Director Jewels: June 2013

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Lincoln's Reading Corner June 2013

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Thanks to the library summer reading program (an item we've already crossed off our summer bucket list), reading is back in action around here! We read 72 books just for the reading program, and have had countless re-readings of favorites since then. It's been awesome! It was hard to pick our favorites, but these are some of the books Lincoln has been returning to most often.



1. Noisy DiggersWe actually have not even read all the way through this book. Lincoln just loves all of the sounds it makes! He will sometimes sit for five minutes just pressing each sound button. And that's a really long time in my little boy's world.

2. Kiki's Blankie. This is a cute little book about a monkey and her blankie, and their inseparable bond. Lincoln isn't quite this attached to any security item, but he does drag blankets around the house almost every day, so I think he can relate.

3. Maisy's TrainWe've mentioned this one in the reading corner before but it is still pretty popular, because it has a train, a mouse, a duck, and a clock. I love books where Lincoln wants to identify every item on every page.

4. Clifford Counts Bubbles. Both kids will listen to any mini Clifford board book multiple times. The big red dog is a big old hit here in our house lately. We're also a little bit obsessed with "bu-ells" (bubbles), so this one is great.

5. Bear and BeeI really like this sweet little story about a bear who runs into a bee, but doesn't know what a bee looks like and worries aloud about how scared he is of meeting a frightening bee. The wording is simple, but clever and the illustrations are great. Lincoln knows the sounds that bears ("grrrr") and bees ("BEEEE!!!") make, so that could be part of the reason I love it.

6. Dear Baby, What I Love About You!  This is a book about a little baby girl and all of her sweet baby ways. I like to read it because Lincoln will point and say "baby? mama?" to the illustrations of the baby playing with her mom and it's one of my favorite things about this stage he is in right now.

7. My Truck Is Stuck. I tried to read Lincoln this book last year, around the time he first discovered Little Blue Truck, but he wouldn't give it the time of day. I'm really glad we gave it a second chance, because he loves it right now. I think he's beginning to grasp the concept of counting, so we count the vehicles on every page. Plus, one of his favorite words for the last couple months has been "STUCK!" This book is right up his alley.

8. That's Not My TruckWhile not as popular as #10 on this list, this one has been returned to multiple times in the last few days.

9. Truck DuckThis book is another of my favorites - just because he is getting better at identifying items and can "read" a couple of the pages in this one all by himself. "Boat Goat" and "Truck Duck" may be some of the simplest rhymes in the lot, but hey - to me, it's almost like he is learning how to read since he's saying the same words that are on the page. Win!

10. That's Not My Car. Oh my goodness, he loves this book! The bumpy, lumpy, scratchy and squashy pieces to touch are his favorites - and even little sister gets in on the grabbing action for this one sometimes. I've lost count of how many times we've read this book lately.

11. Moby Dick. This book by BabyLit is obviously influenced by classic literature. He hadn't been a super big fan of it, but now that he can identify fish and boats by name, he's way more interested. BabyLit is seriously my favorite baby book collection.

12. Lick!. I'm not really sure why this one is so popular, but he is fascinated with seeing all the tongues in this book. Maybe it's because we're learning body parts?


It's been a month of great reading success - here's hoping we keep this trend going!  If you're looking for more reading ideas, you can check out all our recent favorites here!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

This Boy

He's almost two and a half years old.

He loves crackers, grapes ("gapes"), bananas, apples, cookies ("kikis"), and most of all, cheese. All food is referred to as "nummies."

He plays with cars and trucks and trains all day long.


He loves hiding in corners and behind furniture. Every time I say it's time to change his diaper, he says "No-ooo" and runs to hide behind the rocking chair in the nursery.

He calls me if I leave the room. He shouts at me from down the hall. He yells if I don't turn around to look at him in the car. "Mama. Mama? Maaaaaama!" It took him a long time to say my name and every time, it makes me smile.

He is still a binky boy. He calls it his "me." We had the habit broken except for nap and bedtime before his burn incident, but it's crept back in now. We're starting to attempt to break it again.


