Category Archives: bell family company

BFL – Happy Family Product Review


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??


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.


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.


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!


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.


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!

WWW – Holidays are Upon Us

It’s officially that time of year…

I was driving home from work earlier this week and was struggling to find a song that I had not already heard 30 times that week when I came across the “holly” station on Sirius- and there blaring away was Elvis Presley’s version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town.  It was then that it hit me, Halloween had come and gone and here we are, mid November, moving full steam ahead to Thanksgiving and Christmas!



And truth be told I really am very excited, I’m not ready for the endless replaying of Christmas music on the radio and in every store but I am ready for everything else that comes with it; time off from work, delicious meals that I am not yet preparing, watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade, quality time with the fam, fires, buying presents, picking out our tree, decorating the tree, the list goes on! And at the very top of the list is being able to experience the holidays with our daughter, who will be 15 and 16 months.  While planning and packing for her adds an entirely new somewhat stressful element, the opportunity to experience and relive the holidays through her eyes all over again is worth every painstaking second of the holly station from now through January!

- Sam Heller, Sitter2Mom extraordinaire…


BFL – Gift Guides Galore, oh my is it that time of year?

Is that Jingle Bells I hear already?  Halloween is barely over and the holiday music, decorations and displays are abundant.  I swear each year it moves up a week, soon we will be making lists right after Valentine’s Day.  While this is great for planners (such as myself), not everyone has the headspace to make a list, check it twice and buy everything in advance.  So BFC is making it a tad bit easier and doing you a  favor… We’ve gathered a few of our favorite gift guide picks…


Cool Mom Picks – always a favorite for their out of the box thinking and eclectic taste.  This year they have 2 guides…  Their Indie Gift Store & The Classic Holiday Gift Guide chock full of amazing categories from Foodies, to DIY, Homemade, Frozen Toddler Gifts, In Laws and more.  Don’t forget to check out the Cool STEM gifts for girls then scroll down and ETW the greatest gifts with a prize package worth over $800…


Uncommon Goods is a gem of a website and catalog.  Always inspiring and just plain neat (yes I’m aware that word went out in the 70′s).  Great stuff for everyone at every price point.  Check out their 20 Gifts for People Under 20 Gift Guide while you are perusing through.

RT stackedRed Tricycle has a whole slew of mini gift guides for tots to tweens and beyond.   While you are there, sign up for your city edition of the hottest happenings in your area each week.

Stem photograph courtesy of Cool Mom Picks

- Kelly Miller is a contributing writer and consultant for BFC.  She has 90% of her holiday shopping done already, but ill probably now spend more after writing this article as she discovered lots more cool stuff her kids must have….


red door front

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.

Red Door 1

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.

Red Door 6

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.

Red Door 8

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.

Red Door 2. JPG

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.

Red Door 5

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… 


Bell Family Loves – Mani’s Your way with cityMANI

Our newest obsession is cityMANI – a boutique concierge manicure service in Manhattan (and surrounding areas) that is getting rave reviews.  We are simply wondering why it took so long!  Brought to us by Cari DeCoons and Erika London who saw the lack of service and jumped right in to rectify it.  After launching just months ago, the gals have built quite the reputation in the tri state area and out to the Hamptons through private events and parties, moms nights out, playdates and more.  Henceforth, their advice on why every mom and woman should have the opportunity for a cityMANI…and what you gain.

Top 10 Reasons Moms Need cityMANI

*Why pay a sitter while you get a manicure when you can get one in the convenience of your home?

*Playdates with your mom friends and their kids are more fun with manicures!

*Doing the dishes wont seem as bad since you’ll be looking at your fun new nails while doing them!

*What could possibly be cuter than Mommy & Me manicures?

*You probably don’t have any more room on your to do list of errands to run.

*Your baby’s spit up won’t look as bad when you’re cleaning it with freshly polished hands.

*What mom do you know that has time for a trip to the salon?

*Moms deserve pampering too!

