Tag Archives: bell family loves

BFL – Presidents’ Day in the City

Most NYC schools have off Presidents’ Day, along with post offices, major banks, and many government agencies.


Take advantage of the day off and explore the city with these cool activities:

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BFL – ELF Tennis

ElfTennis was founded by native New Yorker, Esther Forrester.  She has been teaching tennis for more than 15 years and holds PTR certifications.  All of ElfTennis’s instructors are former collegiate tennis players, who are also certified.  Check out our Q&A session with Esther and learn more about ElfTennis:

What made your decision to coach/teach children?

I’ve wanted to coach tennis since I first started playing. I would create imaginary teams when I was in high school and make up stories about them.  Tennis made a tremendous impact in my life, it gave me an outlet for using my energy and meeting others and I wanted to be able to provide that means to today’s youth. In addition, I knew I could do it well ( that never hurts).

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What are the positives and negatives about your business?

One positive is that  we are small and accessible, everyone feels like they matter, people are more than just a number and everyone’s concerns are attended to. In addition, we are in many locations and always looking to expand so chances are we are near most places in NYC. Furthermore, all of our instructors are certified and former collegiate players. We offer a junior team for intermediate players.
The negatives are that we don’t have  a permanent home that is our own ( we rent spaces) but we are working on that and looking for a space and an investor. Feel free to email if you are interested in such an endeavor.

What do you find most rewarding about your business?

I really enjoy the fact that I get to implement my own ideas about coaching and see the tangible effects.  I’m always interested in doing things right and take children and tennis seriously, I have some unique ways to teaching such as using songs to teach concepts and motivate and playing fantasy games.

Thanks so much, Esther, for the sneak peak into ElfTennis! For more information, visit the ElfTennis website.

BFL – MLK, Jr. Day

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an important figure in our country’s Civil Rights Movement. President Reagan signed into effect a holiday in his honor in 1983, and we have been celebrating it ever since!

Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech is one of the most influential moments in the history of the American civil rights movement.

Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is one of the most influential moments in the history of the Civil Rights Movement.

Although we can appreciate events and visions that changed our country for the better, sometimes it can be difficult to discuss with our lil’ ones. We’ve compiled some educational events and resources to help your family celebrate the day.

Talking to our kids about big-picture events can be tricky. Check out some resources specifically for kids:


Have the day off from school? Check out these fun and informative activities going on throughout the city:


Mother Nature Weather Woes

Any outdoor event has its challenges certainly, but the biggest fear for all event planners, moms, dads and guests alike is the unpredictability of the weather.  Having a gorgeous 75 degree sunny day right before your event, only to have torrential rainstorms the day of your event that have you shooting dagger eyes to the weatherman for being wrong is so not our idea of fun.

Contingency plans are always good to have, but at the end of the day it is still a force of nature (literally) that you have no control over.  Our friends at Precision Event Planning NY have come up with a great handy checklist that every bride to be and family/ event/ coordinator/planner should take a gander at to help alleviate some common issues that can be controlled…

Although the sun may have been shining bright the day you signed your contract for your wedding venue, that doesn’t mean unexpected weather will not make an appearance on your big day. When living in the North Eastern part of the US, each season offers a delightful variety of wonderful ways to celebrate your wedding, but it can also cause much commotion if not prepared for it to take an unexpected turn. Here are some tips to avoid disaster on your wedding day and shine bright like the sun even if the sun is hiding in the clouds.


Heat: Summer, although considered a popular time to have events especially weddings, is not necessarily the most comfortable. Unless the entire wedding is indoors with central air, chances are those guest are going to be reaching for a fan!

Solution:Hand held battery operated fans as wedding favors. You can personalize them four your wedding and this way the guest can actually read the program instead of using them to cool off.

Bugs: Summer time is breeding ground for bugs and at an outdoor wedding this can become a problem.

Solution: When choosing an outside venue, make sure to think about the surroundings and choose a venue that has maintained greenery.


Wind: In the Fall, the leaves are changing colors and the air is crisp, but the air can also be a little too powerful. A windy fall day can end up blowing decorations around and messing up your hair.

Solution: Make sure all decorations are secured to something stable or heavy enough to not blow away.

Also, try a classic updo for your hair to eliminate the risk of your hair getting tangled or getting in the way from an unexpected gust of wind.


Snow: Winter usually means snow and this past winter was especially cold and snowy. If you have always dreamed of having a winter wonderland but don’t want the cold temperature or snow to interfere then here are some solutions.

