Westchester Family - January 2023

Page 1

Babba Rivera

Founder and CEO of clean hair brand Ceremonia, on reimagining self-care

Education Goals for the New Year + Education Guide Forget
expert tips
Don't miss our C a MP FaIR See page 31
on how to get unstuck and move at your own pace — at any time of the year
We are focused on optimal oral health while providing a safe, comfortable, and FUN environment – come check out our submarinethemed office space! Our dentists have specialized training to work with special needs patients Penny Resnick-Graulich, D.M.D Emelie Preis, D.D.S. Gabriela Ganoza Duron, D.D.S. Fatina Shtivelman, D.D.S.
January 2023 | Westchester Family 3 100 Overlook Circle, New Rochelle, NY 10804 Thornton-Donovan School Individually Focused, Globally Engaged Co-Ed • Grades K-12 Thornton-Donovan will Embark on Travel for 2022-23: Rome, Israel, & Jordan
4 WestchesterFamily.com | January 2023 Janua Ry 2023 WestchesterFamily.com contents FE aTURE s 16 | e xtracurricular activities Balancing sports and activities 24 | c areer The mom’s guide to quitting your job 26 | cover: Babba c r ivera The founder of the clean hair brand Ceremonia, reimagining self-care, sustainability and what it means to be authentic sToRIEs & ColUM ns 6 | editor’s letter 8 | c amps Is your child ready for sleepaway camp? 12| education New Year’s Education Goals: How to set intentions for success for your child in 2023 18 | Family n ight o ut Where to see stars 20| s potlight Meet Melissa Levine, the Westchester artist behind Masha Dasha Designs 22 | travel Find aloha spirit at Mauna Lani 30 | a sk the e xpert Forget the resolutions and try these expert steps Fa MI ly FU n 28 | c alendar All the fun events and activities for January D IRECTo RIE s 14 | education listings on the cover Photo: Yumi Matsuo | yumimatsuostudio.com Hair & Makeup: Buffy Hernandez | buffysaintmarie.com Cover Story Written by: Mia Salas Produced by: Donna Duarte Ladd pg. 26 pg. 18 pg. 12 pg. 28 pg. 30
January 2023 | Westchester Family 5 Charter School of Educational Excellence LAPTOPS FOR ALL STUDENTS FROM ТНЕ WESTCHESTER, ROCKLAND AND BRONX COUNTIES CharterSchoolOfEducationalExcellence.org 914-476-5070 Ext. 4 NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS Do you want an excellent education for your child? Apply Today to the Charter School of Educational Excellence ALL Students Welcome

Moving Foward

The New Year is here (yay!), and many of you may be thinking about next steps for 2023. Some parents are waiting for school application results to be announced (fingers crossed.) We are also at the mid-school year, which means time to set education intentions for success for your child in 2023 (page 12.)

Every New Year, there is an emphasis on resolutions - which are not unhealthy to make; goals are good. Still, you may want to make them on a level that works for you rather than sweeping changes. We chatted with Lifecoach Leah Wiseman Fink (page 30), who shared year-round tips on making shifts

in our lives. However, if quitting your job is definitely on a list, our piece, The Mom’s Guide to Quitting Your Job (page 24) from our sister site, Mommybites (mommybites. com), is worth reading.

We are excited to have Cover mom Babba Rivera ushering in 2023 as our first cover. The Founder and CEO of Ceremonia (page 26) shares on paying tribute to her Latin culture as the founder of a world-changing clean hair brand, reimagining self-care, sustainability and what it means to be authentic.

xo, Donna

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editor’s note
| January 2023
get in touch
n ina g allo Photography
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Is Your Child Ready for Sleepaway Camp?

Thinking about overnight camp for your child? Attending overnight camp is an important experience for a child, helping them to gain independence, self-confidence, and resilience, which are all skills that are needed to become successful adults. But how do parents know when the right time is to send their child to camp?

It’s more than age

Many parents focus on the age of their child to figure out when the right time is for overnight camp, however, age isn’t the only factor when considering readiness. While there is no specific sign that can tell you that now is the time, there are certain indicators that can signal that a child is ready for the experience.

“I don’t feel there is a specific age to begin

going to overnight camp. It’s more dependent on an individual child’s developmental levels and maturity,” says Marc Rauch, Ph.D., licensed psychologist and director of Camp Kinder Ring, a coed overnight camp in Hopewell Junction, NY. “It’s important to closely examine and explore a child’s overall functioning in differing environments, as well as their personality, social skills, temperament and how they handle change and different situations. Does the child have the ability to self-soothe, display effective coping mechanisms and effectively verbalize their needs and wants? Some other readiness indicators include a child’s ability to appropriately separate from parents, accept guidance and supervision from others, a desire to sleep at varying peers households, eagerness to have playdates and a child’s displaying of an ability to meet new successes when challenged.”

Bolstering your child’s confidence Often parents feel their child is ready to go away to camp, yet their child is hesitant.

Laurie Rinke, director of Camp Echo Lake, a coed overnight camp in the Adirondacks says, “The biggest factor that determines a camper’s readiness is their parents’ ability to let their child borrow their confidence that they are ready for camp. If a parent says to their child ‘we found the right camp for you, we trust the directors, we know you can do this, and we know you will love camp,’ children can use their parents confidence to bolster their own. When a parent gives a child the sense that camp is the right place for them, that helps a child feel confident.”

Renee Flax, camper placement specialist for the American Camp Association, NY & NJ feels there is a big difference between gentle persuasion and pushing a child to go to camp. “Taking your child to visit the camp so they can see for themselves what camp is all about and meeting with the camp director to have them talk to your child are both helpful tools. However, if your child is adamant about not wanting to go, you do need to listen to what their concerns are. Some of them are fixable

8 WestchesterFamily.com | January 2023



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issues that can be resolved such as they don’t want to go for too long a period of time or they want to know someone at the camp.”

Preparation is important

Once you make the decision to send your child to camp, preparing them for what camp will be like can help set your child up for a positive experience.

“Think about the things that your child will do at camp that they may or may not do at home like changing the sheets on their bed, combing their hair, applying sunscreen, and taking a shower independently,” commented Rinke. “Your child certainly doesn’t have to perfect these tasks and counselors will help them, but familiarizing your child with these tasks can allow them to feel more confident about doing them.”

Rauch says the manner in which a parent sets the stage for camp can ultimately seal the fate of whether or not the experience is successful. “Parents shouldn’t spend the entire academic year leading up to camp talking about it. The focus needs to be incrementally introduced to a child,

especially one who has some level of concern. When you talk about camp, always focus on the positives that lie ahead and don’t harp on how much a child will be missed, on how different home will be without them or on things that can go wrong. It’s also important for parents to work hard to not put their own anxieties about their children leaving home onto their children. The more comfortable a parent is with the overnight camp experience, the more comfortable the child will be.”

Other resources Camps also offer a lot of events and resources to help your child prepare for camp.

“There are new camper events, new parent events and Big Brother or Sister programs to give you and your child the confidence that they are going to love camp. I also encourage parents to read all emails, blogs, and parent information from your camp as there is valuable information that will help you and your child,” Rinke says.

Flax says: “The right time for a child to go to an overnight camp is when they are ready! Don’t worry what other people are doing – you need to assess how your child is doing emotionally and how mature they are before deciding to send them to an overnight program.”

