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Admissions to the Gifted and Talented (G&T) programs in NYC requires a minimum score of 90 for district-wide programs and 97 for citywide programs.    The elusive test is important because it provides a shot at a high-quality alternative to the often unimpressive public school default.  And the stakes are high because for many parents, private schools (which can run up to 50k a year depending on which private school you choose in NYC) are oftentimes not an option.   Not only that but admittance into a citywide G&T score also means getting to skip the dreaded middle school admission process and scoring a guaranteed G&T seat through 12th grade which is like GOLD here in New York!  No wonder the pressure is ON.  It’s also especially intense here in New York because even if your genius child scores 99% or better on this test which is graded on a curve, there still is no guarantee of admission for the only 400 available citywide G&T seats.  (Only 1 in 4 99th percentile scoring kids get one of the coveted citywide G& T school spots!)  So the competition is fierce and the lottery system is real.    But how does one prep a 4 year old for a 1-2 hour exam where a stranger is allowed only to state a question once and never repeat the instruction?

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Kids who are extremely intelligent may still stumble on concepts when a strange test proctor questions them with an unfamiliar format.  The only way to set your child up for success is to make sure your child understands the basic premises behind what the test covers and to actually practice the types of questions he/she will encounter on test day.  I’ve never gone into a test without preparation and expected to do well so I would never expect a 4 year old to do so either.  I strongly believe that there are test-taking skills that will improve any child’s performance – and they CAN be learned!  Just take the component of stamina for instance.  What 4 year old child, naturally is gifted at focusing for an hour or more on answering boring test questions?  They can however learn to exercise their concentration and listening skills beforehand so that they are able to remain more focused for a prolonged period.  So when Noodle Pros contacted me about participating in a trial tutoring period in exchange for a review, I jumped at the opportunity and was curious as to how their service worked.

Noodle Pros is an exclusive group of experienced, professional tutors who work in all tests and subjects, from Pre-K to Graduate School.  We were so happy with our assigned teacher, Kalen who had a decade of experience tutoring and an expertise in the kindergarten G&T exam. As a fellow Ivy League graduate, I felt comforted and confident in the fact that she valued educational achievement in the same way that I did.  She is so invested in children’s development and learning that she even helped design, market and create content for Scene App for Kids on the side.  I found also that she was able to quickly establish a connection with Juliet who warmed up to her and broke out of her shyness easily with fun tasks like finding matching mermaids and coloring them for their initial project together.  Juliet liked this task so much that when Kalen promised she would keep that mermaid page for her to continue working on next time, Juliet remembered two weeks later, and looked forward to her specially saved page.  I appreciated how Kalen innately understood how to peek the interest of my 4 year-old girly girl.

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The hour-long session involves teaching and/or reviewing concepts that the test would cover including visual discrimination, following aural directions, recognizing sequences and predicting patterns.  This is done through colorful manipulatives that involve plastic figurines (“let’s see how you would group these objects”), to identifying opposites with puzzle pieces (see above), to pattern completion challenges on the ipad or dry-erase board.

  

Together they aptly incorporated and discussed handy test-taking vocabulary such as “right, left, single, identical, diagonal, column, row, beneath, outline…” all words that kids at age 4 might not be required to know at school yet but would need to know in order to answer the test questions.   Basic arithmetic vocabulary was introduced as well.  “Let’s organize by land or sea creatures… If we take away 1 then how many do we have left?  That’s an equal number of land and sea creatures!”  I make sure to incorporate addition and subtraction concepts regularly in life so Juliet already knows how to count and subtract anything by 1 and loved that this was reinforced here.   I was also happy to observe that Juliet enjoyed all the “brain games” but was not surprised given the girl has in the past sat through 18 worksheet pages at a time totally determined to try and finish her workbook in record time.  (Is there a class for us parents to train our own stamina so that we can keep up with our own children’s love of learning?? Cuz I was ready to quit after page 10!)  Even Kalen who just met her, noticed and reported how “engaged and eager to do well” she was.  new york tutor, gifted and talented test, gifted and talented tutor, noodle pros, how to prepare for gifted and talented test  She isn’t a robot though.  And as nerdy as she may naturally be, she is still a 4 – year old.  During the hour when Kalen noticed Juliet was getting a little restless, they got up for a quick game of silly Simon says (and I spy out the window during the 2nd day of tutoring).  This enabled them to take a much-needed break, shake their sillies out and re-focus with even more energy.  And Juliet continued the laughter throughout the rest of her sessions.

