Brooklyn Family - May 2021

Page 1

may 2021

Let’s Hear it for


Jenny Greenstein

on Your Soul Style, her family, and being a guiding light for her daughters

Jodie Patterson

The social activist shares on her new children’s book

Benefits of a

Moms Who Brew

First female-owned brewery opens in Brooklyn

Bilingual Education

Safety first. A love of learning. Confidence for life! 5XP OFX #SPPLMZO DFOUFST BSF PQFOJOH TPPO and there’s room for you! At KinderCare, health and safety have been—and always will be—our top priority. We’re taking extra precautions to protect our community so your child can learn, grow, and be exactly who they are. Here, you won’t just find a clean and safe place for your child, you’ll find peace of mind for yourself.

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May 2021

pg. 14

pg. 30 pg. 28

pg. 16

pg. 26

FEATURES 10 | Bilingual Education What to know about how a second language can broaden your child’s skills and perspective 18 | Real Estate We have the top spots to move to in the suburbs 26 | Jenny Greenstein - North Star Jenny Greenstein on family, Your Soul Style and being a guiding light for her daughters

Stories & columns 4 | Editor’s Note May Flowers

Directories 12 | Bilingual Education Listings

6 | Ask The Expert Tips as kids get back to being social 14 | Spotlight First woman-founded and operated brewery, Talea Beer Co., opens in Brooklyn 16 | Mom Hacks 5 baby skincare brands we love 21 | SpotLight Jodie Patterson shares on her new children’s book 28 | Mom Stories Reconnecting with the ones I love

on the Cover

30| Family Fun 7 New York petting zoos kids will love

Makeup: Buffy Hernandez |

Photo: Yumi Matsuo | Hair: Johnny Haeger |

May 2021 | Brooklyn Family


Editor’s Note 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

Nina Gallo Photography

May Flowers The weather is warming, and we are starting to re-explore our city. Some of our kids are heading back to school and getting back to the swing of things by taking classes and seeing their friends. As kids start to get reacquainted, we have Tips for Kids Getting Back to Socializing (page 6). If you are looking to move from the city (but not too far), contributor Cris Pearlstein shares the top spots in, Where to Live in the Burbs (page 18). A year ago, we were planning this month’s

cover of Jenny Greenstein, North Star (page 26), her wife Dina, and their two young daughters. Of course, life for all of us shifted in ways we may have never thought would happen. Yet, in a sign that we are starting to get out and get back to our new normal, our vaccinated crew finally was able to visit Jenny and her family to shoot this month’s beautiful cover!

Editorial Contributors: Jana Beauchamp, Cris Pearlstein, Mia Salas Editorial Interns: Patrick Delaney, Analiese Dodd

Contact Information

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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 and tag us at #newyorkfamily

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Tips as Kids Get Back to Socializing Vaccines, re-openings, and warm weather mean children are adjusting to time together again BY DONNA DUARTE�LADD


he tantrums have been one for the books, in between remote classes or after a long day of Zoom — out of the blue; my eleven-year-old, who hasn’t had meltdowns since toddlerhood, displays emotional highs and lows. When the kids are finally around other kids, while joyous, it can also go from zero to 60 over the simplest things. And the parents. I have seen outbursts and have been on the receiving end of a fellow parent’s outburst, while both sides wondering afterward WTF just happened?! It is as if we have all been stuck in the same house for a year. Ahhh, yes, that is it, we have been in the same place for over a year. And now, as we slowly make our way back outside in the world, how can parents get their kids (and ourselves) back to socializing courteously and respectfully? I touched base with Dr. Christina Johns, Senior Medical Advisor for PM Pediatrics, with tips on how kids can transition back to being social? Has quarantine affected kids’ development? While I think pediatricians and parents alike are very concerned that social develop-

6 | May 2021

ment has been delayed because of isolation, the reality is that kids are pretty resilient, so we’re hopeful they will bounce back once we emerge from the pandemic. That said, we currently don’t have enough long-term data to determine what developmental effects the pandemic will have on children, and we will be following that very closely in the years to come. Pediatricians are concerned because there is some data that suggests learning has slowed down, but the evidence-based answer is that we don’t know for sure yet. Kids have either been glued to a tablet or have had limited time with friends; as New York re-opens, how can they transition into being social again? My recommendation to parents is to ease in slowly. I wouldn’t recommend that kids who haven’t had social time go to a sleepover right away, for example. Instead, it’s a gradual transition. I suggest shorter playdates and one-on-one time to start, all the while reminding children to respect their peers’ physical space. Before getting back to socializing, bring up the discussion of sharing depending on the child’s age. I also suggest reminding them of other general

social norms, like manners and respect. It’s ultimately about easing in and gradually expanding from there. Always remember to be smart with outdoor playdates, structured playdates with activities to provide a format to help kids socialize easier. How can a kid deal with misunderstanding and hurt feelings once they start having more face-to-face time? I see this more than ever with my oldest when he is on Zoom with friends, and one hangs up or loses their temper easily. Role-modeling, the behavior you want to see in your child, is key. I also suggest scripting. In other words, talk to your child about how to navigate these kinds of situations before they actually happen, and you can arm them with strategies. I also recommend you ‘name the feelings’. Teach your child to say “you seem upset right now” to a peer, for example. Once it’s named and kids have a shared understanding of the situation, they can go ahead and try to resolve it. It doesn’t make sense, for example, to have a child apologize if they don’t know what they’re apologizing for because that may not be appropriate in the setting and doesn’t teach the strategies for conflict resolution for the future.

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ask the expert

What can a parent do if their child seems anxious or depressed as they get back to just being a kid but with all that it comes with (peer pressure, competitiveness, etc.)? I would encourage parents to make sure they know what the truly concerning signs of depression and anxiety are in order to determine when it’s time to speak to a pediatric physician for help. Those signs can manifest in a child getting so anxious that they can’t get through their activities of daily life, their sleep schedule seems to be thrown off, they are completely disengaged, grades are dropping, etc. Those are real signs depression and anxiety have taken over, and that is the time to actively seek care. It’s a great idea to start with a pediatric healthcare professional as they can often help to screen the child and give you the best guidance on the next steps. If you don’t feel like your child is exhibiting any of these truly concerning behaviors, but they seem anxious, starting to slowly ease back into normal life may be the best way to move forward. People so badly want to resume pre-pandemic activities right away; however, any kind of expectation

“I suggest shorter playdates and one-on-one time to start, all the while reminding children to respect their peers’ physical space.” that getting back to that in the immediate will lead to disappointment. As a parent, setting up some small successes for a child can help them regain confidence, so they are less anxious about various situations going forward. As for parents, how do we set good examples for our kids? We practice what we preach. One thing that I encourage parents to keep in mind is the idea of balance. Try your best as a parent to set boundaries for yourself and do something that’s actually engaging and social during the day. If you’ve been working all day, sitting in front of a screen, give yourself a break and go outside to chat with a neighbor. And, bring your child with you. If you start engaging in safe, social activities together, your child is more likely to pick that up and do it independently.

