Westchester Family - September 2021

Page 1

September 2021


Nicole Gonzalez

of Lillies & León on pivoting towards self-care and being a ‘work in progress’

Back to School

with kids wearing masks (an expert weighs in on the benefits)

Smart Apps

to keep everyone organized!

Fall Road Trips!




Shahram Razmzan, MD, Director of Maternity and soon-to-be mom, Mary Rabadi



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September 2021 | Westchester Family



September 2021 WestchesterFamily.com

pg. 38

pg. 14 pg. 42

pg. 44


Stories & columns

34 | Education Boarding schools

4 | Editor’s Note September — You Got This

38 | Education How to improve your child’s writing

8 | Mom Hacks Apps to keep families organized

42 | Practical Stratgeies Raising resilient kids

10 | Mom Hacks Easy back-to-school lunches with Catherine McCord of Weelicious and One Potato Box

44 | Nicole Gonzalez - of Lillies and León Contributor Cris Pearlstein caught up with Nicole (of @lilliesandleon) to hear about how her pandemic experience resulted in her bettering herself 46 | Apps Devices and apps to keep track of your kids


14 | Ask the Expert Kids wearing masks at school 18 | Ask the Expert Breast pumping advice for remote and in-person moms 26 | Travel Roadtrips for fall getaways

WestchesterFamily.com | September 2021

pg. 26

Directories 20 | Activities Listings

on the Cover Photo: Yumi Matsuo | yumimatsuostudio.com Hair & Makeup: Buffy Hernandez | buffysaintmarie.com Shot on location at: Maison | thisismaison.com, 1264 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10028 Produced by: Donna Duarte-Ladd Cover Story by: Cris Pearlstein | crispearlstein.com Production Asst: Courtney Ingalls

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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 Courtney Ingalls Contributing Editor Serena Norr Digital director Erik Bliss erik@newyorkfamily.com

Nina Gallo Photography

September: You Got This School is on. Kids are entering a new school year; some will be attending a new school, new teachers, and so on. This school year, families are heading back to familiar ground, but at the same time, it is all being done a bit differently. Will school stay in person? Will we have remote days again? Who knows. What we do know is that we all have learned some lessons from 2020-2021 and might be a bit nervous going into this school year. But we got this. To guide you along the way, we have Apps to keep the family organized (page 8). We also have our Annual Activities Guide (page 20) for you to plan your kids’ extracurricular and weekend fun. And we know masks at school is a hot debate for some; we chatted

with a pediatrician on the benefit of Kids Wearing Masks at School (page 14). The beginning of the school year also means Fall is near, which means... road trip! Check out our picks for Fall Roadtrips (page 26). Lastly, the pandemic has been hard for mothers. New York Family contributor Cris Pearlstein chatted with our cover mom, Nicole Gonzalez of the gorgeous Lillies & León (page 44), on how the pandemic led her to pivot towards self-care. A good read and reminder that you have to also take care of yourself. #GOALS.

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mom hacks

Apps to Keep Families Organized By Courtney Ingalls


arents know that as your kids get older, their lives start to be consumed by more activities such as school, work, sports, and clubs. Yes, it can sound overwhelming but luckily there are ways to keep your family more organized. Scheduling apps are easy to use and allow the whole family to be in the loop when it comes to each other’s schedules! Here are some of our top picks for scheduling apps that will keep your family organized. Cozi With the free Cozi app, not only will you be able to stay in the loop with schedules, but so will everyone else in the family. Cozi uses a color-coding feature where each member of the family has a designated color that will show up next their designated events. The scheduling app also gives you the option to start menu plans and to-do lists that your family can edit. Cozi.com TimeTree Have your family’s schedules all on one calendar when you use the TimeTree app! When it comes time for your family to plan a trip or a fun day to spend together, it will be easier to check TimeTree than having to tackle the sometimes impossible task of getting everyone in the same room. Timetreeapp.com. Any.do If you are a fan of organizing, then this app is the one for you! Any.do is user friendly and gives you the option to organize your events and lists into categories. You are also able to organize your itinerary even further writing notes and putting deadlines on tasks so every family member can stay in the loop! Any.do. FamilyWall Instead of having to take the time to combine everyone’s calendars into one, FamilyWall will let you sync your schedules in minutes. The app also wants to make sure you feel safe


when using it, which is why there is security and privacy for all the information you share with other members of your family. Take it one step further and turn on the locator option which will let you check on a family member’s location! Familywall.com. OurHome Aside from scheduling events and activities for the family, you also need to keep track of the tasks that everyone is doing around the house. OurHome allows parents to assign different tasks to each kid. Once you designate jobs for everyone you can set due dates, create repeating schedules, add reminders or apply late penalties to make sure your kids are staying on the right track! Ourhomeapp.com. Flayk Keep your family organized by using Flayk! This scheduling app is a fan favorite and is an easy way to keep your family in the loop with what everyone is doing. Something that makes Flayk unique is that you can pass tasks and events onto other people. Things can come up day to day, which means you

WestchesterFamily.com | September 2021

might not be able to take the dog on a walk, or grab your kids from soccer practice. With Flayk, you can send out a notification to each family member and you will be notified when someone accepts the task. Flayk.com/ Google Calendar Add another Google app to your phone! The Google Calendar app brings you your family’s schedule with a view. When anyone adds an event to the calendar, you are able to add a photo or a location. This app is even more beneficial to families who have gmail accounts because events that are emailed to you will be added straight to the calendar so your family can stay informed. Google.com/ calendar/about/. Picniic This scheduling app is so great that it can pretty much organize your entire life for you. Not only is it used for its calendar, but you can also use it to locate family members, store files, upload and share pictures, create a shopping list and much more. You can also integrate popular services like ones that track your kids time online. Picniic.com.

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Catherine McCord of Weelicious

Easy Back to School Lunch Ideas BY DONNA DUARTE�LADD


e know, we know. There is a lot of Back to School content coming your way, but let’s be honest- it is that time again. As we start to get a bit busy with the shopping and the planning that happens as the summer winds down we also know that snacks and lunches are top on that list. And we all know lunch is important, and for as many kids who eat school lunch, the same percentage of kids take lunch to school. There are also the kids who will be attending some form of school for the first time ever. And since the kids are not doing remote


or blended learning this school year (for now) , we asked mother of three and top expert of all things family meals for a bit of a school lunch refresher, Catherine McCord of Weelicioous, and Onepotato.com. Yes, Back to School is happening, but don’t fret as we have these easy back-toschool lunch ideas to get you ready. For the newbies (nursery/preschool-pre-k) going to school for the first time, what is the best strategy and lunch ideas for these new students? Remember that lunch for nursery/ preschool kids can be busy with the excitement of play and friends. Using a

WestchesterFamily.com | September 2021

bento-style lunch box can help kids see all of their choices right when they open their lunchboxes. Make sure to offer a balance of fruits, vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates to keep their brains and bodies charged. Cutting food into bite-size pieces can help small kids. Instead of a big sandwich, you can offer “sushi” sandwiches which also have more eye appeal. Many schools are unable to refrigerate students’ lunches. What are some of your lunch suggestions that have a good shelf life in a traditional lunch box (with an ice pack)? This is all dependent on your child. Two



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mom hacks

“Remember that lunch for nursery/preschool kids can be busy with the excitement of play and friends. Using a bento-style lunch box can help kids see all of their choices right when they open their lunchboxes.”

of my kids love food at room temperature so I send everything from cheese cubes to leftover pasta, salads, grains, and more. My other child prefers warm lunch, so I send her with a thermos of soup, stew, oatmeal or dinner from the night before. What are some of your favorite lunches when there is a firm no nut policy at school? Luckily there are tons of nut-free spreads like sunflower seed or granola butter that are safe to send. Sliced chicken with a dipping sauce, turkey roll-ups, vegetarian burritos, hummus with pita chips, cream cheese with vegetables, yogurt with fruit and granola, and monogram sandwiches are a few of our go-to protein lunch ideas. Any tips for parents on what dinner meals make for great leftover easy school lunches for the kids? Fajitas, spaghetti with meatballs , pressure cooker beans, and rice, baked tofu, rice cooker macaroni and cheese, and brown rice cakes are on dinner to lunch rotation in our house.

