Brooklyn Family - February 2024

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February 2024

A Love Story Sophie Demenge, founder of the popular children’s lifestyle line, Oeuf, on how family is first for both life and her brand

Make Memories at Sleepaway Camp & Join Us at Our Camp Fair! Page 23

Tooth Fairy Tales

What to know before your child’s next dental visit

Flu vs Covid Which one is it?


SUMMER FUN FOR EVERY KID Y NYC LOVES IT 100+ CAMPS. 20+ LOCATIONS. ALL 5 BOROUGHS. Registration is now open for all YMCA Summer Day Camps at dozens of convenient locations throughout all five boroughs. We’ve got camps for every child, including traditional camp and specialty camps offering everything from sports to STEAM! Swimming is available at most camps, and we’ll work with each camper to strengthen their swimming ability during their time at camp. WHY YMCA SUMMER DAY CAMPS? • Talented and experienced staff • Amazing and uplifting camp spirit • Make new friends and build self-esteem • Instructional swim lessons All branches that host summer day camp are hosting open houses from 10 AM – 12 PM on MARCH 9, APRIL 20, and MAY 11.


My Bklyn. My Care.

MORE EXPERTS THAN BROOKLYN HAS BAGEL AND SCHMEAR COMBOS. No two Brooklynites are the same. That’s why Maimonides is made up of 2,000+ care providers and experts in surgery, cardiology, oncology and dozens of other specialties. So no matter what you’re dealing with, we can put together a specialized team to provide the one-of-a-kind care you need. February 2024 | Brooklyn Family



February 2024

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pg. 30 pg. 10

pg. 26


Stories & columns

8 | Health Is it the flu, COVID, or a cold?

6 | Editor’s Letter

12 | Health Immunization Schedule 2024: what parents need to know 24| For Parents Only Romantic and fun ideas for couples on Valentine’s Day ... or any winter day! 26 | Cover Sophie Demenge’s on founding, with her husband Michael, the children’s lifestyle brand Oeuf and how family is first for both her brand and life

10 | Ask the Expert The right dentist matters for kids with disability challenges 14 | Education Choosing a Catholic school education

Family fun 28 | Calendar All the fun events and activities for February

Directories 16 | Charter Schools Guide

18 | Mom Stories Mirror on the Wall: reflections on beauty and aging 20 | Camp Sleepaway Camps: crafting memories this summer 23 | Camp New York Family camp fairs are a great place to start your summer camp search 30 | Family Day Out Must-see Elephant Exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History

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pg. 18

on the Cover Photo: Yumi Matsuo | Makeup & Hair: Buffy Hernandez | Produced by: Donna Duarte-Ladd Cover written by: Serena Norr



February 2024 | Brooklyn Family


Editor’s Note

Nina Gallo Photography

Hey there, February Winter is here brrrr, and some of us have dusted off those winter coats after not experiencing snow in some parts of New York (701 days in the city alone!) With the colder months comes the seasonal viruses. While we aren’t doctors, we checked in with the experts, How Parents can Differentiate from the Flu, COVID or a Cold (page 8), to hopefully help you when that pesky cough sounds like it may be more. We also included the Immunization Schedule 2024 (page 12). The chilly weather is why we photographed our cover mom, Sophie Demenge (page 26), in her family’s cozy home this month. Sophie and her husband Michael founded the children’s lifestyle line Oeuf.

This line is unique and beloved by many New Yorkers who adore the quirky touches of city life woven into some of their designs. Sophie shares with us about living in Brooklyn and why family and Oeuf will always go hand in hand. Enough about winter! We are true New Yorkers, and we’re starting to think of the warmer months ahead because this is what we do, which means Summer Camp! We know summer camps, so we have a helpful piece on Sleepaway Camps (page 20) If you are searching for more camp info, head to our site ( for all our helpful camp fair (page 23) dates and articles. Donna

Publisher: Clifford Luster Executive Director: Donna Duarte-Ladd Associate Publisher: Erin Brof Advertising Director: Stacie Goldberg Deputy Editor: Jeannine Cintron Digital Editor: Kaitlyn Riggio Events Manager: Shara Levine Partnership Managers: Lauren Alperin, Lauren Anchin, Joan Bergman, Mary Cassidy, Suzanne Cirigliano, Chris Cunnington, Lori Falco, Shelli Goldberg-Peck, LynnMarie Hanley, Lisa Herlihy, Nicole Miller, Janine Mulé, Nina Spiegelman, Gwen Tomaselli Marketing & Strategy Director: Rosalia Bobé Marketing & Events Assistant: Ashley Rivera Sales & Marketing assistant: Elana Cantor Marketing Assistant: Tilejah Gilead Media Sales Assistant: Anastasia Aktipis Art Director: Leah Mitch Web Developer: Sylvan Migdal Graphic Designers: Arthur Arutyunov, Connie Sulsenti Editors at large: Serena Norr, Cris Pearlstein Editorial Contributors: Jana Beauchamp, Mia Salas

Contact Information

ADVERTISING: (718) 260-4554 Circulation: (718) 260-8336 Address: New York Family Media/Schneps Media 1 MetroTech Center North, Third Floor Brooklyn, NY 11201

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get in touch Share your feedback and ideas about family life in New York! Email us at and tag us at #newyorkfamily

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New York Family is published monthly by Queens Family Media, LLC. Reproduction of New York Family Media in whole or part without written permission from the publisher is prohibited. All rights reserved. ©2024 Queens Family Media, LLC

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Located in Gowanus, Brooklyn, Rivendell Preschool is an ‘amplified’ Montessori program for children ages 2 – 5. At Rivendell teachers know that learning to get along with a wide range of friends and respecting their similarities and differences has lasting benefits for each student! Visit Rivendell for an inperson tour of our classrooms, rooftop play yard and backyard Growing Connections greenhouse where children and teachers work and play together. Email to join an in-person weekday morning tour.

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Join us for an open house or a personal tour to learn about our unique inclusion mission and the IDEAL Scholarship which pays 75% of tuition from Grades K-8. Call us at 212-769-1699 x10105 or email NYC’s only K-12+ independent inclusion school is now in the Financial District at 5 Hanover Square. February 2024 | Brooklyn Family



Is it the Flu or COVID or a Cold? A helpful guide for parents By BarBara russo


ith flu season still upon us, viruses and early cases of respiratory illnesses on a constant news loop, it’s not hard to wonder when your child has a cold and when it is more. To make matters worse, seasonal influenza activity continues to increase in most parts of the country. As a parent, here’s what you need to know about this year’s flu season and what you can do to help keep your kids flu-free. Here are some tips on what is what when it comes to colds, flu, and Covid. But first the flu. The CDC estimates that there have been at least 1.8 million illnesses, 17,000 hospitalizations, and 1,100 deaths from flu so far this season. “At the moment, the flu season is in

8 | February 2024

high gear,” Samir Undavia, MD, attending physician, NJ ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery in Marlton, NJ, said, adding that the CDC numbers include both children and adults. But to put things into a clearer perspective, this year’s flu season isn’t too different from last year’s. “Parents should expect a similar flu season to last year, which included approximately 11,000 medical visits per 100,000 kids and 119 hospitalizations per 100,000 kids,” Undavia said. Over 80 percent of severe disease were unvaccinated children, Undavia added. In New York during this flu season, cases are rising, but right now, the rates are still lower than around this time last year, according to the state health department. Symptoms of Flu in Kids As anyone who’s had the flu can attest, having it at any age is brutal. Lots of rest and drinking plenty of fluids can help a lot.

Symptoms of the flu in children and adults usually include fever, chills, muscle and body aches, fatigue, headaches, cough, sore throat, and a runny nose. But there are a few differences in symptoms between children and adults, explained Flora Sinha, MD, internal medicine at Cedars Sinai Medical Group. “Gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are also common, although these symptoms are seen more in children versus adults. Children may also have higher fevers,” Sinha said. When to See a Doctor At this point, you might be wondering: The flu is often treated at home. At what point should I bring my child to the doctor? “Parents should bring their child to a doctor if they have complications from the flu, such as ear pain and pressure, shortness of breath, severe fatigue without oral intake of liquids and food, or if the symptoms

Flu vs. Covid vs. a Cold persist for longer than the flu should last, which is over 10-14 days,” explained Undavia. Sinha added that temperature and fever play a big role in when to bring your child to the pediatrician. “For very young babies–younger than 3 months–you’ll want to see your pediatrician if your child has a rectal fever of 100.4 or higher immediately,” Shinha explained. “For healthy adults and children 3 years of age and up we look for a fever that is higher than 104F and/or that won’t respond to fever reducing medications or lasts longer than 72 hours. If your child is extremely fatigued, looking lethargic, you may also bring them in.” One of the best ways for kids and adults to prevent the spread of the flu includes washing hands often Preventing the Flu Not surprising, some of the best ways for kids and adults to prevent the spread of the flu are pretty simple. It’s basically what you’d expect to do when trying to prevent other

Jenean White, MD, a family medicine physician, shared some general symptoms to look if you’re trying to identify which illness is present: Fever

Commonly present in all except cold; more sudden onset with flu


Present in all; mild to moderate with a cold


Rare in cold; common in flu; sometimes with COVID


Rare in cold; sometimes in COVID and flu


Rare in cold; common in COVID and flu

Runny or stuffy nose

Common with cold; sometimes with COVID and flu

Shortness of breath

Rare in flu and cold; sometimes in COVID

respiratory illnesses, including: • Washing hands often • Avoiding close contact with sick people. When you’re sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick. • Covering coughs and sneezes • Staying home if you’re sick The Flu vs. Covid vs. a Cold: Which is it? Your child comes home from school and isn’t

“I truly believe that had I gone to a different school, I wouldn’t be where I am right now.

feeling well. Is it a cold? A Covid test reads negative, okay it’s the flu or is it? Needless to say, differentiating between these three respiratory illnesses can be quite difficult. Without a lab test confirming the diagnosis, identifying which illness is present can be challenging, Undavia said. But in general, colds are more mild, while the flu and Covid can be more severe.