10 WestchesterFamily.com | January 2023
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“It’s important for parents to work hard to not put their own anxieties about their children leaving home onto their children. The more comfortable a parent is with the overnight camp experience, the more comfortable the child will be.”
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education Education Goals for a New Year

How to set intentions for success for your child in 2023

Ahh, the new year is here—a time for making positive changes, and sticking with them! Now, as a parent, you know how important a good education is for your little student. So why not make some cool resolutions to help ensure a successful education for your child in 2023, and beyond?

Whether your child is struggling in school, has an A+ average or falls somewhere in between, there are so many ways to improve grades, test-taking skills and overall academic achievement at any age. You can set new goals, encourage reading, build a support system and so much more. We spoke with parents, education experts (and did some of our own online research!) to put together this New Year’s guide to help create and continue education success for your child throughout 2023. Save it, refer to it, and just keep it handy!

And don’t worry. Our resolutions aren’t all study, study, study. After all, we gotta have kids on board for their successful education, too. We’ve researched ways to make learning fun at any age, from toddler to teen.

(BONUS: Even as adults, you might learn a thing or two about how to increase your own wealth of knowledge!)

Ensure a Successful Education for Your Child in 2023

This is probably a no-brainer for most people, but education is important for a variety of reasons, including life success. And it doesn’t matter what kind of school your child goes to, whether it be public, private or any other type of institution. A lot of what can make a good education is what children, parents and teachers put into it.

Jennifer Cedro Puglia of Staten Island has two boys in Catholic school. To her, a good education leads to her kids being independent and focused on goals.

“A good education is a foundation for a better life and a better person,” she said.

Richie Blings, whose children attend NYC public school, agrees.

“I tell my kids that you’re an adult a lot longer than a child. So, go to school, learn and get yourself a great job,” Blings said.

A Resolution List for Preschoolers: Ages 3 to 5 Years

Pre-school age refers to kids ages 3 to 5 years.

These are important years for building a foundation for learning. And it doesn’t really matter whether you choose to keep your child home during these years, or enroll them in daycare or preschool.

But if your child does attend daycare or preschool, keep in mind they’re usually not given grades. They’ll also learn how to socialize, which can be tough to do at home. As Wendy Levey, an education consultant explains, preschoolers get assessments on

12 WestchesterFamily.com | January 2023

their attention span, focus, ability to count sequentially and share toys, and other factors.

If your child will be in preschool this year, whether he’s a new student or currently enrolled, Levey recommends the following resolutions for 2023:

Be Happy! Don’t leave your child at the door of his classroom looking like you’re about to cry. Wear a smile and go cry at Starbuck’s.

Homework : Find out what is going on in school and reinforce it at home. For example, if teachers have the kids washing their hands and dumping their snacks after finishing, do that at home, too.

Get Involved: Help with the school’s bake sell. Or go on a school trip. Things like this are not only beneficial for you, your child and the school...it’s also fun! And of course, parents/caregivers should arrive at school on time to drop their children off or pick them up.

Choosing to keep your kiddo home at this age? You’re not alone! Many parents choose this route for a variety of reasons. Check out these positive parenting tips from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that you can use to create your preschool-age New Year’s resolution list and help ensure a successful education for your child.

A Resolution List for Elementary, Middle and High-School Students

In NYC, kids enter kindergarten in the fall of the calendar year they turn 5. Elementary and middle school is the crux of their academic career, and should give them a great foundation for high school, college, trade school and eventually their chosen profession.

“I tell my daughter that her education is important for her success. There’s so much to be learned from school,” said Madeline Elena Vidal, whose daughter is in fourth grade. “Her education is important now, especially if she plans on going to college to further pursue anything. She also knows that college isn’t mandatory. Going to a trade school is also an option.”

Just like in preschool, it’s important to be involved in your child’s school work at the elementary and high-school levels. Gabrielle Gambrell, professor at NYU and Columbia University, says it’s important to devote time to talking about school to become invested in your child’s education.

“As both an educator and a parent, I know firsthand how important it is to show interest in your child’s education,” Gambrell,

who’s also the founder of Gift of Gabrielle, says. “This can be done by devoting time to discussing school with your child, their day, curriculum, classwork, homework, what they are excited about and beyond.”

There should be no interruptions with phones, electronics, or any other distractions. All emphasis should be on having sincere discussions about school and its significance.

“This time will also help you to identify what your child enjoys about school, learn their academic strengths, as well as if your child is struggling with anything or falling behind on their coursework,” Gambrell says. “Use this time to reiterate the significance of education and how proud you are of your child. When parents participate in their children’s schooling it makes a world of difference. During this time, be sure to remind your children to communicate their needs. This is a practice that children can learn early. It’ll help them throughout their academic journey.”

Here are some resolutions that will help your elementary, middle and high-school students this year:

Read Together : If you have younger children, read with them. Read books about starting the school year off right. Books with characters that your children can relate to can help boost their confidence about the year ahead. This allows an opportunity to discuss how your child feels about returning to school in 2023.

“It’s always wonderful to assess how your children are feeling and what they’re thinking about,” Gambrell says. “Be sure to show them that their feelings and thoughts are also your concern. Children should often be reminded

of how much their parents care about them. Reading together is a great way to start important and relevant conversations.”

Create an Environment for Learning : A dedicated home learning environment is instrumental to a child’s success. Does your child have a desk at home? Do you have a dedicated place for homework? Have a dedicated place where your children can sit and learn at home away from distractions.

Stick to a Good Bedtime (and Other Routines) : Routines are paramount to academic success. Setting a time and place for homework surrounded by all necessary supplies is pivotal to success. Receiving proper sleep is instrumental to be fueled for academic success.

“As we all know, getting enough sleep supports your child in feeling their best as it prepares them for a full day of learning,” Gambrell says. “Also, getting to school on time makes a difference in student success. Stay on schedule. The earlier children learn the significance of time management the better.”

Set Goals : Talk to your kids about what they want out of the school year, and what you want. Be a positive force in your child’s life. Affirm their successes. You can also reward your kids for doing well, getting better grades or just improving overall.

Ushindi Lewis, program coordinator at the New Jersey Youth Corps of Middlesex County New Brunswick Public Schools, underscores the importance of the role parents play in their child’s education.

“A parent can help reshape a student’s thinking about learning by encouraging the student to think of learning as a passion,” Lewis says.

Check Your Child’s Assignments : No matter what grade your child is in, parents should resolve to be actively checking assignment books and online assignment/ grading sites, explains Ryan Michele Woods, a teacher at Staten Island Academy with 18 years experience in the NYC Department of Education.

“Kids will often tell you they are on top of things, but in reality are having trouble organizing themselves and are overwhelmed,” Woods says. “Even if they say they can do it on their own, they may not be able to, and often aren’t. To be successful, parents need to be partnering in their accountability. This also prevents surprises at grading time.”

Woods added that this is especially important for upper elementary and middle school students.

January 2023 | Westchester Family 13
“Use this time to reiterate the significance of education and how proud you are of your child. When parents participate in their children’s schooling it makes a world of difference.”

c ardinal s pellman h igh school

1 Cardinal Spellman Place, Bronx NY

718-881-8000 x206 cardinalspellman.org admissions@cardinalspellman. org

Cardinal Spellman High School is a coeducational, college preparatory, Catholic high school located on a 13-acre campus in the Bronx, NY. Offering 20 AP and college-level courses, students can earn up to one year of college credit. Spellman has a 100% graduation rate and college acceptance rate. The Class of 2022 was awarded 76+ million in college scholarships. Spellman is home to 30 championship-winning sports teams and 50+ clubs and activities. Learn more at cardinalspellman.org.

the chapel school

172 White Plains Road, Bronxville NY 914-337-3202 info@thechapelschool.org thechapelschool.org

Since 1947, The Chapel School (TCS) has engaged a diverse community of learners with challenging academics and personalized attention, encouraged explorers to take advantage of thriving extra-curricular activities, and empowered leaders to build character and serve others. Join TCS Family and give your child the opportunity to be their best!

g erman i nternational school n ew york

50 Partridge Road, White Plains, NY admissions@gisny.org 914- 948-6513

For over 40 years, GISNY, an independent, bilingual Pre-K through Grade 12 college preparatory program, has cultivated students to develop into curious, analytical, and conscientious global citizens. GISNY is the only school in the tri-state area where graduates earn the NYS High School Diploma and the German International Abitur. No German is required for entering Pre-K or Kindergarten children. All nationalities are welcome!

