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?


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.

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… 

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.



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?

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.

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


Fun Fridays – Crave Culture At The Jewish Museum

Common misconception – You do not have to be Jewish to appreciate the revolving installations at this Upper East Side Museum.   Saturdays are FREE for everyone and kids under 18 get in FREE all other days of the week. Our friends at The Jewish Museum have put together some great ideas and facts for the wee ones when exploring beyond the playground and usual playspaces.  NYC is abundant with culture, just there for the taking, don’t miss out!  (Psst, BFC reader discount on membership below, so read on!)

From The Jewish Museum’s Education Department – written by Nelly Silagy Benedek, Director of Education; Rachel Katz Levine, Senior Manager of Family Programs; and Rachael Abrams, Senior Coordinator of Studio Programs.

Why is culture important for early learners?

Having cultural experiences at a young age supports the development of critical learning skills in fun and engaging ways. The Jewish Museum’s family programs encourage young children to look closely, describe, move, and think in response to original works of art through gallery and studio art experiences.  Similarly, our family concerts inspire children to listen actively and express themselves by singing and dancing—all this in a friendly, collaborative environment. Through their participation in gallery conversations, performances, and hands-on activities, children express themselves creatively. They also learn how to share their experiences with others.

Studio art is an important component of our early childhood programming. Families create original works of art inspired by their experiences and by the works of art they encounter in the Museum’s exhibitions. Our studio art programs and projects emphasize the importance of using the imagination, articulating objectives, experimenting with different materials, developing original ideas, making thoughtful choices, learning from mistakes, and expressing different points of view.

Family programs at museums offer enriching artistic and cultural experiences for multi-generational audiences in an environment where families can learn together.  Furthermore, children who begin coming to museums at a young age are more likely to feel comfortable in museums and other cultural institutions and are more likely to seek out similar experiences throughout their lives. We hope that visiting museums at a young age is a first step to fostering a life-long passion for the arts.

How can my children and I better engage with art as a family?

•           Follow your child’s lead. What sparks his or her interest?

•           Look closely. Describe what you notice in a work of art. Explore the colors, shapes, textures, and materials that you see. Discuss what is happening in a scene.

•           Take your time. Give your kids time to make close observations.

•           Choose a theme. Plan your museum visit around an idea or topic, such as people, place, nature, color, shape or materials. Hunt for specific images or objects in the galleries. Discuss the artwork by asking questions related to your theme. For example: Find a work of art that involves something from nature such as an animal, tree or plant. Have you ever seen this animal or plant before? Where? How is this work of art similar or different from the real animal or plant?

•           Ask open-ended questions, such as: What do you think is interesting about this work of art? What do you think is happening in this scene? Does this remind you of anything?

The Jewish Museum is pleased to offer your readers a discount on family memberships.  Normally a Jewish Museum family membership is $135, but we can provide a special rate of $100 just for your readers who join by December 31, 2014.  Readers can use the discount code BELFAM and redeem the offer by:

-       Emailing the membership desk at

-       Call the membership hotline at 212.660.1519

-       Visiting the membership desk at the Jewish Museum and mentioning the code or bringing in the blog entry

Further information about membership at the Jewish Museum and benefits can found at by looking at the section headed “Family $135.”