ELIJAH WESTBROOK, Emmy Award Winning Journalist, CBS New York I KIPP STAR Charter School Alumnus

February 2024 | Brooklyn Family


ask the expert

Your Neurodiverse Child’s Dental Visit The right dentist matters for kids with disability challenges By Donna Duarte-LaDD


ot many of us go to a dental office excitedly; I still, from childhood visits, have needle fear. You know that long silver needle that goes in your mouth? Just why? I ask myself any time I’m in the dental chair. This is why, as parents, we can all understand why kids may face challenges when visiting the dentist. Imagine how sensory or kids with disability challenges may feel on these visits. As a mom with a child on the ASD spectrum, dental visits are one of the most challenging of doctor visits as they incorporate things my child hates to do, like sit still and have you look into his mouth. Like most special needs parents, we not only want doctors to get our kid; We need you to vibe with all the uniqueness they bring to the table or rather the chair- for these visits can be nerve-racking for them and us parents. This is why when I found Dr. Alice Hoang at Brooklyn Mint Dental, I knew we may have found ‘our person.’ Dr. Alice specializes in treating neurodiverse patients, both adults and children. The office aims to make dental visits more practical and enjoyable, which isn’t easy if you have an anxious child. I was super impressed not only with Dr. Alice and her entire office, who took the time to get to know my son, but how she slowly worked to make him comfortable and was able to get him in the medical chair without him once freaking out (she was ready with the weighted blankets and his favorite shows-brilliant.) I appreciated Dr. Alice’s advice about using a gentler three-sided toothbrush, which can do more when your child has limited teeth brushing time, and using toothpaste with fun flavors. Most notably, her understanding and natural caring personality that most special needs parents know our kids have a superpower of knowing who is real and who is not and gravitating only toward the people who naturally connect with them. I asked the doctor for some pointers for parents wondering what dental office may work for them and the questions they need to ask when choosing a dentist. How should parents approach long-term dental care planning for special needs

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children? The more that guardians are mindful of their child’s triggers, sources of comfort, communication style, and behavioral profile, the easier it is for a provider to tailor their care to be more approachable. When we care for special needs children, the guardian’s input is uniquely critical to the care of their children. Appointments should be on the shorter side, especially at the beginning for special needs children, so they can get acclimated with the space and staff. Easing into treatment slowly can prevent fear leading up to future dental visits. I am not physically or mentally challenged, yet I am still not a fan of dental visits, so what strategies work for you when you have a patient with high anxieties or sensory challenges? The tools we use for our sensory-sensitive patients work for even the most anxious patients. Ultimately, our amenities are intended to ease behavioral management of our patients in most circumstances, no matter the patient’s diagnosis. What should parents look for in a dentist when seeking treatment for this child with disability challenges? The most important aspect of anyone’s

care is finding a provider they trust and feel safe with. When seeking treatment for a child with disability challenges, this applies to both the guardians and the patient. My philosophy is meeting any patient where they are to help them achieve the highest level of dental health possible. I would encourage any guardian to find a dentist that values relationships with all patients no matter their needs. Ultimately, dentistry varies from dentist to dentist, and the philosophy, values and personality of the dentist shape the practice. Is it essential for the doctor to have parental involvement, or should they (the parents) step back a bit? Collaboration is an important aspect of general dentistry, whether with other professionals and/or with our patients and their guardians. I would encourage parents to be involved in familiarizing and desensitizing the patient in the new environment. Establishing trust with the dentist helps build rapport and makes the patient feel comfortable with the parent or guardian’s support. When a treatment plan is suggested, dentists like to offer choices, explaining the difference of the pros/ cons of each option, allowing both the patient and their guardian to choose the best option with the dentist’s support. When booking the first appointment, I

would also ask the dental practice if it’s possible to have shorter appointments initially for your child to get acquainted with their new environment. With time, your child will feel more in control of their environment and less anxiety towards a new, but now familiar face. You can ask if you can bring some items that might help your child in the chair such as weighted blankets or stuffed animals, their favorite show or music cued up, noise-canceling headphones and sunglasses. Involve your child in this process so they know they have some autonomy and their opinion matters. A boost in self-esteem and confidence does wonders for everyone. Pertaining specifically to sleep needs, how does treatment for neurodiverse patients and/or patients with dental traumas differ? The assessment and screening of sleep and airway will be the same. However, the treatment may vary, and patients with prior trauma or sensory sensitivity may reject the possible options available depending on the etiology and manifestations of their trauma or sensory sensitivity.

“Establishing trust with the dentist helps build rapport and makes the patient feel comfortable with the parent or guardian’s support.” As a dentist who treats sensory-sensitive patients and children with disabilities? What measures do you take to make the dental experience more comfortable for the kids and parents? When we created Brooklyn Mint, we wanted to put the most anxious patient at ease, whether they are triggered by sensory stimulation or by the environment. In every treatment suite, we have individualized speakers for music (or white noise), a television with noise-canceling headphones, massaging heated eye masks, cooling eye masks, weighted blankets, a weighted stuffed toy, microfiber blankets, light dimmers, a selection of fidget toys, guided meditation virtual and traditional nitrous oxide as well as an option for moderate sedation. While each amenity we offer helps elevate the patient experience,

each is also very intentional and evidencebased. We also have a children’s sensory room with a nursing chair for any chest-feeding parents. More importantly, our doctors and team can ease the most anxious and/or sensory-sensitive patient. When a patient receives our initial forms, there is an “Optional Handle Me with Care Questionnaire.” When patients (or their guardians) decide to complete this form, it allows us to customize the care of our patients before they even step through our doors. We can cue preferred television shows and music, dim the lights, have any amenity readily available, and customize our approach for each patient. Dr. Alice Hoang can be found at: Brooklyn Mint Dental, 567 Pacific Street, Suite B, Brooklyn, NY 11217. 718-360-0365



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February 2024 | Brooklyn Family



Immunization Schedule 2024 What parents need to know By Kaitlyn Riggio


ith the new year comes a new, updated immunization schedule from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). This is especially important for parents of children attending school in New York. Children attending day care and pre-K through 12th grade in New York State must receive all required vaccinations from the recommended schedule in order to remain in school. We sat down with some health experts to put together this guide of what you need to know about the immunization schedule, including what it is, what’s new this year and why it’s important to follow it.