John c ardinal o ’ connor school

16 North Broadway, Irvington, NY 10533 914-591-9330

johncardinaloconnorschool. org Admissions@ johncardinaloconnorschool. org

JCOS is dedicated to providing the benefits of a faith-based education to children who learn differently. The school empowers children to thrive academically, spiritually, emotionally, and socially in their supportive school community. JCOS is dedicated to providing an affordable learning experience backed by a skilled teaching staff. Their commitment to well-rounded schooling for students has made their private Catholic school one of the foremost in Westchester County.

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Saint Thomas Choir School in the heart of New York City nurtures and educates the treble choristers of the Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys. The school’s small size and low faculty-to-student ratio allow teachers to address the academic strengths and needs of each child, while a school-wide focus on music ensures that boys with a passion for singing can grow in extraordinary ways. The unique choir school experience prepares boys for a meaningful journey through adolescence and beyond, regardless of their professional goals. Contact Ruth Cobb at rcobb@choirschool.org for more information.

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Balancing Sports and Activities

The right fit for your child

As we move into winter, I have been spending my free time researching sports classes and extracurricular activities my kids will be doing this season.

I hadn’t planned it this way. I am a former Sports Mom, think stage mom of all things sports and after school, and this would be me. My mother never pushed my sisters and me to do sports. But my father was outdoorsy, and we did everything from track and skateboarding to racquetball and volleyball. And when my oldest son was a toddler, I enrolled him in his first soccer class. Watching him and his teammates figure out where exactly the ball was to go and why they couldn’t tackle or eat the netting was adorable.

Then it got serious. As the kids became older, they became more passionate, which meant more practice time and all-around parent involvement wasn’t just for a Saturday morning -practice weekdays were required. After soccer, we did basketball, flag football and then gymnastics. My son excelled in gymnastics, and I started to think – Olympics. Gold! But he hated it. He felt he was being pushed too hard, and the truth is, he was.

My youngest, who is autistic, had significant needs post-pandemic, requiring a lot of educational catch-ups and one on one time. And privately, as this ‘super sports mom,’ I was becoming unhinged with all that was on my plate. So we took some time off. This move was the best thing we could have done as a family. We focused on the youngest, his therapies and getting him into a specialty school. My oldest still participated in his afterschool activities, but as far as anything extra, we ceased it all for a bit. Having this time off also helped me get some perspective and realize it should always be about the kids and doing things they love.

And now, post-pandemic, post-time off, we are back. And here is why...we missed it. The practices, the running out the door early on Saturday mornings, even the snow days where I used to curse the weather as we trudged through the snow. But the truth is these kids wake up at dawn. Why not get out the door and be productive? And participating in a sport or an extracurricular

activity has enormous benefits.

Participating in a sport or extracurricular activity helps our kids to learn to communicate better, something they lacked during the pandemic. I can’t think of a better way for them to work on their social skills and come together with a group of kids of the same age (some from different schools!) and be part of a team or fine-tune a craft. Also, activities are not just sports; this is New York, where art, dance, theater classes (and more!) are plentiful. I am excited and nervous about all the future running around and the evening practices. But we’re ready and prepared to go with the flow and enjoy the ride. See you there!

Here are a few tips I learned during our hiatus:

For kids old enough, keep them involved . I never asked my son what he wanted to do. When one activity wasn’t his thing, we just moved on to the next. I never considered that maybe he didn’t like sports. He was excelling in afterschool classes of theater and dance and yet I continued to put him in sports classes. During our year break, I stopped pushing, and now he lets me know what classes he would like to try.

Step back if you have overscheduled your kids . If the classes, activities or weekend sports leave you or your family feeling like you’re losing it, step back. This doesn’t mean quitting. Skip a game or two. Talk to the coach and tell them you’ll miss a few classes. Take some time to ask why this is not enjoyable. Finish the class if you can, set new limits and work within the limitations you set up for your family when choosing the next set of classes and activities.

Ease up during the classes and games

We need to lighten up as parents, and I am as guilty as the next. In the past, my husband was the assistant coach for my son’s soccer team, which put added pressure on my son. The games, especially if the team lost, could be intense. Have fun. It’s only worth the stress if you have a future NCAA player and your kid is determined to make this something more. Work on having a healthy sense of competitive balance, especially in sports, so your child sees you are happy, win or lose.

Know your bandwidth . Learning from past mistakes — I am scheduling classes and activities close to home and maybe mixing it up, some afterschool fun, a weekend here and there, or a one-off or two class.

16 WestchesterFamily.com | January 2023
Extracurricular activitiEs
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Where to See Stars

Helpful tips and cool places for stargazing in New York

New York City is full of bright lights, but nothing quite matches the glow of the night sky, and there’s no better way to appreciate it than stargazing. Stargazing is a great way to appreciate the night sky in a new way, especially if you have little aspiring astronomers in the family.

Getting started with stargazing might seem intimidating at first, especially if you don’t know much about stars, constellations or space. But you don’t need to be an expert to enjoy looking at the night sky! Stargazing can be a fun activity for the whole family, regardless of your level of expertise.

Here are some tips for stargazing for beginners, plus some spots in New York to stargaze as a family!


What’s In the Sky

Get an idea of what the sky’s going to look like before heading out for a stargazing session.

It’s best to stargaze before a full moon, so look at the moon phase when you’re picking a date. You’ll also see different constellations depending on what time of year and time of night you go out, so look at a star map to get an idea of what you’ll be seeing.

While you’re at it, be sure to check the weather before heading out. Nothing ruins a night of stargazing like a sky full of clouds.

Download an App

A stargazing app can be helpful as you and your family scan the sky. Many of them cost money, but there are plenty of free or cheap options if you’re more of a casual stargazer. Some good options for beginners include SkyView or Star Rover.

Expensive Equipment Not Required

Having an expensive telescope is not a requirement for stargazing, especially if you’re just starting out. An old pair of binoculars will do the trick. They’ll be more

than enough to magnify the night sky and allow you to see things you may not have been able to see before.

Get to know the night sky before taking the plunge and buying a telescope. If you decide later on that you want to take your stargazing to the next level, do some research when deciding what telescope is best for you and your family.

Dress and Pack Accordingly

You are going to need to dress for the weather when going out for a night of stargazing. New York nights are chilly until kate Spring, so be prepared to layer up with sweaters, cold gear, winter coats, scarves, hats, gloves and anything else you typically need to stay warm.

Bring a few blankets for extra warmth

and to give yourself some protection from the ground if you choose to lie down to look at the stars.

Find An Astronomy Club

There are a ton of clubs for amateur astronomers, which are a great resource if you’re looking to get into stargazing yourself. For example, the New York-based Amateur Astronomers Association (aaa.org0 offers classes, lectures and public observation sessions throughout the year. Joining a group like this is a great way to get more involved with stargazing alongside a new community.