Dr. Christina Johns is the Senior Medical Advisor and Vice President of Communications for PM Pediatrics, where she provides evidencebased pediatric expertise for patients and families everywhere. A pediatric emergency physician and medical leader, Dr. Johns is board certified in both pediatrics and pediatric emergency medicine. Dr. Johns has contributed to Good Morning America, been featured as a medical expert on CNN and Discovery Health shows, hosted Clear Channel Radio’s medical talk show, Doctors Call, and served as a spokesperson for SafeKids Worldwide on behalf of child advocacy on Capitol Hill. Dr. Johns is a mom of two, a son and a daughter, and resides with her family and their two dogs in Annapolis, MD. Visit Dr. Christina’s blog, Dear Dr. Christina, and on Instagram @deardrchristina, Twitter @DrCJohns, and Facebook @Dr. Christina Johns.

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Bilingual Education

What to know about this option that can broaden your child’s skills and perspective By Mia SalaS


s New York parents, we’re all too familiar with the many options for school. We know how overwhelming (and time-consuming) it can be to research the different options and find out what would work best for your child. That’s why, we’re coming in clutch with your guide to allthings bilingual education! If you’re considering sending your children to a school that has a bilingual program, then stop the oh-so-exhausting research process now and check out our brief (but informative, as always) summary about what to expect. Bilingual education has become increasingly popular in New York and beyond, so we’ve got the scoop on why that is and how some of these programs are structured. Read on to find out if bilingual education is for your family. History of Bilingual Education in NYC Bilingual education has been around for quite some time now. Private schools each have their own founding stories, many dating back to the early 20th century. But as for bilingual programs in New York public schools, bilingual and ESL education appeared in 1974 following a lawsuit against the NYC’s Board of Education for failing to educate Puerto Rican students with limited English skills. Since the implementation of the Aspira Consent Decree, New York ESL and Bilingual programs have expanded to serve students speaking over 145 languages. While bilingual education began primarily as a way for kids who speak their native language at home to

10 | May 2021

learn English, it has since become attractable to parents of kids who already speak English natively. Why? Keep reading to find out! Why Bilingual Education? You may be wondering what all the hype is about bilingual education anyway. First and foremost, bilingual learning not only connects students with another language, but with that language’s culture as well. We all want to see our little scholars grow into well-rounded adults with a strong education, but we also want them to accept difference, celebrate diversity, promote inclusion, and craft an open mind. Bilingual education shows kids from an early age that their own language and culture is not the only one, and it broadens their perspective from New York to the greater world in which we are all a part of. Not only do kids develop more inclusive views early on, but bilingual education instills empathy. Think about this: your child is learning to speak both English and Italian. All of their friends at school are too, but some of their friends in their neighborhood at home don’t go to a bilingual school. So your child has to think about this, and then decide to use English when communicating with these friends: in other words, they have to think about others before thinking about themself. While this quick decision-making process may seem trivial, it actually kick starts empathy, collaboration, and socialemotional skills from a young age. And finally, studies have shown that bilingual education actually accelerates and improves many academic skills (that extend well beyond the classroom), such as reading levels, problem-solving, math competency,

creative thinking, and more. Part of this is because learning two languages at once sharpens their memory, but it’s also because learning two languages shows kids that there is more than one way to approach something. Much like their decision to speak either language based on their situational context, they’ll likely look at challenges in the same way, whether that means coming up with multiple ways to build something STEMrelated or thinking about solving a math problem on a test in multiple ways. Types of Bilingual Education Now that we’ve covered our bases on why bilingual education is so popular, let’s go over the types of bilingual education, because yes, there’s even subcategories within the categories when it comes to New York education. Public vs. Private The first decision you have to make is whether you want to send your kids to a public or private bilingual school. Well, before that you should consider what foreign language you want your kids to learn. This is because public schools offer many EnglishSpanish programs, but if you’re looking for Italian, German, or French bilingual education, you’ll likely have more options with private schools. This isn’t to say that you can’t find programs with these languages in public schools: many public schools offer Chinese, Russian, Arabic, Italian, Bengali, French, and more. But the catch is that if you don’t live in that district, you’ll have to apply to attend that school. As for private schools, your kids will likely have more focused attention on them

and their language learning because of the smaller number of students. Many bilingual private schools have two teachers in every classroom — one who natively speaks English, and the other who natively speaks the other language that the school teaches. Both public and private schools have their pros, but if you are hesitant to browse private schools because of financial circumstances, be sure to check out their admissions pages

first. Many New York private bilingual schools offer generous financial aid and scholarships, so don’t let this deter you! English as a Second Language vs. Dual Language Does your child speak another language at home and you want them to learn English through school? If yes, then English as a Second Language (ESL) is the bilingual

education format that you’re looking for. If your goal is for your child to learn two languages simultaneously (half instruction in one language and half in another language), then Dual Language is the right fit. Hopefully this guide summed up bilingual education for you. If you’re considering sending your little one to a bilingual school, check out our round up of the Best Bilingual Schools in New York! May 2021 | Brooklyn Family


bilingual Education Directory | Special Advertising Supplement

Brooklyn Global Prep 423 Kent Ave Brooklyn, NY 11249 718- 734-2771 Brooklyn Global Prep is a unique, Reggio-inspired Language Immersion Preschool in the beautiful Oosten building located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Children spend their day immersed in rich vocabulary in Mandarin Chinese or French, while their academic curriculum is presented by loving teachers in an interactive and engaging way. The activity-based curriculum enables students to support the development of physical, emotional, social, and intellectual needs of each child. Through early exposure to language, they seek to provide students with a foundation for future learning and cultivate their long-term interest in the language, in addition to its cultures and traditions. Now taking applications for the 2021-2022 school

year. Call (718) 734-2771 or email admissions@ to schedule a tour. For more information about their programs, please visit their website, Instagram, or Facebook page.

Language & Laughter Studio 137 Nevins St Brooklyn, NY 11217 718- 596-2233 thelanguageandlaughter​ LLS is a French and Spanish language center and immersion French preschool located in the heart of downtown Brooklyn. Their programs nurture children and provide them with the building blocks needed for a lifetime of learning, critical thinking while exposing them to the benefits of speaking a foreign language in a supportive environment. The French Nature Preschool “Mini Maternelle” program offers a unique hybrid of outdoor and classroom-

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

Now accepting applications! To apply, visit: DOE school bus service is available from most neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Afterschool programs are available until 6pm daily.

Twice the Language, Twice the Opportunity!

based learning with as many mornings as possible spent exploring nature in Fort Greene Park. Children grow excited about learning by building on their own discoveries and interests and nature provides an incredible setting for these experiences. 100% of the children who graduate from LLS leave the program fluent in French with a real sense of ownership of the language. Many of them go on to attend public or private dual language (French-English).