What is an immunization schedule? How is it determined, and why is it important for parents to follow it? Immunization schedules are specific guidelines on when vaccines should be administered. Determined by the ACIP, schedules are determined by factors including the patient’s age and when they received their last dose of vaccine. The immunization schedule is carefully studied and created under many levels of oversight. Health professionals do not recommend deviating from the schedule or vaccinating on a delayed schedule. “Any delay in vaccines just is putting your child at risk for these serious conditions,” says Dr. Ashley Stephens, pediatrician and assistant professor of pediatrics at Columbia University. “We don’t recommend it, and there’s actually a lot of practices who don’t allow that.” Dr. Wendy Johnson, pediatrician at Tribeca Pediatrics, says that the timing of the immunization schedule is determined to protect children from illnesses when they’d be most vulnerable to them. As a result, deviating from the schedule can have serious consequences. “That’s kind of like a hole where that particular disease can get through and their

12 | February 2024

child could get sick,” Johnson says. “And all of the things that we have vaccines for are things that potentially can cause serious harm and maybe even death.” Why is there a new immunization schedule every year? What updates to the immunization schedule should parents be aware of this year? The CDC puts out a new immunization schedule every year to keep up to date with changes in formulations of vaccines, new vaccines and updated recommendations regarding who should receive which vaccines and when. This year, the updated immunization schedule saw the addition of a new RSV vaccine (under the brand name Beyfortus) for children under eight months old and some high-risk kids between eight and 19 months old. What’s unique about Beyfortus is that it gives protection against RSV right away, meaning infants will be protected from RSV more quickly. “It’s actually giving you the protection

that your body usually develops,” Stephens says. “You don’t need those couple weeks to give protection.” Every schedule includes an updated flu shot to target new strains that may be going around, and this year the recommendations suggest that everyone six months and older should get a flu shot. Some vaccines were taken off the schedule as well, including the 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV-13), diphtheria and tetanus toxoid vaccine (DT), bivalent mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and Menactra. Even though a new immunization schedule is put out every year, parents shouldn’t worry if they previously vaccinated their children according to the “old” schedule. “The immunization schedule is constantly changing as new technology and data emerge,” says Dr. Whitney Casares, pediatrician and host of the Modern Mommy podcast. In cases where a child might have missed a vaccination (for example, they’ve moved to the United States from a country where cer-

tain vaccines aren’t required), Johnson says there’s a catch-up immunization schedule to get kids on track. When looking at the vaccine schedule, parents might be confused to see diseases that aren’t common anymore, like polio or measles. Why is it important to continue vaccinating against these illnesses, even when they don’t pop up much anymore? Vaccinating large groups of people for diseases that have become rare is what keeps them rare, Casares says. “Scientists call this ‘herd immunity,’” Casares says. “Even though we don’t see these diseases often, they can still re-emerge if there’s not enough immunity in a community.” Herd immunity is especially important for members of the population who aren’t able to get vaccinated. For example, children can’t get a measles vaccine until they’re a year old, so it’s up to the adults around them to get vaccinated to avoid spreading the illness. Johnson refers to diseases like these as “opportunistic,” on the lookout for any entry-

“Any delay in vaccines just is putting your child at risk for these serious conditions.” point to spread. “Even though you don’t hear about these cases, these things are still there,” Johnson says. “And if you don’t vaccinate against it, it’s like an open door.” Just because there hasn’t been a local outbreak of a disease in a while doesn’t mean the disease is gone for good. “It doesn’t make news when you say, ‘Oh, we didn’t see a case of measles this year,’” Stephens says. “But these are serious illnesses that vaccines prevent.” Some parents might be wary about vaccinating their children for different reasons. How can they manage some of

these anxieties? Casares says that while parents might have some hesitations surrounding vaccines, it’s important to remember that they’re important to keeping children healthy and safe. “It’s completely understandable that parents may worry about vaccinating their children,” Casares says. “It’s important to remember that the risk of not vaccinating kids is significantly higher than any side effects associated with the vaccines themselves.” Johnson advises parents to “stay away from Dr. Google,” as much of the information online is put out by individuals not qualified to give medical information to generate clicks. She also recommends doctor-reviewed sites like if parents are on the look out for information online. If you have questions about vaccines or anything on the immunization schedule, don’t be afraid to ask. “It’s important to talk with your pediatrician or other trusted health professionals to make sure your questions are answered and you feel confident getting the vaccine,” Stephens says.

February 2024 | Brooklyn Family



Choosing a Catholic School Education By Stacey eBert


dear friend of mine holds the role of a dedicated teacher at a Catholic School. Despite her extensive background in teaching at Catholic institutions, the narrative took a charming turn when it came to choosing the educational journey for her young daughter, who embarked on her kindergarten adventure this year. She navigated the decision-making process by engaging in profound reflection on her and her husband, also a Catholic school teacher - individual experiences, contemplating the unique qualities of her little one, evaluating the compatibility of the school environment, and weighing the potential benefits for her family. Whether this resonates as part of your narrative or is a consideration for the upcoming generation of learners, I encourage you to delve into thorough research, pose thoughtful questions, explore various options, and ultimately make the optimal decision for your student and family. Choosing an educational path is always a process. Whether it’s been in your wheelhouse for decades or you’re new to the experience. Here are some things to consider. What is a Catholic School? Catholic schools are private institutions, faithbased, and associated with the Catholic Church. Steeped in religious traditions, these schools aim to offer a solid academic course load coupled with high expectations, spiritual learning, and a commitment to community. Catholic schools are open to those of any faith, offer scholarships to combat tuition costs, often require a uniform, and focus on instilling the principles and values of the Catholic religion. Each school’s curriculum differs. While most incorporate religious teachings or include religion classes geared by the Catholic Schools’ Office of the Dioceses, the principal and core staff often create the curriculum. Catholic schools tend to focus on a child’s education as a whole. Along with that commitment to excellence, educating a diverse population, and involving parents as a full partner in the child’s educational journey, more and more schools

14 | February 2024

today include rigorous course options, including the likes of International Baccalaureate Programs, Dual Language Immersion programs, virtual schools along with hybrid options, and teach to many visa-holding international students. (resource: NCEA) What’s your why Does this fit your child’s needs? Is it suitable for your family? Are you seeking a spiritual community connection through education? What do you hope your student will get out of this experience? What does that student think? When you can delve into the reasons behind your choice of school, the path through the logistics might feel a bit clearer. Catholic schools work closely with the local and regional Archdiocese. Through religion classes, academic curriculum, a school’s community, and code of conduct, religious tenets, and traditions filter into the entire school day. These private schools aim to instill a strong foundation of spiritual knowledge and actions of service in their student population so that upon graduation, these well-educated young people will have the building blocks to attain their goals, have strong religious bonds, are grounded in community, and may choose to take on leadership roles in their religion and the broader community at large. Continuing Community Enrolling in a private Catholic school offers students a sense of community. This environment provides space for excellence in academic rigor alongside a growing spiritual connection and ever-present collective community. This close-knit circle combines the likes of educators, parents, spiritual leaders, staff members,

advocates, alums, and the student body and offers opportunities for continued support and a shared mission and vision in that student’s educational and life journey. Many Catholic Schools incorporate service learning and activism. Engaging in this model, students have the opportunity to learn in class as well as outside of their core subjects. Community service activities are available and encouraged both in and outside the school day. Students often interact with non-profit organizations, government organizations, and private facilities where they can share their gifts, give back to a wider community, and develop into productive and engaged citizens. The Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, shares that core to the model of Catholic Schools is the ‘steadfast dedication to educational excellence and Catholic culture rooted in faith, service, and personal responsibility.’ (source: catholicschoolsny) Your Child and a Catholic School Education We recognize that each child thrives in unique environments, and what proves nurturing and suitable for one may differ for another. Take into account both your student’s needs and those of your family. Remember that your educational path will be a companion on this journey. Pay attention to your child’s thoughts, inquire about any concerns you may have, and be aware that financial assistance is accessible. Take the time to consider these significant decisions carefully in any education path you decide for your child. Some of our favorite resources for learning more about Catholic education are Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of New York (atholicschoolsny. org) and the Diocese of Brooklyn (

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We strive to unite youth, families, staff, teachers and the community at large in providing prospective and current students with the tools necessary to make sense of the ever changing world.

Locations throughout Brooklyn (CSD 13 &15) 718-643-1086 ext 4016 Brooklyn Prospect is a K-12 college preparatory network of seven schools where excellent educators support a diverse community of learners to explore their passions, make positive social change, and achieve strong academic outcomes. Brooklyn Prospect Schools is an International Baccalaureate (IB) world school community with the purpose of giving students the education they need to thrive in a global community. Brooklyn Prospect’s outstanding results can be credited to what happens when world class academics are combined with a commitment to racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and linguistic diversity in the classroom. In addition to outstanding music, arts, and theatre enrichment classes, all Prospect Schools have after-school programming until 6PM everyday and invest in students’ physical and mental wellbeing with outdoor activities, sports and socio-emotional curriculum built into every school day.

Broome Street Academy Charter High School 121 Avenue of the Americas 646-969-6797 admissions@ Broome Street Academy, a public charter high school in SoHo, offers a dynamic environment with holistic resources including arts, college, and career programs, co-located with The Door. Social workers provide individualized support and dedicated teachers guide students toward graduation. BSA also offers athletics, clubs, and AP courses. Applications for the 9th-grade lottery for the 2024-2025 school year are open until April 1,2024 with limited seats available for 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students.

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Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, Flatbush, & Canarsie 718- 989-6730 Explore Schools of Brooklyn has committed to the charge

of providing students with the academic skills and critical thinking abilities they need to succeed in a college preparatory high school. They serve students in grades Kindergarten through 8 across central Brooklyn, NY. Their curriculum is aligned to the common core, and they are committed to creating a culturally responsive program, and provide special education services. Their academic program is strong, as more of their students perform proficiently or higher on NYS Exams than other city and district public schools. Now enrolling for the current and upcoming school year welcome you to join their growing community.

