Tag Archives: children

Easy Bite Before Date Night

Greetings, all!

Picture yourself about to head out the door for date night, when you realize you wanted to prep a meal for your little one(s) before the sitter arrived. With only minutes to whip something together, you go into a frenzy thinking about what to make. Today, I’m here to help, by providing five easy bites to make before date night.

1. Crockpot Mac & Cheese
Everyone introduce yourself to your crockpot, because it should be your best friend. It’s also an added bonus that mac & cheese is scientifically proven to be loved by kids. Check out the recipe by Pipp and Ebby here.

2. Breakfast
Is breakfast food always delicious?  Yes, yes it is. Whip together some eggs, toast with jam, and a side of fresh fruit or raw veggies. I also like all the hype behind breakfast muffins. Take a look at a variety of them from Thriving Home.

3. Lasagna Grilled Cheese
Once you see the photo and the simple recipe for this sandwich, you will want to make one for yourself. Consider it your appetizer before you go out.

4. Homemade French Bread Pizza
Try making one off of this impressive list. Quick, easy, and always a crowd pleaser.

5. Chicken and Broccoli
What’s better than chicken and broccoli? How about a 12-minute chicken and broccoli. Take a peak at the recipe here.

Have a great weekend, readers!

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Written by our Marketing & Social Media Coordinator, Taylor Bell!

The New Golden Age

Greetings, all!

Today’s blog is featuring some excellent artwork from one of our own, Michelle Blaser - a Boston girl with Texas charm, and New York City grit. Following her passion of water color and calligraphy, she brings us her simplistic and colorful designs, and we are so thankful that she did!

We did a short Q&A with Michelle to learn more about her work and here is what she penned out.

1. Tell us your story and how you got to where you are today?
I grew up in Dallas, Texas and went to school in Austin. I studied advertising at UT and moved to NYC upon graduation to pursue a dream job at an advertising agency. I lived in New York for three years and babysat for Bell Family Company throughout my time in the city. The families I babysat for became dear friends and I still keep up with them. I met my husband in NYC and we moved to Boston one year ago for his job. With much more time on my hands I decided to start my company that I had always wanted to create!

2. What made you want to start your own company?
I have been passionate about art my entire life and it has always been a creative outlet for me. Both of my parents own their own companies and I always knew I wanted to start one myself, it was just a matter of time. I took a calligraphy class when I got engaged and absolutely fell in love with it. Once we were married and in Boston it was the perfect time to start my company. Golden Quill Designs came into being in December 2014 and I focus on using watercolor and calligraphy to make cards and artwork.

3. What are your plans for your company and starting a family one day?
My plans for my company are to grow it as much as possible while I am still working in advertising and once we start a family my hope is to stay at home with them while they are young and continue to grow GQD on the side. Although owning your own business has many challenges, I see this as a perfect opportunity to be able to work on my own schedule while caring for children.

Thanks, Michelle for sharing your golden touch! Everyone go and check out her artwork on Etsy, and use code “BELLFAMILY” in the checkout to receive a 30% discount on any orders $15 or more.  You can also learn more about her, and Golden Quill Designs here.

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Written by our Marketing & Social Media Coordinator, Taylor Bell!

Mama Bell and LB’s Baby Must-Haves

Greetings, all!

The blog this week is brought to you by the one and only Lindsay Bell! Both her and Ma Bell went to register for the first time, where they were introduced to the longest list they’ve ever seen. Ma Bell was able to quickly cut that list in half as they roamed the store. Here are the essentials they came up with for first time moms that are a bit overwhelmed by the list.

1. Sleepy Baby

  • Crib
  • Crib mattress
  • Sound machine
  • Swaddle blankets
  • Crib bedding set
  • Fitted crib sheets (at least 4)
  • Monitor
  • Humidifier

Bedroom Accessories

  • Changing table
  • Changing pad (if it doesn’t come in the diaper bag)
  • Changing table pad covers
  • Dresser
  • Hamper
  • Hangers

2. Mobile Baby

  • Car seat
  • Running stroller
  • Easy travel stroller
  • Diaper bag

3. Playtime Baby

  • Infant swing or bouncer
  • Play yard
  • Baby gym
  • Infant toys
  • Books
  • Music on  your iPad

4. Dress Up Baby

  • Body suits
  • Sleep and play
  • Side snap shirts
  • Pants
  • Socks
  • Caps, mittens, booties

5. Hungry Baby

  • Breast pump (rent or buy from a friend if you can)
  • Nursing pads
  • Breast milk storage containers
  • Nursing covers
  • Nursing support pillow
  • Bottles (different sizes) and nipples
  • Bibs
  • Burping cloths
  • Pacifiers
  • High chair

6. Clean Up Baby

  • Diapers (huggies are our favorites)
  • Wipes
  • Diaper cream
  • Diaper pail
  • Bathtub
  • Towels
  • Wash clothes
  • Shampoo, body wash, and lotion

7. Healthy Baby

  • Grooming kit
  • Thermometer
  • Nasal aspirator
  • Baby laundry detergent (we love this!)
  • Think about baby proofing (gates, outlet covers, etc.)

