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jodylynn kid

26 Percent

Many years ago, I remember hearing a story about a little boy walking up to his mom, pointing to her chest and saying, “boob mama” and the mom immediately offering her breast for nursing.  At the time I said to my friends, “No way! If I ever have a kid there’s no way he’s gonna be nursing long enough to ask for it….that’s just weird.”  Well, I’m sure a lot of things about motherhood seemed weird to that college kid, but now they’re just my normal.  Now I would congratulate that little boy for correctly identifying a body part and accurately asking for what he wanted.  I would also applaud that mom for sticking with it!  I just read a statistic that although most pediatricians recommend breastfeeding for a year if possible, something like only 26% of women actually make it that far.  So unless this kid was an early talker, he was probably more than a year old….kudos mama!!

Our little girl isn’t an early talker, but she’s a big talker!  We are currently celebrating the discovery of new words every day.  Wait, no, it’s more like every minute.  Once they start to talk, the words just flow like water.  It’s pretty spectacular!  We taught Parker basic baby sign language so she’s been able to communicate with us on some level her whole life, but now that she can “use her words” it’s a whole new world.  It’s thrilling to watch her realization as she learns to form a word on her lips.   She just gets so pleased with herself and then uses whatever she’s just learned as much as possible!  Of course the down side to all of this discovery is that EVERYTHING you say will be repeated.

Parker and I are also part of that small percentage that still breastfeed.  It’s now just around sleep times and she uses the sign for milk furiously as she says “milk”.  If you’ve ever seen a child opening and closing their hand like they’re milking a cow, that’s the sign.  (Parker once used it in church when we were in front of the entire congregation for my parents’ Anniversary blessing…her request went unanswered.)  So, during one of our nap sessions, my husband asked Parker a question from the other room.  I carelessly replied, “She can’t talk right now, she’s got a mouth full of boob.”  Parker immediately pulled away and said, “boob”.  Guess I’m the mom in the story now.

- Jolynn

KCS train

Keep em entertained !

Living in the city with kids has a slew of considerations all their own (what other city do you have to register for preschool while the kid is still utero ??).  Kids need freedom, they need space and most of all in a city like NYC they need an outlet for their energy that could power a freight train.

Whether it is art, music, gymnastics, bowling,  checkers, DJ academy or gardening to name a few, the apple has a ridiculous amount of offerings for the wee ones up to high school.  And it can make your head spin when trying to navigate the options, it’s plain overwhelming.  Our friends at Kidz Central Station are trying their hardest (and succeeding) in helping make this process painless.  Their one stop shop gives you 3 click access from looking to booking and then moving on to more pressing issues, like a glass of wine ;-)

Kidz Central Station: Your Go-To Resource for Kids’ Fall Classes

If you’re looking for ways to keep your kids active and learning this fall, check out Kidz Central Station a one-stop-shop for parents to find, compare, and enroll their children in classes and activities in and around NYC! With over 3,000 classes to choose from (in music, art, soccer, ballet, mommy and me, and so much more!), Kidz Central Station makes it easy for busy parents to find and manage their kids’ activities all in once place. Use the site to:

  • Narrow a class search by age, location, class type, date, and price.
  • Enroll in hundreds of NYC’s top class providers, such as 92Y, Gymboree, Little Maestros, and Super Soccer Stars.
  • Sign up for trial classes.
  • Earn reward points! With the Kidz Rewards program, the more classes you book, the more discounts you earn toward future purchases!

Visit Kidz Central Station to check out all of the great activities for your child this fall!

precisioneventplanning

Mother Nature Weather Woes

Any outdoor event has its challenges certainly, but the biggest fear for all event planners, moms, dads and guests alike is the unpredictability of the weather.  Having a gorgeous 75 degree sunny day right before your event, only to have torrential rainstorms the day of your event that have you shooting dagger eyes to the weatherman for being wrong is so not our idea of fun.