LEEP Dual Language Academy Charter School 5323 Fifth Avenue, 2nd Floor, Brooklyn 917- 819-LEEP (5337) LEEP is a Spanish-language immersion elementary school in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Enrolling at LEEP Academy will give your child the academic, cognitive, and cultural benefits of speaking a second language, along with a challenging academic experience—and no tuition bill. The school is led by a proven leadership team and experienced teachers from across Latin America and the United States, all of them fully bilingual. Now accepting applications for the 202122 school year for children entering K-2, regardless of language background. The school will grow to serve K-5, with a possible continuation into middle school. DOE school bus service is available from most neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Afterschool programs are available until 6pm daily. Learn more or Apply now at:

German School Brooklyn

5323 Fifth Avenue, 2nd Floor | Brooklyn, NY 11220 (917) 819-LEEP (5337) | 12 | May 2021

40 Brevoort Place Brooklyn, NY 11216 GSB is dedicated to making bilingual education attainable to all families. GSB enrolls students without prior knowledge of German. The school currently offers Lower (K-5) and Middle School (6-8) and Upper School (9th Grade starts this fall) education. A brand

new school building is under construction at Rogers Ave & Sterling Place in Crown Heights, set to open in 2022. GSB’s mission is to amplify the unique potential of every child, so they can achieve the greatest version of themselves - as learners, leaders and global citizens for the future. GSB tailors an academic experience based on each child’s specific needs, interests and abilities. As an independent international school located in the heart of Brooklyn, the school brings together different cultures. Languages are a powerful foundation for learning, they are used as different lenses for understanding the world. GSB is currently accepting applications for the 2021-22 school year for grades K-9.

Science, Language & Arts International School Main Campus: 9 Hanover Place, Brooklyn Early Childhood Annex: 132 4th Place, Brooklyn 718–636–3836 Science, Language & Arts International School is an independent Nursery to Grade 8 school in Brooklyn, focused on the handson integration of science with visual arts, language, and math, and committed to providing children with a rich and rigorous multilingual, multicultural, and anti-racist education in French and Mandarin. SLA’s International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme has advanced language immersion tracks in French, Mandarin, and Spanish, as well as an English track (with choice of language) for anglophone-only students. The IB framework integrates with SLA’s curriculum, providing the structure for students to become strong mathematicians and scientists, powerful writers, and fluent speakers of a second language. Visit their website to join an upcoming information session for all grades and to find out about open seats, academic scholarships, and admission information.

The Language and Laughter Studio A French and Spanish language center

An Immersion French Preschool located in the heart of downtown Brooklyn Preparing children for lifelong bilingual education for more than 14 years introducing them to a diverse community of friends. Learn more here: 139 Nevins Street • Brooklyn NY 11217

(718) 596-2233

Now Enrolling K–9 GSB begins the candidacy journey for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years and Diploma Programme! We offer seamless education Grades K-12 Bilingual Curriculum teaching to the highest international standards Fast Track Program for students without German language Financial Assistance available

A whole child education for the future global citizen. An international community of families from Brooklyn and beyond. German School Brooklyn.

Because bilingual education is the future. or 347-897-8161

An independent Nursery to Grade 8 school in Brooklyn

A Reggio-inspired language immersion preschool that uses creative open spaces, nature and art to create a diverse and open minded global thinkers Now accepting applications for Fall 2021 Infant - Kindergarten French & Mandarian Immersion Preschool and Enrichment Programs 423 Kent Ave., Williamsburg, Brooklyn NY 11249 (732) 924-5432 May 2021 | Brooklyn Family



Sydney Butler

Mothers Who Brew First woman-founded and operated brewery, Talea Beer Co., opens in Brooklyn BY ROSE ADAMS


he first female-owned and woman-run brewery and taproom in New York City opened in Williamsburg two months ago in March, and the two mothers behind the gender-pioneering hops house are looking to create drinks for women who have shied away from craft beers because of their masculine packaging and bitter flavors. “For whatever reason, when it became a boy’s club, there’s a lot of craft beer that’s always looking to ratchet things up to the next level of intensity,” said Tara Hankinson, who co-owns Talea Beer Co. brewery with LeAnn Darland. “It’s not very accessible to novice hop palettes.” Unlike the dark and heavy India Pale Ales that modern breweries typically sling, Talea’s beers boast refreshing, summer flavors that often include fruity twists. The taproom, on the corner of Leonard and Richardson streets, features sours that contain two pounds of fruit per gallon — giving many of them bright colors and an almost Kombucha-like flavor.

14 | May 2021

Sydney Butler

LeAnn Darland and Tara Hankinson opened the Talea Beer Co. taproom in March. The brewery is located on the corner of Richardson and Leonard streets in Williamsburg. “[It’s] easy to love, low in bitterness, relatively low in alcohol, and either utilizing actual fruit or hops that have fruity characteristics,” Hankinson said. Hankinson and Darland, who both live in the neighborhood, crossed paths in 2018 while working at a beer startup called “Hopsy” in Manhattan, and decided to start Talea within three months of meeting each other. Darland had become interested in craft beer during a stint in one of the country’s beer capitals, San Diego, where she was based while serving in the US Navy, whereas Hankinson’s love for beer stemmed from her experience working in food and wine. The pair launched Talea Beer in 2019, and

began selling their brews in supermarkets, but soon looked to expand with their own taproom. “We thought New York City had an appetite for another brewery, and hopefully, a brewery like ours,” said Hankinson. Hankinson and Darland, who both have infant children, purposefully created their taproom to cater to women and mothers of all ages with a bright and family-friendly atmosphere, a place to leave strollers, and a menu with non-alcoholic options. The taproom also doubles as a coffee shop — the space opens at 8 am, and once it’s safe to open fully, the owners hope to turn it into a vibrant workspace during the day. In addition to reaching women,

Wha�’s �n �ap

but has a complex and slightly bitter finish with subtle notes of pineapple.

Some of Talea’s most popular beers:

Hankinson and Darland are trying to bring women into the craft brewing industry. Few women work in beer because most entry level jobs require tough, manual labor, Hankinson explained — and without those jobs, it’s difficult to work your way up the ranks. “A typical keg of beer is 160 pounds,” she said. “That’s more than I weigh, so how am I going to get that down the stairs of a bar in Manhattan? I can’t, so I can’t even apply for that job.” Talea’s kegs weigh only 50 pounds, and rather than relegating female employees to the front of the house — as many taprooms do — all the positions at Talea rotate, meaning that all the employees get to try their hand at brewing. Currently, 13 of Talea’s 17 taproom employees are women, and Hankinson said that she hopes to create a safe and encouraging environment for all her employees. “We’ve heard from some of our staff members that they left other places in the industry, not necessarily breweries, because of sexism,” she said. “[Brewing] just set up for men to succeed and women to not even feel qualified to apply, so that’s something we’re trying to change.”

