Kindness and Love: What These 2 Words Mean to Our Children

As we enter the year of 2017, we have never been surrounded by so many troubling world events. It’s impossible to escape – we’re being hammered with it on social media, TV, radio, and throughout our daily discussions with friends and family.   There is no time more important than NOW to focus on the GOOD in the world, reminding ourselves to always be kind and loving… and we must all work hard together to spread that love around.

How do we do that?  A great place to start is with our children.  Let’s talk to our children about what is important in this life, and that is KINDNESS and LOVE.  Have you wondered what these words mean to them?

Pure, honest and innocent, they speak from their hearts without any hesitation or inhibitions.  Let’s hear what these two words mean from their own mouths, and let these words of wisdom give us all a little hope and inspiration.

What Does Kindness Mean to You?

– Being a good person to your family, and taking care of them when they are sick or feeling sad.  If someone is having a bad day, be extra nice to them and don’t bother them – Parker, 7

– Kindness is being nice to a friend, especially if someone is playing alone.  Never make fun of someone and share your food – Cameron, 9

– To be kind means to standing up for someone and care for them and generally be there for them – Celia, 6th grader

– Being kind means standing up for one another, helping each other and taking care of each other – Kira, 4th grader

– To be kind is to have respect – Stephen, 4th grader

– Kind means to be nice to someone – Joseph, 1st grader

– To respect others, show how much you love them and helping others who need help – Kailei, 4th grader

– To be kind means not to be mean to people – Anonymous, 4th grader

– Kind means loving, treating others with respect – Anonymous, 4th grader

– Be nice to others, help and be happy and helpful – Owen, 11

– Kindness means to help others and to forgive and forget and be nice to others – Peyton, 9

– That you don’t be mean and say hurtful things – Finn, 6

– When you feed me – Dylan, 3

– It helps love get around the world – Damon, 9

– Kindness is you need to treat people good – Harper, 5

– Being nice to everyone you know – Avery, 5

– When you’re being kind to someone you’re being nice to them and you’re being their friend – Val, 8

– When you’re being nice to someone – Ellie, 8

– Giving kisses and hugs and being nice – Emmett, 3

– Kindness is doing what you know is right to make other people happy – Evan, 11

– Be kind – Juno, 4

– Being nice and thoughtful – Nina, 7

– When you’re being nice and helping – Amaya, 4

– Being friends with someone – Cole, 6

– Kindness is helping someone – Isaac, 8

– Being calm, nice and giving kisses to someone – Alina, 4

– To make someone who is sad – make them happy, and you’re kind hearted-  like you’re being nice to someone and they really appreciate it and they’ll be nice to you – Anonymous, 4th grader

What Does Love Mean to You?

– Love is always telling someone you love them more.  If someone looks like they had a bad day, give them a long hug  that usually cheers them up!   Love is also making something for them, not buying a gift.   I think that shows a lot of love – Parker, 7

– Love is doing what you don’t really want to do because you know that person wants to do that, like I don’t always want to play UNO but I know that my sister does so I do it to make her happy  – Cameron, 9

– Having appreciation for people – Celia, 6th grader

– Love means being there, hugs, kisses, fully being there and helping them. To be present and visible – Kira, 4th grader

– Love is what you feel when you really care about someone – Stephen, 4th grader

– Love means when you care for people so much – Joseph, 1st grader

– Love means helping others around you, sharing and keeping others safe and comfortable – Kailei, 4th grader

– Love is when you really care for somebody or something –  Anonymous, 4th grader

– Love is honesty, friendship, happiness and helpfulness – Anonymous, 4th grader

– It keeps people together and makes people happy – Owen, 11

– It means it makes happiness and makes a happy thought – Peyton, 9

– It’s happiness in your heart and you have it in your body – Finn, 6

– When you feed me more –  Dylan, 3

– Love makes the world go around – Damon, 9

– Kissing – Mia, 4

– Family – Victor, 11

– People loving people – Harper, 5

– Liking someone but a lot – Avery, 5

– Love is about friendship and being nice and hugs and kisses – Ava, 5

– When you love someone you want to take care of them and if they’re sick you want to help them –  Val, 8

– When you treat something or someone nicely and when you like them – Ellie, 8

– Pancakes – Luke, 4

– Giving kisses – Emmett, 3

Something really enjoyable or someone that you look forward to seeing – Evan, 11

– I love you, to love everybody – Juno, 4

– Loving, sharing and caring – Nina, 7

– I love you – Amaya, 4

– Love is taking care of someone and marrying them – Cole, 6

– Love is family – Isaac, 8

– Love is mommy and daddy, God and friends – Alina, 4

– Caring for someone else – Tessa, 8

– When you love someone you feel happy inside and very comfortable with them inside – Anonymous, 4th grader

“The best portion of a good person’s life are their little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love”. – William Wadsworth

Interview with Matteo Trisolini, a “Superdad”, a Culture Revolutionary and Co-Founder of SSP!


We all know Matteo as the “papa” at South Slope Pediatrics, taking care of everyone on the SSP team.  Matteo is involved in all aspects of the practice – if you’re lucky he will greet you when you call and you’ll hear his charming Italian accent!   He has helped South Slope Pediatrics become fully integrated into the South Slope community, while at the same time building community within the practice itself.  Matteo has developed classes to help support our families, from breast feeding to CPR to children’s nutrition and more.  He has become a pioneer of charitable causes, supporting both local and national charities, even launching the Love in a Safety Pin Campaign, supporting tolerance, love and kindness.  He’s the Culture Director at SSP, committed to establishing and embracing core values we hold dear.  Just when you think he does it all – did you know he’s also a super talented photographer and artist?  He’s also a social media guru!  What does Matteo NOT do?   Let’s get to know the man behind the practice in this month’s interview!!!

Can you tell us a little bit about your childhood, growing up on the coast of Italy and how your journey brought you to NYC?