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It filled me with joy to see her enjoy her Noodle Pros session.  The varied tasks and visuals really helped to make the learnings fun and playful.  What child doesn’t love a game or puzzle?

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What I also found to be a major benefit of this one-on-one tutoring besides the customizable program, designed to fit your little one’s specific strengths and weaknesses was the post-session report.  Below are excerpts from our first two sessions’ reports so that you can understand the level of detail you may expect.

“…She is a lot of fun and really enjoys these brain games and challenges. As I mentioned, I’m impressed with her ability to focus with you in the room. …. I asked her to identify which item in each row was different. She enjoyed this and had no trouble finding the different shell in each row. Next, we did a variety of games with manipulatives to help prepare her for the language in the three OLSAT subtests: aural reasoning, following directions, and arithmetic reasoning. When asked to sort the manipulatives into groups she was unsure of what to do. However, as soon as I specified what group: by color or by a particular type (fruit, sea creatures, etc) she was able to follow my instruction. She demonstrated strong foundational skills with math concepts seeing that she was able to count quantities accurately and understood one-to-one correspondence. We did some pattern completion practice using a Bright Kids NNAT app. I also demonstrated figural analogies in the form of matrix reasoning on a drawing app and with the SET cards. Throughout the course of the session I used the following vocabulary with Juliet: row, identical, most different, outline, solid, second to last, bottom, equal.

 Overall, we were so happy with the level of engagement, learning and enthusiasm with which both Kalen and Juliet brought to each session.  Juliet actually kept following-up post- session with questions as to when she was going to get to see Kalen again and when they were going to do the games again.  That sort of sealed the deal in my mind, I’ve since booked a series of sessions for this last month leading up to the test.

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Each tutor comes at a differing hourly cost and each teacher comes with their own curriculum, materials and philosophy.  So it’s important to read up on their profiles, and find your best match.  They are not cheap.  You will pay upwards of $200/hour for these premium tutors but if you compare that investment to the cost of 1 year (or 12 years of private school tuition) hoping your child will get into a citywide G&T program, there really is no comparison.  And even if your child doesn’t get in, the investment is not wasted because the skills and concepts learned will help them with logic, reasoning, analysis and focus down the line anyways.  For those of you considering having your child take this all-important 1-2hour test, this one-on-one test prep is worth it.  And with the next round of testing coming up in January, there is still time to book your private tutor through Noodle Pros.

noodlepros, nyc test prep

DISCLAIMER.  All opinions expressed are my own.  This service was provided in exchange for an honest review.

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Interested in event planning, PR and marketing?  With the university semester coming to a close, I thought it would be great to begin interviewing for an internship.   Please read the below to see if you are a good fit for the position or if you know someone who would be a good fit!

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The ideal intern candidate:

  • is based in NYC and is able to work with me in the Financial District once a week (4hours)
  • has a laptop that they can bring in
  • is willing to commit to additional hours helping out at special events
  • is optimistic, flexible, dependable, reliable, punctual
  • has an interest in event planning, fashion, blogging, crafting and/or PR.
  • can organize and update Excel databases
  • has a specialty in one of the following: pitching/selling, photography, social media, graphic design, video
  • major plus if you are an SEO or WordPress expert

 

Internships MAY be done for school credit. You must work that out with your school.  June through August with potential to continue on through fall/winter semesters.

Additionally, we are always looking for people who can jump in at the last minute on special projects. If you’re interested in being a “back up” please email!  If you are interested in partnering up, please email!

fabgabblog@gmail.com

Please use the subject line “Internship” and include a resume and a few sentences on why you’d be the best candidate.

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museum of feeling

A free, interactive place to take your NYC kid in the neighborhood?  A place to create your own art and have a mood ring like experience?  It all sounded intriguing to me so I dashed on over with my minifashionista to check out what all the buzz was about at the Museum of Feelings at Brookfield Place.  Turns out it is a very cool, albeit thinly veiled pop-up by Glade, who creatively immerses you in their latest scents as your travel through a mysterious maze of ‘exhibits.’ Juliet started off loving her freebie – the shiny piece of cardboard she was instructed at entrance to refract light.