Hellenic Classical Charter School 646 5th Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11215 718-499-0957 The Hellenic Classical Charter Schools provide their diverse student populations with a rigorous education enriched with the classical study of the Greek and Latin languages, Paideia Socratic Seminars, and career and college ready curriculum, preparing students for long term academic success. HCCS-Park Slope was named a National Blue Ribbon School in 2019. HCCS ranks among the top New York City charter schools and is designated a Repeat Reward School and High Performing School by the New York State Education Department.

Williamsburg Charter High School 198 Varet St., Brooklyn 347-217-6995 WCHS unites youth, families, staff, teachers and the community at large in providing young people with the tools necessary to become citizens of the local and global community. Students at WCHS accomplish this through participation in a liberal arts education that includes language, literature, writing, science, history, mathematics, the visual and performing arts, technology and explorations in justice, independent thinking, respect and compassion for themselves and others as well as critical thinking, communication and research.

Free, public, and open to all Serving K-12 in Districts 13 & 15 Brooklyn, New York The full K-12 Experience Students have a seat with us from kindergarten through high school graduation Global Education A student-centered, diverse learning community built on the tenets of the International Baccalaureate program. Experienced Educators Teachers and staff with vast experience help ALL of our students succeed

Excellent Enrichment Extracurriculars include: • Spanish and Mandarin language classes • Sports and Arts programming • STEM Activities • Leadership Groups 100% Of students who start with Prospect Schools in the 6th grade enroll in a 4-year college or university – they also score an average of 100 points higher on the SAT

APPLY TODAY to begin your K-12 journey with us! • • 718-643-1086 x4006 121 6th Ave, New York, NY 10013 • 212-453-0295

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February 2024 | Brooklyn Family


mom stories

Mirror on the Wall Reflections on beauty & aging By Drew IsserlIs Kramer


very night, I look in the mirror at the 39-year-old woman staring back at me. I am not young. I am not old. But things are changing. I pluck a gray hair and wonder, do I have jowls? Are my lips wrinkling, or am I just dehydrated? In truth, I don’t take great care of myself. I don’t moisturize enough. I don’t speak the language of dermatology. Sometimes I forget to wear a hat. I wonder what will happen if I continue down this course. Will I look like a little old lady while everyone else I know has the skin of a baby’s bottom? What will I look like if I look 87? The rebellious side of my personality toys with being a silver fox. What if I let my skin leather with decades of happy summers in the sun? Maybe I can be a fearless, cool crone like Iris Apfel. In some ways, I can present as low maintenance. I’ll never be a woman with a perfect manicure or blowout, but I have a vibe and my own vices. I haven’t taken the leap into injectables because I am scared. I work out three days a week and start the day with a Gwenyth Paltrow intermittent fast until lunch to keep carbs, cheese, and wine in my major food groups. There are months that I become fed up with my graying hair and impulsively drive to a salon for a single process rinse. Maybe I am not ready to look old. In today’s filtered online world, no one needs to look old. Mainstream photo-editing tools like Facetune and Instagram’s Paris filter shrink my pores and waistline in a swipe and a pinch. Such advances in technology and media created our youth-obsessed culture and standards of beauty so unattainable that even celebrities cannot keep up. In December 2023, 56-year-old actress Maria Bello made headlines for lamenting that “every housewife on TV was seemingly getting younger” while she was getting older. Try she did to beat the clock, but it only brought misery and pain. Eventually, she learned to “own it.” Self-acceptance is always the goal, but every day every woman must confront the mirror and ask herself: is this the best she can do? The best one can do is a personal assess-

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ment. It is the lowest amount of work one is willing to put in to look and feel presentable when leaving the house. While this changes depending on the occasion, for the purpose of this examination, my personal best will be defined as good enough to run into an old friend on the street without feeling naked in my aging face. As I grapple with the shifting shape of my head, I consult the women in my life to understand how they approach growing older. My first call is to my lawyer and mother, who is 69. I asked her if I could refer to myself as “coming from vain people ‘’ in print without offending her. She responds with knowing agreement. She believes that her mother, a beautiful woman with never a blonde hair out of place, would be “rolling over in her grave to know that her daughter let her hair go white.” During the pandemic, my mother went cold turkey on hair dye, declaring herself free. “As you get older,” she says, “everything changes.” While she no longer cares much about clothes or makeup, she admits she misses her blonde era. Asked for her current definition of “good enough,” she says she doesn’t want to give up Botox because she doesn’t want to “look like a hag.” My first lesson in aging: everyone has a relationship with appearance and their own line for its maintenance, one that might shift over time. At the mention of Botox, I call Dr. Margo

Lederhandler–the go to dermatologist of my thirty-something mom friends in Westchester, NY. My first line of questions came from my observation of a group of 29-year-old girls at a neighboring table at a restaurant. In a discussion of their addiction to Botox, one joked that she “didn’t know what was in it, but didn’t care.” When probed about the science and risk factors of looking good, Dr. Lederhandler expertly detailed the history of Botulinum toxin-A, first used as an ophthalmological treatment in the 1970s. When injected into the nerve under the skin near the eye, doctors saw offensive muscle spasms go away with a wrinkle reduction bonus. This cosmetic purpose was FDA approved in 2002, launching a multimillion-dollar antiaging revolution of injectable products that smooth lines and fill sag. Aside from the occasional bruise or a reversible eyelid or eyebrow droop, Dr. Lederhandler assures that the risks are low when the facial anatomy is assessed properly. Reassured that the toxins that freeze muscles won’t scramble my brain, I ask Dr. Lederhandler if I’ve missed my boat not starting at 29. What’s the deal with preventative? She advises patients to “begin injectables when bothered by lines that remain when the face is at rest.” The lines on the skin show signs of repeated muscle movement. The longer those lines are ingrained, the harder

it will be to erase them. In that sense, earlier can be better. As we ponder the many other options to prevent aging, my mind races. Overwhelmed by the magnitude of treatments that range from surgical to injectable to topical to lasers, Dr. Lederhandler brings me back to the present with the admission: It is OK to age. “We will all age,” she reminds. “Some people don’t want to be lineless.” For her patients and herself, her goal is “not to defy aging, but to look like the best version of herself.” She uses injectables, lasers, topicals and sunscreen to help patients look rested and refreshed. To Dr. Lederhandler, “aging gracefully does not mean giving up; rather, it is to help patients understand what is reasonable and to feel good in their skin.” Armed with more information, I toy with the idea of a laser to keep my pores cute for in real-life encounters on the street. As I consider the many other things I could do with the price of eternal youth, I slink back into my regular life. While chatting with my writer friend Fran Scheffler, I ask her how she approaches beauty as she ages. A stunning silver fox at 77, I learned that her dark hair started to go gray at the age of 15. In college, she got away with a Clarol wash-in

Self-acceptance is always the goal, but every day every woman must confront the mirror and ask herself: is this the best she can do? shampoo, but in her early 30s, she “stopped needing to be that vain” and embraced the slow transformation of age. Reflecting on the impact of her own mother’s vanity, she adds, “in her mother’s generation, dress, makeup and hair was an artform.” It was very important to keep herself looking good. Fran attributes her more simple approach to beauty to the validation she received for her intelligence. With a Ph.D. in Speech, Language, and Hearing, her work as a clinician and academic shifted her focus to bigger things than the mirror. While she worries

that “women who are too caught up in looks believe that is all they offer,” she admits that “the women who do nothing look unkempt.” Anything too extreme is unhealthy. Today, Fran wants to look healthy. As we discussed her style and new hair styling tool, it struck me that a little vanity is important. It is healthy to care about one’s physical appearance. Keeping the body mentally and physically fit is not an irrational quest for youth and beauty. Instead, I rebrand it a pursuit of wholeness in mind, body, and spirit. It is a commitment to accept what is while, as my Grammy would say, “doing the most with what we have.” If it takes a facelift or a crisp new pair of blue jeans to confront the mirror and move on to a greater purpose, you receive no judgment here. I cannot predict how I will feel or the lengths I will go to feel like I am my best self. We all struggle to accept change at every age. If we are lucky, we will get to mourn the youthful glow that recedes with each passing year and become accustomed to a new face in the mirror. Aging is scary, but I do like the person that I am becoming. My collagen is waning, but my chutzpah grows.

Piano Lessons For Everyone 135 Eastern Parkway across from the Brooklyn Museum

Experienced, friendly teacher with MA in Music Student recitals twice a year • Six foot concert grand piano Near 2, 3, 4 & 5 Subways

Call me and let’s talk about what you or your child would like to learn

Call Beth Anderson-Harold: 718-636-6010 or Email:

February 2024 | Brooklyn Family




CampS Crafting memories this summer


onths before summer, many parents entertain an age-old question: how can we make this summer special for their kids? One tradition is summer sleepaway camps. Sleepaway camps nourish kids while giving them a break from everyday routine, whether from the city or from playing videos all day (#iykyk.), This allows kids to step out of their comfort zones after a long school year and explore new or familiar friendships in a supportive and supervised setting. These camp experiences contribute to personal development, resilience, and a deeper connection. The best part is that there is a camp for every kid that is the perfect fit for a fantastic summer. Check out our picks!

