Choosing the Right Pediatrician: 29 Questions to Ask

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Finding the RIGHT pediatrician is one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make.  They will become your partner in raising a healthy child – managing your worries and concerns, offering meaningful advice and if you’re truly lucky, you will look at them as an extension of your family.

Roll back almost 5 years, I was about to give birth to my first. I asked a local parent-friend and she recommended a pediatrician in Park Slope who she was satisfied with. I was working FT, didn’t have the time to research, and did not necessarily understand the significance of the decision that I was (frivolously) making. I ended up giving birth to my daughter at Methodist Hospital, and immediately connected to the pediatrician on staff. He held my little girl like she was his own, with an aura of such warmth and compassion that could not be compared.  It was instant, I knew he had to be our doctor! That is how we met Dr. Cao and the amazing staff at SSP.

I was very, very lucky that he was the pediatrician on staff that day and I was able to make the right decision after almost making a very hasty one.  For those of us who understand the importance of finding the right pediatrician and actually doing the research, we’ve put together a list of questions that you should consider asking both the doctor and yourself:

 

Logistics:

– What happens during a well visit?

– How do I bring my sick child to the doctor? Do I need an appointment or can I just walk in?

– What is the average wait time?

– How many doctors are in the practice?

– Will I see the same doctor or do I see whoever is available?

What are the business hours?

– How does the office handle emergencies during business hours and after business hours?

– Is the practice conveniently located, easy to get to?

 

Medical:

– Try to find out the doctor’s approach to practicing medicine. Is it evidence based? For example, you can ask questions about use of antibiotics.

– Ask if the doctors are members of the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics). This is also a good indication of their practice philosophy.

– Ask about their sleep training philosophy

– Ask about immunization policies

– Ask to meet the nurses who will care for your baby before and after the visit with the doctor

– Ask what tests (if any) are done at the office

– If you’re expecting, ask about what vaccines the adults who will care for your baby should receive.

Does the pediatrician or pediatricians have any specialty or focus (important to ask if your kid has any type of special needs)?

 

Insurance:

– Make sure the doctor you choose as your Primary Care Physician is in network with your plan. Call your insurance to get an updated status of the doctor’s participation.

– Does your partner have different insurance than you? Ask to talk to a billing specialist for advice.

– Ask what to expect in terms of copays, coinsurance and deductible (please, send the office your insurance information ahead of time)

– Ask what happens to the claims for the first visits while the baby is still not officially under the policy.

– Ask how you will be billed for your responsibilities and how you can pay.

 

A Good Fit (talk about Culture):

It’s important to find out if the practice you are visiting and the doctor you are meeting are a good fit for your family. One way to understand this is to evaluate their company culture.

– Was everyone nice, humble, helpful, attentive, detailed oriented?

– Did you feel ‘at home’ while experiencing the practice?

– Did you leave the meet and greet feeling excited?  

– Did you feel like you “connected” with the staff?

– Have you noticed how the front desk team talks to patients?

– Test them on every channel: call the office and pay attention to how they speak. Email them and see how fast they reply. Reach out on social media and check if they respond and how (Please, remember that as per HIPAA medical information can’t be discussed on social media)

– Ask if the practice has established Core Values (most people will probably stare blankly for a few seconds). Establishing core values is the first step for a business to create and promote a company culture that turns a ‘cold business machine’ into a more human-like team that has your interest and happiness in sight at all times.

How is the practice involved in their community? How do they give back?

 

To summarize, please don’t make the same mistake I almost did…do your research.  Try to find other neighbors and friends who are patients of the practice you are interested in.  See what they have to say. Ask all of the questions in the world – after all, you are trusting this person with your child’s health.  What could be more important than that? 🙂

10 Dinner Ideas for Your Family to Enjoy Together

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Coming clean here: I often dread dinner time. After a full day, who on earth wants to make two separate dinners – one for the kids and one for the adults?! Not me. Although sometimes I do succumb to this I try my hardest not to make those frozen chicken nuggets the norm. After all, I want my children’s taste buds to be as all-inclusive as possible (ha ha, much easier said than done)! My kids eat super early so it’s often the night before’s dinner leftovers for them, and a new dinner for my husband and me.

Here are 10 healthy, easy and generally crowd-pleaser dinner ideas that your entire family will (hopefully) enjoy. They are tasty, fun, colorful and balanced.

 

* Make Your Own Taco – Let your child help make his/her taco. This is FUN!!! Lettuce, avocado…greek yogurt to dip.   Substitute beef with bison for a healthier option. These shrimp tacos are a favorite in my house!

