Westchester Family - November/December 2020

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Nov/Dec 2020


Holiday Toy

Gift Guide! Brooklyn Mom

Vanessa Katzen on interior design, mixing it up at home and keeping your space cozy

Hit the Slopes Family-Friendly Upstate Ski Resorts

Thinking of Changing Schools? Consider a Catholic education for your child. Whether learning from home or in class, our schools and hearts are open! Are you interested in helping your child succeed academically in a caring, structured and safe environment? Or moving to a new home? If so, now is a good time to invest in a Catholic education. Catholic schools provide a curriculum based on faith, respect, and service to others. And our Math/ELA proficiency test scores have outpaced New York public schools for each of the last five years. Financial assistance is available; families who apply early have better chances of receiving an award. Online admissions for 2021-22 open on December 1! Apply online at CatholicSchoolsNY.org/apply or arrange a Virtual Visit. We invite you to see the value of a Catholic education: reserve your spot at one of the upcoming VIRTUAL Visit information sessions being hosted by participating schools. Upcoming VIRTUAL Visit Dates December 1 and January 19 Call our bilingual helpline (646) 794-2885 or visit CatholicSchoolsNY.org/visit-a-school to RSVP

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November/December 2020


pg. 30

pg. 28 pg. 18

pg. 36

FEATURES 8 | Health Expert tips on the “COVID back pain” phenomenon 18 | Holiday Gift Guide Toys and stocking stuffer gifts — perfect for holiday gifting 28| Celebrations Creative ways to enjoy life’s big days and memorable moments during COVID

36 | Vanessa Katzen | Home Made The founder of Decormate on blended family and making the home cozy 38 | Family Fun Winter fun at Winter Wonderland offers families a fun and safe way to celebrate the holidays

Directories 14 | Special Needs Listings

30 | Family Fun Get away to family-friendly ski resorts in Upstate New York

Stories & columns 6 | Editor’s Note Home and Holiday 12 | Ask The Expert James L. Hyer, Esq. on how to protect your child with special needs with a 3rd Party Supplemental Needs Trust 34 | Gear 7 smart car seat options for New York parents

on the Cover Photo: Yumi Matsuo | yumimatsuostudio.com Hair & Makeup: Buffy Hernandez | buffysaintmarie.com Art (in photo): Almagul Menlibayeva


WestchesterFamily.com | November/December 2020

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Editor’s Note

President Victoria Schneps-Yunis CEO Joshua Schneps

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

Nina Gallo Photography

Home and Holiday

We all know that gigantic map when at a mall or an amusement park, there is the red dot called an ideo locator declaring ‘you are here.’ This is how we can sum up where ‘we’ all are. We may have wanted to be somewhere different or this past year to not have had the hardships that many of us experienced, but we have and are still getting through it. For the colder weather and if looking to take a trip, we have an updated COVID piece on Family-Friendly Ski Resorts Upstate New York (page 30). For kids, the holidays are on. According to Marissa DiBartolo, Editor in Chief, The Toy Insider and the ‘insider’ who helped us on choosing some of the right gifts this year, “when you take away family vacations, trips to the zoo, and all kinds of things like that, you’re left with a little more budget to bring

some fun into the home. Toys are a great way to bring everyone together,” shares Marissa. Check out our Holiday Toy and Stocking Stuffer Guide, page 18. And while staying home is pretty much the theme right now, contributor Hester Aba (hester.co) chatted with this month’s cover mom, Vanessa Katzen (page 36) of Decormate, on interior design, mixing it up at home, blended family, and keeping it cozy. Lastly, thank you to all our contributors who helped us tremendously and continue to work on getting the stories, updates, and information out to you, the readers. We are grateful for your readership and the sense of community we have with you all. xo, Donna and New York Family Media

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

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Back Soreness and Pain in Kids Expert tips on the “COVID back pain” phenomenon, the pandemic’s unexpected side effect By Donna Duarte-LaDD, Dr. Christen russo


very day my son uses our living room as some sort of ninja gym. I would love to tell him to stop, but I live with it as I know he isn’t getting his usual exercise, and frankly, sitting in a chair all day is not great for any of us. This is why we chatted with Dr. Christen Russo, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, who shared with us about back pain in kids and when it is a red flag and time to check with your child doctor and most importantly, how to keep our kids active and (try to) lessen back problems.

You have been receiving many inquiries from parents about back pain in kids—is this ‘COVID back’? Prior to the COVID pandemic, I would see about two to three patients a month in the office with back pain. As a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, I still thought that was a lot – back pain in children, at any age, is not normal. All of a sudden this summer, as I started to see patients “normally” again, I was seeing back pain pop up on my schedule 2-3 times a day, sometimes seeing 5-10 patients a week with this complaint. I think there are a couple of reasons working together creating this “COVID back pain” phenomenon. First, our children are less active – there are little to no organized sports, sub-par physical education experience (despite teachers trying really hard!), lack of recess time – and children are supposed to be on the move. Depending on your child’s age, current guidelines suggest they need somewhere between 60 – 180 minutes of vigorous activity daily. The lack of activity is further compounded by a breakdown in our children’s ergonomics. We took for granted the important simplicity of a school desk, which really creates the ideal ergonomic environment for children to sit in and learn at for several hours a day. In March, many parents picked their children up from school never imagining they would still be sitting at our kitchen struggling to learn math from a Zoom teacher. Here we are though – and there’s a good chance that your child is not sitting with the best ergonomics on their side. This sets off


a cascade of poor posture that when combined with lack of physical activity is landing these children on my examination table. When in my office, parents are telling me a story of their children looking like hunchbacks and sometimes gaining weight. I notice a child sitting on the table sponsored by the letter “C,” a rounded back with their neck dipped as if they are holding a phone or tablet all the time. It has been eye opening. After seeing a few dozen children like this, I made it a mission to reach as many of my patients as possible to try and avoid this dreaded “COVID Back Pain.” I then got the idea to do a webinar, hoping to reach more people. With the help of three amazing pediatric physical therapists who I work with, we put together a short webinar for parents focusing on recognizing, treating, and preventing this condition. What sort of tips can help kids with these pains, do ergonomics help? Trying to recreate old routines from school

WestchesterFamily.com | November/December 2020

days, or create a new remote routine, is our best bet to try and move through some of this pain. A combination of structured activity combined with improved ergonomics should make a world of difference. As far as activity – making use of the few breaks teachers can give with a consistent stretching or yoga routine (or even running up and down the stairs!) can be extremely helpful. Having a morning routine, regardless of the remote learning schedule is a great way to set the tone for the day, and if possible parents and children can do it together – taking five to ten minutes in the morning together to start the day off right. Improved ergonomics does not have to mean spending hundreds of dollars on fancy chairs or standing desks. Simple is really best here – again, think back to the child’s school desk. An easy rule to remember is the 90-90-90 rule, which basically says everything should be at 90-degree angle to each other: feet on the floor, hips flexed sitting at 90 degrees, and eyes focused in front so the neck is not compro-

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mised. This may mean raising the tablet or computer to eye level (you can use boxes or books for this), placing cushions on chairs, and sometimes bringing the floor up to your child so their feet are resting on a box or stool. I know my son has 5 minutes to ten-minute breaks between Zoom classes, What can kids do on these breaks that help with back pain and neck soreness? I would recommend putting the screen away – even though it might be tempting to watch a TV show or something. For sure, get up and move! It can be something as complex as yoga or as simple as running up and down the stairs in your home or apartment building. Weather dependent of course, but perhaps a short walk or skip or jog, shooting hoops, or having a catch are other good options. When is the pain a sign that a doctor is needed? Like I mentioned, back pain in children is never normal. This “COVID Back Pain” is similar to adult-type low back pain – which is the 3rd most common reason to see a doctor in the United States! While it is a nuisance,

“There’s a good chance that your child is not sitting with the best ergonomics on their side. This sets off a cascade of poor posture that when combined with lack of physical activity is landing these children on my examination table.” it does not set off alarms for me and I feel confident that with some minor adjustments we will land on the other side of this effectively. With help from pediatric orthopedists, physical therapists, and pediatricians we will overcome this phenomenon. Pain that seriously concerns me is when I hear about “red flags.” I do not like it when children can point to their pain with one finger – consistently the same spot day after day. I get worried when children need pain medication – specifically anti-inflammatories – to relieve the pain. Any pain associated with neurologic symptoms – numbness or tingling, pain shooting down the legs or arms, bladder, or bowel compromise – that for sure

gets my attention. Red flags warrant further workup – X-rays or advanced imaging like CT or MRI – but COVID Back Pain can be managed without imaging simply by making some adjustments to our new daily life practices. Dr. Christen Russo specializes in the nonoperative and operative care of pediatric orthopedic patients, from pre-natal to adolescent care and consultation. She has a particular interest in clubfoot and other foot deformities, congenital hip dysplasia and pediatric trauma. Dr. Russo approaches care holistically, recognizing that pediatric patients are not just little adults and have different needs based on their unique family, education, and athletic dispositions.


