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The Kartrite Resort and Indoor Waterpark – we loved it!




Do you and your family need a perfect escape from NYC for the fast approaching Easter/Passover break? I want to share with you the most #fabuLYSS resort that’s just 2 hours out of NYC: The Kartrite Restort and Indoor Waterpark.   




This amazing resort had everything you could ever imagine. A huge waterpark, a full arcade, laser tag, bowling, an escape room: the list goes on. Not only did my kids have the best time ever checking out all of the amazing amenities the resort had to offer, but even I had a blast. We had cabanas at the top of waterpark, looking over at all of the action down below. Our kids kept coming back to us telling us about all of the fun slides they went on, and how much fun they were having. Not only were there indoor activities, but there were campfires, movie nights, and much more happening outside of the waterpark.



Now I will admit, I was skeptical about coming to the resort at first, since I am a covid long hauler, and I just wanted to make sure everything was safe. When we get to the resort, it was super clean, the staff all toned down my anxiety, and I felt super safe. When you are at the Kartrite, it’s an escape from the outside world. It was nice to put my phone down and spend some quality time with my family in the midst of everything happening in the outside world. Once I returned back to the outside world, I felt like I didn’t want my stay at the Kartrite to end.




But why does the fun have to stop there? There’s the neighboring Casino where my friends and I can play a little black jack, I can take my kids to the Woodbury Commons for a shopping spree, and even ski down the mountains.


So what do you say? Stop by The Kartrite to ride some water slides, spend quality time with your loved ones, and have the perfect escape from reality. Book your tickets now for the upcoming Passover/Easter break before tickets sell out! Head over to the Kartrite Indoor Waterpark and Resort website and get started on planning your #fabuLYSSfun trip.




How to Organize Your Kids’ Playroom! – 1.19.21

How to Organize Your Kids’ Playroom


The playroom is a space where your kids can be kids. It’s a place for imagining, drawing, playing dress-up, running around and generally enjoying all of the good things that childhood has to offer. It should be a space in which children feel free to be themselves. But, as any parent knows, that space can also turn into a whirlwind of scattered toys, art supplies and game pieces.


That’s why it’s important to organize your kids’ playroom in a way that makes sense and is space-efficient. Wait—an organized playroom? Do those words even go together in the same sentence? Believe it or not, it’s very possible, and we’ll show you nine ways to do it below.



  1. Use wall space to your advantage.


You can do a lot more with wall space than just adding Disney wall decals (although those are awesome, too). Try adding some wall-mounted shelving or bins to help keep the floor clear and provide a great open space for kids to play in. The walls are perfect places to add hooks and pegs for dress-up clothing, and a wall sticker growth chart is a great addition that will help track your kids’ growth. Even just a simple bookshelf can create a big upgrade in terms of useful vertical storage space.


  1. Make cleaning up a collaborative project with your kids.


Children need to learn the value of keeping a clean space, and one great way to teach that is to have them help you clean up the playroom. Teach your kids how to organize their toys into bins, how to sweep up and other key cleaning tasks. You can even attach a whiteboard wall sticker to the wall to help establish when playroom chores need to be done. This will help children take responsibility for their space and learn how to clean and organize on their own.


  1. Throw out the trash, but maybe don’t tell your child.


To create a truly clean and organized playroom, there’s probably some trash you need to get rid of—broken toys, empty bottles of bubble soap and who knows what else. Kids can be funny about what they’re willing to throw away, though, so the best time to clean out the trash is when your child is out of the house or distracted with something else. Don’t tell them it’s gone, and nine times out of ten they’ll never notice its absence.


  1. Sort out toys and donate some.


Your kids’ playroom also likely has some toys that are still perfectly good, but that your children have outgrown or gotten bored with. Take some time with your children to sort the toys into piles, including one that you’ll donate to Goodwill, a local mutual aid organization or a friend or relative’s kids. This can also be a great opportunity for kids to learn about sharing and why it’s important to help out people who are less fortunate than oneself.



  1. Use clear storage bins.


Transparent plastic storage bins are an MVP of home storage for people of any age, but they’re especially good for organizing the toys in a playroom. Their see-through design makes it easy for kids to see what toys are inside and prevents them having to open every bin to find the one toy they’re looking for. Plus, plastic storage bins are so versatile that they can easily be repurposed when your kids have outgrown their toys.


