Westchester Family - February 2021

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February 2021


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February 2021


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Stories & columns

10 | Dental Getting your kids’ teeth back on track

4 | Editor’s Note February - Love Notes

12 | Dental Who is a pediatric dentist?

6 | Education Everything you need to know about Catholic Schools in 2021

22| Family Day Out 10 of the best spots to go snow tubing 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 28 | Travel Post-Covid goal: check out Vista Verde in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Camps 2 | Virtual Summer Camp Fairs 20 | Camp Safety Covid-19 safety changes for summer camps

16 | Beauty 5 products that can help you with mask breakouts and skincare 18 | Tech Apps that help moms with self-care 24 | Family Fun Make Serendipity3’s Frrrozen Hot Chocolate 30 | Mom Stories What raising a child with Autism looks like for me

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!)

February 2021 | Westchester Family


Editor’s Note

President Victoria Schneps-Yunis CEO Joshua Schneps

Westchester Family WestchesterFamily.com Publisher Clifford Luster cluster@schnepsmedia.com Executive Editor Donna Duarte-Ladd edit@westchesterfamily.com Digital Editor Katarina Avendaño Contributing Editor Serena Norr Digital Director Erik Bliss

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 12). Looking into Catholic schools? We have an update on how Catholic Schools (page 6) 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, (page2)! 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 18). 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. Donna Ladd Executive Editor

ADVERTISING SALES Account Managers LynnMarie Hanley lynnmarie.hanley@westchesterfamily.com Nina Spiegelman nina.spiegelman@westchesterfamily.com PRODUctION Art Director Leah Mitch production@schnepsmedia.com Production Staff Arthur Arutyunov, Connie Sulsenti DISTRIBUTION & CIRCULATION Roberto Palacios 718-260-4531

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Westchester Family (ISSN 1043-6774) is published monthly by Queens Family Media LLC. Please note that the advertisements in this magazine are paid for by the advertisers, which allows this magazine to be free to the consumer. Limit of one free copy per reader. Unless specifically noted, no advertisers, products or services are endorsed by the Publisher. All real estate advertised herein is subject to the Federal Fair Housing Act, which makes it illegal to advertise any preference, limitation, or discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin or intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination. We will not knowingly accept any advertising for real estate which is in violation of the law. All persons are hereby informed that all dwellings advertising are available on an equal opportunity basis. Editorial submissions are welcome.

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GET TO KNOW OUR INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL Virtual Open Houses February 10, 2021 @ 3 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. March 17, 2021 @ 3 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. To learn more and to register, please go to GISNY.ORG/admissions Open a world of opportunities to your child with a bilingual education in English and German at the German International School New York (GISNY). Our independent Pre-K through Grade 12 college preparatory program with an emphasis on the sciences and the arts cultivates students to develop into curious, analytical, and conscientious global citizens. We are the only school in the tristate area, where graduates earn the NYS High School Diploma and the German International Abitur, a globally recognized diploma, which gives access to universities worldwide. Children entering our Pre-K or Kindergarten programs are not required to speak or understand German and will build the foundation of being bilingual by first grade. All nationalities are welcome!

