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With Bash’s severe food allergies (dairy, eggs, nuts, sesame), it’s hard to find a suitable sweet treat. To top it all off, the kid doesn’t even like chocolate, which he definitely didn’t get from his momma! But, he loves honey: just a drizzle of sweetness on top of some Cheerios / granola / fruit and he’s buzzin’ with delight. Maybe it’s the tangy sweetness or maybe he likes the concept that it’s made by bees. Either way, it’s nice to have “dessert” options that are safe for Bash.

So, when Golden Blossom Honey sent us some of their Premium Pure U.S. Honey, I immediately knew I’d try out a modified honey cake. While some traditional Eastern European honey cakes call for yogurt, I recalled that many Rosh Hashanah honey cakes are dairy-free. Plus, I figured that since apples and honey pair well together, applesauce would be an easy egg replacement. Now I have another go-to in my arsenal of food-allergy friendly treats!

Honey Cake

I adapted this honey cake recipe to accommodate Bash’s allergies.

Ingredients
  • 2 eggs (I substituted 1/2 cup of applesauce as an egg replacement)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (slightly less if using the applesauce as an egg substitute)
  • 3/4 cup strong brewed coffee (I used decaf)
  • 1 cup GOLDEN BLOSSOM HONEY
  • 1 naval orange: zest and juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Dash of allspice (as preferred)
Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 12-cup bundt pan or 9×5 loaf pan with non-stick baking spray.

Mix wet ingredients together:

  • Beat eggs (if using eggs) or add applesauce
  • Add sugar and beat one minute
  • Add oil, coffee, honey, orange juice, orange zest, and lemon juice. Beat one minute.

Mix dry ingredients together (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and spices) in a separate bowl.

Add dry mixture to wet ingredients and beat until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes or until cake tests done (when a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean).

Remove to a rack and let cool 15 minutes. Remove from pan and continue cooling. Wrap tightly and let sit 24 – 48 hours before serving to allow flavors to come together further.

Additional Information

For more delicious honey recipes, check out Golden Blossom’s website.

The post We’re Buzzin’ About Honey Cake: A Dairy-Free Sweet Treat appeared first on Bash & Co..

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Ava’s birth announcement photo, captured by Lola Melani

In honor of Ava’s first birthday (I can’t believe how fast it flew by), I’ve been reminiscing and looking through her newborn photos by the amazingly talented, Lola Melani!

When Bash was born, I meticulously researched photographers in the NYC area and luckily stumbled across Lola’s work.  Lola is constantly rated in all of the top lists, has been featured in everything from Portrait Masters to People Magazine, and was recently selected to ClickinMoms’ 100 Female Photographers to Watch in 2019 (my personal source of inspiration).  Beyond the glowing reviews, I immediately fell in love with Lola’s elegant and classic aesthetic.  Her posing is timeless and she truly captures the love for our precious little ones.  In short, Lola’s work is art.  So of course we immediately called Lola for Ava’s newborn photos!   I still get teary eyed going through both Bash and Ava’s albums and know that we will continue to treasure these beautiful images for generations to come.

The details we want to remember forever, as captured by Lola Melani
A Little Background on Lola Melani

I’m excited to share some of Lola’s amazing work with our family. We also had a chance to sit down with Lola as she graciously shares her wisdom about all things maternity and newborn photography in the following Q&A.

How did you develop a love for photography?

I have always been an artistic person and I have always been drawn to different kinds of arts. However I never imagined that one day I would pick up a camera and get on this journey.

I moved to the U.S. from Russia and I was studying business and economics at the University hoping to graduate and get a stable job position in a reputable company. So one day, I was showing a friend of mine prints of the photos I took on a little Kodak camera and she said, ‘Wow, you have a good eye’. So that’s how it all started. Her words got stuck to the back of my head and never stopped thinking about it. And I decided to explore the world of photography and find out, whether I did have a good eye or not.

I got my first semi professional DSLR camera and I was taking pictures of everything. And little by little it became my hobby. By the time I finished my business degree and went to work in a finance department of a large hotel company, and I absolutely HATED it.

So that’s how I became interested in photography and eventually obsessed with it. I always think now, what would have happened if my friend would never told me that. Would my journey be different?”

Wow, it’s amazing how one comment can change the course we are on.  And, I’d have to enthusiastically agree with your friend, you have an incredible eye!  As soon as I saw the first image of your portfolio online, I was immediately drawn to your powerful imagery and those babies (and they weren’t even mine, haha!).  I love how you capture the details I want to remember as a new mother along with the deep, loving connections between parents and baby.  You make it art.

Pullback of Lola’s photo shoot with baby Ava
Of all of the photography genres, how did you get started as a maternity / newborn photographer?

I have always been passionate about working with women, capturing their beauty and strength with my lens.

Until about 6 years ago photography has been just a hobby, and I was obsessed with glamorous fashion photography. When I set up a simple studio in my apartment and invited my girlfriends to sit for me. That was when the concept of creating editorial style portraits for everyday women was born. It was exciting to witness the people I photographed unfold in front of my camera and watch how confident and beautiful they felt during and after this experience.

Six years ago, I stumbled across pregnancy work online. I felt it was calling my name and my concept finally came to life. Women, especially pregnant, do not always feel good about themselves and the changes their body is going through. They may feel uncomfortable, hormonal and simply not pretty.

Creating these experiences where they have a chance to be pampered, feel fabulous and confident, embrace, celebrate the features that make each of them unique, is what I am so passionate about.

I love helping women see their beauty and be proud of themselves, giving them the confidence that they can and will take on motherhood.  I love showing them how incredibly magnificent, powerful, strong and beautiful they are.”

I love this and felt like this was exactly your sentiment during both of our shoots.  Ava was only a couple weeks old when we did her shoot, also meaning that I was still very much “post-partum” – uncomfortable, hormonal, still looking and feeling pregnant.  But, between makeup and hair by artist, Vlada Cozlova, your serene studio, the trust you impart as your images speak for themselves, I felt like the Goddess of Motherhood!  By the way, my mom also felt the same: she’s always camera-shy and was initially hesitant, but she treasures how you captured her.

A quiet moment after Ava (finally) fell back asleep. (Photo credit: Lola Melani)
Gaga and Grandpa with Baby Ava (photo credit: Lola Melani)

I also distinctly remember during Bash’s shoot, as a first-time mom (tired and no clue what I was doing or should be doing), starting to panic that he wouldn’t go to sleep to get all of those precious “curled-up tiny baby” photos.  You were such a calming, reassuring influence on me; I relaxed and we wound up getting a welcome surprise, my all-time favorite shot of Bash, eyes wide open!  I learned to embrace the chaos and even the best things can be born in the midst of the craziness of motherhood.

Bash, wide awake and not wanting to miss anything (photo credit: Lola Melani)
Describe your style / aesthetic?

My style is timeless, elegant and minimalistic.”

I love your aesthetic.  It is so classic and simply timeless.

Mom, Dad and Ava (photo credit: Lola Melani)
Bash, the sweetest big brother (photo credit: Lola Melani) Mom, Dad, and Bash at his newborn shoot (photo credit: Lola Melani) Where do you draw inspiration from?

I am inspired every day. I can be inspired by anything. We are surrounded by so much visual content everyday and inspirations are everywhere! It could be a cover of the magazine, color, fabrics, flowers, textures. I often look for inspirations outside the photography world – sculptures, old paintings that show the draping. I am inspired by the works of other photographers, mostly fashion photographers  – Peter Lindberg, Patrick Demarchelier, Irving Penn, Annie Leibovitz.

However, my biggest source of inspiration are women and their life stories. I work with women and every one of them has her unique, extraordinary story.  Motherhood is a journey, and for many women its a long and difficult journey. Learning what these women have been through and capturing the incredible strength and their true beauty – this is what I am so excited about.

Real people and real life stories are the most powerful inspirations you can get.”

Baby Ava (photo credit: Lola Melani)
Tips for Preparing The Newborn Photo Shoot How to select a maternity or newborn photographer?
  • You should find the photographer who fits your style – posed or lifestyle, traditional or modern, props or no props, studio or home.
  • Look for consistency throughout the portfolio. You don’t want to hire someone who only has a few great photos to showcase.
  • Look for a photographer who specializes in newborns and maternity, has been professionally trained or has a lot of experience with babies. Newborn photography requires lots of knowledge about handing, soothing, wrapping and caring for your baby as well as posing and safety. No matter how amazing that fashion/wedding/family photographer may be, I would not hire someone who does not specialize in newborns or have little experience in photographing babies.
  • Please, be careful not to choose a photographer because you found a great deal online or photographer’s prices are lowest in the area. It’s not about finding the cheapest one, it’s about finding the artist you connect with, you trust, who is experienced and insured and who shows consistent work.”
When do you recommend is the best time to schedule a maternity / newborn shoot?

