Category Archives: Uncategorized

BFL – Travel Time with Toddlers

Tis the season for travel, whether it is by plane, train or automobile, it can be a harrowing experience, or stupendous….

Check out these articles on tip and tricks to make the holiday so much better all around.  All bets are off if they don’t like their presents though!

If you are lucky enough to take the kids (and they can withstand the long flight) over the pond to Europe, check out this great article from our friends at Little Passports on traveling abroad. 

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If you have not checked out their subscription service, its well worth it.  Even if you are staying stateside the kiddos can learn about other cultures and countries with these superiffic kits monthly.   15% off all kits thru Dec 18 with code CHEER15

USA Today has some great tips as well on the educational value of travel with kids….

- Kelly, resident mom of 2 little ones who have more miles than a lot of her adult friends, Europe is on the list sometime soon!!

 

 

BFF – Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

That’s what little girls (and some boys) are made of.   If you are like me and have had a list of baby names since high school (WELL before a partner was actually in the picture, let alone engagement and marriage), you look forward to the most popular names of the year out of curiosity (and to buck the trend).  So,  it’s here! Bell Family’s STAND OUT names of 2014!

For more intriguing names ascending up the ladder, check out this article from Brit & Co.    Celeb baby names are more popular than ever for us normal people…

Every year we compile a list of our most commonly used children’s & babysitter names. Look how the names have changed for the girls Sophia is top for 2014 children VS Allison for sitters.

KIDDIES:

1.     William (most popular boy name on BFC)

2.     Sophia- Girl (most popular girl name on BFC)

3.     Cora- Girl

4.     Grayson- Boy

5.     Hugh- Boy

6.     Henry- Boy

7.     Callan- Girl

8.     Ella- Girl

9.     Quin- Boy

10.  Caroline- Girl

SITTERS:

1.     Allison

2.     Jessica

3.     Katie

4.     Laura/Lauren

5.     Sarah

6.     Rebecca

7.     Mary

8.     Michelle

9.     Anne

10.  Erin

 

 

BFF – Ahhhh Arbonne

Last weekend I had the pleasure of doing a three day, trial with the Arbonne facial kit. Arbonne is a one of a kind skin care and wellness line for women that provides a chemical free anti-aging kit. In a study conducted by naturalnews.com, they discovered that women apply an average of 515 chemicals a day to their skin. Makeup, perfumes, lotions, mascara, and other beauty products all contribute to the toxic brew that can cause health problems for women.

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My experience with the Arbonne anti-aging kit was excellent. After the second day of using the product my skin felt fresh and radiant. By the third day I could noticeably tell the difference in my skin, I saw improvement in moisture, clarity, and blotchiness. I enjoyed all of the products in the process which takes less than 3 minutes to complete but my favorite product had to be the Corrective eye Serum, it made my eyes look fresh, and awake. This is a great gift for the holidays, and I recommend this for women of all ages! For more information, please contact Rebecca_Wong@me.com and receive 35% off your first purchase.

- Hannah, BFC Sitter Coordinator and resident beauty guinea pig

WWW – Holiday Travel Tips with a Toddler

Good notes to keep in mind from BFC mom Maureen, esp with this storm brewing in the Northeast and inevitable delays…

Surprisingly, traveling was a lot easier when I had an infant who fell asleep in the car. Now it is harder to entertain a toddler on a long road trip. I’ve had to get creative with the activities and snacks I pack to keep Henry happy for 4-5 hours at a time. Here are some useful toys, activities, and snacks that keep the little man happy!

First, I usually try to bring along a few “new” and exciting toys. They don’t have to be freshly purchased, but about a week ahead of time I’ll hide a few small trinkets or books. The “newness” always appeals to Henry. Sometimes I splurge and actually buy him a new book or a Thomas the Train trinket, which he is currently obsessed with.

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Another thing I’ve noticed that has helped is giving him his water in a new cup. I go to the dollar bin at Target and can usually find a holiday themed cup. It’s worth the money because he somehow things the cup, and water in it, is magical! I’m a little uneasy about letting Henry snack in the car for obvious reasons, but I usually take a few of the Plum Organics “Mighty 4″ bars. They’re easy to chew and he enjoys them.

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He has a new love of stickers and magnets. The reusable sticker books and tin sets make Henry a happy guy! The dollar bin at Target is also FULL of cheap and quick activities for kids. Toddler “fun packs,” musical instruments, books, gel clings for the car windows, etc. You know your tolerance for what you can handle noise wise in the car!

Let’s not forget about the iPad. I don’t want him sitting in the car staring at a screen for hours at a time, so I usually save this as a last resort. Once he has the iPad you can kiss a nap goodbye and all the other entertainment you bring because he won’t find it interesting. Some of our favorite “Apps” are Monkey Lunchbox, Curious George Shapes and Colors, and any of the “Tiny Hands” 2+ puzzles.