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Crestwood Music Education Center Dr. Ginès-Didier Cano, Director Founded in 1987, the Crestwood Music Education Center (CMEC) has established itself as one of the most reputable and premier Music Schools in Westchester County. CMEC has more than eight hundred students of all ages and levels, beginner through professional. Director and owner of the Center, Dr. Ginès-Didier Cano, says, “Our philosophy is to create a very positive, stimulating environment, which gives each student the chance for creative self-expression.” They are committed to providing the highest quality and most meaningful education and are invested in developing each student’s imagination, creativity, intellect, and humanity through this most wonderful art, music. Dr. Cano believes in the importance of having a world-class faculty with extensive education as well as teaching and performing experiences that are only found in America’s finest music schools. More important though, is the commitment the teachers make to share their love of music in the lesson studio, inspiring and guiding each student every step along the way. In assisting prospective students in making an educated decision on starting private lessons, CMEC offers a complementary introductory meeting with the teacher to help answer any questions and to direct students to the most fitting program. CMEC offers private lessons, one-on-one, in piano, voice, guitar, drums as well as strings, woodwinds and brass and percussion instruments. They also offer special courses such as a Suzuki program for piano and strings, a jazz program, an adult program and many others, which provide their students with the most progressive exposure to musical education. Dr. Cano has served on the faculty of many renowned colleges and music conservatory schools. He received his doctorate from the Manhattan School of Music, a Masters from both The Julliard School of Music and the Manhattan School of Music, and a Premier Prix from the “Conservatoire de Musique du Québec.” He has performed as a soloist and a principal bassoonist with many professional orchestras and symphonies and is known as a recording artist. He has been heard on various New York and national radio stations: WQXR, WNCN, and CBC Radio Canada. Dr. Cano has resided in the New York metropolitan area for thirty years.

February 2021 | Westchester 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


WestchesterFamily.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 New York 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 New York 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

Welcome Class of 2025! Maria Regina High School is committed to the values of: Scholarship: Maria Regina High School is a Catholic college preparatory high school that is committed to a holistic approach in the education of young women offering a wide range of Advanced Placement and Honors Courses. Service: MRHS provides service opportunities to all students challenging them to respond to the crucial needs of today's society. Spirit: With over 25 student clubs and organizations as well as Varsity/JV athletic teams, there is something for every student.

Registration Day March 3, 2021 500 West Hartsdale Avenue | Hartsdale, NY 10530 | (914) 761-3300 | www.mariaregina.org




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

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February 2021 | Westchester Family



playing field for all students whether they 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 a New York 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 New York Catholic Schools, emphasize “direct outreach from the teachers” so that you can stay up-


WestchesterFamily.com | February 2021

to-date with your child’s progress and the 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 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 New York 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 | Westchester Family


Dental Health

Who is a Pediatric Dentist? By Renuka Rao Bijoor, DDS


he American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child’s first dental visit should be at age one or six months after the first tooth erupts in a child. Pediatric dentists are dental specialists who have undergone an additional 2-3 years of specialized training to be skilled in diagnosing and treating conditions in infants, children, adolescents and patients with special needs. They are specifically trained to manage children in a very gentle but efficient manner so that the dental experience for the child is successful and yet pleasant. This is important to ensure a lifetime of trust in the dentist and the ability to handle dental appointments without undue stress. Pediatric dentists also emphasize the


importance of prevention — diagnosing and addressing problems before they lead to a situation which will cause pain and discomfort to the child. It is a fallacy that children’s teeth (‘milk teeth’) should not be attended to because they are going to fall out. This misconception has lead to too many situations of untold pain and suffering which are truly avoidable if potential problems are addressed in time. The dental profession is very proud about how it has handled the smooth functioning of dental practices during the COVID pandemic. Despite the fact that dentists and dental hygienists are amongst those that are at the highest risk of contracting or transmitting the disease, the incidence of this has been very low or negligible. Dentists have strictly adhered to all the guidelines of the ADA and the CDC including proper PPE,

WestchesterFamily.com | February 2021

screening processes, limiting the number of patients seen, and have thus kept the patients, their families and the dental teams safe. Parents should not hold off on bringing in their children for re-care appointments — avoiding these regular visits in a growing child could potentially cause more harm. Your dental team will be more than happy to discuss with you and reassure you about all the systems they have put in place to keep you safe. Advances in technology There are so many exciting advances in technology that have helped improve the pediatric dental experience! Pediatric laser dentistry has proven to be a revolutionary way of providing oral care without the need for shots or drills for fixing cavities. This means the entire experience is so much more