Contingency plans are always good to have, but at the end of the day it is still a force of nature (literally) that you have no control over.  Our friends at Precision Event Planning NY have come up with a great handy checklist that every bride to be and family/ event/ coordinator/planner should take a gander at to help alleviate some common issues that can be controlled…

Although the sun may have been shining bright the day you signed your contract for your wedding venue, that doesn’t mean unexpected weather will not make an appearance on your big day. When living in the North Eastern part of the US, each season offers a delightful variety of wonderful ways to celebrate your wedding, but it can also cause much commotion if not prepared for it to take an unexpected turn. Here are some tips to avoid disaster on your wedding day and shine bright like the sun even if the sun is hiding in the clouds.

Summer:

Heat: Summer, although considered a popular time to have events especially weddings, is not necessarily the most comfortable. Unless the entire wedding is indoors with central air, chances are those guest are going to be reaching for a fan!

Solution:Hand held battery operated fans as wedding favors. You can personalize them four your wedding and this way the guest can actually read the program instead of using them to cool off.

Bugs: Summer time is breeding ground for bugs and at an outdoor wedding this can become a problem.

Solution: When choosing an outside venue, make sure to think about the surroundings and choose a venue that has maintained greenery.

Fall:

Wind: In the Fall, the leaves are changing colors and the air is crisp, but the air can also be a little too powerful. A windy fall day can end up blowing decorations around and messing up your hair.

Solution: Make sure all decorations are secured to something stable or heavy enough to not blow away.

Also, try a classic updo for your hair to eliminate the risk of your hair getting tangled or getting in the way from an unexpected gust of wind.

Winter:

Snow: Winter usually means snow and this past winter was especially cold and snowy. If you have always dreamed of having a winter wonderland but don’t want the cold temperature or snow to interfere then here are some solutions.

Solution: Some ways that you can make sure guests and your wedding party stay warm and happy at your winter wedding is to offer warm beverages like hot cocoa. When it comes to picking a venue make sure that the venue is strict with driveways remaining salted and shoveled. The wedding party can wear gloves to add a classic element and help them to stay warm in those beautiful outdoor snow photos.

Spring:

Rain: Spring flowers are one of the top reasons to get married during this time of year but flowers grow because of rain. If an outdoor ceremony was planned this can become quite an obstacle.

Solution: Arrange for an outdoor ceremony under a tent so that even if it rains the wedding can proceed. A fun option is to have umbrellas in the colors of your wedding theme to distribute to guests who may have forgotten their own. These umbrellas will also make for great props in wedding photos.

Bell Family Loves… the suburbs?

Thinking about ….. the suburbs? Take a sneak peak with our guest blogger from Suburban Jungle Realty Group!

 

NYC is an amazing place to have a baby. There are endless places to sit outside on a nice night, grab a bite to eat, park the stroller and let your infant sleep with the white noise of the city. If your child is anything like my first, she only slept in her stroller and generally outside. This made for some rough nights but great dining al fresco. The list of activities, parks and cultural benefits is endless, but the reality is often inevitable.

 

After 2 kids, for many families it gets a lot more difficult to stay and space can become an issue. Don’t get me wrong, the city is fantastic for kids, stay as long as you can or you can afford. But when the time is right, and you will know it, many of us will move. We long for some green grass of our own, and a bit more space for toys,strollers, scooters and eventually bikes.
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This is where Suburban Jungle steps in, and can serve as an amazing (and totally free) resource to help you find the suburb that will be the perfect fit for your family. The approach is based on “town first”, and your consultant will help you determine which towns best fit what you need for your family. Whether its based on commute time, schools, that small town vibe, or a bit of the city in the suburbs, Suburban Jungle will guide your search.  Leaving NYC can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.
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Reach out to alana@suburbanjunglerealty to learn how you can get started!

Family Friday: Shannon

Bell Family works hard to connect the best sitters and nannies with your families; truly making them feel like part of your family. We’d like to take this Family Friday to introduce one of our own Bell Family Company “family members” here in the office: Shannon.

shannon Smith photo

Shannon is our resident Project Coordinator. Despite taking a few months off to travel the world, she is back in action and will be helping connect families and sitters from the NYC office.