 

* Crispy Chicken and Homemade Fries – SO much healthier than the frozen chicken nuggets and store bought fries (packed with added sugar, fats, sodium). To make the adults version a little more “mature”, how about a chipotle dip?

 

* Mac n’ Cheese – Adults love a good mac n’ cheese just as much as the littles do.  Want to kick the healthy factor up a notch? Substitute regular pasta with a whole wheat, brown rice or bean based pasta.

 

* Moroccan Chicken – Fast and tasty, this recipe includes peaches and orange juice to add flavor and please those sugar-craving taste buds.

 

* Orecchiette with Broccoli and Walnuts – Fresh pasta with protein and fiber filled walnuts and vitamin-rich broccoli. Simple, colorful and yummy.

 

* Almond Fish Sticks – OK, yum…cod covered in crunchy almonds and flakes. Want to add a little “adult” into this recipe? Make a side dipping sriracha or tartar sauce.

 

* Black Bean Quesadillas – This is my go-to when I need something super-quick, that I enjoy as well.  SUPER simple and healthy. Add a fried egg if you want!  On the “adult” quesadilla, consider adding onions, spices and jalapeños!

 

* Swordfish Piccata – My daughter, like many other 4 year olds I know, will not eat fish (other than shrimp)…HOWEVER, there is something about swordfish that excludes it from the “I hate fish” rule. Maybe it’s the more dense consistency, almost like chicken – not sure. Personally, I don’t include capers on hers, and I’m generally not a fan of thyme either.

 

* Hamburger Buddy Pasta – This recipe helps you hide a few vegetables, like mushrooms and carrots. Try substituting with bison for a healthier version. Add spices to the adult portion as many will find it on the blander side without.

 

* Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce – Kids cannot get enough pasta. Let’s at least try to make it a little healthier for them by making a homemade tomato sauce! Here is basic recipe, for you to tweak as you wish!

 

One piece of advice to new mommies – don’t succumb to “kids food” 24/7. They will be dictating their menu to you, and will refuse to open up to new (healthier) ideas.  Listen, getting a toddler to eat a new food or fish for example (god forbid), can feel excruciatingly impossible. We’re not going to win every food war. My thought is this: have them at least TRY something, even just a few bites. They might actually like something they thought they detested. There’s an old Sesame Street episode about this, where Elmo has to try a kiwi, which he didn’t think he liked…and he enjoys it! Try watching this with them. Note: it can take ten tries before your taste buds decide if they like a food or not.   And…often if my child is not crazy about the dinner option for the evening, I explain there are no other options, so she needs to eat whatever it is if she doesn’t want to go to bed starving. And of course definitely no after dinner sweet if she doesn’t eat it.  Having the energy to take this on every night is difficult, but we can try to introduce new healthy foods once or twice a week and see what sticks! Don’t give up!

 

Parents: Here are 10 Ways We Can Implement Better Self-Care

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written by Jen Valu

 

I’m talking to all parents here, but moms specifically.  We are always too busy (a word I use way too often to describe how I’m doing), taking care of everyone – our kids, our home, even our spouse…that we often neglect a very important person – YOURSELF.  Easier said than done, I am guilty as charged.  I sometimes wait 6 months to get a haircut.  I rarely get much needed “girl time” with my friends.  I can’t remember the last time I was able to pick up a book and get lost in it.  I feel good thinking about all of the things I get done every day – taking care of two children, working PT, paying bills, food shopping, taking care of the house and  somehow mustering up the energy after both kids are asleep to make my husband and I dinner when he gets home from work.  After all, look at what we accomplish every single day.  We should feel proud!!!  BUT…do you ever feel like you’re losing yourself in the day to day grind, not having a moment to think about you?

Here are a few ideas for ways we can take care of ourselves without breaking the bank and taking too much time away from those snuggles and laughs with our babies.

 

  • EXERCISE.  Don’t have a gym membership?  Doesn’t matter.  Get your heartrate up for 30 min.  Go for a walk – do the Prospect Park loop.   Catch up on your favorite podcast while you’re out and about!  Release those endorphins.
  • Go to your favorite cafe, alone.  People watch (Brooklyn is a great place to do this) or meet up with a friend for a cup of Joe.
  • Take a bath  (when is the last time you did this)?  Candles, music, glass of wine – do it up!!!!
  • Take that meditation or yoga class.  Re-center yourself.
  • Once a month, make a date night – not necessarily with your spouse (let them babysit) –  maybe with a friend.  Make a plan to do dinner, go to a concert, whatever.  Something you really want to do.  Agree that your spouse does the same, this way you are both helping each other with self care and striving to be happier parents, together!
  • Go outside by yourself – on your balcony, on your rooftop, wherever that is.  Get that fresh air and bring your your favorite music.  Enjoy a quiet cup of tea or coffee.  Breathe.  Alone.
  • Do you have a creative hobby?  Don’t neglect it.  Painting, drawing, photography, writing, playing music?  Take a little time to invest in that hobby.
  • Go the park by yourself.  Bring your beach-chair and relax under your favorite tree for a half hour and catch up on a book.
  • Getting to the hair salon can often be difficult and time consuming…how about a quick mani or pedi?  Or a half hour massage…ahhh.  Reward yourself.
  • Sleep in.  Make sure you and your partner allow the other to do this on a regular basis.  There is no downplaying how important it is for you to catch enough z’s.

