The Bay Ridge Families' Roundup Newsletter for Kids Events in the Greater Bay Ridge Area during the week of July 27 - August 2 is up!! Download here:
Some highlights include 2 new Henna events @ The Coop, Barefoot Books Story Time @ Coffee Rx, DIY Duct Tape Wallet, Session 3 deadline for free learn to swim program at NYC Public Pools, and Harry Potter fun (there's a new book being released this week - whaaaaat!??).
You'll also find a few deals thrown in there: 30 day ABC Mouse free trial, $15 off your first Peapod order, and 15% off at The BookMark Shoppe! Woohoo!
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Feel free to reply with any questions or comments, or if you'd like to advertise! The deadline to advertise in our first big quarterly e-publication ("Classes & Activities for Toddlers & Babies") is August 1!!
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We are pumped to celebrate summer fun with this Summer Kids' Faves Giveaway, hosted by Mommy Scene! One lucky grand prize winner will receive ALLLLLLL of the awesome products below!!!
Summer Kids' Faves Giveaway
Baby Rescue Bag allows you to safely evacuate babies and small children in the event of an emergency or fire.
Brinware Tempered Glass and Silicone Dishware is the new alternative to plastic tableware for kids, made of durable tempered glass and silicone; break-resistant, microwave and dishwasher safe!
CARES Kids Fly Safe Airplane Safety Harness is the only FAA-approved airplane safety harness for babies and toddlers.
Diaper Hero is the newest scale and associated app that helps you track your baby's diapers, automatically recording the weight of each diaper, generating reports, and allowing you stay up-to-date on the changes in your baby's diapers over time.
Geleeo Stroller Self-cooling Liner helps keep your child cool on the go using a high-tech proprietary hydrogel that provides a constant and gentle cooling sensation to the contacted skin. It requires no prior refrigeration, freezing or battery and is the most revolutionary, convenient, and Eco-friendly way to chill your little ones.
Hugabugg Hugabowl toddler feeding bowl has a unique suction cup vacuum system that keeps the bowl in place on any surface.
My Early Steps Baby Walker offers a safer and more natural approach to learning to walk. My Early Steps cradles baby's torso and allows baby to use own hands for balance and have clear view of feet. The padded harness is fully adjustable for both baby's height and chest.
nuSpin Kids cup encourages the intake of water using a pinwheel that turns when children drink, and also uses straws that are preferred by pediatric dentists over other sippy cup valves.
Pacific Baby 3-in-One Insulated Baby Bottle keeps beverages hot or cold for up to 10 hours! These Eco-friendly stainless steel drinking containers are perfect for travel, outings and home feedings, usable from birth to 5 years old.
Booginhead PaciGrip fits all pacifier types and has a strong clasp that won't pull off, but is gentle on clothes. It's great for holding small toys and teethers as well.
PouchBuddy is an innovative pouch feeding tool that promotes mess-free self-feeding. The mom-approved one piece design is easy to clean, convenient, and travel friendly.
Zipzicle Ice Pop Mold allow you to make homemade popsicles. Simply fill these ice pop sleeves with your favorite flavors, zip closed, and freeze.
Buttons Diapers Wet Bag is handy for storing cloth diapers and wet clothes. These PUL wet bags keep messes, wetness, and smells contained, and come with sturdy straps for hanging on the stroller or door knob. Available in 4 sizes and 3 fun summery prints.
Little Ashkim Hooded Turkish Towel is made of rayon from bamboo and cotton fibers which make them not only feel silky soft on your little one's skin but are super absorbent as well. These cute hooded towels are lightweight, breathable, and durable.
Piggy Paint is a natural, Eco-friendly nail polish for kids. Its non-toxic, hypoallergenic formula makes it safe to use on all piggies. Piggy Paint dries to a hard, durable finish that can easily be removed with the Eco-friendly, low odor Piggy Paint nail polish remover. Made in the USA!
Rock the Locks Natural Detangler helps manage knotty and tangled hair while conditioning and giving it a natural beautiful shine. Non-aerosol spray makes application quick, convenient, and fun while allowing for one-handed use. Made in the USA!
Yummi Pouch Reusable Food Pouches combine style and convenience in an Eco-friendly container you can fill with healthy smoothies, yogurt, and homemade blended snacks. Easy to fill and clean through the top zipper opening, Yummi Pouches are available in 4 patterns and are ideal for kids to take healthy snacks to the park.
