Director Jewels: March 2013

Sunday, March 31, 2013

All Because of a Mouse: Disney on Ice presents Rockin' Ever After {Review}

rapunzel, ariel, merida, belle, mickey mouse, minnie, goofy, donald duck, disney on ice, rockin ever after, sprint center, skating horse

If you haven't noticed, I'm a little bit of a Disney fanatic.  I love watching Disney movies.  I can't wait until the kids are old enough to visit Disney World and I kind of wish that I lived in Cinderella's Castle.  We just threw a Mickey Mouse Party for Lincoln's second birthday.  And when my husband proposed?  It was while I was dressed in a Belle costume on a castle set built specifically just for me at our community theatre. I love Disney!

So when Feld Entertainment offered to provide tickets for my family to check out the touring production of Disney on Ice presents Rockin' Ever After at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, it was a no-brainer.  We were thrilled to go!

rapunzel, ariel, merida, belle, mickey mouse, minnie, goofy, donald duck, disney on ice, rockin ever after, sprint center, skating horse
Minnie ears from our 2010 Disney trip!

This was Lincoln's first time attending a live performance of any kind, so I wasn't really sure how he would react.  He was pretty intrigued by the downtown KC atmosphere before we even got inside the Sprint Center - so many cars, trucks, and taxis whisked past us!  We arrived and found our seats just as the opening number began, and the show was mesmerizing from the first moment.

rapunzel, ariel, merida, belle, mickey mouse, minnie, goofy, donald duck, disney on ice, rockin ever after, sprint center, skating horse
Daddy & Lincoln

I didn't get a photo of Lincoln's face when he first saw Mickey Mouse, but oh my goodness - I wish I had!  He was so very excited and sat calmly with either a huge grin or a happy little smirk on his face.  Something has to be pretty incredible to get my busy two-year-old to sit still! 

rapunzel, ariel, merida, belle, mickey mouse, minnie, goofy, donald duck, disney on ice, rockin ever after, sprint center, skating horse
Goofy, Minnie, Mickey, and Donald.

The show kicked off with a rocking dance number from the ensemble cast.  Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy were introduced and played the part of our hosts throughout the evening.  I thought they were integrated well throughout the show; we had many opportunities to wave as they skated past.  Every time Mickey skated off the ice, though, Lincoln pointed and wailed "Mowwwwse!" 

While we were at the show, we had the chance to meet up with some of my local blogging friends - Stephanie from Moments That Take My Breath Away and Rebecca from A Beautiful Ruckus.  You may recognize Lincoln's friend Grace - she's Stephanie's daughter.  Rebecca's quadruplets are friends of Lincoln's as well, and we are excited to see them again soon, once flu season ends!  They each shared more photos from this Disney show this week, so hop on over and take a look!

rapunzel, ariel, merida, belle, mickey mouse, minnie, goofy, donald duck, disney on ice, rockin ever after, sprint center, skating horse, kansas city mom blogger, beautiful ruckus, moments that take my breath away
KC Mom Bloggers - Stephanie, Rebecca, and me.

rapunzel, ariel, merida, belle, mickey mouse, minnie, goofy, donald duck, disney on ice, rockin ever after, sprint center, skating horse
Lincoln and Grace seemed a little confused as to why
we were all hanging out in the lobby!

Rockin' Ever After features four Disney stories - the classics The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, and newer favorites Tangled and Brave.  Two shows were highlighted on either side of the intermission. 

The Little Mermaid was the first story brought to the ice.  It began with an impressive on-ice boat (captained by Prince Eric) and subsequent shipwreck, then took the story at a quick pace to the end.  There were appearances by most of our favorite characters - Flounder, Sebastian, Ursula, Flotsam and Jetsam, Ariel's six sisters, and a whole host of under-sea creatures.  Under the Sea was a magical number featuring glowing fish (aided by black lights) and fun dancing.  However, by far the most impressive moment of the entire show was Ariel's aerial act, used when she turned from mermaid to human.  It was visually stunning at the very least - and a glance around the venue showed hundreds of little girls simply enamored as Ariel flew around above them.  Simply magical!