Camp Tuku Huguenot, N.y., 12746 928-224-5855,

Camp Chateaugay 233 Gadway Road, merrill, Ny 12955

Tucked away on the pristine shores of a beautiful mountain lake in New York’s Adirondacks, Camp Chateaugay has been the summer “home away from home” for campers aged 7 -17 years old, since 1946. Camp Chateaugay is a co-ed, traditional, sleep-away summer camp focused on building independence, self confidence and friendships as well as providing world-class training in a variety of land sports, water sports, and arts — all while having fun and creating life-long memories. Camp Chateaugay offers campers the chance to unplug from technology and connect with nature. They provide a safe, inclusive, and supportive environment with experienced and passionate staff who are dedicated to ensuring every camper has an unforgettable summer, filled with fun, learning and growth.

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Camp Tuku is a traditional sleepaway camp with a mindful approach! With summer camps hosted in Mayer, Arizona, and Huguenot, NY, Camp Tuku welcomes girls and boys ages 6-17 from all over the country. In everything they do – from yoga, innovations, archery, low ropes, arts & crafts, swimming, and pet care – they do it mindfully, always integrating the mind, body, and heart to build resilience in their campers! In collaboration with Emory University’s Center for Contemplative Science (The Center), Camp Tuku has integrated its mindfulness summer camp program with The Center’s SEE Learning™ curriculum, integrating competencies, resources, and skills that support kids’ well-being and flourishing. Campers will build relationships and focus on community while building resilience, confidence, focus, reflection, and awareness.

Dorothy P Flint 4-H Camp

Frost Valley YMCA

3186 Sound Ave. Riverhead NY 11901

2000 Frost Valley Road, Claryville, NY 12725 845-985-2291,

Dorothy P.Flint 4-H Camp is proudly embarking on its 100th year of creating unforgettable memories! Nestled on the picturesque Long Island Sound in Riverhead, NY, the 140-acre co-ed overnight and day camp is a haven for campers aged 5-16. DPF 4-H Camp celebrates diversity and provides a nurturing environment for youth to reach their fullest potential as capable, competent, and caring citizens. 4-H educational programs are designed to inspire curiosity, creativity, and a love for learning in our natural world, ensuring that each camper’s experience is fun and enriching. Programs in Archery, Nature & Ecology, Outdoor Living & Cooking, Farm & Agriculture, Sport & Recreation, Performing Arts, and Visual Arts & Crafts.

Frost Valley YMCA is the premier summer camp in the heart of New York’s Catskill Mountains, just a few hours from New York City. At Frost Valley YMCA, your camper can participate in sports, arts and crafts, hiking, horseback riding, rock climbing, canoeing, swimming, singing, storytelling around the campfire, sleeping underneath a canopy of stars, and so much more! Frost Valley is guided by 8 core values: caring, community, diversity, honesty, inclusiveness, respect, responsibility, and stewardship, which are infused into all camp programs. At Frost Valley, children and teens become campers for life. Help your child experience the magic of camp for the upcoming Summer of 2024! Tiered pricing and financial assistance are available.

Ghostlight Theater Camp

Incarnation Camp

7 Camp Eastwood Circle 207- 358-0641,

253 Bushy Hill Road, Ivoryton, CT 06442

Unleash the Spotlight at Ghostlight Theater Camp! Elevate your child’s summer with the ultimate stage experience! Their unrivaled productions, dynamic classes, and engaging activities set them apart as the premier theater camp. Immerse your young stars in a world of creativity where every moment is a chance to shine. At Ghostlight, they cultivate more than talent; they build confidence and independence. Their carefully crafted program empowers campers to discover their unique voices, fostering lifelong skills that extend beyond the stage. With top-notch instructors, cutting-edge productions, and a supportive community, your child will leave Ghostlight Theater Camp with newfound skills and a shining sense of self.

Incarnation Camps - Wilderness adventure & classic summer camp fun! Located in coastal Connecticut, on over 700 wooded acres surrounding a mile-long private lake, Incarnation Camps are the country’s oldest coed camps. Since 1886, they have provided programming that offers funfilled, traditional camp experiences with experiential learning and many options for campers, including ceramics, sports, woodworking, arts & crafts, sailing, archery, farm care, music, and so much more! Campers are guided through well-rounded & adventurous programs that develop an appreciation for nature & celebrate the uniqueness of each individual. Incarnation Camp programs serve over 1000 campers each summer, and our alumni network is far-reaching. February 2024 | Brooklyn Family



Woodward Action Sports Camp Pocono Springs Camp 48 Pocono Springs Way, East Stroudsburg PA 18302

Located in the Pocono Mountains, just 75 miles from NYC, Pocono Springs offers a unique concept in the world of sleepaway camps: a traditional co-ed camp experience in a 5-week program. Their five-week program allows families to provide their children with a full-season summer camp experience while also having the flexibility for family travel, specialty camps, and other summer fun outside of camp. Additionally, they’re not a session camp! This means every camper starts and ends together - creating a truly cohesive community filled with down-to-earth families and mature staff who are genuinely excited to be part of your camper’s growth. A three-week “intro program” is available for 1st year campers entering grades 2nd-5th.

Woodward, PA 814-349-5633,

For those who love action sports, a week at Camp Woodward is beyond anything you could imagine. With a more than 50-year legacy of teaching kids the art of balance and agility, Woodward knows what it takes to learn and progress in the most popular action sports. That is why they have built the most innovative parks, hired the most capable instructors, and partnered with the world’s top action sports athletes to create the ultimate summer camp experience. All located on a beautiful 48-acre campus, the summer camp experience at Woodward includes a wide range of recreation activities in addition to sports instruction and competition. Plus, Woodward’s supportive community, fueled by a shared passion for action sports culture, lifts all athletes and ignites their complete potential. There’s simply no place like it.

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Get Ready for the Camp Fair! New York Family Camp Fairs are a great place to start your summer camp search


ummer always seems to creep up on us fast here in NYC, so it’s time to start prepping your camp plans. And one major one is Summer Camp! Instead of facing these decisions alone, head over to New York Family’s Camp Fairs, where you’ll learn about all the many camp options for your kiddos. This year, there will even be promotions, games, raffles, art & crafts, face paintings, and more—all for free. First, let’s go over what to look for and important tips so you can find the best camp for your kids.

Types of camps Sleep away camps: Considering a sleep away camp this summer? These camps are great for boosting your kid’s independence and confidence. They’ll learn how to do things on their own, returning back in August as self-sufficient campers! Sleep away camps also improve social skills, helping your little ones form friendships outside of school. While you might be nervous to send your kids away for the summer, asking the right questions at the Camp Fairs can help! Read on for a handy checklist. Day camps: You’re probably already familiar with the classic day camp. These are great for keeping your kids entertained (and active!) during the day. If your kids are hoping to do a little bit of everything– sports, arts & crafts, games– then a general day camp may be the way to go. They often have a “choose your own adventure” structure, where kids can choose what they want to do. Special interest camps: Does your child have a unique interest or skill they can’t stop talking about? Help your child nurture this passion through special interest camps. These might include dance, arts & crafts, STEM, sports and theater. Your kids will be sur-

rounded by other campers who are also excited about that interest, and specialized camp directors who are experts in their fields! Camp Fair checklist for parents Ready to attend a Camp Fair? Here are some of the questions to ask directors and counselors so you can find the perfect camp: • Can you walk me through a typical day for my child? • What time is drop off/pick up? Do you offer aftercare? • What background or experience do the camp counselors have? (Especially important for special interest camps!) • What kind of safety procedures or systems do you have in place in case of emergency? (Especially important for sleepaway camps!)

• What will my kids learn this summer? • What makes this camp special? Can you share the camp mission or values? • Does the camp offer financial aid or scholarship support? Ready to learn more about when and where these Camp Fairs are taking place this year? Read on for the details! New York Family’s 2024 Camp Fair is coming to you! Brooklyn Family Camp Fair Saturday, 3/2, 12-3pm at Brooklyn Public Central Library, 10 Grand Army Plaza

Brooklyn families are invited to the Camp Fair to browse summer camps in 2024. Head over to the library to connect with camp counselors and directors and sign up for tours. February 2024 | Brooklyn Family


just for parents

40 Winter Date-nights

Romantic and fun ideas for couples on Valentine’s Day ... or any winter day! By Jeannine Cintron


njoying time alone weekly or at least monthly is a major component of any healthy relationship. It doesn’t always have to be a fancy dinner by candlelight, either. Sometimes, you just have to think outside the box. Here are some great date ideas for celebrating Valentine’s Day in and around NYC that range from romantic to simple to slightly scandalous. Have fun, you crazy kids!

points for romance, but you’ll definitely have fun (and maybe relieve a little stress, too). Comedy Club. Comedy clubs are a classic

but underrated date idea. The setting is very intimate, yet you’re guaranteed to spend the night laughing together. Pro tip: don’t sit in the front row unless you can take a joke at your own expense. Botanical Garden. Despite its urban status,

areas showcase many scenic spots that offer the perfect, picturesque backdrop for a shareworthy date selfie. Go window shopping on 5th Ave., walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, or head to one of the many boardwalks on a nice day for a seaside stroll.