Catherine McCord is an LA-based former model turned entrepreneur who has built a healthyliving empire, authoring three books, founding healthy-eating destination Weelicious.com, and launching organic family-friendly food delivery service One Potato. We’d be happy to set up a time for you to speak to her about tips and tricks for her recipes, introducing healthy eating habits


to kids and how she is balancing everything during this summer. Catherine has appeared on The Today Show, ABC’s The Chew, Access Hollywood Live, Good Morning America, and Fox News as well as appearing regularly on the Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games and doing the occasional guest spot on Food Network’s Next Food Network Star and Duff Till Dawn.

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Kids Wearing


at School An expert weighs in on the benefits By Donna Duarte-LaDD


he School year is happening. And while the mask debate is a hot topic for some- here in New Yorkwearing a face mask (recommended mask wearing is age 2 and up, the child should be able to remove themselves) in school is required. Will the requirement change soon? Probably not until the COVID Delta Variant is a huge concern. Our new Governor, Gov. Hochul, has asked state health officials to require a universal mask mandate in both public and private schools. But many parents understandably have concerns about kids mask-wearing all day at school. How vital is mask-wearing in schools? What are the benefits? For some maskwearing insight, we chatted with Samantha Lowe, MD, a pediatrician with White Plains Hospital Physician Associates in Armonk, NY, on why mask-wearing matters. With school going back full time, how important is mask wearing for our students? Due to the circulating and highly contagious Delta variant, the CDC recommends universal indoor masking by all students (age 2 and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. The most effective protection against all COVID strains, including the Delta variant, is vaccination. However, more than 50% of children returning to school are doing so without the benefit of a COVID-19 vaccine. This is occurring for three reasons. First, children


under 12 years of age are ineligible for vaccines at this time. Second, there is a percentage of students who meet vaccine eligibility but have chosen not to be vaccinated. And, third, there are other students who meet the vaccine age criteria but are ineligible for vaccines due to other health issues. Because of this, correct mask-wearing for all students, and anyone coming in contact with those students, is an absolute necessity. Are two masks necessary? At this time, the CDC recommends wearing a face mask with two to three layers that fits snugly over your face. In February of 2021, the CDC published research suggesting that layering a cloth mask over a surgical mask (double masking) when a mask only has one layer may provide additional protection from potentially infectious particles.

WestchesterFamily.com | September 2021

However, if your mask already has multiple layers and fits tightly, it’s not necessary to double mask and might make masks uncomfortable to wear and/or hinder vision if they go too high up on the face. A mask is only protective if your child is wearing it. Because children’s faces vary in size, it has been shown that cloth masks, especially those with adjustable ear straps and a nose cinch fit better than paper masks. Studies have shown that tightly woven cotton fabrics do a surprisingly good job of filtering out particles, and their performance can improve under humid conditions, such as those created when you breathe. Make sure that the cloth masks are thick enough that you cannot see through them, and if possible, add a filter to provide an extra layer of protection. For special needs kids or children with speech delays, do masks hinder language

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development? Any tips for parents? If your child has special needs or speech delays, it’s worth discussing any concerns you may have with your pediatrician based on your child. For those parents, it may also be worth a conversation with your child’s school (for instance, to assure teachers will be wearing clear masks, providing necessary mask breaks etc…). There are also things you can do at home to help. Younger children naturally take visual cues based on a person’s mouth and how that translates to overall emotion and mood. With everyone in masks, you can help your child shift from reading mouths to reading eyes. You can practice this at home while wearing your mask and playing a game — can you guess if I am smiling? Frowning? Laughing based on my eyes alone? It is sometimes hard to hear what others say underneath their masks, especially if they are naturally soft-spoken. It’s important for you to understand what volume of voice your children can hear clearly. You can model the

A mask is only protective if your child is wearing it. Because children’s faces vary in size, it has been shown that cloth masks, especially those with adjustable ear straps and a nose cinch fit better than paper masks. teacher’s speaking voice to determine if the normal level is understandable or whether a few notches louder may be optimal. Then you can mention this concern to your school and the child’s teacher. Take as many opportunities as you can to arrange get-togethers with other children and relatives outside so they can benefit from as much full facial visualization as possible when they are not in school. As kids return to classrooms that can sometimes be hot, are there any tips for them to keep in mind if they feel overheated and overwhelmed with their facemask?

Practice at home in varied climates to find the mask that is most comfortable for your child to wear for extended periods of time. Know your child’s schedule and let them know when they can expect mask breaks during the day. If possible, on very hot days, try to limit their time in masks by driving them to school. Tell your children to advocate for themselves if they feel too hot or panicked by their masks by asking for a mask break in a safe environment. Kids are usually very resilient and get used to wearing masks very quickly in all climates and situations.

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ask the expert

Breast Pumping Advice For moms returning to work By Donna Duarte -LaDD


s we all know, life is starting to get back to normal, and kids will be returning to school come soon. For some moms, this post-quarantine life will resemble what it looked like pre-pandemic. The hustle of dropping kids off before you start your workday and then some. But when you are a breast-pumping mom, you also have to schedule pumping into your work schedule. If you have pumped at work before, you know that there can be challenges. Many moms, including myself, have a story or two on pumping at work. It’s comedy at its best (when you can laugh about it). Returning to the office will be an adjustment for parents everywhere, and for breast-pumping moms, it will be a massive adjustment. Frankly, breast pumping in itself is challenging, and this counts for both mothers pumping while working remotely or in the office. We touched base with lactation expert Ashley Georgakopoulos, IBCLC and Motif Medical Lactation Director who shared her tips for moms on pumping at the office and incorporating it into your workday. As mothers return to the office, what should a Breast Pumping mother keep in mind if planning to pump at work? The biggest thing to plan for is having a conversation with the employer, where applicable, to discuss not only the timing of breaks and intervals to incorporate pumping into the schedule but also where a clean quiet place would be to pump. Other things to think about are how to store the milk, do you need a cooler, or do you have access to a refrigerator? And finally, remember that what you pump does not necessarily equal what your actual supply is and until mothers get comfortable with pumping and responsive


to pumping, sometimes it can be difficult to pump out what you need right away. Find a way to make the space your own and implement as many comfort measures as possible to relax your body and respond well to the pump. The pandemic presented remote work to many, and some mothers are planning to keep working remotely. As we know, remote life means we are home; how can a breastpumping mom incorporate pumping at home and assure it is considered part of her workday? Break up break times into 15 to 20-minute intervals every 2-3 hours. Hands-free pumping may also be a great tool to implement, using a bra that supports that or making your own by cutting out holes in a sports bra just big enough for the smaller end of the funnel on the flange to fit through. This allows for pumping as often as needed while keeping your hands free to get your work done or enjoying your morning coffee. Advice on setting a pumping schedule?