You can also follow astronomers on social networking sites like Twitter. Often, they’ll tweet about cosmic events coming up or where and how you can see celestial points of interest.

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Family night out

Stargazing Spots in New York

Believe it or not, there are some great stargazing spots in New York City. They’re not great for seeing the deepest objects in space, but they’re good for seeing a few bright spots in the sky. If you’re looking to see more in the sky, we’ve also included some spots outside of the city.

Pupin Physics Laboratories

Columbia University, Manhattan Home of the physics and astronomy departments at Columbia University, Pupin Hall hosts public outreach astronomy events for the whole family. Drop in for rooftop stargazing every other Friday during the academic year. Check out their Family Astro events, hosted three times a year and targeted towards children with families ages 6 through 12. Be sure to check out their website (outreach.astro.columbia.edu) for the latest news and events.

Vanderbilt Museum & Planetarium

180 Little Neck Road, Centerport, New York 11721

The Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium at the Vanderbilt Museum on Long Island offers planetarium shows throughout the week and public stargazing hours in the Observatory on Friday evenings. Their website also offers a comprehensive list of astronomy resources for amateur astronomers of all levels.

Walkway Over the Hudson Walkway West (Highland) Parking lot address is 87 Haviland Rd., Highland, NY, 12528 Walkway East (Poughkeepsie)

Parking lot address is 61 Parker Ave., Poughkeepsie, NY, 12601

If coming on foot- the stairs entrance located at 131 Washington Street in Poughkeepsie This historic site is the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge and a great place to stargaze. Watch the stars shine against the Hudson River and take in the breathtaking views.

Montauk Point State Park 2000 Montauk Highway Montauk, NY 11954

This state park on Long Island is far enough

away from the bright lights of the city to give you a perfect sky for stargazing. If you go at the right time of year, you can even get a glimpse of the Milky Way’s core, which is visible from the Northern Hemisphere around February every year. Gaze up at the stars amid views of the Atlantic where it meets the Block Island Sound.

Harriman State Park

Seven Lakes Dr / Bear Mountain Circle Ramapo, NY 10974

One of the closest state parks to New York City, Harriman State Park in Rockland and Orange counties is full of great locations for stargazing. It’s open year round, so you can always make a trip with your family for some stargazing.

Big Buck Mountain Multiple Use Area Putnam County, NY

There’s no formal trails at Big Buck, but there are 146 acres of land open for primitive camping and exploring. It’s a good choice for stargazing if you and your family are experienced with camping and being outdoors.

January 2023 | Westchester Family 19
Spring Classes & Shows Summer Theatre Camps Spring Classes & Shows Summer Theatre Camps playgroup.org (914) 946-4433

Creating Art Out of Art Supplies

There are so many cool, creative moms in Westchester like Melissa Levine. As the founder of Masha Dasha Designs, Melissa makes “art out of art supplies” by using recycled and up-cycled crayons, pencils, colored pencils, vintage and up-cycled toys, wine corks, and rulers as her medium. This results in super creative and personalized gifts that all started when she made a crayon monogram for daughters’ preschool teacher. Read on to learn more about Melissa, her classes, and her awesome customizable wall art and gifts.

Westchester Family: How did the idea for Masha Dasha Designs come about?

Melissa Levine: My beautiful twin daughters Meredith and Danielle began their lives as Masha and Dasha in a Russian orphanage. At 15 months old, we finally brought them home forever. From the moment we met them they have inspired me to create and make beautiful things. They are the inspiration behind Masha Dasha Designs.

As soon as my daughters came home I started crafting for them and eventually with them. Once they started elementary school all day long I began to craft and create on my own again. They are now in High School at Greeley, and besides a bit of afternoon schlepping, I have a lot of time in my studio and now for teaching art classes.

Tell us more about your background before Masha Dasha Designs.

I’ve always been an artist. I studied art history and fine art in school at American University in Washington DC. I’ve painted in acrylic, oils and love working in pastels since my high school art class days. I spent many years in my original career of Museum

and art gallery retail operations and visitor services, but always continued to make art for myself. When I got married I created my own Ketubah, which is a decorative Jewish wedding contract that you hang in your home as a piece of art. I began making custom Ketubahs in my spare time.

My art and work were put on hold while we were starting our family. On March 3, 2008 (after a few years of fertility treatments) My husband and I lost our biological twins Eli and Sam at 24 weeks when they were still born as a result of a ruptured uterus. While I recovered we immersed ourselves in adoption and almost a year to the day of our loss we welcomed our twin girls home. I spent 40 days in Russia, both sets of parents came and helped and my husband traveled back and forth for work but the twins finally came home on March 12, 2009. We moved from the city to our home on Candlewood Lake and finally purchased our home in Millwood a year later.

Once we finally settled in as a family of four, The first art piece I made was a crayon monogram for my daughters’ preschool teacher. Every teacher gift I made turned into at least one if not more orders from teachers

and fellow parents that saw the pieces I made. Then, I knew there was a market for my art.

What services/products do you offer?

I make fully customizable wall art and table top gifts, monograms and a variety of shapes that are perfect as baby and teacher gifts. My first client was the first preschool teacher I made a monogram for.

She loved the piece I made her and ordered a piece for her daughters new apartment. She had just graduated college and I made her a colorful button monogram. Not long after she received the gift from her mom, the daughter called and ordered another one for one of her friends. Word of mouth has been amazing. Over 50% of my baby gift recipients call to order one for a friend or for another child. The teachers gifts have been my best sellers since the beginning.

My slogan is “art out of art supplies” because I use mostly recycled and up-cycled crayons, pencils, colored pencils, and rulers as my medium. I cut them up into the shapes for a very unique one of a kind gift. I have also been known to use vintage and up-cycled toys, wine corks and a variety of customer requested items like pez candy and golf tees

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Meet Melissa Levine, the Westchester artist behind Masha Dasha Designs

to make special order pieces.

You can see all of my products on my Etsy shop mashadashadesigns.Etsy.com. Most recently I began to create fun colorful quotes out of melted crayon letters and framed as a new customizable art piece. The customer picks the quote, size and colors and I create a really unique wall art. I have also turned my entire alphabet of crayon letters into small vinyl water bottle stickers. They have been great sellers.

What is your process like before you create?

I have a very messy art studio. Before I create I like to clear my work table and pull all necessary pieces for the art work. Sometimes I need to make a new template, free hand draw a shape, or use my circuit to plan out the letter. I cut my pieces with a sharp exacto knife and have a number of saws in the studio for cutting pencils, golf tees and corks. All my works are on canvas board, sealed with mod podge and I do all my framing in house.

Tell us about your custom pieces and what you offer.

While I have stickers, and a range of ready to purchase crayon or pencil frames, and shapes, the majority of my work is custom. I have done some really cool custom pieces in the past years. From “B” is for Brush and “F” is for Floss that hang in the waiting room of a pediatric dental office, to my most recent 14 individual hanging letters for Le Bonheur Cares, a children’s hospital in Memphis. I truly enjoy talking to customers and creating very special commissions from a single idea to completion.

What are some of your favorite things to do in Westchester?

I love living in Westchester@ When my kids were little we tried to explore all the different playgrounds and parks and farms we could. Now, as teenagers, my daughters and I love to go to farmers markets, flea markets, craft fairs and to find vintage and antique stores. There are so many amazing makers and creative places in Westchester.

We love to explore new towns and our favorite is finding new ice cream places. Nothing beats King Kone, Big Foot Creamery and Blue Pig. I walk my dog on the north county trail way daily and am grateful for an entrance right across the street from my community. My daughter Dani and I enjoy biking on the trail. Now that it has been paved and connected we have been trying to go farther and farther, our goal for next summer is to ride from Millwood to the city and back.