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November/December 2020 | Westchester Family


ask the Expert

How To Protect Your Child With Special Needs By James L. Hyer, Esq.


he United States Census Bureau reported that of the 53.9 million school aged children (aged 5 to 17) in the U.S. noninstitutionalized population, about 2.8 million were reported to have a disability in 2010. Beyond these figures, even more children are affected by diagnosis which may not rise to the level of a disability, but may present challenges for a child later in life that may lead to the need for that child to receive government assistance. Caring for the needs of a disabled child can be a daunting task and while parents of children with disabilities are often eager to rise to the challenge, planning for the future is of the utmost importance when faced with the prospect of a child outliving the caregivers. One tool that is used to protect the financial future of a child living with disabilities is a 3rd Party Supplemental Needs Trust (“SNT”), to be funded by assets of parties other than the child. The role of a SNT is to protect assets for the benefit of a person with a severe and chronic or persistent disability, to provide for their non-basic needs such as food, housing and medical care, which may be covered by government benefits or assistances through all levels of government. However, these funds can be earmarked for other needs that the disabled child may have in the future such as education, travel, entertainment, and medical care not provided by government assistance. If properly drafted, a SNT will permit funds to be safeguarded for the future of the disabled child to ensure that the child’s quality of life is maintained following the caregiver’s death. When considering if a SNT is the right option for you, it is vital to ensure that the trust prepared meets the criteria required by New York State Law, such as: 1.Existence of a Disability - The beneficiary of the SNT must be suffering from a mental illness, developmental disability or other physical or mental


impairment, whose disability is or is expected to cause the need for long-term health, mental health, developmental disabilities, social or other related services. 2. Trust Intent - The SNT must clearly state that the trust is seeking to supplement, not supplant, impair or diminish, government benefits or assistance for which the beneficiary may otherwise be eligible or which the beneficiary is already receiving, except to the extent that the Trustee appointed may distribute funds to a third parties for the beneficiary’s needs in certain circumstances where the Trustee believes doing so will be in the best interests of the beneficiary. 3. No Beneficiary Authority - The Beneficiary may not have the authority to assign, encumber, direct, distribute or authorize distributions from the SNT. When preparing a SNT, it is also important to consider who will serve as the Trustee and Successor Trustees. While parents usually like to serve a Trustee, the selection of Successor Trustees is often

WestchesterFamily.com | November/December 2020

a difficult process which should involve selecting candidates and confirming with those individuals that they agree to serve before they are appointed. While family members and friends may be possible Successor Trustees, for SNTs funded in excess of several million dollars, corporate Trustees may be selected to ensure that the trust assets are properly protected and managed. After a SNT is created a good practice is to meet with a financial advisor to review the current and expected future financial needs of the disabled child to determine how many funds should be transferred into the SNT. The financial advisor will examine numerous factors including review of the individual’s medical needs, amount of government benefits and assistance, housing needs, and capacity for employment. Once a determination is made as to the optimum amount of assets needed for the needs of the beneficiary, the SNT may be funded from a number of sources including direct deposits of funds, life insurance proceeds, testamentary distributions from friends and family members, and from military benefits. Usually the creation of a SNT is accompanied by the estate planning of the parents or other caregivers of the disabled child, who ensure that the entire estate plan works together to protect the disabled child. For a caregiver/parent of a child with disabilities who has labored to protect that child through their entire life, the prospect of aging and reaching a point where they can no longer care for that child can be frightening. However with the preparation of a SNT, some of those concerns may be alleviated through the appointment of a Trustee who will have the funds needed to care for that child in the future. In the words of Winston Churchill, “Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.” James L. Hyer, Esq., a New York State admitted attorney, who is President-Elect of the Westchester Bar Association, an Administrative Law Judge and an attorney with Bashian PC, Contact:bashian-law.com. James has successfully assisted clients in a wide range of areas including sophisticated estate planning, estate and trust litigation, guardianship proceedings, complex commercial litigation and real estate transactions. The recipient of Leading Attorney Under 40 from Pace Law School, Leadership Award from Westchester Bar Association and Legal Leaders recognition from the Wall Street Journal, James L. Hyer is a fierce advocate who will fight for his clients.

The Safety of Our Patients Is More Important Than Ever

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We continue to be committed to your child’s health and safety. Here’s an example of some of the changes we’ve made to protect our patients and staff in this time of Covid 19: • Air purifiers placed throughout the office • Commercial grade fogger, affective in killing bacteria and viruses, including Covid 19 • UVC lights and sonic systems used to increase sterilization procedures • HEPA air filtration system connected to the HVAC system • Personal protective equipment (PPE) including gloves, masks, disposable gowns and face shields • As always, we use CDC and OSHA disinfection protocols November/December 2020 | Westchester Family


special needs Directory | Special Advertising Supplement GRADES K-12 SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS The 13th Child Autism & Behavioral Coaching, inc


Carol Frank Biondi Education Center National Association of Special Education Teachers School of Excellence

Our Biondi Elementary School provides: • Serving students with ED, LD, OHI & Autism Classifications • NYS Certified Teachers & Teaching Assistants • New York State Education Department Standards Based Curriculum (Reading, Mathematics, Science, Social

ABA Therapy New York City, Long Island, Westchester County Rebecca McKee, MSED, BCBA rebeccabusiness13@gmail. com 718-316-8057 www.uneepi.com The 13th Child Autism & Behavioral Coaching, Inc. is an ABA consulting company focusing on individuals living with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Building pro-social skillfulness & interpersonal inclusive behaviors remain the targets. Families can benefit by learning the fundamentals of Applied Behavior Analysis, in order to create harmony in their homes. The 13th Child Autism & Behavioral Coaching, Inc. believes all people are entitled to a high quality of life including achievement, creativity, friendships, mental reliance & wellness.

Achieve Beyond Pediatric Therapy & Autism Services

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631-385-7780 achievebeyondusa.com info@achievebeyondusa.com Achieve Beyond believes that early intervention services make a difference and provide pediatric therapy to children and students ages infant-21, aiding each child to reach their full potential through education, therapy and family support in over 30 different languages. They offer initial screenings, parent or school consultations and comprehensive evaluations. Their professional and licensed staff is committed to serving special needs children with physical and developmental disabilities/ delays. Services are provided in home, clinic, or community environments. They offer speech and language therapy, occupational and physical therapy, special education and more.

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Studies, Art, Physical Education)

• School Social Workers, Psychologists, Occupational & Speech Therapists • Transportation (provided by home school district)

Our Biondi Middle & High School provides: • Serving students with ED, LD & OHI classifications • NYS Certified Teachers & Teaching Assistants • New York State Education Department Standards Based Regents Curriculum (English, Mathematics, History/Social Studies, Science, Spanish, Art, Physical Education)

• Technology Integrated Instruction • Academies (Young Women Academy, Young Men Academy, Career and Technical Education Academy – Cosmetology, HVAC, Plumbing)

• Student Clubs & Activities • Section 1 & Club Sports • Guidance Counselor, School Social Workers, Psychologists, Occupational & Speech Therapists

Biondi Education Center



WestchesterFamily.com | November/December 2020

463 Hawthorne Ave., Yonkers 914-375-8969 risingground.org/program/ biondi-elementary-school K-12th Grades. Their nurturing setting and

individualized therapeutic support help students build their academic skills, grow their self-esteem, and learn to overcome frustration - all skills necessary for success. At Biondi they use evidence-based approaches to work with students, which allows them to continue their academic and emotional progress. Certified Teachers and Teaching Assistants, Clinical Psychologists, School Social Workers, SpeechLanguage Pathologist and an Occupational Therapist support students at their Elementary and Secondary Schools. Contact Dr. Angela White, Superintendent, awhite@RisingGround.org.

Green Chimneys School Brewster Campus 400 Doansburg Road, Brewster 845-279-2995 greenchimneys.org/ therapeutic-specialeducation/green-chimneysschool Green Chimneys School is an accredited special education program for students in grades K-12 who benefit from a highly structured and supportive setting. Therapeutic day and residential programs include an enriched curriculum for individualized academic, behavioral and emotional support, based in experiential learning. An innovative nature-based approach integrates animal-assisted activities, horticulture and outdoor exploration into treatment and education programs for enhanced learning and development.

Littman Krooks, LLP 399 Knollwood Road, White Plains 914-684-2100 littmankrooks.com Littman Krooks Special Needs Planning and Special Education Advocacy Attorneys work for the empowerment of individuals with special needs. Planning for your child’s future can seem overwhelming but you do not need to face these tasks alone. Seeking the

Green Chimneys School Helping Special Families Plan for the Future

Special Education Advocacy Special Needs Trusts Guardianship Transition Planning Special Needs Planning

www.littmankrooks.com greenchimneys.org

399 Knollwood Road ▪ White Plains, NY 10603 ▪ 914.684.2100 655 Third Avenue ▪ New York, NY 10017 ▪ 212.490.2020

Founded in 1935,

The School for Adaptive and Integrative Learning at Ferncliff Manor is a small private school providing a range of educational, therapeutic, and health care services for children with developmental disabilities.

Programs and Services: • • • • • •

Art Instruction Behavior Training Outreach Services Vocational Training Interactive Theatre Arts Music PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports)

• • • • • •

Physical Therapy Occupational Therapy Speech Therapy Social Work Psychology Adaptive Physical Education 1 Cross Street, Ardsley, NY 10502

The School for Adaptive & Integrative Learning Ferncliff Manor

914-968-4854 x 1224 sheila.chu@sailatferncliff.com

November/December 2020 | Westchester Family


special needs Directory | Special Advertising Supplement

Sensory Works

assistance of an attorney can be the best approach.


SAIL at Ferncliff Manor

• Years of experience working with families and children in creating therapeutic relationships • Each child receives a personalized road map to achieve their full potential • Offering private consultations, evaluations, and therapy sessions • Therapy services include: Sensory Integration, fine and gross motor, handwriting, overall muscle strength and balance • Specialization areas include: Sensory Processing Disorder, Integrated Listening Systems and DIR Floortime

Vincent Incognoli, MA, OTR/L SPD Foundation Fellow Pediatric Specialty • SIPT Certified Sensoryworksot@optonline.net • 646-210-3508

1154 Saw Mill River Road Yonkers, NY 10710 914-968-4854 x 1224 sailatferncliff.com sheila.chu@sailatferncliff.com SAIL at Ferncliff Manor offers a unique Special Education program for residential and day students. Our student body is composed of schoolage children and young adults from 5 to 21 years; over 95% who live on the autism spectrum. Our vision is rooted in the belief that all people deserve respect, support, and opportunity. With the coordinated efforts of our residential school staff, comprehensive medical, rehabilitative services, community-based inclusion, and other unique support services, SAIL delivers a quality of service that aims to meet the highest standards in the field for every student in our care.

The Sensory Studio 1063 North Avenue, New Rochelle 917.612.0426 sensorystudionr@gmail.com sensorystudionr.com The Sensory Studio is a newly renovated Pediatric Occupational Therapy practice in New Rochelle, focussing on in person one to one therapy for children ages 3-12. The three OT’s have over 50 years worth of experience with children and specialize in sensory integration disorders, fine motor dexterity/coordination, muscle strengthening, improving motor planning skills, and improving handwriting skills. Strict COVID medical guidelines will be adhered to & only one child will be in the gym at one time. Any questions, reach out to Laurie.