The only thing I really didn't love about this section was the use of Madonna's Vogue when Ariel's sisters first appeared and were introduced.  While the beat was catchy and the song fit well enough for the desired effect, I felt that it took away from the flow of the show and just didn't feel very "Disney."  While the little girls in the audience are unlikely to notice (or especially remember) this odd addition, it feels a bit undermining to add this to a family-friendly show, even when used in an innocent way.  I'm okay with my daughter having a Disney princess as an inspiration - Madonna, not so much.

Next up was Tangled.  We saw this movie while I was pregnant with Lincoln and while it may not be a "classic" yet, it's right up there with my favorites.  The most spectacular moment of this story was the unexpected skating horse, Maximus!  Hubby - who had never seen an ice show before - says, "the most impressive skating was done by front-of-horse and back-of-horse!"  I was truly astonished when Max galloped onstage.  I can't imagine the hours of practice the two skaters must have gone through to make such an awesome visual effect a possibility!  Also worth a mention are the floating lanterns during I See the Light - gorgeous!

Unfortunately, my camera wasn't very cooperative during the first half of the show, so I don't have any photos from Mermaid or Tangled.

rapunzel, ariel, merida, belle, mickey mouse, minnie, goofy, donald duck, disney on ice, rockin ever after, sprint center, skating horse
Merida

After intermission, we were whisked off on a quick journey to Scotland to visit Disney's newest princess, Merida from Brave.  We have not seen this movie yet, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect!  I do feel like I need to watch the movie now, to more fully understand the story, but we were given a good introduction.  The Scottish ice dancing was definitely impressive!

rapunzel, ariel, merida, belle, mickey mouse, minnie, goofy, donald duck, disney on ice, rockin ever after, sprint center, skating horse
Brave - Clans Dancing

The final story featured in the show was Beauty & the Beast.  It's no secret at all that this is my favorite Disney story, and I was so excited to see it come to life in a new way!  This segment opened with Gaston's song in the tavern, which segued into the lively little French town filled with people singing about Belle. 

rapunzel, ariel, merida, belle, mickey mouse, minnie, goofy, donald duck, disney on ice, rockin ever after, sprint center, skating horse
Belle

We really enjoyed Gaston's skating - I think it's fantastic that the show's designers were able to incorporate Gaston's attitude even in his skating.  It was obvious he thought he was quite amazing (and really, he was)!

rapunzel, ariel, merida, belle, mickey mouse, minnie, goofy, donald duck, disney on ice, rockin ever after, sprint center, skating horse
Be Our Guest

Equally deserving of credit, the Be Our Guest number featured cast members skating and dancing in full plate and silverware costumes.  I've seen this show on stage multiple times and the ice skaters were top notch.  The kick line was especially fun!

rapunzel, ariel, merida, belle, mickey mouse, minnie, goofy, donald duck, disney on ice, rockin ever after, sprint center, skating horse
One of my favorite parts of the story - the library!
LOVE this set design.

The title song, Beauty and the Beast, holds a lot of significance for me, as it's the song that was playing when Andrew proposed to me at our community theatre back in 2007.  I was really looking forward to this part of the show, especially once I realized it would likely be the last song before the big group finale (and it was). 

But, to be honest - I was a little disappointed.  The music track was not the expected Angela Lansbury movie soundtrack version, but a new pop-style recording at a faster pace.  I do understand the necessity of speeding up a number in a production with a shortened storyline and a target audience under the age of five.  But at the same time, I'm a Disney purist.  I have had this movie memorized since I was six years old.  For me, the magic of this moment was lost because it was not the same as the classic.  Will the four-year-old princesses in the audience notice or care about this?  Likely not!

rapunzel, ariel, merida, belle, mickey mouse, minnie, goofy, donald duck, disney on ice, rockin ever after, sprint center, skating horse
Beauty and the Beast.