WestchesterFamily.com | September 2021

Try to replicate the frequency of how often the baby would eat if eating directly from the breast. This is usually on average, every 2 to 3 hours, not longer, as we see sometimes in bottle-feeding. Frequency is a priority to not only maintain supply but to not put pressure on the mother to pump out more than 4 ounces a session. It’s much easier to pump out 2 1/2 to 3 ounces per pumping session, and done so frequently will easily equate to the total amount needed to leave for baby! How can a new mom build a milk stash, and why should she? The easiest way to build a milk stash is to start a couple of weeks before returning to work or before when the stash is needed, incorporating one to two additional pumping sessions a day, preferably in the morning where you have more volume to work with. You do not need a freezer stash full to have a healthy stash to rely on. This stash will help be a buffer for one first returning to work and for any deficits. Keep in mind, you will still be pumping throughout the day at work.

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Find your inner musician! In Person At AmAdeus & VIrtuAl lessons

Amadeus is accepting students in all instruments including piano, strings, winds, brass and voice. Suzuki Violin • Preschool Music Beginning SeptemBer 1

www.amadeusconservatory.com 914-238-0388 • amadeusconservatoryofmusic@gmail.com 201 King Street, Chappaqua 382 Cantitoe Street, Bedford

201 King St, Chappaqua 914-238-0388 amadeusconservatory.com Amadeus Conservatory of Music & Theater offers private music lessons as well as early childhood classes to children of all ages and adults of all levels. Founded in 1993 and located in Chappaqua and at St. Matthew’s Church in Bedford, their experienced faculty love teaching children as well as adults. They have graduated from the finest conservatories such as The Juilliard School, Eastman, Manhattan School of Music, and seek to instill a love of music in their students. They teach piano, voice, drums, guitar, violin, Suzuki violin, viola, cello, woodwinds, and brass. They offer music theory, composition, and chamber music. Visit their website at amadeusconservatory.com, or call 914 238 0388 to register. Classes begin September 1.

Belle School of Music

DISCOVER YOUR INNER CHAMPION! AT WORLD CUP GYMNASTICS Call 914-238-4967 or register at worldcupgymnastics.com



CHAMP our IO T o d ay ! N

Whether you are a beginner or experienced gymnast, an infant or a teenager, there is a class for you at World Cup Gymnas�cs. 170 Joan Corwin Way | Chappaqua, NY 10514


WestchesterFamily.com | September 2021

1088 Central Park Ave., Scarsdale 283 Tarrytown Road, White Plains 1537 Central Park Ave., Yonkers 914-961-5511 belleschool.com At the Belle School of Music, piano lessons are FUN! They have created a piano lesson kids actually look forward to! The dynamic Belle School of Music system has shaped together a carefully balanced program that will stimulate every aspect of your child’s musical development to achieve his or her personal best. Now Offering Individual On-Line Lessons and FREE Consultations

Crestwood Music Education Center 870 Scarsdale Ave, Scarsdale 914-961-3497 info@crestwoodmusic.com Crestwoodmusic.com Register for Fall 2021 & Winter 2022 Semesters! NEW location in Scarsdale! For 35 years, offering private lessons in piano, guitar, voice, strings, woodwinds, brass,

drums, and percussion instruments for students of all ages and levels. This world-class faculty provides a premier music education experience! One of the most comprehensive chamber music and orchestral programs in the tri-state area as well as our well-renowned Suzuki and Jazz programs all resuming in-person for the fall 2021 semester. Stop by and visit their NEW state-of-the-art facilities including their recital and broadcast performance hall located in downtown Scarsdale!

Dance Cavise​ 273 Halstead Ave., Mamaroneck 381-5222 dancecavise.com Recognized by the New York Times as “setting higher standards in dance education,” Dance Cavise draws on an unrivaled teaching faculty, including top NYC professionals, to deliver programs for all ages from beginner through advanced levels. What sets Dance Cavise apart for over three decades is its unique approach to year-end performances. The studio’s main focus throughout the year is teaching proper technique, with less emphasis on learning one dance for a recital. Housed in a 10,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility, Dance Cavise offers a hybrid option of in-studio or virtual training. The studio offers Summer Dance Programs and multiple dance company performance opportunities.

GymCats Gymnastics​ At Equalize Fitness 1 Odell Plaza, Yonkers 914-965-7676 gymcats.net GymCats Gymnastics offers classes for ages 20 months and up, boys and girls, beginners through advanced gymnastics. We strongly believe that gymnastics is the foundation for all sports. We build athletes here at GymCats and every child walks out feeling more confident about themselves than when they arrived! We are very COVID conscious. We have small Classes, low oc-

When your first dance experience becomes your second home


Our tiniest dancers take the stage as young as 2 years old.

Many styles to choose from. Make friends that share your love of dance.

GYMNASTICS CLASSES • Develop Strength, Flexibility, Balance, Coordination & Confidence • Ages 20 mos & Up • Boys & Girls • Beginner – Advanced • Tumbling • Private Lessons • Bungee Lessons • Indoor Play Space

PRIVATE BIRTHDAY PARTIES All of our Parties are Private. Our interactive staff will make your child’s party a very special one. Obstacle courses, Trampolines, Airslide, Foam Filled Pit, Air Castle & More!

Age 3 & Up Book Early!

Competitive & non-competitive dance companies for ages 6 & up teach technique and team building. Opportunities in leadership development, assistant teaching, and peer mentoring.

Call today to register! 277 White Plains Road Eastchester, NY 10709 (914) 793-2799 studioboffice@aol.com studiobdance.com

Our goal is to build a physical and mental foundation for ALL sports and to promote athleticism and good health through participation in gymnastics.

“We specialize in beginners.” At Equalize Fitness

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

(914) 965-7676 www.Gymcats.net

September 2021 | Westchester Family


Activities Directory | Special Advertising Supplement

KISCO 40 Radio Circle Drive Mount Kisco, NY 10549 (914) 232-4843

Art classes for all ages and levels… painting, pottery, digital art & more


After-School Art Is Fun at KAC Art Center!

cupancy, and following CDC guidelines. We will accommodate private classes, learning pods, individual lessons, and private birthday parties.

Hoff-Barthelson Music School 25 School Lane, Scarsdale 914-723-1169 hbms.org hb@hbms.org Safely delivered in-person instruction. Flexible tuition structure. Financial aid is available. At Hoff-Barthelson, students find a warm, friendly music school dedicated to the highest standards of education, performance, and community service. Students enjoy a supportive, joyful learning environment; a focus on the whole person; exceptional teaching; and a multifaceted curriculum. Our unique comprehensive program for students at all stages of development combines individual lessons on more than 20 instruments and voice with regular access to professional accompaniment; musicianship classes; myriad performance opportunities; an ensembles program featuring orchestras, choruses, chamber groups and jazz ensembles; and written performance critiques and progress reports.

KAC Art Center 40 Radio Circle Dr., Mt. Kisco 914- 232-4843 Katonahartcenter.com As fall approaches Kisco Art Center (formerly Katonah Art Center) is looking forward to resuming on-site art classes with a virtual option in most classes. KAC instructors are professional working artists who bring to the classroom a range of talents: Painting, Drawing, Sculpture, Encaustics, Fused Glass, Pottery Wheel, Animation and a variety of children’s classes for ages 3.5 and up. In an effort to keep a safe environment, all KAC staff has been vaccinated and a mask mandate is still in force. Due to classroom limitations, students who would like to be on-site should register early to reserve their spot for registration see:katonahartcenter.