Blackberry Crush Sun Up 6.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) Talea’s signature brew, Sun Up is a bright and fruity hazy IPA, with a slight pineapple and mango flavor and just a hint of “hoppiness.” (Talea’s beers contain plenty of hops, a type of plant used in beer, but the hops are added at the end of the brewing process to increase their aromatic flavor and reduce their bitterness.) The summery ale has a touch of sweetness and a creamy consistency almost reminiscent of a smoothy.

Power Couple 8 percent ABV Another hazy IPA, Power Couple uses two well-known hops, Strata and Riwaka, that have notes of berries and passion fruit. The beer starts off light,

5.2 percent ABV This German-style wheat beer, known as a Gose, has a deep red, raspberry color, since two pounds of berries are packed in every gallon. The intense berry flavor makes it taste almost like a kombucha disguised as a beer (but without all the sweetness). Talea also serves a raspberry-lime flavored Gose.

Raspberry Peach Tart Teco 7.5 percent ABV A part of Talea’s sour IPA series, this aromatic beer has a noticeable raspberry and peach smell and a rusty red color. The fruits come together to form a tart flavor with a rich and creamy texture and a gentle sweetness, which comes from the milk sugar that’s added to the beer during the brewing process.



May 2021 | Brooklyn Family


mom hacks

5 Baby Skin Care Brands We Love By Donna Duarte-LaDD


kin care for babies is growing every year. And while the products keep expanding and evolving, allowing parents to find the best product for their child, it can be a bit mind-boggling to know which ones are the right fit for your family. We reviewed the many baby products sent our way and came up with a top 5 that we love, all for different reasons, but all do one thing — provide skin nourishment for your baby and beyond.

Tots by Babyganics Hair Care Babyganics newly launched skincare line, Tots by babyganics, tackles the toddler stage, you know, once the hair has grown in and curls, tangles become part of your growing babe’s hair. Dermatologisttested, this line helps calm and control flyaways while maintaining growing hair. We tried the 2-in-1 Curly Shampoo & Conditioner, $9.99, on a very curly hair prek’er. If you have a curly hair child, you know that post-bath is when their curls look the best and the following day, poof… gone. The tots line, which consists of coconut oil, avocado, apricot oil, and chamomile extract, helps to moisturize and smooth out unruly hair. There is also a non-curly 2-in-1 version, and for the hair that tangles (what do they do to get so many knots in their hair?), the detangling spray is not heavy, leaving none of that sticky residue some products tend to do.

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Mum & You Hypoallergenic Skin Care The Mum & You line, which is naturally derived, and vegan, focuses on mom and baby. We tested the Mums Touch Massage Oil, $9.99, a 2-pack of massage oils, one for the day and one for the night; the day oil includes organic jojoba and organic chamomile, which we tested on both ourselves and the kids. For the evening, after a bath, we used the sleepy night version — the oils went on super smooth, and within days our skin softened. As a mom bonus, we tested the Tummy Time (for mothers),$25, a firming and toning gel. The combination of sunflower seed and turmeric extract helps boost collagen and tighten the stomach area. After a year of really not taking care of ourselves, these products felt like much-needed self-care for us, the moms, and the family.

Ever Eden Plant-Based We found ourselves going from giving the products a go on the kids — to full-on incorporating products such as nourishing baby cream and Foaming Baby Shampoo and Wash, $16, to our beauty routine. Our tester (the curly hair babe) loved the foaming wash because who doesn’t love foam? Pediatriciancreated with naturally-derived oat amino acids and coconut juice, and coconut water. We loved it for being super gentle and tear-free. The product this editor is now sharing with her son is The Nourishing Baby Face Cream, $24, rich in moisture; it goes on those still brisk mornings on the kids and on mom as a night cream- rich hydration something many of us need after being home for months.

Baby Bum by Sun Bum PlantBased One of our favorite picks for SPF care, Sun Bum, has a well-curated baby skincare linebaby Bum. This is perfect for parents looking for plant-based baby skincare. Bubble baths are what nighttime routines are made of, and the Bubble Bath, $9.99, doesn’t mess around. Ingredients of sea minerals like magnesium, calcium mixed with monoi coconut oil and banana, aloe, & white ginger make for one hydrating, moisturizing bubble bath. The Calendula Cream, $13.99, while perfect for a new baby, is also excellent for the entire family as the calendula flower mixed with lavender oil and shea butter nourishes as we all make our way outdoors again.

Baby Dove by Dove for Eczema Care Baby Eczema, dry, flaky, itchy skin, affects babies and even big kids, mostly on their face, especially their cheeks. While stressful for parents, it is uncomfortable for a little one. Dove’s Baby Dove Derma Care Soothing Wash, $8.99, is hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and made without dyes, parabens, phthalates, steroids, or sulfates. That is the technical stuff; what we love about it for baby is that it is super gentle and doesn’t dry out the skin. For relief from the itchiness, hydration is beneficial, and the Baby Dove Eczema Care Soothing Cream, $8.99, is a powerful moisturizer with patented technology that strengthens your babe’s skin.

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Visit LIU.EDU/SPORTS-CAMPS for more information including camp dates and details. May 2021 | Brooklyn Family


Real Estate

Where to Live in the Burbs! By Cris Pearlstein


nless you’ve been living under a rock this past year you probably have noticed a bit of an urban exodus. People, especially families, have been trading their city digs for more nature and more space. Parents have realized the value of having a home where everyone in a family can carve out a little piece to call their own—whether that means each person has their own bedroom, or maybe there’s a dedicated playroom for toys and games, or maybe there’s a backyard big enough for kids and adults to all have their own fun. City living is special for so many reasons, there’s no denying that, but oftentimes remaining sane, especially when you have kids, means leaving your home in search of activities elsewhere. It means being on the go constantly whether in search of parks, sports, cultural activities, or even just neighborhood walks to get some air and stretch the legs. But when you can’t leave your home, whether

because of bad weather or a pandemic, then what? This year many people found out the hard way that staying home in a tiny apartment with kids is just not sustainable. Jeffrey Carlson, sales director at Argo Real Estate, says clients who were deep in their home search in the city pre-pandemic have switched gears. “Many of them have decided to reverse their plans mid-search and relocate to the suburbs,” he said. “We’ve seen plenty of that.”

He even had an agent on his team, who worked in NYC for almost 20 years, decide to relocate his business entirely to Westchester to serve clients up there. “He started to see people in his network who were simply no longer interested in buying in the city,” Carlson explained. “So he left and didn’t come back, just like many others.” And for those nervous to make the jump, it might not be as big of an adjustment as you would think. This mass exodus is creating wonderful urban-like pockets in the suburbs, filled with like-minded transplants who want to recreate the magic of their city life. There are a lot of neighborhoods within a 30-45 minute commute that boast walkability, a sense of community, diversity, and cultural activities—all of the calling cards of the NYC neighborhoods we know and love. If you’re just beginning to explore the idea of leaving, these homes below are a great start. They offer everything you need to transition from city dwelling to suburban life.