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The docents poetically waxed on about the responsive mood wall, the dividing of your shadows and how fragrances act as the muse to inspire visitors to explore their emotions.  Of course, Juliet only heard ‘yada yada yada’ and was more interested in the mixing of all her favorite colors.  ‘ooh blue, ooh red, oh look at THAT! YELLOW!’

museum of feelingsJuliet courageously ventured forward despite the darkness and enjoyed getting to experiment with her newfound glittery cardboard. If I were a more knowledgeable mom, I would have used this opportune time to teach her about how light refracts and the science behind it but I am not, so we resorted to a playful and elementary discussion on the prettiness of the lights.  (Sorry kid.)

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We were told this room was about feeling optimistic.  The reflective pass card apparently activated sensors that triggered ambient audio and light.  Berry scents filled the room. 

J’s feeling status? curiously excited.

The next room labeled, ‘Joyful’ was J’s favorite. This staffer distributed these glasses and encouraged us to think about the feeling of being young during the holiday season. That was easy!

museum of feelings

She couldn’t believe her luck upon entering through its dangling green, light-up vines and she laughed as they tickled her every move.  Infused with Glade’s Balsam & Fir Winter Collection fragrance, this modern forest appeared never-ending thanks to the room’s mirrored and reflective surfaces.

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J’s feeling status? Playful!

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This unique room definitely gave me a feeling of gratiude – for being a NY mom and being able to take my toddler to such cool places.

The ‘Feel Invigorated’ room inspired by the Glade® Blue Odyssee scent, transported you into a world where a colorful halo followed and tracked your every motion.

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J’s feeling status? upset (She was the only one without a halo since she was too little to be tracked by one)

The next room was a fun one for my tech-savvy toddler.  Use the futuristic ipad to control the floral images in the room and be rewarded with the scent of Blooming Peony & Cherry, we were told.  This kaleidoscopic room was totally trippy and inspired Juliet to lie down to truly enjoy the magnificent wonder of it all.

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Only a toddler could get away with this.

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J’s feeling status?  Pensive

The next room was supposed to inspire calm with the help of  Glade’s Lavender & Vanilla fragrance.  Fog clouds enveloped you while scents and sounds further transported you to a heavenly peace.  And it did.  That is until, Juliet practically screamed out, ‘UH-OH Mommy, I POO-ed!!”  museum of feelings

Uh-oh is right!  Thanks for emitting your own cloud of odor, J!  Suddenly, we saw the room clear out and only we were left to ‘immerse ourselves in our feelings.”  (i.e. feelings of guilt and remorse)  The room suddenly went from heaven to hell in a split second.  Where’s the bathroom?? lol

J’s feeling status?  Disgusted.

(new) scent:  a mix of lavender and diarrhea  ( I do not suggest Glade try and market THAT).

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After exiting, we found ourselves in what was relatively, a ginormous room dedicated to taking selfies.  (This is a modern museum after all).  The above pic was the only one we hurriedly took since we were, you know in a rush to change the poopy mess.  But for those fortunate enough not to have a diaper filled with pooh, you could stick around and have this magical machine read your current mood and artistically display it (for all the world to see) in a colorful photograph like the ones below!

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Oh yea and you could also buy yourself a Glade candle souvenir but we were to pooped out to do that.

This interactive installation is on Brookfield Place’s Waterfront Plaza and is open to the public until December 15. And I highly recommend it!
Monday – Saturday – 11:00AM – 9:00PM
Sunday – 11:00AM – 7:00PM 

brookfield place ice skating

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Every Thanksgiving period is a time to reflect on the year and be grateful for all the blessings in your life, big and small – something we should strive to do everyday.  Personally, I’m most thankful for my healthy, happy adorable little family who make me smile and laugh everyday.

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Business-wise, I have a lot to be thankful for as well.  This past year was the first year where I really made a concerted effort to monetize my blog and its affiliated social media and make a business out of my personal passion planning events.  In doing so, I’m thankful for the partners, and sponsors who have collaborated along the way.

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image via

I look forward to continuing the partnerships in 2016!  Happy holidays to you all! What are YOU thankful for as this year comes to a close?