  1. Set up a designated art space.


Art is tons of fun for kids, gives them an outlet for self-expression and can become a lifelong passion. But art can also be quite messy, so it’s a good idea to create a specific space within the playroom for painting, clay and any other artistic pursuits that kids may want to explore. Set up some easy-to-clean vinyl mats to catch spills, and provide equipment like art tables and easels to encourage kids to contain their artistic endeavors to the designated space. Finally, remind kids that art supplies need to be cleaned up and put back in their place just like any other toy.


  1. Make it easy for kids to access things themselves.


You can help kids learn to be more independent by creating kid-friendly organization systems in the playroom. Use labels on your bins that kids can easily understand, place frequently used toys at an accessible height when possible and choose storage bins that your child can open easily and safely. The more a kid can access their own toys and games, the more they can play independently, and the less you’ll be bothered by a kid who needs you to get something off the top shelf.


  1. Create rules and systems for keeping game pieces together.


Pieces for board games can be an especially vexing element of playroom organization. They’re small and easy to get everywhere, but lose enough of them and the game becomes unplayable. For this reason, it’s important to set rules establishing that board games have to be cleaned up and teach kids how to do it correctly. If a game doesn’t come with plastic bags to store its pieces, get some right away and make sure that the pieces are always put back in their proper bags.



  1. If you don’t have a playroom, improvise!


Your living space might not have enough rooms to create a designated playroom, especially if you live in an apartment. Under those circumstances, it’s important to carve out a space from your living area that’s a designated area for toys and games. Try adding some tape around a specific floor area or making a rule that toys can’t leave the play mat. These rules will help keep toys out from under foot in the rest of the house.


By creating a cleaner and more organized playroom, you’ll make life better and easier for both you and your children. With a little bit of patience and creativity, you might never have to feel the pain of stepping on a wayward Lego again.



12.4.20 -Your Suburban Compass with Sari Shaw & Alana Benjamin !!


We have a new #fabULyssfind and one that all #divamoms and dads are going to thank us for!


Your Suburban Compass with Sari Shaw & Alana Benjamin!



 Q: Please tell our readers all about how you help best facilitate with their journey to the suburbs


With all the families and individuals that we meet, the first thing that we do is listen. Finding the right town and neighborhood is kind of like looking for your spouse. We are the matchmakers, and start by listening to what is important, how you see your life in the suburbs and what your goals are. We try to step out of the process and back in with guidance from you.


As former city dwellers, we completely understand where you are coming from, and can identify with any fears or misconceptions. We both left NYC kicking and screaming, and found happiness on the other side. There are so many buyers that either want to head East towards Long Island or head North of the city to Westchester and Connecticut, and they simply don’t know where to start. It can be really daunting, so it is also our job to work as a team and be your guide and take the journey step by step.


Q: As 2021 approaches quickly, many NYC parents are looking to move out to Long Island and Westchester. What does working with you entail? Please describe how you work best with NYC families looking to move to the suburbs.


Once we get an idea of what you are looking for, we brainstorm the best towns and neighborhoods that work for you. We consider commuting needs, budget, schools and most important the town vibe you are looking for. This is honestly the most important part. Do you want walkability, or maybe more of a quiet escape. Perhaps you have dreamed of a house with a pool, or living near the park. In addition to the dating reference above, we can use the recipe reference. All of these things are ingredients that shape the perfect town, for YOU. Meaning, there is no perfect town, but there is a perfect town (or maybe several perfect towns) for you. We often work with buyers looking simultaneously in Westchester and Long Island, and this allows us to share info about the types of homes and neighborhoods you favor, so we can call you and say, we found it!!! Our job is to be your advisors or personal cabinet.


Q: What have you seen an uptick in most recently? Moving to which area and why?


In Long Island we have seen areas that were strong before, remain strong, with easy commutes like Port Washington, Manhasset, Roslyn, Syosset, Jericho. But now people are venturing a bit further out, to areas like Locust Valley, Old Brookville, Dix Hills, Sea Cliff, Cold Spring Harbor, and other areas that were previously a bit overlooked because of their lack of an easy commute. Northern Westchester has appreciated the same sort of demand as commuting needs have become somewhat relaxed. Access to Metro north and parking are still very important, but communities like Chappaqua, Katonah, Armonk, Briarcliff, Pleasantville and Bedford are seeing massive increases. Connecticut in general has grown exponentially this year. Westchester has suffered for years with diminutive inventory while Connecticut has been able to benefit.


Q: When do you ideally think, is the right time to move out of NYC for families? Especially, now with the pandemic?


