Director Jewels

Thursday, May 21, 2015

SEA LIFE Kansas City: The Octonauts Zone

Disclosure: I received passes to visit SEA LIFE Kansas City. No other compensation was received and all views expressed are my own. 

The Octonauts Zone at SEA LIFE Kansas City

We're crazy about the Octonauts, and we're pretty crazy about SEA LIFE Kansas City as well. Ever since our first trip there for Lincoln's third birthday, it's been one of my favorite Kansas City destinations to go with the kids. When I heard that SEA LIFE would be opening a brand-new exhibit called The Octonauts Zone this spring, there was no doubt about it - we had to see it.

Lincoln and Addie were so excited and wanted to wear their Octonauts costumes for the big event. Those costumes have gotten so much use, since we used them for Halloween and Lincoln's Octonauts birthday party this year!

Octonauts Costumes, Peso Costume, Captain Barnacles Costume

We got to SEA LIFE bright and early the morning the exhibit opened. I thought the kids would be thrilled to participate in the Octonauts parade, but they were actually a little bit intimidated by Captain Barnacles, Kwazii, and Peso in real life (similar to the time they met them last summer at SEA LIFE Kansas City). They watched the parade from afar, and waved as everyone walked by.

The Octonauts Zone at SEA LIFE Kansas City

The Octonauts Zone at SEA LIFE Kansas City

This was as close as Lincoln would get to any of the characters - but he was so excited to hear the Octonauts theme playing as they all marched up to cut the ribbon in the grand opening ceremony!

Peso, The Octonauts Zone at SEA LIFE Kansas City

Once we went inside, the kids wanted to rush straight on to see The Octonauts Zone. We skipped past all the other exhibits for the moment and headed straight there.

The Octonauts Zone at SEA LIFE Kansas City

The kids were thrilled to find all of their favorite characters decorating the walls and on the tv screens throughout the exhibit. By far, the biggest hit were all of the ways to interact with the Octonauts! Lincoln must have pushed the Octo-Alert button a hundred times while we were there.

Apologies for the photo overload, but they were having a blast and I wanted to capture all of it!

The Octonauts Zone at SEA LIFE Kansas City

The Octonauts Zone at SEA LIFE Kansas City

The Octonauts Zone at SEA LIFE Kansas City

The very lifelike Gup A and Gup B models, complete with Barnacles and Kwazii inside were really cool. The photos don't pick up the effect as well as I wish they could - basically, their faces are animated and illuminated onto their bodies. So it appears that they are interactive even without being fully moving characters. The kids were fascinated.

The Octonauts Zone at SEA LIFE Kansas City

The Octonauts Zone at SEA LIFE Kansas City
Lincoln and the Octo-Alert!

Octonauts Costumes, The Octonauts Zone at SEA LIFE Kansas City

The interactive digital map and Peso's medic bag were really popular, too. They loved finding out details about sea creatures and playing games!

The Octonauts Zone at SEA LIFE Kansas City

Lincoln was a big fan of the creature tank that was inside Kwazii's treasure chest!

The Octonauts Zone at SEA LIFE Kansas City

After we had our fill of The Octonauts Zone, we took the time to explore the rest of the aquarium, too - and as usual, had a grand time. I know we'll be back to see the Octonauts again. If you're an Octonauts fan, don't miss the chance to see this great exhibit right here in Kansas City!

Disclosure: I received passes to visit SEA LIFE Kansas City. No other compensation was received and all views expressed are my own. For more information, you can read my Disclosure Policy.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

How to Make Your Own Easy Cheap DIY Thor Hammer

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #AvengersUnite #CollectiveBias

Easy Cheap DIY Thor Hammer from a Baby Wipes Box | Tutorial at directorjewels.com

It's a big weekend at the movies: MARVEL'S The Avengers: Age of Ultron hits theaters on Friday, May 1! I've always been a big superhero fan, so you can bet I will see this new film sooner rather than later.