Sensory Works 159 Main Street, Suite 201 New Rochelle, N.Y. 10801 646-210-3508

sensoryworksot@optonline. net Vincent Incognoli is a Pediatric Occupational Therapist who has served Children with various disabilities for over 18 years. He specializes in Sensory and Relationship-based therapy and holds certifications in Sensory Integration (SIPT Certified), DIR/Floortime and the Integrated Listening Systems (ILS). Vincent is passionate about building relationships with his clients and families and focuses his work on having children reach their highest level of independence. His treatment focuses on though is not limited to self- regulation, sensory processing disorder, socialization, gross and fine motor skills, muscle weakness, handwriting, postural and balance difficulties. Your child will benefit from Therapy being provided in our fun and inviting Sensory Gym.

The Westchester School 45 Park Avenue Yonkers, NY 10703 914-376-4300 westchesterschool.org The Westchester School is a New York State approved, non-public school that provides educational and therapeutic services to students from New York City, Westchester County, Long Island, and Connecticut. The school views all children, regardless of functioning level or handicapping condition, as children with potential for growth and development. Historically, educational programming, particularly for the severely handicapped was primarily concerned for easing the burden of those who cared for these children. Changes in legal standards and sociophilosophical perspectives made this an excessively limited and limiting approach. The rationale for program and selection of educational objectives is based upon the developmental needs of the individual child.

Find more at WestchesterFamily.com 16

WestchesterFamily.com | November/December 2020

Offering Clinic and Home Based Services for Behavioral (ABA) and Speech Therapy We are centrally located in Forest Hills, Queens and we also provide home based services throughout the 5 boroughs, Long Island, Hudson Valley and the Capital District. We are in network with most major insurances and have private pay options available

in New Rochelle • Licensed & Experienced OT’s (Each therapist has over 23+ experience)

• Strict COVID Medical Guidelines

(One child in gym at one time)

• Newly Renovated Space

Contact us! 7000 Austin st Suite 200 Forest Hills, NY 11375

917.612.0426 • sensorystudionr@gmail.com



info@achievebeyondusa.com achievebeyondusa.com

The Westchester School • NYS approved and funded non-public school providing therapeutic and educational services to students diagnosed with AU, MD, ID, OHI, OI, ED, & PWD, ages 3 - 21, with locations in Yonkers & North Salem • Ungraded, self-contained classrooms with a student to staff ratio of 12:1:4 & 8:1:2 in SchoolAged classrooms and a ratio of 10:1:2 in Preschool classrooms. • Customized classroom instruction based on IEP goals, enhanced with SMART boards, IPads, and computers in every classroom • Counseling, Behavioral Services, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, as well as Speech and Language Therapy


• Assistance with transitioning to post academic life by providing Vocational and Job Skill opportunities • Adaptive Physical Education and a Sensory Room

45 Park Avenue, Yonkers, New York www.westchesterschool.org November/December 2020 | Westchester Family


H�liday Gift Guide Gifts that are perfect for the holidays and, most importantly, New York families BY DONNA DUARTE�LADD


WestchesterFamily.com | November/December 2020








Fisher-Price Walk, Bounce & Ride Pony, mattel.com, 9 MOS+, $49.99


2. My First Guitar And My First Soft Drum, gund.com, Ages 1+, $30 Each 3. Dolce Primo Kangaroo, magformer.com, Ages 0 +, hsn. com, $39.99 4. Wee GalleryExplore Playmat, maisonette.com, $89.95 5. New York City Baby oy Rattles | Hot Dog, estella-nyc.com, $20 6. Janod Pure Bird Xylo ,maisonette. com, $23.99 7. MON AMI, Uliana Plush Unicorn, monami-designs.com, $35

November/December 2020 | Westchester Family



2 1 3


5 1.


JanodBaby Forest Fox Ride-On, maisonette.com, Ages 12 MOS+, $88.

2. Dimpl Digits, fatbraintoys.com, Ages 1+, 19.95 3. VTech® Myla’s Sparkling Friends™ Finn the Fox Toy, Buybuybaby, Ages 3-4, $14.99 4. FAO Schwarz Giant 69” Dance-On Piano Mat, target.com, Ages 3+, $39.99 5. Tinsel Yeti, gund.com, Ages 1+, $30



The Original Slinky Walking Spring Toy, Metal Slinky, target.com, Ages 5+, $3.89

7. Our Generation Doll & Pet Poodle Malia, target.com, Ages 3+, $25.49


WestchesterFamily.com | November/December 2020



a quality children’s consignment store

Small Groups (by age) & Low Occupancy Equipment Sanitized Prior to Each Session

Winter, Outerwear & Holiday Clothing! • children’s clothing: sizes 0-14

family favorites

• maternity clothes: casual, business & dressy

TO P 5 2019

• baby equipment: strollers, bouncers, cribs & more

TOP 5 2018

• toys, books, games • shoes & snow boots • trykes • scooters • bikes • ice skates Clothes to fit 18” Dolls!

10 Main Street, Dobbs Ferry 914-693-3610

Gymnastics Classes Develop Strength, Flexibility, Balance, Coordination, and Confidence Ages 20 Months & Up Boys & Girls • Beginner–Advanced


Mondays–Saturdays 10–5, Thursdays 10–6


It’s the Skewer that’s a Circle

Private Lessons • Private Classes Private Pods • Private Parties

...so your kids can have fun eating fruit and veggies without you worrying about pointy ends. Looking for a way to make eating fun for your little one and easy for you?

SKERCLE™ can help!

Great for snacks, lunch boxes and for delicious, eyecatching party platters! Bright, bold colors and festive holiday themes available too!

Our Program Emphasizes Skill Progression and Safety Through Basic Skills, Drills, Apparatus Training, Floor, Uneven Bars, Balance Beams, Vault, and Tampoline

At Equalize Fitness

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

www.skercle.com FUN. HEALTHY. EASY TO USE. SAFE.

914-965-7676 • info@gymcats.net www.Gymcats.net

November/December 2020 | Westchester Family









Crayola Steam Paper Flower Science Kit, crayola.com.Ages 7+, $19.99

2. Power Rangers Playskool Heroes Mega Mighties Megazord Action Figure, 12-Inch, amazon.com, Ages 3+,$14.99, 3. Little Likes Kids - Musical Crossroads Jumbo Puzzle, amazon.com, Ages 5-9, $19.95


4. Star Wars The Child Animatronic Edition, target.com, Ages 3+, $59.99 5. A Game of Cat & Mouth, Ages 7+, catandmouth.com, $24.99 6. Make It Mine Make Your Own Comic Book, target.com, Ages 5+, $14.99

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WestchesterFamily.com | November/December 2020

7. Botley 2.0 The Coding Robot, learningresources.com, Ages 5-10, $64.99


8. Seuss The Grinch: Uno Rugged - You’re A Mean One, Sketchers.com, $85 9. LEGO® Harry Potter™ Set - Hogwarts™ Astronomy Tower by the LEGO Group , zulily.com, Ages 9 +, $99.99 10. VTech KidiZoom Creator Cam,target.com Ages 5-10, $49.49

10 9

Bat/Bar Mitzvah Birthday Party Sweet Sixteen Graduation Party Special Packages Available: Henna Airbrush Glitter Tattoos Twisted Balloons Black Light Painting Face Painting Bling Bar Fully Insured Excellent References Custom Designs Available

Find your inner musician! Virtual, in Person at amadeus, home Amadeus is accepting students in all instruments including piano, strings, winds, brass and voice. Home Lessons Available • Suzuki Violin • Preschool Music

Book early don’t wait!



www.amadeusconservatory.com 914-238-0388 • amadeusconservatoryofmusic@gmail.com 201 King Street, Chappaqua St. Matthew’s Church, 362 Cantitoe Street, Bedford

November/December 2020 | Westchester Family


STOCKING STUFFERS Gifts for $15 or less 1. WubbaNub Little YetiSeasonal Collection This beloved pacifier paired with a plushy friend has a fun seasonal collection that is a perfect gift or stocking stuffer for parents to be or a new baby in the family. $14.99, wubbanubonline.com


2. Rifle Paper Co. Planner This planner is simple, cute, and easy to stash in your bag if you are someone who needs their planner at all times. $14, riflepaper.com


3. Cable Protectors Protect your charger for your iPhone or iPad with these super cute cable protectors! $11.99, amazon.com 4. Mindfulness Card Packs Send some joy & calm to your loved ones this year with the Mindfulness Card Packs. . $14.59, target.com


5 4

5. Avocado Food Huggers Keep just cut avocados fresh for a much longer time with food huggers. $12, foodhuggers.com 6. Sugarfina Cranberry Cocktail Bears If you’re looking for a decadent stocking stuffer, the Sugarfina bears are a go-to. $8.sugarfina. com 7. Skercle If you have a loved one on your gift list who loves a part gadget, part hack gift, then the Skercle is for them. You unlatch the circular BPA, phthalate, and lead-free skewer- thread bitesize fruit and veggies on, and then reattach to form a perfect circle. Lightweight and easy to use, you’ll want to buy a bunch! $5.39 (pack of 3),skercle.com

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WestchesterFamily.com | November/December 2020


By Mia Salas

www.musicalmunchkins.com • (914) 771-7000

E Trial Clas s FRE


Toddler and chool Classes e Pr s






30+ Years of Music & Fun!

in-person classes to resume when safe!

