Mamatoga Family Choice Awards 2015: Best Spot for a Mom Meet-Up or Playdate

playdateWe’ve got a bunch of great spots around town to meet up with other moms for an impromptu play date both outside and inside. Some are well known and others are more under the radar, but this is a great poll to pay attention to if you are looking for some great local spots to get out of the house with your little one. This was a new category and last year The Children’s Museum at Saratoga took the top spot, show your love for YOUR fave by clicking here to vote!

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Mamatoga Family Chowderfest Map 2015 here!

mamatogachowderfestmap2015

The 17th Annual Chowderfest in Saratoga Springs is taking place Saturday, January 31, 2015 from 11am to 4pm and once again I have put together a handy little map with all of the spots to hit up when doing Chowderfest with the kiddos! Click the map above to view it larger, and keep reading for my top tips on how to make the most out of this great (and delicious) community event!

First, stop by the bank and bring a bunch of $1 bills. Each chowder is a dollar to sample, so come prepared with cash in hand.

You can pick up a ballot at any participating location, and they will give you a sticker at each spot you sample. Complete your ballot form and pick up your official Chowderfest Long-sleeve T-shirt for $10. Valid ballots need 5 stickers from participating businesses and can be turned in to the Saratoga Springs Visitor Center (11am-4pm), the Saratoga Springs City Center (11am-4pm) or the Saratoga Downtowner Motel (from 2-4pm). Winners will be announced inside the Saratoga Springs City Center at 6:30pm!

Some lines can be looooong, especially at those places that have been top chowder contenders in the past, but you can easily find some not so long lines, including places that have room to pop inside to warm up like Comfort Kitchen. Treat it like a Scavenger Hunt for kids and have them collect their “Chowder Stickers” along the way. Some good warm up spots are Northshire Bookstore and the Children’s Museum. In general though the lines move pretty fast, these chowder guys are pros at dishing it out.

If you are choosing between a baby carrier and a stroller, I vote baby carrier ALL THE WAY! The sidewalks get pretty crowded and it can be tricky navigating a stroller through the crowds. Broadway is NOT blocked off like it is during Victorian Streetwalk, so everyone is out on the sidewalks, and that includes lines for some Broadway restaurants.

Not ALL participants are on Broadway! There are a bunch of other restaurants taking part in off Broadway locations, click here for the complete list.

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My Mom Life: Samantha M.

fallWhat do you find tricky about your current set-up/schedule? What would you change if you could?

My work schedule is the tricky part. My work hours start at 9, 8:30 or 7:30 in the morning, meaning three different wake up times, three different leave times. Every morning I’m panicking if the right alarm went off and how long do I have before we have to be out the door! I would love my schedule to be filled with all early days, so we could have quality time together every night.

What do you like best about your current set-up/schedule?

I’m in love with the weekends! I’m making a habit of shopping late on Friday after picking up my little from daycare so we can stay in at least one or both days over the weekend. It may seems odd to some, but we run like crazy all week, and I appreciate day(s) of being at home just playing and enjoying my time with her.

If you had an extra hour in the day you would spend it?

Play with Matty, bust out the paints and get messy, bake cookies together, read a book.

Matty christmasWhat advice would you give to other moms about how to balance work and life?

It’s about letting go of the guilt! Instead of rushing to daycare to get my daughter just to rush home to start dinner and nighttime things, I drive to daycare, play with Matty before leaving and then play with her when we first get home. The more we grow together, the more clear it is that dinner will get cooked, the house will get picked up… sometime and we have plenty of clothes to skip laundry.

Do you ever wonder how other women manage the juggle?

Do you think people are open about it?  I constantly wonder how other women do it. Are the Moms who make it look easy doing it at a lower standard than me or are they not being upfront about their true parenting woes? During a recent conversation with a girlfriend, she said she loved seeing all of the beautiful pictures I’ve posted on social media lately, but she wanted to know what my almost two year old was doing that was driving me crazy. Needless to say, that conversation went on a bit longer!