tolerable for the young child, not having teeth drilled or to leave with a numb lip or tongue. In addition, the use of the hard tissue laser to treat dental cavities not only eliminates the use of the drill or shots, it also reduces the aerosol generated by 98%! The soft tissue laser has been lifechanging in relieving situations of difficult or painful breastfeeding because of an upper lip tie or tongue tie in newborns and infants. The release of tissues that could cause restrictions in the normal functioning of the oral musculature could alleviate issues with feeding and speech, and allow proper growth and development in a child. Early interceptive orthodontic treatment will also help eliminate bad habits in a child and allow the orofacial growth to achieve full potential. Since at least 70-75% of the facial growth is completed by the time the child is 8 years old, if the child receives treatment in time to correct poor oral habits, proper growth is enhanced. There is also such a huge emphasis on diagnosing and treating children who have sleep disorders. Very often, children who do not

Pediatric dentists also emphasize the importance of prevention — diagnosing and addressing problems before they lead to a situation which will cause pain and discomfort to the child. sleep well have behavioral problems that could be misinterpreted and given a wrong diagnosis. Helping the child breathe better and working together with ENT and sleep specialists could prevent pediatric sleep disorders. If you find your child snoring at night or very tired during the day, please do seek help. Children should be screened for early orthodontic intervention between the ages of 6 and 10 to monitor their orofacial development and it is the pediatric dentist who will guide you when it is time to seek a consult. Some pediatric dentists have also pursued additional training in orthodontics and can treat your child very successfully as well. In short, the pediatric dentist is a

dental specialist for children just like the pediatrician is one for medical advice and treatment of children. The pediatric dentist will provide guidance and timely preventative, interceptive and restorative care to make sure that your child transitions into a healthy young adult. Be sure to make that appointment today! Dr. Renuka Bijoor is a board-certified specialist in pediatric dentistry with exceptional training and is an expert in laser dentistry. Dr. Bijoor has been providing care for her patients in Briarcliff Manor for 15+ years and has just started a second practice in Bronxville. To learn more go to Briarcliffpediatricdentisrty.com and Pediatriclaserdentistry.com.

Celebrating Children’s Dental Health Month!!

TEN YEARS OF PEDIATRIC LASER DENTISTRY Avoid shots • Avoid drilling • Less time in chair • Ideal for cavities and frenectomies

325 South Highland Ave, Suite 102 • Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510 (914) 762-4151 • info@bpdstaff.com • briarcliffpediatricdentistry.com O.R. Dentistry at Phelps Memorial HospitalInterceptive Orthodontics

February 2021 | Westchester Family




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


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,


WestchesterFamily.com | February 2021

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

The Safety of Our Patients Is More Important Than Ever

Penny Resnick Graulich, DMD Emelie Preis, DDS Dayna Mermelstein DMD Fatina Shtivelman DDS Voted one of Westchester’s Top Pediatric Dentists by Westchester Magazine 10 years in a row

MAIN STREET PEDIATRIC DENTISTRY 115 Main Street, Suite 302, Tuckahoe, NY 10707 (914) 633-4440 MainStreetPediatricDentistry.com

We continue to be committed to your child’s health and safety. Here’s an example of some of the changes we’ve made to protect our patients and staff in this time of Covid 19: • Air purifiers placed throughout the office • Commercial grade fogger, affective in killing bacteria and viruses, including Covid 19 • UVC lights and sonic systems used to increase sterilization procedures • HEPA air filtration system connected to the HVAC system • Personal protective equipment (PPE) including gloves, masks, disposable gowns and face shields • As always, we use CDC and OSHA disinfection protocols February 2021 | Westchester Family


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


WestchesterFamily.com | February 2021

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

Kids and teens of all ages are invited to join Touro College of Dental Medicine for a variety of fun, educational programs during National Children’s Dental Health Month in February. Take our video challenge, enter our essay contest or meet our dentists in training during a live online class. Win lots of great prizes, all while learning about the importance of oral health!