Solution: Some ways that you can make sure guests and your wedding party stay warm and happy at your winter wedding is to offer warm beverages like hot cocoa. When it comes to picking a venue make sure that the venue is strict with driveways remaining salted and shoveled. The wedding party can wear gloves to add a classic element and help them to stay warm in those beautiful outdoor snow photos.


Rain: Spring flowers are one of the top reasons to get married during this time of year but flowers grow because of rain. If an outdoor ceremony was planned this can become quite an obstacle.

Solution: Arrange for an outdoor ceremony under a tent so that even if it rains the wedding can proceed. A fun option is to have umbrellas in the colors of your wedding theme to distribute to guests who may have forgotten their own. These umbrellas will also make for great props in wedding photos.

Bell Family Loves… the suburbs?

Thinking about ….. the suburbs? Take a sneak peak with our guest blogger from Suburban Jungle Realty Group!


NYC is an amazing place to have a baby. There are endless places to sit outside on a nice night, grab a bite to eat, park the stroller and let your infant sleep with the white noise of the city. If your child is anything like my first, she only slept in her stroller and generally outside. This made for some rough nights but great dining al fresco. The list of activities, parks and cultural benefits is endless, but the reality is often inevitable.


After 2 kids, for many families it gets a lot more difficult to stay and space can become an issue. Don’t get me wrong, the city is fantastic for kids, stay as long as you can or you can afford. But when the time is right, and you will know it, many of us will move. We long for some green grass of our own, and a bit more space for toys,strollers, scooters and eventually bikes.
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This is where Suburban Jungle steps in, and can serve as an amazing (and totally free) resource to help you find the suburb that will be the perfect fit for your family. The approach is based on “town first”, and your consultant will help you determine which towns best fit what you need for your family. Whether its based on commute time, schools, that small town vibe, or a bit of the city in the suburbs, Suburban Jungle will guide your search.  Leaving NYC can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.
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Reach out to alana@suburbanjunglerealty to learn how you can get started!

Hamptons Family Concierge

Today on Bell Family Loves, we’d like to introduce you to a great service in the Hamptons! Enjoy this go-to guide for summer fun:

The Hamptons are world renowned for the beautiful beaches, celebrities, and gala fundraising events.  But what can you do when vacationing in the Hamptons with your kids?  As a local mom, and co-founder of Hamptons Family Concierge, I am willing to share a few secret spots that I’m sure your whole family will love.


1) Elizabeth Morton Wildlife Preserve – Sag Harbor
All year round, Morton’s is a wonderful outing for all ages.  The most important thing to remember – bring birdseed!  During most of our visits (time of year and time of day vary), the chickadees and other birds will come and eat out of your hand.(even my 4 year old!)  There are also turkeys, chipmunks, and other local wildlife, that you may observe as you walk through a scenic, shaded wood.  One trail leads you to a lovely bay beach where you can take a break and have a picnic!  Cost: Free (but donations appreciated)

2) Free concerts in the Park – Sag Harbor, Southampton, Easthampton, Montauk
During the summer months, each of the above towns has a weekly outdoor concert in their park.  It is perfect to bring a picnic or pizza, and let the kids play and dance while enjoying various types of music.  Cost: Free (but donations appreciated)


3) Seven Ponds Farm – Southampton
This Farm is not as well known as some of the other Hamptons farms, but it is my favorite.  In the summer, my kids pick raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, while in the fall you can pick your own apples and pumpkins.  There are also other vegetables you can pick yourself, as well as gorgeous flowers.  There is a playground for the kids, hay rides, and a small corn maze in the fall.  The farm stand is fantastic.  After we gather all that fruit, if we have the energy, we go home and make a pie!

4) Whale’s Tale Miniature Golf & Ice Cream Parlor – Shelter Island
It is a nice day trip to hop on the Shelter Island Ferry and spend the afternoon.  There are several wonderful family friendly restaurants, and then after lunch, you can go play mini golf.  It is an old fashioned place, but the kids love it, and they love the ice cream afterwards even more.  This is only open seasonally.

My beautiful picture

5) Blockspot – SYS, Southampton
This creative, fun filled center is brand new, and has a variety of classes, and activities for age 2-10 years.  Blocks and building materials of all shapes and sizes abound.  View the schedule to see when you would like to drop in.  Great for birthday parties as well.