I was born in Bari, Italy. Bari is a small city on the coast of Puglia.  I was basically born and raised on the beach, so that is the culture I have.  Culture of family first.   Everyone there has lunch, dinner, every single meal at the table together as a family.  In my family I’m the only crazy one who at one point decided I couldn’t see myself living there.  So, I decided to pursue other options.  Initially in 1996 my mom and dad celebrated their 25th anniversary and they took us on a vacation to the US to celebrate.   When we landed in NY I could not forget the moment I put my feet on the ground and said “Wow, this is real.  This is not the movies.  This is real”!  As soon as I did that I realized that I felt like I was home,  a completely real and unexpected feeling at 22 years old.   It was incredible and weird.  So, with that – that trip opened up my eyes to new possibilities.  At that time I was studying marketing and management in Italy.  I decided to do whatever I could to live in the US as the US would be able to offer me more opportunities than I could get in Italy.  I also wanted to transition from marketing and management to photography.  I fell in love with being creative as a small child.  I looked into the Fashion Institute of Technology – but at that time the cost of school was impossible.   $21k plus boarding and everything else.   I didn’t have any of that.  Our family had spent everything on our trip to the US so there was no way to do it.  I had to look into a different way to make it happen. I found the University in Milan that only cost $5k a year, which I could afford, and it had an exchange program with the School of Visual Arts.  The exchange program was on a scholarship basis, and only one student could be awarded that scholarship each year.  By the end of 2nd year I won the scholarship and spent six months at the School of Visual Arts.

I went there for the beginning of my 3rd year, spending 6 months, and never wanting to come back.  I had no money….I had just enough money for my bagel and cream cheese in the morning and Wendy’s for my lunch.  That was all I could afford.  My family is not wealthy, but they did an amazing with my brother and myself.  Taught us that you have to go get it and make it happen!  Soon, my photography would start to help pay my rent.  From there I had to graduate in Milan.  While on scholarship in NYC I found a sponsor that would help me come back and work as a photographer.  That was back when there were no wrinkles on my face!

Not many people know that you are also a talented artist, and a very successful fashion photographer, eventually founding Matteo Trisolini Studios.   Can you tell us more about this prior life of yours?   I understand you even designed concepts for Grammy Award nominees!

Basically after graduating I told my mom that I’m leaving Milan and going to the US.  Of course she said “you’ll be back within 3 months”.  17 years ago I arrived in the US,  the year before 9/11.  I was able to thrive as a photographer working for Simon and Schuster doing covers for their books, magazines and commercial advertising.  It was a different NY. A NY were there were no limits on budgets, there were cash advances…the creativity was incredible. People who knew what they were doing and had culture in visual communication were still working and there was an incredible energy.  When I founded Matteo Trisolini Studios, I had a studio in Chelsea, on 25th between 10th and 11th.  I miss that energy.    Then…I met Dr. Cao.

How did your life take the turn to healthcare, and starting the practice we have all come to love?  How has becoming a parent affected this choice?

I met Dr. Cao when he had just started working as an attending doctor at Methodist Hospital.  He was done with residency.  That is a big deal, as during residency you do not have time for a social life and cannot settle down.  So he was done with that and had been working for a year and half as an attending doctor at Methodist.  We actually met because we lived in the same building in Battery Park. We both had gotten into this building because of the grants after 9/11.  We were both able to live in this beautiful landmark building.  We were also coincidentally playing volleyball in a gay volleyball league.  We didn’t know this until one time we saw each other in the building as we were on our way to volleyball.  We didn’t know we lived in the same building.   We didn’t know we played in the same league until that morning.  That morning in this big grand hall with big arches – he looked at me and because of what i was wearing and my mohawk….he asked if I was going to play volleyball in the league.  That was the beginning.

From there, we were married and had Isabella.  That’s when I transitioned. When I had her I realized I had to make a choice.  I could still be a photographer in the fashion industry.  In order to be successful in that industry you have to have a big ego. That also means not a lot of family time, and having to go to parties, travel here and there, working weekends and surrounded by a certain type of people.  I made a decision to put on the brakes until Isabella was about 16 months. When I was ready to go back to work, I decided that I wanted to be behind the scenes instead of at the front.  Still working in the photography industry but as a producer.  With this in mind, I was putting my resume together when Hai said that he always wanted to open his own practice.  He said “If I don’t do it now, I’ll never do it.  Do you want to do this together”?  I said OK!  I had zero experience in healthcare but did have experience creating a business from the ground up, and running a business marketing wise. I knew what he wanted to be seen as – not a big doctor with a big fancy office and five thousand locations…but a small town doctor.  That is what we first told everybody.  You will always have a chance to see your doctor.  It’s nice to see people and know their names and remember their names.  The fact that they know that I’m married to him and this is our family business.  It’s very unique.  From the very beginning our motto was “Family First” and when people try to take us down, we said: let’s put our heads down, think about what we want to accomplish and what we want to give our patients.  Let’s focus on all the good we can give to anyone we interact with, one patient at a time.  This is still a rule that applies today.  We have a lot more patients and attention that we used to have – but the message is still here.  Think about what good things you are accomplishing every day with our patients, and always giving them the greatest experience of their day.  That’s our goal.  Always go above and beyond to help and give them the most pleasant experience of their day.

Having Isabella helped me understand being successful in the arts wasn’t so important to me,  because that was all about me.  When you have a child you exist but it’s not all about you anymore.  This venture was more about making it about me AND my family.  Having a family and staying in the fashion/commercial photography industry didn’t work together for me.  Family comes first, then everything else.  I learned that when having Isabella.

We all love South Slope Pediatrics for many reasons.  It has that old-school “small town” doctor feel.   Parents develop real and trusting  relationships with the doctors.  How do you maintain this close-knit environment in a fast paced city like Brooklyn?

We invest so much time and energy on this.  This is why company culture, which is something we work on every day, is really important.  We have to walk the walk.  We are not interested in opening many locations nationwide. This is not who we are.  We opened this office in 2012 because Dr. Cao wanted to focus on building relationships.  Still to this day building relationships is the most important thing.  Relationships are not only between the doctor and patient.  It’s between anyone on this team and anyone else.  It is between two SSP members. Between any SSP member and a patient – whether face to face, on the phone, on email or on social media.  With any encounter we focus on that relationship.  We promise that we are here to listen and we promise to always be kind to you.  We promise that we will always be helpful and we will always strive to go above and beyond what is expected and required.  Patients know that when they call they don’t need to scream at anyone.  They know they can count on us listening to them and helping them.  That is very important.