WestchesterFamily.com | September 2021


Logrea Dance Academy 2 Dale Ave, Ossining 914- 941-2939 logreadance.com Beth Fritz-Logrea and Jean Logrea have provided quality dance training for over 35 years. LDA offers annual scholarship auditions, a boys’ ballet initiative, and special You and Me and Pre Ballet programs for children ages 3-5. There are extensive performing opportunities for children age 6 and up including the Westchester Ballet Company’s production of “The Nutcracker”. LDA presents annual spring performances featuring ballet, modern, jazz, tap, and theater dance. LDA follows CDC rules and has a new air filtration system. Classes are enrolling now!

Studio B Dance Center​ 277 White Plains Road, Eastchester 793-2799 studiobdance.com Studio B is the only YPAD certified studio in Westchester. Their facility features three spacious studios, comfortable waiting rooms, viewing windows, and a well-stocked boutique. Convenient classes allow siblings to dance at the same time. Boys and girls ages 2 to 18 are taught by a highly qualified and nurturing staff. They offer Noncompetitive and Competitive performance teams for ages 6 and up. The Studio is open seven days a week and they have over 80 classes on their weekly schedule. Studio B is a licensed and certified Safer Studio™ and had a 0% covid transmission rate since they reopened July 2020.

NSCC - New Settlement Community Center 1501 Jerome Avenue, Bronx NY 718-758-5901 newsettlement.org/ community-center A new cycle is ready to begin at The New Settlement Community Center, also known as NSCC. They’re making sure to follow the latest CDC & NYC

Ages 3 - Adult In Studio and Virtual Class Options Two Performing Companies ◆ Ballet ◆ Character ◆ Classical


◆ Contemporary ◆ Creative ◆ Hip


◆ Jazz ◆ Lyrical ◆ Modern ◆ Pointe ◆ Tap



Enrolling now for Fall 2021 Contact us today to learn about safely delivered, in-person lessons, classes, ensembles, and performance opportunities!

Fall Open Houses! CHAMBER MUSIC & PIANO ENSEMBLES ȏ Wednesday, September 1 ȏ 6:00-8:30 pm SUZUKI OPEN HOUSE & PORCH PARTY ȏ Saturday, September 11 ȏ 4:00-5:00 pm EARLY CHILDHOOD PROGRAM ȏ Monday, September 13 ȏ 10:00-11:30 am YOUTH ORCHESTRA PROGRAM ȏ Tuesday, September 14 ȏ 7:30-9:00 pm ADULT PROGRAMS ȏ Saturday, September 18 ȏ 2:15-3:15 pm Masks, social distancing, adherence to our Fall Safety Guidelines and RSVP required

www.hbms.org 914-723-1169 | Scarsdale NY

Flexible Tuition Structure | Financial Aid Program | Welcoming All Ages! A supportive, joyful learning environment, a focus on the whole person, exceptional teaching, and a multifaceted curriculum.

September 2021 | Westchester Family


Activities Directory | Special Advertising Supplement

COVID-19 safety guidelines to provide a safe experience for all. Offering classes such as Learn to Swim, Mixed Martial Arts, Ballet, Hip-Hop, Samba, Piano, Violin, Painting, Soccer, and Gymnastics, they’re confident that there is something for everyone! Following their massively successful Summer Academy, NSCC is premiering an After-School program where children ages 6 to 12 will be offered homework help and other fun activities. For more information about NSCC, call them at 718-758-5901.

WestchesterFamily.com provides a rich array of local resources, useful content, directories and interactive tools to help families meet and celebrate the challenges of parenting.

Visit us online today!

WestchesterFamily.com 24

WestchesterFamily.com | September 2021

The Rewilding School

Westchester County 914-771-7000 musicalmunchkins.com Musical Munchkins has been happily sharing our happy music and movement program for almost 40 years! Although we have created wonderful, virtual classes, it’s time to return to our locations. We can’t wait to see you! Our joyful activities with drums, shakers, props, puppets, creative play, songs, and dance return to inperson classes this Sept. Our experienced teachers love tending to young hearts and minds while engaging and building music skills. Join us with your child in our happy, upbeat classes.

Afterschool Program Marsh Sanctuary, B Road Mt. Kisco NY 914-849-9143 rewildingschool.com info@rewildingschool.com At The Rewilding School’s Afterschool program, your kids will have an opportunity to experience nature in a way they’ve never imagined. From making fires, building shelters, tracking animals, and foraging, they will learn essential wilderness survival skills. Their Afterschool program also has kids learning ancestral crafts such as; making stone tools, basket weaving, cordage making, leather working, and more. This program is offered from Tuesday – Friday at the beautiful Marsh Sanctuary in Mt. Kisco, for kids in Grades 1-6. They have small group sizes and wear masks when within three feet of each other to help kids safely develop friendships.

Premier Music Studio

World Cup Gymnastics

139 Wolfs Lane, Pelham NY 914.224.4122 premiermusicstudiony@gmail. com Premier Music Studio is thrilled to be expanding into a brick-and-mortar location this fall! Previously an in-home-based piano and voice studio for many years, founding owner and concert pianist, Lauren Dunkelberger, saw an increased demand for in-studio private lessons and group piano and voice classes. Lessons are offered virtually, in-studio, in-home, as well as in a group setting for all ages. Teachers and students work in collaboration to create a flexible learning environment. Although the staff is composed of classical musicians, an exploration of all genres of music is encour-

160 Hunts Lane Chappaqua, NY 914-238-9267 World Cup Gymnastics’ programs help to establish a solid fitness foundation for a healthy and active start to a child’s life and an opportunity for every child to discover their inner champion through the sport of gymnastics. Come join our mommy and me, recreational gymnastics, competitive gymnastics, Ninja, or cheerleading classes. Participate in Kids Night Out, have a birthday party, or join our school year and summer camps. No matter the skill level, there is a program for you at World Cup Gymnastics.

Musical Munchkins

Your online resource for all things parenting

aged so students can take lead in choosing their repertoire. Performance opportunities are offered so that students can showcase their progress and staff also helps them prepare for festivals, auditions, camp auditions, college entrance auditions, and NYSSMA.

Logrea Dance Academy

Ballet • Jazz • Tap • Modern • Theater Dance For ages 3 – 18

Located in Ossining, NY | We follow CDC guidelines for masks and have a new air filtration system

Registrations now being accepted for the 2021-22 Season LogreaDance.com • info@logreadance.com 914-941-2939


Registration is Open! From today until Sept 12th CALL TODAY (718)758 - 5901 1501 JEROME AVE (CORNER OF W 172ND ST) THE BRONX, NY, 10452


favorites TO P 5 2020


Enjoy some of our wonderful classes this fall! Disclaimer: Swimming Registration begins Sept 7th for Members, the 9th for Non Members.

September 2021 | Westchester Family



Road Trip Inspiration

It’s time to start planning for fall By Mia SalaS


s the leaves change color, the weather gets cooler, and the pumpkin spice craze takes over, we’re all starting to feel the fall vibes. And what better way to enjoy the fall than with a family road trip? The best part about road trips is that they’re not as complicated to plan as a full vacay, and you can easily turn them into day-trips if that works best for your schedule. Lucky for us NYC families, there are some roadtrip treasures just hours away. If you’re looking to plan a quick getaway that your whole family will love, then check out these road trip ideas for the fall!

Annapolis & Anne Arundel County We love the history embedded in this fun family road trip! From culturally and historically rich museums like the Banneker-Douglass Museum to yummy eats & treats like Dangerously Delicious Pies, we can’t get enough of this place. Your kids may also like the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, where you can hop on hiking trails or launch your kayak for an outdoor adventure.