He's obsessed with belly buttons. Especially mine. We've had to institute a new rule that he can't poke mommy's "buttn" because he will literally dig his finger in until it feels like he's touching my spine.

He says "out," "down," and "done!" more than most other words. They're the universal description for anything he is finished with for the moment.

He's learned a few compound words in the last week or so. Example: "tow truck" (but he pronounces "tow" the same as "cow"). My very, very favorite word right now? "Wiretruck." Firetruck. Love.

He's awfully affectionate, yet sometimes not. When I ask him to kiss the baby, he leans his forehead against hers and says "boom."

He will drop anything for "dee" - his word for nursing.

He's maybe starting to comprehend counting. Sometimes while he is playing, I'll hear him going "thwee! twoooo!" followed by gibberish that is still sequential. It's always in that order, and never with any other numbers. We'll keep practicing!


He says "uh-oh, broke!" whenever a toy falls apart, or something turns up missing. It's immediately followed by "'ix!" Most of the time, his tragedies can be fixed.

He asks to "watch" shows like Chip and Dale, "Thom-miss," and Mickey Mouse. He's stopped saying Bickey already.

He sometimes asks for "hep," but usually prefers to do things on his own.

He doesn't say it often, but he calls himself "Inky." Cutest thing ever? I think yes.

I can't believe how big he is. He's starting to astound me with the things he does and says. He is amazing and frustrating and silly and loving and wild and so very, very wonderful. I am so blessed to be the one he calls mama. And I hope I never forget these little things that make me smile.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Bedtime Stories & Prayers {Book Review}

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review from Tyndale Blog Network. All opinions expressed below are my own.


Bedtime around our house has some serious ups and downs. For awhile, I thought we were into a pretty good groove and then Adelaide decided never to sleep again (hopefully that's an exaggeration).

We instituted a fairly strict bedtime routine around the time Lincoln climbed out of his crib at 20 months old. We do baths every night (or every other, depending on how energetic we were that day), read books, say prayers, and attempt to tuck both kids in around 8pm. Lately, Lincoln's been doing reasonably well with this routine. Addie is another story altogether, but at least we can pretty consistently count on him sleeping at 8 or 9pm.

We were sent a special book that has been fun to work into our nightly routine: Bedtime Stories and Prayers: Blessings for Bedtime by Dandi Daley Mackell and Kathleen Long Bostrom. This title from Tyndale Kids was released in April 2013 and is a lovely addition to a child's library.


The book is split into four sections: Bedtime Blessings, Thank You, God!, Blessings Everywhere and God Loves You. Each section is about 25 pages long. This kind of sounds like a lot for a children's bedtime book - but the pages each contain one large illustration and just a small verse or two of text. With repetitive phrasing and familiar scenarios for children, this book easily applies to our family dynamic and helps wind down the little ones at the end of the day.


The beautiful illustrations by Elana Kucharik are whimsical and feature everything from lightning bugs to the ocean to friendly pets and more. Lincoln loves pointing out the different animals and familiar objects that he knows.  The short rhymes on each page are not overwhelming for my busy toddler - sometimes getting him to sit through an entire book can be a challenge. With this one, we don't have to read the whole thing - since there are four different stories to love.

We are always looking for books that help to reinforce the values we hope to instill in our kids and this one definitely fits the bill. It will be a classic we pull from the shelf at bedtime for many years to come.

See? Isn't it precious when she sleeps?

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

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Downtown Days {Summer Bucket List 2013}

After our Day Out With Thomas adventure, I felt inspired to get to work on more Summer Bucket List fun. I (somehow) talked Andrew into dragging the whole family out again the same evening as our Thomas ride - but this time, we didn't have to travel nearly so far.

Our city holds a festival/carnival/street vendor fair called "Downtown Days...Streets Alive!" every summer. The name changed just a few years ago - it was formerly known as Old Tyme Days. I may have convinced my friend Laura to enter a Civil War costume contest with me during the festival back in 2004 (she won - but that's a story for another day)! I've tried to attend the festival at least every few years since then. Now that we have kids, it is a great way to get out of the house for a few hours! If you can resist the rides and games and food, it's even a free adventure.