The trick is that we ask each individual on any media to reciprocate that behavior. To be kind, to be helpful, to listen and be humble so we can establish that relationship with them.  When you have a baby you go to the pediatrician in the 1st few years a lot.  When you come here, you should feel like we are your extended family and you are home.  We are here to help you.

The close relationship with the practice is not only experienced at doctor appointments.  You offer ongoing support for the parents, offering free courses in the office and sharing helpful and engaging articles and posts on social media.  Why do you think this is so important?

When I had isabella in 2010 I was a first time parent.  Dr. Cao went back to work right away.  I was home with Isabella, and as you might know – that can be both the most fantastic and also the most isolating thing that can happen to you, especially true if you don’t have family around and your close friends are working.  It was wintertime, and it was a hard winter.  I didn’t go out, and I didn’t have a network.  I’m hoping today it’s different but at that time there weren’t any daddy groups, only mommy groups.   It’s very hard to make connections and do something social.  By the time my husband was home at night, I wanted him to take the baby.  “Let me sleep”!  I would say.  Social interaction was so difficult to find.  When we opened the office we thought it would be great to help bring our families together.  Maybe we can help them go get a coffee together, start new friendships.  Two main goals of the classes we offer are to provide tools to new parents that they wouldn’t necessarily acquire during the doctor visit (CPR for example), and the 2nd goal is to get people together with the same age children and understand they are not alone, and what they are experiencing is normal.  You can go crazy when your 2 month old is screaming at you.  Then you see that mom or that dad is going through the same thing!  We offer the skill and let them get to know each other, building community in a small but important way.

As for social media, that is today’s hangout.  It’s the new park or where you go with your stroller. It’s where we meet together.  You want to provide a service to your patients in any way you can.  It’s a new way to reach out.  It’s not a place to answer medical questions, but we can offer tools, advice or stories where we can all connect.

Another reason we love SSP is how the practice goes BEYOND just being a doctor’s office.  You are fully committed to the South Slope community, from ongoing fundraising for Jonah’s Just Begun to supporting our local schools.   Can you please tell us more about what SSP does here in the Slope?

First of all, we would like to do more than what we do.  With a small office, it’s not always easy to coordinate and to deliver.  Its most important that you pick what you do well and do that thing well.  We want to do it the right way.  There are some organizations that we work with, like Jonah’s Just Begun,  which is close to our hearts.  Jonah has been a patient of Dr. Cao’s since he was just one year old.  Dr. Cao helped in diagnosing him, and we want to always continue to support him in any way we can.  The schools are important as that helps our children have more tools in their hands.  There are other projects that I’d like to tackle and local organizations that help kids who aren’t as lucky as our kids.  I hope that we are able to get involved with more projects soon.   We are here to create community, it all goes back to the fact that we are part of the community and want to help it grow.

Your email signature says “Father and Culture Revolutionary“.  Can you please explain what “culture revolutionary” means to you?

Everyone here on the SSP team has in their email signature who they are (mother or father for example).  Most of us are parents.   We always say who we are first.   Then, the second part is what we are passionate about.  For me, it’s being a culture revolutionary.  I’m interested in culture.  I am a revolutionary because I understand there is a need to express who you are and what you believe in as an individual and as a company.  Company culture is a relatively new concept.  Let me give you an example.  At SSP we come together as a team and share core values.   We have a set of 10 values that we share, being humble being one of them.  It’s something we all believe in and can relate to.  We follow this every day, being on the phone scheduling appointments or helping someone who wants to transfer with an insurance we are not contracted with.  We help them find a new doctor within their insurance.  I’ve always been interested in investing in the people that make SSP.  Everyone who works here understands that  no one works FOR someone, but that we all work WITH someone.  It’s important that our team members are happy.  You can’t deliver a great experience if your team members are not having a great experience.  It’s something everyone here understands and appreciates.  It’s how we are able to go above and beyond in our day to day.  I pushed myself to save money and attend the @Zappos culture camp last year.  When I sat in that room for those 3 days I felt at home.  They spoke my language. They helped give me the tools for what I needed to accomplish.  I’ve been incorporating what I’ve learned here.  We have a culture team at SSP that makes sure our culture is clear to everyone who works here, our patients who come here, and anyone who is interested in joining our family.

I think the great love and compassion you show the South Slope Pediatrics families starts with the love you have at home with Dr. Cao and your beautiful daughter.  Any words of advice to all of us, trying to be as hopeful and positive as we can when looking at the new year? 

We know that we might be looking at difficult times ahead but we also need to focus on the good that we do every day, one person at a time. That’s how you continue, not listening to the noise around you.  Focus on the good that you do, one person at a time, every day – then you don’t lose the focus.




Things to Do on Holiday Break with our Families!


It’s that wonderful time of year where many of us are so lucky to be able to spend more time with our families.  With school closed, we have to keep both us and our children busy with fun and engaging activities.  This gives us a chance to do things we otherwise might not have time to do – like baking, doing charity work and fun craft projects.  If we’re lucky enough, perhaps we’ll see a little powder and be able to enjoy sledding on the 9th Street hill in Prospect Park!

Here are a few ideas to keep you all busy during this time of year.

1) Cooking & Baking:

* We recently updated our Pinterest Page with several festive meals, snacks and sweets that are kid-friendly (some are even healthy)!!!  Who knows…maybe if you dress up your veggies to look like a Christmas tree, your child will want to eat them?!   It’s worth a shot!   

* Here is a link to fruit-filled holiday dessert recipes that your child can help you with, and doesn’t require the use of an oven:

* For non-holiday themed recipes that are great year-round, I love the recipes in Pretend Soup and Salad People, both which are for preschoolers and up.  The popovers are a huge hit in this house!