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This is our last car ride with one child as we are expecting baby #2 in January. Soon I’ll have to brainstorm toddler and infant entertainment for our long trips to Michigan!

Happy Thanksgiving!

BFL – Happy Family Product Review

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Happy Family was generous enough to send some of their new product to a few of our BFC mamas.  Their kiddos ate it all up and here is what they have to say…

Avery and Sydney

I was so excited when I received the Happy Family products in the mail.  We were just starting to introduce our 6 month old Sydney to solid foods (pureed), so the timing was perfect.  She loved the Happy Baby Stage 1 food!  What I loved about the Happy Baby products is I found them to be much thicker than the brands I had been using.  Often times the Stage 1 food is so runny, but Happy Family was different.  Also, the pouches made it much easier to feed her and WAY less messy!  Sydney and I actually enjoyed the product so much I went out and bought the Stage 2 Happy Family pouches and Syd loves them!  The simple combos they provide make it easy to ensure she is getting the fruits and veggies at the same time.  When Avery was a toddler, I was always going back and forth between the veggie jar and fruit jar, but this is SO much simpler!  And the organic fruits and veggies seem to be easier for her tummy to digest, which is a huge win!  Although they cost slightly more than what I was using before, the advantages are well worth it.  And for brands that offer similar products (organic solids in pouch packaging), the cost is the same. What busy working mom doesn’t want healthier, simpler, and cleaner options for their babies??

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Sydney also tried out the happy baby teethers.  While she enjoyed playing with them, she didn’t seem to enjoy eating them all that much.  J  I found that while she would attempt to eat them, the baby teethers would end up stuck to her clothes and face or on the floor, not dissolved in her mouth.

And finally, we tried out the Happy Tot Best Friends cookies.  Avery loved them…both the taste and shape!  And as a mom, how reassuring that they are made with organic whole grains.

Henry 

My two year old sampled the Happy Family “Super Nutrition Shake” in vanilla and chocolate, the “Happy Creamies,” and “Fiber Protein” pouches. Overall he had a good response to the products. He absolutely loved the strawberry, raspberry, and carrot “creamies” and wanted to eat the entire packet at once! It made me feel good that they were healthy and that he was getting some veggies, which I struggle getting him to eat.

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He doesn’t really like the pouches in general and won’t even try them. I put some in a bowl and left it there until he got interested enough to try it with a spoon. He really liked both flavors, but the pumpkin, peach, and cinnamon was his preferred choice and he was soon reaching for the pouch to finish it off!

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The shakes were a tougher sell. First, anything that has a straw becomes a toy. Half the shake ended up on his tray. Also, he doesn’t really like sugary milk drinks. He’s always wanted plain, skim milk. I couldn’t even get him to drink whole milk as a baby. Overall, I like that product, but I don’t think Henry liked the flavors. I will definitely be purchasing the pouches and “creamies” again!

Lulu & Cole

We have been using – and loving – Happy Baby snacks since my son started eating solid foods 4 years ago. Puff and yogurt melts were staples in our house, and family favorites, so I was psyched to try out their new products. The samples we were sent were geared toward toddlers – perfect for my 5 year old and 3 year old, who have graduated from baby food! We were happy to taste test Best Friends Toddler Cookies in both Honey Buckwheat and Chocolate Pumpkin flavors, and both were very tasty, although my 2 year old preferred the chocolate ones. I was a bit wary because they are Gluten Free, and I have found, personally, that I don’t care for most Gluten Free snacks – but I will happily share these. I love the resealable bag, and – since they are peanut and tree nut free, they’d be a great snack for nursery school! We also received a bunch of different pouches to try.

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I LOVE pouches with my kids because they make a GREAT quick and healthy breakfast as we inevitably sleep late and are trying to fly out the door – we are not morning people. I find the pouches to be a much better option than throwing a bagel at my kids, and appreciate that there are many options with fiber, protein, and/or vegetables mixed in.  Neither of my kids loved the Pear, Kiwi, and Kale flavor, but Lulu scarfed down her Pumpkin, Apple, Peach, & Cinnamon and requested more!

BFF – For the Love of all Things Crafty

“Are you a school teacher?” I get asked this a lot from store clerks lately as I pile their counters high with my carefully curated purchases.  My husband should probably worry.  My life long love of crafts and school supplies that has been squelched for years, has been UNLEASHED with the birth of our daughter!