 

Try setting your alarm clock 20-30 min early if you can’t find time in the day to do these things.   Start the day with YOU-time.  And watch the beautiful sun rise while you do it.

Listen, there is never enough time in the day or the funds to do what we really want to do for ourselves. Sure I’d love a day at the spa once a month and a yearly trip with close girlfriends somewhere on a secluded beach in the Caribbean.   I’d love to go into Manhattan, all alone and just wander around for an entire day.  Meet up with friends for lunch, go shop.  Just a me-day.  One day we’ll all get there (here’s to hoping), but these things can feel a little out of reach with the little people in our lives.   Maybe we can take some of these small steps towards that much needed “me time”.   

Remember, if you feel like you’re taking care of “everything”, that includes you.  If you truly take care of yourself, you are happier…you are a better parent, a more patient parent.  You’re also letting your children know that YOU matter, and that you truly value yourself.

 

10 Family Activities to Enjoy In & Around Brooklyn this July

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Looking for something special to do during the month of July with your family?  Look no further.  Here are 10 ideas, from taking your child “Phishing”, kayaking at the Brooklyn Bridge Park, and checking out interactive installations at the Kids Summer Family Day at the Whitney Museum of Art.

 

July 4th:  Independence Day in Prospect Park, 12-5pm:   Enjoy family-friendly activities at the Prospect Park Audubon Center, Lefferts Historic House and the Carousel.  Activities include nature activities at the Audubon Center, signing a reproduction of the Declaration of Independence at the Lefferts Historic House and a ride on the infamous 1912 carousel.  https://www.prospectpark.org/news-events/events/2017/7/4#independence-day-prospect-park-2017

July 4th (location: all over NYC):  Do you have a little one that will stay up late and watch fireworks with you?  Time Out lists best places to watch this year, including Brooklyn Bridge Park and the Brooklyn Heights Promenade:  https://www.timeout.com/newyork/things-to-do/where-to-watch-the-4th-of-july-fireworks

July 8th:  Family Cooking in the Garden at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, 1pm-2:30pm.  Bring the whole family to the Children’s Garden for an afternoon cooking class. Harvest produce from the garden, then try the kitchen tool, techniques, and recipes in the Children’s Garden that will also keep kids engaged in the home kitchen. The group will prepare one farm-fresh entree and one dessert to share.  Member Fee: $15, Non-Member Fee:  $17.  https://classes.bbg.org/CourseStatus.awp?&course=17SCGFCGA

July 9th and 23rd: Rock and Roll Playhouse at Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg, 12pm.  On the 9th come check out The Music of Elvis Presley for Kids.  And on July 23rd, Kids Gone Phishing: Baker’s Trio.  Each workshop is 60 minutes long and is specifically designed for children 7 and under, but all members of the family are welcome to this family show.  All ages, tickets are $10 (kids under 1 are free).   http://www.brooklynbowl.com/event/1487392-rock-roll-playhouse-music-brooklyn/ and http://www.brooklynbowl.com/event/1469789-kids-gone-phishing-baker-s-brooklyn/

July 15th:  Whitney Kids Summer Family Day at the Whitney Museum of Art, 10:30am – 3pm.  Immerse yourself in movement at Whitney Kids Summer Family Day! Explore moveable sculptures in Calder: Hypermobility and interactive installations in Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium. Join us for gallery activities, artmaking workshops, and a special Samba performance and dance party. You can also pick up a free Kids Activity or Audio Guide.  Buy your admission ticket online in advance to save $.  http://whitney.org/Events/Summer2017FamilyDay