Ea s y o n li n

r e en


music learning

fun songspuppets

movement COULD IT BE HUNTER SYNDROME? Talk to your doctor about this progressive, genetic disease,1,2 or learn more at:


Recurrent Ear Infections1

Abdominal Hernia1

¿PODRÍA SER EL SÍNDROME DE HUNTER? Hable con su médico acerca de esta enfermedad genética, progresiva,1,2 o conozca más en:


Infecciones recurrentes en los oídos1 Hernia abdominal1

Enlarged Tonsils/ Adenoids1

Amígdalas/ adenoides agrandadas1

Joint Stiffness1

Rigidez en las articulaciones1

1. Wraith JE et al. Genet Med 2008; 10(7): 508-516 2. Keilmann A et al. J Inherit Metab Dis 2012; 35(2): 343-353 Copyright ©2019 Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited, Lexington, MA 02421. All rights reserved. 1-800-828-2088. TAKEDA and the TAKEDA logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited. S46480 04/19

Aiden, 3

November/December 2020 | Westchester Family


Westchester family partner

This Holiday Season, Shop Secondhand!


ffordables opened in Dobbs Ferry, NY, more than thirty years ago. This unique store offers affordable quality products for the community in and around the Dobbs Ferry area. With so many families on a budget, this store offers unique toys, children’s clothing, and more. There are unique and great gifts for all ages, plus holiday dress wear, cozy pj’s, winter outerwear and accessories. Parents would be happy to know that you can find strollers, highchairs, baby carriers, and many other baby essentials at Affordables. Affordables 10 Main St, Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522 Phone: (914) 693-3610 affordablechild.com


Live Locally, Learn Globally Bilingual Program Nursery to Grade 12 NEW! International Program Grades 1-8 IB Diploma Program in Grades 11 & 12 No Knowledge of French Required! L A VIRTUA ATTEND USE OPEN HO r 18, 6pm Novembe School l & Lower Preschoo r 23, 6pm Novembe ol High Scho Middle &


WestchesterFamily.com | November/December 2020

admissions@fasny.org 914-205-0401b www.fasny.org

Catholic College Preparatory School for Girls

Virtual visits, real Community! Dominican Academy has been recognized twice as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education and is ranked the #3 Catholic girls high school in New York for 2020-2021! • During this global health crisis, D.A. remains committed to excellence in education and the safety of all members of our community. Students always receive live instruction 5 days a week as part of our Distance Learning Program or Hybrid Learning Model. • Located in an historic mansion on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, D.A. is easily accessible by the 4/5/6, E, F, and N/Q/R trains. • A diverse community of 250 students come from all 5 boroughs of New York City, Connecticut, Long Island, New Jersey, Westchester, and abroad. • D.A. stands alone as the only all-honors high school for girls in New York, offering 20+ electives and 15+ Advanced Placement courses.

Exquisite Styles for Men, Women, Bar and Bat Mitzvah Beaded, Crystal and Crocheted Kippot

The Best Selection of Tallitot and Kippot Anywhere!

• We are proud of our 100% graduation rate, with Lisa Prawer - Bergen County, NJ graduates in our Class of 2020 averaging over www.thetallislady.com • info@thetallislady.com $395,000 each in merit scholarships and grants. • Student-Faculty ratio of 8:1, with 90% of faculty holding at least one advanced degree • Our unique Service Learning Program encourages students to engage in service and to understand the role of Faith in their lives. ï &RPSUHKHQVLYH &DUH IURP %LUWK WR $JH ï 6WDWH RI WKH $UW 3HGLDWULF 2IILFH • 30+ clubs and 8 Varsity ï &RPSUHKHQVLYH &DUH IURP %LUWK WR $JH teams: Basketball, Cross ï ([WHQGHG HYHQLQJ ZHHNHQG RIILFH KRXUV KRXUV ï 6WDWH RI WKH $UW 3HGLDWULF 2IILFH Country, Soccer, Softball, ï &RQYHQLHQW RQ VLWH SDUNLQJ ï &RPSUHKHQVLYH &DUH IURP %LUWK WR $JH ï ([WHQGHG HYHQLQJ ZHHNHQG RIILFH KRXUV KRXUV Swimming, Indoor and ï 6SDFLRXV FKLOG IULHQGO\ ZDLWLQJ DUHD ï 6WDWH RI WKH $UW 3HGLDWULF 2IILFH Outdoor Track, and ï &RQYHQLHQW RQ VLWH SDUNLQJ ï &RPSUHKHQVLYH &DUH IURP %LUWK WR $JH ï 0RVW ,QVXUDQFHV $FFHSWHG KRXUV Volleyball. ï ([WHQGHG HYHQLQJ ZHHNHQG RIILFH KRXUV ï 6SDFLRXV FKLOG IULHQGO\ ZDLWLQJ DUHD ï 6WDWH RI WKH $UW 3HGLDWULF 2IILFH ï &RQYHQLHQW RQ VLWH SDUNLQJ ï &RPSUHKHQVLYH &DUH IURP %LUWK WR $JH ï 0RVW ,QVXUDQFHV $FFHSWHG •ï ([WHQGHG HYHQLQJ ZHHNHQG RIILFH KRXUV A well-rounded Performing KRXUV ï 6SDFLRXV FKLOG IULHQGO\ ZDLWLQJ DUHD ï 6WDWH RI WKH $UW 3HGLDWULF 2IILFH Arts curriculum with ï &RQYHQLHQW RQ VLWH SDUNLQJ ï 0RVW ,QVXUDQFHV $FFHSWHG ï ([WHQGHG HYHQLQJ ZHHNHQG RIILFH KRXUV KRXUV required Drama, Music, ï 6SDFLRXV FKLOG IULHQGO\ ZDLWLQJ DUHD ï &RQYHQLHQW RQ VLWH SDUNLQJ and Dance classes. Susan Meisler, M.D. ï Hilary Smith, M.D. ï 0RVW ,QVXUDQFHV $FFHSWHG

Schedule your child’s physical Schedule your child’s physical Schedule your child’s physical Schedule your child’s physical Schedule your child’s physical

ï 6SDFLRXV FKLOG IULHQGO\ ZDLWLQJ DUHD Lisa Mandelker, D.O. ï Debra Etelson, M.D Susan Meisler,ï 0RVW ,QVXUDQFHV $FFHSWHG M.D. ï Hilary Smith, M.D. +XJXHQRW 6W 6XLWH 1HZ 5RFKHOOH 1< Lisa Mandelker, D.O. ï Debra Etelson, M.D Susan Meisler, M.D. ï Hilary Smith, M.D. www.childrenshospital.org/bchp/practices/pediatric +XJXHQRW 6W 6XLWH 1HZ 5RFKHOOH 1< Lisa Mandelker, D.O. ï Debra Etelson, M.D associates-of-southern-westchester Susan Meisler, M.D. ï Hilary Smith, M.D. www.childrenshospital.org/bchp/practices/pediatric +XJXHQRW 6W 6XLWH 1HZ 5RFKHOOH 1< Lisa Mandelker, D.O. ï Debra Etelson, M.D associates-of-southern-westchester Susan Meisler, M.D. ï Hilary Smith, M.D. www.childrenshospital.org/bchp/practices/pediatric +XJXHQRW 6W 6XLWH 1HZ 5RFKHOOH 1< Lisa Mandelker, D.O. ï Debra Etelson, M.D

CHECK OUT OUR NEW VIRTUAL TOUR ON OUR WEBSITE OR CONTACT OUR ADMISSIONS OFFICE TODAY!associates-of-southern-westchester (914) 235-1400 www.childrenshospital.org/bchp/practices/pediatric-

+XJXHQRW 6W 6XLWH 1HZ 5RFKHOOH 1< (914) 235-1400 (914) 235-1400 (914) 235-1400 (914) 235-1400

associates-of-southern-westchester DominicanAcademy.org / 44 East 68th Street, www.childrenshospital.org/bchp/practices/pediatricNew York, NY 10065 T 212.744.0195 associates-of-southern-westchester / F 212.744.0375 / @DominicanAcademy Direct all questions to Madeleine Metzler, ‘07, Director of Admissions at 212.744.0195, ext. 131 or admissions@dominicanacademy.org. November/December 2020 | Westchester Family



Celebrations! Creative ways to enjoy life’s big days & special moments — even during COVID By Jana Beauchamp


ife’s special moments still want to be celebrated! New and exciting ways to celebrate big days are coming to life since large-scale, traditional celebrations are on hold in the current climate. We spoke to Laura Remmert, expert event planner and contributor for Martha Stewart Weddings, to learn about current event trends. We also spoke to celebration experts to get the scoop on the best innovations and products to help you make the most memorable milestone celebrations right now. According to Laura Remmert, event planner extraordinaire, a popular party trend is Micro Mitzvahs (just like Micro Weddings). Gather a group of close family and friends and plan a “micro mitzvah.” Celebrate with closest family and friends in person to keep the party small. The service can be available on Zoom for special guests who cannot attend in person. Work within the local rules and regulations for the event, noting guest count limits, social distancing, and utilize outdoor space when you can. To make these Micro Mitzvahs smart, safe, and sentimental Laura Remmert Events (lauraremmertevents.com) supplies gift bags to guests with hand sanitizer and custom masks, tables are spaced 6’ apart and guests were grouped with their family or friends they see on a regular basis. Laura also plans weekends away for the mitzvah. Start with renting a space where close family and friends can stay for the weekend, planning fun activities, the Mitzvah service, and a dinner to celebrate. Whether finding a family-friendly home rental, remote cabin, vacation villa, or resort rooms or cottages, there are many fun and diverse options. Laura tells us that any of these celebration styles can be for any type of party, too. She added, “We’re seeing a lot of “micro events” and a lot of trips for smaller groups to celebrate big life moments. One big thing we’re seeing is lots of fun personal details,


special place cards for guests that can be taken home as a keepsake, custom masks, and letters to each guest at their seat.” There are many ways to make celebrations as special as can be and celebrating in the style that’s just right for you is always the way to go! Birthday Fun When it comes to birthday celebrations for kids the most popular options are a small, smart, and safe, socially distanced gathering outside or a larger, virtual bash for your closest family and friends. Roof decks, parks, playgrounds, and green spaces are the ideal venues for socially distanced celebrations. Just don’t forget to BYOM — bring your own mask! For a party planning primer, visit our How to Have a Birthday Party Amid COVID. If going the virtual birthday party route, check out our Best Virtual Birthday Party Ideas for the best (virtual) party time! For both types of parties, having a party host with the most can make all the difference. DJ Natalie is hosting parties and can host your virtual dance party on Zoom or bring the beat in person to the outdoor location of your choice! She is incredibly engaging with kids of all ages and the parties are epic! Virtual Dance Parties are a super fun way to connect with friends and family from afar! Her Zoom parties include a high-quality dependable stream; incredible audio, a fun look (DJ Natalie transforms her home studio into a disco with pulsing lights and a shimmering background); virtual jumbotron (her Spotlight Video feature is a fun way for DJ Natalie to highlight different guests and encourage participation); and more fun and games. Kids will enjoy group dances such as the Macarena, follow the leader, show and tell, dance contests, and more. You will party like a rock star! Family Holidays Make family holidays extra special while supporting local NYC business as well as innovative merrymaking services that are helping people find creative ways to celebrate