Growing up, every September I got so excited because it meant shiny new pencil boxes and brightly colored notebooks and pens, pens and more pens!!!  (I think I’ve only kept a paper calendar all these years as an excuse to use colored pens.) As an adult, my sisters would forbid my walking down the school supply aisle in stores for fear of losing me.  And art supply/craft stores?  Forget it, I love them!  I think designing jewelry was my way of translating crafts into commerce.  However, other than my own journal writing and an occasional need for holiday stickers on jewelry sale signs, there has been no reason to purchase any of these items…until now!

Now, I have the education of my daughter to think about and she MUST have the proper paper, crayons, google eye stickers, sparkly cut out letters, furry pipe cleaners, colored pom pons and don’t forget the colored pens to ensure her future status as genius!! And thank goodness a smart mom in our neighborhood organized a “mommy school” so that monthly I can create craft packets for other kids too!  I now HAVE to spend hours on Pinterest.  I mean, I can’t show up with a lame craft…my toddler would be so embarrassed!

 

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Of course I’m kidding…kind of.  I have always believed in the power of arts education and now I get to put it into practice with my own daughter.  I see how she learns words through songs, how she understands concepts through art and learns essential movement through dance.  Playing is learning for her and it’s pretty amazing!

We are lucky to live in a place where there are thousands of really cool activities every month for kids.  I am working part time so I now have time to take Parker to toddler rock concerts, art class, story time with crafts, museums with hands on exhibits, or just hang out at home and have a dance party in the living room or sit at her table and stick “googles” on everything in sight!  She shares my passion for creativity and I love it!!

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So no store clerks, I’m not a school teacher…just a mom who loves the arts with a little girl who loves to make it!

 

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10 Recipes that use leftover Halloween Candy

From our friends over at Cool Mom Picks – check out their genius ways of using up leftover Halloween candy (until next year!) or donating to a worthy cause……..

If you’re like me, you’re going to wake up in the morning with a sugar hangover, wondering just what the heck to do with all those leftover Halloween candies.

Hit our archives and check out our post on 10 delicious recipes that use leftover Halloween candy on the outside chance you have actual Butterfingers or Snickers leftover. But hey, even Tootsie Rolls and Jolly Ranchers find a second use here.

If not for very long.

WWW – Mommy Poppins, Wee Work & Broadway Babes

From our fab Moms at fave blog Mommy Poppins, the yearly opp to take your kids to their first (of many?) Broadway shows is almost upon us.  Check out the deets below on how to be one of the chosen few….

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The next Kids’ Night on Broadway (which really needs to be renamed Kids’ Week on Broadway) will take place Friday, January 9 to Thursday, January 15, 2015. Children ages 6 to 18 can see a Broadway show for FREE when accompanied by an adult paying full price. Tickets go on sale Wednesday, November 5 at 11am and frankly, for popular shows like Aladdin, The Lion King, Matilda: The Musical and Wicked, you have to move fast. Find the complete list of participating shows on the website and set your alarm for next Wednesday at 10:59am!

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While you are whittling away the minutes to purchase tix, check out Wee Work!  A great go to source for rainy day crafts or just when the kids need some focus.  Most crafts are created with household items, so no trips to Michael’s are necessary.  Endless hours of entertainment here as well as seasonal and age skewed activities.

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Bell Family Loves – Spa Days!!! at The Red Door Union Square

Recently, I had the great fortune of a spa day at (newish) The Red Door in Union Square.  With 2 kids at home, working from home for 4 family friendly companies (including our own BFC), homework, dance, hockey, bdays and a hubby who I see occasionally, getting to any sort of female grooming establishment for 10 min is tricky, let alone a few hours for the works.  But the stars aligned and hubby was not on the road so here goes my experience, by far one of the best i have had in years on so many levels….

The Red Door offers all of the traditional spa services, salon services, hair and color & mani/pedi.  They also have a wonderful menu of Speed Services to get you in and out in under 30 minutes

Before you get 5 ft in the door an instant calm comes over you.  ethereal music is piping through the speakers, everyone on the floor has a genuine smile on their face, they really are happy to see you.   I walk to reception, give them my name and i am promptly given the run down of my services and then escorted downstairs for my first experience – a massage with George.

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Ok, the bathrobes in the locker rooms could rival any 4 star hotel in the Caribbean, I really wanted to stuff one in my bag, but I thought better of it.  Once properly dressed, I went to the waiting room, it was pretty, dimly lit & soft cushy couches and cucumber and pomegranate infused waters and tea awaited me.  George came out a few minutes later and we wound down what seemed like an endless hallway to his massage room.  It was 50 minutes of bliss let me tell you, George was great, it was a basic Swedish full body massage, highly recommend him.