July 16th and 30th:  Music In The Grove at Fort Greene Park, 11am-12pm:  Free. On July 16th:  Kids Concert W/ Rozz And Val Show.The Brooklyn-based high-energy duo Rozz & Val Show is coming to Fort Greene for an extra fun Sunday!  http://www.fortgreenepark.org/events/2017/5/31/music-in-the-grove-kids-concert-w-suzi-shelton-sng5r-bms53.  And on July 30th: Kids Concert With Hopalong Andrew.  Come listen to some upbeat, urban cowboy tunes brought to you by Hopalong Andrew, a former Central Park Ranger! Bring your blanket and set it down by the trees just south of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument for this free concert catered to children 0-8 years old.  http://www.fortgreenepark.org/events/2017/5/31/music-in-the-grove-kids-concert-w-suzi-shelton-sng5r-bms53-rwsck-9m35n

July 30th:  Member’s Night for Children and Sunset Picnic, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, 6:30pm-8pm.  For members only (great reason to join prior)!  Join the fun-loving bluegrass band Astrograss for an evening of singing and dancing, especially for the kids in your life! BBG educators will also be on hand with a special planting activity.  https://www.bbg.org/visit/event/members_night_for_children

Sundays through October:  Smorgasburg, Breeze Hill in Prospect Park, 11am – 6pm.  Find 100 vendors and food from all over the world every Sunday at Breeze Hill, located near Lakeside and the park’s Lincoln Road entrance. Presented in partnership with Prospect Park Alliance. Dog friendly. Rain or shine.  Here is a list of the top 10 foods you might need to try this year:  http://bbook.com/nightlife/10-things-you-need-to-eat-at-smorgasburg-2017/

Saturdays through 8/26:  Kayaking In Brooklyn Bridge Park, 10am-3pm.  For those with older kids, this is a fun adventure waiting for you!  Free.  Location: Pier 2.  Glide along the water while kayaking with the Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse at the Pier 2 floating dock! Children under 18 must have an adult guardian present. All levels are welcome and no experience is necessary. There are doubles for one adult and no more than one child under 14 (or paddler that needs assistance).  http://www.brooklynbridgepark.org/events/kayaking

Thursdays – Sundays through October:  Makeryard, Brooklyn Children’s Museum (Crown Heights):  Inspired by adventure playgrounds, MakerYard, Brooklyn Children’s Museum’s newest exhibition, invites children to test their motor skills and imaginations as they construct, build, and invent structures and other creations using everyday materials such as cardboard, tape, fabric, string and recyclables. Parents and caregivers are invited to sit back and let children explore independently, or work collaboratively to create together.  http://www.brooklynkids.org/visiting-exhibits/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ideas for Staying Cool AND Having Fun This Summer!

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Photo of Shipwrecked Miniature Golf, by Sai Mokhtari

OK…it’s starting to get hot, and it’s only going to get hotter. You’re in your little (hopefully) air conditioned apartment wondering how you and your family will be able to play and enjoy your day without melting into a puddle. You’re sick of the local playground water feature and need a change. What to do??? Here are some ideas, including awesome public pools and for those SUPER hot days…indoor play spaces!

 

Shipwrecked Miniature Golf: Right in our back yard of Red Hook, take the family out for a fun day of miniature golf (perhaps followed by a seafood lunch at Brooklyn Crab – also in Red Hook)! This place is indoor, has 18 holes and even theatrical lighting and special effects as you travel through the different themed areas of the course! They also host singers, magicians, jugglers and more. 621 Court St, 2nd Floor. http://www.shipwreckednyc.com/

City Treehouse: For those who are adventurous and are willing to take your child into Manhattan, check out the City Treehouse. Inside this play area is an interactive water play, a treehouse themed indoor play area, even a cavern illuminated by stars! It’s in Chelsea at 129A W 20th St. (between 6th and 7th Ave), Manhattan. http://www.citytreehouse.com/

Lefrak at Lakeside: You probably know about the amazing splash pad with 41 jets (AMAZING)…but, have you considered the other activities here? Rollerskating of course… and what about renting a single or double surrey bike for your family, and go explore Prospect Park? OR, go on a pedal boat where they allow one lap child. You could spend an entire day here, there is so much fun to be had! http://lakesidebrooklyn.com/#page-content

Brooklyn Public Pools: There are a plethora of free public pools right here in Brooklyn. A few of the favorites are the Red Hook Pool, the Sunset Park Pool, the Brooklyn Bridge Pop-up Pool and the Double D Pool in Gowanus. Remember to read all of the rules before planning your trip (check out “Know Before You Go” section here: https://www.nycgovparks.org/facilities/outdoor-pools)

The NY Transit Museum: This underground super COOL museum is where you can sit on a vintage car, sit at the wheel of a city bus and check out a real subway platform and tracks with cars from different times in history. The interactive exhibits are so exciting for the little ones. Boerum Place at Schermerhorn Street in downtown Brooklyn. http://www.nytransitmuseum.org/