Shannon is originally from Long Island and is a graduate of the University of Delaware. She loves to travel and has spent time abroad as a full-time, live-in Au Pair in Germany for 4 children ages 1-5 years. She is fluent in Spanish and conversational in German!

Shannon gets welcomed back by her favorite German family while visiting

Shannon gets welcomed back by her favorite German family while visiting

She has babysat her entire life for families in her neighborhood newborns to teens. Shannon also volunteered at a school with had classrooms that combine mainstream students and students with special needs. Shannon adores children and is a great part of the BFC team!

We Love… CDP!

As parents and caregivers, we all know how fun it is to play with the children we love and care for. Depending on the child, their age and developmental level the way we play will vary. One of my favorite ways to interact, engage and be an active participant when working with children is facilitating Child Direct Play (CDP). CDP can be used with children ages 2-10 years old (will vary with age). Once the grown-up has the basics down you expand on this and use this as a foundation piece when interacting and wanting to play with your kids. This approach truly eliminates power struggles, empowers the child to choose and direct, builds self-esteem and confidence, creates positive time with the caregiver and child, promotes self-regulation, foster independence, & increases creativity.

play

Here is the Who, What, When, Where, Why & How:

Who: Parents, Caregivers and Teachers- (Grown-ups)

What: Child Directed Play- CDP

When: Anytime that you (Grown-up) can focus your undivided attention on the child/charge/student for a 10-15 minute duration.

Where: Distraction free environment with a variety of safe, age appropriate toys, crafts, instruments etc. Typically done where your children play in your home.

Why:

  • Build language and fine motor skills
  • Practice parenting skills
  • Share time and space with your child/charge
  • Child gets your undivided attention with positive interaction
  • Builds self-esteem and confidence
  • Increases self-regulation and social awareness

How:

  • Grown-ups- follow the leader- the child is the leader.
  • Move closer to them and get curious about what they are doing.
  • Acknowledge verbally what they are actually doing.  Use as few words as possible, esp. with kids 5 and under.
  • Imitate the child’s play. If the child is building Legos, acknowledge and say, “Wow, good idea, I want to build a house too.”
  • Expand descriptions for more learning and language building (older kids deeper rapport)
  • Notice and praise child’s wanted (good) behavior, “You are so gentle with the baby. What a good mommy you are.”  “You are so careful with the paint, good work.” Be specific.
  • Allow the child to switch gears if need be. They are the leaders. Clean up can happen later. There is no right or wrong way for a child to play with toys. Support imagination.

For more helpful hints and do’s and don’t, click on this link: https://depts.washington.edu/hcsats/PDF/TF-%20CBT/pages/7%20Positive%20Parenting/Client%20Handouts/Parenting%20Skills/Child-Directed%20Interaction%20Skills.pdf

 

-Ali Sheppard, MSW, our in house nanny placement coordinator

How Will We See Our Photographs in 100 Years

With digital it easy to forget that having photographs in frames and on our walls and tabletops has a powerful effect. We see and remember the beauty and joy of our lives.

Dad & Baby

We also forget that the most secure way to have heirlooms is through prints. Whether a print is from a digital image or from film, printing on archival paper will give us memories that we can pass down to our children and even grandchildren.

There are two ways that are readily available to make prints from digital photographs. One type of process, the digital C-print, is the same as that used for color negatives. Your digital file is printed on a continuous tone printer that uses silver-based paper and processes that paper with traditional chemistry. These type of prints can last up to 60 years.

Magnolia Baby

A new form of printing is done with pigment-based inks. This is different than inkjet prints. Pigment based inks are often called archival and are rated to last 100 years depending on the paper used. You must use a paper that is also rated archival for the print to last. I recommend that you work with a trusted professional lab for both the digital C-print and the pigment-based ink print.

It is advised to keep prints away from direct sunlight. If you wish to frame them, using an archival mat to separate the print from the glass or acrylic is a must. Without a mat, the print may stick to the glass and be ruined. The glass and acrylic can also come in UV protective forms.