Anything else to add?

I offer craft classes and arts and craftsy birthday parties. When my girls were young I loved to host creative artsy play dates with the moms group I belonged to. We picked a few crafts we found on Pintrest and did them with our children. Fun seasonal type things like painting with vegetables, decorating with flowers, Thanksgiving thankful trees etc.

As my business was first starting out I was asked to do some birthday parties by friends and local neighbors that had seen my work. Mostly melted crayon art. Though, as with many of my momprenuer friends, once COVID came, pivoting was necessary. Sales

on my etsy site slowed and we were trying to find fun creative activites to do outdoors. It wasn’t really a true pivot as much as a big addition to my business. I took on a daily craft classes for all age ranges and ran evening moms night in backyard workshops like paint pouring and reverse tie dye clothes. These classes became extremely popular and have remained even once the world started to open back up.

I am currently teaching numerous classes indoors at The Collective by JABFIT in Chappaqua as well as continuing backyard classes in Chappaqua, Armonk and other local areas, as well as workshops and birthday parties. Unlike some companies that have specific offerings, (i.e. book here and make pottery, book here and paint a canvas) I am an open creative crafting option. Come to me with the age range and your theme idea and I can create a full fun and creative project just for you. I come to your location, bring everything, set up, lead a project and clean up. Every party is special and unique.

This past year I’ve expanded to toddler sensory art classes which have been such a joy to create and host. I love them even more because they are introducing me to a whole new generation of kids and local parents.

Meanwhile, throughout the pandemic our school teachers, as they well deserve all the time, have been praised for their tireless work for our children and my original cut crayon art teacher gifts have continued to be best sellers, I cannot make them fast enough.

Find Melissa at Masha Dasha Design at Mashadashadesigns.com

January 2023 | Westchester Family 21

travel Find Aloha Spirit at Mauna Lani

A family getaway in Hawaii

Do you daydream of taking your family to a faraway, tropical paradise without needing a passport? Aloha! Hawaii, is the perfect spot for an epic family vacation and a resort to look into is Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection, on the Island of Hawaii. At Mauna Lani, families come together in the most stunning place for rich culture and heritage, beautiful sand beaches, delicious dining, volcanic adventures, and magical memories to last a lifetime. When you arrive and get a lei greeting from the warm and welcoming staff, you will feel like a part of the whole, big ohana (Hawaiian for family). Prepare for endless adventures and to soak in the Aloha Spirit.

Find your Piko Mauna Lani is ideally located in the piko (center) of five mountains and the majestic property has it all. The resort welcomes generations of families, treating them like the Hawaiian royalty that frequented its lush lands. There are countless highlights like a sunrise canoe paddle; the timeless tradition of the luau; stand-up paddle boarding with Mika, the resort’s pup resident; sinking your toes into white, black, or green sand; and a dinner at the Canoe House.

The guestrooms are spacious and offer multiple options for all different types of families like traditional rooms, family suites, and private residences. Parents will appreciate the complimentary gear, including cribs, pack-and-plays, and rollaway beds, and kids will adore the amenities to welcome them and celebrate special occasions.

Family Friendly Fun in Paradise

There are endless activities in the most spectacular setting for big and little explorers that guarantee that even the smallest travelers feel like a really big deal. From the keiki (meaning children in Hawaiian) beach and infinity edge pool with ocean views and adjacent giant lawn

games to the Holoholo Kids Club with days full of fun, new friends, and traditional Hawaiian experiences, like hula dance and learning about the origins of green sand.

Grown-ups can find the perfect balance of family fun and adult-only amenities. Make a tee time at the Wikiwiki Course, a pristine nine-hole course that’s perfect for the whole family, or play world-class golf as a double on the North and South courses. And let’s not forget some self-care-indulgence at the Auberge Spa, where treatments feature the benefits of local oils, herbs, honey and flowers from the Island of Hawaii. There is also a serene adultsonly infinity pool.

Families can swim, snorkel, kayak, and play all day at the picturesque white sand beach. Then snuggle up together in the private, plush Halau just steps from the ocean. Listen to the waves crash as you savor every sip of your favorite Hawaiian beverage served in a carved pineapple because it makes every sip even sweeter.

culture and h eritage

Start your day in the most invigorating way with a sunrise canoe paddle in a traditional Hawaiian-style outrigger canoe. It’s a perennial fan favorite. Then explore historic sites

like Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve, one of the largest and last heiau built in Hawaii with more than 3,000 ancient petroglyphs. Visit Honu Pond to learn the historical, environmental, and cultural significance of honu, and paint in paradise with the artist in residence. Carve out time to talk story with Danny Akaka, the resort’s knowledge keeper, and enjoy his tales of Old Hawaii, including about Pele or Maui, all while he plays the ukulele and families make authentic leis.

The Hale Hoaloha Lu’au, a Hawaiian experience that that is steeped in history and culture, embodies the simple yet invaluable pleasures of togetherness and celebration. There’s storytelling, a traditional feast, hula dancing, and fire dancers. Dine on locallysourced classics like lomi lomi salmon, ahi poke, huli huli style chicken, and kiawe broiled steak while being mesmerized by the stories of Old Hawaii and the graceful hula dancers. The most jaw dropping and breathtaking performance is the fire dancer who steals the show and was literally on fire— touching and eating the fire as he performed his bold fire dance. This all happens while the sun sets making a picture perfect evening and creating memories to last a lifetime.

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l ava l akes

No trip to the Big Island is complete without a visit to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, home to two of the world’s most active volcanoes. Kailani Tours express tour is the perfect family adventure to the Kilauea Volcano at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park with a few brief stops on the way like Rainbow Falls and Big Island Candies. They make it easy for families since they provide expert guides, park fees, catered meals, and private access to some of the island’s greatest treasures so families just show up ready for a volcanic adventure. Their National Parkcertified guides are highly knowledgeable on volcanic and Hawaiian, preparing families for everything on this epic excursion. Thanks to Kailani’s telescopes and other high tech equipment exclusive for the tour, families get a real birds-eye view of the volcanoes in action. There are only six volcanoes in the world with known lava lakes and if Kilauea is erupting, those lucky enough will see one of these extraordinary, active lava lakes glow at night with lava jumping and flowing. There will be too many ooh and ahhhs to count.

e at your h eart o ut Savor every bite of Hawaiian specialties at the five-open air restaurants on property, highlighting local ingredients caught and cultivated by local fishermen and farmers. Try Hawaiian favorites like poke bowls, spam, shaved ice, banana bread, and pineapple. Start every day with Kona coffee, fresh pineapple juice, insanely delicious ube pancakes, and the most spectacular views at HaLani. There are also carefully curated keiki menus with traditional and local kids’ favorites. The Surf Shack is ideal for lunch at the beach or pool, Ha Bar serves lighter lunch and dinner, and The Market has

great grab and go options and an array of local specialties and bespoke gifts by local artisans (don’t miss the ube syrup and macadamia nut butter). Dine with your loved ones at The Canoe House, the legendary oceanfront, island dining spot that lives up to the hype of its months-long wait list. The Canoe House presents Japaneseinspired dishes showcasing ingredients sourced mere minutes from Mauna Lani in incredibly innovative ways.

Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection 68-1400 Mauna Lani Drive, Waikoloa, HI 96743 aubergeresorts.com/maunalani

January 2023 | Westchester Family 23
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parenting 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

The Mom’s Guide to Quitting your Job

If you’re going 100 miles per hour in a car and you try to smell the roses, you’re going to get whiplash. As a recovering workaholic, I should know. I spent fifteen years as an executive producer in national television news and the entertainment industry, creating content for Netflix, Fox, Us Weekly, Nordstrom, Target, AT&T, and more. For years, I was content being in the center of the rat race, until the day I was in the hospital delivery room, awaiting the imminent birth of my second child. Between the panting and the eagerness of this moment, I found myself on the phone frantically reviewing resumes after a messy corporate acquisition led to some of my 17-person staff fleeing the job. At that instant, as if a lightbulb suddenly turned on, I had my moment of truth: this was not the life I wanted anymore.

Working in media is a nonstop gig, and loyalties aren’t always reciprocated. I’d leveled up in the industry by saying “yes” to everything for more than a decade. Now, as a mother of two, I needed to start saying no and begin prioritizing myself, my family, and my life. And so, nearly cold turkey, I quit, finally removing myself from the neverending hamster wheel of the corporate world. While today I am happier than I’ve ever been both professionally and personally, the first year on my own was filled with doubt, confusion, and feelings of isolation. In the hopes that this advice will help you create a career path that leaves you fulfilled and happy, here are the things I wish I knew when making the decision to quit my corporate career.

1. Identify what you don’t like about your current work situation

Imagine it’s 90 degrees out, and your kids say they don’t like going to the beach or the pool. So then what? Sitting indoors all day will not actually bring them joy, despite

their insistence to the contrary. Likewise, slamming that metal door behind you and marching out of that gray office with no set plan will not bring you the life you want.

Ask yourself: is there something specific you dislike about your job? Or does it extend to your career as a whole? Do you want fewer hours, or would having a boss who doesn’t micromanage you solve your problem?

Answer those questions before handing in your resignation notice.

It was absolutely clear to me that I wanted to work for myself. I wanted control of my career and flexibility within my schedule. I didn’t want to sprint home from the office at 5:30 to steal an hour with my daughter before bed. I didn’t want to pretend to be at a doctor’s appointment to take my son to swim class. I was excited to leave office politics behind and focus on the work. I figured worse comes to worse, I could always find another job in my field if it didn’t work out. However, it still took me two full years to gather up my “3 C’s”: courage, confidence, and clarity, to really do it. It’s okay to take it slow, but not so slow that you’ll be ready to retire by the time you pull the ripcord!

2. Don’t use other people’s definition of success

Dr. Lisa Damour, PhD, host of the podcast Ask Lisa: The Psychology of Parenting says it’s important for you to define your own success:

“It is easy to look at the people around us and think ‘well if they can do that I should be able to do that. Or why am I not doing what they’re doing?’ The question is ‘Can you be your own yardstick’? Can you decide for yourself what would be gratifying?”

For me, in my grasping (and gripping tightly) for a more balanced life, I had some big realizations. I recognized that I had to give up a title and a job that perhaps seemed glamorous to the outside world. Once I removed my ego from the decision and focused on the fact that it was my choice, and that my overall hap-

piness and balance was more important than any title, I felt freer. Ironically, once I set those external measurements aside, that’s when I started earning industry awards!

3. Start networking! I don’t mean meetups in mahogany bars with sad peanuts in small bowls — actually any social interaction can be “networking.” Coffee, wine, volunteering, pickleball session, surfing… you get my point. Any time you’re connecting with others, you’re networking. In deciding how big or small you want to grow your business, and as you begin to price your services, utilize networking to get more insight into what your standards should be. Leadership coach Leah Wiseman Fink says, “Money’s not an ugly dirty topic. Ask your friends and industry peers what they charge, tell what you charge.”

Connect with your first, second and third degree contacts on social media and on email – they will be your biggest cheerleaders and referrers, at least at first. My first big client came from a referral from a professional contact. That led to a long term consulting project and gave me the confidence to tell myself, ‘I can actually do this.’

Networking (or socializing, as it should be reframed) may seem daunting when you’re in transition. Neha Ruch of Mother Untitled, a community for ambitious moms leaning in to family life, has advice on owning your story. When someone asks “What do you do?”, Neha recommends answering with “This is what I’m doing right now. I’m choosing to ___” (and fill in the blank with whatever path you’re on). This comes from a place of choice and a position of power, instead of a position where you’re not wriggling in your seat answering, “Um, I used to be… and now I am sort of …” Own your choice!

4. Get a mom posse Remember when you had your first baby and

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you felt totally lost, wondering “How do I do this? What did I get myself into?” So you desperately befriended every mom with a stroller?

Find other moms who are working outside the 9-to-5. Your close friends who are climbing the corporate ladder may or may not understand your new challenges.

In my experience, when you tell people you quit your job, some of them will look at you like you have three heads. This is why you must find the people who will celebrate your choice and cheer you on! Other self-employed moms, consultants, stay-at-home moms with side hustles, they will be the ones texting you with balloon emojis when you land a client and grumpy emojis when you’re chasing

down an invoice. (Sorry, yes, those things sometimes happen!)

5. Remember your priorities

Panicking that you made the wrong decision? About to start job-hunting again? Tune out the noise! Sometimes I can still feel the buzzing energy of the ‘rat race’, but I’m trying to stay true to the reasons I decided to work for myself: I wanted more time with my kids and more control over my schedule. If I’m spending 60 hours a week ‘networking’ and posting on social media, why did I make this career change? Surely there is a different and smoother path?

Believe in yourself. You can do it. I promise.

My journey from burnt out media exec to founder of an award-winning video strategy company led me to launch Mom’s Exit Interview, a resource for moms who want to thrive without the 9-to-5. These tips and advice come from the awesome guests on our show – and myself!

Kim Rittberg is the host of Mom’s Exit Interview – http://moms-exit-interview.com and is a Gold Telly Award winner, Webby Honoree, a Content Strategy Expert and Creative Executive Producer in TV, digital video, and audio. She has been a speaker and instructor at PENN, Syracuse, and General Assembly and is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School. Visit her website here: Kim Rittberg

January 2023 | Westchester Family 25

Babba Rivera

On paying tribute to her Latin culture as the founder of the clean hair brand Ceremonia, reimagining self-care, sustainability and what it means to be authentic

Ever since I spoke with Babba Rivera (@Babba), Ceremonia founder and mother of two, I couldn’t stop thinking about something she said. When I asked Babba about self-care, she said: “It’s not a destination, it’s a way of living.” When I asked her about sustainability, once again, she said: “It’s not a destination, it’s a way of living.” In our modern day of TikTok wellness influencers who take us through their daily skin-care vlogs, to fashionforward Gen-Zers showing off their vintage wear on Instagram, we’re entering a new era. This era, one where self-care, sustainability, among other things, are seen as everyday practices to be the best version of ourselves, is one that Babba is already familiar with. In fact, she’s leading it in the beauty industry.

Babba is challenging the status quo in these spaces to encourage a new way of thinking– one that requires intentionality and flexibility to grow. Ultra-mini uggs are trending. So what? Glass bottles are a sustainability practice precedent. So what? I learned from Babba that just because something is popular now or was the standard before, doesn’t mean it’s the future, and it definitely doesn’t mean that it’s you. The new era that Babba invites us into is one where we can be our authentic selves, where we are encouraged to tap into our inner creativity and create our world accordingly. Read on to hear how Babba’s brand Ceremonia (@myceremonia) is innovating a lot more than hair care.

Let’s first discuss your Latinx heritage. How has your family and culture influenced your hair care brand?

I am from Sweden and grew up very closely connected to my culture thanks to my parents, both from Chile. I was raised in a Spanish speaking household where Tia’s and Tio’s would come and go as they pleased and salsa played on repeat. Rituals were deeply rooted in my upbringing.