*With manicurists that come to you, there’s no room to feel guilty about spending extra time away from home!

*There’s no better way to get a mani in this busy city!

Follow them on instagram @citymaninyc



Playground Hacks That Save the Day

From our friends over at Red Tricycle, (photo courtesy of Under The Sycamore) some ingenious ideas that will have you going, duh!! and making the same old same old, not so same anymore……

An afternoon at your favorite playground is bound to throw you for a loop at some point. From critters in the sandbox to splinters on the seesaw, you have to be prepared for the unexpected. No worries — just try one of these hacks for a safer, more fun adventure. Read on and get ready to MacGyver your local playground!

#1 When kiddo’s favorite jungle gym is closed for renovations, never fear. You can spice up a skimpy playground by making your own jungle gym with yarn. Simply tie pieces around the base of different trees and let them loose.

#2 Ward off creepy crawlers in the sandbox by sprinkling it with cinnamon before letting your little ones climb in.

#3 Transform playground flower bed bricks into a curvy highway with chalk. Not to fear: It will wash off with the next rain shower.

#4 Let Junior sit on a dryer sheet while going down a static-filled slide. Bye-bye Einstein hair!

#5 If your little princess insists on wearing her slippery, plastic “Frozen” slippers to the playground, squeeze on a few rows of glue-gun glue to boost grip.

#6 Calling all parents of curious tots! Check playground openings and holes with a half-folded dollar bill. To avoid head entrapment, no opening should be larger than a half inch.

#7 For super-crowded playgrounds, write your contact info on your kid’s wrist with a fine point Sharpie and coat with a layer of liquid bandage. You can never be too cautious.

#8 Be the hero mom or dad of the neighborhood playground by creating a Bubble Refill Station (glycerin, soap, water).

#9 Bring baby siblings to the playground and let them play in a small inflatable pool. They’ll feel like they’re part of the action with the big kids, but won’t get run over by them.

#10 Bucket swings a bust? Clip on a SwingEase, a portable mini seat that securely attaches to standard swings, converting them to fit kids 6-36 months. Genius, right?

Pedal to the Metal – Cycle For Survival

For the past 3 years Lindsay and Family have Cycled for Survival for this great cause.  2015 will be no exception to that rule.  We have our bike shorts and shoes on and are ready to sweat.

Consider joining the Bell Family team this year or creating your own, its a fun day of exercise and fun, even if you have never taken a spin class in your life.

Cycle for Survival is one of the fastest growing fundraising events in the world having raised over $50 million dollars for rare cancer research and funded more than 100 clinical trials and research studies since it was founded in 2007. Jennifer and David Lynn co-founded the indoor team cycling event to raise crucial funds for rare cancer research. All of the funds raised in Cycle for Survival go directly to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and are allocated within six months of each event which has drastically reduced the time it takes for treatments to reach patients — in some cases cutting the span from years to months. Cycle for Survival is an event that Bell Family participates in by both raising awareness and supporting the event with a cycling team in NYC.

Here are the stats for this year’s Cycle for Survival:

  • 9 days, 13 cities, 49 rides, 4,500 bikes & 20k participants
  • 2015 Cities include: Boston, Chicago, Greenwich, Long Island, LA, Miami, Dallas,  New York City, San Fran, Palo Alto, Seattle, Summit NJ & Washington DC


How to pay your Nanny!

I recently attended a very informative seminar about how to pay your nanny and learned a wealth of information about having a written contract, decided on the standard weekly hours, tax information , health care and worker’s compensation.

Nikki Kristol, MST is a Upper Westside wife and mother of two with a Masters degree in taxation. She is an enrolled agent with extensive domestic and international tax experience. She is also the owner of My Home Payroll, a Total Nanny Solution Agency.

Nikki facilitated a very informative, easy to understand seminar about the simplest and most straightforward ways to pay in home domestic employees. In addition to assisting her clients completing the necessary forms, she showed how families can help their nannies get health care coverage at reasonable rates and show families how to apply for possible subsidies to off set the cost.