What are some of your top must have products for the parenting part of your life?

My Boba carrier, a baby doll and a canteen! We’re simple and light in our travels.

IMG_20140710_161732984What is one thing you’ve realized/learned about motherhood that no one ever told you before you had kids?

Emotions! Those ups and downs that I experienced during pregnancy carry far into motherhood, perhaps they’ll never leave me. Almost two years later, I can simply look at my little lady and instantly I’m a joyful, tearful, hot mess!

matty 2Do you find it hard or difficult at all to stay connected to friends/people in your life now that you have kids? Do you find there is any gap or gulf in between you and the friends/people in your life that don’t have kids? Any tips on how to stay connected to those people?

Absolutely! Rewind five years, my first job I was 21 and all of my coworkers were in their mid-twenties with young children. I didn’t really fit into their family plans outside of work but went anyways, or I was left feeling guilty that I proposed a “kid-free” event. Now, at twenty-six, at a new job and the proud Momma of my little lady, I’m the twenty-something Mom. Actually the only one my age with a young child.  I can only laugh and think “how did this happen?!”  It’s hard to have friends that are not parents, I’m either talking too much about Mom things or running into scheduling conflicts. I can appreciate the positive though; I have some really great, experienced Mommas for support and a good laugh!

Is there anything you find yourself doing as a parent that you swore you would never do before you had kids?
Sort of. Once I found out I was pregnant I researched, a lot. I developed strong feelings about breastfeeding, co-sleeping and baby wearing. Proudly, I have not wavered from them. However, I never saw myself letting go of scheduling or routines, but we just don’t have them. Not for bedtime, not for dinner, and so on. I’m really on-demand with my daughter, I’m trying to build her up and help her to become a confident, capable woman.

Many thanks to Samantha for taking part in the My Mom Life series, to read more in the series click right here. If you’d like to take part please email me at Jenny (at) Mamatoga dot com. xoxo

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Mamatoga Family Choice Awards 2015: BEST HAIR SALON

hairLoyalty to a hair stylist can last for years, decades even, and finding a good hair stylist is almost as important as finding the right mate. This is another poll that always gets a ton of votes, so vote for YOUR favorite hair salon today to show your stylist some love! Remember, if you don’t see your salon listed please enter it into the “other” category and your vote will be counted! Click here to vote now!

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One Hotel Room, Four Kids, No Mercy

famWe are spending this week at the Lake House at High Peaks Resort in Lake Placid, all six of us in one room, skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, swimming, sleeping in (HAHAHAHAHAHA omg no). But even with the slight lack of sleep we are maximizing our time up north and getting the most out of this winter vacay. Follow me on Instagram here for travel pics and tips and to check out the gorgeous retro vibe here at the Lake House.

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Mamatoga Family Choice Awards 2015: BEST BURGER

burgerBest Burger is always a VERY close race, and there are some newcomers to try for the top spot this year, click here to cast your vote for your local favorite! And remember, if you don’t see your favorite enter it into the “other” category and your vote will be counted!

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Mini Style: Our Favorite Ski & Snowboarding Gear

skistyleFinn started snowboarding at four, and it seems like forever ago that we would bring him over to SPAC to do little runs down their sledding hill. Sean would put him in a tube and pull him back up the hill over and over again. Finn was so little back then we had to buy “girl” snowboard bindings for him because they didn’t make them any smaller, so he had pink bindings, which he didn’t seem to mind, and it worked out well when we handed his first snowboard down to Levy, who uses it now. In the four years since we have found out what gear works best, and today I’m going to give you our little snow bunnies’ style rundown.