NY Beaches: Of course there is Coney Island, but how about Jacob Riis in Queens? There’s a playground, concession stand and a boardwalk. Or maybe try Cedar Grove Beach in Staten Island, known as the cleanest of the Staten Island beaches. https://www.timeout.com/newyork/attractions/best-beaches

SeaGlass Carousel: Pretend you’re underwater and check out the new SeaGlass Carousel, where you sit on an iridescent fish, instead of a horse – and “swim” up and around in all different directions. It’s amazing and such a quick subway ride on the R to Battery Park. http://www.seaglasscarousel.nyc/

American Museum of Natural History: Check out those dinosaurs and explore and discover in the “Discovery Room”, where kids can dig for dinosaur bones or search for animals in a baobab tree. Microscopes, animals and other fun things are there for your child to explore. There’s even a story time here on Monday mornings for preschoolers! http://www.amnh.org/learn-teach/pre-k-to-grade-2

NYC Water Taxi:  Thinking about going into Manhattan with the family?  Instead of the usual subway ride, get a little creative and take your family on the NYC water taxi from Red Hook into Wall Street!  Best part…it’s free on Saturdays and Sundays.  See the beautiful views of the NYC skyline while you cool off in the summer breeze.   After, head over to Pearl Street where you will find several restaurants with outdoor seating.  https://www.nywatertaxi.com/ikea

 

While you’re at it, treat yourself to a gelato or an ice cream. The best ice cream in town can be found at Ample Hills Creamery, which has a location in Gowanus that includes a rooftop deck with chairs! And check out L’Albero Dei Gelati in the Slope for some incredibly yummy gelato.  Bring on the heat, this can also be the most fun time of the year here in Brooklyn. Enjoy!!!

Dear Mom: I’m Sorry, Thank You…and You’re Totally Amazing

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written by jen valu

 

Dear Mom:  I’m Sorry, Thank You…and You’re Totally Amazing

 

I want to start this letter to you with an apology.  I often tortured you as a teenager.  How could I be so mean to the sweetest, most kind, loving and giving mother a girl could ask for.  I was insensitive and incredibly mean to you at times.  I remember purposely making you cry, telling you I hated you over and over again.  I wish with all of my being that I could take back those hateful words and replace them with what I was really feeling at the time:  “I’m miserable.  I’m depressed.  I’m hormonal.  I’m bored with life.  I want to be somewhere else. I’m not happy and I don’t know how to handle anything right now, I feel out of control”.  But instead, I turned my anger and frustration at life onto you, the one person who devoted her life to keeping me and my sister fed, keeping us safe, and most importantly – loving us unconditionally.    I’ve apologized for this behavior later in life, but again mom…I’m so sorry and I hope I’ve made it up to you since.

Now that I’m a mother of two, one being a little girl, I cringe when I fast-forward ahead 10 years.  Is that what my future will hold as well? Now she is only 4, and full of love.  “You’re my best friend, mommy”.  “You make my heart so happy”.  “I love being with you, I always miss you when I’m at school”.  “I wish you could snuggle with me ALL night”.    How do I make sure the transformation never happens from the sweetest little girl to a miserable teen full of angst like her mommy?   I don’t think you could have done anything differently, you did everything right.

Moving on…I’m writing this letter to also say THANK YOU mom.  Thank you for all the time you devoted to me and my little sister.  For how unselfish you always were.  For letting us rule the radio stations in the car, for driving us sometimes 20 minutes to a friends’ house.  Thank you for making the most incredible meals…so good that my friends were begging to have dinner at our house.  For always letting me eat all the leftovers, and accepting my apology when I ate them and it was meant for dinner the next night.  Thank you for always having the most comfortable shoulder for me to rest my head on.  Thank you for taking me to soccer, to ballet and to too many New Kids on the Block concerts.  Thank you for laughing when I made fun of your “bumble bee” glasses or how you pronounce “latte” like “la- tey”.   Thank you for always being so encouraging when it came to the clarinet.  Tryouts upon tryouts, concerts, rehearsals every Saturday morning.  You made sure I never missed one.  Thank you for driving us to all of the colleges and tours, and allowing us the means to go to the schools we desired.   

Most of all, thank you for showing me the most unconditional love.  Thank you for loving me even when I didn’t deserve it.   Thank you for everything.  