There are so many factors involved when planning your weekend or vacation activities: the season, the weather, your children’s ages and interests, your location, and so on.  Hamptons Family Concierge was developed to assist families in creating the perfect Hamptons experience.  We can customize itineraries, plan amazing events, schedule quality services and activities (even at your home), so you can relax and enjoy your trip.

-Hamptons Family Concierge


Snack Happy From Happy Family Brands

One of our favorite toddler food companies has shared some of their pointers from HAPPYFAMILY Nutrition Advisor Amy Marlow.  Amy shares some common questions from parents.  There’s no doubt that young children need snacks. Figuring out what to serve at snack time (and when, and how much) is the million dollar question.  According to her, healthy and wholesome snacks don’t have to be a puzzle.  Check out her Q & A below…

1.     What are the most common challenges you hear from parents  about  getting children to eat healthy snacks?  Parents of school-aged children often complain about the difficulty in finding healthy snacks that can compete with the junky snacks their kids see at school, on TV, at the store, and at friends’ homes. They often worry about repetition and wonder if it’s “bad” to let their child have the same snacks day after day.  Many parents are also concerned that their child seems to be “hungry” for snacks all the time.

2.     What are your best snacking strategies for addressing these challenges? One strategy is good role modeling. Select healthy snacks and enjoy them in front of your children. It’s also important to set boundaries with snacks. Don’t allow the child to make the selections at the grocery store, instead, give them healthy options to choose from.

To avoid over-snacking, set a snack-time just as you set meal times and then stick to it. Allowing your child to snack all the time will only ruin their appetite for meals and start a vicious cycle of filling up on snacks at the expense of healthy meals.

3.    What are your best recommendations for nutritious snack options that kids will love, and why?

  • Great snack products / standbys to rely on. Fresh fruit of course – keep carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, jicama, and other vegetables sliced in a container in the refrigerator. This is especially good for after school/before dinner when kids are hungriest.
  • More go-to snacks
    • Happy Squeeze smoothies (organic fruit combinations – some with vegetables, Salba® the Super chia, coconut milk or Greek yogurt – in convenient portable pouches from Happy Family)
    • Whole wheat pretzels, organic cheese sticks and slices
    • Unsweetened dry cereal, unsalted nuts and dried fruit – try combining all three to make a healthy trail-mix!
    • Homemade whole grain pancakes which can be easily kept on-hand in the freezer
  • Sweet Treats. Sweets have their place, and in my opinion, many children will just get obsessed with them if over-restricted. Give your children healthy sweets such as frozen grapes and homemade fruit popsicles, as well as the occasional ice cream, all-natural or homemade cookies, fruit leathers or fruit snacks. Don’t make every evening snack a sweet, but if you have a sweet treat in the house every so often, and control the portion size, this is a healthy way to teach moderation.
  • Snacks that get kids involved in the prep
    Two great snacks to make with your children are muffins and smoothies.  There are plenty of muffin recipes made with nutrient-packed ingredients like fruit purees, oats, wheat germ, whole grain flours, and dried or fresh fruit. You can even sneak in some veggies. Let young kids mix the ingredients, and older children can measure the ingredients and pour the mixture into the muffin tins. To control portion size, use mini-muffin tins instead of full size. Don’t forget to make extra – they freeze well and are a quick snack anytime!Smoothies can easily be made at home with yogurt, fresh and frozen fruit, milk and ice. Kids can get involved by choosing the ingredients, putting them in the blender, and turning it on. Another tip is to freeze smoothies in popsicle molds for a healthy frozen dessert.
  • Other snacking ideas. Parents should think about “real” food as being great potential for snacks, like sandwiches, quesadillas, pancakes and pizza bagels. Turn snack-time into a mini-meal instead of relying on less nutrient dense snack foods. This is a good strategy for two types of snackers – the active tween or teen who is truly ravenous all the time and the young child who tends not to eat enough at meal times

4.     Please explain why it’s so important to get children to adopt healthy eating habits early in life and the possible future implications.
Eating habits are just that – habits. The best way to set up a child for a lifetime of healthy eating is to get them into the habit early through offering healthy foods in and out of the home. Physiologically, a key time for developing healthy food preferences is before age three, as that’s when the child’s taste buds are learning to accept and enjoy flavors.