Easy Cheap DIY Thor Hammer from a Baby Wipes Box | Tutorial at directorjewels.com

Lincoln and Addie have not seen any MARVEL'S: The Avengers movies yet, but that hasn't stopped them from falling in love with the characters. Somehow, Lincoln automatically knew that he should start shouting "SMASH!" when he put on the giant Hulk hands we picked up this week at Walmart, and Addie likes to proudly go around saying "I'M Captain 'Merica."

Easy Cheap DIY Thor Hammer from a Baby Wipes Box | Tutorial at directorjewels.com

More often than not, they're trying to wail on each other while wearing their costumes, but we're working on learning how the Avengers actually work as a team and take care of each other - very much like a family!

Easy Cheap DIY Thor Hammer from a Baby Wipes Box | Tutorial at directorjewels.com

When you're shopping for Avengers products at Walmart, make sure you download the new Avengers Super Heroes Assemble App! You can turn your phone into a portal to exclusive MARVEL'S The Avengers: Age of Ultron content. Keep up to date with the latest movie and behind-the-scenes action. When you scan Avengers displays at Walmart and Walmart.com, you can become your favorite Avenger, explore a Hulkbuster training facility in a 360 degree interactive space and to bring MARVEL'S Avengers: Age of Ultron characters to life with augmented reality! It's really cool! Find it on the Apple Store or Google Play.

Avengers at Walmart. Easy Cheap DIY Thor Hammer from a Baby Wipes Box | Tutorial at directorjewels.com

With a Captain America shield and Hulk hands in our costume collection, we were pretty set for our adventures - but we wanted to add at least one more character to our dress-up box. Thor seemed the most logical choice, because we can teach the kids to speak with an ancient accent and that will be hilarious. The project I landed upon was making a DIY Mjölnir, or, Thor's hammer.

Easy Cheap DIY Thor Hammer from a Baby Wipes Box | Tutorial at directorjewels.com

I had most of the supplies already in my house, and chances are, you do, too.

DIY Thor Hammer
Supplies Needed
-Empty Rectangle Baby Wipes Box
-Aluminum Foil
-Round Wooden Dowel
-Wooden Candle Cup (optional for the base of the hammer)
-Hot Glue Gun & Glue
-Scissors
-Sharpie
-Brown Ribbon or Leather Trim (for strap)
-Silver Trim (for handle)

Easy Cheap DIY Thor Hammer from a Baby Wipes Box | Tutorial at directorjewels.com

1. Cut off wipes lid flap.

Easy Cheap DIY Thor Hammer from a Baby Wipes Box | Tutorial at directorjewels.com

2. Attach wooden dowel. There is no science behind this, folks. I pretty much attacked it with Duck tape and then hot glued it inside the box.

Easy Cheap DIY Thor Hammer from a Baby Wipes Box | Tutorial at directorjewels.com
Hot gluing the dowel to the box.

3. Attach Lid to Box. I actually didn't glue it together or anything. I closed and snapped the box and it worked fine. But if you wanted to, you could glue it so it holds better.

Easy Cheap DIY Thor Hammer from a Baby Wipes Box | Tutorial at directorjewels.com

4. Cover Box in Aluminum Foil. I wrapped it like a gift and cut out a hole where the dowel came out of the box.

Easy Cheap DIY Thor Hammer from a Baby Wipes Box | Tutorial at directorjewels.com

Easy Cheap DIY Thor Hammer from a Baby Wipes Box | Tutorial at directorjewels.com

Easy Cheap DIY Thor Hammer from a Baby Wipes Box | Tutorial at directorjewels.com

5. Use Hot Glue to tack down edges.

Easy Cheap DIY Thor Hammer from a Baby Wipes Box | Tutorial at directorjewels.com

6. Cut pieces of aluminum foil to cover any holes. Attach with hot glue. I just went crazy with hot glue and pushed down all the little corners and crevices.