2) Charity Work:  We recently shared a blog about the different charities we can get involved with in the NYC area (  Now we’d like to share the charities that South Slope Pediatrics is working with, in hopes that we can get our SSP families involved in as well.  This is a great way to teach our children about how this season is about giving and helping others!

* Jonah’s Just Begun:   Dr. Cao’s best little friend Jonah is suffering from a very rare disease, San Filippo Syndrome, and needs our help to fund research to save his life.  Let’s help raise money to find a cure!!!  Donate here:

* Toys for Tots:  We have a box out in our lobby and are collecting all new toys and books, which will be given to children in need.  This cause is very special to Dr. Cao as they helped his own family when he was a child.  Please come by and make a donation if you can!

* Little Essentials:  We will also have a box in our lobby for Little Essentials, a Brooklyn based charity who helps children living in poverty by providing urgently needed resources and parenting education to families in crisis.  Please stop by with any new book or toy and help this local cause!

* Love in a Safety Pin:  Dr. Cao and your SSP Team has recently embarked in a courageous journey to ensure that our values of inclusion, tolerance, kindness and LOVE stay strong.    We have declared South Slope Pediatrics a safe haven for those who might find themselves harassed or bullied on the streets of Park Slope.  Please, join us by claiming your Love in a Safety Pin free sticker and by donating what you can to our campaign so we can produce and mail the stickers to the rest of the country.   Donate here:

3) Crafts:   Looking for fun indoor activities during this cold weather that spark a bit of creativity?   Here are links to easier crafts that the smaller ones can get into:  From felt snowmen to deer made of cardboard to traditional cut-out snowflakes, there are plenty of crafts on this list (26 in total)!  25 holiday crafts including fingerprint christmas lights, santa beards, santa slime and shredded paper snowmen!  Footprint Reindeer Cards…genius.  Icy Cold Snow Paint – this looks like a lot of (messy) fun!  Handprint penguins, puffy paint polar bear faces and snowy owl pine cones are a few of the 28 winter crafts you can try.

And…let’s just say you’re exhausted from all of these activities and you need a little down time.  Maybe a holiday show is a way to relax and cuddle with our little ones!  Here are a few favorites for kids 3 and up:

* A Charlie Brown Christmas

* Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

* Frosty the Snowman

* Lights: The Miracle of Chanukah

* Merry Christmas, Olivia

* Curious George, a Very Monkey Christmas

* Mickey’s Christmas Carol

* Shalom, Sesame: Chanukah Special

* Dora’s Christmas Carol

* Elmo’s Christmas Countdown


Interview with the Renowned Artist and Native New Yorker, Ida Pearle


We are so very honored to interview Ida Pearle this month, a mother and patient of Dr. Cao’s, as well as a highly accomplished and renowned artist, writer (and violinist)!   Her artwork is both comforting and inspiring, beautifully depicting movement and capturing the innocence and magic of childhood.  Her first book, A Child’s Day: An Alphabet of Play was chosen as a best children’s book of 2008 by Bank Street College, and her newest title just released last year, The Moon is Going to Addy’s House, is an American Library Association Notable book and has received exceptional reviews.    Make sure to keep your eyes open at your next visit…her incredible artwork is about to grace the walls of South Slope Pediatric’s lobby!

SSP: Can you please tell us a bit about your background growing up in NYC and how the culture helped shape you as an artist and as an author?

I recently published a book about my childhood in New York called “The Moon is Going to Addy’s House”. It’s about a car ride from city to country that I took every weekend as a child.  I spent 5 years creating it, which was a wonderful opportunity to meditate and reflect on my New York city childhood and it’s richness.  I feel very attached and connected to my childhood places, be they neighborhoods or homes. I grew up in New York- late 70s/80s it was a very different place; my experience was a much more bohemian one than is possible today I think. My father was a sound engineer, and had a recording studio in our loft, and my mother was a painter.  I was surrounded by people creating constantly and my identity as an “artist” already strongly formed in childhood. My parents protected my free time and made sure I always had paper and pencil. I spent a lot of time as a child at the city’s art museums, The Met and The MoMA, and had access to tons of visual material, like my own large collection of children’s books and my mother’s art monographs. My parents were incredibly encouraging and really made art the center of my universe. In this way my focus today is very much a continuation of what it was in childhood, and my work is very much the blossoming of seeds planted in my childhood. The other lucky thing that plants my work geographically in New York was my going to the United Nations International School as a child. New York is already an incredibly diverse place, but UNIS was even more of a microcosm- every student hailed from a different country and that experience more than anything has informed my aesthetic. I aim to create inclusive imagery and a diverse representation of children. My commitment to celebrating the beauty of diversity is rooted in my experience as a child in playing with children who were different from me. Celebrating our common humanity is something I like to think we are especially good at doing as New Yorkers.

SSP: Who were your favorite illustrators and authors as a child, and how did they influence you?

Growing up I loved Robert McClosky, Ezra Jack Keats, Nancy Ekholm Burkert, Ludwig Bemelmans, Leo Lionni and Maurice Sendek of course. I think a few on this list were incredible draftsman- like Robert McClosky and  Nancy Ekholm Burkert, who also made work outside of the tradition of children’s literature. I think perhaps Ezra Jack Keats and Leo Lionni have influenced my work more directly in terms of simplifying forms in my own work (as well my our medium – cut paper) I think children are attracted to that simplification, and I have always been attracted to minimalism. It takes a lot more mastery of form to pare things down to their most essential.

SSP: As a creator of fine art for children, what mediums do you use? How would you describe your work?

My work is originally created in cut paper collage. I use a lot of drawing to produce the imagery- but then it all has to be cut out with an exacto knife and glued together.  I suppose I would describe my work as being about gesture, movement, and pattern. I’m very interested in the human form, how it moves through space, and the challenges of depicting that on a flat plane. It’s very interesting to have to create something from nothing and to have it convince the eye of something very specific, like weight, volume and/or velocity. I think there is a magic in art- the marriage of technique and imagination which transports you to a place beyond the page. Thematically, I aim to capture the happy and care free nature of childhood, and to create images where all children see themselves represented.