WestchesterFamily.com | November/December 2020

holidays and every day. Tribute videos (tribute.co) make it easy as pie to create a meaningful video montage for special moments from family and friends near and far so that your special someone feels the love. Plus, the Tribute is fun to make and simple to use. The Tribute Family “recognizes the deep impact COVID-19 has had on so many important milestones in our lives. We believe that in a time of unprecedented uncertainty and change, social connection is more important than ever, and we want to do our part.” It’s a gift they will treasure now and cherish forever. Sign Gypsies (signgypsies.com) is the largest yard greeting company in the U.S., delivering festive and colorful greetings in a big way. The Sign Gypsies yard greeting displays are great for homes, schools, and businesses. They create a custom yard greeting that’s as special as your guest of honor, and they handle the set up and break down of the greeting. They love bringing joy and it is sure to create a magical and memorable moment. Piñatagrams (pinatagrams.com) send some crazy fun in the mail. These unique greetings are an absolute experience to be there when you’re not physically there. They really bring smiles to people’s faces. The universal favorite is the standard donkey/llama version and then next best seller is the googly eyed. Customers pick a body type, enter customization for a message printed on the side of the piñata belt box, and hit send. There are even seasonal sensations right now like the vampire and zombie piñatas for Halloween and coming soon a reindeer piñatagrams with giant googly eyes for the holidays. It is crazy cool to be on the receiving end and seeing the smiles on faces. Send some piñata joy in the mail! Use code NYFAMILY10 for 10% off! Balloon Saloon (baloonsaloon.com) recently made Kelly Ripa’s 50th fabulous and can give you the royal treatment, too. Balloon Saloon brings the fun to any and every occasion with their joyful balloons. Balloon Saloon’s beautiful and celebratory creations

will make a big day extra special. They can personalize every arrangement with balloon names, clusters, age numerals, and organic columns. Giant confetti filled balloons are so popular now as well! They do an expert job to customize creations to clients’ likes and colors. Balloon Saloon has been bringing joy throughout Manhattan and now with a Covid business pivot is offering curbside delivery as well as delivery service to the outer boroughs and suburbs like Long Island and the Hamptons. You can even arrange a socially distant pick up by having Uber pickup and deliver your bunch of balloons. Cameo(cameo.com)special celebrity greetings are the new greeting card! Imagine getting a personal birthday greeting from Snoop Dog or Michael Rappaport! Cameo has 40,000 talent around the world and delivers personalized video messages, live zoom calls, direct messages, and more. Kids favs include personal greetings from the famous animals

on Cameo, Coyote Peterson, David Henrie, and Fiona the Hippo. Since kids are following their favorite people on social media without being able to interact, this is a special way to get a personal message, interaction, and birthday satisfaction. Simply find your perfect star match, check the price, and fill in the recipient and occasion (use the text box to put in a message with relevant info) and ask for the shout out. To make it extra memorable, add as much color as you can to ensure the recipient gets the most out of it! Cameo features every type talent and is sure to give the birthday kid major bragging rights! The Tallis Lady (thetallislady.com), Lisa Prawer, offers handmade tallitot and other religious pieces. Regardless of what you are looking for, whether it be a tallit for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah or a one-of-a-kind kippah, The Tallis Lady will work with you to find what you need. Creativity and experience are utilized in every crafted piece. Owner Lisa

is committed to assuring your child will be proud of any tallit, kippah, and tallit clips worn. Shop on the site or meet The Tallis Lady in person. The studio is open Sunday through Friday by appointment only for a social distancing in their NJ studio. Get your Cake pop on with The Poppery (the-poppery.com) in Mt. Kisco NY shop online for fun DIY kits and Orea cookie packages. From bar/bat mitzvahs, bday, wedding, and holidays. This is a perfect way to safely celebrate social distancing with these delicious and gorgeously amazingly decorated cake pop. Nearby? Orders can be submitted online and can be picked up at 255 N Bedford Rd., Mt. Kisco, NY Making Faces Parties (makingfacesparties.com) is working with safety guidelines and providing clients with COVID-conscious activities such as micro paint parties, balloon twisting, or henna /glitter tattoos with a plexiglass sneeze guard in place. Activities are still fun but, most importantly, safe. Making Faces Parties has been extremely busy creating new offerings and working with our families to bring their ideas to life. With proper planning and a little creativity, we are making great memories with our families and friends. Visit their site or call 914-714-8069 Especially since the pandemic began, The Bouqs Co (bouqs.com) fab florals see more and more people sending flowers just because and they love that they’re helping people connect and share something beautiful from afar. Kaylyn Hewitt, The Bouqs Co’s lead floral designer gave us the scoop that one of her goto birthday gifts is a Bouq that includes a succulent in the assortment that can be replanted! It’s such a great way to give a gift that extends beyond the vase life. If you’re not sure which flowers to send and when, the site has helpful guides to direct you toward the best Bouqs for any occasion. Bouqs from the online catalog are customizable by size and most have two vase options. There are also matching/coordinating arrangements for a family in different places. Order Bouqs in different sizes, so you can show Mom some extra love with a larger arrangement while sending something a bit smaller to your sister in her studio apartment And don’t miss the seasonal specialties available in the Bouqs Co Fall Collection! And as you plan your celebrations, don’t forget to help others in need with great initiatives like the Birthday Party Project! They bring joy to children experiencing homelessness by bringing them the magic of birthdays! Enjoy every second of your celebrations, make magical memories, and spark joy!

November/December 2020 | Westchester Family



Get Away to Family-Friendly



eed a winter getaway? Take a ski trip with your family in upstate New York. There are a ton of ski resorts and ski slopes to choose from, so we rounded up our top picks. Many of the resorts have gentle slopes and “ski school” for kids and adults, so no prior ski experience is necessary to have some family fun. We’ve even included the updated COVID-19 policies for each resort so that you can know ahead of time what to expect. Start packing your bags for your next weekend stay at a New York ski resort! Kissing Bridge

10296 State Road, Glenwood, NY 14069

Kissing Bridge Snow Sports has 39 slopes spread out over 700 acres. It offers a variety of courses perfect for beginner and intermediate skiers, as well as courses designed to test the skills of advanced skiers. Although Kissing Bridge has plenty of space and slopes, it isn’t a resort. It has four on-site dining options, but it doesn’t have a lodge or on-site accommodation. However, the sheer size of this ski area coupled with easy access to local dining and lodging might make it worth the drive from New York of just over six hours. There are also new policies in place due to COVID-19. Masks and social distancing are required, and all ticket sales will be pre-sale/ online. Daily lift ticket sales are limited. All lessons including children’s instruction and school ski clubs will be required to secure advanced online reservations, and there are a reduced number of spots available. Ski and snowboard lessons will only run Thursday through Sunday, and there will be no indoor


breaks or hot cocoa. To read more about COVID-19 policies, head to their website at kbski.com/updated-covid-mission/. Thunder Ridge Ski Area 137 Birch Hill Road, Patterson, NY 12563

Thunder Ridge Ski Area offers skiing options for beginners as well as advanced options for those with a little more slope time under their belt. With 22 trails, three chairlifts, four magic carpets, a variety of levels of difficulty, lessons for children and adults, and local dining and lodging options, it’s worth the one and a halfhour drive north of the city. For those looking for a day or weekend outing, the close proximity makes Thunder Ridge a great choice. Thunder Ridge is looking forward to their winter ski season, and they are preparing for it safely by following COVID-19 protocols. Given the large size of the outdoor area, Thunder Ridge is confident that they can still bring friends and family together through winter recreation in a fun and safe way with social distancing guidelines in place. Hunt Hollow Ski Club 7532 County Road #36, Naples, NY 14512

Hunt Hollow Ski Club is just under five hours from New York City, but it’s almost exclusively interstate driving, which makes it much easier. In addition to being an easy drive, Hunt Hollow has the slopes and amenities that more than make up for its distance from the city. Their 300-acre winter sports area features 80 acres of trails, 2.5 miles of cross country trails, and slopes ranging from The Gauntlet, a double black diamond, to six beginner courses. Hunt Hollow also features a lodge, ski shop, and

WestchesterFamily.com | November/December 2020

dining. There are no accommodation options on-site, but plenty can be found in the area, making this a great ski getaway for families. Hunt Hollow Ski Club follows Ski Well, Be Well: Ski Operating Best Practices in response to the global pandemic. Face coverings are required in both indoor and outdoor spaces, and several measures are in place to ensure social distancing. Nobody will be required to ride a ski lift with someone they do not know, and cleaning and disinfecting strategies will keep high-touch areas safe. Mount Peter Ski Area 51 Old Mt Peter Road, Warwick, NY 10990

fact, it’s better than okay for our purposes! Maple Ski Ridge offers simple slopes, simple pricing, and a great introduction to skiing and snowboarding for all ages. It’s a two and a half-hour drive from NYC, but at almost all interstate driving. With lodging availability nearby, the family and beginner-friendly slopes of Maple Ski Ridge might be just the thing for many New York families. How will Maple Ski Ridge keep your family safe and healthy? They plan to limit indoor access to food purchases and restroom visits, and they will be monitoring the number of guests at Maple Ski Ridge. They will be operating at 33% of hourly uphill lift capacity. Daily area use passes will be sold online this year. Though they will still offer them at the window, it is highly recommended that you purchase online because there will be a limited number of daily passes available. Masks are required at all times, and only one parent/guardian can accompany their kiddo to drop off at their lesson. Read more at mapleskiridge.com/covid-19. Titus Mountain Ski Center 215 Johnson Road, Malone, NY 12953

Mount Peter Ski Area is just over an hour from NYC! It offers slopes ranging from basic to advanced black diamond trails along with snow tubing. They offer skiing and snowboarding lessons for both adults and children, including the popular Pete’s Pals, designed to introduce skiing to the youngest of future slope riders. They’re famous for their FREE beginner lessons on weekends and holidays. Although it’s not a resort, there are plenty of lodging and dining options available nearby. Clear guidelines have not yet been outlined regarding COVID-19 policies, but Mount Peter is aware of their important responsibility to keep all guests and

employees safe and healthy. As they parse through the document of restrictions and guidelines that came from NY government, they’ll be making some decisions about what their winter season will look like, so stay tuned at mtpeter.com/covid-19-updates.

