Director Jewels: August 2013

Friday, August 30, 2013

Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe {Book Review}

Disclosure: I received a sample copy of this book to review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson is a book that has been sitting on my product review shelf for a long time. Way too long. I get behind on blog projects constantly more often than I would like, but this one is bad. I think I've had this book since May. And that's just unacceptable in the blogging world!

And the really sad thing is this - it's not because I didn't like the book, or didn't read the book, or just plain forgot about it. It's kind of because I didn't want to face how close to home this book hit where I am in life right now.

Being a mommy is an incredible blessing and also the most difficult thing I have ever done. It is so much harder than I imagined. Some days I just feel like crying. It's very easy to fall down a slippery slope and feel like you are drowning in the poopy diapers, cracker crumbs, and pieces of banana that you find stuck to the bottom of your feet. My tendency when I have a bad day is to take it out on my sweet family, and I hate that so much. I need patience and I need wisdom - and I need more sleep than I am going to get anytime in the next five years, so I also need to learn to expect difficulty and have a better attitude about it.

Undoubtedly, when entering motherhood, you're going to encounter some changed expectations. It's an absolute fact that I no longer want thirteen children. Most days, I don't think there is enough of me to go around between two kids! I have a good circle of support - our family is close (my mom is here almost every day), and I have friends in the same situation as me. But there are still times when I feel like I'm failing and I can't go on. And this lovely little book? It made me realize that even in the midst of the crazy monotony that is my daily life, I am not alone. Most of the feelings of inadequacy I have are normal when you are an adult staying in a house all day with two little people who communicate in tears, screams, or laughter.

Most of my reading sessions look like this photo. I don't have down time to just sit with a book by myself. I don't really feel that I have a lot of time to read, but I made time for this book, and it is a decision I am glad that I made.

Written by two women at very different stages of motherhood - Sarah Mae is "in the trenches" with little ones at home, while Sally's children are grown - this book is both an encouragement for the present moments of exhaustion and dismay and a ray of hope that these hard days do not last forever. The topics covered are wide, but all needed by a sensitive mama's heart.

There is a section about the go-it-alone culture of mamas in today's world that really hit home for me. Even though I have family and friends nearby, it is not the same as living in a culture where generations live together and all help care for the youngest members of the clan. Going to play group or a library storytime is not the same as being constantly surrounded with support. This chapter talks about the necessity of community and having trusted people who can share your heart in your circle of friends. The first time I read the suggestion to find a mentor for myself - someone older and wiser who has been through what I am going through now - I scoffed. But the more I think about it, it's an amazing idea.

I am an overachiever - and always have been one. It drives me crazy when I don't have time to accomplish anything on my to-do list. Yet I continually add more to my list, even when I am struggling to keep up with the basic necessities of life. This book brought up several reminders that I am in a season of life where I can't do it all. I'm trying to keep that in mind.

Each chapter features words from Sarah Mae and from Sally, along with a practical application section at the end with verses to read and something for mama to do to make positive changes in her life. Overall, this book is an incredible resource for moms who are in the little years of child-raising - when they feel alone and afraid and so exhausted that they can't breathe. When my little ones are past this stage, I will pass my book onto a younger mom who will need it more than me. It is a huge blessing and, even though it is convicting at times, is just what I needed at this stage in life.

You can find more about the book on the web or purchase on Amazon.

Thanks to BookSneeze for my review sample of this book. I received no compensation for posting a review and all views expressed are my own.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

What My Toddler Eats

What to feed a toddler for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack. Things my 2 year old eats.

I've learned a lot since I became a stay-at-home mom. One thing that's near the top of the list is that it's really easy to wake up one morning and think to am I going to come up with ways to occupy another entire day? It's hard enough thinking of ways to entertain the munchkins, but sometimes the monotony of simple things like what to feed my toddler for breakfast is almost enough to throw you over the edge.

What to feed a toddler for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack. Things my 2 year old eats.

I try to keep a variety of healthy meal and snack options available for Lincoln. Until recently, Addie was content to just gnaw on a teether, but now she is demanding puffs or pieces of food every time Lincoln eats. I'm still trying to get into a rhythm of feeding both kids "real meals" at the same time.

What to feed a toddler for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack. Things my 2 year old eats.

Sometimes it seems like the only thing Lincoln eats is cheese, so I wanted to document a little bit of proof that he does generally at least taste a good variety of foods!

What to Feed a Toddler for Breakfast:

What to feed a toddler for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack. Things my 2 year old eats.