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WestchesterFamily.com | September 2021

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Plan your Fall Family Getaway that’s not far away, make your next…


September 2021 | Westchester Family



Hudson County New Jersey has some gems that are not too far from the city, and one of them is Hudson County! You don’t want to miss the two big events of the fall: the 31st Annual JCAST and All About Downtown. At JCAST (Sept 30-Oct 3), the largest art tour in NJ, you can explore artists, curated tours, kid events and more. All About Downtown (Sept 18) is a street fair with local businesses, kids rides, face paint, beer gardens and live music. Hudson County has lots of events coming up in the fall, so mark your calendars now.

Jersey City

Newport Newport is the perfect place to bring your family for a quick getaway this fall. From unparalleled seafood to charming seaside resorts, beaches, shopping and kid-friendly activities, you will have plenty to do. If you’re curious about the options for kids, we recommend checking out the craft classes at Cutie Curls Boutique or the Scavenger Hunt Bingo at NBS. We’ve also got the scoop on the new Marble House Family/ Kids Tour, designed for kids under age 13. A professional voice


WestchesterFamily.com | September 2021

actor plays the role of Marble House, which Alva Vanderbilt regarded as her “fourth child.” The house speaks in a friendly voice, guiding young visitors to see the “little things” that tell a big story. This is the perfect activity for the whole family, because little ones and bigger kids alike can join in on the educational fun. And for the parents, we know you’ll love the Wine + Cheese sail. Great for a date night or just a fun evening with friends, it doesn’t get much better than wine and gourmet cheeses!


Visit Annapolis

Maryland’s capital city greets you with open arms and a host of possibilities. A ‘museum without walls’, Annapolis is a lively, upbeat, contemporary city where four centuries of architecture embrace 21st-century living. Here all roads lead to the water and a nautical heritage intrinsically linked to the Chesapeake Bay.


September 2021 | Westchester Family



Rockland County For families looking for adventure and gorgeous scenery, you are going to want to head to Rockland County. If you’re looking for an outdoor escape, Rockland County has beautiful fall foliage, hiking trails, apple and pumpkin picking, street fairs and more. We recommend Dr. Davies Farm or The Orchards of Concklin for a farm adventure! Get in the fall spirit with a family trip to Rockland County this season. In Rockland County’s Rivertowns, enjoy a range of activities with spectacular views of the Hudson River. Find several parks stretching north to south, where there’s plenty of public space to access the water. You can camp and fish in Haverstraw, sail or go tubing along the coast of Nyack, or canoe through the marshes off Piermont.

Hook Mountain, nYack

Long Island An iconic destination at any point in the year, Long Island especially comes to life in the fall. Between the many family-friendly wineries and breweries like Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard and Six Harbor Brewing Company, and the abundance of farms and orchards like Wickham’s Fruit Farm and Woodside Orchards, you’re guaranteed an adventure! We recommend going apple or pumpkin picking at one of the many farms, checking out a museum (the Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium or the New York Marine Rescue Center are our top picks!) and you certainly can’t forget to attend a fun fall event! Harbes Orchard

has an Apple Harvest on September 11-12 and a Pumpkin Harvest on September 25-26. You also don’t want to miss the Long Island Fall Festival in Huntington on October 8-11. If you’re looking to really dive into the nature of our surroundings, we have some recommendations for that, too: Caleb Smith State Park Preserve has 543 acres of woodlands with marked trails and amazing views. Sunken Meadow State Park is perfect for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and picnicking. While the Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Oakdale has 690 acres of lawns, open meadows, and a wildflower garden for the best Instagram photos.

BaYard cutting arBoretuM


WestchesterFamily.com | September 2021

Only in Hudson County NJ

Liberty State Park Statue of Liberty Liberty Science Center Ellis Island American Dream

Liberty State Park, in Jersey City, is a 1,200-acre green space with Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline as a backdrop. Liberty Science Center is a 300,000 square foot science experience which is ideal for all ages, featuring the western hemisphere’s largest IMAX dome planetarium, a 3D theater, 110 species of live animals, hurricane and tornado-force wind simulators, live simulcast surgeries and many travelling museum exhibits. Statue Cruises ferry service departs daily from Liberty State Park for the Statue of Liberty and the Ellis Island National Immigration Museum. The ferry is located next to the historic Central Terminal building. Ferries depart from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m and approximately every hour. Departure area is accessible from Liberty State Park Light Rail Station and there is plenty of visitor parking American Dream near the MetLife Stadium complex is at once an attraction, shopping and dining mecca. A colossal Garden State attraction, this 3 million square foot experience center in East Rutherford, is two miles from an array of hotels in Secaucus, and offers an exciting new entertainment and shopping experience. Stop by our website at www.visithudson.org. See you soon!

MetLife Stadium Statue Cruises

Supported in part by a grant from the New Jersey Department of State, Division of Travel and Tourism

FOLLOW US: @visithudsonNJ

September 2021 | Westchester Family



The Inn aT easT hIll Farm

New Hampshire A perfect road trip is one to a charming destination. Pack up the family or head over for some me-time at The Inn at East Hill Farm (1-800-242-6495 ). This is a working farm located in the southwestern corner of New Hampshire; this inn offers hands-on farm activities and resort amenities. Farm activities include milking the cow and goat, patting the bunnies, collecting chicken eggs, making butter, campfire with marshmallows, horseback riding, and wagon rides. Resort amenities include a children’s recreation program, swimming in the indoor or outdoor pools, boating on the pond, tennis, basketball, shuffleboard, hiking Gap Mountain or Mt. Monadnock, cross country skiing, ice skating, sledding, and snowshoeing, are also available for our guests. And it is time to relax; three meals are included with every overnight stay. All of their delicious meals are homecooked and served family-style; you can eat as much as your belly will hold! They also offer vegetarian options and can accommodate special diets upon request. The bottomless cookie jar is, for obvious reasons, popular with guests. We also love that The Inn hosts family vacations, family reunions, meetings and conferences, and holiday gatherings.




Telecharge.com or 212.239.6200

For groups or birthdays call 866.642.9849

New World Stages 340 W. 50th St.

GazillionBubbleShow.com 32

WestchesterFamily.com | September 2021

short A road trip away for your fall family getaway. Visit Newport... The Classic Coast.


September 2021 | Westchester Family



Boarding SchoolS A unique experience for your kids ave you ever considered boarding school for your kids? While it’s not always the right fit for every family, boarding school can be a great opportunity for kids to gain a sense of independence and thrive in an individualized, yet collaborative and communicative environment. Your kids are not just taking classes at a boarding school, they are exploring their passions outside the classroom, getting involved in student life, making friends across the hall and so much more. When they attend a boarding school, they join a family. As you continue your school search, check out these boarding schools and see what they have to offer.

Ross School Ross School’s mission is to change the way education meets the future; to foster interdisciplinary, integrated thinking and innovative leadership; to engage fully in the global community, and to facilitate lifelong learning. Ross School is a co-educational boarding (Grades 6–12, PG) and day school (N-Grade 12, PG) located on a beautiful campus in East Hampton, about two hours east of New York City. Serving approximately 400 students and attracting a world-class faculty, the School offers a global, integrated curriculum with engaging courses in science, math, arts, humanities, and wellness, with opportunities for independent study, competitive athletics, extracurricular activities, and travel. The Ross educational experience aims to impart to young people a 21stcentury skill set and the inspiration that will motivate them to keep their minds actively engaged in learning. The School stresses direct personal experiences, inquiry through primary sources, and hands-on interpretation and analysis of information. Ross School has a successful college placement program, with 100% of applicants receiving acceptances at competitive colleges and universities.