We just started Jack skiing (turns 3 at the end of January) this year, and decided it would be best to start him out skiing. We got some used skis from Cuddlebugs and used boots from Alpine Sport Shop (the Nordica Nordy ones pictured above are actually the same exact ones we got and they work great, he has no problems walking in them). They have them listed on Amazon for about $80 but we got ours for nearly half that at Alpine, and they had a few more used pairs to choose from in Jack’s size actually but Jack liked these best, and these are actually the smallest size they have.

snowboarding166668_491491703714_6774959_n164731_491488813714_1513288_nThe Giro helmets are awesome, they fit well, keep their ears warm, and come in great colors, you can pick those up locally at Alpine as well, and it helps to try a few on for size, sometimes you can find that your child is in between sizes and can then use them for more than one season (always a bonus).

The Kids K2 Mini Turbo Snowboarding boots have been great, Finn started out with those at age 4, handed his pair down to Lev and we picked up another pair for him and they are going strong. If Jack does eventually move onto snowboarding we will probably just wind up passing them on down the line, they have held up so well even with all the wear and tear from the kids.

We love the Burton Minishred one piece, Jack can’t fit into Finn’s original handmedown one yet so he is still in the tried and true LL Bean toddler bib snow pants (also a Finn handmedown, those things are durable). But the one piece is easy to get in and out of and keeps them super warm while also being easy to move in and is also super durable.

indexRight now Burton has the sweetest floral print for their girls stuff, everything from gloves down to the base layer, it is the cutest. The kids socks are always the Euro Socks, they are the softest, comfiest socks, they just love them and they are so well made. We just picked up three new pairs at Alpine along with the essential toddler snow item, mitten clips. Smith goggles and a neck warmer round out our list of must haves (got that orange pair for Jack at Alpine).
163419_484907118714_7587122_nlodgephoto 1pictured above, Finn at 4 snowboarding and Jack at 3 wearing his big brothers handmedowns

This week we are heading up north to Lake Placid, where Sean went to school and where we will be checking out the brand new Lake House at High Peaks Resort. We stayed at High Peaks Resort last year when we celebrated Levy’s birthday and we can’t wait to check out their new place at the Lake House. Find me on Instagram to follow along on our attempts to get the three oldest kids on the mountain at once, skiing at the Olympic oval, and celebrating Jack’s big 3. xoxo

10415589_788369164550504_7273639571661873037_nour lovely accommodations for the week

 

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Mamatoga Family Choice Awards 2015: BEST KID FRIENDLY RESTAURANT

kidfriendlyTaking the kids out to eat in an actual restaurant, not always the easiest thing. BUT, thanks to those restaurants that are extra kid-friendly, it is doable and can actually be downright enjoyable (I swear). This poll always gets a ton of votes because once you find a family friendly spot that works you swear by it and tell your friends about it. Now it’s time to show that place some love by voting for it! Circus Cafe took home the top spot in the first year of these awards, and the Iron Roost was voted the best in the second year. Circus Cafe came back and won again the third year, will they win it again? Click here to vote for your favorite Kid Friendly Restaurant, and remember, if you don’t see your favorite listed enter it into the “other” spot and your vote will be counted!

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My Mom Life: Jessica B.

IMG_7076I am a mom to a little girl who is 3 years old and a little boy who is 4 months old.  They are amazing, crazy little creatures.  I work full time as a department head in a large health care facility.  I have been married for almost 5 years.

What is your typical schedule like during the week?

A typical day for me starts around 6:45am, although by that time I have already nursed my son once or twice.  In the morning-I get ready and encourage my daughter to move along and get herself dressed and ready for the day.  In the morning-I have just enough time to get up, get ready and get to work on time.  I am NOT a morning person-so I don’t have any extra time in the mornings.  My husband brings the kids to the babysitter and/or preschool every morning. I have to be at work by 8:30 and get out at 4:00.  I pick up the kids from the babysitter by 4:30 and maybe run a quick errand before.  I spend most of the evening playing with the kids, any household cleanup I can manage and we start getting ready for bed around 7:30.  Bedtime routine usually includes reading books and watching Sprout.  I get in bed with my daughter before she falls asleep and she’s asleep by 9.  I always fall asleep with her, wake up and get to my own bed eventually.