Before I end this letter I need to give you some much needed praise.  I’m not sure you fully understand just how proud my sister and I are of you.  Not only did you take such amazing care of us, but thank you for always taking such special care of dad, especially at the end.  When he died 12 years ago, you unwillingly took over his company and with grace, helped it dissolve and eventually close after the worst economic periods (hopefully) in our country’s short history.   You managed to pick up the pieces, as painful as that was, and sold our home of 30 years .  You moved to a beautiful place by the sea and started a new life.  You became strong and independent.   You are now the lobster-roll connoisseur.   You fell in love again. You are happy.  

I love you mom, I’m eternally grateful for you loving me and my little sister so much, unconditionally, through the good and the bad.   Thank you for also being the most fun, silly and loving Gaga/Grandma our kids could ask for.  Dad sure is proud of you.

 

Love,

Jennifer

 

Fun-Filled Family Activities in the Slope!

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Spring is HERE!!!!  And this upcoming month’s local Brooklyn events do not disappoint.  Celebrate the cherry blossoms, get your children’s voices heard in a  “Children’s March”,  explore a fire truck and more at Touch-a-Truck, and experience a live outdoor concert with your kids by the Brooklyn Bridge.   So many special memories to be made!

May 13th:  It’s BAAAACK!!!! The best kids street fair in Brooklyn, the PS 295 7th annual Touch-a-Truck Event is here!   SO many trucks to explore, bouncy houses, delicious food, music and MORE.  18th St between 6th and 7th Ave, rain or shine. 12pm-5pm.  Buy tix in advance to save $.  Check out the Make-a-Truck Art center, sponsored by your very own SSP!  http://ps295touchatruck.weebly.com/

Saturdays and Sundays through August 20th:  Come see “The Reluctant Dragon” at Puppetworks, the story of a dragon protesting the mistreatment of his species.  Adapted for Marionettes by Michael Leach. Ages 3+.   Shows are at 12:30 and 2:30pm.  Reservations are suggested!  http://puppetworks.org/

April 29th and 30th:  From 10am-6pm celebrate traditional and contemporary Japanese culture during the cherry blossom season at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.    Sakura Matsuri events include dance and music performances, a flower hat procession, live martial arts and a magic show!  https://www.bbg.org/visit/event/sakura_matsuri_2017/

April 29th:  From 10am-4pm check out the Spring Carnival at PS 321 at 180 7th Avenue between 1st and 2nd St.    There will be face painting, nail art, food, bouncy castles, a book shop, games to enjoy…and more!  http://ps321.org/spring-carnival/

May 4th – 8th:  For ages 2-5, Olive & Pearl tells the story of a young girl being raised by her Granny.  Told through puppetry, theater, dance and live music, this tale takes the youngest theatergoers on a sensory journey filled with wonder, surprise and delight.  BAM Theater.  http://www.bam.org/oliveandpearl

May 13th:  A truly remarkable event, this Children’s March gives our children the opportunity to stand up and speak out about the issues that are important to them.  Celebrating “independent thought, community, inclusivity, and their future”.  11am-2pm at Cadman Plaza.  https://www.facebook.com/events/1075768622552815/

May 20th:  Want to watch an incredible event and help cheer on Dr. Cao?  Come watch the Brooklyn Half Marathon, and high-five those runners as they pass by!  Show your support for those who have trained so hard, and share this inspiring experience with your kids.http://www.nyrr.org/races-and-events/2017/airbnb-brooklyn-half

May 20th and 21st:  Is your child obsessed with the “baa baas”?  Want to see those sheep get a haircut?  Look no further…come to the Prospect Park Zoo to enjoy some special wool activities and learn all about these animals and their coats at the 23rd Annual Fleece Festival.   On Sunday at 1pm you can even join a parade from the Zoo barn to the Lefferts Historic House as the fleece is transported, and see how it’s processed into yarn!  https://prospectparkzoo.com/events/14

May 26th -28th:  Staying local this Memorial Day Weekend and looking for something fun to do?  Take your family to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum where you can play with imagination playground blocks (including Magnatiles) AND join in the “Can You Dig It” program, where your child can recover fossils, rocks and minerals on their own archaeological dig!   http://www.brooklynkids.org/memorial-day-weekend/

Every Saturday through August 19th:  Come experience a free 1 hour family concert starting 4pm on the water at Brooklyn Bridge Park.  Beautiful music with a stunning view….this can’t be beat.    http://www.brooklynbridgepark.org/events/bargemusic

Interview with our Wonder Woman, Lorraine!

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We thought it would be perfectly appropriate this month to interview Lorraine Ruiz-Montgomery, who has been an integral part of the SSP team for 4 years now and has just won the latest SSP award for the Core Value “Good is the Enemy of Great”!  I’m sure almost all of you have had interaction with her, whether it is when she greets you at your little one’s visit with her welcoming smile, or when she helps you with your questions on a phone call.   Let’s learn more about our wonder-woman Lorraine in this month’s interview!