Solebury School Located on 140 acres in beautiful Bucks County, PA, only 75 minutes from New York City, Solebury School is an all-gender, college preparatory boarding and day school for grades 9-12. There is no single way to experience Solebury, but there is a core approach. They start with helping students plant the seeds of their own education, then nurture and cultivate that until it grows into something strong and life-lasting. With 235 students and a student-to-teacher ratio of 6 to 1, everyone at Solebury is known and valued. They offer an environment of educational excellence that prioritizes the individual and prepares students for success in college and beyond. Solebury is what school should be.

Linden Hall On the lookout for a well-established, well-known and highly respected school? Linden Hall is the oldest independent boarding and day school for girls in the US, celebrating its 275th anniversary this year! With a nationally recognized equestrian program and other specialty programs like aviation, engineering, fine arts and more, Linden Hall has earned a stellar reputation in the academic community. Your kids will be welcomed into a diverse and inclusive environment with students representing 37 countries and 12 states. They’ll be encouraged to get involved at school, choosing from over 30 student-led clubs, including an award-winning Key Club and internationally recognized DECA Club.

By Mia SalaS



WestchesterFamily.com | September 2021

September 2021 | Westchester Family



Wilbraham & Monson Academy Known for their unique opportunities and emphasis on diverse interests, WMA is a special place. It’s an independent, collegepreparatory, coeducational middle and upper school for boarding and day students, located in Wilbraham, Massachusetts. It’s amazing that the school has a Trading Center where your kids can learn real trading experience and better understand the global market. They also have a robust traveling program called Traveling Titans, where students can visit other states and countries to extend their learning beyond the classroom. At WMA, your kids will be exposed to new interests and passions, and they’ll certainly be encouraged to pursue them!

Knox School The Knox School is Long Island’s oldest established, co-educational boarding and day school. Their inclusive environment serves grades 6-12 and Post-Graduate, providing students with a broad world perspective and a wide range of skills to prepare them for the next phase of their journeys. At Knox everyone knows your name and each student’s potential is unlocked and maximized because of the boundless experiences a Knox education provides. Knox School is proud of their 100% graduate acceptance rate to top four-year universities. Whether you are an aspiring engineer or equestrian, artist or actor, designer or performer, mathematician or writer, a Knox education prepares you for unlimited success after high school.

Emma Willard For more than 200 years, Emma Willard School has instilled in students a love of learning, the habits of an intellectual life, and the character, moral strength, and qualities of leadership to serve and shape their world. Emma is a thriving, diverse college-preparatory boarding and day school in Troy, New York. The school’s academic pillars of intellectual flexibility, community, equity, and justice ensure that students walk away with a life-long sense of purpose. With a balance of academic rigor, personalized opportunities to grow and create, and a focus on individual wellness, Emma Willard School prepares students to go out and impact their world.

Saint Thomas Choir School A unique boarding school for boys in grades 3 through 8, Saint Thomas Choir School is known for its demanding musical program, robust academic curriculum, interscholastic sports, and fine arts education. The tuition is affordable, with a 100% need-blind admissions process. All musical levels are considered and any boy who likes music is encouraged to apply! The school cultivates excellence, true confidence in students via real-world musical performance at a professional level. And with an average class size of 6 and a student-faculty ratio of 2:1, your kids will certainly be heard both in and out of class and get the personal attention every child needs to succeed.


WestchesterFamily.com | September 2021

Empowering Girls to Excel for 275 Years




212 E A S T M A I N S T. , L I T I T Z PA 1754 3








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September 2021 | Westchester Family



How to Improve Your Child’s Writing Sharpen up their skills with these helpful (and fun) activities BY EMILY LEVY


ome children enjoy spending hours on end writing paragraphs and stories, but others absolutely dread it. They may have great ideas but struggle to express them on paper. Yet as students move through school, the writing demands will only continue to increase. Help make writing fun for your child with the ideas detailed below. Play games! Playing word games with your child can help improve spelling, vocabulary, and overall writing skills. Try playing the popular game Scrabble, where players use letters on tiles to form words that build on each other. Hangman is another fun game, where one player thinks of a word and writes a


series of blank spaces on a sheet of paper, each representing a letter. The other player must guess the letters one at a time until they come up with the word (or get “hanged”). You can play story games with your child, where you provide your child with a story that contains blanks for words that they must fill in or play a dice game like “Roll a Story” where players roll a series of dice that each contain a picture and uses their imagination to write a creative story. Journaling Encourage your child to maintain a journal and write in it daily or almost daily, and you will likely see a drastic improvement in her writing skills. Start by taking your child to a store and letting her pick out a journal with cool, colorful patterns that appeal to her.

WestchesterFamily.com | September 2021

Then try to do something interesting each day — whether it’s taking a trip to the zoo or a park, or simply discussing a current events topic or trying a new food for dinner. Then encourage your child to write about that topic in her journal. Tell her not to worry about perfect spelling or organization; the idea is just to write freely. Later you can teach her to go back and self-check her work with an acronym like COPS, which stands for Capitalization, Organization, Punctuation, and Spelling, where she writes a check box next to each letter in COPS (written vertically) and checks for each element in the acronym, one by one. For starters, though, just have her focus on writing freely and creatively. Create a Writing Jar Create a fun “writing jar” filled with story prompts. To do so, look through newspapers and magazines with your child and cut out interesting pictures of animals, celebrities, or

Solebury School An all-gender boarding and day school. Grades 9 through 12.

LOOKING FOR A BETTER OPTION THIS FALL? Solebury School offers a strong academic program and rich community experience that prioritizes the individual.

solebury.org 215.862.5261 6832 Phillips Mill Road • New Hope, PA 18938

September 2021 | Westchester Family



beautiful vacation spots. You can also write down phrases on small cards, like “If I were an animal, I’d be…” or “My favorite dessert is…” and put those cards in the jar. Then have your child close his eyes, pick a card from the jar, and use it as a story prompt to create a writing piece. You may want to have him self-check his work, just like with the journal entries, using COPS as detailed above. Write Letters Most of us prefer to text or email friends and relatives since it seems so much faster and more efficient. Yet creating handwritten letters can improve writing skills, and it’s exciting for the recipient to receive an actual letter in the mail — a real novelty these days. Purchase colored pens or pencils, stamps, and stickers for your child, and have her write a letter to a cousin, grandparent, aunt, uncle, friend, or even pen pal, then decorate it with lots of colors, pictures, and stickers. Make it a fun, colorful activity and she will have lots of fun doing it — plus the recipient will be thrilled to receive it!

Tell your child not to worry about perfect spelling or organization; the idea is just to write freely. Try an App! We all know that kids love playing on tablets or computers, so try integrating writing apps and games to help improve writing skills. The app Writing Challenge for Kids includes a variety of prompts that kids can choose from to write a creative story. “Book creator” is a tool that helps students write their own books using different templates and designs. “Edublogs” is a great website that helps your child get into blogging! Kids can create their own blog on a topic that interests them and can share it with others. “Net Rover” is another website that contains lots of fun writing games for kids to play. Writing is a wonderful opportunity for expression and a key skill that is critical for school success. Help your child improve her writing skills while having fun with these

tips, and she will be well on her way to school success! Dr. Emily Levy is the founder of EBL Coaching, a tutoring program that specializes in one-onone home and on-site instruction for students in grades preK-12 in NYC, NJ, and Westchester. She is also the author of Strategies for Study Success, a study skills workbooks series emphasizing test taking, note taking, reading comprehension, writing, and executive functioning strategies, and the Flags and Stars Orton Gillingham student workbook series. These books are currently used at schools nationwide. Dr. Levy studied at Brown University and later received her Masters Degree in Special Education and her Doctorate Degree in Education. She has spoken nationwide on research-based methods for teaching students with and without learning disabilities. Dr. Levy is currently the Director of EBL Coaching’s learning centers.