Located just north of Titusville Mountain State Forest and at five and a half hours from NYC, Titus Mountain Ski Center is a bit of a trek. However, all that driving pays off once you finally arrive. Although it’s not as fancy as Whiteface (see below!) the skiing is good, the prices are far cheaper, and it offers slopeside accommodations and dining. When you factor in slopes ranging from double black diamond to green beginner courses and ski lessons for kids and adults, Titus Mountain makes for one of the best valued familyfriendly ski resorts in upstate New York. Masks are required at all times, except when eating/drinking or skiing. Lifts are restricted to members of the same party, and ski lessons have no more than 10 people. There is thorough disinfecting and cleaning of rented equipment, and outdoor capacity on the mountain is reduced to 25% during “peak” days or if multiple trails are closed due to unseasonable conditions. Toggenburg Mountain Ski Center

Maple Ski Ridge

1135 Toggenburg Road, Fabius, NY 13063

2725 Mariaville Road, Schenectady, NY 12306

With twenty-one trails to fit every level of skier, Toggenburg Mountain Ski Center makes for an excellent getaway for ski lovers of any age. There are instructional classes for both children and adults and delicious dining at the Foggy Goggle. Be aware that there is no lodging at the center itself. However, it’s not

For those looking for family-friendly ski resorts in upstate New York, the biggest selling point for Maple Ski Ridge is its simplicity. It will never be an upscale, highdifficulty ski mecca, and that’s okay. In

November/December 2020 | Westchester Family



difficult to book a place to stay in the nearby area. Although it offers excellent skiing, between the four-hour drive and having to book external lodging, it might not be everyone’s travel cup of tea. Face coverings have to be worn at all times, except when eating, skiing, and riding. Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting procedures have been implemented throughout the facilities and all staff members are required to complete a temperature and health check at the beginning of each shift. Capacity in all food service areas will be limited to 50%. They plan to add a “Grab & Go” shack at the South end of the Base Lodge as well. Lesson sizes will be limited, and reservations will be required by all guests. Oak Mountain Ski Center 141 Novosel Way, Speculator, NY 12164

Oak Mountain Ski Center focuses on great skiing and affordable pricing. It’s called a center and not a resort because it has no dining or lodging options, but in this case, that’s completely acceptable. After all, when you’re on a skiing trip, you want great skiing. Oak Mountain has that in abundance. With four lifts, 22 trails, four snow tubing lanes, and miles of snowshoeing trails, Oak Mountain has something for everyone. They also offer top-notch ski instruction for both kids and adults. Although it’s an almost four-hour drive from NYC, Oak Mountain has several excellent dining and lodging options nearby. There is reduced capacity in all buildings in response to COVID-19. Masks are required at all times, except while hiking, biking or seated while eating or drinking. The Acorn Pub & Eatery is open for dinner service with limited capacity to allow for the appropriate physical distancing. It is highly recommended that you make reservations in advance. Windham Mountain 19 Resort Dr., Windham, NY 12496

At about a two and a half-hour drive from New York City and under an hour from Albany, Windham Mountain Resort makes for an easily accessible family ski trip. It combines the welcoming comfort that the Catskills area is known for with the amenities skiers usually only find at big mountain resorts out west. With a variety of slopes, lessons for all age groups, available ski-in/ ski-out lodging, great dining options, and even a spa, Windham Mountain practically guarantees a great experience for every skier. Things will definitely look different this season. The Children’s Learning Center will


be closed for the whole season, so no daycare or nursery facilities will operate. Capacity restrictions will be in place and on-site ticket purchases will not be available on capacityrestricted days. You can follow the “red” day, “green” day calendar and plan accordingly! Indoor lodge capacity will be restricted to 50% and you must get ready at your vehicles because no lockers or cubbies will be available at the base lodge and no bags may be left at the building. Advanced registration for rental equipment will be required. Read more at windhammountain.com/covid19 Greek Peak Mountain Resort 2000 NY-392, Cortland, NY 13045

Located north of James Kennedy State Forest and south of Tuller Hill State Forest, Greek Peak Mountain Resort is an outdoor adventurer’s dream. As the name implies, Greek Peak offers a variety of skiing options and opportunities. This family-friendly resort getaway also has an Adventure Center, indoor water park, and even a spa. At around three and a half hours from NYC, it’s a bit of a drive but still close enough to make a weekend trip out of it. The water park is open, but all guests will have their temperatures taken and recorded. The area will be vacated between time periods so they can clean and sanitize before the next group of guests is allowed into the pool areas. Similarly, at the Adventure Center, guests will be asked to complete a short health questionnaire including temperature screening upon arrival, and masks will be required. The spa is temporarily closed, but will likely open during the winter season. Willard Mountain 77 The Intervale Road, Greenwich Historic District, NY 12834

Willard Mountain is a no-frills downhill ski area. An ideal start mountain for kids or adults, Willard Mountain offers beautiful views, excellent pricing, and lights for night skiing. In addition, this off-the-beaten-path ski area is low on crowds, which makes it even better for newbies. Although it’s a simple place, it still has a nice lodge with dining and drinks in the lounge for warming up after a day of skiing. It’s a three-hour drive from New York City, and it has no lodging so you’ll need to do a bit of extra planning if you plan to visit this gem. Willard Mountain says: “Consider the 2020-21 Ski Season as a new ski trail, with new terrain, never ventured before.” Here’s what we love: if for any medical reason you are unable to use your pass or state mandates require them to close, Willard will roll

WestchesterFamily.com | November/December 2020

over credit to the 2021-2022 season! Social distancing measures are in place and indoor capacity is reduced. Hunter Mountain 64 Klein Ave, Hunter, NY 12442

One of the best family-friendly ski resorts in upstate New York, Hunter Mountain has so much more than just skiing. While the resort is home to plenty of trails, it also offers skiing lessons for children and adults of different skill levels, and beautiful on-site lodging including their lodge, the Kaatskill Mountain Club. With so many activities and excellent accommodations, it’s worth the just over twohour drive to get there. Only related parties will be seated together on the ski lift, maximum class size for Ski & Ride School will be six people, and group lessons will only be available for ages 7 and up this season. Kids ages 4 to 6 can take one-onone lessons. Restaurants will be opened with reduced capacity, and all transactions will be cashless. Equipment rentals will be available, but capacity will be monitored in the rental shop, so there may be long lines. McCauley Mountain Ski Area 300 McCauley Road, Old Forge, NY 13420

What McCauley Mountain Ski Area lacks in size, it makes up for in great skiing and a variety of slopes. Located in the heart of the Adirondack mountains, McCauley offers big mountain skiing without the big mountain lines and high prices. McCauley has skiing options for every skill level, from advanced double black diamond runs to blue and even green circles for beginner adults and kids. It’s a solid, four and a half-hour car ride to get there, but the quality of the slopes makes it more than worth it. McCauley is open for the 2020-2021 season, but there are guidelines in place to ensure every family’s safety and health. Their website also links to a handy list of restaurants in the area that offer indoor dining at 50% capacity so that you can plan out your stay. Whiteface Mountain 5021 Route 86, Wilmington, NY 12997

Located north and east of Lake Placid in the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness, Whiteface Mountain is one of the best ski resorts in all of New York. This resort offers plenty of downhill and cross country trails – all beautifully maintained – to suit a variety of skill levels. In addition, they offer ski lessons for kids, teens, and adults, as well as private lessons and an adaptive ski program. Visitors

ers to fill out their form in advance. Advanced registration will also be required for lessons, so it will be best to reserve them as early as you can. Stay up to date with their COVID-19 page to see the latest updates and policies. Holiday Valley 6557 Holiday Valley Road, Ellicottville, NY 14731

can enjoy the bobsled experience, Lake Placid Olympic Museum, and Olympic Center Tour. It’s a four and a half-hour drive from the city, but it’s well worth the road trip to get there. Advanced purchase online is required for all lift tickets, lessons, and rentals. Employees have daily health screenings prior to each shift, and there are cleaning procedures in place. Masks are required if you are within 6 feet of others or you are indoors. Winter may look different this year, but you will still have the same adventures, scenic vistas, and snowy terrains at Whiteface Mountain! Belleayre Mountain 181 Galli Curci Road, Highmount, NY 12441

Belleayre Mountain’s excellent skiing, reasonable pricing, and year-round activities make it one of the best family-friendly ski resorts in upstate New York. We love their heated gondola that keeps us nice and warm on the slopes. With a variety of downhill courses, a snowsports school offering classes for kids, teens, and adults, and summer activities like biking, hiking, and Belleayre Beach, this resort has something for everyone at almost any time of year. Located just north of Big Indian Wilderness, it is just over a twohour drive from NYC. Belleayre required that everyone wears a mask when within 6 feet of others or when indoors. Employees have daily health

screenings prior to each shift, and there are plenty of cleaning procedures in place to ensure your health and safety. Advanced purchase online is required for all lift tickets, lessons, and rentals, and indoor storage space is limited, so you’re encouraged to leave personal belongings in your vehicle. All indoor food and beverage locations will adhere to a 50% reduction in capacity. Plattekill Mountain 469 Plattekill Road, Roxbury, NY 12474

Located in the northwestern Catskills, Plattekill Mountain is a different breed of ski resort. This privately owned and operated resort, affectionately called “Platty” by the many ski enthusiasts who visit regularly each year, offers a unique family vibe that visitors love. Skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing fun can all be found on the mountain, but visitors will also find a welcoming atmosphere, plenty of smiles, and unique experiences. At just about a two and a half-hour drive from the city, it’s a great option for getting in some great skiing and feeling like you found a second home. Plattekill has been working hard to prepare for the upcoming season. Lift tickets will all be sold online this year to control capacity. You will still be able to purchase tickets at the mountain, but only through the online system and if tickets are still available. Rentals will also ALL be sold online and will require rent-

Holiday Valley is best described as a four-season ski resort. During the winter, enjoy skiing, tubing, cross country, and snowshoeing fun. Visitors can also take advantage of the classes offered. With plenty of upscale lodging, dining and activities, Holiday Valley really does offer everything anyone could ask for in a resort. It’s more than worthy of the six-hour drive it takes to get there. Guests must wear masks or face coverings at all times unless eating or drinking or while skiing or snowboarding down the slopes. Holiday Valley encourages you to purchase your tickets in advance online. There may be some busy holidays or weekends where they may need to restrict ticket sales. Indoor seating will be extremely limited. You should gear up at your car, limit your time spent indoors, and go straight to the lift where possible. Lift lines will also be reworked to allow for social distancing. Gore Mountain 793 Peaceful Valley Road, North Creek, NY 12853

Located on the eastern edge of the Siamese Ponds Wilderness, Gore Mountain has something for everyone all year round. In the winter months, visitors can take advantage of 110 trails and 14 lifts on New York’s biggest mountain. The resort also offers classes and private lessons for kids, teens, and adults. With a variety of beautiful accommodation options and delicious dining choices, the mountain is an all-season resort destination that’s widely considered to be the best in all of New York and in the upper echelon of the northeastern US. It’s well worth the drive of just under four hours from NYC to get there. Advanced purchase online is required for all lift tickets, lessons, and rentals in response to COVID-19. Indoor storage space is limited, so Gore Mountain encourages you to leave personal belongings in your vehicle. All indoor food and beverage locations will adhere to a 50% reduction in capacity. There will be a phased opening for ski school programs, and those taking lessons will need a health screening 24 hours prior. Note that they will not be offering indoor childcare services this season.