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PLUS! FREE DENTAL CARE: February 16th – 26th Kids 16 and under can receive FREE dental screenings, cleanings, x-rays, fluoride and up to 4 fillings at Touro Dental Health during the dates listed above. Space is limited. Multiple appointments may be required to complete treatment.

Learn more or register at dental.touro.edu/GKAS To schedule an appointment for free dental care, call: 914.594.2700

Touro Dental Health, the clinical training facility of Touro College of Dental Medicine is dedicated to providing affordable oral health care to the Hudson Valley. dentalhealth.touro.edu | 914.594.2700 February 2021 | Westchester 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


WestchesterFamily.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

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

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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February 2021 | Westchester Family



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.


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

WestchesterFamily.com | February 2021

’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.

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February 2021 | Westchester 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


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.

WestchesterFamily.com | February 2021

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 | Westchester Family


family day out

Snow g n i b tu W 10 spots in and near New York

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 in and near New York . 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 10 resorts that offer snow tubing in and near New York.

1. Mount Peter: Warwick, New York 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 200 Campgaw Road 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 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 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

WestchesterFamily.com | February 2021

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 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

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 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 19 Resort Dr, Windham, NY 12496

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. 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.

7. Hunter Mountain Resort: Hunter, NY 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

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 650-foot, 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. 10. Greek Peak Mountain Resort: Cortland, NY 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.

February 2021 | Westchester Family



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:


WestchesterFamily.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!

Westchester Family partner

How to Utilize Article 81 Guardianships To Protect Your Elderly Parents By James L. Hyer, Esq


s my friends and I have gotten older, a usual topic of conversation is how best to care for our parents as they advance into their senior years. Many times these discussions involve expressions of fear, anxiety, sadness, and a sense of overwhelming pressure to ensure that our parents are well-protected. Should Dad continue to drive? Is Mom ok living alone? Are Mom and Dad taking their medications? In a strange twist of fate, mixed with reality, our parents, who have raised and protected us our entire lives, are now in need of our help. As difficult as these issues are to face, the stress associated with protecting our elderly parents can be exponentially multiplied without the proper planning. As discussed below, this planning includes drafting advance directives and possibly the use of Article 81 Guardianships to ensure that you have the tools to sufficiently provide for your parents into the future, as well as they provided for you in the past. The National Alliance For Caregiving published a 2015 study reporting that over 43 million people in the United States provide unpaid caregiving services to another adult, many of which are elderly parents. These numbers are not surprising as the expense of nursing home care is staggering, costing easily $15,000.00 per month in areas like Westchester, New York. In order to care for our elderly parents, it is important that the caretaker child have the legal authority to both make medical and financial decisions for the parent. This legal authority can be obtained in two ways: advance directives signed by the parents, or a Court Order granting Guardianship of the parent to the caregiver-child. Advance directives include a Health Care Proxy and Power of Attorney usually with broadened gift-giving authority. The Health Care Proxy can be completed by the parent designating a Health Care Agent to make their medical decisions when they are no longer able to do so. This document may be supplemented by a Living Will which provide

instructions to the Health Care Agent as to how future medical decisions are to be made. In contrast, the Power of Attorney allows the parent to designate an Agent to make all other non-medical financial decisions. While these documents are rather simple to complete, many people find themselves in a situation where their parents have not completed these documents, are now incapacitated, without the ability to do so; leaving no individual legally authorized to make medical and financial decisions for the parent. In these situations, the child seeking decisionmaking authority over their parent must turn to the Article 81 Guardianship process. Under Article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law (“MHL”), process was created to allow a Guardian to be appointed for a person who has been determined to be incapacitated, meaning they require the assistance of another for their personal needs (including medical) and/or property needs (including financial). If the Court determines the person to be in need of a Guardian, after a finding of incapacity, the Court may appoint either a person or an entity such as a non-profit organization, as the Guardian of the individual. In the case of an adult child seeking appointment as a Guardian of an elderly parent where there are no other parents living or both parents are incapacitated, the presumption will be that the adult child will be the best person to serve in that role. However, if there are multiple children all seeking appointment, the Court will be required to determine who is best suited to fulfill the duties of Guardian. The MHL was recently amended so that a Guardian may be appointed with less stigma to your parent. While the initial process of having a Guardian appointed is usually no longer than 45 days, there are many steps that must be followed which are required by the MHL. First, a Petition must be filed with the Supreme Court in the county where the parent resides, which must be completed by the assigned Judge and served on all interested parties to afford each the right to be heard before the Court. The Judge will usually assign an attorney to represent the parent and possibly

