AWNY Mums and Dads update, June 2017

Written by Helen McWilliam

May was a quieter month for the AWNY Mums and Dads group after a very busy April.  The warmer weather has been very welcome and my children are loving the more regular sight of sprinklers in the playgrounds.

This month, Amanda and I wanted to include a shout out to the Dads of this group.  The events we’ve organised so far have been focused on the Mums.  We’d love some input from the Dads to see if you’d like our help to organize a Dad’s meet-up, arrange a Saturday playgroup or something else entirely.  Please contact us through our Facebook page or email AWNY. We’d love to hear from you.

With the school holidays rapidly approaching, I wanted to share a day trip idea.  As I have recently overcome my fear of travelling on the subway alone with two children, I am finally leaving the Upper West Side.  Well, if I’m honest there’s still fear, I can just do it without hyperventilating and shouting! The New York Hall of Science in Queens is worth the long subway ride.  I have a 4.5 year old and nearly 2 year old and they were both transfixed for hours.  It would also be suitable for much older children as my two missed a lot of the meaning behind many of the exhibits. All the exhibits were engaging and hands on, however the ‘Connected Worlds’ installation was a must see. There’s also plenty of staff on hand to help the children get the most out of the museum. It can get a bit hectic with school groups but there’s a preschool area where groups aren’t allowed and we were advised that the groups tend to leave at 12-1pm. A few helpful pointers:

1. There’s no lift for strollers at 111th street Subway Station in Queens however, however I found I only had to look towards the stairs and people were offering me help.

2. The café was pretty basic so I would advise bringing your own food.

3. In what I would consider a big win, the shop was easily avoided!

Some up coming AWNY events to highlight: the ‘Working In the USA’ information session presented by Belinda Jackson is on the 14th of June.  It provides expert advice for Aussie job seekers.  Plus, the annual AWNY picnic is one for the whole family on the 24th of June in Central Park.

Photo credit: Helen McWilliams

Enjoy your June and the last few precious weeks of school before the endless school holidays!


Mums and Dads Xmas drinks

by Helen McWilliam
Joe’s was a great venue for the end of year AWNY Mums and Dads drinks; suitably festive and very cozy.
We had a lower than anticipated turn out, I suspect because the drinks event fell on the coldest day of the year so far. However, many of us braved the chill and there was still a great mix of members, old and new, and between us we represented most states in Australia.
Possibly slightly too much wine was had for a Thursday night but there were a lot of laughs. Thank you for sharing in  such a fun night to those who came.
Looking forward to our next catch up slated to be a long brunch in Feb 2017 so stay tuned!


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AWNY Mums & Dads October update: Trick or Treat NYC style

Written by Anita Davison

Last October I wrote a well received post about ‘Dressing Kids for Winter‘, and although it feels like I wrote the piece just yesterday, it seems we have come around full circle. The funny thing is, I wrote it based on my experience in the winters of 2013/2014 & 2014/2015 which hit New Yorkers hard, fast and quite frankly a little too brutal for my warm climate accustomed derrière. Of course I thought I was being so very clever in giving you that information, preparing you all for the winter of 2015/2016, which was neither hard, fast or brutal compared to its predecessor. Well this year we seem to be back to ‘normal’. I can hear the collective groans amongst you, but alas, you can find yourself well prepared for what’s to come by clicking back into last years piece and giving it another look – all the info is still as relevant as it was then. And for those of you that are here for your first NYC winter; you are welcome! Click here to be enlightened…

October 31 brings us the, oh so American, tradition of All Hallows Eve: better know as Halloween! Trick or treaters can delight with a list of some of the best streets in New York to get your Trick or Treat on, as well as some great places to pick up costumes for the kids, pets and adults too. Just a note though, like every person has their favorite brunch spot/coffee shop/neighborhood, you too may know of other great places to take the kids in your ‘hood. If so, please share your wisdom in the comments section or on our Mums & Dads Facebook page!

Trick or Treat in New York by Neighborhood

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Counseling & Photography go hand in hand for Susie Lang in this week’s AWNY Startup Story

Susie Lang has combined her two lifelong passions, photography and counseling into two wonderful startup’s in New York. Susie has a private counseling practice, working with individuals and groups. She is also a professional Photographer and has lived in New York since 2004 with her husband.

Susie is a valued AWNY Committee member and is also hosting two group sessions in October – The Emotional Transition of Moving to New York.

Tell us about these businesses and what inspired you to begin.