City Hall

So even though our day had been tiring, we drove downtown to hit the festival. I sneaked in a little bit of thrifting and picked up some new additions for my costume collection. Lincoln was unimpressed with shopping and wanted to get on with the fun.


We didn't have much of a plan and just spent an hour or two wandering through the streets, perusing vendor booths (like Ella Jane Crafts - which I had liked on Facebook long ago; had no idea they were local), getting a photo-booth style photo strip taken (love), and sampling root beer and roasted nuts. Lincoln spun the prize wheel at the Summit Theatre Group booth and won us a free water bottle (then threw a colossal tantrum when we made him get back in the stroller - awesome).


We couldn't resist some cinnamon-roasted pecans. Seriously, amazing. And if you've known me any length of time, you will find it miraculous that yes, I voluntarily spent money on nuts to consume myself. I spent many years refusing nuts in any capacity.


Addie rode around in the Ergo and didn't seem to care about much that was going on. She'll probably be a little more interested next summer.


In the spirit of our summer of family fun, we decided to buy tickets for Lincoln to go on a carnival ride. At $3 a ride, the carnival is not something we'll be able to fully experience every year - but at least Lincoln still wasn't old enough to ask for more rides this year. I'm sure next time it may be a different story. There was a ride with cars and jeeps and trucks that we thought he would love, but after we bought tickets, we found out that parents couldn't ride. Lincoln's not mature enough to go buy himself yet, so instead we all hopped on the carousel (where parents ride free).

Family Carousel Selfie

Both kids seemed to get a big kick out of it - although Addie was pretty squirmy and I was a little bit terrified of dropping her while the carousel spun. We all survived and had no major fits when the ride was done. Success!


By the time we left the carnival, we were all definitely adventured out. It was kind of a crazy day after a week of very little activity due to Lincoln's burns. I tried to get Andrew to take a photo of me and the kids as we headed back to our car - not our best attempt ever.

Mom + Kids Photo Fail

Even though we were exhausted, I was glad we made the effort to go. I love the Downtown Days festival! Next year, maybe Lincoln will be old enough for his own ice cream cone or funnel cake! Our summer bucket list is on the way to being a huge success - yay!

Come see how much progress we have made on our list!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Lincoln's Day Out With Thomas - Review {2013 Summer Bucket List}

Disclosure: In exchange for my post and to facilitate my honest review of this experience, I received tickets to the event for my family. No other compensation was received and all opinions expressed are my own.


What's big and blue and brings smiles wherever he goes? Why, Thomas the Tank Engine - of course! This iconic really helpful engine is a longstanding favorite with the preschool crowd, and our toddler is no exception. He loves choo-choo trains almost as much as he loves trucks!

As soon as I heard about the A Day Out With Thomas experience (hosted local to us at Midland Railway in Baldwin City, Kansas), I knew it would be something Lincoln would enjoy. We had tickets for the second weekend Thomas was in town, which turned out to be a good thing since we spent the weekend before in the ER. We had had a really low-key week after Lincoln's burn incident, so this was the first time he really was able to do any sort of activity, and the first time he had spent much time outside. I was worried that he would be overwhelmed, but he just seemed thrilled to be out of the house.


Baldwin City is about an hour's drive from us, and we were running a few minutes late thanks to traffic - but we arrived in time for our 11:15am departure. We went straight to the boarding line and waited for the train to arrive.


The event is clearly planned with children in mind - even as we waited in the boarding line, we were greeted by a friendly clown who gave Lincoln a sticker! Lincoln was a little unsure about the clown, but did eventually offer up a high-five.


Lincoln was still pretty bandaged up and had some open spots from the burn on his chin, so he wore a cute floppy hat throughout our excursion to minimize sun exposure. He didn't really seem to mind.