Easy Cheap DIY Thor Hammer from a Baby Wipes Box | Tutorial at directorjewels.com

Easy Cheap DIY Thor Hammer from a Baby Wipes Box | Tutorial at directorjewels.com

7. Add Silver Ribbon Trim to Handle.

8. Glue Ribbon inside Candle Cup, to make strap. Then Glue Dowel into Candle Cup.

Easy Cheap DIY Thor Hammer from a Baby Wipes Box | Tutorial at directorjewels.com

9. Use Sharpie to make designs around edges. I put Andrew in charge of this.


Easy Cheap DIY Thor Hammer from a Baby Wipes Box | Tutorial at directorjewels.com

That's it! It's perhaps not the strongest toy and I keep cautioning the kids to not beat on things with it, because the foil will probably rip. But it makes a perfect addition to a Halloween costume or a kid's dress up box!

Easy Cheap DIY Thor Hammer from a Baby Wipes Box | Tutorial at directorjewels.com

I love my little Avengers!

Easy Cheap DIY Thor Hammer from a Baby Wipes Box | Tutorial at directorjewels.com

Around here, there are many epic battles raging (usually over who gets to wear the Hulk hammer or wield Mjölnir, or who gets the last snack) as we wait for the release of MARVEL'S The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Will you see the movie this weekend?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Fiddler on the Roof at Spinning Tree Theatre {Kansas City Theatre Review}

Disclosure: I received press passes to attend this production at Spinning Tree Theatre. I received no other compensation and all views expressed are my own.

I have a long history with Fiddler. It was one of the first musicals that I saw onstage, when my piano teacher took me and a friend to a high school production an hour away. It was a movie I watched over and over again. And, it was my first community theatre production (ten years ago - oy). All that aside - I have to admit that the current production of Fiddler on the Roof, a Spinning Tree Theatre production playing here in Kansas City through May 10, moved me the most of all my knowledge and experience with the little Russian village of Anatevka.


Gary Neal Johnson as Tevye with Jonathan Schriock
as The Fiddler in "If I Were a Rich Man"
Photo Credit: Brian Paulette/Spinning Tree Theatre

The intimate Just Off Broadway Theatre provides an ideal backdrop for this stripped-down production of the musical that won three Tony Awards the year it opened on Broadway. Fiddler originally opened in 1964 and has been a consistent favorite in the past fifty years. The show has no major set pieces and is played on a thrust stage, with the actors bringing in props and set as needed. While I loved the stage dressing, at first glance I feared that the lack of more formal set pieces would be a distraction. I was quickly proved wrong, as more set would have certainly been a distraction from the raw emotion that was at the forefront of the entire production.

Fiddler on the Roof, based on the book Tevye and His Daughters by Sholem Aleichem, tells the story of Tevye, a Jewish milkman who lives in Russia with his wife and five daughters in 1905. The piece's opening number, Tradition, introduces us to the culture of Tevye and his family and allows us to see how the traditions of the villagers of Anatevka are upheld, discarded, and persecuted throughout the story.

"Tradition" featuring the FIDDLER ON THE ROOF company.
Photo Credit: Brian Paulette/Spinning Tree Theatre

The production is seamlessly directed and choreographed by Michael Grayman and Andy Parkhurst. The show's flow is impressive. The space is small, but the professional cast members use multiple doors for entry and exit, weave through the choreography without a glitch, and make the whole process appear simple. A Fiddler moment that is always a treat is the bottle dance during the wedding scene near the end of Act I - the three performers in this piece placed wine bottles on their heads and expertly balanced them through a complicated routine. They nearly brought the house down on opening night - it was wonderful to watch!

"Sabbath Prayer" featuring the FIDDLER ON THE ROOF Company.
Photo Credit: Brian Paulette/Spinning Tree Theatre

The cast is led well by Gary Neal Johnson as Tevye, whose not-so-subtle sarcasm brings a laugh to those in attendance even in serious moments. Tevye's daughters, played by Kami Rodgers (Tzeitel), Sara Belhouari (Hodel), Megan Herrera (Chava), Callie Fabac (Shprintze), and Molly Moore (Bielke) are a delightful group of young women who shine both individually and together as a group of sisters. Each of the three older daughters is given the chance for a connection with the audience - Tzeitel, through her hopeful wish that Tevye might let her marry her love; Hodel, when bidding Tevye goodbye at the train station; and Chava, in her truly heart-breaking desperation for Tevye's approval of her life-altering choice. I actually lost count of how many times I had tears in my eyes (or, streaming down my face in serious ugly-cry style) during the production, but Chava's plea was the most emotionally charged moment of the two hours we spent in Anatevka and I will not soon forget that scene.