I have been in the Caring Profession since 1975.  In Australia I was a Registered Sick Children’s and General Registered Nurse in Adelaide, and the Manager of the YWCA Child Care Center in Darwin.  Throughout the 1990’s in the UK I worked in Women’s Centers offering women low cost, long term services – counseling, childcare, women’s health issues, legal support and computer training.  I also worked in a center for women who experienced domestic and relational violence – here the women were offered counseling, emergency and safe re-housing, emotional, legal and financial support.  I had a small private practice.  When I arrived in the USA in 2004, I was employed as a Psychological Consultant with a company in Arizona which dealt with Identity Theft.  In 2009 – 2011 I worked alongside the family caregivers at the NYC Chapter for the Alzheimer’s Association.  Throughout my personal life and my career I have been fortunate to have women in my life whom I have felt inspired by.  I have never forgotten their “way of being” – being available, supportive and present to me throughout my life.  I realized that at an early age I didn’t have enough wisdom, presence, life experience, personal growth development and healing to go into the counseling/psychotherapy field as a younger woman.

My husband and I arrived in NYC in 2004.  Being in NYC I found my previous work experiences in Australia and the UK didn’t cut it.  It felt easy to simply give up on the notion that I could “make it” in NYC.  As a requirement to become licensed as a counseling therapist, I needed to go to University to get a MA (Mental Health Counseling and Wellness), degree in order to practice.  Since 2012 I have been in Private Practice as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and a National Certified Counselor (NCC).

I am passionate about my therapeutic work, gaining much experience in my intimate and professional work with clients.  It is one of my life’s joys.


In growing up on a farm in rural South Australia I shared a camera with my 4 brothers.  Luckily for me they weren’t interested in using the camera that our father bought for us, so I began to experiment with film photography. My inspiration came from John Sprod, a well-known and much-admired South Australian portrait photographer who traveled throughout the State, to photograph families in remote areas. He “knew” how to work with us, as small children.

I traveled to the UK in the early 1980’s, where I was accepted to the four London Colleges of Photography. I chose to attend Watford College where I received a BA in Design, majoring in Photography. I was awarded the prize for Portrait Excellence from Kodak in 1986. I have continued to photograph with a passion, receiving positive feedback from many who have seen my work.

In 2005, I switched from film to digital photography. I have always referred to my photographic work as my “creative outlet”. It is in contrast to the intense and intimate work I do in my counseling field.

In 2013, I created my photographic website – this has been a massive personal step, stating that I was ready to show the world that I love what I do.  Photography offers and gives me great joy.  I simply come alive!

I am passionate about connecting with people in both professions.

As I like to say, it is my “art of connection”.


Do you find that the synergy of these businesses overlap?  

Yes!  In the Summer of 2014, I was talking to a woman, also a photographer, who said to me, “What sets you apart as a photographer?”  I had never been asked this before.  In considering my psychotherapy training, my passion in photographing and my ability to connect with people, and after many hours of processing, thought and conversation with close allies I began to realize that I have an “art of connection” in my two fields of work.

In counseling, I am very present with each client, listening intently to them, empathizing with their experiences and offering unconditional positive regard.

In photography, I am able to “see” and be with a person, as if there is NO camera between us.  The synergy is electric to me, and in this, I trust that there is mutual connection with those whom I am working with.  Counseling clients continue to return with greater self-awareness and a willingness to delve deeper into their own self-understanding and self-awareness.  Photographic clients delight in images of self – I often hear their “WOW” factor being expressed!

What has been your “Aha / I’ve made it in the USA” moment?

I continue to strive towards this “aha” moment and I never take this for granted.  It is a very competitive world out there, and I am up against lots of others in the same fields.  “Aha” moments come with my connections I make with my clients.  They are often brief moments in time, and I have learnt to really feel and acknowledge them each time this joyous experience happens.

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AWNY Mums & Dads Update: Start your engines NOW for 2016/2017 Kindergarten applications!

Written by Sally Bertouch


Last month we wrote about nursery school admissions to try and clear-up some of the confusion (like do I really need to write essays!!?)

This month we’re graduating to Kindergarten – where there are three different approaches depending on whether you are looking at Kindergarten at private, public, or gifted and talented schools.

Private Schools

Kindergarten at a private school is a whole other ball game – and your nursery school will help you with everything you need. So this part will be brief. But if you’ve just moved and you’re looking to start at a private school – the best thing to do is find a consultant. The city is full of them and they know all the schools (and the schools mostly know them). A quick assessment of your family’s needs will help them guide you to the right places. They’ll also know where it might be possible to get in. This is one – – but there are plenty of others if you google them.

Luckily, if the process, cost and everything else that goes with it isn’t your thing, most of the city has fantastic public schools.

Public Kindergarten

Last year Ella Colley of Inside Schools wrote us as An Inside Guide to NYC School Applications. Not a lot has changed in 12 months, and Inside Schools is the best website that goes into great detail on each school. They have photos, great details and all the stats – ranging from how the kids do in tests to how much the parents and teachers recommend the head of the school.

The most popular public schools (like PS 234 in Tribeca and PS 41 in the west village) have very strict zoning laws and large and involved parent groups. But there are lots of schools outside these zones that are equally fantastic – some of them recently opened to deal with the overflow from those two schools in particular. And they come with a new and vibrant parent community working to make their local school the next PS 234.

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