Albums have been a traditional way to store prints and have the advantage of being able to group prints by event, trip, or keeping track of the growth of your child or children. Look for albums that are archival. For mounting the photos there are a multitude of products from archival corners, tapes and archival glues. Prints can also be stored in archival boxes. There are also archival plastic sleeves. These products are very popular and easy to find. The images I am using as illustrations are prints mounted to an archival paper in an album, one with archival corners and the other with archival glue  tape.

6 Year Old draws card

Although printed books are fun, they are not archival. Do not consider them for heirloom pass alongs.

Canvas prints, on the other hand, can be top coated for longevity to prevent fading from sunlight and scratching or scuffing. There are several top coating options that have UV inhibitors and waterproofing. Have your canvas prints done professionally and ask about the top coating options. These options may also offer you a choice in finishes from matte, satin, semi-gloss, or gloss.

-Alice Garik creates photographs and art for her clients: maternity and families. She works with her clients to uniquely tell their stories. Visit www.alicegarik.com and contact her for a consultation.

MakingMelodiesNYCfinal(300)

The Next Mozart?

We are big fans of enrichment classes for kids here at Bell Family.  In NYC there are an overwhelming amount of choices and it is time consuming to narrow the field down.  So we are bringing some mama reviews to your inbox to help the navigation process!

First up our friend Isobella Jade,  who tried a Making Melodies class on the UES – a Kindermusik International formatted class.

At the start of our Kindermusik class an assortment of baby and toddler size instruments are displayed for play and practice. Phoenix immediately sits down on the special circular Kindermusik carpet and starts playing the xylophone, and then curiously bangs the xylophone sticks against the big drum that was nearby. Although the drum, we are told by the teacher, is only for hands, and I tell this to Phoenix too, and we bang on the drum loudly with our hands instead.

As a parent or caretaker, be ready for a hands-on experience for your child to truly get the most out of a music class. Classes like Kindermusik are best with adult involvement to guide and nurture the little ones to create their own rhythm, use their creative energy and feel the beat.

This week the theme of the class was “going to the zoo.”

After the Hello song and using mini cymbals and clam-shaped clicker-clappers to the beat of Hickory Dickory Dock, we read a lovely book called Zoo Train.

Focusing on the cover of the book which had an elephant on it, we first listened to elephant sounds on the teacher’s tablet.

After the fantastic book we got busy dangling our bodies and walking like giraffes and ran like zebras in a stop-and-go type of rhythm.

Then sitting down we played with different tones, each child received a shaker and a bell and we did fast and slow rhythms and focused on the different pitches. Using these perfect baby and toddler size instruments are great for their fine-motor skills too. (We’ve loved music classes so much that we bought our own musical instruments to play with at home too.)

There was also a parachute portion of the class, little ones absolutely love the colorful parachute, and the children were able to be on top and under it while the teacher sang a couple nursery rhymes and a song about colors.

The class we attended ranged from babies—nine months old, to toddlers—two years old. It was a younger group and Phoenix was one of the oldest there but our schedule didn’t allow us to attend the older group that week to try it out, but be sure to pick a class that fits your child’s schedule and when they will be most alert and ready to play.

Trying out a trial class and finding the right class that fits what you find interesting and engaging for your child is important. You have to sit through the class too, and music class can take more energy than you think since many classes are also about movement and following direction and listening and the adult assisting the child during class. Kindermusik is perfect for parents or caregivers looking for a first-time music class.

Basic Music Class Etiquette:

Music class isn’t sit and be quiet, it’s a “let’s try this!” experience.

It’s hard to text and play an instrument. Put away your phone unless you’re taking a photo of your child or the child in your care. It’s extremely rude toward your child, other children and the teacher when you are texting during a hands-on environment activity.

Watch that drum stick! Music class can be dangerous with instruments being banged and flung around in excitement so it’s your job to be cautious of your child and keep an eye on little ones really getting down with the beat. (Depending on how active your child is you may need to remind your child this is not the place to run around so fast, they will be excited and want to move around though, especially if they love it which is a good thing.)

That’s my drum! Music class is a great place to teach sharing and waiting your turn, since all the little ones want the loudest instrument at the same time.