The production as a whole has an excellent cast. Motel (Bob Wearing) had a delightful boyish charm and Golde (Tevye's wife, played by Julie Shaw) gave a lovely portrayal of a woman who learns much about herself as her own daughters find husbands and homes of their own.

Standout songs from the production include "If I Were A Rich Man," "Matchmaker, Matchmaker," "Sunrise, Sunset", and "Do You Love Me?"

3 musicians (James Westbrook on clarinet,
Jonathan Schriock as The Fiddler, Joe Levens on guitar)

Photo Credit: Brian Paulette/Spinning Tree Theatre

Perhaps the most impressive element of the show was the Klezmer quartet, who doubled as band members and citizens of Anatevka. A good portion of the show's melodies were memorized by the talented musicians and played out as part of the story, with the musicians making their way through the onstage action as needed. A special shout-out goes to the fiddler himself (portrayed by Jonathan Lloyd Schriock), who made it seem like playing the intense melodies were as simple as walking down the street. The musicians include Angie Benson (accordian/keyboard), Jonathan Lloyd Schriock (violin), Joe Levens (guitar/mandolin), and James Westbrook (clarinet).

Tevye and Fiddler (Gary Neal Johnson and Jonathan Schriock) 
Photo Credit: Brian Paulette/Spinning Tree Theatre

Spinning Tree will present West Side Story, The Turn of the Screw, 13, and Amadeus for their 2015-2016 season. If you're in Kansas City, you don't want to miss this stellar rendition of a Broadway classic. Fiddler on the Roof plays now through May 10 - a Spinning Tree Theatre production at the Just Off Broadway Theatre. Tickets are available online and prices start at $27.50.

Disclosure: I received press passes to attend this production at Spinning Tree Theatre. I received no other compensation and all views expressed are my own.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Family Movie Night with Paddington + Teddy Bear Hide & Seek Activity

Thanks to MomSelect for sponsoring this post. All opinions expressed are my own.


There's not much better than a comforting teddy bear, and Paddington Bear is about as adorable as they come. This adventurous little bear came to life in movie theatres last year, and is set to debut this week on DVD and Blu-ray. We didn't catch the film's theatrical release, but we were excited to have the chance to participate in a Paddington Party in the comfort of our own home this spring!


Lincoln and Addie both were excited to watch a movie about the little bear, and they quickly learned that his name was "Paddin'ton."


I'll take snuggles with my kiddos anytime, and a movie party means some guaranteed hugs. We actually didn't make it through the whole movie in one sitting (Lincoln was not a fan of the taxidermist part of the plot - we had to skip through a few "scary" parts), but the antics of Paddington kept them giggling every time we turned it on!


We spread out the movie watching fun by playing Hide-and-Seek with our very own "Paddington" teddy bear. Even without a red hat, they accepted that this bear was Paddington and were really excited when Daddy hid him around the house for a grand bear hunt!


Lincoln left no toy un-turned in the search for the bear, as you can see in the photo above.


The game was a big success and they now want to play hide and seek with all their toys!


Snag your own copy of Paddington (you can download a digital version from Amazon) and have a family movie night of your own! And make sure you're following along with Paddington on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube for all the latest updates and activities!

Thanks to MomSelect for sponsoring this post. All opinions expressed are my own. For more information, you can read my Disclosure Policy.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

16/52



"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015."

Lincoln - one of his first selfies.
Addie - upgrade to "big guh-wurl bed" this week. She's pretty proud.

Linking up at Practising Simplicity.  

http://www.practisingsimplicity.com/
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