learn about love from watching you and your husband work together? I think it’s important that they have real expectations for life, and that they learn the greatest things oftentimes take the most work. My husband and I love each other and our children so freakin’ much, but Adi and I are learning and growing together every day. We are human. We make mistakes, we compromise, and we always treat each other with the utmost respect. When we make mistakes, we apologize. I hope they see that and I hope they learn that love is life’s greatest gift.

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mom stories

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


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


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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New York Family - February 2021  

New York Family - February 2021