 

Special thanks to Mama Bell for her baby expertise! See you all next week.

-LB

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Written by our Founder & President, Lindsay Bell!

Halloween TREATment

Greetings, all!

Today I’m here to share 8 creative Halloween treats to make for the little goblins in your house. Don’t worry, I won’t tell if you hide some off to the side for your enjoyment.

1. Boo-nana Pops: Not a big fan of ingredients? Then this treat is for you! Head to the market to buy bananas, white chocolate, and mini chocolate chips. After that, a fun treat is in your hands!

2. Spider Crackers: Spiders have never been so yummy. Fill two Ritz crackers (try peanut butter or cream cheese), stick pretzel sticks into the filling, and dot with some raisins for eyes.

3. Clementine Pumpkins: Hate commercials? Me too. In your next commercial break, peel an orange, grab a stick of celery or tootsie roll, and stick it into the top of the orange. Then head back to your show.

4. Hot Dog Mummies: Consider this your main course. Just make sure you wrap the hot dog in crescent rolls, not toilet paper. I know that could easily be confusing.

5. Jack-o-Lantern Orange Packet: Did you forget it was your turn to bring the snack today? No problem! Head to the store and get the to-go plastic containers of either mandarin oranges or peaches. Grab a sharpie and doodle a jack-o-lantern face on the top.

6. Band-Aids: Don’t worry, no actual blood here. This is another recipe with only three ingredients, so no need to create a note in your iPhone for the recipe.

7. Sand-Witch: Grilled cheese might be best fall sandwich of all time. It also helps that it is one of the quickest meals to make. Try cutting a witch hat out of the bread, and let the cheese soup through (see what I did there?).

8. Jack-o-Lantern Snack Plate: This is like the appetizer sampler at your favorite restaurant, but BETTER! Take these ingredients and build your best face (gold fish, raisins, banana, cucumber).

I hope all of our readers have a great Halloween! And special thanks to Listotic, who brought us all of these creative ideas!

TB

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Written by our Marketing & Social Media Coordinator, Taylor Bell!

Pram for the Fam

Greetings, all!

Envision yourself standing in the baby section at the store searching for the ultimate stroller for the newest addition of your family. Suddenly, you find yourself  doing endless repetitions up and down the aisle, while picturing yourself pushing the perfect stroller. You’re thinking about becoming royalty, and pushing a Pram alongside Kate Middleton, or maybe  you have a trendy Bugaboo for your Central Park run-ins with Sarah Jessica Parker. Before you know it, two hours have past, and you are still roaming the aisles. Well today, I’m here to help make that stroller purchase  more seamless, because let’s face it, you were ready for lunch two hours ago.

Over the past week, I’ve done online research to find the best stroller in each of these four categories:

1. Portability: Britax B-Agile Stroller

Are you a mom that is always on the go? If so, having a light weight, easy-to-use stroller is like music to your ears. This stroller got five awards  through BabyCenter’s 2015 Mom Top Pick Awards, including best quality, ease of use, and space saving. The only reason this stroller wouldn’t be a good pick, is if you count lifting it as your workout for the day.

2. Comfort: Simmons Tour Buggy

If the Kate Middleton reference from earlier describes you, this stroller may be a great and affordable option. It works best for newborns up to the age of two, and during this time in your child’s life, he/she will surely feel like royalty from its comfort. It’s made by Simmons Mattress, yes you heard me correctly. This stroller also converts into a standard Pram model! Here’s a quick 8-minute video from Baby Gizmo showing all that this stroller has to offer.

3. Cost: Graco LiteRider Stroller

If your shoe addiction has forced you to scale down your budget for a new stroller, then take a look at this one.  BabyCenter has provided all of the details behind this one, ranking the stroller as the “Best of 2015″ in the 2015 Moms’ Picks Awards. This stroller starts at only $60! Its nods go to its lightweight and one-handed fold up option.

4. Storage: Jeep Cherokee Sport Stroller

Let’s face it, the list of items that you need to take with you and your child on an outing is getting longer than your grocery list. If you’re looking for a place to momentarily hide these items, this stroller does a great job doing so. These wheels are accompanied by a child tray with cup holder, a parent tray with two cup holders, side storage pockets, and full bottom storage basket underneath. Consider this The Container Store of strollers.

Stay safe, riders!

TB

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Written by our Marketing & Social Media Coordinator, Taylor Bell!

