5.21.2015

Groceries Made Simple w/ Peapod (& a giveaway!)

I've lived in NYC for 15 years this August, (how did THAT happen?!) and while there are countless benefits to living in this lil' ol' town, grocery shopping is probably not one of them. Unless, of course, you happen to live within a few blocks of a fabulous store just teeming with fresh produce. Unfortunately, that's not always the case, and if you live in a 5th floor walkup, for instance, lugging groceries up stairs is the last thing you want to do. Like, ever. Or, alternatively, if you have any number of small individuals living in your home...

Enter Peapod to the rescue! Peapod offers the best of the suburban grocery store without having to move to the suburbs. I recently gave it a try, and had the best time filling my cart with all sorts of heavy things that I usually lug home from the store. At Peapod, you'll find everything from grocery basics to farm-fresh produce, party trays, rotisserie chickens, pet supplies... you name it. And to celebrate our amazing city, Peapod also offers specialties from local purveyors like Balthazar Bakery, Brooklyn Bread and Grumpy Johns, to name a few.



Making it even easier to order, Peapod offers an app so you can order right from your phone, the ability to auto-fill your most ordered items, and the benefits of Gathered Table, which can build a weekly meal plan and add all the ingredients to your shopping cart automatically.

Care to give Peapod a try? You've come to the right place! For my local readers, I'm offering a $100 gift card so you can try Peapod for yourself. See Rafflecopter instructions below, and I'll pick a winner next week. Local readers within the 5 boroughs only, please.

Good luck! Here's to making shopping easy peasy. Sorry, couldn't resist...

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Disclosure: I received a gift code to review this service. All opinions expressed herein are my own.

5.11.2015

This Will Not Be a Corny Mother's Day Post

I promise.

Like many holidays, how you spend Mother's Day is different depending on who you ask. There were so many beautiful photos of mothers flooding my Facebook & IG feeds yesterday. Mothers with their children. Grown adults with their mothers. Decades-old photos of that guy you used to work with as a baby with his mother...

It's a special day, no question about it, and I love that my girls were excited to give me their handmade cards & gift in the morning (that's a bowl, by the way). I love how Millie whispered "Happy Mother's Day, Mama!" after first asking for something to eat and to turn on the TV. Just precious.


Last year, we spent the day at Storm King... it was a gorgeous spring afternoon, & I'm pretty sure it's a Mother's Day I'll never forget. I even have a Sophie + Lili portrait of the girls that was made based on a photo taken amongst the sculptures. And if I feel even the slightest bit guilty after what I'm about to tell you, I'll look back on that perfect day...

This year, my Mother's Day was a little different. First, I sat listening to the silence in my apartment while I drank the coffee Husband went out and got me. I puttered around the house. I took a long shower, & I used all these magical bottles of stuff that I never seem to get around to trying because I'm constantly getting interrupted by little cherubs. Refining sugar cleanser! Hydrating body wash! Fortifying hair cream! It was lovely and my skin now feels as soft as the girls'.

Then, I went to the movies. I saw "Far From the Madding Crowd" with Carey Mulligan, based on the Thomas Hardy novel. Carey's character's name was Bathsheba, and she was so marvelous that she made me forgive her parents' awful name choice. The story was just the sort of British period love quadrangle that I adore but never get to see anymore. And there was a super hot shepherd, which didn't bother me at all. In the slightest. Not even a little bit. Oh, and I ate popcorn. Lots of it. With extra butter.

The truth is, I don't really feel guilty. The beauty of being a work-from-home mom is that I get to spend a lot of time with my children. It's also the hard part. Because at the end of a long day, I'm usually left thinking about all the whining and crying and often-times screaming (on my part), that transpired during the day. Thank goodness for the intermittent laughter and jokes and sweetly playing and sharing together, or I'd likely have to be committed.

We all struggle with finding that "me" time to recharge our batteries, but to me, there's no better time to do it than on Mother's Day. Because let's face it, all those brunches and picnics and perfect photos don't plan themselves. Which means Mama is working on a day that's supposed to be about her.

Me, I'd rather be at the movies. Because having a little break from my children actually makes me a better mother. I was so happy to see them when I got home yesterday and hear about their special day with Daddy.

And I suppose that's a little corny after all.


5.01.2015

Celebrating Happy Family & Target's Made to Matter (& another #giveaway!)

Happy Family Brands makes a little something we like to call "squeezies" in our household, and my children are OBSESSED with them. Naturally, when Vivian was invited to participate in a campaign to highlight their new "Love My Veggies" line & its availability at Target with the Made to Matter collection, I was excited for us to participate. In case you haven't heard, Made to Matter is all about shopping healthy & eco-conscious brands at Target that are better choices for your family & for the environment (check out the cute video about the brands featured here). 
 
Well, we all know how that turned out. As I wrote about last month, I don't foresee "Stage Mom" in my future (breathes sigh of relief). Viv was not all that pleased with having her photo taken, but I'll say this: Girl loves her a squeezie. And at the end of the day, that's why we were there. Just don't try and take her picture while she's enjoying one, please.
 