Pancakes, blueberries, and frozen apple juice stars (made in a silicone ice cube tray).

What to feed a toddler for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack. Things my 2 year old eats.

Cheerios with milk. Or, artistic interpretation of a map.

What to feed a toddler for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack. Things my 2 year old eats.

Organic waffle, sliced banana, GoGosqueeZ AppleMango sauce.

What to Feed a Toddler for Lunch: 

What to feed a toddler for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack. Things my 2 year old eats.

Spaghetti with marinara (or as we call it, "red noni" - macaroni), cottage cheese, blueberries.

What to feed a toddler for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack. Things my 2 year old eats.

Annie's Mac & Cheese, GoGosqueeZ Applesauce, string cheese.

What to feed a toddler for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack. Things my 2 year old eats.

Cantaloupe, cottage cheese, sliced banana. This was a really picky day. He didn't want anything.

What to Feed a Toddler for Dinner:

We typically serve Lincoln whatever we are eating for dinner, along with a side item or two that we know he will eat. I know that it is important for kids to learn to eat "normal" foods - but I also don't want to send my child to bed starving because he refused to try anything on his plate. When he is five? Maybe that will be reasonable, since he will understand that he needs to eat what is placed before him. But for now, I try to find the middle ground.

What to feed a toddler for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack. Things my 2 year old eats.

Pasta with homemade Alfredo sauce (also known as "white noni"), string cheese, cantaloupe, GoGosqueeZ Applesauce.

What to feed a toddler for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack. Things my 2 year old eats.

Grilled chicken, French fries, cantaloupe from the Farmer's Market, GoGosqueeZ Applesauce. Yes, in case you haven't noticed, we should very likely buy stock in applesauce.

What to feed a toddler for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack. Things my 2 year old eats.

French toast, scrambled eggs, blueberries.

Looking back on this post, it seems that the only fruits we serve are blueberries and cantaloupe. Quite honestly, that's not true - we've just had these particular fruits on hand the last few weeks. We also have a lot of apples, pears, peaches, strawberries, raspberries, grapes, and watermelon. Noticeably absent from these photos? Vegetables. I know. We are a work in progress about that over here. Lincoln generally won't touch them - no matter what - so I try to hide them in muffins or pasta sauce or something like that. If you have more clever ideas for getting toddlers to eat veggies, please throw them my way!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Baby Beginner's Bible Board Book Set {Review + Giveaway}

Disclosure: I received sample copies of these books to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Our kids don't really have a choice when it comes to reading. I mean, sure, they'll be able to indicate their preferences - but we will always have a supply of books for them to enjoy. Two librarian parents=kids who have to read. Lincoln is working on learning the alphabet (right now, most letters are "B's") and hopefully within the next year or two, we'll be able to learn basic reading skills. For now - we just read to the kids a lot.

I'm so happy to share this set of board books with you all. We have a wide assortment of Bible story books, but most of them are geared toward slightly older children, with paper pages and soft covers. That means they can't be left on the floor with our little destructive munchkins - and I'm especially paranoid since we bought a few library books this summer. This new collection from Zonderkidz that is perfect for my very young readers and I hope that more titles in this series will be released!

The four books featured are Creation, Noah's Ark, Jonah and the Big Fish, and Daniel and the Lions. Each is just 12 pages long, with the first ten pages featuring one illustration and one word. The concept of each story has been made very basic for babies and toddlers!

Jonah and the Big Fish

Daniel and the Lions

Noah's Ark


Each book is beautifully illustrated with colorful pictures that kids will love. Lincoln's favorite thing right now is pointing out all the different animals in Creation and Noah's Ark.

The last two pages of each book have smaller pictures with a more thorough version of the story. My kids haven't let me read these all the way through yet, but I definitely appreciate that they are there.

Addie has become an avid "reader" and is constantly reaching for books. These are perfect, since she is unlikely to destroy them! They are sturdy enough for her chubby little hands to hold. Since all of the key elements of the stories are displayed in the one-word picture descriptions, it's easy to use each page as a starting point for explaining the story to the kids. Depending on how interested they are, they might get a full description of the story - or just the one word. Either way, they are becoming familiar with these stories.

Both Lincoln and Addie are thoroughly enjoying these books and we look forward to future board book releases from Zonderkidz!

You can follow along with Zonderkidz on Facebook and Twitter. Each of these sweet books retails for $4.99. It's not too early to think about stocking stuffers!