Yummi Pouch Cloth Snack Bags are lined with a moisture resistant interior and decorated with colorful prints. Yummi Pouch cloth snack bags open with a zipper and come in two sizes and 16 cute patterns, perfect to hold crackers, sandwiches, and dry snacks.
Enter for the chance to win these great products featured in Mommy Scene's Summer Kids' Faves!
This giveaway is coordinated by Mommy Scene, sponsored by the participating brands, and is open to US entries. No purchase required to enter. One winner will be randomly chosen and displayed on the giveaway widget after the giveaway ends on August 12th, 2016. Mommy Scene and participating blogs are not responsible for fulfilling brand-sponsored prizes. Prizes will be shipped directly from each brand.
Don't miss Mommy Scene's whole collection of Summer Kids' Faves - Toys, Gear and Activities that includes gear for traveling with kids, feeding and playtime, hygiene and naturally formulated body care, and more!
Let me start by saying we had a blender. An ancient one. You know, the kind you have to keep stopping and stirring or shaking to get it going again? Yeah, a pain in the butt!! It got the job done eventually, but we've been doing our fair share of smoothie and baby food making recently, so I knew the time had come to upgrade and I knew where to turn... NINJA, baby!!
I'd heard good things about Ninja, namely great products with an easy to swallow price points. Holla! I ended up going with the Nutri Ninja Blender DUO with Auto-IQ, and spoiler alert, it's awesome!!
It comes with a huge pitcher (i.e. margaritas for your home party) with a pouring spout, as well as 3 sizes of cups (18, 24, & 32oz) that you can drink right out of (you use the lid with blending blades to blend and then just switch to a to-go lid for drinking). When you snap in the blending container, the machine automatically lights up the appropriate blending options for that device. You can choose from several pre-set blending options (which uses set speeds and pauses so you can just sit back and let it do all the work for you), or you can blend manually choosing from low, medium, and high settings.
So far we've put it to the test with smoothies and baby food, throwing in everything from frozen strawberries and ice cubes to chia seeds and spinach, and it crushes and purees the heck out of anything within seconds! It's loud, of course, I mean I wouldn't do it while the babies are napping in the next room, but it's not deafening or anything beyond normal. My toddler LOVES to operate it and squeals out in delight when it's in auto mode and surprises him with its stopping and starting automatically.
All of the containers are plastic but BPA-free, and all parts (except the electronic base, of course) are dishwasher safe! Though, I got a tip from a friend that for a quick and easy clean you just rinse it out, then add some water and a squirt of soap and blend! SO easy and fast, love it!! Here's a video of my toddler helping me clean it:
The base has 4 suction cups on the bottom so it stays put, which is good and bad... if you have a huge kitchen and just leave it in one spot it's great!! But I have to take it out and put it away in the cupboard each time so it's a tad annoying but great safety-wise, especially when operating with my mini kitchen "helper".
The Nutri Ninja Blender Duo also comes with a great recipe book featuring over 75 delicious and nutritious recipes, including juices, smoothies, infused teas & waters, breakfasts, soups, sauces, entrees, and desserts! I can't believe some of the things you can make in your blender - buckwheat pancakes and tomato basil scramble!? YUM! I'm definitely going to start working my way through these! One section they missed, to my disappointment, is baby food. I need some help in that department, my girls are a bit sick of carrot / sweet potato and mango / banana purees LOL!!
So, if you're in the market for a new blender, definitely check out the Ninja Kitchen lineup. Say goodbye to shaking and stirring your frustrating old blender and say hello to quick, easy, and simply put, perfection!!
You can get the Nutri Ninja Blender Duo for about $170 on Amazon, and with the food processor for about $230. Other amazing Ninja Kitchen products include the Ninja Coffee Bar, Ninja 3-in-1 Cooking System, and Nutri Ninja Pro Complete Blender System.
So what do you think? Do you have a Ninja, or another blender, you love? Ready to switch? Have an amazing blender recipe? Share in a comment below!
Disclaimer: Although I did receive this product free of charge, all thoughts and opinions are my own and completely unbiased.
Pleased to bring you the latest edition of Bay Ridge Families' weekly guide to kids' events, for the week of July 20 - 26, featuring an awesome magic show in Coney Island, coupons for The BookMark Shoppe and Burt's Bees, and a free trial of Amazon Prime!