Montclair, NJ The first two words that come to mind upon seeing this five bedroom house are cool and contemporary. Situated at the end of a quiet cul de sac perfect for young families, this incredibly rare ranch in Upper Montclair, on nearly a half acre of property, offers an elegant and modern design. There is an amazing chef’s kitchen, a dining room with a fireplace, and enough space for a formal living room and family room—there is also a finished basement perfect for a playroom, office, guest space, and more. The smart layout lends itself to indoor/outdoor living at its best, with a sunroom that opens to a huge deck and an oversized, private backyard. The entire home is light and bright thanks 18 Capron Lane, Montclair, NJ to plenty of windows and an abundance of natural light pouring in from every angle. Montclair is a town of parks and there are three great ones technology, creating connections, Montessori, university, STEM, that are less than a 10-minute walk from this house. It is also a environmental science, and gifted & talented. It is a diverse and town with a popular film festival, vibrant nightlife scene, it’s own eclectic community offering something for everyone, and since art museum, movie theaters, and an ever-growing selection of the train commute to NYC runs between 35-45 mins from our six restaurants and shops. The public school district comprises seven train stations, Montclair is the perfect urban-yet-suburban locale. Agent: Amy Owens elementary schools, three middle schools, and one high school. Its Firm: Keller Williams award-winning magnet system has schools identified by themes Contact info: 201-396-2927, to serve the needs of the community: global studies, science &

18 | May 2021

Dedicated to Matching Home Sellers and Buyers North of NYC Whether your goal is to buy or sell, walk to the train, down-size, expand, or transfer in or out of town, my experience will be an asset to your move. My commitment to my clients, combined with cutting edge tools and technology by Houlihan Lawrence, allows me to offer an exceptional service for both sellers and buyers.

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H O U L I H A N L AW R EN CE.CO M May 2021 | Brooklyn Family


Real Estate

Pelham, NY In Pelham, NY, Westchester’s oldest town, you have your pick of gorgeous homes, like this stately brick colonial. Walk through the double foyer and be greeted by wide open spaces. There’s a large formal living room with a wood burning fireplace, a cozy sunroom, a dining room with exposed beams, and an oversized bright kitchen. The kitchen features granite countertops and top of the line appliances, along with a spacious eat-in breakfast area perfect for the whole family to gather. The kitchen has access to the beautiful backyard with a new firepit area, a patio for al fresco dining, and a swing set. Upstairs you’ll find three well-sized bedrooms (including one en suite bedroom with a walk-in closet and balcony). All three full baths in this charming home have been renovated, and there are brand new windows throughout. The 450 Wolfs Lane, Pelham, NY lower level offers more space for a playroom and gym, as well as a powder room and laundry area. Living outside of the city has never been easier—the library, here. There are four elementary schools which feed into one middle the schools, and the train are all in walking distance. In fact, school and one high school. Pelham Memorial High School focuses being just 17 miles from midtown Manhattan, the commute is on an environment that promotes respect and responsibility, with just 29 minutes to Grand Central Station. The town offers a dense a rigorous college preparatory program. In fact, 94.8% of graduates suburban feel, with restaurants, shops, the town hall, and the fiveare receiving post-secondary education. Agent: April H. Monaco acre Wolfs Lane Park all situated on a mile-and-a-half strip in the Firm: Houlihan Lawrence village center. There is a strong community vibe among residents, Contact info:, 914-548with most residents taking full advantage of the walkability. 8350 If you are looking for a great school district, you can find it

Maplewood, NJ Walk into this beautiful house and you will fall in love with the elegant staircase and grand living room. The eat-in kitchen features a gourmet range, updated design, and access to the large deck. The main level also includes a stunning library room which can double as an office. There is plenty of room for your growing family with five bedrooms and five bathrooms, and since there are three levels (not including the basement), everyone can spread out accordingly. Downstairs in the large finished basement is room for an at-home gym, a kids area, a powder room, and a laundry room. Maplewood is a very active community that has it all, but is only 18 miles from NYC. The 30-45 minute commute via NJ Transit is a breeze, but if you’d prefer to drive, the city is just a quick car ride away. Maplewood’s downtown shopping district is 180 Wyoming Ave, Maplewood, NJ noted as being the only one in the state that doesn’t have a stop light. Memorial Park, a sprawling 25-acre oasis in the heart of the town, was designed in the 1920’s academics, championship athletic programs, and award-winning by the Olmsted brothers who also designed NYC’s Central Park. fine and performing arts programs. It has also been nationally It features a ballpark, amphitheater, courts, a pond, and plenty recognized as one of the top 100 communities for Music Education of greenery. The town is a magnet for city transplants due to its four years in a row. More than 90 percent of graduates plan to diverse community that prides itself on embracing a melting pot of attend college each year. Agent: Mark Slade religious beliefs, lifestyles, and more. Firm: Keller Williams The South Orange & Maplewood School District serves 10 schools, with a diverse student body that is recognized annually for Contact info: 917-797-5059,

20 | May 2021

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May 2021 | Brooklyn Family



Jodie Patterson Shares on Her New Kids’ Book “Born Ready: The True Story of a Boy Named Penelope” BY MIA SALAS


ere at New York Family, we know that parenting is all about learning. We learn how to talk to our kids about the world around us, we learn how to prioritize time for ourselves, we learn how to raise our little ones amidst a growing digital landscape (from TikTok to the new Instagram for kids and everything in between). But every now and then, our kids surprise us. They teach us something new, something that opens up our perspective and redefines the way we relate to others. And in her debut children’s book, Born Ready: The True Story of a Boy Named Penelope, Jodie Patterson reminds us how to be there for our kids when they do. We got the scoop on this must-read book, beautifully illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow, that puts gender identity and gender fluidity in conversation with young readers and their parents. Yes, Born Ready is the trans, queer, and Black representation that we need, but let’s think beyond representation. Instead, let’s look at how and why these communities are being represented. And if we do that — if we have the “beyond representation” mindset — we (kids and parents alike) just might discover what it means to love, learn from, and accept the people in our lives who are different from us. We knew that Born Ready would totally be on the radar for our NYC parents, so we caught up with Jodie Patterson to dive deeper into what this book is all about. Read on to see what Jodie has to say about self-discovery, family, and experience as truth. First, a bit about Jodie Patterson: Jodie Patterson is a social activist, entrepreneur, and writer. She is the author of The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation and was Family Circle magazine’s Most Influential Mom in 2018.

