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!

samkid

 

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…

STEMgifts

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…

CMP_150x150

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…

uncommongoods

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….

 

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!

 

jolynn nov2

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!!

jolynn nov

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!

 

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.

weespring

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.

 

LB-kids

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.

brad-twins

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.  

peanutbutterSnickersbrownies

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….

kids.night_.bway_.thumb_

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!

MP_WW logo

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.

maureenhall4

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!

maureenhall2

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!

maureenhall1

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!

miles fam

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…

mindy fam

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.

mindy horse    

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!

mindy pumpkin

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