After Belle's story, there was a grand finale featuring all of the princesses and their respective princes, Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy, and lots more singing and dancing on the ice.  The crowd was enraptured and I know I certainly didn't want the show to end!

rapunzel, ariel, merida, belle, mickey mouse, minnie, goofy, donald duck, disney on ice, rockin ever after, sprint center, skating horse
Lincoln & Mommy.

I was honestly surprised at how well Lincoln paid attention throughout the show, even though Rockin' Ever After is definitely on the "girl" side of Disney.  Four princesses, but no cars or cowboys?  I didn't think Lincoln would last through the whole show, but he made it to the end with a smile on his face, and never tried to get down or run around, even in the slower moments.  Pretty good for a two-year-old who runs nonstop all day long!

rapunzel, ariel, merida, belle, mickey mouse, minnie, goofy, donald duck, disney on ice, rockin ever after, sprint center, skating horse

The thing I love most about Disney is the absolute attention to detail.  There is nothing too small or unimportant to be overlooked.  I think that this is why Disney's magic is so successful - it's believable because it seems truly real.  Want to talk about details?  Over 350,000 yards of fabric were used to make all of the costumes in this production!  And there are 1,136 lighting cues in the production.  As community theatre enthusiasts, Andrew and I have designed lights and costume schemes for multiple productions.  The hours of time that must have been spent on this Disney production just blows my mind.  Seriously!  It's worth seeing the show for the costumes alone.

Overall, our evening was magical and it was a perfect way to introduce our little man to the magic that is Disney.  I know for sure that we will be going back the next time Disney on Ice comes to Kansas City.  I'm already thinking about a princess costume for Adelaide to wear!

rapunzel, ariel, merida, belle, mickey mouse, minnie, goofy, donald duck, disney on ice, rockin ever after, sprint center, skating horse
A boy and a mouse.  Heading home.

Huge thanks to Feld Entertainment for providing my family's tickets to the show.  I received no other compensation and all views expressed are my own.  For more information, you can read my Disclosure Policy.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Yikes.

So, I had this schedule of posts written out for last week.  I think three out of eight or ten managed to find their way to the blog.  And let's face it, the Wordless Wednesday didn't even count as a real post. 

I'm in the midst of a seemingly never-ending nap/sleep battle.  My kids hate sleeping.  I, however, love to sleep - and that is not happening very often for me these days.  As a result, I'm bleary-eyed and really grumpy most of the time.  Ask my poor husband.

I'm supposed to be consigning at one of the large KC area consignment sales.  It's this week.  I'm supposed to drop off my items tomorrow night.  Do you know how many items from the four overflowing totes in my office have tags on them?  A big fat zero.

I also really need to grocery shop.  I really need to finish converting my scrapbook room into a sewing/scrapbook/workout/kids-crafting space.  I really need to catch up on my Project Life 2012 scrapbook and start my 2013 album.  I haven't even taken the plastic wrap off the album yet.  Sigh.

And have you heard that Google Reader is going away?  That means I have to transfer all of my blog subscriptions over to Bloglovin' - sorting through the hundred some-odd blogs I follow is taking more time than I have.  If you want, you can follow my blog with Bloglovin to stay up to date.

This is real life, folks.
Bags under my eyes=100% Genuine.

All of that to say?   

I think I'll be taking a blogging break for a few days.

I need a chance to catch up on some zzzz's whenever my kids happen to both be asleep at the same time (rare, even at night).

I need to quit eating Oreos for two out of my three meals a day.

And of course, I need to spend the next 30 hours tagging consignment items like a maniac.

I have some fun posts and giveaways coming up - so stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Adelaide: 4 Months Old

I'm pretty sure that a lack of sleep makes the individual days creep by at the slowest pace possible - but makes time overall race faster than you can imagine.  Does that make sense?  Maybe not, but I'm blaming the aforementioned lack of sleep either way.  Miss Addie's four month birthday was yesterday, which I find just crazy.