22 | May 2021

Photo by Yumi Matsuo

She works closely with a number of gender/ family/human rights organizations and is the chair of the board of directors of the Human Rights Campaign. She is a sought-out public speaker addressing a wide range of

audiences about identity, gender, beauty, and entrepreneurship. She is the mother of five children, two of whom are self-proclaimed gender nonconformists—one transgender and another genderqueer. Jodie raises her

family in Brooklyn, New York. To get us started, can you tell us a little bit about your journey as an author, from your 2019 memoir, The Bold World, to this new children’s book? How do you see art and activism related, if in any way? I’ve always liked to write and read a lot. In writing The Bold World, I was influenced by my journal entries and notes that I had tucked away and then resurfaced during the process. When my son told me “Mom, I’m not a girl. I’m a boy”, it provoked this question: If I didn’t know my own child was a boy, what else in the world do I not know? To understand what you know and what you don’t, you have to go back. I went back in my history — the history of my family — to look at the moments when gender was described to me. I wrote this story about how a cisgender, uppermiddle class, Black, hetereo woman, transitioned into knowing a bit more about life. A lot of the readers said “I love the book, and I can’t wait to share it with my children”, and I thought, “Well, I don’t know if it’s a book for a five-year-old”. So I wanted to write a book that was digestible for kids and families. Born Ready allows children to enter the conversation about gender, identity, and family, without placing old ideas on new minds. Born Ready brings forth Penel’s truth, his siblings’ truth, and it shows how we can shift communities for the ones that we love. Parents want to be able to find the “yes” when raising their children: yes you can, yes I believe you, yes let’s do this together, but often times we don’t know where to find it. I’m hoping that Born Ready can show us how to find the “yes”. Although a children’s book, I found myself eagerly turning the pages as I read it to find out what happens next in Penel’s selfdiscovery. I’m curious about the audience: when writing Born Ready, who did you imagine the audience to be? If a trans-identified child or a sibling of a trans-identified child, and particularly if a trans-identified child of color, picks up this book, then that is a win. The audience is primarily children, but I think that children are complex. Children have an understanding that is deeper than we acknowledge. There’s a moment when Penel transfers his ninja powers to me. It’s a concept that I study as an adult, about human potential, about how we can transfer energy from human to human, but also how we can gain information from objects,

“I want people to understand that this is not only how it could happen for other people — there can be triumphant stories within queer Black families — but this is how it actually did happen.” nature, and other people. Energy transfers are not a light, “kids’” topic. I hope that people feel the depth of this book. I didn’t try to simplify it into a picture or word, because I’m working with really big concepts. I’m actually really compelled by the “ninja” thread that runs throughout the story. On the opening page, Penel tells readers: “I’m a ninja.” Then when he tells his mom that he’s a boy, he “[transfers] some of [his] ninja powers to help her understand”. His room is covered in ninja-like drawings, and later, he joins karate, winning a competition in the end. How did you see this idea of the “ninja” working its way into the text? I wasn’t necessarily using the ninja as a way to describe Penel’s gender nonconformity, because it was who he himself claimed to be. He would act as a ninja all the time: zipping through the house, karate chopping, and lunging. But if I had to look at it, I think it was about power for him. Ninjas have a way of moving through obstacles that seem dense. They can appear in one place and then reappear in another, and you’re not quite sure how the ninja got there. Ninjas have this power to transform and to break through barriers that most of us would not understand how it could be done. There is power in being authentic, but there’s also power in being trans. Penel himself has a power that is unique, and we’re calling that his ninja. A bit of back story: as of about two months ago, Penel said that he does not want to be referred to as Penelope. We named him after his grandmother, and when he

first told me he was a boy, I asked him if he wanted to change his name. He looked at me like I was crazy, and I stumbled and said “well, maybe you want to choose a more boy name” (still stuck in this idea that there are boy names and girl names). Penel said that he would never want to do that because he loves his grandmother. But now that he’s in eighth grade, he wanted to change his name to Penel. I’ve heard arguments like, what if the child doesn’t know what they really want, what if the child changes their mind, what if this is not the last point on the journey? More than likely, this is NOT the last point on the journey. I hope that my child shifts and changes from 5 to 95, and we will shift with him. I definitely noticed that throughout the book, even though Penel struggled to tell his loved ones how he felt on the inside, once he did, he had everyone’s full support, besides the bit of tension with his older brother. And that tension is actually still there. When I look at my five children, much of how they were ten years ago is how they are today. Not everyone agrees on gender, not everyone agrees on trans reality, and in fact, Cassius still does not think it’s scientifically proven that there are multiple genders. That scene where he says “You can’t become a boy. You have to be born one”, is still his perspective. I think a lot of people assume that my activism is for Penel. And it is, but it is also for every child in my family. The same way that I respect Penel, I respect all the children, and have allowed for a very robust conversation to take place around gender, identity, race, and May 2021 | Brooklyn Family



“Parents want to be able to find the ‘yes’ when raising their children: yes you can, yes I believe you, yes let’s do this together, but often times we don’t know where to find it.”

sexuality. In our differences, we’re still at the dinner table together. Beyond that tension with his brother, Penel had support from a number of people. How do you then see this book speaking to trans-identified kids who do not have the support that Penel has? We have certainly progressed a lot when it comes to diversity & inclusion, but there is still a long way to go. So how do you see this book speaking to kids who are hesitant to identify as LGBTQIA+ because they’ve grown up in an environment that may not understand or support them? That is the tough part, because this is community work. I’d say it’s two fold: first, I want kids to think about the power that they own. Their voice matters, their responsibility matters, and I want kids to see that there is an ownership in this process. But I also want kids to look towards folks that are in their lives, whether that is their biological family or their community. I think Penel’s karate coach was just as influential in terms of developing Penel’s confidence as I was. I hope that kids will see that their person could be mom, but mom might be busy. It might be a sibling, but that sibling might not understand. It could be a coach, or a best friend who says “you look great”. So the message to kids is 1) Recognize that you have power, and then 2) Find someone who sees you and plant yourself right there.

because you have to remind people of what is true.

Can you tell us a bit more about the title and your inclusion of “The True Story”? Why is it important to you that readers know that this is a true story? A lot of times people say that it couldn’t have been that easy. They say: tell us the real story. This is not how I wanted it to be; this is how it actually went down. I wrote this book with my children. I want people to understand that this is not only how it could happen for other people — there can be triumphant stories within queer Black families — but this is how it actually did happen. So many times, queer people are made to “prove” their realities. Being in the numerical minority, as Black people and trans people in America, we are asked over and over to prove our truths. With the title of my children’s book, I wanted to set the record straight, from the beginning: Penel is true, we are true, our reality is true. The title was actually an afterthought: “Born Ready” was always there, but we added in that line, “The True Story of a Boy Named Penelope”,

Given that you live in Brooklyn with your family, has NYC shaped your perspective, either as a mother, author, or activist? Absolutely. I grew up in New York, and theater has been huge for me. I remember sitting, right out of college, at the public theater watching Huey P. Newton and the Black Panther just come to life on stage. For me, theater coaxed this idea of activism and creative dynamics in New York. And New York has so many distinct communities: whether you’re on the subway or the street, you will interact with these diverse communities, personalities, and even gender identities. So the very soil of New York City birthed a lot of creativity and revolution in me. I was worried when we moved from Soho to Brooklyn, but Brooklyn, and Bed-Stuy in particular, has only been a place of support. Bed-Stuy has been a sort of “chosen-family” concept for us: biological or not, when you find a village that supports you, that’s where you want to plant yourself. And we definitely

24 | May 2021

Photo by Yumi Matsuo

planted ourselves there. What I would hope that Born Ready does is encourage us not to live in small bubbles: we should push ourselves outside and align ourselves with people who do not necessarily look, sound, or identify as we do, yet we can find the commonality between us. One last question for you! We’re always on the lookout for diverse & inclusive children’s books. What other children’s books would you recommend? Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love! It’s about a child who wants to present as a mermaid, and Julián’s grandmother who supports his gender fluidity, allowing Julián to go along in life the way Julián wants to be. Julián is a Mermaid is a beautiful, graceful story. Big thank you to Jodie Patterson for this inside scoop about her book. Want to share Penel’s story with your kids? Purchase a copy of Born Ready: The True Story of a Boy Named Penelope today! Curious to learn more about Jodie and her family? Follow her on Instagram @ jodiepatterson.