For collaboration inquiries, please email fabgabblog@gmail.com.  THANKS!

-Stella

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I love challenging myself to never wear an outfit the same way twice.  I like to mix it up and shop my closet for new looks all the time.  That way I never get too bored of what I have.  The same goes for my daughter’s closet, which similar to mine is a mix of high and low brands.  This post revolves around 1 skirt that I bought from Target (on sale).  It’s still a bit big around the waist so I think we’ll get 4 seasons of use out of this one (an amazing feat as any mom of a growing toddler knows!)

 

She first wore it during my Haute Halloween party where kids dressed up as their fashion icon.  Juliet dressed as Anna Wintour.

IMG_1820Here I paired it with a cardigan from Zara and shoes from Old Navy that you can see here.  Click here for more outfit details and ideas on how to costume your child as Karl Lagerfeld or Andre Leon Talley!

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Here, she is wearing a tee from The Children’s Place that I bought for $5, a Catimini reversible fur vest from Century 21, and gifted glitter shoes.  The glitter crown comes in 4 colors and can be bought on my Fab Kids Facebook site.

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She attended Kids Fashion Week in NY wearing this Target outfit (blazer, skirt, purse).  The tights are from Catimini bought on sale at Century 21, the tie was found at The Children’s Place on clearance, and the Elsy designer blouse is from Century 21.  The sneakers were from a hand me down shop called Once Upon a Time and bought on sale for just $3.

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The same tights, blouse, tie, skirt combo is shown here again for her nerdy school outfit.  I topped it off this time with a cool leather jacket from Target.    2015-04-27  And lastly, today she wore the tights, and skirt with a Catimini shirt (bought at Century 21), and wore it with my bandana and a vintage purse I bought on an Etsy sale.  The sandals which she is quickly outgrowing are from Gymboree.  Don’t be afraid to mix patterns as long as the’re in the same color family!

 

For more of Juliet’s outfits follow me on Instagram!  And for more of my outfits ( I haven’t done these posts for myself in a while) click here.

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Miss China, Miss Korea, Miss Japan

Ok, so if you’ve been following my blog, you know I love pageants.  The glitz, the glamour, the eye candy and imagined cat fights backstage are all tantalizingly alluring to the girly girl in me.  I remember pageant nights were one of the only nights I, as a kid growing up in a small town in MI was able to stay up past bedtime.  My mom, dad and I would watch together and all debate on who should make the final round and of course later be crowned.

Those were the days when weight stats appeared alongside height and age.  Now the weight portion is omitted and replaced with silly random facts.  Miss Brazil I learned yesterday, “kisses her shoulders when nervous” and Miss Russia  “has a teddy bear collection”.   It was hard for me to fathom that any contestant would willingly want to be forever remembered by her famous teddy bear collection but to each her own.

This year’s contestants were gorgeous as expected but what I didn’t expect to see were so many lookalikes.  Was it just me or did Miss Hungary Agnes Konkoly resemble Rachel Bilson?

And what about Olivia Palermo resembling Olivia Culpo (Miss USA now crowned Miss Universe 2012)?

And did anyone else think Miss Venezuela 2012 Irene Sofia Esser Quintero reminded them of   Sofia Vergara?

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For a chic take on the traditional Christmas party, why not go with a black, white and gold color palette?  The combo is oh so elegant and glam.  Check out the inspirational collages that I made below!

And if you aren’t already, follow me on pinterest!

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Ok so after a little trial and error and some online research, I’ve quickly learned what works and what doesn’t on a pregnant body.  The key for tops seems to be finding longer length blouses, tunics, cardigans and sweaters for instance that allow for some belly expansion (think empire waists, stretchy tops and items that don’t restrict movement or cause button popping).  And after strictly staying within my $200 maternity shopping spree, I’ve been able to mix and match with my current wardrobe to find some suitable options.

At 22 weeks pregnant, fashioning my growing belly seems to be the least of my concerns though.  Already, I’ve freaked out at having felt this growing human being within me kick and perform Cirque Du Soleil style flips.  And the thought of these kicks and punches only growing stronger (even waking one up in the 3rd trimester) are hard for me to try and get used to.