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The Waiting Room Du Jour… Red Door 7

After my legs began working again, I detoured through the dressing room, lost my beloved robe and went out to reception, energized for the next phase – hair color – with Rachelle.  She was super sweet and apparently loved doing the colors I was accustomed to – coppery red with hints of burnt orange and chestnut.  Rachelle was swift and efficient, and I was left for the color to settle before being washed out.

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Again in the calm of the mirrors and pictures of haircuts that I could only wish I could carry off.  30 min later, Mandy came over and washed and conditioned me up for my haircut.

Wade was the stylist of the day – an Arizona transplant to NY, he had quite the back story as we chatted.  He made quick work of my simplistic style (as I can’t spend more than 10 min on my hair in the am) and gave me the choppy layers that I love along with a blowout that was perfect for my girls night out later that day.

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A quick trip outside for some fresh air and a snack and back I was with Nancy – the makeup artiste extraordinaire – who really insisted she give me the benefit of her training.  I must have been the most boring client she had all week as I tend to not wear makeup save for special occasions such as weddings.  I asked for subtle and earth tones as girls night at the Billy Joel concert did not call for full eye makeup and a clubbing vibe.  What she did was perfect,  it moisturized, calmed, colored and highlighted my skin.  I lost count of how many different products were used, but it didn’t feel heavy at all.   And the client before me was going all out and Nancy did a wonderful job.  Best of all, there is no obligation to purchase any of the Elizabeth Arden products with the mini makeover, but of course they will welcome your credit card.

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All in all, it was a wonderfully spent 3.5 hours which I would do again when those stars align, say in a year or so.

Woo Hoo – everyone benefits – My Favorite manager Amanda has offered 20% off services Mon – Thurs, just mention Bell Family!

These services were provided free of charge in exchange for this review of Red Door, all opinions are the writer’s own.  

- Kelly Miller is a work at home mom who consults for BFC, Baby Loves Disco, Miles of Marketing and more.  She can be seen out and about with her 8 and 4 yrs olds in tow… 

WWW – Musical Melodies redux

A fave Sitter2Mom of ours – Jen Bonura – also attended a Kindermusik class with her 20 month old son at the classes Upper West Side location.. Check out what she had to say about her experience…

My son and I recently ventured uptown to Kindermusik‘s new Upper West Side location.   We were excited to try something new.   Upon entering the room (which also serves as a pre-school classroom for the Redeemer Presbyterian Church), Julian was excited to see instruments out on the floor to play with.   The Kindermusik program starts with some free time of exploring the instrument of the day which in our case were “rhythm sticks.”   They look like textured drum sticks and of course Julian used them to drum on the floor like he was a member of the rock band Foo Fighters.

After the sticks were collected we moved on to the structured time.   I hadn’t realized it at first, but there was a theme to class – this week was “Trains,” much to my son’s delight.  This is a music and movement class so our chug-a-chuga-a dance moves were hilarious for the adults and a blast for the kids.  The next few songs were all fun activities that I was amazed Julian picked up on so quickly — In and out and up and down with hand movements and music.

Then we moved on to parachute time – what class is complete without the ever-anticipated parachute?  I’m always amazed to see that every kid responds differently to it – some want to jump on top, some want to run underneath, either way they all have fun as the adults got an arm workout shaking away.   We continued shaking with colorful pieces of fabric that were handed out to the kids.

Class ended with a book about a New York City subway car.   We’ve been to a lot of music classes and none of them had a story-time which I thought was a nice twist, especially since it went with the theme.

I thought this class had a lot of similar activities to other music classes we’ve been to, but I would say that this class has a bit more structure and in my opinion is geared more towards toddlers.   My son is 20 months and he was excited about the different transitions, but was more interested in climbing the pre-school chairs other non-music class paraphernalia than really partaking in the activity for the entire time.   In contrast, there was a 3 year old girl in the class who was just beside herself with excitement the entire time and anticipated the next activity.   The teacher was lovely – she was engaging and knew how to balance the class with the older and younger kids.   Also, I’m not sure if this is a new class, but there were only 5 kids in class which might be ideal for parents who aren’t a fan of the very loud and aggressive music class.   In my case, my son is much more in the explore phase and another music class type of set up works better for him.   This is why trial classes are so key – your child’s interests can change drastically from age to age and every child gravitates towards something different.  We were appreciative to have had the opportunity to check out Kindermusik.

A few logistical notes to parents and caregivers – your stroller needs to be collapsed and stored in at the lower level before heading up to class.   This important to know in advance, if like me your child’s entire life is in your stroller basket.  Also, all shoes (adults and kids) must come off upon entering class so remember to wear socks.

- Jen is an Event Planner and stay at home mom (aka educator, security guard, cook and master negotiator) living on the UWS and enjoying all the city has to offer with her son.