assign a Court Evaluator to conduct an investigation on behalf of the Court and to then submit a report to the Court, outlining the parent’s background, finances, medical condition and need for a Guardian. The Court Evaluator’s Report is of crucial importance as it will include a recommendation as to who is best suited to serve as Guardian if the Report suggests a Guardian be appointed. The initial process will end at the hearing where the Court will hear testimony from witnesses and review evidence to determine if the parent is incapacitated and if so, who will serve as Guardian. At the close of the Hearing, a Guardian will be appointed who thereafter will be required to file Annual Reports with the Court to confirm that they are caring for the needs of the incapacitated person. Although acting as a caregiver to a parent may at times appear overwhelming, having knowledge about Guardianship provides another option that may prove indispensable to families in need. James L. Hyer, Esq. is a partner at the law firm Bashian P.C., located in White Plains, New York. An attorney admitted to practice in New York State, Mr. Hyer is the incoming Vice President of the Westchester County Bar Association (WCBA) and a Member of the House of Delegate of the New York State Bar Association. Mr. Hyer has received recognitions in the legal community, including New Lawyers Leadership Award from the WCBA and Leading Attorney Under 40 from Pace Law School. Christina M. Rubino, Esq., an associate attorney at Bashian P.C., assisted in the preparation of this article.

February 2021 | Westchester 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. 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.


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

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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 | Westchester Family



Vista Verde in Steamboat Springs, CO Escape to a stunning family dude ranch with a side of luxury By Diana amaya


hen it is safe to travel and you start to search for a delightfully raucous family vacation with the kids or you’re ready to leave them at home for some quality grown-up time, Vista Verde Ranch is the perfect destination when it’s time for a change of scenery. And though we’ve committed to life in this beautiful bustling concrete jungle, we all need a change or at least to start thinking of planning a new scenery for the family, especially now. This one just happens to come with fresh air, stunning Colorado landscapes, and lots of low-risk outdoor activities with regard to Covid-19 from horseback riding to fly fishing and more. Not to mention the super friendly and knowledgeable staff do the planning for you so you can get away even if you don’t have


the bandwidth for organizing a trip. All you have to decide is which fun activity you’d like to try and which wine you’d like stocked in your mini-fridge. Clark, CO, the little ski town on the outskirts of Steamboat Springs where the ranch is located, is the perfect antidote to cabin fever and international travel restrictions. This gorgeous ski town lies Northwest of Denver International Airport and is accessible by plane with a layover in Denver. Or you can opt for a car rental or the GoAlpine shuttle from the Denver airport and take in 4 hours worth of open road against the impressive landscape of the American West. Think Ralph Lauren ad meets Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid. However you get there, it is absolutely worth the trip and the car ride is a sight to see in its own right. Set upon 160 acres of land and

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surrounded by sprawling mountain ranges and forestland are 12 luxury cabins of various sizes depending on your travel crew, stocked with complimentary snacks, wine, cider, beer, and each with its own outdoor jacuzzi. Need we say more? The jacuzzi is located right on the deck for easy access and stargazing. You might even catch a family of reindeer taking a stroll while you soak. Gravel paths interconnect most of the property which includes a sizeable but cozy lodge for gathering (plenty of room for social distancing) with an adjacent dining room, a swimming pool, an adventure center stocked with high-end adventure equipment, an indoor riding arena, a barn where you’ll meet your horse, and a “Kid’s Hut” where your little ones will meet instructors for their daily adventures. Kid’s Program The Kid’s program at Vista Verde runs during the summer until the end of August and