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May 2021 | Brooklyn Family


North Star

Jenny Greenstein on family, getting back to work after the pandemic and being a guiding light to her two daughters By Donna Duarte-LaDD


first met Jenny at a parenting press event back in my fashion editor days. I was a bit in a withdrawal phase as I was in the throes of therapy for my youngest son, who would later be diagnosed with ASD. I was not in the mood to chat it up. Yet, I loved Jenny’s vibe immediately. She had an outfit I coveted, and most importantly, she had this energy about her that was friendly and inviting. I found myself wanting first to know what she was wearing and to know about this ‘cool’ mom. This was three years back; now I know more about Jenny and her beautiful family. While she is undoubtedly one of the most stylish people I know, there is much more to who this human is. Married to her wife Dina for 9 years, they are parents to Viva, age 5, and Bloom, age 1. While Jenny has an impressive work background, ten plus years working in the corporate fashion industry as a stylist and visual merchandiser, she founded Your Soul Style after a semester working on her master’s in Social Work. This, of course, does not surprise me as there is a deep empathetic quality about Jenny, who gets a mother’s journey and connects with where they are in life. She understands that as women and mothers, we have many layers to us. She isn’t trying to impose her style on you; she shares her wisdom and talent to help you connect with your personal style so that you can feel your best. She is also a true activist for mothers, Black Lives Matter, and LGBTQ rights. And like many parents, she is coming off one crazy year, juggling family life and getting back to work.

26 | May 2021

“Being their mother means that I need to simultaneously do the work on myself so I can show up even better for them.” The New York Family team recently visited Jenny, her wife Dina, and their beautiful girls. Read more about this ‘cool’ family. The presidential election weighed heavy on you. You are married to your wife Dina and raising two young daughters. Can you share what was on the line for your family at this time? When same-sex marriage became federally recognized under the Obama administration in June of 2015, it was a historical moment for our country, but personally a huge moment for our family. On that night while 9 months pregnant with Vida (our first daughter), we went to a celebration rally at Stonewall Inn and me, Dina and my giant belly were bursting with happiness knowing that our child would enter the world, never knowing anything except that her parents’ marriage was considered just as legitimate as anyone else’s. But ever since the 2016 election, I have worried that things could be reversed.

And in the four years of the Trump administration, constantly evaluated the “what if”. The 2019 election exacerbated my fears with the supreme court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett and it was at that point that I really understood how vulnerable my relationship was and what could be taken from us. While I feel more at ease now since the election of President Biden, the future is still unclear. Anything can happen. That said, I will continue to stay hopeful, and motivated to raise my kids to be changemakers in a world that could use more love and inclusivity. Being in your home, I instantly felt the unity and a strong partnership between you and Dina. With a vibrant 5-year-old and an active toddler, what lessons did you learn through lockdown that helps you and Dina in parenting your girls? One thing I learned for sure is how capable and resilient we can be in the face of adversity. This goes for me, Dina and my kids too. For the first 6 months of the pandemic, like many, I felt overwhelmed. How was I to simultaneously manage my 5 year old with remote school and my (at the time) 8 month old? It seemed impossible and at the end of most days, I couldn’t actually believe I made it through another day. But, as time passed, and as Dina and I were able to strengthen our partnership and create necessary boundaries and structure in our day to day, somehow the system continued to function. Dina and I believe that in parenting we should hold space for all the feelings — every single one of them is valid. And in this crazy time, it’s important to stay mindful and considerate of each ebb and flow. But children need boundaries or else they feel like they are falling without a net. With the

uncertainty of the world, what was most important for us was to ensure that our kids felt held — even if that meant just within the four walls of our home. A secure foundation and a strong attachment to family of origin is what I feel will set up our children for success. You are relaunching your business, Your Soul Style. Can you share with us all that Your Soul Style method encapsulates? The Your Soul Style method is an integrative approach to style and mindfulness. I don’t believe one can exist without the other because style is a reflection of who we are at our core and an opportunity to authentically self-express. While this has always been my approach, during the pandemic, I completed my core life coach training at Coactive Institute. My certification begins this Fall which will coincide with the relaunch of YSS, and all of the tools I’ve acquired through my courses, combined with the experience of working with my clients in real time is informing the evolving Your Soul Style methodology. My approach is deeply personal and before we evaluate what my clients will wear, we first need to establish who they are. My clients are prompted with questions like, “What are your core values?”, “What inspires/influences you?”, “Are those influences positive or negative?” or “In what parts of your life do you feel stuck and how does this reflect what you wear?”. These are just a sampling of the questions we explore in our initial sessions, along with specific Your Soul Style exercises I’ve created for the discovery phase. As we move further into the process of Closet Cleansing or Shopping/Styling, we continue to build from the inside out as opposed to the outside in because when all parts of our being are in alignment, empowered personal style can emerge. Based on the feedback from my clients, I know this is transformative and powerful work and I’m very proud to do it. I’m super, super excited for what’s to come. Stay tuned.