There is no “The Right Time only the timing that works for you. What we can say is we have seen people are now moving at all times, versus the typical purchase in the spring. What we do tell people is that even if you think you will not be moving for a year, you should start sooner rather than later, so we can help you get a sense of the market. This way when something comes along that is a good fit, you will be able to understand the market and what is good value.


Q: What do you suggest as far as the school districts and what is best for each family?


We are limited a bit in what we can say about schools, but we would urge you to not rely on the numbers or rankings. Some schools can be ranked lower because of low testing numbers (or even because of a hired rate of students opting out of state testing) or other reasons. Also, we have kids, and understand that a good school for one child may not work for another. We can help you find local resources (and groups) to dig deeper and comment on our districts in relation to our experiences within them, our ties to the community and the PTA.


Q: Will you be doing zoom tours of the homes with the new clients and or in person home tours?


Right now we are set up to do both, but the majority of people will come in person. We preview homes generally before they come on, and with our intimate sense of the market we will know and be able to discuss and evaluate with you most homes that come on the market.


Q: How long have you been both working in real estate? What made you want to work together? I love mompreneur stories.


Alana: I have been working in real estate full time for the past 6 years. Previously I was an attorney (although I am still an attorney), and practiced litigation and corporate negotiations. I worked with my mom for several years, she was the best of the best, and I grew up with real estate in my life, it feels part of my DNA almost.


Sari: I have been licensed since 2005, while working in media sales at Iheartmedia. I have been doing Real Estate full time in 2015. We met a few years ago, and honestly were instant friends. We treat our business in the same way, with a real dedication to our clients and customers, and realize that we are helping people make most likely one of the biggest decisions of their lives. We are friends and colleagues, and we can talk on the phone for hours about real estate generally.


  1. Sari is originally from Long Island so we have lots in common from work, parenting, and our strong belief in family first. Life is full of balance so when you can combine your personal and professional life, it makes it all the better. We have the utmost faith and trust in each other which makes our relationship that much easier.


Q: Do you set up calls and or zooms with potential new clients before they sign up to work with you? Please elaborate


We either do a zoom or a call, and then likely a tour of the area (socially distant of course). Initial needs analysis calls are vital to see first, if we are a fit with the prospective client and to curate a buying experience based on their needs. Zooms are far more effective than calls as you can pick up on so many non verbal cues. Body language is extremely important when trying to prepare. A facial expression can tell you so much more sometimes.



Q: How have you found the suburban house market as of lately? Is there a lot of inventory for buying and or renting homes? Which do you see more of right now and why?


 The inventory is SO LOW, so low! But we don’t let that discourage our buyers, and we know that there will be more properties coming on. Right now we are seeing just less movement because the normal channels of people downsizing and moving into the city are delayed plus with many college students working virtually, plans have been put on pause as well. This year can’t be judged in terms of selling patterns as it was such an anomaly. The Spring season was stunted and then restarted two months late. The Summer which should have been more of a slow down, was likely the busiest one that suburbia has seen since before the crash in 2008. It is not just New York, but Chicago , Washington DC , Seattle and San Fran to name a few, saw this type of suburban growth over the summer. The silver lining in this is that although we, as suburban agents , have transacted a lot more business in 2020, the prices are not up in the same proportion as the sales volume. For example, the town of Chappaqua , saw 50% more sales Jan-September in 2020, vs the same time in 2019, BUT prices are up under 10%. There are definitely more eyes and competitive bidding situations, but you aren’t seeing price increases that would be preventive to purchase. There are , of course, exceptions to every rule, but by and large, prices are still within reason.


Q: Please tell our readers anything else that you want them to know about your wonderful company and what they can expect when working with you.


Compass was founded in 2012 in NYC and has expanded nationally. We are now the #1 independent agency in the Country. We are blessed to be surrounded by innovators, captains of industry and exceptional agents who are all here to serve the same mission: Help people find their place in the world. We both came from different agencies and different prior backgrounds, but found Compass to be a thriving environment made for people who want to succeed. We couldn’t imagine doing this job someplace else. We have found our home and hope to help many, many more people find theirs.



Q: What is the best way to get in touch with you (please give your email, phone number and any other information)


Alana Benjamin Alana.Benjamin@compass.com , 917-680-1948 @livinginportwashington


 Sari Shaw sari.shaw@compass.com  917-597-7394 @compass.westchestersarishaw



11.1 – Q & A with Annie Sullivan, Program Director of Intelligentsia tutoring company!



Q:  Please tell our readers all about the Intelligentsia Tutoring Co.