Milestones: Adelaide, here we are at month 4 - I can't believe it!  You still aren't rolling over consistently (though you have managed once or twice), but you are trying pretty hard.  You get pretty frustrated when you get stuck.  Last week, you figured out that you can use your hands to hold things and you are enjoying playing with little toys.  And last night, you found your toes!  You were definitely fascinated by those!  You still love to suck on your fingers.  This week we moved you out of the Rock 'n Play at night - you're in the Pack 'n Play in Mommy and Daddy's room now.  I'm hoping it might encourage you to remember that you know how to sleep 8+ hours a night.  It's been a long couple of weeks with frequent wakings from both you and Lincoln - Mommy is really, really tired.

Loves:  You have such fun with your little toys - Baby Einstein giraffe rattle, Disney Princess crinkly book, Disney purple birdie rattle, and a little plush mouse are your favorites.  You adore watching Lincoln play and you're even more thrilled when he brings your toys to you!  You love watching everything that is going on around you - so much that you are reluctant to nap during the day.  The world is so exciting to you right now and that is fun for us to watch!  You love to interact with people - just about anyone you meet gets a big grin.  I think you also like having lots of wardrobe changes as you seem determined to spit up on or poop through multiple outfits a day!  You also really love your play mat and all of the toys that hang from it.


Hates:  You hate going to sleep right now.  Some days, I can hardly get you to nap - so by bedtime, you are really overtired and have a terrible time falling asleep, even with constant nursing.  I hope you outgrow this really soon!  You're not a big fan of playtime in the evening and you just want to be cuddled.  Some of the really loud noises Lincoln makes startle you.  You are also not sure about the carseat - sometimes it's okay, sometimes it definitely is not

Weight/Height: 
This week, I started washing the 6-9 month clothes I stockpiled while I was pregnant.  The plan was for you to wear them during the late summer.  Obviously you have other plans - but I wasn't expecting this since your big brother was always right on track with the clothing sizes.  You are right between the 3-6 and 6-9 clothes right now - some of the 3-6 are too small, and some of the 6-9 are too big.  Your Easter dress is a size 3-6 months so you had better hold off another couple of weeks before you have any major growth spurts!  You're in a size 3 diaper (finally switched this week as I'm getting a little tired of blowouts in size 2)!  Your weight is 16 pounds, 8 ounces and you are 24 3/8" long.  You are a chubby little chunk and everyone comments on how adorably chubby you are.

I can't believe that we have already had you in our lives for 1/3 of a year.  You are a joy in our house and we love you so much!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sharing is Awesome - Nuby Super Straw Toddler Cup Review

Elephants get thirsty, too.
I've learned something as the mom of a two-year-old.  There is no such thing as too many sippy cups.  They have a way of getting lost in the deep dark abyss known as the diaper bag, or they get left out in the rain for days on end, or they find their way under a seat in the family minivan (and you just hope that that particular cup only contained water - not something that will smell rancid the next time you get in the car)!

It also turns out that toddlers have a bit of an opinion when it comes to which cups they like.  Lincoln couldn't care less about colors, but he is pretty excited when the cup is a little bit more exciting - like the Nuby Super Straw.  The first time he saw this cup, he grabbed it from my hands and begged me to fill it up right away!  Apparently the straw element is pretty cool in his mind.  I can't say I disagree!

This is the best sippy cup featuring a straw that I have come across so far.  It features Nuby's Touch-Flo valve, which means nothing comes out of the straw unless a child is actively drinking.  And it seriously works!  I've turned it upside-down multiple times, expecting a leak - but I've been pleased that it has yet to get a drop of liquid on any of my floors. 

Sister can't use a sippy...yet.
It's recommended that kids switch from a normal sippy to a straw cup to help them learn proper drinking skills, and this cup is the perfect fit when it's time to move up.  Lincoln doesn't always remember that a straw cup can just be held upright - I still catch him tipping it up toward his face in an attempt to get the last of the water out.  I'm sure he'll pick up on the fact that the straw is pulling liquid from the bottom of the cup...one of these days!

