Director Jewels: January 2014

Friday, January 31, 2014

"Destruction" Series 4 Board Book Review + Giveaway {Feel the Love Blog Hop}

Disclosure: I was sent this book series for review. No other compensation was received and all views expressed are my own.

Welcome to the Feel the Love Giveaway Hop hosted by the Blogging Mamas Network.

We've gone through a lot of phases with Lincoln and reading. Sometimes he loves books, sometimes he doesn't seem to care about them at all - and of course, there was that time he destroyed four library books in a week. That was awesome.

But when I heard about the DESTRUCTION board book series by Erin Edison from Capstone Young Readers, there was no hesitation in my mind. These, he would love.

It's no secret that my boy is obsessed with trucks, but he's really a big fan of anything that has wheels, is noisy, or is messy. So the titles in this series - Crush It!; Knock It Down!; Blow It Up!; and Shred It! - are right up his alley. 

I originally thought about saving these books for his third birthday, but he spotted them on my blogging shelf and said "what's that, Mommy?!" The bright colors and eye-catching designs were not easy to hide from his curious eye!

He is content to sit with these books for ten minutes at a time - in Lincoln time, that's way beyond impressive. The books feature buildings being imploded, swinging wrecking balls, and explosions galore. Lincoln (of course) is always quick to point out the "dirty wheels" on the rusty old car that's headed for the car crusher.

Every page features an interactive element of some sort and Lincoln loves finding each new activity. There are wrecking balls to swing, flaps to lift, and buildings to destroy with the pull of a tab. This set of four books has withstood countless uses by my toddler who is very hard on books (remember that story about the destroyed library books?). 

The interactive quality is fantastic. This book series is a unique find, and one that I will highly recommend to moms of boys for years to come. It will likely be a go-to gift for us to bring to birthday parties, as well (because I would rather gift books than yet another toy)!

I have been collecting children's books most of my life, and I worked at a library for seven years before I had kids. I can say with 100% honesty that these books from Capstone Publications are the highest quality board books I have ever encountered. The pages are very heavy. The pull tabs are sturdy enough to withstand constant toddler tugging. Each of the movable pieces is secured inside the book page so that small pieces cannot come loose and become lost. I am often hesitant to buy books with moving pieces because they simply don't last long in our house. I wish all board books for little boys were made like this collection!

You can follow Capstone Young Readers on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest releases. If you're looking to purchase the DESTRUCTION series, you can find more info here.

Lincoln loves these books - and if you have a small boy in your family, chances are he will, too!


One Director Jewels reader will win a collection of all four DESTRUCTION books, plus the ultimate reading accessory: a bright yellow hard hat! ARV $52. This giveaway will end on February 14 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!

Once you finished entering my giveaway, hop on over and enter to win the lovely Grand Prize - where you'll find a Maggie Bags Butterfly Bag, a delicious spread of Lovely Candy Co, and a girl's best friend - jewelry thanks to Jewelry in Candles by Karine!


Love is in the air as Valentine's Day approaches and I've joined with a group of bloggers who want you to Feel the Love this February! Each blogger in this Hop has a giveaway worth at least $25 that you are sure to love!

Disclosure: So Easy Being Green, Viva Veltoro, the Blogging Mamas Network, and the Feel the Love participating bloggers are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prize obligations. I received book samples for review. All opinions expressed are my own. For more information, you can read my Giveaway Policy and my Disclosure Policy.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Words She Knows {January 2014}

When Addie started saying "mama" and "dada" several months ago, I was shocked. Lincoln didn't say any words until he was sixteen months old. Even though he has turned into quite a little chatterbox, I kind of wondered if he would ever talk.

Addie, on the other hand? She's already talking up a storm - all the time. Before I lose track of what she learned when, I want to record all the little things she already says.

Addie's Words - January 2014.
-Nana (meaning both bananas and Andrew's mom)
-Belle (in reference to most every princess)
-Brother ("bru-buh") - sometimes.
-Pa (my dad), Papa (Andrew's dad), Pap (my grandpa)
-Turtle ("tuh-tuh")
-We think she says firetruck, but can't figure out exactly how she says it!

