BFL – weeSpring – gear reviews by mamas for mamas

Much in the tradition of Yelp, Open Table, Mommy Nearest and all of the other review sites that seem to be popping up like a dandelion not wanting to be picked comes weeSpring – a site for parents by parents that is review driven.   A few years old they are already a trusted source for everything  from bottles to gear, to food, to diapers and more.  You can add your own products if you don’t see them, comment on others, like and love everything.

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Hear from Ally, the founder on why she started and join today!

The first time I walked into a Babies R Us, I burst into tears. I looked up at a ten-foot wall of baby bottles and saw – in all of those options – a metaphor for how completely unprepared I was for the hundreds (thousands!) of choices I’d have to make for my baby.

We founded weeSpring because we wanted new and expecting parents to have a simple, accessible resource where they can find out what helped them survive the early months, and then pass on their own tried-and-true advice.

We also realize that while there’s no shortage of people telling you what you should buy, it’s your friends who will tell you what you shouldn’t. Being a new parent is expensive enough, without buying things you don’t need or that don’t work.

 

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WWW – Weekend with the Kids

My weekends typically were filled with non-stop babysitting during  my 20s. I babysat All. The. Time. & I loved it

Since my toddler nieces were born, I have filled in as much as I can for a true taste of working momness and I get the sweet memories of my babysitting days.

A few weeks ago, my new husband & I ventured to NJ to stay for a weekend with the ‘nugs’ as my family calls them. They are very cheerful and love to get into everything. My husband was constantly surprised how fast they could make it up their highchair side when you looked away for one second, or when you followed them into the bathroom, and they are already climbing to get on top of the toilet.

They are really funny.

Do any of your kids fake sneeze? These two fake sneeze all the time. & then they laugh about it.  And both of them get this face when they say ‘ohhhh No’ & hold their head like they are in real distress. Its hysterical.

Their favorite activity is being pulled in a wagon. Here’s a picture of us pulling them along looking at Halloween décor. They don’t cry one bit, just are so observant as we point out all the different trees, houses & pumpkins to look at.

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These two nugs certainly are getting heavy. They weigh 25lbs each, so when my husband went to get dinner, I lugged them both up stairs & gave them a bath.

Then bedtime for them. But not for me, at all. They were generally good sleepers, but I was not. I got up every 30 minutes to check on them and make sure they were still breathing. Every noise I heard, I got up & looked around. I used to do that babysitting too, I can’t help it.

All in all, its just so fun being around kiddies. I love teaching my sitters all the tricks I’ve learned over the years. I’m sure I will have more to come when I have my own one day.

- Lindsay Bell is the founder of Bell Family and pictures of her nieces are frequently the stuff of fodder in our posts.  

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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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Halloween Hoopla!

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. I remember as a kid trick-or-treating, filling up a pillow case with candy, and then meeting up with my cousins and trading candy. My costumes were pretty typical: cheerleader, Miss America, a witch…As I got older, Halloween faded into the background and I celebrated it less and less.

This year it’s back with a vengeance! My son has developed a whole new awareness of the themes around him. He’s become particularly fond of Halloween. He is obsessed with pumpkins, spooky ghosts, and bats. His interest in the holiday has made me really embrace everything orange and black! Our house looks like an advertisement with pumpkins placed on every surface, gel ghosts clinging to every window, and book after book featuring Halloween littering the shelves. When your kid is really into something, you tend to go overboard!

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Henry’s new love of Halloween has led us to planning our first trick-or-treating experience as a family. Originally I thought we wouldn’t participate because Henry is so little, but we’ve gathered a group of friends, and we plan to make our first trek door to door on Halloween. We’ve even come up with a themed “Peter Pan” costume ensemble for the little kids. Henry is Peter Pan, of course!

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We recently moved to a new neighborhood that has more single family homes and based on the Halloween decor, looks like a good place to trick-or-treat! To be honest, I’m still not 100% sure the point of taking a bunch of toddlers around to get candy, but it’s more about the experience and seeing their reactions to all the lawn decorations. And let’s be honest, I’m sure the adults won’t mind sneaking a few treats from the candy buckets!

Holidays certainly are more fun when your kids are interested. If this is any indication of what Christmas will be like, I better prepare myself!

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Fun Fridays – Behind the Scenes with Miles – BFC everything…

Another installment of behind the scenes… this time with Miles Spencer, the man behind the curtain at BFC..

How did you meet Lindsay and get involved with BFC?

We were introduced by my lawyer, who knew I had young kids in my portfolio- I guess she thought I should have an investment to match my new lifestyle!

You have been involved with start ups for years now, how has this company differed from your other passion projects beyond the fact that it is family based not techy or consumer product?

That’s the thing- it is tech, and it is the ultimate consumer product. Bell Family is a platform that matches supply (sitters and nannies) with demand (families). What Greg and Lindsay have done to convert the old process of phone and text into a working algorithm is simply amazing. And the fact that it is entirely referral only makes me feel were all in the same club.