New York is home to many lush botanical gardens, perfect for walking arm-in-arm while taking in the beauty of the many floral displays. The world-famous NYBG spans over 250 acres and is located in the Bronx, but there are gardens in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, New Jersey and Long Island that will create the perfect backdrop for a romantic date night.

Just Stay In. Plan an indoor picnic for two,

Rent an Igloo. Also called bubble tents, these

complete with baskets and blankets. Or rent a movie and cozy up on the couch with some popcorn. Try a board game night for something with a quicker pace (get more players if you make it a double date). Sometimes, you just make your own fun.

translucent, heated domes started popping up in the pandemic era to allow for outdoor dining while still technically inside, and they never really went away. Many restaurants - particularly rooftop ones in NYC - still offer this experience. You can pair it with some skating (or Bumper Cars on Ice!) in Bryant Park and Wollman Rink in Central Park.

Scenic Stroll. NYC and the surrounding

York is home to many sprawling mansions and historic estates - some hundreds of years old that are open to the public for exploring? Visit to see which ones pique your interest. Attend a Show-Taping. If you and your date are big fans of a show taped in NYC - there are many - why not score some tickets to see it taped live? Think SNL, Jimmy Fallon, The View, Drew Barrymore, The Daily Show, etc. Trivia Night. Many local bars offer trivia

nights where participants can sip brews and compete in live quiz games for prizes, answering questions about everything from sports to pop culture, history and more. If you watch Jeopardy daily in your house, this is the perfect date. Cooking Class. Is the way to your partner’s

Central Park. According to a survey con-

ducted by, Central Park is the 9th most romantic place to propose in the world, based on social media data. But you don’t have to get down on one knee to enjoy the city’s most iconic park. Have a picnic, take a walk, go skating - make an afternoon of it. Just pick a warmer day if you’re not big on being cold. Candlelight Concert. These dreamy

concerts are all about ambiance. Watch a live concert with your date in an intimate setting, surrounded by a sea of candles. Candlelight concerts have grown immensely in popularity in the last few years, so naturally, there are plenty scheduled for this winter in NYC. Axe-Throwing. Axe-throwing locations have

been popping up around NYC in the last few years, and it’s easy to see why. They’re a great group activity, but they can make for an exciting date night as well. You might not get any

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heart through their stomach? Many restaurants offer classes where patrons can learn new culinary skills that will impress them. It’s a great way for couples to bond over a shared love of food. Arcade. Classic arcade games, video games, air hockey, virtual reality, plus food and cocktails; you can’t go wrong when you get to be a kid and an adult all at once. It’s the fun-loving couple’s perfect date destination.

Hot Chocolate Date. Can’t get away from

the kids for too long? Go for a cozy cup of steaming cocoa instead at one of NYC’s many famed hot chocolate spots. Speakeasy Bar-Hopping. Unlike when

they started during the Prohibition era, these secret bars and cocktail lounges are perfectly legal today. They’re just not that easy to find. If you and your date are the adventurous type, speakeasy bar hopping is perfect for you. It just requires a little bit of basic research.

Dance Class. Are you more Fred & Ginger or

Elaine from Seinfeld? Dancing together can be a wonderful way to get closer to your partner. Many dance studios offer adult dance classes or even private lessons. Archery/Shooting Range. Maybe you

want to share your love of hunting with the one you love; maybe you’re both really into the Walking Dead. Either way, an archery class or a trip to the shooting range is definitely a different kind of date night.

Museum Late Nights. Some museums offer

late-night hours where the vibe is a little more mature, sometimes even offering cocktails. Most notable is Date Night at the Met (Fridays and Saturdays). Tour an Estate. Did you know that New

Rooftop Bars. NYC’s many rooftop bars of-

fer a way to appreciate the views while sipping a cocktail and enjoying each other’s company. NYC has the best views, after all. Many open in the winter if the weather is above freezing - just remember to bundle up.

too cold outside, opt for an indoor rink, of which there are plenty in and near NYC. Hot chocolate afterward is a must, either way! Bookstore or Library. Bond over books! Stop by a bookstore or library and pick something you will both enjoy, then cuddle up by the fireplace at home and get lost in the pages together. The Zoo. If you both love animals, and you

love each other, then a zoo date is a win/win. While some seasonal exhibits are closed in the winter months, most zoos are open all year round. At the Bronx Zoo, you can even name a roach after each other (or each other’s ex). Yoga. Nama-stay together this Valentine’s Day! Enjoy a yoga class together or schedule a private lesson for date night. Volunteer. Giving back to those in need can help couples to strengthen their own connection while doing a good deed together.

Bargain Hunting. This date night idea

screams thrifty couple goals. Map out a list of flea markets and vintage shops nearby (there are TONS in our area) and make a day of it! Dinner Cruise. Sometimes, dinner cruises can feel a little touristy but they offer stunning panoramic views that you can’t get anywhere else. Unless you ride the Staten Island Ferry a lot, which is not the worst - and certainly the cheapest - alternative. In fact, there are some great restaurants where the ferry docks on Staten Island’s North Shore to try.

can snuggle up and catch a new (or newish) movie On Demand or via a streaming service from your couch. There’s also year-round drive-in theaters, dine-in theaters, and even some that throw public viewing parties, like Alamo Drafthouse, which has locations in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island.

Rock Climbing. You’ve probably been to a kids’ birthday party where there was rock climbing, but this activity is fun for grown-ups, too. Test your physical endurance on the wall, and maybe impress your date!

jam-packed with eateries boasting beautiful views and even better food.

Escape Room. Not many dates start off with people locked in a room together. Escape rooms require participants to solve riddles and puzzles in order to make their way out of a series of closed rooms. It’s the perfect date idea for the adventurous couple.

Museum-Hopping. There are so many muse-

Spa Day. Pamper yourselves with a relaxing

there are so many to choose from and you’ll easily find something to fit your budget.

ums and cultural institutions in NYC you could never visit them all. We love a museum date because there’s plenty of material to spark good conversation for the most cultured of couples.

massage after a busy week, get a couples’ pedicure, soak in a hot tub, hot the sauna; the point is to slow the pace and enjoy time together.

Cosmic Bowling. Cosmic bowling takes a

Paint and Sip. Show off your art skills (or

regular (read: boring) game of bowling and elevates it with neon lights, upbeat music and a glowing atmosphere. Check your nearest bowling alley to see when and if it is offered.

comical lack thereof) with the added bonus of sipping tasty cocktails while you and your date paint the night away.

See a Show. Catch a play on or off Broadway;

Grab a Bite. NYC and surrounding areas are

Sign-Making. This DIY activity has grown Mixology Class. If a cooking class is a little more work than you want to do on date night, but you still want to try something new, a mixology class should do the trick. Learn how to make all kinds of delicious cocktails - then drink them!

in popularity tremendously over the past few years, probably because it’s so much fun to do and you get to take home the finished product to hang proudly in your home. For an entertaining twist, make a sign for your date and vice versa.

Movie Night. Remember when you had to go to a theater to watch a movie? But today you

Ice Skating. Ice skating can be romantic for couples who want to glide along. If it’s a little

Get a Room. Sometimes a few hours away is just not enough. Book a night at one of the countless luxurious hotels around the city and spend the time reconnecting. Roller Skating. Hit the local roller rink later on at night for some grown-up skating time. Why not make it even more fun with a 50’s theme, sipping a milkshake with two straws afterward. Wine-Tasting. Most local wineries offer wine-tasting nights, where various types of wine are served with appetizers. Occasionally they include demonstrations as well. Romantic? Yes. Fun? For sure. February 2024 | Brooklyn Family


A New York Love Story Sophie Demenge on founding with her husband Michael, the children’s lifestyle brand Oeuf and how family is first for both her brand and life

By Serena norr


or many New Yorkers, when one hears any conversation regarding the brand Oeuf (, the line French born Sophie Demenge started over 20 years ago with her husband, Michael Ryan, many have the same reaction, mostly of Ahhh. Memories may toggle somewhere from nostalgia to aspirational home goals. For us parents who now have kids in their tween and teenage years, we have memories of that dreamy baby stage where we chose a unique item or two (or three!) and placed it delicately in our baby’s room or carefully hunged in the closet. Then we recall with a warmth how each room, each closet, was eventually upgraded to reflect a new stage with Oeuf’s beautiful pieces. Which is the point. Oeuf was created to design their daughters’ room with a modern and high quality (non-existent at the time) that evolved into a brand renowned for its modern, sustainable, and durable furniture and clothing. This further expanded when their son was born, and they haven’t looked back. Over the years, their Prospect Park home - particularly the kids’ rooms - became the backdrop of many photoshoots (where we recently enjoyed spending time during this cover shoot!). Today, Sophie, Michael, and their small team (which is a family affair as it sometimes includes help from their kids: Mae, now 21, and Marius, now 19) continue to be strongly rooted in their values of craftsmanship and quality. Much of Sophie’s design and focus on sustainability comes from her background growing up in France, surrounded by quality products that weren’t thrown away. Oeuf and family are still growing as the brand and Sophie, now an empty nester, evolve into new designs and new adventures. Read on to learn more about this seasoned mom and entrepreneur who embraces life - and her business - with heart, love, and a mission to always stay true to herself.