Our little family boarded the train and set out to find seats. We were last in the boarding line, and the car we entered was pretty full. Thankfully, we were escorted by a friendly staff member to the adjoining car, where there were more open seats! We settled in for the ride. Lincoln was pretty excited to be riding a "choo-choo!"


Family photo!

Addie was snug in her Peanut Shell sling, and was happy to just watch the events unfold around her.

Sling and Chewbeads = happy baby!

And them, we were off! Lincoln was delighted to hear the train whistle and tried (multiple times) to lean out the window. He wore a delighted grin as we headed out of the station.



The ride lasted about twenty-five minutes. We had a relaxing ride, and received certificates saying our kids had been passengers on Thomas. Maybe halfway through the ride, Lincoln decided that he wanted to run around the train, rather than sit still. At 2 years old, he is a very busy little man - and he had been cooped up inside our house most of the week, so sitting still for so long was a little much for him. I think next year his comprehension will be a little greater and he will enjoy the ride even more.


We disembarked after our ride and set off to explore the rest of the attractions. There were so many things to see and do! There were bounce houses, a magic show, a meet and greet with Sir Topham Hatt, and much more. We were even able to support a local BBQ vendor and have an impromptu family picnic on the grounds!


Lincoln had a blast playing with the Thomas train tables in the Imagination Station tent. It was a busy place, but there were plenty of trains to go around.


Lincoln didn't sit still long enough to color or stamp with the provided art supplies, but it still looked like great fun!

We found Lincoln's friend Grace!


The fire truck on the grounds provided extra entertainment for my truck-loving boy! We easily occupied a couple of hours of our afternoon with all the fun and would have stayed even longer, but Addie was getting restless and Lincoln was pretty worn out from all the excitement!


Before we headed out, we made a quick stop to visit some exotic animals. Lincoln kept calling the kangaroo a "bunny" - hilarious.


Our train-riding adventure was definitely a success! I can't wait to take Lincoln and Adelaide on another train ride next year! I think that we may plan to bring grandparents along to help keep track of everyone next time. When Lincoln sees these photos, he grins and says "Train?" so I think the experience left a big impression on him. This was the first item we were able to check off our summer bucket list, and it was a great way to start off our summer of fun!

Come see how much progress we have made on our list!

See you soon, Thomas!

Thanks to US Family Guide and A Day Out With Thomas for my review tickets. I received no other compensation and all opinions expressed are my own. For more information, you can read my Disclosure Policy.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Nuby Splish Splash Stacking Cups Bath Toy {Review}

Disclosure: Nuby sent us the Splish Splash Stacking Cup set to review.  All opinions expressed below are my own.


Bath time has become a lot of fun in our house lately. Why? Adelaide learned how to sit up this month, and she is no longer confined to an infant bather in the bathtub! That means the kids can have baths together, which they think is awesome - plus it uses half the water, and makes me smile because they're so adorable.

A lot of our squeeze bath toys recently met an untimely end when I discovered that they had grown mold inside (yuck). Until I have time to find a Pinterest-worthy solution to clean them, we don't have as many toys floating around in the water with the kids. This is convenient for me, too, since our master shower is broken and all four of us have bath supplies in this tub now.

So, what are the kids playing with in the bathtub? Right now, they unanimously agree that this set of Splish Splash Stackable Cups from Nuby is awesome.


There are tons of ways for a 2-year-old and a 7-month-old to put these cups to use. Here are a few ideas!

Lincoln's Suggestions:
-Pour water on your baby sister's head.
-Steal from baby sister's grasp.
-Use them to give your bath toy truck a drink of water.
-Line them up in different orders on the edge of the tub (Mom, keep a towel nearby).
-Pour water on your sister's tummy.
-Wear them like a hat.
-Stack them inside each other, or in a big tower.
-Pour water from one into another.

Addie's Suggestions:
-Chew on them.
-Scream when they are taken away from you.
-Beat them against the side of the bathtub.
-CHEW on them.
-Wave them around in the air.
-Splash them in the water by your toes.
-Make puppy eyes at brother so that he will share.
-CHEW ON THEM!