Amy Marlow is a registered dietitian (RD) and New York State certified nutritionist. In addition to her work with Happy Family, Amy helps manage a Fortune 100 company’s employee wellness program and sits on the board of the New York State Dietetic Association. Amy is the proud mother of three.

HAPPYFAMILY is a leading premium organic food brand delivering nutritious meals and snacks for babies, toddlers and beyond.  The company supports Project Peanut Butter, a nonprofit that feeds starving children Africa.  Since its launch Happy Family has underwritten more than 1 million meals through PPB.  For more information, visit www.happyfamilybrands.com


Language for your Little ones!

Bon Jour, Hola, Hello!  Want the little ones to be asking directions when on vacation?  Check out some tips from our friends over at Little Pim on how your baby or toddler can be multilingual in weeks (and why it’s a great idea)!

Once you are convinced its a great idea, Order Little Pim here and get  15% off with code – BELL.

Fun/Cool Facts about Language Acquisition

  • When babies first start to vocalize, they babble sounds from all of the languages of the world. Slowly, they begin to lose the sounds that they do not hear everyday.
  • Under age 6, kids are naturally primed to learn up to 3 languages with perfect ease. After age 6, natural acquisition becomes much more difficult.
  • Learning a second language has a positive impact on a child’s overall listening skills.
  • When asked, “What can you do with a stick?” kids who learning a second language generally come up with more ideas than their monolingual peers.
  • Studying a language can actually help you do better on tests! Kids who have studies a foreign language are likely to score up to 140 points higher than average on SAT Math and Critical Reading.
  • Being bilingual can delay the onset of dementia by up to 4 years.
  • 55 million Americans speak a language other than English at home.
  • A child who can speak both English and Spanish can communicate with over 80% of the world’s population!

Tips for families who want to learn a new language

  • Start by introducing your kids to the idea of foreign languages: map placemats work wonders for starting mealtime discussions about other parts of the world and how other people speak.
  • Read stories either in the language or that come from the language you want your family to learn. Think folk tales and fairy tales, to start.
  • Listen to music! Music is a great way to keep your family immersed in a language. Singing out the words will give kids a chance to practice new sounds, and often makes it easier to remember new words.
  • Keep flashcards with you when you go to the doctor’s office or a restaurant or other places where you might have to wait for a while. Playing games and making up stories with the words on the cards can really help pass the time!
  • Pick a specific time of day or activity that you will always do in the language your child is learning. For example, you could have breakfast in French, or watch an episode of Little Pim everyday before naptime. Once you pick your routine, though, make sure you stick to it!

About Little Pim

Little Pim is an award-winning foreign language learning program for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers. With Little Pim, families can get their first introduction to a foreign language in a way that is easy, fun and effective. Little Pim’s unique Entertainment Immersion Method® was designed to engage young kids during the window in which the human brain is most receptive to language learning. Building on a child’s natural love of play, the videos blend real kids and animation to provide a captivating full-immersion experience for even the youngest learners. The program is the brainchild of Julia Pimsleur Levine, the daughter of Dr. Paul Pimsleur, creator of the Pimsleur Method, the popular language-learning program for adults.  She was inspired to create Little Pim based on her own bilingual childhood. Little Pim is available 11 languages including Spanish, French, Chinese and Italian via videos, music, books, flash cards, gift sets and more. To find out more visit Littlepim.com.


Welcome to the Bell Family Blog


We are excited to launch the new Bell Family Blog. Our blog will focus on promoting fun and healthy lifestyles for parents and kids alike. We will feature guest blogs by Bell Family Company (BFC) sitters, family and friends, fitness advice, product reviews, nutrition and health ideas, creative crafts and games, and much more!

Tune in every monday, wednesday, and friday for new posts.

  • -Mondays: Bell Family Loves. This section will feature product reviews, companies, and services hand-selected by our member families, sitters, and staff.
  • -Wednesdays: Working Women Wednesday (WWW). We will focus on highlighting working women and how they juggle full schedules with their personal and family lives. Look out for fun features on BFC President, Lindsay Bell, along with some of our veteran sitters turned moms!
  • -Fridays: Fun Family Friday. Get to know the whole gang! We will be featuring one family, sitter, staff, or friend of the BFC brand each Friday.

Thanks again for stopping by; we look forward to seeing you again on Wednesday.

-Lauren works remotely for Bell Family as the social media and marketing coordinator. She has been babysitting for the neighborhood hooligans for over 10 years and joined BFC a year ago! In her free time, she loves baking and exploring DC.