What do you find tricky about your current set-up/schedule? What would you change if you could?

I think my current schedule is difficult because my husband works double shifts 5 days a week.  It is hard being the only parent for the majority of the week.

FullSizeRenderIMG_7380What do you like best about your current set-up/schedule?

Although I am the director of my department in a large health care facility-I do not work long hours and get to spend a lot of time with my children. I am grateful for that.  I also have a great babysitter who is flexible and loves my kids.

Do you have time for yourself? What do you do during that time?

No. The only daily time that I could claim for myself is after my kids fall asleep.  Usually, I am so tired-I fall asleep soon after they do! I can usually do grocery shopping or run errands by myself, but that really isn’t time for me…

If you had an extra hour in the day you would spend it…?

I would love to spend it reading, talking to my husband or organizing some problem areas in my house.  I would actually spend it sleeping.

musthavesDo you ever wonder how other women manage the juggle? Do you think people are open about it?

I do wonder.   I can’t be the only mom falling asleep in her daughter’s bed-while trying to get her to fall asleep.  I don’t think people are honest about the struggle.

When I returned to work after having my son, I was constantly asked if I was sad to leave him.  My response was, “no”.  I love my children and if I were independently wealthy-I would not work.  I love my job too and I loved coming back to it.

What are some of your top must have products for the parenting part of your life? What are some non-mom must haves?

My mommy must haves are my Medela Breast Pump, American Baby-Baby Nursing iPhone App, a few Wubbanubs and Lansinoh Lanolin.

My non-mommy must haves are Avon Silicone Glove Hand Lotion, Carmex Lip Balm, and my mix of Alex & Ani and Razimus bracelets.

What is one thing you’ve realized/learned about motherhood that no one ever told you before you had kids?

Motherhood can bring you the most love and gratitude that you have ever experienced or it can bring you desperation and loneliness.  I will never forget how it feels when my child says something thoughtful or unique and shows what a special little person she is becoming.  When motherhood has challenged you like nothing else before and all you want to do is cry-the only person that can get you through it is yourself.

IMG_7468Do you find it hard or difficult at all to stay connected to friends/people in your life now that you have kids? Do you find there is any gap or gulf in between you and the friends/people in your life that don’t have kids? Any tips on how to stay connected to those people?

I think after having my second child it has gotten more difficult to stay connected with friends that do not have kids, but on the flipside, I think it strengthens the bond with friends that have children.

A good friend was at my house recently and witnessed our bed time routine, including me falling asleep while nursing my son on the couch (not my best moment).  The next day, I apologized for falling asleep and she responded, “I feel bad for you”.  It made me cry.  She didn’t mean it to make me feel the way it did, but I wonder if my life seemed that dire to her.  I love my children and my crazy bedtime routine.  There will be a time when my daughter will not want me to lie down with her while she falls asleep-so I am going to do it every time that she will let me.

Is there anything you find yourself doing as a parent that you swore you would never do before you had kids?

I cant really think of anything actually…

What advice would you give to other moms about how to balance work and life?

My advice would be…don’t take other peoples advice. Do what you think is best.

To read more from the My Mom Life Series, click here. Many thanks to Jessica for taking part.

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Mamatoga Family Choice Awards 2015: BEST PIZZA PLACE

bestpizzaWe do pizza once a week (sometimes more, let’s be honest) and there are a bunch of great options to choose from here in our area. Caputo’s won Best Pizza the first year of the Mamatoga Family Choice Awards, and Harvest and Hearth took the top spot the second year, with Caputo’s clinching it again last year. Will one of these two top winners win again? Click here to vote for your favorite, and remember, if you don’t see your pick on the list enter it into the “other” category and your vote will be counted!

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