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WestchesterFamily.com | September 2021


WEBINARS New Buyers & Westchester County Real Estate TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21ST AT 12PM In this webinar, The Westchester Living Team—Compass Westchester’s #1 team in the county (Ranked #1 Medium Sized Team in Westchester by Real Trends, 2021)—will be joined by real estate attorney Dana Montone and mortgage broker Fred Grise to discuss the nuances of the home buying process in Westchester, from pre-approvals and common legal issues to current market dynamics and how to be successful in a competitive seller’s market.


Sari Shaw

Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Compass - The Westchester Living Team

Jennifer Ross

Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker Compass - The Westchester Living Team

Dana Montone

Real Estate Attorney The Law Office of Dana S. Montone, PLLC

Fred Grise

Private Mortgage Banker Wells Fargo Private Mortgage Banking

www.SchnepsMedia.com/webinars Sign up now. Space is limited.

September 2021 | Westchester Family


8 Practical Strategies to Raise

Resilient Children Tools to help kids face the range of challenges that come their way

By Cara Zelas


he past 18 months have been rough, the global pandemic has knocked us off our feet and challenged families in all facets of life. It has been a test on our endurance, relationships, and mental health. The rollercoaster of emotions for parents has been difficult to manage, and as an educator, I want to examine the emotional well-being and analyze the consequences for children. I try to view the world from my children’s perspective and attempt to understand how this pandemic has affected their life experiences. I have discovered that children are more resilient than we realize. I want to nurture this resilience, the ability to rebound from setbacks and overcome failures, and to arm them with essential tools to face obstacles that are sure to come their way. Build positive relationships Helping your child establish positive relationships through clear communication, openness, honesty, and trust helps your child feel like they can take risks and make mistakes knowing they have a strong web to catch them. On a subconscious level, this allows your child to try new things with less hesitation and more confidence. Develop confidence Encourage your child to have a positive outlook on who they are. Nurture selfkindness and celebrate unique gifts and strengths. Allow space for mistakes as from mistakes, we learn, grow and gain confidence. Manage emotions Giving feelings a name. With the right vocabulary, children have a way of expressing how they feel. Acknowledging emotions by


Setting goals is important because it helps your child develop intrinsic motivation, responsibility for their actions and is a life-long gift. using simple language, “I see you are feeling (insert emotion),” provides validation and gives your child the affirmation that you are listening and understanding them in the moment. Emotional self-regulation techniques such as simple breathing activities or taking a walk are easy to implement and are effective. Enable independence Give age-appropriate responsibilities. Simple household chores are small, un-directed tasks that give a sense of responsibility and confidence. If your child is old enough, drop them at family or friends for playdates, allow them space to be separate from their home dynamic. Encourage independent thought about events happening in their lives, let them form their own opinions, have a discussion, even if you disagree — this is a wonderful opportunity to show your child how to be respectful of all ideas and points of view.

WestchesterFamily.com | September 2021

Set realistic goals Teaching your child to set goals and following through is important for developing fortitude and perseverance, especially when the going gets tough. Setting goals is important because it helps your child develop intrinsic motivation, responsibility for their actions and is a life-long gift. Try these ideas: let your child pick their goal, break it down into smaller steps, write it down (In a study conducted by Prof. Gail Matthews, people who write down their goals are 20% more successful In accomplishing them than those who did not), put a time frame on it, discuss potential hurdles that they may encounter and help with problemsolving before they begin. Take risks Have a conversation about taking risks and trying new things, rather than saying, “be careful,” tell them the consequences of their actions. Allow for some freedom and space to explore and step back to observe. See failures as opportunities Reframe failure as a course correction. Connect with your child by telling them a time you set a goal, made mistakes, or failed but kept going. Sharing personal experiences or stories makes it more meaningful and you can model the steps and outcome. Don’t rush to their rescue Unless your child is in immediate danger or in harm’s way, let your child process what is happening when something goes wrong or they are facing a challenge. As parents, we want to save our children from any kind of hardship however this sets up our children to buckle under pressure or any uncomfortable situation in their future. Let your child problem-solve on their own and endeavor to create an environment

where your child feels safe to ask for your help when they need it. Cara Zelas is teaching kindness to children all around the world. She is an author and educator (worldoflittledude.com0 originally from Sydney,

Australia and now living in New York City with her family and therapy dog, Little Dude. Cara received her Bachelor of Media Communications and Bachelor of Elementary Education Degrees as well as an Early Childhood Montessori Certification and is an active volunteer with The

Good Dog Foundation. Cara and Little Dude visit hospitals and schools throughout New York City, where they deliver kindness and support to those in need. Little Dude has taught Cara and countless children that being kind to others is contagious. September 2021 | Westchester Family


Nicole Gonzalez

is Pivoting Towards Self-Care We caught up with Nicole (of @lilliesandleon) to hear how her pandemic experience resulted in her bettering herself — and how thrilled she is to be a ‘work in progress’ By Cris Pearlstein


clicked the join meeting button on my screen and waited to see what face would greet me on the other end. See, I knew I was interviewing Nicole Gonzalez of @ lilliesandleon but I didn’t really know what she looked like. Despite being very active on Instagram—with 36.1K followers—Nicole is quite a private person who is really good at including herself in photos without actually including herself. Private to a fault, she keeps a close-knit circle of family and friends —along with her two kids, Lucas León, almost 10, and Lillie Sol, 6— and she shares the moments she spends with them on her feed without giving too much away. Any follower can see how she masters being present with the people she cherishes, while also capturing the beauty around her. It’s a difficult dance for most people, but she nails it. When the blank screen changed to reveal her face I was greeted by a huge smile and an apology that she was taking the call from her childhood bedroom, in the home she grew up in. Wearing a white tank top, a gorgeous gold charm necklace, and her bouncy black hair in a half pony, she started to tell me about her family, her upbringing in the Bronx, and her incredible journey of making space for selfcare after losing herself during the pandemic. Get ready to take notes, because we can all learn a thing or two about how she’s helping herself get back on track. You live on the Upper East Side, right? Is that where you typically spend your time? We have family all over the city in


Queens, in Brooklyn, in the Bronx so we go all over the place—the train is our best friend, we take it everywhere! But yes, we spend a lot of time in our neighborhood, we love it here. We have Central Park, we have all the museums so close by, the kids’ school is right here, and their activities, too. Lillie’s dance classes are on the west side, but we just jump on the crosstown bus and we’re there in 10 minutes. What are you most looking forward to as the school year begins? When I think of them going back I just feel a surge of happiness for them being able to be with their friends again. My daughter loves to learn, but Zoom school at five years old was tough, so it’s wonderful for her to be in school. But what I’m most looking forward to is getting back to me. I feel like I lost a huge part of myself during this whole ordeal—my career, my goals, everything just took a backseat. I’m really looking forward to carving out that time for myself where I’ll be able to work from home, produce content, collaborate, all of these dreams and everything I’ve been wanting to do that I had forgotten about or just felt weren’t possible during the pandemic. I’m starting to feel that fire coming back and it feels really really good. As a mom who is coming out of this pandemic, and who is just trying to get through every day like we all are, what are some of the little things you do just for yourself? What does self-care look like for you? Self-care for me right now is 1000% taking care of my mental health because it completely affects how I move through the