I have many fond memories with my family pertaining to rituals - beauty in particular. My father was a hairdresser back in Chile and would spend hours braiding my long hair, and my mom and aunties would invite me to their beauty practices using natural ingredients they knew and loved from passed down customs. My mother also taught me self-worth by practicing it herself, carving out the space for two hour baths and showers unapologetically as a mom of two. She also led by example in how she treated her skin and hair with nourishing products focusing on moisture and care versus styling and masking. What I loved most was the strong sense of community I learned from home as well as the healthy relationship to beauty I learned from my family as a form of self-care. Through Ceremonia, I pay tribute to my Latin culture because there is so much to be celebrated. From the powerful ingredients that are native to the region, to the rich rituals around beauty as a form of selfcare and self-love, not to mention the attention to care that goes into beauty as a whole.

We also know that self-care is top of mind with your brand. Can you tell us a little more about how you envision wellness and self-care in Ceremonia?

Self-care and wellness, for me, it’s not an end destination. It’s almost a way of living. It’s easy to deprioritize when you’re busy, but that’s when you need it the most. So with Ceremonia, we try to create every day rituals that are attainable, that can be those little pockets of joy throughout your day. One of our best selling Duos, the Sunday Reset Duo, is a papaya scalp scrub and a hair mask with babassu. These two products have become my sacred Sunday reset. Every Sunday, I take a bath and I give myself this deep exfoliating cleanse with the scalp scrub, which is basically a shampoo but more of a treatment shampoo that I use once a week. Then I put on the hair mask, and I let it sit in my hair for 15 minutes. I need to wash my hair that day anyway, but through

this ritual, it’s become a more joyful experience. That’s really what we try to do with the brand: making it possible for people to find every day joy in things that they need to do anyway. Let’s upgrade that experience.

Sustainability is also top of mind for your brand. What does sustainability mean to you, and how do you see it shaping the beauty industry?

Sustainability is such a big topic. For me, it’s similar to self-care: it’s not a destination, it’s a way of living. It’s a way of constantly learning and iterating. There is so much innovation happening within sustainability, which obviously is super cool, but sometimes I feel like the solutions become very gimmick-y and actually not really impactful at scale. It’s more like a thing that consumers can feel good about, and the brands can get a lot of PR around, versus actually having a sustainable impact.

A great example is one of the most common questions we get is: “Why don’t you use glass bottles? That would be more sustainable.” The reality is, it actually is not. We use post-consumer-recycled (PCR) materials. The reason we do that is because when we look at the entire carbon footprint and the recyclability of PCR, it’s much more sustainable than glass. Glass is great if you refill. If you keep the glass bottle in its original shape and you use it over and over again, then it’s more sustainable. But if you’re recycling glass, it’s actually very energy intensive. Not to mention the shipping implications of glass versus something much lighter like PCR. There’s this idea that it’s better if it’s glass because that feels more sustainable, but actually when you look at the bigger picture, is it really? For Ceremonia, it’s a lot about having that balance between perception versus reality, and we try to stick to the reality part. Even though sometimes we spend 5 times more on a solution that is not perceived, necessarily, as super sustainable and we don’t get any “green points”, we know that

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we’re doing the right thing. We see sustainability more so as our responsibility towards the Earth, not a marketing tool.

How has motherhood influenced your dayto-day life?

It’s influenced me so much. It’s the greatest joy. I never thought those words would come out of my mouth, to be quite honest. I was so focused on my career and really terrified of motherhood. I was worried that becoming a mom would compromise my identity and career. What I found is that it’s only been additive. It’s been an addition to my life, versus a limitation. I feel more confident than ever in my own skin. There is this sense of confidence that settles when you have your own children, like nothing else matters. Worst case scenario, I still have my children. It doesn’t matter how this career goes, or I don’t even care if someone is mad at me. I have my children. It’s a very powerful and grounding experience. It’s also made me more productive than ever. I have many more boundaries, and I almost feel like nothing can get to me…except for something with my kids. If my kids are sick, then I’m so worried. So the downfall of motherhood is you’re always worried about your kids. But the plus side is you’re never worried about anything else.

What advice do you have for womxn, particularly those of underrepresented backgrounds, who are thinking of starting their own businesses too?

Do it. The reality is, just like with kids, there’s never such a thing as good timing. I don’t think it’s wise to wait for the perfect time to present itself, because usually you just have to decide for yourself that this is the perfect timing. That’s how it goes with any decision. There are no decisions that are right or wrong. It’s just how you decide to perceive them.

About starting a business though, I will say that it’s liberating, but also very intense. Ask yourself why you want to run your own business. What’s the mission behind it? What’s the purpose? Then make sure you’re setting yourself up for success to live up to that purpose. There are people that start businesses because they want to work less. That’s fine, then you’re setting up the business according to that. Then there are people that start businesses because they want to make a lot of money. Okay, how will you do that? Just be honest with yourself about why you’re doing it, and that will help guide all of the decisions.

This article has been edited for clarity and brevity. To read the piece in its entirety, please visit newyorkfamily.com.

January 2023 | Westchester Family 27
Photo by Yumi Matsuo



ridge hill on ice

When : Nov. 20 - Jan. 29, Mondays-Thursdays, 4-9pm; Fridays, 4-10pm; Saturdays, 11am-10pm; Sundays, 11am-8pm

Where: Ridge Hill, 1 Ridge Hill Blvd., Yonkers ages: All

What: Lace up your skates for some winter fun on this outdoor rink.

Want to go?: $18; $12 ages 12 and younger. Includes skates. 914-207-2900, ridgehill. com

Winter Wolves

When : Jan. 1-29, Saturdays and Sundays, 11am-12:30pm and 2-3:30pm

Where: Wolf Conservation Center, 7 Buck Run, South Salem ages: All

What: Learn about the mythology, biology and ecology of wolf families and discover why this season is such a magical time for packs in North America.

Want to go?: $15; $12 children younger than 12. 914763-2373, nywolf.org

saturday story corner

When : Saturday, Jan. 7, 10:3011:30am

Where: Katonah Museum of Art, 134 Jay Street, Katonah ages: 3-8

What: Join the museum in their cozy reading corner for a story.

Want to go?: Included with admission: $12; $6 seniors and students; free for children younger than 12 and members. 914-232-9555, katonahmuseum.org

Family science Workshop: snows of other Worlds

When : Jan. 7-29, Saturdays and Sundays, 1?4pm

learn about wolves at the Wolf conservation center this month.

Where: Hudson River Museum, 511 Warburton Ave., Yonkers

ages: 8 and older

What: Celebrate the coldest time of the year by learning about the shape of snow on Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, and create a hanging display of snowflakes.

Want to go?: Included with admission: $10; $7 seniors 65 and older, students with valid ID; veterans; $6 ages 3-18. 914963-4550, hrm.org

nature Discovery for 2’s and 3’s

When : Thursday, Jan. 12, 10-10:45am

Where: Sheldrake Environmental Center, 685 Weaver St, Larchmont ages: 2 and 3

What: Discover nature with

your little one through various activities.

Want to go?: 914-834-1443, sheldrakecenter.org

Backyard sugaring

When : Jan. 14-15, Saturday and Sunday, 1-2pm

Where: Muscoot Farm, 51 Route 100, Katonah ages: All What: Learn what it takes to make fresh maple syrup. Want to go?: 914-864-7282, muscootfarm.org

music of aretha Franklin for kids

When : Saturday, Jan. 14, 2pm Where: The Capitol Theatre, 149 Westchester Ave., Port Chester ages: Newborn-5

What: Introduce your little

ones to the music of the “Queen of Soul.”