In addition to my girls' favorite snack, Happy Family's line of products expands to baby cereal, nutrition shakes, yogurt & fruit snacks, rice cakes, and toddler meal bowls. In a nutshell, if you have a baby at home, you're going to be seeing Happy Family in your home for quite a while... I wouldn't have predicted my child at 5 years old would still enjoy squeezies, but they're an easy snack, and I love that with the "Love My Veggies" line, she's getting a full serving of veggies in one pouch! 
 
So here's the fun part. To celebrate their Made to Matter participation, Happy Family Brands would like to give away a BIG OL' bag of Happy Family products (just a few of the goodies pictured above!) My kids were just a little bit excited when this box arrived, and I predict yours will be as well. See Rafflecopter directions below, and I'll pick a winner in 2 weeks (US only, please). Good luck! 

And here's the one photo where she smiled, which I have graciously put up even though I HATE this photo of myself. Oh, the selflessness that comes with motherhood...


a Rafflecopter giveaway

4.29.2015

A Cure for the Common Tangle (and a #giveaway!)

Oh, how I love to brush my children's hair (insert heavy dose of sarcasm). The screaming that ensues on most mornings as I hastily brush their hair before school is not the least bit soothed by my "shhh... shhh... you'll wake the neighbors!" response, and to say I'm a bit weary of this daily routine is an understatement. Despite having two different types of hair (thick & fine, wavy & straight), the girls are both prone to an overwhelming amount of tangles, making my life before 9am a lot more stressful than it needs to be. So, I went looking for help, and I think I may have found it... (and if your little girl's hair is full of tangles, too, there'll be good news for you at the end of this post)!

In my quest for scream-free children, I discovered a few different items that have become a part of our arsenal, and I'm excited to share them with you.

First, the Smoobee Brush:


























The Smoobee brush claims to be the magic "no cry" brush, and I must say there's something to it. Practically, I like that it's large & sturdy enough that we won't lose it (!), and the girls love that it came with sticky hearts and decals so they could bedazzle to their hearts' content. And here's a revelation I had after the Smoobee arrived: let them brush their hair themselves! They're much more willing to work through a tangle on their own while Mama is (somewhat impatiently) watching. While it's hard for me to relinquish that control, I also can't be doing combing hair forever, can I?!

Second, the Hair Fairy Pillow by Tangle Free Dreams:


Sure, I knew sleeping on satin sheets was "a thing," but I thought it was for people like Mariah Carey. I didn't realize there was actual science behind it... and yet lo and behold, sleeping on silk is great for your hair detangling (and a host of other reasons). Hair Fairy Satin Pillowcases are quite pretty in addition to being great for your hair, and I just love the little fairy that comes with your case, ready to be tucked into bed each night with your daughter. The girls are absolutely LOVING these new pillowcases, and I have seen a significant decrease in the amount of tangles since they started sleeping on them. Whew!!

Lastly, Galvin & Galvin Detangling Conditioner Spray (available at Target):



For last minute, still a tangle or two, Dubble Trubble Detangling Spray comes in handy... especially when Millie is headed out the door to school and I just want to check her hair for tangles one more time because I can't help myself (Lord help me, am I that mother?!?!) Oh and it smells great, which is a huge plus, as they don't run when they see me coming with the bottle. Hurrah!
 
And here's the good news for you -- in celebration of our tangle-free household, I want to help you achieve the same. One lucky winner (US only, please) will win (1) Smoobee brush, (1) Hair Fairy Satin Pillowcase and (1) bottle of Dubble Trubble Detangling Conditioner Spray. Yay! Please see Rafflecopter below for easy entries and I'll select a winner in 2 weeks. Please be sure to leave an email address where I can contact you in the comments. Good luck!
 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

4.23.2015

Early Reading Tips from Dr. Emily Levy of EBL Coaching

I am so excited to feature a guest post today from Dr. Emily Levy, founder of EBL Coaching, a tutoring program that specializes in one-on-one home & on-site instruction for students in
grades preK-12 in NYC and NJ. Millie is coming along with her reading skills and we'll be headed down the same path with Viv soon enough. Hope you find these tips as useful as I do!
 
photo credit: EBL Coaching
 
Thoughts from Dr. Levy:
 
Building the foundation of reading when children are young arms them with the skill set to become avid, enthusiastic readers as they grow older. Try these tips for helping your child develop early reading skills:  
Teach sound/symbol relationships 
 

At a young age (prior to starting Kindergarten), teach your child that each letter has a corresponding sound. To help him make this connection, try connecting each sound to a key picture. For example, p makes the sound /p/ like pizza and s makes the sound /s/ like sun. You can integrate a fun arts and crafts project for extra reinforcement by having your child create a large flash card with the name of the letter on the front of the card (you should write the letter for pre-writers) and the key picture on the back. Your child can draw a picture of a colorful pizza on the back of the p card and a picture of a glistening sun on the back of the s card. Hang up the cards around your house or lay them out on the table during meal times to practice connecting each letter to its corresponding sound and key picture.