She knows the color blue - or at least, she knows that it is a color. Most of the time she gets it right when we ask her to identify the color of something blue. However, she also answers that just about anything is blue, so we're still working on it. She also repeats "puhpuh" for purple, but I don't think she has a complete grasp on that one yet, either.

She is also very talented when it comes to animal sounds. I am proud to say that she knows the answer when asked what a monkey, cow, duck, horse (this is a giggle), dog, sheep, dinosaur, owl (I attribute this to her first birthday party), or lion says.

At this rate, she'll be saying full sentences before she is two!

What were your kids' first words?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Bedtime Routines or the Lack Thereof {Toddler Time Tuesdays}

It's not Tuesday anymore, is it? I don't know what's going on this week, but my goodness, I am feeling a little bit overwhelmed. Please bear with me if blogging is a little slow while I try to catch up on life! I'll try not to turn to complete silence, but I make no promises.

Even though it is Wednesday now, I am sharing this post - and I apologize to anyone who has been waiting to link up! I'd still love to hear from you.

Today during Toddler Time Tuesday Wednesday, we're talking about Bedtime Routines - or in my case, the lack thereof!

Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating. We do have a routine. It just doesn't work out perfectly ever night, so it seems like maybe we need more structure. Andrew would be happier if we adhered to a very specific time to start the bedtime process every night, but it all depends on when we start eating dinner - which of course depends on when dinner is started - and so on and so on.

But, for what it's worth, here's our routine anyway.

Our general goal is to start bedtime around 7:15-7:30pm. We all head back to the nursery and turn off all the lights except the lamp. Both kids want to nurse before bed, so lately the process has started with this. Lincoln will nurse for a few minutes and then ideally, read a book with Daddy while Addie nurses.

In reality, while Addie is nursing, he is usually running around the room or jumping on his bed or dragging out toys that were just put away.

Addie usually does better about reading with Daddy when it is not her turn to nurse.

Once both of them have had the opportunity to nurse, we start changing clothes. Addie gets her nighttime diaper and pajamas on first, and then she and Daddy head downstairs until Lincoln is asleep. I have yet to figure out how on earth to get a child to go to sleep without me, so it's just part of our process.

Lincoln and I then head to the bathroom, where we brush his teeth, wash his hands and face, and try to go potty. We are on the verge of potty training, but I have not given it a real attempt yet. He's getting used to the idea, at least, by going once each night. We strongly dislike having to change diapers and sheets in the middle of the night, so it's an attempt to keep his diaper less soggy throughout the night. It doesn't always work, but hey. We're trying.

After he has gone (or tried to go) potty, we go back to his bedroom and get him into his pajamas. He usually is pretty insistent about which socks he is willing to wear to bed. Usually before we turn off the light, we say a bedtime prayer (some nights he contributes a lot to this, other nights he says "NO NO NO NO NO!") and his first Bible memory verse. Right now, he is obsessed with all of his Nintendo Super Mario Bros. plush toys, and insists that he needs "all the guys" in bed with him. Which is interesting, since he also wants me in his bed when he is falling asleep.

It gets a little crowded in there. Other necessities are his lion pillow and his firetruck blanket. He usually falls asleep pretty quickly once we are settled in bed.

I sneak away once he is sound asleep and take charge of Miss Addie, who could be in any state of emotion by that point - happy, playful, somber, or downright angry - depending on how much she has napped that day. She and I hang out on the couch, nursing until she falls asleep. This takes maybe thirty-forty minutes, after which time I am (lately) lucky if I can transfer her to the crib.

She tends to average somewhere between forty-five minutes and two hours in the crib, depending on the night. Last night, it was twenty minutes - thus why this post is a day late. Once she is awake, it's pretty useless to get her back down, so she just nurses back to sleep on me and hangs out on the couch until we go to bed.

Like I said - it's not really the best routine - as far as routines go. But it's what works for us right now, so I wanted to keep a memory of it anyway. One of these days, they won't need me quite so much and I will long for these times. I know this is true - even if I can't really see it right now.

Now it's your turn! Link up a post about your bedtime rituals below.

Director Jewels

Don't forget to plan ahead for our next toddler discussion!