Maternity is best captured between 30-35 weeks. The best time to photograph a newborn baby is when they are under two weeks of age. During this time they sleep more soundly and they are still very flexible and curl up more easily into precious newborn poses. After 14 days babies tend to lose flexibility, they become more awake, harder to settle and things like colic and baby acne can develop. An awake or alert baby is much more difficult to work with. For babies that are born early and spend some time in the hospital I recommend to schedule a session within the first few days after they are sent home.”

Photographers’ schedules book up, so I’d recommend starting to research and book photographers during your second or early third trimester (here’s my full pregnancy checklist).  But don’t stress too much if something comes up.  We were able to do Ava’s photos within the ideal stage.  Bash’s photos were done a little bit later around 4 weeks (due to rescheduling for illness).  It took a little more time as he wasn’t as sleepy, but we also have the most amazing eyes wide open photos.

Guess the baby…it’s Bash! (photo credit: Lola Melani)
How to best prepare for a newborn session – prepping both the baby and parents, any must-have newborn props?

I love keeping newborn portraits simple without overpowering them with props and clothing. This is my style and vision as an artist. If my clients do want to dress their baby and use more props I let them choose from the collection that I have at the studio. Soft hand-knit outfits can look adorable and photograph beautifully and add more texture to the photo. For the snuggling parent and baby portraits a simple solid onesie, a knit diaper cover or cashmere newborn blanket can be great options.

I educate parents not to use/bring their own newborn outfits, as they tend to be too big and newborns are usually swimming in them. If parents want an outfit for the baby, snug fitting outfits in solid colors look best on newborns. If you want to shop for the outfits for your newborn session, look for handmade pieces, ww.etsy.com offers millions of options for newborns.

For mothers I recommend wearing comfortable clothing, solid neutral colors are best – creams, off-whites, soft beiges, light grays. Flowy dress or casual top and jeans can look beautiful. Think timeless when choosing wardrobe for family images – would you still love how the outfit looked in 10-20 years from now?

I am not a huge on props. Perhaps a knit teddy bear or bunny, hand-knit wraps. Of course I do use props and I customize each session to my client’s liking, their vision and style. However, my favorite newborn sessions are the ones that are done with minimum props, using textured organic wraps, with many macro close ups, b&w portraits with negative space and womb-style silhouette shots. These are truly timeless.”

You have the most beautiful baby wraps and diaper covers that are so cozy, yet compliment your elegant and timeless style.  I also love how you can add a pop of whimsy without compromising your style.

But mom, I don’t want to go to sleep! (photo credit: Lola Melani)
And…she’s out! (photo credit: Lola Melani)
Why do you prefer / recommend in-studio sessions?

I love working at the studio because I want to have a precise to control of my lighting and set ups. I enjoy the lighting consistency that my space gives me. When working outside or at someones home you always depend on the weather conditions as well as the space size, ceiling height, surrounding colors, furniture, etc.”

As a new mom, it can be a little daunting thinking about how you will spend hours in a studio with your days-old baby.  Personally, I loved being “on location” so Lola could create in her element. It also gave me a little excursion out of the apartment and I also didn’t need to put that last load of laundry away or tidy up!  I got to indulge in a little beauty and pampering and relax, transported to your beautiful studio, which is stocked with everything!

First-time mom with baby Bash! (photo credit: Lola Melani)
What are some things you recommend for soothing a baby?  How do you create a relaxing and comfortable environment for the shoot?

I learned that newborn soothing techniques are essential in photoshoot running smoothly.  If your baby gets fussy during the photo session, try these soothing techniques:

  • White noise: The sounds in the womb are very loud and they say it can be as loud as a vacuum cleaner. Some parents do not realize that, and try to keep quiet environment, keep voice low. Newborns will sleep much more soundly if there is white noise in the room therefore quiet environment isn’t necessary, or even that helpful most of the time
  • A nice tight swaddle always seems to always do a trick and help newborn baby to relax
  • Keeping the room and baby warm
  • A pacifier can work wonders and sooth a fussy baby back to sleep
  • A little bouncing and rocking really helps in soothing babies
  • A nice and long very loud ‘SHHHHHH’ in the ear goes a long way and works like magic.”

I remember with Bash, you introduced us to a baby shush app!  It was a game-changer!

Baby yawns are my favorite (photo credit: Lola Melani)
What are some of your favorite shots / poses?

Parents and natural baby images on a cream/white background.”

Family of 4 (photo credit: Lola Melani)
He’s always protective of his baby sister (except when legos are involved) (photo credit: Lola Melani)
Bash, who clearly has a signature pose (photo credit: Lola Melani)
Father and son (photo credit: Lola Melani)

For more of Lola’s amazing work, check out her online portfolio and Instagram @lolamelani.

Additional Tips, Inspiration, and Resources
  • Post-shoot, don’t forget to splurge on prints and albums.  It’s hard to find the time to get photos printed and your professional photographer will have access to the best photo labs for quality, calibrated color, and beautiful albums and accessories.
  • Some of my favorite newborn photo ideas on Pinterest
  • For maternity and newborn accessories, Sewtrendy, has a large selection
  • ItsyBitsyBlooms on Etsy has a great selection of newborn knit wraps and bonnets

The post NYC’s Best Newborn Photographer, Lola Melani appeared first on Bash & Co..

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It’s been a bitter cold end to winter here in NYC and we couldn’t be more excited for Spring Break next week!  We have family coming to town and are looking forward to a staycation in the city.  Here’s a look at five exciting activities we have planned with the kids, two of which we are giving away tickets (follow us, @bashandco_ny, on Instagram for entry details)!

Red Yarn Concert at Symphony Space Saturday, March 30th 11:00 AM

We’ve loved discovering this neighborhood gem this year!  Symphony Space is wrapping up its 2018-2019 Just Kidding season and going out with a bang, featuring “kindie-rock” artist, Red Yarn.  Bash comes home from music class singing lots of folk songs and requests old school country thanks to our recent trips to Austin and Luckenbach, Texas.  So we’ve really been rocking out to Red Yarn’s jams on the regular.  Check out their latest music video, put on your flannel, and swing on by Symphony Space for an epic barn dance with Red Yarn and his barnyard puppet friends!

*Check our Instagram as we will be giving away a family 4 pack of tickets to the upcoming Red Yarn concert thanks to our friends at Symphony Space!  Look for the Red Yarn image in our IG feed for all of the details on how to enter and announcement of the winner.

PJ Masks Live: Save the Day at the Kings Theatre Saturday, March 30th 10:00 AM and 2:30 PM and Sunday, March 31st 10:00 AM and 2:30 PM Photo courtesy of PJ Masks Live

All shout hooray, ’cause PJ Masks is coming live to Brooklyn to save the day!  Bash loves to see his favorite characters come to life and we are so excited to see Catboy, Owlette, and Gekko up close and in person at their latest performance, PJ Masks Live: Save the Day at the ornately restored Kings Theatre in Brooklyn.

*Check our Instagram as we will are partnering with Kings Theatre to give away a family pack of 4 tickets to one of the morning  (10:00 AM) performances!  Look for the PJ Masks image in our IG feed for all of the details on how to enter and announcement of the winner.

T. Rex: The Ultimate Predator at the American Museum of Natural History March 11 – August 9, 2020

We’re lucky to live so close that the AMNH is like a second home (it’s actually where Bash learned to climb stairs, amongst the triceratops!).  So, with school closed for break, we’re already planning to check out old favorites (e.g., searching for the Blue Whale’s belly button) and explore the latest exhibit about…dun, dun, dunnnnn…T.Rex.

Additionally, we already have our tickets to blast off to the moon for the Member Field Trip to the Moon event on Thursday, March 28th. While visiting the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in DC, Bash watched the space launch video over and over again for a good 20 minutes, so I’m pretty sure he’s going to love this!

Our favorite hands-on space, the Discovery Room, will also host extra hours (10:30 AM – 1:25 PM and 2:15 PM – 5:10 PM) during NYC public schools’ spring break (April 19 – 26th).

Hudson Yards Photo courtesy of Hudson Yards

Hudson Yards, the most expensive real estate development in NYC is finally opening!  Okay, I may be really excited for this one solely because it contains the first and only Neiman Marcus (move aside, Bergdorf’s…just kidding, momma still loves you).  But really excited to check out this new city within a city with its retail therapy, public art, killer views, access to the High Line, and great eats, all built on top of an active rail yard.  A heads-up: to climb the Vessel, you need to reserve free tickets (some same-day tickets will be available, but timed-entry tickets are available online to book up to 2 weeks in advance).