How have your kids changed your life?  Day to day and big picture

Well, they were reason #1 in my second marriage, so their arrival was actually the realization of a big goal. Everyone laughed when I used to say “kids won’t change me”, and in many ways they haven’t: they have added to me. I just made a Demo Day presentation to 500 investors in Silicon Valley, and began by singing  a few lines from Everything is Awesome from the Lego Movie, and the first slide had Emmet in it.

Perfect date night, what does it entail?

Meli and me. Anywhere.

Favorite band?

U2

Favorite City?

The next one…

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WWW – We Love Fall!

I’m pretty sure there is no better time of the year as a kid than fall…which means there is no better time of the year as a parent!  Although the temps are dropping, especially at our home in Chicago, there is just something special about this beautiful season.  Avery can always tell Fall has arrived when she gets to start wearing her boots and jackets to school every day.  As she gets older (now 3 ½ years old), she is much more into the typical fall activities…hayrides, fall festivals, pumpkin carving, apple picking, and camp fires to name a few.  And her little sister Sydney (now 6 months) is simply along for the ride.

This past weekend, we planned a family trip to Sonny Acres, a local farm that hosts their fall festival in September and October each year.  As we pulled into the parking, Avery’s eyes grew wider and wider as the animals, rides, and pumpkins came into view.  We spent the next several hours on pony rides, feeding goats, picking pumpkins, and spending way too much money on silly rides and comfort food.  At one point, my husband pointed out how much  money we had “wasted” on these silly rides and I asked him to look over at Avery’s face.  She was taking her 5th ride on the tilt-a-whirl and could not control her laughter.  She was having the time of her life, as her little care-free spirit got dizzier and dizzier.  At that moment, the money didn’t seem to matter.  We paused and realized how blessed we are to be able to provide her with these types of experiences.

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As we packed up the newest additions to our family – 2 very large pumpkins Avery hand-picked – we were all smiling ear to ear.  Our noses were pink, our hands were cold, and our feet were tired.  But our hearts were happy and our tummies were full of elephant ears, home-made apple cider donuts, and pink cotton candy.  Another amazing day with the family…thank you Fall!

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 - Mindy is a Sitter2Mom with 2 active (and soon to be) little girls residing in the Windy City.

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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… 

Halloween Trick or Treats? How to manage the sweets!

With Halloween right around the corner, parents cringe when they think about the still “candy driven festivity.” How can we allow the kids to partake in an age-old tradition while not being a killjoy or allowing them to devour all the processed sugar they receive? Here are some fun easy solutions to enjoying the tradition and setting limits!

Have a Halloween Party: Invite over a few of your children’s friends and enjoy party games, prizes, and healthier treats. Focus on the costumes and celebrate with Halloween music, traditional Halloween games and treats galore…but without all the extra high fructose corn syrup.

Halloween Goblin: After the kids come home from trick or treating allow the kids to eat as much candy as they want (within reason) and they can save 1-2 pieces (hide them from the Halloween Goblin) who comes over the night and takes the candy (wink, wink).

Candy Swap: When the kids come home and spill out their candy. Let them swap their treats with siblings and friends for their favorites. Then after they enjoy a few pieces stash the rest away for later enjoyment.

Buy Out: When the kids come home, and select a few pieces to enjoy, parents offer to trade all the candy for a desired toy, game, healthier treat, like Pinkberry, or an experience the child is excited about?

Self-Regulation: Teach the kids that candy should be enjoyed in minimum qualities, talk about the ingredients and encourage them to make healthy choices for their bodies.

Halloween is a wonderful, fun holiday that many kids still look forward too today and it’s our responsibility as parents and caregivers to set limits and teach by example a healthy relationship with food and making healthy decisions for our bodies!

 - Ali Shepard, nanny extraordainaire and BFC contributor

 

WWW – Is change really a good thing?

Quite a bit has changed since my last entry a couple of months ago, my daughter Ashton turned one (shes 14 months now) and I went back to work as a teacher full time.  There has been quite a bit of change around here and lots to get used to; our new daily routine, sending her to daycare, being back in the classroom and getting used to the idea of being a “working mom” and what that entails.  By far the hardest part of it all is the daycare part; walking out the door of her “classroom” each morning and driving away.  Ashton has never cried, not even shed one tear about being there, I on the other hand can not say the same!  I truly am happy being back at work; I love being a teacher and I have the most adorable 3rd graders this year but that has not taken away from the guilt I feel when I drop her off or the urge to just scoop her back up and take her back home with me.  I know that she is thriving and that she is getting much more out of her day then she would at home with me, it is just hard for me to swallow the idea that she is being taken care of by other people all day long or that she will do things for the first time and I will miss them.  Perfect example, I am 99% sure that her first steps were taken at daycare, I will never really know for sure and my husband swears we witnessed her first steps in our living room.  I also do not know if it will get easier, I feel pretty confident saying that I know it won’t, especially down the road when our family grows, so for now I will just keep taking it one day at a time!

 - Sam Heller is a Sitter2Mom & 3rd grade teacher living in Westchester NY with her adorable daughter and hubby.