Want to go?: $17.50 in advance; $20 day of show. 914937-4126, thecapitoltheatre. com

the civil rights

struggles & activities of Dr. martin luther king, Jr.

When : Monday, Jan. 16, 1pm

Where: St. Paul’s Church National Historic Site, 897 S. Columbus Avenue, Mt. Vernon ages: All What: Professor Kristopher Burrell of Hostos Community College/CUNY explores the civil rights activities and triumphs of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in recognition of the national holiday.

Want to go?: 914-667-4116, nps.gov/sapa

28 WestchesterFamily.com | January 2023

A classic tale cast in brilliant new light. Ages 5-9.

DOKTOR KABOOM AND THE WHEEL OF SCIENCE SUN, FEB 5 @ 11AM & 2PM Chock full of scientific wonders. Ages 8-13.

tortoise + the hare

When : Saturday, Jan. 21, 11am and 2pm

Where: Emelin Theatre, 153 Library Lane, Mamaroneck ages: Ages 5-9

What: The Tortoise and the Hare are back when their children compete in a race of their own.

Want to go?: $24; $19 children. 914-698-3045, emelin.org

kurt gallagher at the Port chester- rye Brook Public library

When : Jan. 26- March 30, Thursdays, 10-11am

Where: Port Chester/Rye Brook Library, One Haseco Avenue, Port Chester ages: Newborn-5

What: Little ones will have a blast moving, giggling & making music as they sing, stomp, clap & flap along to Kurt’s interactive songs.

Want to go?: 914-9396710 x3, portchesterryebrooklibrary.org


all aboard with thomas & Friends

When : Jan. 7-16, Saturdays, Sundays, and holiday Mondays, 10:30am, 12:30pm, 2:30pm; Fridays, 10:30am and 12:30pm

Where: The New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx ages: All

What: Everyone’s favorite

train returns as the star of a mini-performance at the Garden.


The definitive word on surviving and thriving in style. Ages 4-9.

Want to go?: Tickets start at $15 for adults; $7 for students with ID and seniors 65 and older; and $4 for children 2-12; free for children younger than 2. 718-817-8700, nybg.org

Family art Project: Freedom Quilters of gee’s Bend

When : Jan. 14-15, 10am-1pm

Where: Wave Hill House, 4900 Independence Ave, The Bronx ages: All What: Create your own fabric collage out of fabric scraps to honor Dr. King’s Birthday and the inspiring women quilters of Gee’s Bend.

Want to go?: Included with admission: $10; $6 students and seniors 65 and older; $4 ages 6 and older. 718-5493200, wavehill.org

Winter Birding with the Bronx river alliance & nyc audubon

When : Tuesday, Jan. 24, 7-8:30am

Where: Starlight Park at the Bronx River House, 1490 Sheridan Boulevard, Bronx ages: All What: Go on a stroll to see and hear some of the many beautiful birds that rely on the Bronx River including songbirds, waterfowl, and more.


INFO EMELIN.ORG | 914.698.0098


RYE YMCA’S NEW NURSERY SCHOOL @ St. John’s Church 122 Fenimore Rd, Mamaroneck Toddler (18-35 mos) Pre-School (3-5 yrs) AM or PM program 3, 4 or 5-day options STARTS MID-JANUARY Registration now open Details at ryeymca.org/childcare v isit the ice rink at ridge hill through Jan. 29.

January 2023 | Westchester Family 29
Want to go?: 718-4304692, nycgovparks.org TICKETS AND MORE
A fun-filled sweeping oceanic adventure. Ages 4-9.

Forget the Resolutions!

Lifecoach Leah Wiseman Fink shares some year-round tips

How many times have you created a resolution and ooff you either forgot you made one or worse, you dont keep it, and you feel bad about it?

Leah Wiseman Fink, a Lifecoach who works with corporate leaders to new moms, believes that resolutions are overrated. Leah shares, “I understand why people get hung up on January 1st, but what does it mean anyway? Leah adds, “Whether it is January or June, why not think about where you want to be right now? You’ll get there anyway!”

We chatted with Leah about ways to change your life, regardless of the time of the year. This month, don’t worry if you do not have a laundry list of changes or goals you want to accomplish. Instead, focus on what is possible at any time of the year.

There is always this pressure to make sweeping changes in the New Year, what are small ways a person can start to feel good about where they are in life?

One thing I’d recommend is to think about what you can add instead of what you can subtract. For example - instead of thinking about subtracting pounds, can you think about adding some health goals? And to continue with the health metaphor, instead of trying to cut out all sugar, get to the gym every day, and stop drinking, can you do one out of the three?

Another thing I am a big fan of is the list of appreciation. I often have my clients write down a list of 10 things they are grateful for daily. It makes a big difference in the mindset of knowing what you already have, and being settled and appreciative of what you have will naturally catapult you to the next level.

When in a rut, the kind you don’t even know how to start to get out, what are the first steps someone can take to climb out?

Although being in that space is rough, a small change is all you need to get started. In terms of the specifics, here are some tips.

Identify where you want to be, phone a friend, and ask for help.

Pinpoint a goal, whether big or small and then take steps to get there. I always suggest tangible goals, like signing up for a race.

Feel free to plan backward; what are the short workouts you have to do to get the harder ones? And build up from there. This can be applied to anything: a career move, finding a relationship, or a big move.

Remember -the only thing that will keep you stuck is not doing anything at all, so take a deep breath; you got this, and whether it is enormous strides or small steps, you are moving forward.

What are examples of realistic goals a person can make to feel less frazzled mentally?

Carving out time for yourself is essential, even in small ways like not reaching for your phone first thing in the morning. Then, I urge people to block out time in their schedules for things that fill them up. Can you drink a glass of water and stretch instead of worrying even for five minutes? Is there a dance class you can take? Can you get your partner to watch the kids so you can get out and grab drinks with friends?

Try an afternoon nap or, even in a minor

way, a walk around the block. The chunks of time don’t have to be huge, but they do have to be consistent.

Many people, especially moms, have challenges with creating boundaries. What are some healthy ways to develop them?

I define boundaries by figuring out what you want and not letting anything get in the way. Boundaries can be tough because in keeping with what is best for yourself, you sometimes make another person uncomfortable. To reference the sometimes-overused analogy, you must put the oxygen mask on yourself before putting it on anyone else.

Leah Wiseman

Fink holds Master’s degrees in Education Leadership and English Education with 12 years of a combination of work experience in consultancy, the NYC public school system, and higher education. As a Business Lifecoach, Leah helps women to figure out their path, see their worth and get their mojo back. Learn more at leahwisemanfink.com.

30 WestchesterFamily.com | January 2023
ask the e xpert
Saturday January 21th, 2023 - 12pm to 3pm Mamaroneck Beach and Yacht Club RSVP Now - Space is Limited www.westchesterfamily.com/FunDayCamp Discovery and Fun all in one place, in one afternoon. Don’t miss out. Get your FREE ticket now! Fun for the Whole Family WESTCHESTER FAMILY • Meet Camp Directors • Games & Raffles • Arts & Crafts • Free Treats • Face Painting • Balloon Animals • Fun Photo Station • Prizes & more to come! SPONSORED BY
Share an enchanting evening with someone you love, including a performance, carriage rides and sweetheart-themed activities to make your heart sing! 4:00 – 8:00 pm Norwalk, CT GETTICKETS! Reserve your “date” today! steppingstonesmuseum.org

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