One Director Jewels reader will win a set of 4 Zonderkidz Board Books.  This giveaway will end on September 12 at 11:59pm CST.  This giveaway is open to US readers only.

To enter the giveaway, follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter form below (you may need Javascript enabled to see the form and it may take a moment to load)!  Once you complete the first entry, the other options will open up so that you can complete them as well.  All of the "extra entries" are optional - you can do just one, or as many as you want!  Winners will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you to Zonderkidz for providing my review sample and the giveaway prize!  I received no other compensation and all views expressed are my own.  For more information, you can read my Giveaway Policy and my Disclosure Policy.

Wordless Wednesday: Haircut Time



The photos are blurry and/or overexposed because he wouldn't sit still. Seems to be typical life with a 2-year-old - sigh. Thanks for the new look Auntie Kayte!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Visiting the City Market {Summer Bucket List}

Kansas City - City Market - farm fresh produce flowers shop local farmer's market sign

Sometimes in life, you realize that you've been missing out on something pretty great. That was the case with me this weekend, when we visited the City Market in downtown Kansas City. It ended up on our summer bucket list because I have wanted to go for just somehow never happened.

The Market is a great piece of local history - it was established in 1857! It is open year-round and every day of the week - but on Saturdays and Sundays, you can expect to find a bustling atmosphere with dozens of local farmers and other vendors offering their meat, produce, flowers, honey, and more for sale. Since we're striving to eat more natural foods, I was super excited at the selection of produce!

Kansas City - City Market - farm fresh produce flowers shop local farmer's market

It was our first visit, so we weren't really prepared to do any major shopping. The kids behaved pretty well, but Andrew thinks it would be a more enjoyable experience if we left the little ones with a grandparent and hit the market on our own. Nevertheless, we wandered around for awhile and I picked out some local peaches, broccoli, zucchini, cantaloupe, and a cherry pie! Our weekend dessert situation was way better than normal -we have a thing about needing dessert while watching every superhero movie ever filmed.

Kansas City - City Market - farm fresh produce flowers shop local farmer's market

I'm not super proud of these photos, but maybe you'll forgive me since I was holding a baby in one arm and trying to fix the manual setting on my camera with the on the other. I need to find the time to take another photography class, because I think I've forgotten everything I learned in the last class I took. These don't even begin to justify the array of gorgeous fruits and veggies we browsed.

Kansas City - City Market - farm fresh produce flowers shop local farmer's market

Lincoln didn't want to get in the car when we were done, but he was bribed with a mini loaf of home-baked banana bread. The child was literally covered in crumbs by the time we reached our next destination, but he declared it "nummy" so all is well!

We ate all the baked goods pretty much immediately, gave a bouquet of fresh flowers to a dear friend, and put some fresh broccoli in our alfredo sauce last night. The kids have been enjoying the peaches. I can't wait to go back!

Not sure this awesome hubby of mine feels quite the same way, but he's such a nice guy, I'm guessing he might take me again anyway. Right, babe? :)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Nuby Wacky Teething Ring {Review}

Disclosure: Nuby sent us the Wacky Teething Ring to review.  All opinions expressed below are my own.

Nuby Wacky Teething Ring Review Mommy Blogger

Little Miss Addie has six teeth and I am pretty sure she is working on at least one more at the moment. If you have ever cared for a teething baby, you know what life is like around here right now: literally everything goes in this child's mouth! Especially now that she is crawling, I'm having a tough time keeping little pieces of food and lint out of her mouth. I do my best to keep lots of fun toys in her path so that she will be less likely to pick up the random crumbs she finds on the floor! She's still a big fan of her Bug-a-Loop Teether, but we have a new favorite in the house: the Nuby Wacky Teething Ring!

Nuby Wacky Teething Ring Review Mommy Blogger

This particular teething ring is aimed at ages 3 months and up, but at 9 months old, Addie still loves it! It has a unique combination of raised, offset surfaces and textures to feel - and is the perfect size for chubby little hands to hold. She especially enjoys the crinkly fabric pieces - she's intrigued by the sound it makes when she touches it or chew on it.

Nuby Wacky Teething Ring Review Mommy Blogger

We've kept our Nuby Tickle Toes Dog in the car to entertain Addie on car trips for several months, and I think this Wacky Teething Ring might be another good option for traveling. It fits easily in a diaper bag pocket, so it's a great choice for on-the-go babies. Plus, since it's from Nuby, I know that it is BPA-free and totally safe for her to gnaw on. That's a relief!