Lincoln is fond of sticking his fingers and toys down into the straw (see elephant, above).  So far, this hasn't caused any problem with the valve - it's not loose or leaking, in spite of Lincoln's best efforts!

As demonstrated in the photos, you can tell that Lincoln is impressed enough with this cup that he wants to share it with all of his friends.  I'm glad that he likes it so well - and since it's from Nuby, I know it's BPA-free and made to last!  So, this mama and her little one both give it a thumbs up!

You can find the Nuby Super Straw cup at Buy Baby DirectDiapers.com, Ideal Baby and Amazon.  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.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Pajama Obsession

I'm not going to lie.

Baby pajamas are my favorite.


And I am obsessed.


When I shop for my kids, I always look at pajamas first.  Always.


There's just something about a warm little person snuggled up in a cute pair of jammies. 

When my kids outgrow one-piece footies...I will probably have a meltdown.

Consider yourself warned.


How's that for the most random blog post ever???

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Simple Moments v.13

 Another Thursday has rolled around, so it's time for another simple moments post.  Time, you can slow down whenever you like. 

I'm still not getting a lot of sleep, so my brain capacity isn't super conducive to writing interesting stories.  So I'm just sharing a couple of favorite moments this week.


Bedtime Stories.  Really?  This is the ultimate picture of what I envisioned my life would be like when I finally had my own little ones.  And the moments like this (even after a day of fussing and craziness) are just delightful.

photo originally shared on Instagram

Just a Date.  Hubby and I went on a kids-free date to Red Robin this week - where I can eat an almost normal meal even while on a dairy-free diet.  Bottomless French Fries=super yum.  Also, dinner where we can hear each other talk?  Amazing.


Chubby Baby.  I know I talk about her chubbiness a lot.  But I can't get over it.  Lincoln was super lean.  Her rolls are killing me.  And look at those gorgeous big blue eyes!  I am pretty sure they're Daddy's eyes - so chances are, they may stay blue!

That's it for today.  I hope your week has been beautiful!


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Easy DIY Goody Bag Tutorial

Planning a Mickey or Minnie Mouse party?  Make sure you check out my Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Birthday Party Banner Tutorial, Easy DIY Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Party Invitation Tutorial, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Toddler-Friendly Party Food Ideas, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Free Printable Sign Decorations! This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting my blog and my family!

When I was planning Lincoln's second birthday party, I knew I wanted to put together some sort of "goody bag" for his little friends and cousin who would be attending the party.  I really didn't want to go overboard and I didn't want to spend a ton of money, since all of the kids are under age three and really wouldn't remember any of it - but I tend to never be satisfied if I just do something "normal" (like using purchased goody bags)!  So I came up with a pretty easy plan - and managed to assemble my Mickey and Minnie Mouse goody bags in just a couple of hours!





Here's what you will need to make these bags!

Supplies
-White Lunch Sacks
-Black Cardstock
-Yellow Patterned Paper (one 12x12 sheet should make at least 12, probably more)
-Red Pom-Poms
-Red Polka Dot Ribbon (for Minnie)
-Adhesive of Choice
-Hot Glue Gun + Glue
-Stickers to Seal the Bags (optional)
-Party Favors

Here's How I Made Them!
First, I printed off several Mickey heads onto the black cardstock using the Mickey Mouse template that I made for Lincoln's Mickey party invitations, and cut them out.  I adhered one Mickey to each bag. 

Next, I cut tall triangle shapes from the yellow paper, for party hats.  I just cut them by hand (they weren't all very straight).  I adhered these on top of the Mickey heads.  Next, I used hot glue to attach the pom-poms to the tops of the hats!  I also used hot glue to attach the ribbon bows on the Minnie bags.  So cute!


After that, I just stuffed the bags, folded down the tops, and sealed them with some Mickey Mouse stickers that I found at Hobby Lobby (I don't seem to have a picture of the back of the bags - oops)! I hand-wrote each child's name on the bags, but it would be cute to attach names cut from a Mickey font.