Photo by Yumi Matsuo

The month of May, as we know, shares Mother’s Day; what does being a mother mean to you? Being a mother means being a guiding light and a north star to the little humans I am raising. I don’t see my daughters as an extension of me, but rather their own people who I am supporting on their own life path. Being their mother means that I need to simultaneously do the work on myself so I can show up even better for them. And while helping to nurture their own growth, I am also nurturing my own. If your children do better than you, you’ve done your job. May 2021 | Brooklyn Family


mom stories

Reconnecting With the Ones I Love As the world reopens, reflecting on the most important personal connections in my life By Leah Fink


t’s early April of 2020; the light is dreamy in eastern Long Island, where my family is seeking refuge from Covid 19 in the city. Long shadows on the ground, neon green buds on the trees, and the ocean waters crash into soothing tones. And yet, we’re worried. There is uncertainty in our world. And there is no word when our children will be returning to school. My husband and I are both trying to manage our businesses and our kids, not to mention deep grief over the loss of a few close family members. A mom friend of mine told me that sometimes she’s too tired to brush her teeth at the end of the day. Sadly, I understand. I grew up with recitals, soccer games, baseball games, and a separate birthday party for all fourteen family members: aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters. My grandmother was the center of it all. We celebrated large holiday dinners with way too much food in typical

28 | May 2021

Jewish fashion. Matzo ball soup, gefilte fish, topped with small slices of orange carrots, several different kugels, and a whole table full of desserts. Dinners that nobody was allowed to miss. We were never not together. We were never not celebrating something. Fast forward to my move to New York. My family wasn’t thrilled with the physical distance, but I stayed close with frequent trips home and promised to call my grandmother every morning on my way from the subway into work. Three years into living in New York, I met my now-husband, Johnny. Then came babies. Having my children made it harder to be away from my family, but I kept my new mom friends close. We’d get together every Friday night to debrief the week while the kids ran around under our feet. Pre-Covid, another tradition I created was a Sunday Night Dinner at my home in Brooklyn with a rotating cast of characters, including friends and family. We celebrated holidays, birthdays, and engagements.

When someone passed the bar exam, we ate a football-shaped Carvel cake. When my beloved cousin died suddenly, two friends cooked all my family recipes to comfort us. Like so many New Yorkers, our friends, especially my mom friends, became a lifeline. Later, a friend and I started B’nai Brooklyn, a progressive Jewish organization on a larger scale bringing families together for Shabbat services and a pizza party in Brooklyn in (so Brooklyn) a church basement. The warmth that we felt with a room full of people — kids running around, adults eating pizza and drinking wine — felt familiar to me. The crowd of 75 doubled between the first and second event, and then COVID hit. Weekly happy hours: paused. Pizza Shabbat: paused. Sunday Night Dinner: also paused. Back in pandemic life, my nuclear family quarantined in the house with beautiful surroundings, and my big, close family met

on zoom every night (Yes, every night!) at 5 PM for THREE MONTHS. And I really missed my friends. From the beginning, a group of four were on a text chain that went deeper and longer than any before. We chatted about the highs and lows of our days, how scared we were about what was happening. We even texted from our closets while hiding from our kids! Mid-pandemic, the numbers were down, but us moms were way stressed. The four of us decided to get tested, quarantine carefully, and then get together for a few days at my house. What happened next was magical. There was laughter; there were tears. There was wine tasting, yoga, beach walks, and even an OUIJA board attempt (It didn’t work.) There was an epic co-working session where we threw out ideas, reviewed each others’ emails, and may have even hatched a business. And now, as New York opens back up, I am craving the in-person community I had in Brooklyn more than ever. I’m craving warmth, fun, the ability to have a conversation with one group and then

I’m craving warmth, fun, the ability to have a conversation with one group and then walk over to the other side of the room (or the park!) and have a conversation with another. walk over to the other side of the room (or the park!) and have a conversation with another. All the women I know are so tired. We’ve been keeping up households, careers, holding up kids and partners. Like no other year in history, we’ve been pushed out of the workforce. We’re worried about health and school and what the world will look like in the months to come. There was a point in my career where I realized that almost everything I do is recreate the warmth, the joy, the fun that I felt as a kid growing up with my extended family. So it is not lost on me that I chose a career where I am always with people, be it as a community builder, teacher, or life coach. I want to continue the feeling we felt at the end of our quarantine retreat. To feel anew, connected, refreshed, and ready to be with my beautiful friends and family.


Leah Wiseman Fink is a life & business coach with a background in education. Her coaching practice focuses on empowering women to make thoughtful, pragmatic decisions that lead to positive, life-changing results. She holds two masters’ degrees in Education Leadership and Secondary English Education. Leah worked for the NYC Department of Education in many capacities, including where she opened new schools in underserved communities so children could thrive. She is also a children’s book author, the co-founder of B’nai Brooklyn, also hosts epic retreats for anyone who needs a refresh. Leah’s love for NYC is magnetic, knowing that the pulse of the city is unlike anywhere else in the world. She has two children and her family owns Williamsburg Pizza, which many call the best slice in New York. To find out more about upcoming retreats, go to

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Family Fun

Petting Zoos!

7 New York spots kids will love By Patrick Delaney


ith the city opening back up, activities like visiting New York petting zoos become a reality once more. Although we live in an urban setting, there are still many opportunities to explore nature and learn about animals we don’t see every day. Petting zoos are a great way to introduce your children to new animals and allows them to have an experience they won’t forget. A New York petting zoo can be broken down into two categories: farms and zoos. Farm petting zoos are slices of land that raise animals and you can see and interact with them in a more natural habitat. Zoos on the other hand have sections designated where children can interact with them; it’s a little more urban and controlled. Depending on what kind of experience you and your child want to have, we have broken this list up by farms and zoos so you can easily find the best fit your family! Farms

Green meadows Farm, Brooklyn Price: $12 per person

Green Meadows Petting Farm made a big leap by moving their business from Queens to Brooklyn. The results, however, were absolutely worth it. Allowing for more visitors and family fun. When you imagine a petting zoo this is the classic example that comes to mind. They are a bit of a wait though, as those services are only coming around in May. But once again, Green Meadows Farm is absolutely worth it. White Post Farms, Melville Price: $20.95 per person

White Post Farms has always had an element of grandeur that petting zoos tend to lack. This establishment focuses on the childlike

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thrill that petting zoos are supposed to generate. Come look at their giraffes and ride ponies The art Farm NYC, Manhattan Price: $25 per person

They do camps and they do classes, but when you’re in the mood to just pet some good-natured animals this is a great place to venture to. Though their animals steer more towards lizards and guinea pigs than the classic farm animals, they’re still great candidates for petting. Every weekday from 11:30 am – 12:30 pm they offer this amazing service. Queens County Farm museum Price: Free Entry

Yet another great New York farm, this time steering more firmly into the farm animal category. Though free upon entry, there are some events and activities that will require payment. So be sure to check out their website for what is up and coming. Zoos Bronx Children’s Zoo Price: +$6 to entrance ticket

If you’re a little too skittish to jump into the deep end of the farm, then try this more urban setting for your New York petting zoo experience. By all accounts, it’s a classic zoo but with the add-on of a children’s section. It’s a couple of extra dollars but in exchange for a wonderful day with your little one. Central Park Tisch Children’s Zoo Price: Children $8.95, Adults $13.95, Senior $10.95

In the same vein as the last addition to the list, this is a specific section of the esteemed Central Park Zoo that presents the cutest animals to children so they can interact with them and learn about the animal kingdom. Prospect Park Zoo Barn and Garden Price: Children $6.95, Adult $9.95, Senior $7.95

Prospect Park Zoo can be overlooked when stacked next to its larger siblings — the Bronx Zoo and Central Park Zoo. But this is just a matter of size and notoriety and not because of quality. Alpacas and Pigs at Prospect Park Zoo are just as cute and just as worth visiting for the petting zoo experience.


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