Nuby Wacky Teething Ring Review Mommy Blogger

The Nuby Wacky Teething Ring is a great deal at just $3.99 and can be found at several online and local retailers, including Amazon,, Baby Depot at Burlington, Bealls, buybuyBaby, and Walmart.

Nuby Wacky Teething Ring Review Mommy Blogger

Make sure you follow along with Nuby on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram to keep up with all the latest products and promotions!

I am writing this post as part of the NUBY Mommy Blogger Program.  I did not receive compensation for this post, although as part of the program I may receive items to sample or review.  All opinions are my own and are 100% honest.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Baby Girl Fashion Round Up: Fall 2013

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. Thanks for supporting my blog and my family!

I kind of thought I would be one of those moms who only had boys. When I learned that we were having a girl, my heart rejoiced more than just a little bit. I would be lying if I said that I wasn't freaking out about headbands and ruffles and tiny purple shoes while I was simultaneously dreaming about the mother-daughter bond we would someday have. And now that she is here? My little lady has so many clothes. Especially pajamas.

Baby girl clothes are incredible. If I had unlimited funds, Addie would probably have a new outfit every day of her life. Okay, that's crazy. No kid needs that many clothes. But here are a few things that have caught my eye as I've been window-shopping online this week!

Baby Girl Fall Fashion Round Up Fall 2013 Infant Toddler Gymboree Children's Place Tea Collection Gap Old Navy H&M HM Shirts Jeggings Leggings Pants Shoes
Yellow Bicycle // White Balloon Bouquet // Navy Owls // Purple Polka Dot
Jeggings // Cherry Blossom Peasant // Navy Mary Janes // Bootcut Pants //
Blue Flowers & Dots // White Bow Leggings // Purple Button Boots

Baby Girl Fall Fashion Round Up Fall 2013 Infant Toddler Gymboree Children's Place Tea Collection Gap Old Navy H&M HM Dresses Owls Leggings Sweater Dress
Green Sweater Dress // Brown & Pink // Purple Stripe // Navy Floral & Dots //
Pink Peasant // Multi-Color Diamonds // Owl Ruffle Leggings // Owl Sweater Dress

Don't you love it all?! So much cute.

It's entirely possible that after I compiled all of these favorites, I visited our local Target, where I found an entire cart full several more adorable things that had to come home with me. You can judge for yourself. Is there any way Adelaide could go without these pajamas?

Toddler Girls 4-piece Princess in Training PJs

And this! This puppy! And the bow on the little girl! And the corduroy shorts and the black and white striped tights! I die.

The cutest outfit in my daughter's wardrobe

There's only one problem with all these cute I want to create matching hair accessories for each outfit!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

And On That Farm There Were Some Cows

Warning: this is a photo-heavy post. But you get to see me dressed like a cow, so it's okay right?

I'm picky about my fast food. In fact, I almost universally reject eating anywhere that has a drive-through. In spite of this, there is one place that has remained a favorite - Chick-fil-A. Give me some waffle fries and a chicken sandwich and I will be the happiest girl in the world. I ate a lot of char-grilled chicken when I was dairy-free, but I am still not tired of it.

Last month, there was a national celebration of all things Chick-fil-A. It's called Cow Appreciation Day. And you get free food if you're willing to shamelessly dress your family as cows. Obviously I thought this was a great idea.

I made a last minute trip to Hobby Lobby for supplies (how is it that even with an entire room dedicated to crafts, I still don't ever have everything I need for a project?), and spent the entire day making some cow attire for all of us to wear. Free dinner=yes.

I know, the cute is just too much to handle.

I really didn't do anything difficult. The ears are made out of felt and hot-glued to hats for the kids; headbands for hubby and myself. I cut spots from felt and hot-glued them onto basic white t-shirts. I added some ribbons to Addie's hat because - um - adorable. That's it!

My little cow brought a truck. Naturally.

I even got the hubby to agree to wear a somewhat-less-spotted cow shirt for the free food cause. He did not want to wear ears. I can't imagine why not. :)

This cute little calf was scared silly when an employee mooed at us. It was kind of comical.

Lincoln wasn't interested in anything else once he saw that juice box (sugar rush, yay). But we got lots of smiles and I found it to be an exciting family adventure. Plus - now I have ready-made costumes for next year...for Andrew and I. The kids will undoubtedly grow and need another size. Maybe I'll get my act together and make those costumes the day before Cow Appreciation Day 2014.

Have you ever worn a costume in public?
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