A: Intelligentsia is a full-service tutoring company offering tailored academic tutoring for all subjects, high school admissions assistance, expert test prep, and the very best college admissions consulting. Our goal is not merely to transmit information, but to transform the way students tackle their studies. We have particular expertise in working with NYC independent school and specialized high school students.


Q: We are in this new school world…. How do you think your company can be most helpful to our parents and children?


A: Our strength has always been meeting students where they are and putting them on a trajectory to succeed. This is particularly important this year when their learning not only looks different, but their ability to focus, organize, and be self-sufficient learners may be greatly impacted. We can be most helpful by responding to individuals’ academic needs in a customized way to address any deficit caused by remote learning with individualized support to bridge gaps, while also helping with time management and executive functioning.


Q: Will you be doing PODS? Please explain 


A: We’re hosting small-group test prep courses, which are essentially pods. Only 5-8 students per class, so that scholars still get individualized attention while parents get a cost savings. And while we’re not playing matchmaker for overarching education pods, we are providing instructors for pods, creating custom curricula for pods, and consulting on pod formation, best practices, and enrichment.


Q: Where do you get your tutors from? How do you vet them?


A: Our tutors are the best. What happens most often is that we get referrals from current tutoring staff or personal connections in the education world and then I make sure they have at least four to five years of previous teaching or tutoring experience. I also look for tutors who have additional curricular development or enrichment backgrounds, because it speaks to their ability to teach not just their own mastery of a subject. For high school or advanced work, I generally require graduate or postgraduate degrees from top tier universities.


Q: What is the pricing? Are there different pricing options, please explain 


A: Our pricing ranges widely based on the experience and expertise of our tutors and reflects our tutors’ commitment to educating the whole student. This year, we’ve added more tutors in an effort to offer our services to a wider array of clients.


Q: Will the tutoring do be online, during zoom sessions? 


A: We’ve been primarily remote (Zoom, Hangouts, Skype, FaceTime) since mid-March, but have recently begun sending some tutors in-person if the client requests it.


Q: How did you come up with the idea for your much-needed company today?


A: Intelligentsia started with the desire to fill the gap between what schools offer and what students absorb. After many years of working as educators for universities, private schools, and tutoring companies, our founders Hilda and Matt Seidman began tutoring on their own, intent on improving the very notion of what it meant to hire a tutor. We take a holistic approach to tutoring, addressing not only academics but mental and emotional health. This approach was inspired by Hilda (a practicing psychoanalyst) and Matt’s first-hand experience of discovering the quasi-therapeutic relationship between tutor and scholar and their recognition that effective academic tutoring meant being able to navigate social/familial dynamics and help manage stress.


Q: Do you have tutors that specifically work with children with special learning issues? Please elaborate


A: Yes! We have select members of our tutoring team who have multiple years of experience working with students with a variety of learning differences or special learning requirements. We also have a learning specialist on staff who is available to consult with parents and students on the most effective use of tutoring, understanding your IEP, and how to advocate for your child’s unique needs to both teachers and in school environments.


Q: How long are the tutoring sessions? How many times a week do you recommend?


A: It really depends on the age of the student and the subject but consistency is key and we want to make sure students have enough time to fully understand the concepts they’re working through. For high school, the ideal schedule is at least two 90-minute sessions each week and we’ve actually found that virtual sessions are slightly more efficient, so even 60-minute sessions are effective right now. For elementary school students, sessions are no longer than 60 minutes and in some cases, we’ll do 30-minute sessions multiple times a week.


Q: Please tell our readers anything else that you want them to know about your amazing, much-needed company… 


A: So glad you asked! We’ve actually just announced a few new offerings that we would love to tell all the DivaMoms about. The first is Remote Education Managers, tutors that oversee your student’s daily time management, assignment tracking, teacher communication, and technological assistance needs. They’ll check-in strategically throughout the day or week to ensure learning stays efficient and on track while allowing you to focus on your own work. The second new offering is a college application critique that allows students to get feedback from our experts on their completed applications. And the third is our small-group test prep courses that we mentioned previously. We’ve also provided tutors for all kinds of things over the years: computer programming, grad school applications, lighting design portfolios, songwriting, and nutrition, just to name a few.


Q: What is the best way to get in touch with you (please give your email, phone number and any other information)


A: You can reach me, Annie, directly by calling (347) 201-1897 or emailing annie@intelligentsianyc.com You can also visit up online at inelligentsianyc.com and check us out on Twitter and Instagram at @intelligentNYC.

1.27.20 – 6 Ideas for Toddler Play Dates!