SSP: I understand you do unique customized pieces of artwork in addition to fine art prints – can you please tell us more about that?

I love to create collages for children and families’s homes. Mostly these pieces are bespoke and one of a kind. I’ve been doing this for nearly 20 years and I’ve gotten to hear how these pieces have become special family keepsakes that are treasured for a long time- which makes me very happy! It’s a very special process getting to know and depict a family through creating an art work for them! I treasure these experiences.

SSP: Your most recent book, The Moon is Going to Addy’s House, has received such incredible high praise. To quote Martin Scorcese, “The Moon is Going to Addy’s House is visual storytelling at its very best. The emotional journey of the children is beautifully expressed through Ida Pearle’s stunning use of collage, color, texture, and movement”.  How do you think you are able to connect so strongly to the reader? 

Well, first of thank you.  I’m very honored by these words, to say the least. I had the great honor of teaching Scorsese’s daughter private art lessons for 6 years, which is how he and his family came to know my book. I think the subject matter is highly relatable – how the moon follows us at night is a universal experience, and I think the visual part – the illustrations probably have as much if not more to do with how people consume this book in particular. I think children’s books are just as much about the pictures as they are about the story. We are visual thinkers first and foremost, we read in pictures before we read in words. Almost like hieroglyphs, they pick up on shapes and symbols first. There is a pictorial language that children react to and apply to their understanding of what is outside the page. I tried with Addy’s House to create a world children could really beam themselves into and see their own experience reflected. It’s an early and important phenomenological experience which is why we see it so much in children’s literature.

SSP: There is a very special relationship between a child and the moon, I see it in my own personal experience daily with my 4 year old daughter who almost treats it as a friend or family member of hers. “Look, mama – the moon followed us”! as we drive home at night. You capture that innocence and joy so well. Does this mirror personal experiences of yours as a child?

Creating ‘The Moon Is Going to Addy’s House’ was deeply meaningful for me. It is based on a phrase I used to repeat as a child on car ride from city to county to a cottage that has been in my family since the 1940s. My father and uncle, city kids used to play there in the summer, as did myself and my sister. My family over the years agreed that this phrase, (or idea) would make a beautiful children’s story. Children’s literature was very important in my family life as a child..

My father became ill about 8 years ago, and told me he really wanted me to focus on bringing this book into being. So, I did. He passed away 6 years ago and the last conversation we had was about the book; he looked at my sketches and encouraged me – he was an incredible cheerleader for my work. It was my opportunity to meditate on my childhood, his loss and to try to transform pain into beauty, which I think is the tool that art is. It’s a healing act, creating or engaging with art of any kind.

SSP: How has having a daughter of your own affected your work?

After depicting childhood, and motherhood for so long it’s opened up another dimension of my practice to me. I understand a mother’s love for the first time, which is different from only understanding a child’s love. I haven’t had the chance yet to make much new work, but when I do- I know I will have a deeper connection and understanding of children, and of parental love.

To learn more about Ida Pearle and her work, go to:




Check out these fun family events that will surely help get you into the holiday spirit.  From family-friendly holiday themed shows like The Nutcracker, Fancy Nancy’s Splendiferous Christmas and a Charlie Brown’s Christmas Live…to train shows at Grand Central and the NY Botanical Garden…from an Ice Spectacular Show at  Lefrak to meet and greets with Santa himself right here on 5th Ave in Park Slope, there are many ways to celebrate and share the joy with our little ones!

* 15th Annual Holiday Train Show in Grand Central (Grand Central Station, Manhattan): November 14th – February 26th.  Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat and Sun 10am-6pm.  This year’s Holiday Train Show display will feature a 34-foot-long “O gauge” model train layout with Lionel’s model Metro-North, New York Central, and vintage subway trains running on eight separate loops of track, against a backdrop featuring graphics celebrating the Museum’s 40th anniversary by artist Julia Rothman.

* Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas (Vital Theatre, 152 W. 71st St):  November 19th – December 31st, Saturdays and Sundays at 11am and 1pm.  Based on the NY Times bestselling picture book by Jane O’Connor.  What could be fancier than Christmas? Presents with elegant wrapping paper, festive decorations, Christmas cookies with sprinkles – and who could forget the tree? After all, there is no such thing as too much tinsel. Ooh la la! This year, Nancy is especially excited. After selling some of her old gowns and accessories, Nancy has enough money to buy a brand-new sparkly tree topper. She can’t wait to decorate the Christmas tree. But when things don’t turn out the way Nancy planned, will Christmas still be splendiferous?  1 hr long.

* Holiday Train Show (NY Botanical Gardens, Bronx): From November 19th – January 16th.  Enchanting model trains zip through a display of 150 landmarks, each re-created with bark, leaves, and other natural materials—all under the twinkling glow of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. Marvel at G-scale locomotives humming along among familiar sights such as the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, and Rockefeller Center on nearly a half-mile of track.Explore a winter wonderland across our 250 acres with special tours, a cappela performances, Winter Harmonies Concerts, a poetry reading with recently named NYBG poet laureate, Billy Collins, and activities for kids.

* Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade (Manhattan): 9am on November 24th.  The annual pageant of giant balloons, floats, cheerleaders, clowns, marching bands, theater and Broadway in New York performances and celebs is one of the best NYC events in November. Read up here for recommended viewing areas:

* Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar (501 Union, Gowanus): November 26th and 27th, 11am – 6pm.  Free admission.  Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar is a unique annual event that showcases the best of Brooklyn under one beautiful roof. The 4th edition will be packed with fine handmade goods, food, drinks, music, craft activities and more good times on Thanksgiving weekend.

* Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting (Rockefeller Center, Manhattan): The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a world-wide symbol of the holidays in New York City. The 2016 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree will be lit for the first time on Wednesday, November 30, with live performances from 7–9pm, at Rockefeller Plaza, between West 48th and West 51st Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

* Charlie Brown Christmas Live (ShapeShifter Lab, 18 Whitewell Place, Brooklyn): Fri, Sat and Sun, Dec 2nd – 11th.   Performance of the classic Charlie Brown Christmas special word for word and gesture for gesture.  Jazz trio will play the iconic Vince Guaraldi score.  For show times and details, go to:

* Santa on 5th (several locations on 5th Ave, Park Slope on Dec 3rd, 10th and 17th): Ho ho ho!  Santa will be making appearances at 3 different locations on our very own 5th Ave during the month of September.  Eat, Drink and spend locally – while saying hi to our friend visiting from the North Pole!  Strolling carolers will be making an appearance as well.

* The Colonial Nutcracker at the Walt Whitman Theater  (Brooklyn Center for Performing Arts, 2900 Campus Rd, Brooklyn):   December 11th, 2pm.  An annual holiday favorite, Dance Theatre in Westchester performs its family-friendly, full-length version of Tchaikovsky’s ballet set in wintry colonial Yorktown, complete with a red-coated mouse army, an enchanted nutcracker prince, and simultaneous narration to help young audience members enjoy this timeless classic.   2hrs, 10 min including a 15 min intermission.  Recommended for ages 5+.  Tickets: $15.

* Radio City Christmas Spectacular (Radio City Music Hall, Manhattan): The Radio City Christmas Spectacular 2016 literally kicks off the holiday season in NYC. Since 1933, the tap dancers, flying Santa and of course the Rockettes have put on one of the city’s most classic Christmas spectacles. If The Nutcracker from New York City Ballet is too stuffy and doesn’t have enough camels onstage for you, this show is the one to see.

* Tree Lighting Party (Greenwood Park, Park Slope):  December 7th from 6pm- close. The “biggest tree in Brooklyn”!  Tree, wreaths, and decorations will be for sale in the holiday market.  Bring the family to meet Santa – there will be hot coca, cider, food and drink specials!

* Ice Spectacular (Lakeside @ Lefrak Center, Prospect Park):  December 18th, from 5:30 – 6:45pm.  This annual winter show is FREE to watch and features figure skating solos, duets, and group numbers. Group number registration includes three half-hour rehearsals on Sundays before the show as well as skate rental, show accessories, and keepsake programs on performance days. Register in advance online or in person, limited space available.  $40 for one (1) event, $60 for two (2) events.


love-in-a-safety-pin-webwritten by Dr. Cao

In response to the recent shocking tide of intolerance, I want to make sure you know that:

Our Company stands with Love, Equality, Kindness, Compassion and Community.

These are the values in which your SSP Team believes. By showing this ‘Love in a safety pin’ sticker on our door we want you to know that SSP is a Safe Haven where you will find smiles and help in the (hopefully unlikely) event that you find yourself harassed or bullied on the streets of Park Slope.

I am inviting all families and local businesses to join our ‘Love in a Safety Pin’ Campaign by claiming your free sticker and post photos online using #LoveInASafetyPin

How you can help:

1) Donate ( so we can keep producing and distributing stickers free of charge nationwide
2) Post on social media your photo with your sticker with hashtag #LoveInASafetyPin
3) Share this campaign with your friends and family

If you are a business:
1) Display your sticker in your storefront window
2) Establish a protocol to help in the event someone needs to seek refuge in your business
3) Post on social media the following statement:

“Our Company stands with Love, Equality, Kindness, Compassion and Community. These are the values in which your (Company Name) Team believes. By showing this ‘Love in a safety pin’ sticker on our door we want you to know that (Company Name) is a Safe Haven where you will find smiles and help in the (hopefully unlikely) event that you find yourself harassed or bullied on the streets of (Your Neighborhood Name). #LoveInASafetyPin”

When making a donation we will send you or a friend of your choice a free sticker.

Display it proudly and help your community. Help spread the LOVE !

Dr. Cao




GIVING.  There is nothing more fulfilling than giving to others and helping those in need.  Whether it be providing a meal to a person who is hungry, to spending time with an elder who feels isolated and lonely, to providing blankets and clothing to keep someone warm in the colder months – these are just a few of the ways we can show we care and want to share the love in our hearts with those around us.   For those of us who find it difficult to make time for volunteering, donations (both monetary or goods) can make an important impact in someone’s life.  After all, in this exceptionally ugly election race, we should all open our hearts and share a little more love, sensitivity and generosity.    It can be contagious!   Let’s all get involved and ask our friends to join us.  Make it a family outing and teach our children the importance of giving.  Here are a few ways we can volunteer and give back in NYC, both around the holidays and year-round.

NY Cares: Help mentor students, serve meals in soup kitchens, clean up parks, collect winter coats and help the homeless.  NY Cares offers one-time volunteer opportunities to weekly opportunities.  Volunteer as an individual, group or with your company.

City Meals on Wheels: If you have a car, you can get involved with this organization that helps feed 18k elderly folks in the NYC area.  This Thanksgiving they’re looking for people to go to a senior center in Bushwick, Brooklyn and deliver food.  Here is a link the volunteer form, where you can sign up to volunteer for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years programs.

NY Common Pantry: Choice Pantry volunteers help provide free grocery packages for families and hot meal volunteers help prepare and serve meals to guests at the NY Common Pantry location on 8 East 109th St. in Manhattan.  They also offer off-site opportunities like a Thanksgiving Food Drive, making sandwiches for the Brown Bag Program, and collecting new clothing and toys.

BARC Shelter:  Are you an animal lover?  Here’s a way you can help our furry friends.    Come take a dog for a walk, keep a cat company or bring in your old towels and blankets as a donation.

Gobble, Gobble, Give: This organization meets in Harlem to assemble takeout meals for 200+ families in low income housing and shelters.   You can help put meals together or drop off the food.  Donations of food, clothing, toiletries, toys and books are also welcome. Check out their Facebook page for more information:

God’s Love We Deliver:   Help bring food to those who are sick and unable to shop and cook for themselves.   Every Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve over 1k volunteers help in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens.;jsessionid=1394DCC88DACD66D864DB9F0427B108C

City Harvest:  Help fight hunger by distributing fresh food and collecting any excess food donations from farmers at the end of local farmer markets.   How about getting your company involved and work as a team to fight hunger?