My bags were filled with GoGo Squeez, sticker sheets, bangle bracelets for the girls, Hot Wheels for the boys, and some Mickey/Minnie crayons, mini coloring books and bubbles that I picked up at the party store.  Lincoln's friends said they were a big hit!

Planning a party for a Minnie Mouse fan? I have a couple of Minnie inspired headbands available in my Etsy shop!

Pink Minnie Headband

Red Minnie Headband

Happy party planning!

For more Mickey Mouse party inspiration, you can check out my Mickey Mouse invitations and Mickey Mouse Toddler-Friendly Party Food!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Baby Giggles are the BEST - Nuby Tickle Toes Dog {Review}


Is there anything cuter than a giggling baby?  I don't think so.  Adelaide (at 3 1/2 months old) has just recently figured out that toys are worthy of her attention. It's so cute to watch a baby learn how to hold and interact with things - lots of smiles and laughs from this precious little girl around here lately!

Since she's having so much fun learning about the world, I couldn't wait to introduce her to this adorable Tickle Toes Dog from Nuby!  Nuby offers a whole collection of Tickle Toes plush pals - there's a hippo, bunny, frog, lion, bear, monkey, duck - and many more!  They are just as cute as can be and feature a baby's laughter when you squeeze the toes.  

What is this thing?

Addie wasn't immediately sure what she thought.  I told her the puppy would be her new friend!  She was like...eh, Mom, I think I'd rather eat my hands.

Nom, nom, hands.

Then I squeezed the toes - her hands came out of her mouth and her face lit up.  She was certainly intrigued.  Lincoln even heard the dog laughing and said "baby?"  The more we played the laughter for her, the more excited she became. 

Hm. We could be pals!

The deal was sealed - they were meant to be friends!  This little purple puppy is now one of Addie's favorite toys!  It's made to last, so I know she will be snuggling with her pup for a long, long time. 

My new best friend!

You can find the Nuby Tickle Toes collection at K-Mart, Buy Baby Direct, Cookies Kids, Diapers.com, and Amazon.  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.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Disney's Oz The Great & Powerful - Now in Theatres {Review}

It's rare these days that my hubby and I have a chance to see a movie. In fact - our last trip to a cinema was last fall, when we saw Wreck-It Ralph.  So we were both pretty excited to get away for an evening on an adventure to Kansas City's Union Station, for a screening of Disney's new film: Oz The Great & Powerful!  Shown on Union Station's brand-new Extreme Screen (the largest screen in KC), this movie was indeed a sight to behold!  If you're in Kansas City and planning to see the film, I would definitely suggest experiencing it at Union Station - you can purchase tickets here.  Union Station has been transformed into something out of the magical land of Oz itself - the green glow and yellow brick road add a whimsical element to your movie-going fun!

L. Frank Baum’s introduction to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, gives his sole purpose in writing the classic tale. Baum says, “the story of ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ was written solely to please children of today. It aspires to being a modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heartaches and nightmares are left out.” The creators of Oz the Great and Powerful obviously did not have the same motives.

*Mild Spoilers Below!*

Let me start by saying, I really enjoyed this movie... but I think it should have been rated PG-13, rather than PG. The witches and flying monkeys in this film are considerably more intense than those in its musical predecessor, especially with the aid of digital graphics and 3D.

Most everyone knows the story of the Wizard of Oz, either from L. Frank Baum’s original book written in 1900 or from the MGM classic movie-musical version in 1939. Oz the Great & Powerful tells the story of how the Wizard, Oscar ‘Oz’ Diggs, winds up in the land of Oz and becomes the Wizard. The film opens in black and white, and in full screen no less, which is an appropriate, though obvious, homage to the MGM version. Oscar performs his illusions as real magic until a little girl in a wheelchair asks him to make her walk; needless to say, cannot perform the task and the audience takes his unwillingness as a sign that he’s a fraud. Ultimately, it isn’t the audience that sends Oscar running, but his womanizing ways. A circus wrestler tries to pummel him for flirting with his girlfriend. Oscar climbs into the first safe place he can, which happens to be a hot air balloon. All the while a tornado is coming, and Oscar's balloon gets caught up in the storm. Once in the land of Oz, the world goes from black and white to vibrant color - and the cinematography is beautiful. There are three witches in this story of Oz: Theodoro (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz), and Glinda (Michelle Williams). Things get complicated as the witches connive against one another, all vying for Oscar’s help in destroying each other.