Can you tell us a little about you and your family?  Do you have children?  Do you have any special interests or hobbies you can share?

I am a mom of 2 boys: my oldest is 17 years and my little one is 8 years.  I have been with my husband for 26 years.  I consider myself to be compassionate, well-organized and hard-working.  A special interest of mine is comic superheroes.  My favorite superhero is Wonder Woman.  I have always looked up to her since I was little because she is a strong and fearless woman that I thrive to be every day. My hobbies are relaxing, watching TV and designing/polishing my nails.

Congratulations on your recent award!  What does receiving this mean to you?

Receiving the award for SSP Core Value #4 “Good is the Enemy of Great” is a great honor to me because I am always looking for ways to better myself and my team members.

What is your position at SSP, and what are your main responsibilities?

I am the Practice Manager at SSP.  My responsibilities consist of supervising/organizing the team, planning the appointment schedule for our providers, reviewing the medical records and opening accounts for transfer patients and assisting with billing.

How long have you been with the practice, and what did you do prior to this?

I have been with SSP since 2013.  Prior to joining SSP I was a front desk receptionist at a Veterinary Hospital.

What would you say is your favorite part of your job, and what is the most challenging?

My favorite part of my job is being able to help parents and my SSP family in the time of need.  The most challenging part of my job is building my confidence to present projects during our team meetings.

Is there a special experience at SSP that you’d like to share, perhaps something that is meaningful to you?

My special experience at SSP that is meaningful to me is working with such amazing team members.  I also want to thank Matteo and Dr. Cao for giving me the opportunity to flourish in an amazing company.

I think patients see SSP as an extension of their own home, a place for them to feel comfortable and part of a loving and supportive community.  You are a big part of this, always helping in any way you can. How do you personally see that every patient’s needs are met?

I try hard to listen to their concerns.  Being that I have 2 boys of my own, I feel that it is easier for me to relate to their issues.  We are all human and we can connect at that level.

How Do We Raise Passionate & Determined Children?

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As parents, we are always striving to raise our children to grow up to be kind, helpful, generous and caring.  What is also important is raising passionate and determined human beings.  Tying into this month’s South Slope Pediatrics core value of passion and determination, let’s talk about ways we can help foster and nurture this within our children’s lives.

What is Passion?  Passion is defined as “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something”.  Our children are naturally passionate.  Whether it be passion for all things Frozen, trucks, ballet, or soccer…our children often have very intense feelings (one way or another) towards things.  How do we encourage and support this passion?   

* Perhaps the #1 thing we can do as parents is to give our children opportunities.  Give our child that opportunity to try a new sport.  Give our children our devoted time to read and draw with them every day.  Introduce them to new places, new things.  Try a new food, go see a concert!  Try a new music class.  Go to the special exhibit at the Science Museum.  Allow them the opportunity to find their passions.

* Always encourage your child, no matter what the passion is.  Is he passionate about playing in the kitchen? How about spending time baking or cooking with him, allowing him to cook (or make a mess) with you!  Is she showing an interest in dinosaurs?  How about a family visit to the Museum of Natural History!  Discuss these topics of interest with them.  What do they want to learn more about?  Take lots of photographs so you can refer to them and talk more about what you see and did.

* Keep it positive.  I start each day with telling my 4 YO daughter “Today is going to be the best day”!  She repeats it back to me, excitedly and with conviction.  And when they have their lows, when they are frustrated because they can’t do something right, we need to let them know that failure is OK and a part of life.  Try again, they will do better!   Help them grow confidence and stay positive so they can find those passions.

Love and support whatever your child’s passion is.  Is your child obsessed with tennis, but you haven’t picked up a racket in decades?  Now is your chance.  Nurture their passion by showing how far you’ll go to support them.

What is Determination?  “A quality that makes you continue to do or achieve something that is difficult”. It is closely tied into passion in that the determination often comes from that passion.  Determination is key to a successful life…so how do we help develop determination in our children?

* Recognize when your child works hard at doing something.  Be their cheerleader, tell them how proud you are at their efforts, even if they can’t do exactly what they are trying to accomplish.  Acknowledge that they are persisting, and giving it their all!   Maybe try making the “trying” fun.  My daughter was finding it hard to figure out how to leap (trying to do a grand jete from ballet class).  She was very frustrated to the point she started crying and wanted to quit ballet class.  I set up some of her stuffed animals on the floor so she had to LEAP over them…this became sort of a game to her, and she kept doing it and doing it until she could leap over the pile of toys, instead of running around it.