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Tell us about the history of Oeuf and how you and your husband, Michael Ryan, created it 21 years ago? We kind of created it by necessity because in 2002, there was really nothing. It was a very different landscape in the kids’ design space, especially in furniture. At the time, we actually had another design business for grownups where we were creating ceramics wood, one-of-a-kind pieces, and metal pieces. Since we had that business, we already had a design studio in Brooklyn. So, when I was expecting, Michael and I started looking around for furniture where we realized that there was this giant gap. So, we decided to make everything for my daughter in the studio, and it took off. At first, we actually didn’t plan on making it a business. The pieces were just for her. We curated and made her rugs, the bedding, the crib, all the furniture, and the toys. It was really, really fun to do. When they went to the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in NYC where we presented some of our kids’ stuff. A few weeks later, we were in The New York Times! It was incredible, but I think people saw that there were items out there that weren’t made well or clunky. Plus, they weren’t a variety of great design and kids were not kind of honored that way. We kept designing things for the kids and continued to expand. Two-and-a-half years later, I had my son, Maus and then we made a toddler bed. We then made a desk, a bunk bed, and expanded to clothing. While we did still have the other business, we realized that what we were creating at Oeuf was a lot more fun and went for it. What has been the experience like working with your husband? We do very different things that compliment each other. We have a division of labor and tasks. It has changed and evolved over the years. Sometimes it does feel like we are in a never-ending round of couples therapy and other times it’s exhilarating. I

think it’s important to be able to separate marriage and our work relationship a little bit. We also know each other so well and know when we need to leave when one of us needs a bit more space. We’re also both goofballs and laugh a lot. I think that’s the super glue in the relationship. I also still feel like we’re in this 20-year-old startup where we’re still learning. We’ve had to adapt together really quickly, and even when we feel like we have a handle on things, something else happens. This is very similar to parenting and nice to know that Michael is the one I can bounce ideas off of and connect with about everything from parenting to business. Have you ever felt the need to change your products over the years to conform to trend? We believe in staying true to ourselves and I don’t think we are influenced by the outside world. We try to do what makes sense and we’re not trying to please anyone or even guess what people want. As with our history, we created what was best for our own children and it resonated. We only launch a new product when we’re excited about something or when we feel like it is missing in the market. Tell us how your now-grown children are involved in Oeuf. It’s wonderful! They’ve done really everything from the behind the scenes styling to modeling when they were newborn to helping out at photo shoots or selling at sample sales! They’ve also grown up in this world since a lot of our photo shoots are held at home. They’re used to seeing stylists, photographers,and people come in and out of their rooms with equipment. The business has become a part of our creative family adventure. However, they do have their own lives- and I welcome them back to help whenever they are around. What was it like raising Mae and Marius in Brooklyn? How was it different from your experience growing up in Paris?

mothers who are inundated with products. I actually think you don’t need much. For example, in France we don’t throw things away. In our line, we encourage people to resell items, use them on other kids, or give them a friend. This is our sustainable model, which is rooted in our design and mission. Tell us about what it’s like now that your kids are older and you are in the empty nester phase - what are you excited about? I’m really excited when they come home but I also love seeing them out in the world and becoming their own people. I actually like being in the background (of their lives) where I almost become irrelevant. I think a great testament to my parenting is to let them shine and be their own people. In terms of my day-to-day, it freed up some time, including my mental time. Women and mothers take on so much that we don’t even realize. I feel like I was wearing these different backpacks - like what’s for dinner or appointments - that I don’t have to be burdened with. I’m also a new empty nester cause my son just graduated from high school so I haven’t even really figured out how I want to use this newfound energy. Especially, as a mom, I think we always put ourselves last. I don’t even know what I would love to be doing yet, because I’m so used to doing everything for everybody else. It’s also shocking (in a good way) to have this time. I think having more time with friends, and even reading a book is going to be amazing. There’s this French comedian who says that being an empty nester is kind of like being a teenager with a credit card. I resonate with that a lot in this stage.

Photo by Yumi Matsuo

I started out as a mom in the East Village. When May was two, two years old, we moved to Brooklyn. I wanted her to have a community and roots. I find Brooklyn very similar to Paris in that way. When I grew up in Paris, I always walked to school, which is similar to how they grew up in Park Slope. We used to walk everywhere. When they were younger, the kids would walk to the orthodontist or to their friends’ house or for sleepovers. Brooklyn feels like a village (like Paris) that I love. I also love having access to Prospect Park, which is similar to my walks to the Luxembourg Garden. Now, it is also beautiful to see my kids’

connection to France. We all go all the time. My daughter actually lived there last year and wants to move back when she graduates. My son is there now, too! What do you think influences your design sensibility? I think design and creativity is very personal. We’re not really a big consumer type of family so I think there’s this French sensibility from how I grew up about quality and not quality. When we first started, we would tell people to buy less, really buy less. Especially young

Is there anything about the brand you’d like to share that people might not be familiar with. Consistency and quality is important to us where all of the furniture is made in Europe for the past 20 years. Michael often goes to Latvia where the products are made as well as Bolivia where our knitters live. We even invited the five original knitters to spend a week with us in Brooklyn. At the end of the day, our family (and the people who work for us) are interwoven in the business. At the end of the day that’s what really matters. Discover more about Oeuf at and on Instagram @oeufnyc.

This piece has been edited for clarity and brevity. To read the entire cover article please visit February 2024 | Brooklyn Family


calendar By Shara Levine


Lunar New Year Celebration & Balloontopia Dragon Edition WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 3, 11 am – 4 pm WHERE: City Point BKLYN, 445 Albee Square W., Fort Greene AGES: 3 – 10 WHAT: Celebrate Chinese New Year with traditional Lion Dances, Balloontopia Dragon Edition, Kids Lunar New Yearinspired crafts, and family portraits. WANT TO GO?: Free.

BAMkids Film Festival 2024 WHEN: Feb. 3-4, Saturday and Sunday, see website for schedule WHERE: BAM Peter Jay Sharp Building, 30 Lafayette Ave., Boerum Hill AGES: 3 and up WHAT: See some of this year’s best short films for kids from around the world including the latest and greatest animated, live action, and documentaries. WANT TO GO?: $14; $10 children; $9 members.

The Sleeping Beauty WHEN: Saturdays & Sundays 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm through April 14 and Feb. 19-23, 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm WHERE: Puppetworks Inc, 338 Sixth Avenue, Park Slope AGES: 3 and older WHAT: See Perrault’s fairy tale set to Tchaikovsky’s music and adapted for Marionettes. WANT TO GO?: $11; $10 children.

Michael & The Rockness Monsters at Jalopy Theatre WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 10, 11

Celebrate the Lunar New Year at CityPoint Brooklyn on February 3. am – 12 pm WHERE: Jalopy Theatre, 315 Columbia Street, Red Hook AGES: 8 and under WHAT: This interactive, super galactic – funk inspired, rockn-roll show is filled with catchy melodies that will get you on your feet. WANT TO GO?: $10; $5 kids. (718) 395–3214,

Lunar New Year Storytime with ShinYeon Moon: Laolao’s Dumplings WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 10, 11 am – 12 pm WHERE: Books Are Magic Montague, 122 Montague Street, Brooklyn Heights AGES: 4 – 8 WHAT: Enjoy this heartwarming story about community, culture, and belonging. WANT TO GO?: Free.

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Ti Atis with Haiti Cultural Exchange WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 10, 2 – 4 pm WHERE: Brooklyn Children’s Museum, 145 Brooklyn Ave, Crown Heights AGES: All WHAT: Bring your little ones to learn about and celebrate Haitian culture through activities and performances facilitated by Haitian artists. WANT TO GO?: Included with admission: $15. (718) 735– 4400,

The Rock and Roll Playhouse Plays the Music of Rihanna + More for Kids- Black History Month Celebration + Super Bowl Pre-Party WHEN: Sunday, Feb. 11, 12 – 1 pm WHERE: Brooklyn Bowl, 61 Wythe Avenue, Williamsburg

AGES: All WHAT: Don’t Stop the Music and celebrate Black History Month and the Super Bowl with the songs of Rihanna at this concert for kids. WANT TO GO?: $16.