Camp: Family Experience Store

A visit to Camp, an interactive playground / store is long overdue as we’ve been meaning to go since its launch in December.  There’s a full calendar of hands-on activities to keep the kids entertained and a great excuse to indulge in Milk Bar’s crack-pie!

How will you be spending Spring Break?  What are your favorite staycation in the city activities?  As usual, we’ll also be checking Kid on the Town’s weekly updates for the latest exciting events around the city.  

The post Spring Break 2019 Kids’ Activities in NYC appeared first on Bash & Co..

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While we’re dreaming of a white Christmas, our shelves are filled with our favorite kids’ winter books!  There’s just not enough room for all of the wonderful winter-themed picture books, but we had to include our annual favorites: City Moon, Pick a Pine Tree, A Loud Winter’s Nap, and Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter.  This year, we added Bomi Park’s First Snow to our collection.  So grab some hot cocoa and snuggle up with one of Bash’s favorites!

First Snow

First Snow is South Korean artist, Bomi Park’s, debut picture book and we think it’s gorgeous.  Maybe it’s because I was immediately drawn to the cover’s little girl, who I thought was a mini replica of Ava!  The illustrations throughout the book are beautiful and I’m particularly drawn to the rough canvas texture, subtle details in the animals that make them simultaneously surreptitiously hidden yet we actively seek them out amongst the shadows, and pops of red that spring to life through the more monochromatic scenes.  The story is simple and I love how it really puts the reader in the snowy scenes, “Shhhh, listen…do you hear something?”.  It’s already a Bash favorite and I can’t wait to share it with Ava…#twinning!

City Moon

Bash has been fascinated by the moon and points it out at every chance he gets, so naturally, I was thrilled by the title of City Moon! And after our first reading, I adore this book and Bash regularly picks it off the bookshelf before bed. There is something so special about this evening stroll: the bonding time between mom and child, the boy playing hide and seek with the moon, and the boy’s curious questioning of his surroundings. By the time Bash wakes from his nap, it’s actually almost dark outside and we often find ourselves taking an early evening stroll to run an errand or two before dinner. Sometimes I think this book was written just for us as we follow in their footsteps, chasing the moon around city blocks. With its soothing text and warm fall color palette, this is a great bedtime story to ease into a gentle slumber.

Pick a Pine Tree

I’ve been waiting for Pick a Pine Tree to finally come back in stock and just found the last copy at Books of Wonder (if you are in NYC, check out their super cute shops downtown and on the UWS – fun fact: The Shop Around the Corner from “You’ve Got Mail” was inspired by this children’s bookstore). This book was released last fall and would be the perfect early December read to prepare children for the joyous traditions of decorating the Christmas Tree. We love how Patricia Toht captures the magic of the holiday season and Bash enjoys the cute rhymes as we follow a family’s traditional tree decoration rituals. We are also partial to the cheerful, vintage-style, yet detailed illustrations depicting the holiday traditions and bringing back the nostalgia.

A Loud Winter’s Nap

On those bone-chilling blustery days, I sometimes wish I could hibernate…or at least take a nice long nap! But then, as the Tortoise and his friends remind me, I’d be missing introducing Bash to ice skating, whizzing down a Central Park hill on a sled, and cozy snuggles reading Katy Hudson’s A Loud Winter’s Nap. This is a cute story with equally cute animals embracing winter and developing friendships. Bash loves the illustrations – so bright, fun and detailed and we discover something new at each read. With all the fun the furry friends are having, it will definitely have you layering up to head outdoors!

Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter

Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter is a simple story with beautiful illustrations that takes you on a journey from fall to winter. I like how the soothing narrative makes for a great bedtime read, but is also equally great as a learning tool to teach children more about the change of seasons. Each page offers a simple lesson, serving as a prompt for further discussion around why the leaves change, the migration of birds, the shorter days that mark the sign of an approaching winter, etc.

As we drift into colder days, there’s nothing quite like cuddling up with a blanket, some hot chocolate, and digging into a good book. We hope you enjoy cozying up with these winter favorites!

The post Sunday Shelfie: More Winter Books for Kids appeared first on Bash & Co..

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Happy holidays!  Welcome to our gift ideas for preschoolers, aka: Bash’s Wish List.  As Bash will be turning 4 in a few months, these are the toys we are looking at to inspire creativity, spark curiosity, facilitate imagination, and help burn off a little energy.

Still need ideas for your other little ones: check out our previous posts for infant (0 – 1 year old) giftsyoung toddler (1 – 2 years old) giftsolder toddler (2 – 3 years old) gifts, and young preschooler (3 – 4 years old) gifts.

Stocking Stuffers

Magna-Tiles 2-Piece Car Expansion Set ($15): Bash loves his Magna-tiles; they are a daily staple since he got them last Christmas.  They’ve been rocketships, skyscrapers, and are currently acting as a maze garage for his cars.  Basically, they never see the inside of the closet since they are always in demand.  I have no doubt that this set of wheeled car bases will be a thriller and on heavy rotation.

DIY Slime ($7): This pack of Elmer’s Liquid (Washable) Glitter Glue is perfect for a batch of DIY slime.  The recipe: mix together 1 6 oz. bottle of glue + 1/2 tablespoon baking soda.  Add 1 1/4 tablespoons of contact lens solution and mix in bowl until slimey.  Remove from bowl and knead.  Additional drops of contact lens solution will make it less sticky.

Kwik Stix Solid Tempura Paint ($9): Painting without the mess?  Sign me up!  We tested these out during a playdate with Bash’s friend and now they are going straight into our stocking.  Usually it takes me longer to set up and clean up the paint than the actual art creation process, so I’m excited that we can just grab these when he wants to get his Picasso on.

NYC Wooden Subway Trains ($16): Bash likes to reminisce about his city adventures with these wooden subway cars that travel along his Brio tracks.  We’ll add to the collection with the NQR line.

Things That Go

Bash loves all things that go, so this category is one where we don’t mind having extras (I’m pretty sure I have a Hot Wheel or two in every single bag…just in case).  Here are some new toys we are looking to add to the collection:

Way to Play Rubber Play Road – Expressway 16 Pieces ($65)

I actually couldn’t resist this road set when I saw it featured on Lola and Lark’s Instagram (@lolaandlark, one of the cutest independent shops based out of the Monterey Peninsula, CA).  Bash has been enjoying it for the past month as the perfect companion to his multitude of cars and city blocks.  I love that similar to train tracks, we get double the fun out of it: (1) setting up various patterns of streets / parking lots / intersections and (2) driving all the cars over it again and again.

Playforever Cars ($38 – $75)

Ok, these are certainly pricey for toy cars but they are the most stylish and durable cars that Bash will play with forever!  We have a couple of their Speedy Le Mans racing cars and will add this retro Voiture de Police Maverick Heat police car for some rousing cops and robbers action.  Locally, we’ve picked some up at Smoochie Baby in Brooklyn.

Razor Dune Buggy ($349) 

We already have a bicycle, scooter, “indoor” tricycle (because have you seen the sidewalks of New York?!), wheely bug at home, and a plasma car and more ride-ons at my parents’ house in Santa Fe, so you can tell Bash is serious about his vehicles!  I have no idea where we would store this living in NYC, but Bash would seriously love this electric go kart.  We’ve done our research: the Razor Dune Buggy is solidly built and will last many years.  It also has real rubber tires (not those hard plastic tires like on other toy electric cars) and the speed is adjustable.  Bash has been practicing for his driver’s license: “red means stop, green means go, and yellow means slow down”, ’cause that’s all you really need to know!

Experiences

Make an experiential gift a tangible concept for the little ones by pairing a tool or toy that represents a museum membership or local class.

(S)he shoots…(s)he Scores:

Pair a pair of Bauer Lil’ Champ Ice skates and a personalized jersey with skating lessons or a season pass to the local skating rink.

Can You Dig It: 

Dig up some dinosaur bones with this excavation and mounting kit and then head off to the American Museum of Natural History!

What’s Cookin’ Good Lookin’:

We got Bash this Curious Chef set of kitchen knives after taking the Little Chefs class at Freshmade NYC.

Books

Seek & Find Books:  Bash loves searching for hidden objects in his Where’s Waldo books.  We plan on adding these Pierre the Maze Detective books to the collection.

Usborne Books: These amazing, educational books can only be found in independent bookstores, local toy stores, or via Usborne’s independent consultants.  If you’re in our neck of the woods, we’ve found a great selection of them at Books of Wonder and West Side Kids.  We have a ton of their “See Inside” and “Lift-the-Flap” series and plan to add these to our collection: See Inside Weather & Climate book is perfect as one of Bash’s favorite “jobs” at school is “Weather Helper” and Lift-the-Flap Telling the Time as we introduce the calendar and time concepts this year.