Eating right is a challenge for many women, even more so when you're eating for two (or more)! There's never been a time in my life I was more aware and concerned about my nutrition than during my two pregnancies (especially the twin one!). Eating the best you can is important but not always easy what with morning sickness and terrible cravings/aversions), which is why prenatals and other nutritional supplements are so important! I'm excited to be working with a brand that has in mind the health and well-being of moms-to-be and breastfeeding moms!
Premama is the first nationwide line of natural powdered nutritional supplement drink mixes for women from preconception through breastfeeding. They allow women to skip that dreaded horse-pill sized prenatal vitamin, instead downing a delicious drink! They've got supplements to support fertility or lactation, a complete prenatal vitamin, prenatal vitamin with DHA, and now, they've just released, drum roll please...
Premama "Digestive Aid", a prenatal fiber and probiotic chew
Soft and absolutely scrumptious, each vanilla-caramel flavored digestive aid chew contains 2 grams of fiber, 1 billion CFU's of probiotics, 20 calories, 1 gram of sugar, and 4 carbs. Mamas are directed to consume 1-4 chews a day for optimal benefit, and after you taste one you just might find yourself having to resist the urge to down more than that. But remember, they're not candy (though they taste like it) - they are nutritional supplements and you don't want to overdo it!
But what are probiotics?
New to the whole probiotic ballgame? Basically, probiotics are "good" bacteria that balance the health of your gut, which is responsible for up to 70% of your body's immune system response! Your body starts building its good bacteria colonies from infancy - while traveling through mama's birth canal and then from the nipple while breastfeeding. However, taking antibiotics or having certain illnesses or disorders can wreak havoc on these healthy bacteria and so probiotic supplements and probiotic-rich foods (like yogurt, kimchee, sauerkraut, etc) are getting hyped up these days for good reason!
Each of Premama's Digestive Aid chews contains 1 billion CFU's of Bacillus coagulans, which according to Wikipedia is thought to improve vaginal flora, improve pain and bloating in IBS patients, and increase immune response to viral challenges.
Where to buy Premama Digestive Chews:
Promoting both healthy digestion and immune system, Premama's Digestive Aid is already available online ($15.99 for a box of 28 on Amazon) and will be in stores at the end of July (you can search for a store near you here)!
What do you think? Do you take vitamins or probiotics regularly - for general health or specific issues?
Disclaimer: Although I did receive this product free of charge through MomSelect, all thoughts and opinions are my own and completely unbiased.
Here's your weekly kids' events roundup in the Greater Bay Ridge area for the week of July 13 - 19!
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Looking for an all-inclusive family-friendly resort with amazing and engaging activities for all ages, food for every palate, set in a beautiful landscape a mere 2-3 hours by car/bus/train from New York City!? Look no further than Woodloch Resort, ranked America's #1 Family Resort by Tripadvisor!!
After spending 2 nights / 3 days there with my family of five I can tell you one thing, it was not nearly long enough time in this city-escape paradise!! Sitting here typing my review is bitter sweet because it reminds me of the wonderful memories we made as a family there, but makes me want to turn off the computer and catch the first bus back!! Alas, I will stifle that urge for the greater good, because I just have to share with everyone all of the fun stuff we did and why Woodloch is such a fabulous place!
When we walked into the Main Lodge to check-in, I have to admit my first impression was "Hmmm... a bit out dated?". A mish-mosh of rustic plaids and patterns, a large (real) stuffed bear (which my toddler became obsessed with), several comfy sofas and chairs filled with happy guests chatting away. I generally prefer modern and sleek design, but you know what? It grew on me, and eventually I started to contemplate whether it was needing an update or if it was on purpose - nothing was actually old or dingy - it kind of adds to the charm of the place, it feels like visiting gramma's mountain house!
The grounds are enormous (1200 acres that can accommodate over 1,000 guests!!), kind of overwhelming at first but once walking from end to end (less than half a mile, and they have a free shuttle running every 15 minutes if you prefer) you start to get your bearings of where everything is. The lake is huge and pristine, absolutely beautiful!! The walking paths are a mixture of paved and gravel, and wind you through the property which is covered in beautiful trees and is just breath-taking. As you get further away from the lake, and cross the street you get deeper into the heavily forested area and find signs reminding you that you are actually in real-life nature and need to beware of bears! Yikes! We never saw any, thankfully, but did meet plenty of deer and chipmunks.