Valentine’s Day Art Program: Marbled Hearts WHEN: Tuesday, Feb. 13, 3:30 – 4:30 pm WHERE: Kings Highway Library, 2115 Ocean Ave. (nr. Kings Highway), Sheepshead Bay AGES: 4 – 12 WHAT: Using shaving cream and washable paint to create a marble pattern on heartshaped paper that can become a special Valentine to give to a loved one! WANT TO GO?: Free.

February Harlem Globetrotters


pm & 1 pm. WHERE: Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd., Flushing AGES: 3 and older WHAT: Join Mr. Hatch as he searches for his secret admirer and enjoys the biggest surprise of his life in this heart-warming puppet play. WANT TO GO?: $5 pre-show workshop; show: $15; $8 children. (718) 463–7700,

WHEN: Sunday, Feb. 18, 1 pm WHERE: Barclays Center, 620 Atlantic Avenue, Boerum Hill AGES: All WHAT: See the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters as they dribble, spin, slam, and dunk their way past their relentless rivals, the Washington Generals. WANT TO GO?: Tickets start at $51.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey

Lunar New Year at the Garden

WHEN: Feb. 22, 7 pm; Feb. 23, 2 pm & 6 pm; Feb. 24, 11 am, 3 pm & 7 pm; Feb. 25, 11 am & 3 pm. WHERE: Barclays Center, 620 Atlantic Avenue, Boerum Hill AGES: All WHAT: Witness a spectacle of superhuman feats including daring and never-before-seen acts on a high wire, trapeze, bicycle, and much, much more. WANT TO GO?: Tickets start at $39.85.

WHEN: Sunday, Feb. 18, noon – 4 pm WHERE: Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main St, Flushing AGES: All WHAT: Celebrate the Year of the Dragon with lion dance performance, music, crafts, and more. WANT TO GO?: FREE; $5 Suggested Donation. (718) 886–3800, queensbotanical. org

Manhattan HERO’s ‘The Winter Forest of the Northern Lights’ WHEN: Daily, 11 am – 9 pm, through March 31. WHERE: Rockefeller Center, 45 Rockefeller Plaza, Midtown AGES: All WHAT: Step into an underground Winter Forest to explore seven zones of wonder and be transported to the ultimate viewing of the Aurora Borealis. WANT TO GO?: $20. hero-nyc. com

Michael & The Rockness Monsters perform at Jalopy Theatre on February 10. WHERE: The New Victory Theater, 209 W 42nd Street, Midtown AGES: All WHAT: See world recordholding athletes and artists show off their mad skills in freestyle basketball, BMX biking, breakdancing, acrobatics and more. WANT TO GO?: Tickets start at $24. (646) 223–3010,

Queens Family Concert: Cubop to Hip-Hop!

WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 10, 3 – 4:30 pm WHERE: LeFrak Concert Hall, 153-49 Reeves Ave, Flushing AGES: All WHAT: Get ready to groove to the infectious rhythms of Steven Salcedo’s Latin-Soul Group, a high-energy collective that features a blend of horns, percussionists, and vocalists. WANT TO GO?: $20. (718) 793–8080, kupferbergcenter. org

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 17, 2:15

The Magic School Bus: Lost In The Solar System

Afrique en Cirque WHEN: Sunday, Feb. 4, 4 pm WHERE: Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, Jerome Park AGES: All WHAT: Inspired by daily life in Guinea, see acrobats execute gravity-defying moves and human pyramids, accompanied by the contemporary sounds of live Afro-Jazz, percussion, and kora. WANT TO GO?: $43-$63. (718) 960–8833,

Blippi at The New York Botanical Garden

WHEN: Sunday, Feb. 11, 11 am WHERE: BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center, 199 Chambers St., Tribeca AGES: 5 – 12 WHAT: Hop on the bus and blast into outer space with Ms. Frizzle for an epic interplanetary field trip! WANT TO GO?: $40.

360 ALLSTARS WHEN: Feb. 17-March 3, see website for complete schedule.


Experience ‘The Winter Forest of the Northern Lights’ at Rockefeller Center through March.

WHEN: Feb. 19-25, Daily, 11 am, 1:30 pm, and 3:30 pm; except Feb. 22. WHERE: New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Blvd., Belmont AGES: All WHAT: Enjoy an interactive experience with Blippi that encourages kids’ curiosity of plants from seed to flower with a photo op after! WANT TO GO?: $35; $31 seniors 65 and older and students with ID; $15 ages 2-12. (718) 817–8700,

February 2024 | Brooklyn Family


family day out

Celebration of Elephants Must-see exhibit at American Museum of Natural History By BarBara russo


f you haven’t yet - it is time to walk into the new The Secret World of Elephants exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History, and you’ll get a sense of just how amazing these gentle giants are in the wild. In a narrow but sprawling curatorial space at the uptown museum, The Secret World of Elephants, now opened, tells the story of elephant species and their relatives through life-size models, videos, graphics, and more. “We are delighted to present The Secret World of Elephants, a comprehensive look at these intriguing and important animals and the latest scientific thinking about their abilities, environmental roles, social structure, history and future,” Sean M. Decatur, president of the American Museum of Natural History, said. “This exhibition is an example of what the American Museum of Natural History does so well: by starting at a point of shared curiosity and fascination we can share larger stories about evolution, the environment, animal behavior, and the interactions between human and animals, thereby expanding understanding of the natural world and our impact on it.” What to Expect at The Secret World of Elephants Some of us have been fortunate enough to see an elephant at a zoo or even in the wild. However, the new museum exhibit allows visitors of all ages to learn more about these beautiful creatures. The Secret World of Elephants offers so much insight into these animals through interactive exhibits including: A station where visitors can feel the extremely low sound waves elephants use— called infrasound—to send messages through the ground and to other elephants’ feet, which conduct vibrations up their legs and to their brains A life-size African elephant model with a video projection on one side of its body showing the skeleton of this massive mammal and

30 | February 2024

providing an inside look at how it processes the huge amount of food it eats—about 300–500 pounds per day—and elephant gestation, which can last for nearly two years, longer than any other living mammal A miniature elephant model that prompts visitors to turn a wheel to flap its ears, a process that helps elephants keep cool in hot environments And—brace yourself!—an exploration of elephant poop, featuring replica dung, that provides key nutrients for plants and other animals and helps expand plant ranges by transporting seeds. (Pretty fascinating!) Additionally, life-size models, including a scientifically accurate representation of a woolly mammoth shedding its fur, fossils and casts, and videos reveal the amazing story of these massive mammals. A Bit About Elephants It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t see how majestic elephants truly are. By the way, there are three species of elephants native to two continents: the African savanna, African forest and Asian elephant. But at one time, animals like this, who had tusks and trunks, lived on almost every continent and many islands. Although only these three elephant species remain, their abilities remain remarkable. Elephants’ trunks are strong enough to pull down a tree, yet nimble enough to pluck a single blade of grass. They communicate extensively with each other, maintaining complex emotional ties with other herd mem-

bers. They shape their environment, creating habitat for countless plants and animals. And over centuries of interactions with humans, they’ve been trained for war and work, and are powerful religious and political symbols across cultures. “Elephants are the world’s largest land animal, but we understand surprisingly little about them,” The Secret World of Elephants curator Ross MacPhee, curator emeritus in the museum’s department of mammalogy, said. “Researchers are working toward assembling a much more complete picture of elephants and we’re learning new secrets about their minds, bodies, and ecological importance every day. We also know elephants face an uncertain future. The global demand for ivory, along with climate change and habitat loss, are pushing them along the path to extinction. If we don’t act quickly, elephants could be gone before we ever truly get to know them.” What You Need to Know About Visiting the AMNH The American Museum of Natural History is located at 200 Central Park West, Manhattan. Hours: The museum is open daily, 10 am–5:30 pm; at presstime the exhibit has tickets available until June 30th, 2024. Tickets: Tickets that include admission to The Secret World of Elephants start at $28 for adults, $16.50 for children (ages 3-12) and $22.50 for seniors and students. Timed-entry tickets must be reserved in advance at amnh. org/tickets. For more information, visit

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• Meet Camp Directors • G

• Arts & Crafts • Free Treats • Face Painting

• Balloon Animals • Fun Photo Station • Prizes & more to come!

Saturday March 2, 2024 - 12pm to 3pm y Public Central Libraryy at 10 Grand Army Plaza Brooklyn Discovery and Fun all in one place, in one afternoon. Don’t miss out. Get your FREE ticket now!

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