November/December 2020 | Westchester Family



Car SeatS Everything you need to know, plus 7 smart options for New York parents

By Donna Duarte-LaDD


Check out newyorkfamily.com for all our car seat picks!

or parents, a car seat is an important purchase. Parents look for a seat that is within their budget but most importantly fits their child’s safety and comfort needs. Topher McGibbon, founder of Kidcar. com (the only vetted driver car service with properly installed, age, and weightappropriate car seats) offers wise advice when shopping for a car seat, “EVERY car seat at our store has passed NHTSA’s safety standards. The BEST car seat is the one that fits your vehicle, the one that fits your child, and the one that you can properly install EVERY time.” And what about COVID? While we know that car seats can get pretty darn dirty, we know many parents are thinking about how we can keep our gear sanitized. The answer is pretty simple. Sarah Huff, Baby Gear Expert of Baby Quip (babyquip.com- the #1 baby equipment rental service) advises, “If you’re out and about with your car seat, it can pick up street dirt, exhaust, etc. from cars, so get them cleaned regularly. This is also a good idea if you have concerns about COVID-19.” What about car seat safety and when a child is ready to move to the next car seat? Expert Alisa Baer, MD Pediatrician & Co-Founder of The Car Seat Lady (thecarseatlady.com) shared these helpful tips for parents: Top Car Safety Tips 1. Everyone uses a safety restraint on every ride. No exceptions. Including Ubers, Lyfts, and taxis. Including adults riding in back. 2. Don’t rush the transitions, they aren’t milestones. Rear-facing to Forward-facing: Keep kids rear-facing in their convertible seats until


they are too tall (usually head 1 inch below the top of the seat) or too heavy. NY state law requires rear-facing until at least 24 months, but this is a bare minimum. Forward-facing to Booster Seat: Car Seats are seats where the child uses a five-point harness as their restraint. Boosters are seats where the child wears the vehicle’s seat belt across them as their restraint. To use a booster seat, kids should be AT LEAST 5 years old AND at least 40 pounds AND mature enough to sit properly during the ride (no slouching, no leaning over, no messing with the seat belt). Booster to Seat Belt: Kids need boosters until their body fits properly on the vehicle seat and the seat belt fits properly on their body without the help of a booster. Most kids are at least 10 years old before they can ride safely without a booster (NY state law requires boosters until the 8th birthday… but injury data shows that most kids need boosters a lot longer than this). The 5 Step Test is how to know if your kid can ride safely without a booster, 3. Don’t forget the tether! Every forwardfacing car seat has a tether, which is a strap that secures the top of the car seat to a tether anchor in the back of the vehicle. Tethers reduce how far forward the child’s head moves by at least 4-6 inches and thereby greatly reduces the risk of brain and spinal cord injuries. Tethers should be used on EVERY forward-facing car seat. If your forward-facing car seat is installed with LATCH, you use the tether strap. If your forward-facing car seat is installed with the seat belt, you use the tether strap. Not sure where the tether anchors are in your vehicle – check here. 4. Harness straps need to be snug — they’re a harness your child’s life depends

WestchesterFamily.com | November/December 2020

on. Most parents tighten the straps in the wrong order, leaving lots of slack in the belly & leg straps while thinking it is snug at the shoulders. These videos show how to buckle kids in a car seat — newborn and toddler/big kid. In colder weather, avoid bulky coats and snowsuits as most make the straps way too loose for the child’s body underneath. Instead, see here for recommendations on coats, snowsuits, and other cold-weather gear to keep your child warm AND safe in the car seat.

Best Lightweight Infant Car Seat Chicco KeyFit 35 Babyquip Expert Sarah Huff Pick

Pick an infant car seat that works with a lightweight stroller base — like the Chicco KeyFit 35 (car seat) and the Chicco Bravo (stroller) so that you can click the infant car seat in and out of a base in your car and into the stroller base really quickly. Especially helpful at valets or crowded parking areas where you need to be quick. If you need to walk from your car to your destination with the car seat, it needs to be light. And it’s great that the stroller folds up with one hand, so if you need to quickly fold it at a restaurant, or where they won’t allow strollers, you can do it easily, and the baby is still in the infant seat. No juggling. Price: $249.99

Best 2 in 1 Infant Car Seat - The Doona-Expert Pick Babyquip Expert Sarah Huff Pick

It’s a car seat and a stroller in one, so you can click the whole thing in and out of the car and transform it into a stroller in one motion. This one is really great for traveling since you can wheel it through the airport and then use the car seat on the plane. Price: $499

Best Transition from Rear to Forward Car Seat - Chicco NextFit Zip Max Convertible Car Seat

Best Infant to Older Toddler Car Seat - Nuna EXEC All-in-One

While most parents know it’s nearly impossible to keep gear clean — yet with COVID, many of us are taking extra precautions. The soft zip-off padding can easily be removed from the steel-reinforced frame and thrown in the machine, which is extra because it doesn’t hurt to keep a piece that is frequently used clean. Your little one can start using this seat from infancy (with a newborn positioner) to early toddler years. The change-up from the rear to forward-facing is a smooth transition, and the nine-position headrest is a thoughtful design that parents will appreciate. Zip-off padding is soft and machine washable for comfort and convenience. Price: $369.99

Parents soon learn that gear can add up. The Nuna EXEC All-in-One Car Seat may give some a bit of a sticker shock, but it is one of those gear pieces that are worth it. This car seat goes from rear forward to a booster seat. For many parents, this is the only car seat you’ll need at least until the age of 4. Exceptionally made with many design perks such as extra legroom design when rear-facing. It is airplane certified for traveling and has an 8-position recline. And as many parents know, we have a knack for carrying a lot with one hand while simultaneously working the gear with the other, which is perfect as the headrest has a 12 position head support. Price: $649.99

Best Booster Seat - Britax Grow With You™ Harness-2-Booster

Best Baseless Infant Car Seat - The Liingo from Clek

At a little over $200, this booster car seat is a great value for a well-designed booster seat. The booster Grow With You™ harness2-booster seat is an easy installation with quick-push LATCH connectors and has two side impact protection layers. Noteworthy is the SafeCell technology in the base which is designed to absorb crash energy. At 23 pounds, this car seat is quite sturdy; while we would definitely take it for long term traveling, we suggest the Britax Skyline High Back Belt-Positioning Booster Car Seat for on-the-go city rides. Price: $209.99

The Liingo from Clek is a baseless infant car seat(the only one in North America) and is ideal for parents on the go especially ones who hop in an Uber/Lyft as it can be installed using the European belt-path method (this video is super helpful on this method) or using the LATCH connectors (in a removable LATCH bin house) for an alternative method of installation. The Liingo works with the Baby Jogger, BabyZen, Bugaboo, Bumbleride, Silver Cross, Stokke, Thule, and Uppababy, using the MaxiCosi car seat adapter made by each stroller brand stroller base. Price: $229.99

Best Tech Car Seat - Evenflo Gold SensorSafe EveryStage Smart All-inOne Convertible Car Seat

Our pick if looking for a car seat that is roomy yet safe. Offering three stages of use that can last up to a decade. The Evenflo Gold SensorSafe EveryStage Smart All-in-One Convertible Car Seat can start from the infant stage and is convertible to the last stage of a booster seat. Installation is straightforward and, once installed, it sits in place. The seat weighs 30 pounds, so while sturdy — for us city folk, this is a car seat perhaps better to live in the car. The car seat prices at under $300, impressive as it features Sensor Safe technology to alert you of unsafe conditions such as unbuckling (my child does this), dangerous temperatures, staying in the seat too long, and if the child is left unattended. And of course, we do not mean to leave our child in a car, but we have many alarms and ring tones in our lives to remind us of important meetings; having one that chimes for our most precious human is nothing short of a brand having your back. Price: $279.99

November/December 2020 | Westchester Family


Home Made Brooklyn interior designer Vanessa Katzen on making a blended family work and mixing high and low in your home by Hester AbA


anessa Katzen is an in-demand and up-and-coming interior designer based in Williamsburg, as well as being mama to Jagger and step-mama to another three kiddos as part of a big, beautiful, blended family. We chatted to Vanessa about her design company, Decormate (thedecormate.com), how her business has been affected by Covid-19 and her advice (and super-affordable tips!) for giving your spaces a fresh look as we head into the winter. Could you tell us a little about how you got started with your career? Has it been a linear journey?