Kids love to clean up. Music class can teach the importance of contributing and cleaning up together. The teacher should not have to pry the instrument out of the child’s hand. Before a meltdown, help your child understand that this part of the class is all done and it’s time to say goodbye to the instrument. Bye-bye instrument, see you next time.

I’ve also made some great mom-friends during our music classes and when you are a new parent it’s a wonderful way to get out and bond with your baby.

We’ve been attending music classes since Phoenix was six months old and music can indeed slip into the souls of our little ones and inspire them and you’ll see it fast, when they’re doing their own little groove.

For more info on Making Melodies and their class schedule  check out their website – www.makingmelodiesnyc.com.  More info on Kindermusik and their curriculum and philosophy can be found here - http://www.kindermusik.com/

Isobella Jade is an author and mom based in New York City, you can find her and her son Phoenix at the Central Park Zoo, the American Museum of Natural History, the Children’s Museum and at many toddler time enrichment classes and destinations in the Upper East Side, she believes New York City is the best city to raise kids.

Hamptons Family Concierge

Today on Bell Family Loves, we’d like to introduce you to a great service in the Hamptons! Enjoy this go-to guide for summer fun:

The Hamptons are world renowned for the beautiful beaches, celebrities, and gala fundraising events.  But what can you do when vacationing in the Hamptons with your kids?  As a local mom, and co-founder of Hamptons Family Concierge, I am willing to share a few secret spots that I’m sure your whole family will love.

founders

1) Elizabeth Morton Wildlife Preserve – Sag Harbor
All year round, Morton’s is a wonderful outing for all ages.  The most important thing to remember – bring birdseed!  During most of our visits (time of year and time of day vary), the chickadees and other birds will come and eat out of your hand.(even my 4 year old!)  There are also turkeys, chipmunks, and other local wildlife, that you may observe as you walk through a scenic, shaded wood.  One trail leads you to a lovely bay beach where you can take a break and have a picnic!  Cost: Free (but donations appreciated)

2) Free concerts in the Park – Sag Harbor, Southampton, Easthampton, Montauk
During the summer months, each of the above towns has a weekly outdoor concert in their park.  It is perfect to bring a picnic or pizza, and let the kids play and dance while enjoying various types of music.  Cost: Free (but donations appreciated)

fishing

3) Seven Ponds Farm – Southampton
This Farm is not as well known as some of the other Hamptons farms, but it is my favorite.  In the summer, my kids pick raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, while in the fall you can pick your own apples and pumpkins.  There are also other vegetables you can pick yourself, as well as gorgeous flowers.  There is a playground for the kids, hay rides, and a small corn maze in the fall.  The farm stand is fantastic.  After we gather all that fruit, if we have the energy, we go home and make a pie!

4) Whale’s Tale Miniature Golf & Ice Cream Parlor – Shelter Island
It is a nice day trip to hop on the Shelter Island Ferry and spend the afternoon.  There are several wonderful family friendly restaurants, and then after lunch, you can go play mini golf.  It is an old fashioned place, but the kids love it, and they love the ice cream afterwards even more.  This is only open seasonally.

My beautiful picture

5) Blockspot – SYS, Southampton
This creative, fun filled center is brand new, and has a variety of classes, and activities for age 2-10 years.  Blocks and building materials of all shapes and sizes abound.  View the schedule to see when you would like to drop in.  Great for birthday parties as well.

There are so many factors involved when planning your weekend or vacation activities: the season, the weather, your children’s ages and interests, your location, and so on.  Hamptons Family Concierge was developed to assist families in creating the perfect Hamptons experience.  We can customize itineraries, plan amazing events, schedule quality services and activities (even at your home), so you can relax and enjoy your trip.

-Hamptons Family Concierge

HFC

Snack Happy From Happy Family Brands

One of our favorite toddler food companies has shared some of their pointers from HAPPYFAMILY Nutrition Advisor Amy Marlow.  Amy shares some common questions from parents.  There’s no doubt that young children need snacks. Figuring out what to serve at snack time (and when, and how much) is the million dollar question.  According to her, healthy and wholesome snacks don’t have to be a puzzle.  Check out her Q & A below…

1.     What are the most common challenges you hear from parents  about  getting children to eat healthy snacks?  Parents of school-aged children often complain about the difficulty in finding healthy snacks that can compete with the junky snacks their kids see at school, on TV, at the store, and at friends’ homes. They often worry about repetition and wonder if it’s “bad” to let their child have the same snacks day after day.  Many parents are also concerned that their child seems to be “hungry” for snacks all the time.