 

WWW – Child Car Safety

Recently, on a shopping trip, I approached a fellow mom. Her completely adorable infant was buckled into a bucket style carseat which was perched precariously atop the store’s shopping cart. I complimented her baby and then gently informed her that those seats are not made to be on top of the cart; it causes a top-heavy situation which makes the cart prone to tipping, and could even damage the locking mechanism made to keep the seat safely secured to the base your car.

She snapped at me to mind my own business before continuing on down the aisle.

I get it. We, all of us moms, are trying our very best. We are taking in all of the research and making decisions that work for our families, and very resentful of unwanted advice and perceived judgment. 

I was not always a CPST. I did not always use best practices with my car seats. I didn’t know! Every day, I am learning more, and I, like you, am just trying to do my best. This is a picture of my son at four months old, and while he is adorable, this is practically an advertisement of what NOT to do. Dangerous aftermarket car seat insert? Check. Overly bulky coat affecting the harness fit? Check. Too low placement of the chest clip? Check. I don’t remember a specific instance of putting his seat on the top of a shopping cart, but I probably did.

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I am so, so lucky that we were never in an accident that could have proven my errors to be fatal. So please, don’t be mad if I stop you and critique your car seat – you never know if you might not be so lucky.

Here are few car seat tips to keep everyone safe:

Most of the car seat accessories in the big box stores are not recommended, or even illegal. 

The sleeping bag style car seat inserts, neck pillows, and fluffy shoulder strap covers are not crash tested with your seat, and may alter how it works in a collision. If it did not come in the box with your seat, use extreme caution before using it. Check your manual – use of these aftermarket items is forbidden and can void your warranty.  Additionally, many states have a “proper use” clause in their child restraint laws, and going against the manual would actually be illegal.

 

State laws are minimums, and do not reflect best practices.

Just because something is legal, does not make it the safest. Most states allow for turning your child to forward facing at one year and 20 pounds. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until at least 2 years, or until your child outgrows the limits of his seat. Best practices is for children to ride rear facing until age 3-4, forward facing with a 5 point harness until age 5-6, in a booster until age 10-12, and in the back seat until age 13.

 

Get your seat checked by a certified Child Passenger Safety Tech. 

Car collisions are the leading cause of death for children up to age 13 in the United States, and up to 85% of child restraints show critical misuses. An improperly used car seat can actually be MORE dangerous than not using one at all – CPSTs are trained in the various types of car seats and safe installation, and checks are often free. Find a tech near you here: http://cert.safekids.org/find-tech-0  Remember that car seat safety does not end when your child graduates to the next stage. The misuse in boosters is higher even than for newborn seats!

 

Read your manuals – for the car seat AND for your vehicle.

Make sure you are getting the safest possible installation every time! Your vehicle manual will tell you which seating positions allow for child restraints, where the LATCH and tether anchors are located, and anything you need to be aware of for the air bag system. Your car seat manual will tell you when the seat is outgrown, weight limits for use with the LATCH system, and how to properly use the seat. Car seats are not accessories; they are critical pieces of safety gear – make sure you are using them properly!

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-Sarah Ludwig is a former teacher and mom of two. She is a childbirth educator, doula, baby wearing educator, and child passenger safety tech; she is also on the Westchester Safe Kids Advisory Board. You can also find Sarah on her own family blog, lovetheludwigs.com.

BFL – Bradley Wisk

We sat down with Bradley Wisk, a vocal consultant offering services throughout the nation and via Skype for students of all ages and abilities.

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Q: How did you get your start in music?
A: I was in my senior year of high school and needed an extra credit. My advisor suggested I take choir. At that point, I decided to audition nationally for undergrad, thus starting my life in music.

Q: What kind of experience do you have?
A: I have my undergrad in music from Indiana University and my Master’s of Music from Manhattan School of Music. I have studied with the top vocal teachers in the country and have had the opportunity to perform in various venues all over the world. I’ve performed for tens of thousands of people as well as for small, intimate productions. I also have experience with professional studio work, live television, and reality tv.

Q: What style of music do you find your students are most interested in?
A: Because each student has their own unique interest, I provide vocal guidance for multiple genres of music. However, I do believe that vocal technique comes from a classical foundation.

Q: What does a typical session look like?
A: I first focus on breathing techniques, which helps to calm and relax the student. Then we move to a series of vocal exercises to gain flexibility and range. We work through their repertoire, focusing on difficult and problematic areas. We also talk through their personal performance goals and make a plan to achieve them.

Q: How do you help your students get over any insecurities about their vocals?
A: I tell my students that they must trust what they’ve prepared, and that in the moment, they must let it all go. Through their hard work and technique, success will come.

Q: What does it feel like to see a student have a breakthrough moment?
A: It’s thrilling for me as an instructor, but what’s more important is watching the students reaction as they have their own “ah-ha” moment.

Q: Anything else you want us to know?
A: What’s amazing about teaching, is truly understanding the learning experience and knowing that the experience is never over.

Want to learn more? Visit Bradley’s website or shoot him a quick email!