Magazine Subscription: Bash loves the mail: we often make multiple trips to the mailbox and Bash rides his tricycle around delivering the “mail” to various rooms in our apartment.  My parents even send him cards for all the holidays, so when he gets mail, it’s a big deal!  So, mail + activities / stickers / stories = major hit!  There’s a magazine for every interest and you can often find really great deals this time of year.  We get Nat Geo Kids, Peppa Pig, and Thomas the Train Engine magazines.

For additional book recommendations, check out our Sunday Shelfie series featuring our favorite books.

Electronics

While we do set hard limits when it comes to screen time and electronics, we’re also not opposed to raising our kids to be tech savvy.  Bash got a real laptop this year and has learned to type his name and other words we’ve been working on as we simultaneously work on mastering the pencil grip.  He’s also mastered the navigating the mouse and can send his work to the printer.  Next week, we’ll start Excel and PowerPoint (just kidding)!  A couple of gadgets that we do allow in moderation:

Amazon Fire Tablet with Kids Case

This has saved us during long stretches of travel and when this SAHM of 2 just needs a break from all that emotional intensity.  We’ve done the iPad route, but this is just so much easier and kid-friendly.  Plus, the subscription to shows and games is key.

Osmo Genius Kit for Fire Tablet (or iPad)

Designed as a way to enhance screen time with hands-on activities, this kit includes games for learning and drawing.  We got this for Bash to open at Christmas, so we haven’t yet had a chance to see it in action, but who doesn’t love Tangrams?

VTech KidiZoom Camera

Bash got this kids’ camera last year and it has been a big hit.  This is definitely a toy camera as the 2.0 megapixel quality isn’t super print-worthy and the viewfinder isn’t a true representation of the lens, altering any specific composition goals (we have a ton of limb chops!).  Maybe next year we’ll upgrade by giving Bash one of my old DSLRs, but for now, this kiddie cam can certainly take a beating.  Note: there are also a few pre-programmed games (think frogger-style, old-school games).  The games are fine (Bash got the hang of them really quickly), it just took us by surprise as we didn’t expect a camera to also include some games.

Imaginative / Dramatic / Open-ended Play

Playhouse

While Bash already has a teepee, we find playhouse are easy to set-up / store and help him act out his incredibly rich imagination.  Currently, Bash has been telling us that we need to take the 1 train to M5 bus to catch the rocketship to get to his house on the moon,.  So clearly, we need this rocketship!

Code Blue

Flu season is upon us, so we fully expect to be regulars at the doctor’s office.  To help ease any nerves and make the doctor’s office fun, Bash likes to bring his doctor’s kit and dress the part…paging Dr. Bash!

Playmobil Firehouse Set

We love Playmobil sets to help kids act out any situation.  Since Bash was a fireman for Halloween this year, we think he will love acting out his fire rescue scenarios with this toy fire station and accessories.  For locals, we’ve always found that Bank Street Books has a great selection of Playmobil sets.  But beware, these sets have a lot of small parts and pieces, easily consumable by errant vacuum or baby.

Magna-Tiles

Okay,

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It’s beginning to feel a lot like Winter!  While the season doesn’t officially kick off until December 21st, we’ve already celebrated our first snow and holiday decorations around the city are springing to life.  December always feels like a sprint with so many festive events going on in NYC.  Thus, I’m planning out every available weekend, saving some events for January when the crowds thin out, and hoping no one gets sick!

Our Winter Bucket List is basically an annual homage to Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, minus the Wet Bandits and booby traps.  There’s always a visit to the Plaza Hotel, a stroll in Central Park, a holiday performance, and a stop at a toy store.  Here’s what we’re planning to do this winter:

Tree Whiz

Ever wonder how NYC dwellers get their Christmas trees?  Well, just like your neighborhood bodega, Christmas tree vendors pop up every few blocks and are open 24/7.  One year, Nick hauled an 8 footer across the UWS and up our old 4th floor walkup.  Another year, we used Bash’s stroller to haul the tree 12 blocks as it was easier to carry him than the tree!

While we now get our main Christmas tree delivered through Bash’s school, we can’t resist heading out to a Christmas tree farm.  Last year, we spent a day in Rhinebeck tree-hopping and we plan to make it a tradition.  We started off with breakfast at Bread Alone and then made our way to Saltsman Tree Farm, a small family tree farm with complimentary roasted chestnuts and fireside cider.  I’m planning to pick up their gorgeous handmade table centerpieces and kissing balls.  For a very different experience, we also stopped at Battenfeld Christmas Tree Farm.  This one is more crowded but really gets you in the holiday spirit as there are lots of festivities including a Santa, bagpipers, and a wagon rides.

Back in the city, we love checking out all of the decorated trees.  Our favorites include:

  • Rockefeller Plaza: you just can’t miss this one as it’s quintessential NYC; head there early in the morning and also at night to see it all lit up but expect crowds all day long.
  • Bryant Park: check out the tree outside in the winter village and don’t forget to stop inside the NY Public Library’s Astor Hall.
  • American Museum of Natural History: for a unique tree with handmade origami ornaments inspired by one of their special exhibits.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art: stop by for the beautiful baroque display and stay for lunch at the Dining Room (now open to non-members).
  • The Lotte NY Palace Hotel: go early in the morning as Chuck Bass’s hotspot lures a selfie-loving crowd to the romantic courtyard; don’t be shy…stop inside the lobby to deliver your letter to Santa’s mailbox and take some photos on the grand staircase.
  • The Plaza Hotel: for a more white / gold palette, head to the Plaza’s lobby during the week or make a reservation for brunch at the Palm Court.  Heads up: last year, they closed the lobby for guests only on weekends as it was getting too crowded.
The Most Geshmak Matzo Balls

With Hanukkah coming early this year, I’m on a mission to find the best matzo ball soup.  (You probably would never guess, but I’m Jewish (I was adopted into a mixed Jewish and Catholic family) and we celebrate both holidays).  Maybe that’s also why I secretly prefer 5 Napkin Burger’s matzo ball soup to Zabar’s…I know, blasphemy.  I still have yet to try Russ & Daughters and Barney Greengrass.  Any other recommendations?

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

It’s been our tradition to take pictures with Santa at the Plaza Hotel and we can’t wait to see Ava’s reaction to her first Santa meet and greet!  While we always go early (as soon as they open), last year had the worst wait time so I hope they fixed their queuing strategy (this year it looks like you can make advanced reservations).  If you are still stuck in line, at least you can take parental shifts to browse Couture Kids or grab an emergency snack at the Food Hall.

Decked Out Halls

New York City puts on its finest as every building and street corner transforms into a display of holiday revelry.  This is the one time we actually enjoy hitting up touristy hotspots to see them glitzed out in holiday decor.  Our favorite sights with all the trimmings include:

  • Midtown East (from 47th to Central Park South/59th Street between 6th Ave and Madison): Radio City Music Hall (51st and 6th), Rockefeller Plaza (49th and 6th), office buildings along 6th Ave (i.e., jingle bell fountain), the red LOVE sculpture at 55th & 6th, and the candy cane office building decorations on 58th between 5th & 6th.
  • Department Store Windows: Bergdorfs, Barneys, Bloomies, and Saks; all the shops along 57th and 5th.
  • Midtown Hotel Lobbies: The Plaza Hotel, The Lotte Palace Hotel, The St. Regis, The Peninsula Hotel, and The Baccarat Hotel
  • Culture Institutions: New York Public Library’s festive lions, American Museum of Natural History’s festive dinosaurs, and Lincoln Center all lit up at night.
  • Park Avenue north of 54th: lit up trees lining the avenue
  • Malls: The Shops at Columbus Circle Holiday Under the Stars lights, Brookfield Place Luminaries
Holiday Shopping

We love giving unique gifts and always make a point to stop at some of our favorite local shops:

    • More & More Antiques (Amsterdam & 78th): I’ve been calling this the ornament store due to their fabulous displays of ornaments hanging from the ceiling and throughout the windows.  They have the best selection of old world Christmas decorations!  Do yourself a favor and skip the stroller (and possibly any grabby toddler hands) as the shop is small and there are lots of breakables.
    • Piccolini(Mott & Broome): We used to live next door to this shop when it was located on Mulberry and I’ve bought all my friends baby shower gifts from here.  They have the cutest selection of baby / kids’ NYC-themed clothes and coolest gifts
  • Makie (Thompson btwn. Prince & Spring): The most gorgeous and unique baby / kids’ clothes: simple with the most gorgeous fabrics.