2.     What are your best snacking strategies for addressing these challenges? One strategy is good role modeling. Select healthy snacks and enjoy them in front of your children. It’s also important to set boundaries with snacks. Don’t allow the child to make the selections at the grocery store, instead, give them healthy options to choose from.

To avoid over-snacking, set a snack-time just as you set meal times and then stick to it. Allowing your child to snack all the time will only ruin their appetite for meals and start a vicious cycle of filling up on snacks at the expense of healthy meals.

3.    What are your best recommendations for nutritious snack options that kids will love, and why?

  • Great snack products / standbys to rely on. Fresh fruit of course – keep carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, jicama, and other vegetables sliced in a container in the refrigerator. This is especially good for after school/before dinner when kids are hungriest.
  • More go-to snacks
    • Happy Squeeze smoothies (organic fruit combinations – some with vegetables, Salba® the Super chia, coconut milk or Greek yogurt – in convenient portable pouches from Happy Family)
    • Whole wheat pretzels, organic cheese sticks and slices
    • Unsweetened dry cereal, unsalted nuts and dried fruit – try combining all three to make a healthy trail-mix!
    • Homemade whole grain pancakes which can be easily kept on-hand in the freezer
  • Sweet Treats. Sweets have their place, and in my opinion, many children will just get obsessed with them if over-restricted. Give your children healthy sweets such as frozen grapes and homemade fruit popsicles, as well as the occasional ice cream, all-natural or homemade cookies, fruit leathers or fruit snacks. Don’t make every evening snack a sweet, but if you have a sweet treat in the house every so often, and control the portion size, this is a healthy way to teach moderation.
  • Snacks that get kids involved in the prep
    Two great snacks to make with your children are muffins and smoothies.  There are plenty of muffin recipes made with nutrient-packed ingredients like fruit purees, oats, wheat germ, whole grain flours, and dried or fresh fruit. You can even sneak in some veggies. Let young kids mix the ingredients, and older children can measure the ingredients and pour the mixture into the muffin tins. To control portion size, use mini-muffin tins instead of full size. Don’t forget to make extra – they freeze well and are a quick snack anytime!Smoothies can easily be made at home with yogurt, fresh and frozen fruit, milk and ice. Kids can get involved by choosing the ingredients, putting them in the blender, and turning it on. Another tip is to freeze smoothies in popsicle molds for a healthy frozen dessert.
  • Other snacking ideas. Parents should think about “real” food as being great potential for snacks, like sandwiches, quesadillas, pancakes and pizza bagels. Turn snack-time into a mini-meal instead of relying on less nutrient dense snack foods. This is a good strategy for two types of snackers – the active tween or teen who is truly ravenous all the time and the young child who tends not to eat enough at meal times

4.     Please explain why it’s so important to get children to adopt healthy eating habits early in life and the possible future implications.
Eating habits are just that – habits. The best way to set up a child for a lifetime of healthy eating is to get them into the habit early through offering healthy foods in and out of the home. Physiologically, a key time for developing healthy food preferences is before age three, as that’s when the child’s taste buds are learning to accept and enjoy flavors.

Amy Marlow is a registered dietitian (RD) and New York State certified nutritionist. In addition to her work with Happy Family, Amy helps manage a Fortune 100 company’s employee wellness program and sits on the board of the New York State Dietetic Association. Amy is the proud mother of three.

HAPPYFAMILY is a leading premium organic food brand delivering nutritious meals and snacks for babies, toddlers and beyond.  The company supports Project Peanut Butter, a nonprofit that feeds starving children Africa.  Since its launch Happy Family has underwritten more than 1 million meals through PPB.  For more information, visit www.happyfamilybrands.com