Good+ Foundation:  Donate that baby gear and those diapers, coats and toys that your children have grown out of or organize your own children’s coat or holiday toy drive.

Room to Grow:  Dedicated to enriching the lives of babies born into poverty, Room to Grow assists low-income families by accepting donations of baby items, funds and volunteering.  Learn how to get involved here:

Interview with Dr. Danis Copenhaver



Interview with Dr. Danis Copenhaver


For those of you who have not heard the exciting news…South Slope Pediatrics has now added a fantastic new full time pediatrician to the growing team!  Let’s get to know Dr. Danis Copenhaver, a new mother herself!


SSP: Welcome to South Slope Pediatrics!  Where did you practice prior to joining SSP and what brought you here?

Thank you! I am so happy to be a part of the South Slope Pediatrics Family. For the past two years I have been practicing pediatrics in Brooklyn. After living and working here, and starting a family of my own, I knew I wanted to put down strong roots and South Slope Pediatrics was the practice to do that. Dr. Cao is an institution in Brooklyn–he is a skilled pediatrician with years of experience dedicated to family and community health; Dr. Wilson-Taylor actually taught me pediatrics at Weill Cornell in medical school, and I have always admired her intelligence and approach to medicine. And then I met Matteo and the rest of the team! I have never met a more competent and friendly group of people committed to going the extra mile for their patients. I knew that joining the practice and working alongside these amazing people would be the right fit for me.


SSP: Please tell us a little about yourself. Where you are from? Do you have a family of your own?

I am a Southern woman, who has found a home in Brooklyn. I was born and raised in a small town in South Texas, and moved to Conway, Arkansas when I was ten. I attended the University of Arkansas where I majored in Biochemistry, rowed crew, and met my future husband, Drew. After graduation, we spent a year living in Belize partnering the University of Arkansas with the nonprofit organization Peacework to create a service-learning study abroad opportunity for students at the University. After Belize, I moved to New York City to start my medical training at Weill Cornell Medical College, and completed my residency at the Children’s Hospital of New York – Columbia University. Drew and I were married in 2011 and we just welcomed our son, Elo, in 2016.


SSP: It must be invaluable to relate on a personal level to new moms and dads. Do you have any advice for new parents that you wish someone had shared with you?

So many of my patients would comment during my pregnancy about how being a pediatrician would affect being a new parent, but it was another pediatrician/father who told me, “Being a pediatrician won’t make you a better parent, but being a parent will make you a better pediatrician.” And I have totally found that to be true. I have such a deeper understanding and empathy for the struggles of new parents–this is really hard work! While I still consider myself to be a novice parent, my advice-though not novel-would be, take a deep breath, trust your instincts, and everything will be better after a nap.


SSP: Do you enjoy any special hobbies or activities during your “down time” (if there is a such thing with a newborn)?! Any special interests?

You are right about lack of “down time,” but thank goodness for a Kindle for middle of the night feeds! I love to read and have been able to do quite a bit of it during my maternity leave and now commute to and from work. I also love listening to podcasts. Any interesting information outside of medicine and parenting these days comes straight from a podcast.

Drew and I love traveling, cooking, and bike riding. I also enjoy camping and hiking and hope to take Elo on his first campout in the Spring.

SSP: What led you to decide that you wanted to study pediatric medicine?

Since I was four-years-old I have been drawing pictures of myself with a stethoscope, and that desire to be a doctor stayed with me throughout my education. I have also always taken care of children in some capacity. I watched my younger sister and cousins growing up, started babysitting in my neighborhood at 11 after getting Red Cross Certified, nannied in high school and college, and was the president of Camp Phoenix, a camp for pediatric burn survivors, in medical school. Kids bring me such joy! But I knew I wanted to practice pediatric medicine when I met the doctors, nurses and patients during my pediatrics rotation at Weill Cornell Medical School. I fell in love with the idea of taking care of not only the patient but the whole family. I was engaged with pediatric disease processes, unique and distinct from adult medicine, and I was awed by the dedication and care of the people who practiced pediatric medicine. Within a week on that rotation, I knew I had found the field of medicine I was going to dedicate myself to.


SSP: What do you find most fulfilling as a pediatrician? Can you please share any experiences you’ve had that has helped shape you as a person and as a doctor?

I find the continuity of care the most fulfilling part of my job–getting to know a patient from birth and following them through adulthood is incredibly rewarding. This sense of dedicating myself to a family likely stems from growing up in a small town with a general practitioner who took care of my whole family. From the everyday colds, to treating me for burns after an accident I had when I was 7, he was a constant in the care I received in my childhood. He even threw a big Halloween party every year that the town went to! Even though we live in a big, bustling city, I hope to bring some of that small-town medicine to my practice and my patients.

October Family Events


Photograph Courtesy of Brooklyn Bridge Park Harvest Festival


There is no shortage of family activities this October in and around Brooklyn. We have harvest festivals, Halloween parades and pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins!!! Need a pumpkin break? How about a creativity lab session or a drop-off art class for your little one. Read up below on the festive calendar of things to do with your family this month!