* Support and join them in the different activities that might be challenging.   Perhaps it’s putting together a REALLY BIG puzzle, or riding your bike with them up the big hill in Prospect Park.    Tell them stories about how you once didn’t know how to do something, but you were so determined that you finally were able to learn it and how good that felt!  Let them know that the goal is attainable, and set up smaller benchmarks along the way so the goal feels less terrifying or intimidating.

* Lead as example.  Let your child in on your own struggles and how you want to overcome them.  Explain that you’re frustrated or upset with something, and what you are going to do.  Let them know that you will never give up.  Are you learning something new?  Let them watch and see how you are trying your best.

Bottom line…our children all have these qualities in them, it’s up to us as parents to help them reach their potential!

Family Events in Brooklyn!

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Photo by Julie Larsen Maher © WCS.

Fun family events over the next month include rocking out to a Michael Jackson tribute, celebrating “Grandparents Day” at the Children’s Museum, and enjoying breakfast with penguins!  Check out all of this and more in this month’s roundup of fun family activities in the area.

It’s Grandparents Day at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum!  Celebrating grandparents and elders in our lives, on March 18th you can meet an artist, touch live sea creatures, go to an interactive story time, say “cheese” with the grandparents in a pop-up photo booth – then design a custom frame to go with your photo!  AND so many more fun activities.  To learn more, go to:  http://www.brooklynkids.org/grandparents-day/

Say goodbye to winter and SPIRAL into Spring at Lefrak at Lakeside’s Ice Showcase, where you’ll see figure skating solos, duets and group numbers.  March 19th from 5:30-6:45pm.  http://lakesidebrooklyn.com/event/spring-ice-showcase/

From March 18th – 26th check out the Peter Pan Experience at BAM.  5 adult strangers find themselves in a world of nightstands and night lights, a world where your favorite forgotten toys appear out of nowhere, your favorite music thrills you to dance, and all of the joys of childhood come flooding back thanks to the invisible magic of Peter Pan.  Dutch’s theater company Het Laagland presents this formally innovative, effortlessly thrilling piece of physical theater about rediscovering the joys of play, shaking off the shackles of adulthood, and flying high with the kind of make-believe.  Ages 7+. Tickets: $15.   http://www.bam.org/kids/2017/the-peter-pan-experience

On March 25th at Littlefield Performance and Space (622 Degraw Street), check out “Kids Rock Michael Jackson!  A Tribute to the King of Pop”.  Doors open 11:45, show starts at noon.  10 Amazing young bands play tribute.  Tickets are $7, free for kids 5 and under.  http://www.littlefieldnyc.com/event/1429508

Every Sunday through April 30th in Coney Island you can come experience an afternoon of fun and wonder at the Magic at Coney Sunday Matinee. There will be magicians, illusionists, escape artists and mentalists.  All ages.  $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12.   http://www.coneyisland.com/events/?program=21

The Rock and Roll Playhouse at Brooklyn Bowl has some exciting shows coming up!    These are unique, interactive and educational live music experiences for children.  60 minute concerts, where children explore live music, movement and collaborative activity.   For kids 10 and under.  $10  person (under 1 are free). On March 19th there is a concert featuring the music of Prince, on March 26th there is a show featuring the music of Fleetwood Mac, and on April 2nd they will feature the music of the Grateful Dead!  http://therockandrollplayhouse.com/brooklynbowl

Breakfast with the Animals: Penguins (New York Aquarium, Coney Island):  On April 1st from 9am-10:30am learn all about penguins along while having breakfast and enjoying  activities like learning to sing like a penguin and carrying eggs on your feet.  There will also be a live animal encounter! Ages 3-8 with caregiver.  $45 per ticket for non-members, $40 for members (ticket includes an adult and child).  Pre-registration is required.  http://nyaquarium.com/programs/family-programs

Want to do something active as a family?  How about the Brooklyn 15k run, where you can sign up for a 15k, 10k, 5k or a kids 2k run!  It takes place in Prospect Park on Sunday, April 16th. http://www.brooklyn15k.com/

It’s Family Earth Day Celebration at the Prospect Park Zoo on April 22nd from 11am-12pm.  All ages, $25 for members, $35 for non-members (ticket prices include one adult and one child).  Come to the zoo for an Earth Day celebration to discover how the Wildlife Conservation Society is working to protect wildlife and how you can help!  Participants will meet animals up close, decorate a flower pot & other activities.  Refreshments will be provided.   https://prospectparkzoo.com/family-programs

And don’t forget…. the beloved carousel in Prospect Park reopens March 30th!!!