There are many, many things to like about this film. The opening credits were phenomenal - honestly, we both agreed they were one of the best parts of the movie. Rachel Weisz gave a good performance, and was our favorite witch. But surprisingly, the two characters who stole the show were both CGI characteres: Finley, the flying monkey (voiced by Zach Braff), and pint-sized China Girl (voiced by Joey King). Don’t get me wrong, most of the flying monkeys in this movies are absolutely terrifying, but Finley is cute and cuddly and received multiple “oohs” and “aahs” from the audience. The scene where Oscar meets China Girl is probably the best in the movie (it made me cry). It appears as though the little girl's China village has been destroyed, and she is apparently the only survivor - but she cannot walk because her legs were broken. There's a redemptive moment for Oscar as he is able to "magically" repair her legs with a handy bottle of glue.

We were happily surprised that the film was scored by Danny Elfman - a favorite composer.  The score tied everything together and we especially liked the music box piece.  The creative use of rainbows in the first scene in Oz was an obvious nod to Judy Garland's classic Over the Rainbow.  There are also some other brief throwbacks to the book/movie in the appearance of scarecrows and a lion.

China Girl and Finley the Flying Monkey - aren't they as cute as can be?

Despite how much I enjoyed this film, there are some drawbacks. First, we were a little confused when it came to the witches and their accents. Evanora is clearly British, while her sister, Theodora is obviously American...and Glinda seems to be trying to sound different than herself, but it's not quite clear what she is going for. Speaking of witches, Mila Kunis’ witch is introduced to the audience in skin-tight black leather pants that just don’t seem to fit into the general costume design.

As mentioned before, I really do feel that this movie should be rated PG-13. The flying monkeys from 1939 have scared children for almost seventy-five years, but they are like Care Bears compared with the new incarnations. In one scene, these monkeys are attacking other characters in the dark, and it turns out that they are attacking non-sentient scarecrows. Anyone who isn’t an adult may not realize that the chest is being ripped out of a scarecrow and not a real person, and if you have read the book or seen the first movie, you know that in the land of Oz, scarecrows are (or at least can be) sentient - so why are they being used as bait who end up viciously destroyed?  There is also a scene in a graveyard, at night, where the flying monkeys and Winkies (the witches' guards) are trying to kill Oscar, Glinda, Finley, and China Girl. Parents be warned, this movie may (or more likely, will) give your young kids nightmares.

In spite of its shortcomings, hubby and I both enjoyed this movie. I do recommend it - especially as a cinematic experience (and on the Extreme Screen at Union Station if you are local to KC) - but only if you have experienced the classic versions, Baum’s original The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, MGM’s 1939 adaptation The Wizard of Oz, and possibly even the Broadway musical, Wicked.  If you've seen the movie already, leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!  I'm curious how you think it holds up to the standards. You can follow Oz the Great & Powerful on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest updates!

What's your favorite part of the Oz lore - book, movie, musical, or something else?

Thanks to Walt Disney Pictures for providing my review passes.  I received no compensation for writing this review and all views expressed are entirely my own.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Dairy-Free Fruit & Veggie Muffin Recipe for Picky Toddlers


Every parent deals with this fact at some point: kids don't like to eat vegetables.  At least, I assume that everyone deals with it.  And if you don't have this problem - count yourself very lucky.  My good friend, Stephanie recently shared a solution that worked with her daughter Grace - Veggie Muffins for the Pickiest Toddler!  After hearing how much Grace loved these, I knew we had to try them.  But since I am dairy-free, I wanted to make a version that I could actually taste-test. 