The buildings and grounds are meticulously maintained. Beautiful, clean, just spectacular! We were there in the middle of summer, outside at various points in the day from sunrise past sunset, and you know what? We didn't run across a single mosquito or bee. That was a very happy surprise!! Not sure how they manage it, but THANK YOU (I hate bugs, can you tell?)!!
At breakfast each morning, you'll find on the table the day's schedule, which includes everything going on for the entire day - things that are daily as well as events specific for that day only. Almost everything is included with your stay - water skiing, go carts, bumper cars, boat tours, climbing wall, indoor and outdoor pools, horse-drawn hay rides, bumper boats, kayaking, paddle boating, row boats, sailboats, lake beach and waterslide, volleyball, outdoor and indoor playgrounds (socks required at indoor playgrounds for kids and adults!), horse shoes, arts & crafts, bicycles (with helmets and baby seats), shuffleboard, bocce, mini-golf, trivia, scavenger hunts, and tons of games and contests (with award ceremonies) for the whole family!! There are some activities that cost extra, but are pretty cheap when compared to what you would pay elsewhere - an hour long segway tour for $50, 12 balls at the batting cage for $1, $30 for 250 paintballs, $20 for 1 hour zip lining, etc.
They also have daily evening entertainment for kids and adults (and an adults-only nightclub!), but with start times of 8 to 9pm it was simply too late for my family to enjoy. We opted instead to take a sunset walk after dinner each night and hit the hay early, since our twins wake me up 3+ times a night and our toddler is up by 6am *yawn*!
It's hard to know what to expect of the food at an all-inclusive resort... will the food be marginal or exceptional? Will they serve enough to fill me up? Will I need to bring or purchase snacks to get me through the day? Well, I can tell you, the meals are huge and delicious. Expect to gain a couple of pounds!
Each meal has a 1-hour seating window for all guests to arrive (and stay until they finish, no pressure). The dining room is HUGE and has a great view of the lake. The seating times vary but are around 8:30-9:30 for breakfast (which I found to be WAY too late for our family, with the kids up by 5:30 or 6 I was STARVING by breakfast and had to pound a pre-breakfast snack bar from home), lunch at 12:30-1:30, and dinner at 6:30-7:30pm. Breakfast and dinner were usually a mixture of la carte and family style (but you can get as much as you want), with lunch being buffet style. I was very impressed with the food, stuffed myself silly at each and every meal and don't regret it one bit!! It's vacation! The French Crumb Cake greets you each morning and you can even order it (and other baked goods) to take home with you. They are extremely accommodating making special requests, and the service is FAST and friendly. It's amazing how they can serve so many guests at the same time, but they've worked out an impressive system and everything arrived piping hot and YUMMMMMO! Alcohol is not included, nor are the super cute kids' cocktails which all come with some sort of toy or gadget.
A dozen or so staff line up at the restaurant entrance to greet you at each meal, and the owner (or another manager) makes a public announcement at each dinner - announcing each and every celebration going on that day - every birthday, anniversary, graduation, you name it. They also have some sing-alongs and similar quick activities that are lots of fun and just another way they are able to make all the guests feel like one big family. Someone mentioned to me Woodloch is like a real life Kellerman's (you know, the lodge in Dirty Dancing), and I have to agree. All of the little touches add up to make such a difference and give such a friendly and home-like atmosphere!!
The Family-Friendly Aspects
They seriously thought of everything, down to the nitty gritty details. Our hotel room had child-proof plugs in every single outlet. The cribs? Not pack 'n plays but ACTUAL CRIBS!! I've never encountered this in over 3 years of hotel stays with babies. I was thrilled my babies could sleep on comfy mattresses in metal cribs that could be cleaned properly rather than fabric pack 'n plays that get dingy with mats that are so uncomfortable!
Every public bathroom, both men's and women's, had changing tables and built-in step stools for kids to wash hands. High chairs in the dining room, a pretty decent kid's menu for every meal (though no baby food or offer to make purees, which was a bit disappointing). Activities for all ages, several play areas for babies and toddlers (including a huge indoor jungle gym that is seriously like a kids' version of American Ninja Warrier - SO fun!!!), a huge rack of various sizes of life jackets and puddle jumpers for kids to borrow at the pools, several 1' deep heated pool areas for the babies/toddlers, and lifeguards at every indoor and outdoor water area.