Gigi Embrechts

Elk River. On our last day, we took advantage of the robust riding program and met with our horses again for a morning group trail ride led by two skilled wranglers. For our final afternoon adventure, a guide paired us with the most high-quality bikes we have ever ridden (a far cry from those clunky Citibikes!), and drove our group of four about thirty minutes from the ranch for a moderate but adrenaline-inducing and dreamy bike ride through Steamboat Lake State Park. The Food Vista Verde vacation packages are allinclusive, including three delicious meals a day from culinary-institute trained chefs. As is aptly described on the ranch’s website, the menu balances “ranchy with fancy” and we couldn’t agree more. Each meal, guests are provided a menu with at least two options for each course that allow you to fill up on well-balanced comfort food or tasty lighter options (or both!), and the chefs are more than happy to accommodate any dietary restrictions. Breakfast is scheduled with both grab-and-go options like fresh fruit and muffins as well as a sit-down meal. When weather permits, lunch is served daily after morning activities on the outdoor patio with gorgeous lake views, while dinner takes place in the lodge dining room, with ample space to social distance, and the option for your party’s own table or group dining.

reopens President’s Day weekend through March spring break weeks, while September and October are dedicated to adults-only vacations. Kids summer programs are designed for ages 6-18 with programs broken down and geared towards age ranges that roughly follow the US school breakdown of elementary, middle school, and high school. Your kids will participate in age and season appropriate adventures from horseback riding to scavenger hunts with skilled guides and counselors while you embark on your own adventure (or just soak in the hot tub again, you do you). But don’t worry, the ranch also provides options for joint family adventures. There are even dedicated evenings for separate kid’s dining followed by fun activities so you can enjoy your candlelit gourmet meal with adult conversations. Vista Verde truly thinks of everything so you can optimize your trip as you wish with your preferred combination of quality family time and quality adult time. Oh the adventures! We were truly impressed with the adventures and activities,

the knowledgeable guides and horse wranglers, and the top notch equipment at our disposal. During our three-night stay, our weekend kicked off with an outdoor happy hour by the lake during which staff introduced themselves and helped us decide which activities to try the next day; no need to plan in advance. The staff and guides will arrange activity logistics according to what guests would like to do and their skill level. The activities run the gamut from active and adventurous like mountain biking to skill building like photography. You can even take a cooking class, try your hand at leatherworking, or melt your stress away with a massage. In the winter families can try skiing and snowboarding, ice fishing, snow biking, sleigh rides, tubing, and more. After having been fitted for a saddle and matched with a horse for the weekend, our Friday morning began with a horse orientation in the barn, followed by a morning of riding around the ranch’s sprawling property. After lunch, we opted for an afternoon of fly fishing along the babbling

Packing Essentials The Vista Verde website provides a thorough list of packing essentials according to each season. Bring cowboy boots if you have them but my western-style snake print boots intended for traipsing about NYC turned out to work just fine, and the ranch will provide boots as well as all other equipment if you don’t have your own. Other important items include comfortable jeans for riding, layers for all sorts of weather, a bathing suit for the jacuzzi, and one thing this particular writer overlooked: allergy medicine. Fall/Winter in Colorado brings a host of new allergy sources you may not have known existed, so be sure to pack non-drowsy allergy medicine because you never know how your body will react to the change. Shout out to the incredibly kind and accommodating staff who will go above and beyond to make sure you are comfortable in the event that you forget this packing essential! Vista Verde is located in Steamboat Springs, CO 80477. To find out more call 800-526-7433 February 2021 | Westchester Family


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


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-

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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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