I love the versatility of these cups and as always, feel safe with my kids using them since they are BPA free. They're great to use in a pinch to rinse someone off at bathtime (though we still love our Nuby Rinse Pail). Each cup has holes in the base so you can experiment with water in the bath, or in a water table. They can even be used as blocks in everyday play!

You can find the Nuby Splish Splash Bath Cups at many online and local retailers, including Buy Baby Direct, CookiesKids.com, Diapers.com, BabyEarth.com, Amazon, BuyBuy Baby, Tuesday Morning and Bealls.  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.

Wordless Wednesday: It's Not Like I Don't Let Him Sleep!


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Adelaide: 7 Months Old

Little lady - I can't believe I'm writing another month update. I know that time moves fast - but seriously. Please, please slow down.

Best 1-Up Snapshot this month. You weren't cooperative.

Milestones: This was a month of personality development! You have an opinion about pretty much anything - and you are not afraid to let us know what you want. The things you seem to tell us most often? You don't like it if mommy is out of your sight - and it's even more preferred if you are always in my arms.

About two weeks ago, you decided one day that you were ready to sit up! It only took you a day or two after that to master the skill! You do occasionally crash over, but for the most part you are able to sit solidly and play with toys. It's made entertaining you a little bit easier! I didn't think that you would be crawling immediately, but in the last couple of days, you seem to have developed an intense interest in moving. You can spin around on the floor in circles (on your belly) just using your hands. I think you'll be army crawling within a week or two at this rate - yikes.

Just this morning, you had your first "real" food - an avocado! I want to try a baby-led weaning approach with you and based on our first try, it is going to be fun. You pretty much inhaled the avocado and threw a huge fit when I took it away to clean you up.

You are no longer sleeping in a swaddle wrap! You were really uncomfortable in it - and since you weren't sleeping anyway, I decided one day we were just going to be done with it. It hasn't made things much better or worse, though we have learned you tend to sleep better on your belly.

Unfortunately, your biggest milestone seems to be staying awake as much as possible. You fight naps and bedtime with all your little being - and you are good at it. For the last week, you have not slept at night unless I have been holding and/or nursing you. I love snuggling with you, princess, but mama needs some sleep. If you could just go back to a three or four hour stretch of sleep every night - I would be remarkably grateful.

Eating an avocado this morning!


Loves: You adore Mommy, Daddy, and big brother. You like to jump in the monkey jumperoo and play with toys in the bathtub. The toys you most especially want to play with all the time are Lincoln's cars. It's already a big job to keep the tiny-wheeled ones away from you. We have several chunkier cars that are Addie-approved, and you are happiest when you have them in your chubby little hands.

You love to nurse and snuggle with mama. You like riding in the Ergo most of the time (I usually wear you when we go shopping or anywhere like the park or the zoo). You're a big fan of bathtime with Lincoln, too.

And I think it's apparent that you are going to love eating food.


Little Miss Attitude?

Hates: You must really hate sleep, since you've been fighting it so much this month. Today you actually took a nap that was one hour and twenty minutes - you haven't done that for me in weeks. I am hoping it's a new trend! If we could get the bedtime sleep routine a little better, I would appreciate that too.

You despise getting into your car seat. Once we are driving, as long as you have a toy, you don't seem to care - but you scream bloody murder as soon as I start trying to buckle you in.

You do not like to have toys taken away from you. This happens most often when you have managed to grab something you can't have - like Lincoln's cars. I think the toddler years may be fun. :\

Sneaky face.

How is she moving this much? YIKES!

Weight/Height: You're growing, but it's not as crazy fast anymore - I'm glad! I couldn't keep up! You're still fitting pretty comfortably in 6-9 and 9-12 month clothes. You probably weigh around 19 or 19.5 pounds.

The headband you're wearing in these photos is actually getting pretty snug - I think I will have to make another one in a bigger size! I didn't make the original one, but I have the right supplies to duplicate it now..

Big brother wanted in on the photo action!

We love you, sweet princess Addie Rose! I wonder what the next month of life with precious little you will bring!

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