  • Scarecrows & Pumpkins (Bronx Zoo): From September 17th through October 30th, come explore more than 30 friendly scarecrows set among rare and unusual pumpkins and gourds in the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden. Celebrate the season by putting on a festive fall puppet show and having a spooky tea party in the Victorian playhouse. Guided activities feature making a sprout a seed necklace and exploring flowers, fruits, and seeds. Weekends bring interactive demonstrations featuring bats, reptiles, and other creepy creatures. And, on October 22nd and 23rd check out the giant pumpkins – some weighing more than a ton!
  • The Chile Pepper Festival (Brooklyn Botanical Gardens): Enjoy a full day of music and yummy (spicy) food on Saturday, October 1st from 10am-6pm. 6 Bands and 62 different food vendors will be there. 11am-3pm: Go check out “Hot Chiles for Cool Kids”, where your child can pot up a pepper plant to take home! Buy tickets and learn more here:
  • Creativity Lab (The Brooklyn Museum): On October 2nd from 4-5:30pm, visitors of all ages are invited to drop by the studios and explore their creative side. In this drop-in workshop, take inspiration from their galleries and get messy, experiment with materials, and learn artistic techniques with a new project each month. Takes place in the education studios, 1st
  • Drop Off Studio Hours at Private Picassos Art Studio (Private Picasso’s Art Studio, 237 5th Ave): The 3rd Saturday of every month until December.  $36/child (15% off second sibling enrolled for the same program).  Pre-registration is required, as space is limited!  Email or call 718-215-0589 to reserve your spot.  Walk-ins are welcome if space is available.  Parents can enjoy a date night while your budding artist explores new materials and makes new friends. Available the 2nd Saturday of each month for kids 5+.
  • Zahhak: Legend of the Serpent King (BAM): A Persian legend comes to life with live musical accompaniment and intricate shadow puppetry. Taken from the Shahnameh or Book of Kings – an epic narrative penned in the 10th century by Persian poet Ferdowsi – this shadow play tells the story of a misguided prince who becomes the villainous Serpent King. Saturday, October 22nd at 10:30am and 3pm. Tickets: $15.   Ages 8-13.
  • Brooklyn Bridge Park Harvest Festival (Brooklyn Bridge Park): Come celebrate the Fall season on October 29th , 11am to 2pm with the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy and Brooklyn Bridge Park at the 7th Annual Harvest Festival and explore a NEW parkland with the opening at Pier 6! Enjoy pumpkin carving, arts and crafts, puppetry, games and musical performances.   Did you know they will have a “haunted marsh”???!!
  • Halloween in Prospect Park (various locations in the Park): On October 29th, Prepare for ghoulish happenings all over Prospect Park! Gather the goblins for a truly hair-raising Halloween Haunted Walk and Fair (noon to 3pm) at Lookout Hill and Nethermead. At the Audubon Center, there’s Creepy Crawly Halloween, where kids can learn about all sorts of shiver-inducing creatures, find bitty bones during an owl pellet dissection (1 to 2pm), or take a Creepy Crawly walk (3 to 4pm) in search for park-dwelling critters. Over at Children’s Corner, visit Lefferts Historic House for scary storytelling and crafts  (2 to 4pm; suggested donation $3), then spin to spooky music on the Haunted Carousel (noon–5pm; $2 per ride or five tickets for $9). All ages.
  • Boo at the Zoo (Prospect Park Zoo): On Saturday, October 29th and Sunday, October 30th don’t miss the zoo’s annual Halloween event. This year they have a costumed character scavenger hunt, face painting, spooky barn and of course – plenty of animals!!!
  • Halloween Family Party (Greenwood Park): On October 31st come for free pumpkin decorating, crafts and games, trick or treating and spooky snacks! Timing isn’t specified on the website, so call ahead to confirm hours:
  • Park Slope Halloween Parade (7th Ave and 14th St to the Old Stone House): Kicking off at 6:30pm sharp, this is the best family Halloween Parade around!   Maybe you’ve seen Dr. Cao and his family in costume in years past? The parade ends at the Old Stone House at Washington Park, with a little post-parade dancing at J.J. Byrne Playground. Feel free to gather with your family around 4pm, as many families and merchants begin greeting trick or treaters on Seventh and Fifth Avenues (yippee!). You never know what kind of spooks you’ll see at this festive celebration, and the costumes get increasingly inventive with each passing year-—so bring your A-game. All ages.




Interview with Dr. Wilson-Taylor


From the moment I met Dr. Wilson-Taylor I knew she was a perfect fit for the practice.  So warm and personable, caring and kind.  A smile that welcomes us and makes us feel confident that we are in the best of care.  A presence that makes us feel safe and calm.  Many of us have gotten to know her as the awesome doctor our child is lucky enough to see, but we ALL want to know more!!!!  Let’s learn about her in this month’s interview.

SSP:  Can you tell us a little about where you grew up and your path to becoming a pediatrician?

I was born and raised in Canarsie, Brooklyn. I always knew I wanted to be a doctor since I was in elementary school. I did a few science programs in high school and only became more fascinated in the sciences and health professions. Even though I felt passionate about being a pediatrician, I kept my mind open throughout medical school. I always found myself playing with children of my adult patients, or taking care of the newborn after a delivery and knew that providing care for children was my true passion.

SSP: Tell us a little about your family, I understand you are a mom of 2?

I am a first-generation American born. My parents are from the West Indies. My son is 9 and my daughter is 7. They are the reason I switched from academic pediatrics at Cornell to private practice here at South Slope. I wanted to be closer to home so that I could spend more time with them during their formative years. I have been married for 12 years to my childhood sweetheart.

SSP:  As parents we are always striving for a somewhat unattainable word “balance”.   How do you try to maintain balance as a doctor AND mom?

This “balance” is very tricky for working families. A couple of years ago, I made a list of ALL the activities that I do, their importance and how much time I spend on each one. It made me re-prioritize different aspects of my life, which led me to join the SSP family. It allows me a chance to be a professional and still make time to get home each night and spend time with children, finish up homework and still take them to activities on the weekend.

SSP: How has being a parent affected your perspective on being a pediatrician?

I know many great pediatricians that don’t have children, but being parent does give me a chance to take a step back and put myself in the shoes of the families of my patients. I realize the way pediatricians talk with families and patients is just as important as the diagnosis being made. I try to take my time and make sure parents understand why I am prescribing a specific treatment and are able to make informed decisions to best take care of their child.

SSP:  When you aren’t busy being a mom and a pediatrician, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time? 

Spare time…I like to cook and am working on my gardening skills. I enjoy fitness and try to get to a cardiokick class once a week and do workout videos at home.

SSP: What is the aspect of being a doctor that brings you the most happiness?

Whether its an infant with a cold or more life-altering moments, to be a constant support and sounding board for a family brings great joy. As a pediatrician, in just a few minutes, I can tell whether a child is really ill and to be able to tell a parent that their child is “fine” can put them at ease.