More festive shopping can be found at the holiday markets that pop up all over the city.  We like to warm up with some hot apple cider and a brat while browsing the stalls at these markets:

  • Columbus Circle Holiday Market: November 28 – December 24 Mon to Sat 10 AM – 8 PM and Sun 10 AM – 7 PM.  I’m hoping to see the scarf lady and wooden ornaments again.
  • Bryant Park Winter Village: Holiday market hours: October 27 – January 2 Mon to Fri 11 AM – 8 PM and Sat / Sun 10 AM – 8 PM.  Make it a full day with holiday shopping, ice skating, a visit to the NYPL, and cap it off with a bite at the Bryant Park Grill & Cafe.
  • Union Square Holiday Market: November 15 – December 24 Mon to Fri 11 AM – 8 PM, Sat 10 AM – 8 PM, Sun 11 AM – 7 PM.  We like to go when there’s also the Greenmarket on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

For some gift ideas for your little ones, check our gift guides and favorite winter / holiday books organized by age in the Holiday Section.

‘Tis the Season

Get in the holiday spirit with a great show!  While pregnant with Bash, we saw the NYC Ballet’s The Nutcracker which I’m positive Bash was doing in utero arabesques throughout the performance.  While I think we have another couple of years before he can sit through this one (if you go, definitely splurge on front row seats), there are tons of kid-friendly live performances.

  • Kid on the Town has a great guide to all of the holiday shows in NYC
  • Symphony Space has family-friendly programming (not necessarily holiday-themed).  We wrote about their Just Kidding lineup here and watch out Instagram for a giveaway to an upcoming show!
  • We plan to do the Big Apple Circus again (through January 27th at Lincoln Center)
Train-spotting

We skip the Polar Express themed train rides in favor of these festive locomotives:

  • Holiday Nostalgia Ride aboard vintage subway cars and buses: We caught the vintage subway cars last year and it was the one time we were actually thrilled with the MTA!  Trains run Sundays (December 2nd, December 9th, December 16th, December 23rd, and December 30th) along the F or A/C/D lines depending on the station.  Check the schedule for more details.  Vintage buses will also be in operation weekdays December 3rd through 21st along the M42 route and near Union Square and Herald Square.  It’s a little difficult to time correctly if you don’t start at the beginning of the line, but with a little bit of patience and asking the conductors on the regular trains that come rolling through for approximate timing helps.
  • NY Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show (through January 21st).  We’ve taken Bash to this show every winter and he’s always enthralled by the trains and we are equally impressed by the NY landmarks made out of flora and fauna.  There are timed tickets for entry and the show does get crowded, especially on weekends in December.  Opt for a weekday if you can swing it.
Walking in a Winter Wonderland

A blanket of fresh snow in the city is magical.  For one hot city minute, the honking stops and the hustle and bustle is muffled by falling snowflakes.  We’ll eagerly spend the 30 minutes to don all the layers just to go for a walk in the park for fresh snow.  You can find us in Riverside Park, Central Park (the mall / promenade is beautiful in the snow), and Elizabeth Street Garden.  For all the layers, check out our Winter Gear Guide for Babies and Kids (infants, outerwearbase and mid layers, accessories, winter outfit ideas).

Hibernation Plan

Let’s be honest, sometimes I just want to curl up indoors.  Just short of hibernation, we plan to stock up on indoor activities because, let’s face it, day-old city snow gets pretty gross.

  • Movie Marathon: We always watch Love Actually, Elf, and Home Alone 1 & 2 during the holidays.  What are your favorite movies to get you in the spirit?
  • Activities and Crafts: I’m stocking up on arts & crafts supplies for dough ornaments, wreaths, felt Christmas tree and ornaments, pom pom pinecones, twig starts, and popsicle stick ornaments.  I’ve pinned a bunch of potential projects on our Pinterest Holiday Crafts board and can’t wait to share our projects.  In the meantime, here are a few of our favorite indoor activities from last winter.
  • Baking: Last year, Bash did a cooking class at Freshmade NYC and I’m hoping to keep him interested in the kitchen this winter.  Plus, I could use a little helper while churning out my usual cupcakes, sugar cookies, pies, and Mexican wedding cookies.
Snow Play and Shreddin’ 

I love winter sports!  When we’re not putting biscuits in the basket at the hockey rink, you can find us on our mission to find the best snow tubing hills.  I’m looking forward to trying Mt. Peter’s tubing which has a kids’ tubing hill for tots under 42″.  While we usually save the snowboarding for the Rockies, any recommendations for good mountains out East?

How does your family celebrate the season?  What are your favorite winter activities?

The post Our Family’s Winter NYC Bucket List appeared first on Bash & Co..

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Looking for a fun weekend activity for your family?  Symphony Space’s family-friendly series, Just Kidding, is a great way to introduce live performances to kids of all ages.  We were first introduced by Kid on the Town (my favorite site to find the coolest family happenings in NYC), attending the Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Player’s concert a few weeks ago.  This past week, we had the pleasure of being invited back to check out Moona Luna’s rocking bilingual, Latin-influenced tunes!

Moona Luna had the kids dancing in the aisles and the bilingual lyrics were perfect as Bash just started Spanish in preschool this year!  Ava even joined in on the action with some seat dancing and bouncing in the carrier.

The Just Kidding series is a great way to introduce kids to live performances.  Almost every weekend, the performance lineup has something for every interest: from musical concerts to puppet shows to dance!  Performances last about an hour and dancing in the aisles is perfectly acceptable to help keep those short attention spans in check (and burn off some of that toddler energy!).  Symphony Space has stroller parking in the lobby and booster seats readily available.  There’s plenty of space in both theaters and no worries if you need to get up to attend to a child.

We love that this is in our neighborhood, a short walk away, but also right off the 1/2/3 train at 96th Street.  The bonus: post-concert lunch at 5 Napkin Burger, Carmine’s, or (if you can get in) Jacob’s Pickles!  We can’t wait to head back soon and already have the Beats, Rhymes and Breaking dance extravaganza on our calendar (Bash is obsessed with breakdancing ever since he saw the street performers in San Francisco).

We are excited to partner with Symphony Space to giveaway a family pack of 4 tickets to their upcoming December 15th I Spy Butterfly show!  Follow @bashandco_ny on Instagram to watch for our giveaway!  We’ll be posting all the info you need to enter to win via Instagram.

FAQs / Tips:
  • Kids under 1 do not need a ticket
  • Stroller parking is in the lobby next to the box office
  • Tickets can be purchased online or at the box office via phone or in person
  • We arrived about 5 – 10 minutes before showtime to grab our tickets at will call and find seats.  The shows start on time but there aren’t extensive lines and it was easy to find our seats and get situated.
  • Volumes in both the larger Peter Jay Sharp Theatre and smaller Leonard Nimoy Thalia theater were good for kids.  Ava wore her headphones for part of the concerts just in case but there were plenty of infants enjoying the shows (at one point, I even saw a sleeping baby!).

Upcoming Shows:

Do you take your kids to live performances?  What are some of your favorite shows?

The post Kids’ Concerts at Symphony Space appeared first on Bash & Co..

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We’re roarin’ back into our Sunday Shelfies with Bash’s favorite scary (but not too scary) books just in time for Halloween!  While we have Little Blue Truck’s Halloween and The Gruffalo on repeat (see last year’s Halloween Sunday Shelfie), this year we’re adding Monster Trucks, Go Away Big Green Monster, The Dark, Tickle Monster, The Monster Who Lost His Mean, and Room on the Broom to the collection.  Can you tell…someone’s very excited for Halloween!

Monster Trucks

Monster Trucks is a cute story about a clever Little Blue Bus who outsmarts the big and scary monster trucks.  Bash loves the fun rhymes and action-packed story while I love that the perky Little Blue Bus who is seemingly a “meal on wheels” is a little lady with some tricks of her own!  We also like to practice her moves on our scooters and bikes and “lock ’em up good”!

Go Away Big Green Monster

Go Away Big Green Monster is celebrating its 25th anniversary, quite an oldie but goodie.  This Caldecott Award winner was recommended by Bash’s school librarian during their curriculum night and I immediately fell in love with it.  As an interactive book with colorful cutouts, the librarian uses it as a festive way to introduce sequencing concepts.  We also love that it empowers the kids to chase away the monster and overcome their fears.  Bonus: Bash came home with his own Big Green Monster art project (minus an eye that we think fell off on bus…and you thought the MTA couldn’t get scarier!).

The Dark

We are big Jon Klassen fans (of the I Want My Hat Back / We Found a Hat / This is Not My Hat series) so of course we had to pick up The Dark with clever text by Lemony Snicket.  While at its simplest, this is a spooky story about how a young boy stops being afraid of the dark.  Delving deeper, there are more sophisticated themes of symbiotic relationships, confronting fears head on, and feelings of loneliness and bravery that will make this book perfect for a variety of ages.