Play phonemic awareness games


Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, recognize, and manipulate sounds in words. Before they can learn to read, children must understand that words are made of individual sounds and that these sounds can be manipulated to form new words. ‎One phonemic awareness exercise you can try with your child is a segmenting/blending game. For example, tell your child, "I will say two sounds and I want you to tell me what word is formed when you blend the sounds together." You might say the sounds /a/ and /t/ and your child should tell you that the word "at" is formed. After forming several two letter words, increase the challenge to three letter words. For example, you might give your child the sounds /c/-/a/-/t/, /p/-/i/-/g/, or /f/-/u/-/n/ and ask him what word is formed with each of these sound combinations. ‎You can also play a rhyming game where you select a word (like "fan") and go around the room, asking everyone to come up with words that rhyme with it.

Read aloud!

Starting when your child is a baby, read to her on a daily basis. For toddlers, you can read sensory-based books, like Pat the Bunny, where she can see, smell, and feel objects in the story while you read. For children who are a bit older, engage them in the text by asking questions as you read, like "Why do you think that happened?, "What might happen next?" or "How do you think that made the character feel?" Teaching children at a young age to be active readers is a valuable skill that will help them as they progress through school.

‎Practice writing 

 Start by having him practice writing letter strokes and eventually move into actual letters. Try using an easel or white board and help your child write top-to-bottom straight and diagonal lines, then crossed lines and circles. Model each one first, practice the strokes together, and then encourage him to write them on his own.

When he is ready, teach him specific lingo for forming each letter. For example, when he writes the letter p, he should say "down, up, and around" as he forms the letter. When he writes the letter s, he should say "around and around." Try having him write these letters in the sky with his finger, in a cookie tray filled with colored sand or salt, or even with shaving cream (if you don't mind the mess).

Keep it fun

When reading to your child or teaching him to read to you, keep it fun! Try sitting inside a pillow-and-sheet constructed "tent" when ‎reading scary stories, eat a new food when reading about its taste and texture, or have your child illustrate a story that you make up.

Be sure to give your child positive reinforcement and encouragement for even the smallest reading milestone. Enjoy the quality time you share with her when reading and make sure she enjoys the process. Arming her with a strong reading foundation will help bring her success for years to come.

4.20.2015

A Spring Photo Shoot with Samantha Ruby Photography

Last Sunday, on what was arguably NYC's first truly beautiful day of the spring season, we met up with Sam of Samantha Ruby Photography in Central Park. It's been a while since we've had professional photos taken of our family, so this was a real treat. The girls are finally getting to the point where they like smiling for the camera again (well, to a point...), so the timing felt right, too. 
 


Sam put us all immediately at ease with her warm and friendly personality, and she even showed us a little hidden nook of Central Park that we didn't know existed. Inside the entrance on Central Park West and 103rd Street, we headed up a hill to find the most gorgeous view of the skyline... I mean, I couldn't have found a better backdrop if I'd walked the park for days. As you'll see from the photos below, it couldn't have been a better place to hang out for a bit and take some photos.

I'm so pleased with how the photos turned out, and I couldn't recommend Sam more highly. She was great with the girls, completely down to earth and really knows her way around a camera. 
 

                       
 
And I've got some exciting news! Sam would like to offer anyone reading this post $25 off a 45-minute family session if they book before June 1st. Just mention Baby Meets City and you'll be good to go. 
 
Here's to preserving memories -- enjoy!



4.15.2015

Not Scrubbing My Bath Tub = Pure Joy with HomeJoy

As the old saying goes, there's a first time for everything. Well, last week, I had my apartment professionally cleaned for the first time. And as the other old saying goes (and I may be paraphrasing here), "What the heck was I waiting for?!"
 
As part of Homejoy's #MoreSpring campaign, I was able to try out the cleaning service for 2.5 hours. From start to finish, the process was seamless and easy. While booking online, I was able to describe my home and exactly what I'd like cleaned beforehand. On the morning of the cleaning, Homejoy was in touch via text with the cleaning person's name and phone number, in case I needed to reach her for some reason. Then, they followed up via text afterwards to make sure I was pleased with my experience. Yay for unobtrusive customer service!
 
Any reservation I had about welcoming a stranger into my home was put immediately at ease when I met Homejoy's cleaning professional. She was courteous and ready to get to work as soon as she arrived. And thank goodness for that. I've thought about having the apartment cleaned in the past, but never felt completely comfortable with the idea, as strange as that sounds. So happy I got over it, because my clean bath tub is still sparkling!

Now, on to the exciting part. Homejoy is just as happy as we are that spring has FINALLY arrived, and they'd like to celebrate by giving YOU a $25 discount on your very own Homejoy cleaning experience. All you have to do is make your appointment through the link below and the $25 will automatically be deducted from your final payment:

www.homejoy.com/babymeetscity

[Please note: the code will only be applicable for two weeks, starting on the date of this post.]

How about worrying less about dust and getting outside to experience this gorgeous new season? I'm pretty sure it takes a village to clean my apartment, and am so glad I had a little help, just in time for spring cleaning.



Disclosure: I received payment and services from Homejoy for this review. All opinions herein are my own.
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