Everyone keeps reassuring me that I look great for my 2nd term phase and some even wonder out loud how I managed to stay so thin.  Meanwhile all I can think about is  my friend Tracey who even with the same due date has magically seemed to not gain an ounce – that skinny biotch.  After 5 months of pregnancy, I still can’t seem to get used to all this overhang – it’s far worse than any muffin top that I’ve ever experienced.  I have however finally stopped the automatic urge to suck my belly in.  It’s simply no use anymore.  I need to just let it all hang out.  haha

In the above photo I’m wearing an old red dress that I had sitting in the back of my makeshift, temporary cardboard closet.  The dress is by ABS and I simply attached a feather plume straight off another top that I no longer wore to one of the straps for a unique, retro-glam look.

In the above photo, I’m wearing my new maternity top from Old Navy.  I normally am not a fan of Old Navy but being on this strict maternity budget, I curiously scoured the racks in hopes of finding wearable pieces.  I was glad I did because I found this cowl-neck, black and white top in the sale rack and immediately knew it had potential.  Here I topped it with a dramatic statement necklace and my comfy maternity leggings bought from Target which secretly has a belly band that rises up to my bra line.  It’s one of the few pants I own where I really feel I can breathe and let it all go.

In the above photo, I’m wearing some frugal finds from Forever 21.  Thankfully, these skinny F21 jeans still fit.  Can you believe I paid only $12 for them?  And they stay up better than the official maternity jeans that I bought from Motherhood Maternity.  The navy cardigan from Forever 21 is banded by glam gold stripes and I love it.  The boots and tote perfectly match even though I found them at 2 different Asian stores.  So far maternity dressing is not as depressing as I had anticipated.  Let’s see how I feel once I really pop during my 3rd trimester!

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After days of being sequestered without internet access, I hungrily scavenged NYC like a poverty-stricken beggar ready to do nearly anything to get myself plugged back in.  After the first couple of tries where outlets weren’t working or internet was splotchy, I finally struck gold at Screme, a NYC Expresso bar on 42nd st.  Scream is exactly what I felt like doing in response to working wifi. (woohoo!!)

Poor NY, Sandy hit us badly and my heart goes out to the thousands affected by the tragic hurricane.  My measly problems with lack of heat, electricity and running water are definitely nothing to complain about in comparison.  And I find myself thankful for life’s little luxuries now.  (Living by candlelight is only romantic for the first few hours).  I’m now contemplating how I can transfer my old clothes, books and blankets over to those who need it the most.

I wonder how the many brides in the affected areas dealt with Hurricane Sandy.  I had two friends who got married the weekend right before Sandy hit – lucky them!  But what about the others who had their wedding venues destroyed, guests unable to attend and devastation all around them?  Amazing stories of women delivering babies during the hurricane also ignite my imagination.  How would I have dealt with having to have been transferred out of NYU hospital in the middle of giving birth and during the crazy storm! And I thought walking up/down 14 flights of stairs in the dark while pregnant was stressful enough!

What I do know is that NY-ers are strong.  They are resilient beyond belief and already I see how the community  is coming together to help one another out.  As the bright lights of the big city slowly reactivate, a growing love of NY resounds.  Leave a comment here if you also heart NY!

NYC – Mindrelic Timelapse from Mindrelic on Vimeo.

 

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Last year, I celebrated my birthday by playing with dolphins in the Bahamas with my husband.  This year, I had to work.  I found myself flying halfway across the world to run a major PR event and product launch.  And I spent my birthday on a 14 hour -turned 18hour flight (with delays) to Tokyo…not exactly how I imagined celebrating.

But this birthday was extra special for me, no matter where I ended up celebrating.  Because this birthday, I knew that I have a little one on the way.  Yes! I am expecting the birth of my first child!

It sort of explains the absence in my writing.  Not only have I been dealing with the lack of real closets in my new apartment the renovation planning and a new job, I have been dealing with an ever -growing belly – something I have trouble figuring out how to dress.  Perhaps this blog will grow into a pregnancy fashion blog for the meantime.  For now, I’m just trying to catch up on my sleep from the jet lag and pregnancy fatigue.  Hopefully, I’ll feel more fabulous when I wake up 🙂

Stay tuned for a Fab Freebie:  Goody Bag Giveaway!

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