Tickle Monster

Get ready to get in on the action with your best Tickle Monster voice and matching mitts!  Tickle Monster is a fun, interactive book that will have younger kids rolling over in laughter.  The boxed set includes the book and special monster mitts, which makes for a cute gift for babies and toddlers alike as both Ava and Bash give their squeals of delightful approval.

The Monster Who Lost His Mean

With colorful illustrations, a fuzzy green monster, and a solid moral, The Monster Who Lost His Mean is a year-round favorite in our house.  As friendships are beginning to become very important to Bash at this preschool age, I like how this book promotes empathy, shows the personal, not so nice impact of teasing, and how the Onster turns a potentially sad situation into a happy one.

Room on the Broom

Another stellar book from our fave duo, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, there will always be room on our bookshelf for Room on the Broom.  This festive book reminds me of a cross between The Gruffalo and Little Blue Truck, reminding us of the power of good deeds, good friends, and a little bit of clever trickery!

Happy Halloween from this MOMster to the next MUMmy!

The post Sunday Shelfie – Monster Madness appeared first on Bash & Co..

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Better newborn (and parent) sleep with the push of a button!  Sound too good to be true?  That’s what the Snoo, a $1,160 high-tech baby bassinet from legendary baby sleep guru, Dr. Harvey Karp, promises.  We’ve been using the Snoo for the past 6 months with our second child, Baby Ava, which has fostered tons of questions from friends and family, curious to know if it really guarantees blissful sleep.  I’m excited to finally share my full opinion of the Snoo as it’s been my pet peeve that all of Google’s top “honest” reviews are from those “gifted” with the Snoo.  While I have no doubt the opinion expressed is their own, I do believe there’s some bias when you don’t have to pay out of your own pocket.  Also, many reviews are also written within the first 3 months, when newborns are generally good sleepers and haven’t hit their first major sleep regression.  I was concerned about creating a sleep dependency, thus I’ve waited to share this review until we went through its full lifecycle.

The Backstory: Why We Purchased the Snoo

One word: sleep!  In all honesty, the Snoo was an emergency panic buy.  Before Ava was born, I researched all the latest baby gadgets to see what (if anything) we might need to upgrade since pulling Bash’s old gear out of storage.  The Snoo had initially caught my eye, especially considering I was already a Happiest Baby on the Block (book and DVD) devotee.  However, we decided to first try having Ava sleep in her UPPABaby bassinet for the first few months just like we did with Bash.  But going on day 5 with increments of 2 – 3 hour sleep sessions, I became a desperate zombie.  While newborns are generally great sleepers, one night, it took about 45 minutes of dance-rocking her back to sleep (mind you, this is after nursing and an initial bedtime rocking routine).  I panicked that she might be one of those babies who needs motion to get to sleep.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, so without hesitation, [cue dramatic music…dun dun DUN….] we immediately purchased a Snoo.

The Basics: How We Use the Snoo

I’m assuming you have likely read a few reviews and already have a basic understanding of what the Snoo does.  Basically, it promises “Safer.Better.Sleep. At the touch of a button” through a high-tech and design-worthy bassinet that soothes via white noise and responsive rocking.  For more of the basic, check out the Snoo product page here and this NY Times article on Dr. Harvey Karp.  Here’s how we have used the Snoo:

0 – 3 months: After buying the Snoo in panic mode, I then became nervous that I’d create a sleep dependency on its motion (Snoo promises your baby won’t become addicted to it; this was just my anxiety kicking into high gear).  So I alternated between the UPPABaby and Snoo for naps.  At night time, I put Ava down in the Snoo, where the gently rocking would help soothe her to sleep.  When she would wake for night feeds, I would return her to the UPPAbaby bassinet since she pretty much passed out milk drunk.  Looking back, I realize I didn’t need to use the UPPAbaby at all, as I could’ve just put her down in the Snoo and left it off (yes, I just now realized this…thanks, mom-brain!).

Having the Snoo at this stage was nice, but I didn’t feel that it extended her sleep anymore than usual as newborns sleep pretty well.  For context, Ava was pretty consistently sleeping 3 – 4 hour stretches as a newborn and 5 hour stretches at night after Month 1.  We even took a break from the Snoo at Month 3 and had Ava sleep solely in her UppaBaby bassinet while we were on a camping trip and she slept just the same (though I assumed the physicality of rocking her before putting her down).  I will say that having the Snoo at this stage made me feel more comfortable putting her down drowsy but awake.

3 – 6 months: This is when I began to use the Snoo exclusively and really started to reap the benefits, so much that I started lovingly referring to her as “RoboMom” and we even took her on vacation with us this summer!  She was a lifesaver during Ava’s 3 – 4 month sleep regression and, while it didn’t reduce the number of wakeups, Ava’s regression period seemed much shorter (lasting 2 – 3 nights instead of 1 – 2 weeks with Bash).  At around 3 – 4 months, we also introduced the Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit as Ava “Houdinied” her arms out of the Snoo Sleepsack and would flop her legs up and down like a whale tail inevitably waking herself.  This is probably a major no-no in SnooWorld, but Merlin was a lifesaver with Bash and we needed arm-stifling reinforcement.  I wrapped the Snoo Sleepsack’s wings around Ava to prevent rolling.  Note: the new Snoo Sleepsacks were redesigned so that the Medium and Large sizes have arm holes that allow the baby to sleep with his / her arms outside the sack.  We had the original design, hence, our makeshift solution with the Merlin.

  • For her morning nap (about 1.5 hours after waking up for the day), RoboMom works her magic on the Intro Level when Ava’s still awake after nursing.  This nap usually lasts about 1.5 – 2 hours.
  • For her afternoon naps, Ava’s usually so tired having been up for about 3 – 4 hours that I don’t need to turn it on while putting her down.  Occasionally, she will wake crying at a sleep cycle change, in which case, I level up the Snoo to 3 and she’s back down in a few minutes.  This nap usually lasts about 1.5 – 2.5 hours.
  • At night, Ava is very tired and drowsy, again having been up for about 3 – 4 hours.  She’s been sleeping through the night now usually ~7:30 / 8 PM to 7 / 7:30 AM.  Sometimes, she will quietly moan / coo (not a loud cry).  If it’s a sleep cycle change (usually within 30 – 90 minutes of bedtime), I’ll let the Snoo handle it.  However, if she wakes in the middle of the night, I’ll nurse her since she’s exclusively breastfed and might just be hungry (and it’s just 6 minutes on the boob and everyone’s immediately back to sleep!).  This usually happens in clusters of 2-3 nights in a row, leading me to believe it’s a growth spurt as she returns to her regular full night of sleep.

Weaning at 6 months: So, the Snoo promises that babies don’t become addicted to it, but there’s no mention of parental dependency, hahah!  I was initially worried we were just creating a sleep dependency, but in reality, I was the one forming a major attachment to RoboMom!  We started weaning a few weeks ago and it was going well with no major issues; Ava slept just the same with the Snoo on “weaning mode” (where there’s no initial motion, just white noise and responsive rocking tailored to any cries).  We did have one setback when Ava caught a cold, resulting in one cheat week back in regular mode.  In the past week, we’ve been back to either weaning mode or I just don’t turn it on.  I figure we will continue like this until I stop procrastinating my crib-buying trip.