It’s a funny story actually! At the time I lived on Broad Street in lower Manhattan, I was a stay-at-home mom to a 6 month old and we were selling our apartment and moving to Tribeca. One of the realtors who was helping to sell our apartment fell in love with my style and asked if I would help her decorate her apartment in the West Village and it took off from there. I barely had any experience, but I’ve always loved interiors. My father, who is a mid-century furniture collector and art dealer always had an eye for interiors, so I grew up influenced by his passion. Being raised in Manhattan I was also always inspired by my surroundings. I would change my room around every season and my mom would let me! I had a jungle theme one month and hippie theme the next. That freedom of expression really stayed with me and I think brought me to where I am today. Has having kids affected your career? For the most part it has not. I do not take on too many clients at once. This leaves me time to attend to my children and clients in a way that feels good on both ends (along with


some loving help from family and friends). I like to give my clients as much personal attention as I can. My job is a very intimate one. People are letting me into their sacred spaces and I like to develop a friendship so they feel comfortable with the design choices “we” make as a team. Which is how my business name came to be: Decormate is your friend who helps you decorate. How do you make your blended family work? Are there any rituals or practices that you would recommend to others? When the love is there, anything can work! This is the main theme in our household. We are a family of six! Four amazing kids, my incredible love, Dean, and myself! At times it can get a bit hectic with everyone wanting to do different things, but we respect each other’s personal space, we make sure to communicate and sometimes we bicker, which is natural. As a step-family you need trust, consistency and safety. A good relationship with an ex is also very helpful for coparenting. I remain friendly with mine and have built a friendship with his current partner and growing family, which allows us to celebrate occasions and even hang out as one big family. Again, the more love the better! How has your business been impacted by Covid in 2020? At first, my business came to a complete halt. I had a townhouse project in the West Village that I was very passionate about and my clients decided to halt it half way and move to the west coast. Everyone was in a panic and we didn’t know what would happen next. There was a long pause, but something good can always come out of every situation. I now offer e-design, which

WestchesterFamily.com | November/December 2020

enables my clients to work with me in an interactive manner via video chat, which is perfect for social distancing. More than ever people are home and want their environment to look and feel good! Because everything is done online, I can work with clients regardless of where they are located. How would you describe your interior design philosophy? I love people and I love to help and this really comes through in my work. Also, I don’t believe it has to be expensive to look good. Style, in my opinion, is mixing high and low pieces. I can find something on the sidewalk, take it home and accessorize it and it will look just as chic as a store bought piece, except now it has a great story to go with it as well! What makes you cringe when you walk into a space? Clutter, clutter, clutter. As soon as I walk into a cluttered space I have the urge to move things around or eliminate them. No judgment, but I believe clutter hampers one’s ability to grow, creates anxiety, reduces one’s sleep and makes us less productive. I want to help each client feel good and that is my final objective. What common mistakes do you see people making when we’re trying to improve our homes? People usually think they need to spend a lot of money to improve their space. Sometimes I tell clients to take inventory of what they already have, to shop in their own space. It can just be as simple as rearranging, eliminating and swapping out a couple of pieces. Doing that can change the entire energy of a space. How much control do your kids get over the design of their bedrooms? Ha, not much, until recently! My 10-year-old step daughter is really growing into herself and discovering her personal

Vanessa on designing spaces for kids “Kids make the best art! Their walls are great canvases. As far as furnishing, less is more! I prefer to keep kids rooms simple and minimal. Over time that can easily be updated. As they grow, their needs will differ and it will be easier to renovate. “For kids homeschool spaces: you don’t need a large desk area for remote learning. Especially if you have a small space. Try improvising with tall side tables or small wall mounts. “Kids like to be cozy, create a safe and comfortable nook for them, with either a cute table lap or by a window.”

style. She loves anime (Japanese animation). She has created a collage on her entire wall off of black and white anime posters. I have to say its original and inspirational to see and reminds me of my childhood experiences with decorating. How often do you change or re-work your own spaces? Actually quite a bit and have been doing it since I can remember. I like to refresh and change it up. It brings clarity and new perspectives on things. Moving one item can make a huge difference, creating more light or space in your home and your mind! What are your favorite NYC interiors shopping recommendations? I love boutique and vintage furniture stores. I currently live in Williamsburg where there are quite a few shops in my neighborhood that I love popping into on a regular basis. Leif on Grand Street, Mociun on Driggs Ave and The Somerset House on North 6th Street are amongst my favorites. Photo by Yumi Matsuo

Visit Vanessa’s Interior Design at thedecormate.com

November/December 2020 | Westchester Family


family fun

Winter Fun! Revamped Westchester Winter Wonderland offers families an exciting and safe way to celebrate the holidays By Serena Norr


he holidays are going to look way differently this year but that doesn’t mean the magic isn’t still alive. As companies have pivoted to offer safer and socially distanced alternatives, so have events like Westchester Winter Wonderland. This year, the popular holiday attraction is back with a revamped format as a drivethru option, offering families and fun and safe way to soak in the spectacle of holiday lights right from their car. Presented by Westchester Parks Foundation and sponsored by Westchester Medical Center Health Network, the event kicks off on November 27 at 6 p.m. at Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla where visitors will enjoy 1.2 miles of holiday lights, incredible displays and lights, live characters, and a visit from Santa at the end. In the past, my family and I loved checking out their on-site attractions like their interactive circus, rides, ice skating, dazzling lights, visit to Santa’s Village, and food from local vendors. Having moved to Westchester from Brooklyn, five years ago this experience became one of new traditions, so I’m thrilled that they are back in a new drive thru format. This is a great option for so many families who have difficulty taking their small children to places in the cold but still want to soak in the lights and holiday splendor. And at 20-25 minutes, the experience is the perfect way to enjoy an evening as a family that’s safe, socially distanced, and tech-free! For even more merriment, holiday classics can be played through your car’s FM radio. And check out the line-up of what to expect of light displays: FIRESIDE FOREST: A family at home enjoying the holidays dreaming of great times. WINTER WINDS WAY: Old Man Winter blowing beautiful snowflakes swirling in the air.


PEACE ON EARTH PLACE: Floating stained-glass angels herald a message of good. DOVE DRIVE: Illuminated doves of peace fly among the serene memorial trees. TAKE FLIGHT WAY: A dazzling, 50 ft white dove soaring into the night sky. MAGICAL WOODS: Be encircled by dozens of lit, dancing trees. CHRISTMAS TREE PLAZA: Westchester’s largest Christmas Tree, standing at 40 ft LAND OF PACKAGES: Entrancing light display of elves at work packing presents. TWIRLING.TUNNEL: 100 feet of swirling colors will transport you into the holiday season. FA LA LA LA LA LANE: A favorite holiday song brought to light! SNOWSTORM CENTRAL: A magical Winter Wonderland square where the snow flies everywhere. CHARACTER CORNER: Your favorite adventure, princesses, cartoon characters LIVE right outside your car window. CANDY CANE LANE: Towering lit

WestchesterFamily.com | November/December 2020

up red and white candy canes will delight children of all ages. SANTA CLAUS: The grand finale… Santa Claus will greet every car in person at the end of your Westchester’s Winter Wonderland Holiday Light Extravaganza. ELVES PLAYGROUND: Elves playing hide and seek behind the trees. Details: November 27 at 6 pm- January 3, 2021. Time: 6:00pm-9:45 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday December 20 and every night December 21 through January 3, 2021 (except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). Tickets are $25 per car in advance. (+additional cost for van/limo). Advance notice is required for limos and buses that seat more than eight people, please call 914231-4600 for reservations. Same day drive ups are permitted but cannot guarantee wait time at the gate. On-site purchases are available at an additional $10 per vehicle and available on a first come, first served basis if space allows. For more info, visit: https://www. wwinterwonderland.com/

FInanCIal Matters

Jay Mota, CFP®, ChFC® Financial Planner with Prudential Advisors Call for a complimentary personal consultation (914) 565 4287 Jay.Mota@Prudential.com

Investing During Volatile Markets U

• Dollar-cost averaging involves investing small incremental amounts instead of committing all of the capital at once. This reduces investor risk because total capital is never fully at risk. • Adjusting stops and targets to reflect a stock’s price range can also be an effective strategy. Consider using the Average True Range (ATR) to monitor a stock’s average price over time when adjusting your stops and targets. ATR tries to show the commitment of traders. Large or increasing ranges can indicate that traders may continue to bid up or sell down a stock. A decreasing range can suggest waning interest. • Portfolio rebalancing is the strategy of buying and selling bits of a portfolio to return each asset class to its original proportion. This method also works if the investor’s risk tolerance level has changed and the portfolio needs to adjust similarly.

nderstanding the stock market’s unpredictable tendencies is a challenge during the best of times. But what happens when price swings grow abnormally large? It is essential for investors to understand how market volatility affects them and their investments.

Volatility: Definition and Causes It is in the stock market’s nature to fluctuate sharply during the short term, making volatility inevitable. The market’s volatility is measured by its standard deviation, how spread apart the data is from the expectation. Periods when prices fall or rise quickly cause spikes in volatility that take time to revert back to the norm. While driven by a number of factors, uncertainty is a primary culprit. But what drives uncertainty? Everything from emotional responses from investors to differing opinions from experts. Investors tend to overreact to specific events in the market, causing a contagionlike episode that spreads from one institution to another. The 24-hour news cycle and differing opinions from market experts also complicates matters. Emotional reactions along with oversaturated financial information drive volatility. Investment Strategies for Volatile Markets Investors must understand their personal risk tolerance levels to succeed during volatile times. Remaining disciplined to proven strategies can be effec-

Chart suggests generic volatility behavior and does not represent specific market data. Past market performance does not guarantee future results. tive, but regular audits of your portfolio and adjusting your risk tolerance levels accordingly is also prudent. The investor must determine whether a conservative or aggressive investing strategy is right for them. A conservative approach might call for minor portfolio adjustments while still focusing on the long term. On

the other hand, an aggressive risk-taking strategy may focus on capitalizing on the highs and lows of volatile markets. Either way, understanding personal risk tolerance Investors who want to take advantage of volatile times may consider the following strategies:


In Conclusion It is the stock market’s nature to be volatile over the short term. Staying informed, understanding your risk tolerance, and sticking to your long-term goals and planning is usually in your best interest. Material is provided courtesy of Prudential Advisors. Prudential Advisors is a brand name of The Prudential Insurance Company of America and its subsidiaries. Prudential and its representatives do not give legal or tax advice. Please consult your own advisors regarding your particular situation.

Dawn Knief is a licensed real estate salesperson affiliated with Compass. Compass is a licensed real estate broker and abides by Equal Housing Opportunity laws. All material presented herein is intended for informational purposes only. Information is compiled from sources deemed reliable but is subject to errors, omissions, changes in price, condition, sale, or withdrawal without notice. No statement is made as to the accuracy of any description. All measurements and square footages are approximate. This is not intended to solicit property already listed. Nothing herein shall be construed as legal, accounting or other professional advice outside the realm of real estate brokerage. Dawn Knief is a licensed real estate salesperson affiliated with Compass. Compass is a licensed real estate broker and abides by Equal Housing Opportunity laws. All material presented herein is intended for informational purposes only. Information is compiled from sources deemed reliable but is subject to errors, omissions, changes in price, condition, sale, or withdrawal without notice. No statement is made as to the accuracy of any description. All measurements and square footages are approximate. This is not intended to solicit property already listed. Nothing herein shall be construed as legal, accounting or other professional advice outside the realm of real estate brokerage.

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