There’s nothing more fun than spending time with a friend. Play dates are an excellent way for your little one to use their imagination and practice their social skills. If you’re interested in hosting, be sure to read this list of fun outdoor and indoor activities for toddlers. Each activity is unique, engaging and educational, but be sure your toddler is dressed appropriately. Best of all, they’re easy to manage and don’t take much time to plan. We can’t wait for you and your child to discover your favorites! 


  1. Laughing & Crafting


Play dates don’t have to be complicated to be memorable. There are plenty of activities for toddlers at home that will have your child laughing and learning something new. If you have a few minutes to plan and a moment to stop by the store, we recommend holding a craft party.


Place a large piece of paper or a square of canvas on the floor of your playroom or garage. Tape it to make sure it’s secure and then let the kids go crazy with toddler-friendly washable paint. Provide paintbrushes or just let them use their fingers and hands. Make sure they’re wearing older clothes you can throw away. When they’re done painting, you can gift the artwork to their friend or display it for the next time they come over. Other fun ideas include layering different colors of sand into a Mason jar to create a take-home keepsake. If you want to join in, you can help the toddler twosome make their own friendship bracelets. Don’t forget simple holiday ornaments, handprint turkeys and other seasonal crafts.


  1. Cooking & Eating


Inspire your child’s inner chef by holding a play date with a cooking theme. The activities don’t have to be unsafe or difficult. An appetizer party is straightforward and doesn’t require any baking. Gather ingredients like celery sticks, almond butter and raisins to make Ants on a Log. You can also create mini sandwiches or a custom fruit salad by letting each child choose their own types of fruit.


If you don’t have a problem supervising the oven, a little pizza recipe is fun. If you ask us, it almost feels like crafting! Toddlers also enjoy helping make roll-up snacks with tortillas and fun ingredients such as cheese and deli meat. Before you begin, have a conversation with the other toddler’s parents to check that they don’t have any allergies. You’ll also want to know if they’re vegan or vegetarian.


  1. Walking & Exploring


When the weather is nice, take your play date outside. The park, pond and beach are all exciting places to walk around and discover new items. Trek through a tree-lined nature trail and discover different colored acorns or leaves. If you’re romping around the shore, work to classify different types of seashells.


Toddlers also like to talk about birds, trees and clouds. As long as you make a game out of it, you’ll keep the kids engaged. Invite the children to breathe in the fresh air, notice the feel of the breeze and discuss the textures they see and feel. Before heading out on a warm or chilly day, make sure everyone is wearing appropriate clothing. Hats, mittens or sneakers with grip may be necessary to have fun while staying safe.


  1. Singing & Dancing


Create a special occasion in the comfort of your home by holding a toddler dance party. Invite your child’s friend to arrive in a costume. You could also ask them to bring their favorite scarf, hat or sunglasses. Play holiday tunes, movie soundtracks or boogie down to the songs of different decades.


Take a short break for snacks or have lunch ready for after the party’s over. Encourage the kids to move their bodies and sing along. Don’t be afraid to let the parents join in, too!


  1. Brainstorming & Building


While you’re scheduling with the other parent, ask them if they can bring a couple of cardboard boxes. Designate two to three boxes per child and then have a brainstorming session to decide what to do with them. Some kids like to draw or paint on the outside to make them look like cars or boats. Others will use them as a structure for a stuffed animal puppet show.


Your toddler might want to simply push them around or sit inside them. The important thing is that they’re having fun! If you have room in a closet or inside your garage, stack them for the next play date. Many parents find they can get a few uses out of them.


  1. Watching & Snacking


Instead of going to the movies, why not make your own theater at home? First, decide on a classic kid favorite or a holiday movie. Next, plan your family friendly movie snacks. Some toddlers do fine with pretzels or popcorn, while others prefer mixed fruit, cereal bars or some organic cheese sticks.


Gather blankets, stuffed animals and pillows to make the room relaxing. You can even invite everyone to wear their pajamas. It doesn’t matter if your child isn’t ready for a sleepover. There are plenty of types of toddler sleepwear out there that look cute enough to wear outside. If it’s snowing or raining, encourage the kids to wear cozy slippers or use flashlights.


Planning a Fun, Memorable Toddler Play Date


If you’ve been avoiding play dates because you think they’re too expensive, or just aren’t sure how to pull one off, our ideas are here to help. Call the friend your child always talks about and ask their parents if they’re free this weekend. Tell them about a few of the activities above and ask which one they think their toddler would like. With your child’s enthusiasm and your thoughtful activities in mind, you’re sure to plan a play date everyone will love.


# sponsored by Gerber

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