The Accessories:

  • Snoo Sleepsacks ($27.95) / Snoo Sleepea ($17.95): I loved the Snoo’s sleepsacks, which you can also buy separately (the Snoo sleepsack is designed specifically with wings that must be clipped to activate the Snoo motion vs. the Snoo Sleepea sacks are for regular cribs / bassinets without the wings).  Note: the Snoo bassinet purchase includes 3 sleepsacks (1 small, 1 medium, and 1 large).  While spares will definitely com in handy, we actually didn’t purchase any additional sacks and just used the next size when laundry overlapped with naps.  Even if you don’t buy the Snoo bassinet, the Snoo Sleepea sacks are hands-down the best swaddles as we went through all the muslin swaddles, the miracle blanket, and various wraps with velcro and buttons with Bash.
  • Snoo Fitted Sheet ($19.95): The Snoo comes with one fitted sheet, but you will need some spares.  While the Snoo brand is designed for a perfect fit, I found that the Kushies Organic Jersey Bassinet Fitted Sheets ($15.98) I had from Bash’s UPPABaby bassinet worked just as well.  I also use this American Baby Waterproof Sheet Saver ($7.33) (organic cotton and vinyl-free) in between the Snoo mattress and sheet to protect the Snoo mattress from any leaky diapers.
  • Snoo Leg Lifters ($18.50): We didn’t have these and Nick had to MacGyver up a temporary solution for a week when Ava caught croup.  While you can certainly DIY this, it’s actually pretty difficult to find 2 exactly sized, solid / stable “lifts” about 4 – 6 inches in height.  So, it might be worth having these on hand for a potential cold, a gassy baby, and definitely if you have a baby with reflux.
  • Snoo Shorty Legs ($64.95): Swap out Snoo’s legs for these shorties if you’d like to be perfectly eye level with your baby while in bed.  These legs lower the base of the Snoo, so perhaps it makes it easier to pick up baby while in bed (especially if recovering from a c-section).  Honestly, I never had any issues picking up Ava from the regular height Snoo and the sides are double mesh, so you can kind of see through it anyways.
Pros: RoboMom for the Win
  • Safe sleeper: Touted as the “safest baby bed”, its sides are breathable mesh and the clipped in sleepsacks keep baby sleeping on his / her back, giving this tired and anxious mom some peace of mind (especially helpful to first-time parents when you worry about every little thing).
  • RoboMom is an extra set of hands when you are dealing with multiple kids.  The Snoo helped me juggle a coordinated afternoon nap.  If Ava started crying, I could amp up the Snoo while still reading to Bash.
  • RoboMom eased the burden of sleep training.  Yes, there were many occasions when Ava cried trying to get to sleep or waking early from a sleep cycle.  The Snoo gave me peace of mind that she was still being comforted while I waited in the wings, allowing her to “self-soothe” a little longer than I normally would.
  • Extended sleep: While she may wake during a sleep cycle transition, a quick level up to 3 gives an extra boost that quickly calms her back down.
  • Built-in white noise: Customized white noise sounds to mimic the womb.  We were worried that the constant sound might be too loud but we tested it with a decibel meter (sidenote: I have no idea why we own a decibel meter?) and it measured 69.8dB.  We also reached out to Snoo’s customer support and confirmed that on the low setting the the white noise is 68-70dB, and at the higher setting, the sound increases to approximately 86dB.  To put this in perspective, a normal conversation is about 60dB and a baby’s own cry can reach or exceed 100dB.
  • Easy to set up and use: Super easy to set up out of the box and intuitive to use (i.e., press the button to start and press up / down arrows on the app if you prefer to micro-manage RoboMom like I do).
  • Beautiful design: The cream and wood tones are suitable with any decor and its soft, clean lines coordinate well in our master bedroom.  It even matches Larry, our cow hide rug!
  • Helpful customer service: There’s a host of online tutorials and baby development / sleep related content on Snoo’s website.  The blog has great advice from Dr. Karp but its chronological organization makes it difficult to navigate; just search for specific topics or keep scrolling through.  The FAQs are very helpful with simple videos for most steps.  If you can’t immediately find an answer, I’ve found they are very responsive via email.
Considerations:
  • Inflated expectations: While the Snoo delivers on its promises, please don’t expect a magical 12 hours of consistent sleep for the next 6 months.  On a few occasions, I’ve been overly dependent on RoboMom.  Nick likes to tell everyone the story of how I was texting him, frustrated that Ava wasn’t calming down and I told him I was “doing everything” by “trying all the settings…Level 1, Level 2, Level 3…and nothing was working”.  He of course responded by telling me to pick her up and calm her down…the old fashioned way (d’oh).  Parents must climb the steep learning curve of baby sleep 101:
    • You will need to determine when baby is tired and the accompanying optimal drowsy times.
    • Your baby will cry and if you let RoboMom work, you still have to listen to the crying, which can be excruciating at times.
    • Your baby will likely go through sleep regressions, where you’ll have to readjust.
  • First world tech problems: Just some minor annoyances / suggestions for improvement:
    • The app is slow to load and often disconnects (usually right when I need it the most, doh!).  When your baby’s crying, every second feels like an eternity.  Watching the little wheel spin when all you want to do is micromanage RoboMom is annoying.
    • For an expensive, “high-tech” baby device, I would appreciate a built-in camera / monitor.  Sometimes, it’s a pain to switch back and forth from my Nest monitor app to the Snoo app.  Plus, we have the Snoo at the foot of our bed, where there’s no wall or table to mount a baby monitor.  Nick DIY’d a clamp so we could attach one of our Nest Cams to the Snoo.  It would be nice if this feature came with the Snoo, especially considering many people will room-in with their baby for the first few months and would likely install the baby monitor in the nursery, not their master bedroom.
    • Personally, I didn’t find the Snoo Log feature very helpful.  It automatically records “sleep” time based on the Snoo settings, but if you don’t turn on the Snoo, it appears as awake time.  The output is only as useful as the data inputted and there’s no way to manually override the inputs, so I continued using my Sprout app to track sleep and feedings.  (Then again, I’m a sucker for data and exported Bash’s Sprout sleep data to Excel for “analysis” of sleep trends).
  • Cleaning: While the mattress is water resistant, I wasn’t going to take any chances, so I added this American Baby Waterproof Sheet Saver in between the mattress and sheet.  The Snoo mesh is a little difficult to clean.  It isn’t removable for safety reasons, limiting it to spot cleaning only.
  • Expensive:  This is a high ticket baby item, especially taking into consideration it is only used for 6 months.  You can purchase the Snoo on Amazon which usually coordinates with the Snoo website’s promotions (usually around 20% off).  While Amazon makes it easy to add the Snoo to your registry, purchasing from Snoo’s website allows you to time shipping with your due date.  If cost is an issue, be sure to look for a used Snoo as the secondhand market for these bassinets is likely to be heating up.
The Verdict:

I think there are really 2 separate questions to be answered:

  1. Does it work?  While every baby is different, I’ve been a believer in Dr. Karp’s 4th Trimester and soothing techniques.  The 5 S’s work and the Snoo basically automates the 5 S’s, applying them based on baby’s escalating cries.
  2. Is it worth the cost?  The Snoo is expensive, especially considering it’s only used for about 6 months.  Overall, I have absolutely no buyer’s remorse and would I buy it again, yes.  While every baby is going to be a different kind of sleeper, and Ava seems to be a pretty normal / easy baby (at least by comparison to Bash who continues to be not the greatest sleeper), the Snoo gave me an extra set of hands leading to precious minutes that add up to more sleep, more sanity, and more time spent productively.
My Favorite Sleep Resources

If you want to give it a go first without the Snoo, I hear you.  While this time around, it was a luxury having RoboMom, the Snoo wasn’t invented when I had Bash and we all survived (though I did go to a parental support group when Bash was 4 months) when the light at the end of the tunnel was looking pretty dim).  A few of my favorite sleep resources (with or without the Snoo) include:

Have you used the Snoo?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Snoo, baby sleep advice, and / or questions about our Snoo experience in the comments.

The post An Honest Snoo Review (not sponsored, not gifted) appeared first on Bash & Co..

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As we usher in the crisp, cooler air, we can’t wait to celebrate Fall.  I love autumn in New York as the city comes roaring back to life.  Everyone rushes back from vacation, the garbage waiting to be picked up from the sidewalks is slightly less stinky, and purple, orange and yellow mums line the stoops of brownstones.

Now that Bash is back in school (this year 5 days a week…le sigh!) and we’re getting into a routine, I’m getting organized by planning our family’s fall excursions.  We are looking forward to leaf peeping, hayrides, apple cider doughnuts, and pumpkin everything!  You guessed it…no rocket science ideas here, but just a few of our favorite places on repeat and some fall events around New York that we are hoping to check out.

Harvest

Apple picking is such a fun fall tradition as evidenced by your Instagram feed and hordes at the local farms.  Who can resist spiced apple cider (or mulled wine), apple cider doughnuts, fall colors for perfect family portraits, and (of course) enjoying the bounty of a good harvest.  As I’m sure every orchard / farm gets crowded, we try to arrive before 10 to beat the crowds.  Pro tip: don’t forget your wagon if you plan to stock up (see here for our DIY utility wagon).  While there are so many farms just outside of the city, some of our favorites include:

Applewood Orchards:

At just over an hour from the UWS in Warwick County, we’ve been going to Applewood Orchards for the past two years.  You only pay for the apples you pick (they always have a huge variety) and Bash loves the puppet show and live band.  Plus, I’ve gotten great butternut squash at their farm store.  We usually start the morning here and then stop by Wright Family Farm (see below) for some pumpkins, a corn maze, and more farm games.  2018 update: we went here last weekend and arrived later than usual (around 11:30) and it was packed.  By the time we left just a couple hours later, there was even a line of cars waiting to enter the parking lot.  Moral of the story: arrive early to beat the crowds.