Did you know that worker compensation is an absolute necessity if you employee domestic workers? Nikki and her Home Payroll team know exactly how to navigate the often ambiguous, confusing tax and government process so your nanny and your family can be prepared and covered.

My Home Payroll is also offering all NY Nanny Center and Bell Family (BFC) Families  20% off the setup fees when you enroll for services. In addition to providing you all the needed support, knowledge and action to pay your nanny on the books and save your family money, My Home Payroll can take care of processing your nanny’s (and other domestic worker’s) paycheck with direct deposit.

For more information about paying on the books, compensation packages, taxes and payroll services, please contact Nikki Kristol at 917.929.9486/ or visit

Personal home accountant and check writer that’s not me – um yeah!!!

What’s it like to be able to just go home on Friday after work?  Just go see your family, and not have to worry about stopping off at the ATM for cash to pay your nanny or housekeeper?

With My Home Payroll, we pay your nanny by direct debit, as often as you like, and automatically file your nanny taxes too.

-We seamlessly pay any domestic employee, nanny, etc.

-Backed by Intuit Payroll Software

-Remote Access to submit hourly wages from anywhere.

-We pay your employees by direct deposit.

-We pay your federal, state, and local taxes.

-We submit your quarterly and yearly filing obligations.

-We handle Workers’ Compensation in your state.

-You spend more time with your family.

My Home Payroll is Beyond Nanny Taxes – we provide a complete service for employers of domestic help.  Founded in 2013, we are dedicated to making the nanny tax an affordable afterthought.

Founder, Nikki Kristol, graduated from Philadelphia’s University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor’s Degree in Science, and graduated from San Francisco’s Golden Gate University with a Master’s Degree in Taxation.  She worked for 7 years in London, England as an International Tax expert, including 3 years at a Big 4 firm, before returning to the U.S.  Nikki is a big advocate of making the nanny tax affordable for families and caregivers.  She founded My Home Payroll in 2013 as a mom-entrepreneur with a unique perspective on household employment, and how to pay for it properly.  She lives with her husband and children in New York.


Keeping your sanity with back to school routines and transitions

In our house, summer was one big playdate without enforced bedtimes and scrambling each morning for camp (we are NOT a morning household).  Come the first day of school none of us were prepared, couple that with an earlier start time for the bus and we were in a tizzy.  Great advice below from BFC resident social worker, nanny coordinator and all around great gal, Ali Shepard….

It’s that time of year again as the kids are slowing getting back into their school routines or starting school for the first time! A time of vast transitions for many families and keeping parents, kids and caregivers happy and sane can seem impossible. Here are some simple easy reminders to help your family get back in the swing of things and set everyone up to win with less bedtime battles and flustered mornings rushing to get everyone where they need to go!

  • Be realistic and patient
  • Keep it simple
  • Make a plan and stick to it
  • Get the kids involved when transitions happen children often feel that they do not have control. Find ways where your kids can be part of creating the schedule
  • Use picture charts for children 2-6 years old as a way to empower them to get their “jobs’ done (Betimes and morning routine) then then can earn a reward. Rewards can be playing a game, reading stories together, playing on the computer, watching a short TV show, or playdate etc. Use these things as motivators not just givens.
  • All children need down time. Build it into the schedule.
  • Children can feel overwhelmed when there are a lot of adults telling them what to do. They to keep the talking and number of adults to a minimum.
  • Avoid frustration and upset by being matter of fact and flat with your emotion and reactions
  • Set limits, when you say no, mean it
  • First things first. Children need reminders/little nudges. Use less words.
  • Make it fun and keep your sense of humor
  • Get support/be a team

It is easy to get overwhelmed and stressed out, especially when dealing with so many moving parts and changes. Remember that children are not little adults, their brains are not able to understand the world like we are. We have to role model the behavior we want to see from them. Enjoy the time you have and find creative fun ways to tackle the day to day routines.