I was so surprised that Lincoln loved these muffins, too!  I have made them twice already and both times they have turned out great, and have been a highly-requested snack item.  That equals a winner in my book!  The dairy-free substitutions were easy and chances are if you're not a dairy person, you may already have these items in your house!

The first time I made the recipe, I accidentally dumped in about a teaspoon of Nutmeg, instead of the 1/4 tsp the recipe states.  They tasted kind of like pumpkin muffins - yum!  I've used a huge variety in the fruit and veggie puree - everything from carrots, peas, kiwi, apples, corn, blueberries, strawberries, etc.  I want to try an all-fruit version sometime, I think they would be delicious! 

One thing to note is that you probably will want to store them in the fridge!  I don't know about the regular version - but my dairy-free muffins were quite dense and spongy and after about a day and a half of being accidentally left out, the last few had started to grow mold in their plastic storage container on my counter.

The original recipe is from Super Healthy Kids and you can find Stephanie's normal version on her blog.  My dairy-free version is below!


Delicious Dairy-Free Fruit & Veggie Muffins

Ingredients
Dry Ingredients
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup All-Purpose Flour
3/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Nutmeg 
1/4 tsp Cinnamon

Wet Ingredients
3/4 cup Sugar
4 tbsp Coconut Oil
1-2 Medium Bananas, mashed
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/4 cup Apple Juice
1/4 cup Applesauce, unsweetened
1/2 cup Coconut Milk
2 1/2 cups Fruit & Veggie Puree + 1 Medium Carrot

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (mini muffins) or 350 degrees F (regular sized muffins).
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Combine sugar, coconut oil, bananas and vanilla in a mixer. Beat well.
  4. Mix together the produce, carrot, apple juice, and applesauce in a blender or food processor until thoroughly mixed.
  5. Combine the fruit/veggie puree and coconut milk into the coconut oil/banana mixture, beat until mixed.
  6. Add all dry ingredients, mix just until combined and wet.
  7. Scoop the mixture into a prepared muffin pan. 
  8. Bake muffins for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are slightly brown and a toothpick comes out clean.  They should bounce back slightly if touched.

Lincoln ate all of my muffins within a day or two, but Stephanie said they freeze great for up to three months in a freezer-safe bag! Yields: 36 Mini-Muffins or 20-24 regular-size muffin.

What tricks have you used to help your little ones eat enough fruits and vegetables?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Simple Moments v.12

After last week's snow days, I was kind of afraid that we might never find routine again.  This week has been weird.  The kids haven't been napping well (Lincoln's on a nap strike altogether and Adelaide just fusses until she falls to sleep from exhaustion), and we're all stir-crazy because it's still too cold to go anywhere - plus, let's face it, mommy hates leaving the house anyway.

So, there's been a lot of this around here the past few days:


I do my best to appreciate the snuggles even when everyone (including me) is whining.  And I think we're finding our way back to routine, although I'm a little afraid that Lincoln's naps may be done.  This wouldn't be such a problem if he would sleep at night - but he does not, and he is exhausted as a result.

Today for the first time since Addie was born, I took just Lincoln out on an adventure to the library for toddler storytime.  My busy little boy does not understand the concept of storytime yet - while he appreciated that there was a truck and "tracky" (tractor) in one of the books we read today, all he wanted to do was run around. Sitting on mommy's lap was obviously the most boring idea ever.  So yes.  I had that kid at storytime (whining, flailing, twisting, running...if you've seen it, you know what I mean).  I'm determined to try again and again until he enjoys it.  After years of being the "storytime lady" from time to time, I just can't imagine not utilizing the great resource our local library provides!

Thanks, Grandma, for watching Addie so we could go to the library all by ourselves!

Our Lincoln+Mommy date.  I think he was happier than his face indicates.

One of my happiest moments this week was that I learned I somehow managed to get through two pregnancies and 2+ years of nursing (aka, tiny little people leaching all the calcium stores from my body) with no dental issues.  I had been really dreading my appointment, but came away with just a cleaning and a free toothbrush.  What a relief!

How do you get back into a routine after your schedule gets thrown off?  I'm all ears!


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