Ochs Orchard

If you’re looking to pick some apples and other veggies, Ochs Orchard is also in Warwick County and offers a little more variety along with a small petting zoo.  Bonus: Warwick County is about 20 minutes from Woodbury Commons, just in case your little one needs an afternoon nap while you get your outlet shopping on!

Fishkill Farms

Fishkill Farms is known for its certified organic farming and also offers a wider variety of pick-your-own fruits and veggies.  We visited late last summer for some tasty apples and peaches.  Note that “attractions” are limited to hayrides, farm animals (not a petting zoo), and concessions.

Lawerence Farms Orchard

After our Father’s Day strawberry picking adventure to Lawerence Farms Orchards, we’re looking forward to checking out their fall apple picking lineup, especially since they have honeycrisps on the menu!  Lots of pick-your-own apples and other fruits and veggies on the lineup, along with a cute mini village and chickens.  Bonus, it’s just across the river from the cute town of Beacon, NY, where you can explore the quaint shops, eat local, and check out Dia: Beacon (here’s our recap on a full day’s itinerary).

Harbes Family Farm

Harbes Family Farm has an empire of pick-your-own and family farm attractions out on eastern Long Island.  They operate 3 distinct locations: Orchard, Barnyard Adventure Mattituck, Jamesport Farm, each with their own attractions and separate general admission pricing.  Tickets are on the pricier side, but there are also a ton of fun attractions for kids.  We spent a day at the Barnyard Adventure in Mattituck and all had a blast.  The dirt trikes and jumperoo were serious highlights for Bash (and Nick!).

More Options

This Red Tricycle article lists additional options in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

If you can’t get out of the city, don’t forget about the NYC Greenmarkets, where you can pick up farm-fresh goods.

Leaf Peeping

North Easterners take their leaf peeping seriously and many of the resorts book up a full year in advance for fall weekends.  While we’re on the lookout for last minute weekend rentals, we may happily settle on several daytrips to take in the fall foliage.  Our go-tos are Rhinebeck, Cold Spring, Kingston, Beacon, and Bear Mountain in the Hudson River Valley.  Perhaps this year, we’ll head back to Bucks County, PA and drive the famous Delaware River Scenic Byway.

After school, we’ll hunt for leaves in Central Park, where the leaves usually turn a bit later (something about the warmer city air).  Here’s a handy fall foliage map for Central Park and our favorite spots include the Bow Bridge and the Mall.  For an alternate point of view, look down on the park’s golden tones from the Lobby Lounge at Mandarin Oriental or the Cantor Rooftop Garden Bar at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (open through October weather dependent).

Here’s a handy leaf tracker map for New York to help plan your peeping at the height of the season.

Camping

Bash had such a great time on our family camping trip and has been clamoring for more.  Fall is the perfect camping season with fewer bugs, nature scavenger hunts, and cozying up by the campfire.  So, we may head back to Tolland State Forest or scout out a new location.

Fall Festivals

It seems like every weekend hosts a new “fall festival”, where the streets are closed for neighborhood celebrations and school fundraisers open to the public.  Some upcoming highlights that sound interesting include:

  • Saturdays and Sundays starting October 6 through October 28 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM: Bear Mountain Oktoberfest @ Harriman State Park.  What could be more “fall” than brats and brews amongst the fall colors.  Plus, hiking and a carousel for the little ones.
  • Sunday, October 7 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM: NY 25th Annual Bus Festival @ Brooklyn Bridge Park.  Climbing aboard vintage city buses…sign Bash up!  Just remember, “don’t let the pigeon drive the bus”!
  • Friday, October 12 – Sunday, October 14: Open House NYC (250+ locations across NYC).  Ever wanted to just peek into a consulate or sneak up a closed-off staircase in a museum?  Here’s your chance as various locations open up their doors with all access tours and demonstrations.
  • Saturday, October 13 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM: West Side Montessori Fall Festival @ 92nd Street (West End & Riverside)
  • Saturday, October 20 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM: Kids Rock Fall Fest @ Rockefeller Plaza
  • Saturday, October 20 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM: PS 166 Fall Fest @ 89th Street (Columbus & Amsterdam)
  • Saturday, October 20 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM: Manhattan Country School’s Farm Festival @ 85th Street (Columbus & Amsterdam)
  • Saturday, October 20 3:00 PM: Laurie Berkner Band’s Monster Boogie Halloween Concert @ The Concert Hall at New York Society for Ethical Culture.  If you can’t get enough of “We Are the Dinosaurs”, don’t miss Laurie’s Halloween-themed concert.  We took Bash to her holiday concert and there was lots of dancing in the aisles!
  • Saturday, October 20 through Sunday, January 27: Big Apple Circus @ Lincoln Center
  • Sunday, October 21 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM: Morningside Montessori Fall Festival @ 100th Street (Broadway & West End)
  • Saturday, October 27 through January 2: Holiday Markets at Union Square, Columbus Circle, Grand Central Station, and Bryant Park

Here’s a helpful calendar for more events and Kid on the Town always has a great lineup.

Halloween Spirit

Bash has already been asking about going trick-or-treating!  Bash has dressed as Sebastian the lobster from The Little Mermaid, an In-N-Out server (see pictures here), and Elvis last year (see here for his DIY costume).  We’re still thinking about ideas for this year (maybe something along the lines of famous duos), but here are some of my favorite last-minute costume ideas.  In the meantime, we’re going to start getting into the spirit at these Halloween-themed events:

Boo at the Zoo

Animals plus Halloween-themed activities…we’ll be there @ Bronx Zoo!  Weekends through October 28th plus Monday, October 6th.

New York Botanical Garden Pumpkin Garden and Giant Pumpkin Weekend

You just have to see these giant gourds in person!  Spooky Pumpkin Garden now through Wednesday, October 31st 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM.  Giant Pumpkin Weekend October 20 – 21st 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM for activities; giant pumpkins on display through October 31st.

Sleepy Hollow

What could “scream” Halloween (hahha, mom-joke!) more than a visit to Sleepy Hollow?  Lots of haunted and themed events to make you lose your head or have you laugh until you’re coffin!

We’d like to combine a Sleepy Hollow day trip with an early viewing of the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, which must be good if every weekend in October is already sold out!  I guess we’ll still be posting pumpkin pictures in November (runs through November 24).

Pumpkin Patch

Bash has been talking non-stop about going “pumpkin rolling”.  We’ll just have to go direct to the pumpkin patch so he can better explain the logistics (apparently, from what I understand, I’m supposed to get on top of the pumpkin and then roll down the hill with it; oy, we may need the giant pumpkins from the NYBG).

  • Wright Family Farm: A hayride to a pumpkin patch plus lots of fun farm games.  Bash’s favorites: dirt trikes, cow “train”, and corn pit.
  • Pumpkin Point @ Governor’s Island: October 20 – 28th 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM.  What do you get when you drop a pumpkin?  Squash.
Halloween Celebration at the American Museum of Natural History

This will be the third year we’ve done this trick or treating event at the AMNH.  Costumed characters roam the halls along with performances, themed activity stations, and candy booths.  Saturday, October 27th 2:00 – 6:00 PM.  Arrive early as this event gets packed.  But it’s so fun to see all the kids dressed up in costume!

Halloween Pumpkin Flotilla

We tried going to the Pumpkin Flotilla last year, but the rain kept us away.  Hoping for clear skies so we can set our pumpkin sailing across the Harlem Meer.  Sunday, October 28th 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM @ Charles A. Dana Discovery Center in Central Park.  BYOP (bring your own pumpkin!)

Indoor Activities

Fall also means our playground days may be numbered.  So, I’m planning ahead for indoor afternoons with a host of fun fall-themed activities (see our Pinterest Fall Activity Board for more).

  • Post apple-picking: applesauce for Ava, apple pie for Nick, and apple stamping art for Bash.
  • Our pumpkin volcano experiment last year was a huge hit.
  • During a leaf peeping trip, I’m going to have Bash collect leaves and sort them by color.  Then at home, we can use them for leaf rubbing activities and learning about why / how leaves change colors.
  • While hiking, an impromptu scavenger hunt will keep Bash occupied and we can use the collection later in a sensory bin or for sorting / scooping activities, learning which objects float or sink, and experimenting with pinecones.
Ice Skating

While it’s been a few years since I’ve laced up my skates, I can’t wait to hit the rink and teach Bash how to ice skate and play hockey.  So far, during our video strategy sessions, he’s been fascinated by the fact that “they are booming (hitting) each other!”, so I’m hoping he also enjoys the finer points of hockey.  Stick and puck, here we come!

What are your favorite fall traditions and events?

The post Our Family’s Fall in New York Bucket List appeared first on Bash & Co..

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