Overall I would say it was quite stroller-friendly, though there are a few places (such as the Woodloch Forrest indoor play gym) that have stairs and no elevator, and the grounds are quite hilly. We didn't have much trouble getting around with our double-wide stroller (it's a great glutes workout!), but opted to wear the babies and leave the stroller in our room or in the coat room near the restaurant much of the time.
Another really cool thing they have is a character greeting families as they enter the restaurant at breakfast, lunch, and dinner! It was so fun to chat with our son on our way to each meal about which character he thought might be there, and to see his face light up in delight when he discovered who it was - running into their arms for a big hug (and photo of course)! During our stay he got to meet Cookie Monster, Elmo, Mike from Monster's Inc, Belle from Beauty and the Beast, and Winnie the Pooh!
Woodloch highly encourages families to spend their vacation together making memories, but understands sometimes parents need some time alone. They have amazingly affordable babysitting services, provided by local sitters as well as Woodloch staff during their off-hours. They charge $10 per hour for 1 child, and $1 per hour for each additional child. We were about to jump on this until we saw the fine print - they may require another sitter for more than one infant or toddler, and the minimum for each sitter is $40. So for our family with 3 under 4 years old, it wasn't such a great a deal anymore, but still a nice option if you want to enjoy the spa or night club or just take a much needed nap! In the end we decided not to get a sitter, but maybe next time...
The Customer Service
Yet another thing that completely blew me away at Woodloch? The customer service and staff. The most friendly bunch I have ever come across. Every single employee, whether at the front desk or walking past you on a path in the woods, smiles and waves and says hello, and will stop what they're doing to take you where you need to go. Many of the guests are there for family reunions (all wearing matching t-shirts of course), and many others come back year after year. Guests and staff alike will stop and talk to you about their past experiences and recommendations. You start to get the feeling that you have been welcomed into the big happy Woodloch family with open arms.
At every meal, at least 3 different non-server staff stop by to chat and ask you how you're stay is going and if you have any questions. Even the owner came by at each dinner, dressed festively each day in a different pair of pants and tie featuring various cartoons and characters. So fun!
The Journey There
Of course if you have a car, that is the way to go (directions here), but it's also pretty easy to get to Woodloch via public transportation!! We took the Short Line bus (Coach USA) bus from NYC's Port Authority to Hawley (3-4 hours) where they had a complementary shuttle waiting to pick us up! They have complementary car seats as well, though for liability reasons the guests are required to strap them in (which literally took us 20 minutes the first time since all 3 car seats were different styles and we were clueless - a bit of a nightmare but it was nice to have car seats for the 15 minute ride). You can also take the train to Port Jervis where they have a shuttle (for a fee), and they'll even come pick you up at AVP airport or beyond.
Woodloch is not a low-budget vacation, but that's not to say it isn't totally doable for just about any family! Depending on your budget, you can go without a meal plan or get the 2 or 3 meals a day plan. You can get a small room, a large suite, or even a whole house! You can go peak (July/August/Christmas/New Year) or off-season - for example you can book mid-week in October or November for as low as $108 per adult! Now that is a great deal! And don't forget there are tons of indoor options, including pools for kids and adults, so whether you go in the middle of summer, for fall foliage, or in the winter wonderland, there will be plenty of fun to be had! Check out their booking options here, and see their accommodation options here.
And finally, don't miss my video montage - check out our family in action enjoying all that Woodloch has to offer, including a tour of the property and our suite!
So what do you think? Have you ever been to Woodloch or are you planning to go? Share in a comment below!!
Disclaimer: Although I was provided a complimentary stay in exchange for my review, all thoughts and opinions are my own - I'm no sell out! Woodloch is truly a magical place and I can't recommend it highly enough for a fabulous family vacation!
Come and get it - my weekly roundup of kid-friendly activities for the week of July 6 - 12 is ready!! Download the PDF below and be sure to sign up for the newsletter to come directly to your inbox!
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I'm a NYC metro area mom blogger living in NJ with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1), focusing on fun and honest product and travel reviews, saving moms time finding the best for their families! Find what you need in the menu bar or search section above!