WestchesterFamily.com | September 2021

world, how I move with my children, and how I see my future. My mental health was definitely impacted greatly throughout the pandemic, and it’s still an ongoing struggle. Even a little bit before Covid hit I began to have anxiety for the first time, so when the pandemic hit and I lost my aunt, my mom’s best friend who is like a second mother to me, I wasn’t able to handle that grief properly— and I still have a lot of that grief. She didn’t have a funeral, we weren’t able to say goodbye, nothing. It was the first time I had to step into that adult role as I was the one making phone calls, handling the logistics, and it took so much out of me because that was when we were home with sirens blaring all day. It was a lot and I think I just hit bottom. But at the end of last year I couldn’t take it, living with that pain and grief and anxiety but not doing anything to help myself. I realized I couldn’t wake up like that anymore, I needed to learn how to manage those feelings. I started journaling so I could figure out the thoughts in my head. It’s not a daily practice but every now and then I take out my notebook. Also, being honest with myself and with my friends has been a big step for me, because I’m such a private person to a fault that I often don’t share things even with my close friends. So being able to talk to people and open up was like a weight was lifted. And now I’m in the process of finding a therapist, and I hope to have that all figured out by the time they start school so I can start my weekly sessions. I’ve also recently started doing acupuncture. I’ve never thought about it, never done it in my life, but Ora Space reached out asking

me to work with them. It truly has made such a difference. I’ve cried during sessions, they’ve helped so much, I truly see the progression. The first two times I stayed awake and I couldn’t relax. My mind was too busy thinking about where I had to go after my appointment, what I had to do, how I had to go buy stuff for lunch for the kids. But the last couple of sessions I’ve been able to completely shut off and feel almost the release from my body. When I leave the office I’m on Cloud 9. It helps me get through the week, it resets my body, and even when the partnership ends, it is something I will definitely be implementing in my life. And I even want to expose my kids to it, to show them that there’s other ways to heal and release. Another thing that’s been a huge help is exercising three times a week. I do it at home with two little dumbbells and a booty band, and I watch YouTube videos. I do what I can and when I don’t I really feel the difference in my brain. I never want to do it but I never regret it because I always feel so good afterwards. I didn’t work out at all during the pandemic, and in January or February I decided to do a very easy online Pilates class and my knees and my joints were on fire. I realized how much I needed to stretch, move my limbs, move my joints. The same way you take care of your car, you put gas in it, you change the oil, it’s the same for your body and you only have one. If I don’t do anything now to take care of it I will wake up in 10 years and it will be even harder. I want to be strong, I want to be 50 years old and strong.

Photo by Yumi Matsuo

It sounds to me that the theme of your life right now is that you’re working to make yourself strong again, physically, mentally, emotionally. That’s how I feel. And I think what’s so amazing is within my friend group I’ve seen a collective shift, too, towards this way of thinking. Even scrolling through social media, you can see the shift in the type of posts people are sharing, of people making changes, growing, and it’s a beautiful part of life because we shouldn’t stay the same. I’m not the same person I was before—I love that person, I love all parts of me, I love every part of my story, but I’ve grown and changed and I’m always changing. That’s the beauty of life. Now I realize that I need to use all my resources: acupuncture, talking to my friends, telling them what I need, being honest about how I feel with the people I love, and even therapy, it can all make a big difference in my mental health. September 2021 | Westchester Family



Apps and Devices to Keep Track of Your Kids By Donna Duarte-LaDD


erhaps it’s because we have all been together for the last 19 months, and as many parents go back to a schedule or an office — they may want to know where the kids are, as in an exact location. Or you may want to be privy to what sites or how long they have been online for the day. Whatever the reason, you are the parent, and you want an app or device to tell you what you need to know, and maybe even help set rules for the year ahead. Here are the 5 we recommend:

Circle Home Plus meetcircle.com

Screen time and rules went out the door for many parents during quarantine. Understandably, this became the lifeline for all of us. But if your kids, especially the older ones, are having a hard time putting the electronics down, it may be time for an advanced tech solution. Circle Home plus works by allowing you to manage your child’s screen time as well as websites and apps. Many parents know there are times, especially with specific sites and games, kids need rules, and with this device, you can manage their activity. Also, what a six-year-old looks at online may differ from, say, your fourteen-yearold. With this device, you can customize each user’s settings.(iOS and Android) Life360 life360.com

Keeping track of your child doesn’t mean you are micromanaging or being a helicopter parent; it means you’re parenting. Life 360 consists of three features: location, driving, and digital safety. As far as tracking apps and plans go, this one of the most affordable. The plans range from $4.17 to $16.67 monthly. Depending on the plan you choose, you can use this app for location history; unlimited place alerts to SOS Help Alert with 24/7 Dispatchers. As most of our kids become phone owners and want to meet up with their friends or go to the park, it is nice to know where they are; the app even alerts when their phone is low on battery. How long I will personally use this app, I am not sure. Every parent is different. As your child gets older, there may be a point where they may not be comfortable having this app on their


phone; this is a family conversation to have when the time comes; meanwhile, a little piece of mine is something all parents deserve.(iOS or Android) Family Link families.google.com

If you’re looking for a way to have ground rules be part of your home system, then Family Link is a great way to implement boundaries when it comes to your child’s online activity. The Family Link app from Google is free and helps parents stay in the loop via their child’s Android device. Letting parents set specific digital ground rules for their family. We all know that during quarantine, the usage of electronics became a lifeline- especially with kids missing out on in-person socializing. Electronics became both a necessity and a burden. Now it is time to get back to some device usage limits. There is even an automatic shutdown time you can add, such as at bedtime on their devices. Or one biggie is to remotely shut down a device when asking isn’t working. As we get back to some everyday routines, Family Link will help you manage your child’s apps and know how much time they spend on each app, enabling you to set limits. See which devices work with Family Link.(Android devices running version 7.0 (Nougat) and higher. Devices running Android versions 5.0 and 6.0 (Lollipop and Marshmallow) may also be able to run Family Link). Jiobit jiobit.com

When babies are newborns, we have a baby monitor; some are basic while others are a bit like a James Bond gadget. This is what Jiobit is in the location monitor device world. A small real-time GPS tracker uses a combination of cellular, GPS, Wi-Fi & Bluetooth to track your child. The Jiobit can be secured using the builtin loop, which can be fastened onto shoelaces and a drawstring, or the secure loop, which can go into a buttonhole or around a belt loop. If you have ever called your child’s school to

WestchesterFamily.com | September 2021

assure they got off the bus, the Jiobit one-ups a phone call by allowing you to set up a geolocation check-in alert when your child arrives at a particular place like daycare. The device costs $130, and a data subscription is required (they range from $9-$15). So there is a bit of a financial commitment to this device, and it may not be for everyone. (Jiobit has its own secure connection to the internetand GPS-check the website before purchase to assure coverage). Tick Talk 4

If you are searching for a tracking device in a watch form, you may want to check out the Tick Talk 4 smartwatch. This durable smartwatch is an excellent alternative to a phone and especially great for young kids. The watch is a GPS that allows you to know your child’s location and communicate via video calling, voice calling, Wi-Fi calling as well as secured smart messaging. There are 20 Parental Controls such as blocking certain numbers and approving contacts. The watch does need to be set up with your cellphone provider; the cost averages around $10-15. Parents will also appreciate that reminders can be set on the phone. (redpocket.com/activate)


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