Upcoming Toddler Time Tuesday Topics
February 4 - Favorite Books
February 11 - Favorite Free (or Cheap) Apps for Toddlers
February 18 - Most Interesting Place you have Changed a Diaper

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Winter Wonderland of Babies {Giveaway Event}

Is there anything better than a sweet, squishy newborn? I don't think so. I couldn't pass up the chance to celebrate the upcoming arrival of some new little ones - and bring you a great giveaway in the process! Keep reading for an amazing set of prizes up for grabs! Part of the prize pack is from AppleCheeks cloth diapers - my absolute favorite brand. If nothing else, enter for the chance to win that!

Mama on a Green Mission

A Winter Wonderland Of Babies Event Is HERE! We get to CELEBRATE all the new babies in our lives!

Joy Of Momma Joyner and Mama On A Green Mission are both welcoming their 3rd babies in the next few weeks! Along with a wonderful group of bloggers, they want to offer ONE WINNER an awesome Prize Package full of great items for Mama, Baby, and even for Siblings!

The Prize Package Includes:

Halo - Swaddle - $38
Pish Posh Baby - OiOi Diaper Bag - $130
Undercover Mama - Nursing Tank Top - $25
Boba - 4G Carrier - $128
Live Clean Baby - Tearless Shampoo & Wash, Moisturizing Baby Wash, Moisturizing Baby Lotion, Non-Petroleum Jelly, and Moisturizing Bar Soap - $35
Fairhaven Health - Milkies Milk Saver, Milkies Freeze, and winner's choice of Nursing Postnatal or the Nursing Blend - $90
Making Mama's Milk Cookies - 1 Month Supply Of Cookies - $48
Wink Shapewear - Ultimate Belly and Hip Shaper - $50
Avent - 2 Bottles and Double Electric Breast Pump - $230
Tiny Love - NEW Gymini Developlace - $80
Woolino - Swaddle and Hat - $70
Kolcraft - Contours Clasique 3-in-1 Bassinet - $200
Build A Bear - Gift Card - $25
Envie de Fraises - Nursing Top and 2-pack Nursing Bras - $105
Pink Blush Maternity - Nursing Dress - $35
Kerrific Kerr Online - Burp Cloth Set - $43
Tickety Toc - DVD - $10
Applecheeks - Applecheeks Bundle and Wet Bag - $40
Red Barn Cloth Diapers - AI2 Diaper - $24
I See Me - Hello World Book - $30
Little Me - Sleeper and Coming Home Outfit - $50
Swaddle Designs - Crib Sheet and Ultimate Receiving Blanket - $55
Delta Children - Multi-Bin Organizer - $30
Tommee Tippee - Complete Starter Kit, Pacifiers, Teethers - $118
Wee Urban - Romper - $28
Simple Wishes - Hands Free Pumping Bra - $39
Infant Lane - Pajamas - $60
Lalaloopsy - Lalaloopsy Babies Doll - $20

That's a Total Prize Package Value of $1,836!!


Ready to enter? It's simple! Just fill out the Giveaway Tools Form below. There are plenty of entry options, and the more you do, the better your chance of winning!

The A Winter Wonderland Of Babies Event Prize Package is open to all legal residents of the United States who are 18-years-old or older. This event will run from 12:00am EST Monday, January 27, 2014 through 11:59pm EST Friday, February 14, 2014. Best Of Luck!


Joy Of Momma Joyner, Mama On A Green Mission, and all the participating blogs are not responsible for the fulfillment of the prizes. The sponsors will send the prizes directly to the winner. We are also not responsible for any unfortunate accidents that may result from the use of any of these products.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014."

Lincoln - stashing toy waffles in a purse. Even though the past two photos have involved princesses, he is not obsessed.
Addie - is there anything cuter than a spaghetti face baby?
Linking up at Practising Simplicity.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Which Yogurt is the Best Greek Yogurt?

Disclosure: This Greek yogurt taste test was sponsored by Yoplait, but I was asked to honestly express my opinions. I'm pretty picky when it comes to food, so you know I only share what I really think!

I don't like to try new foods. When I was little, my grandpa would actually pay me every time he got me to try a new food. Since we are trying to eat whole foods and re-think our food choices in general, I like to think I have made some strides in the right direction. But one thing I have never been thrilled about trying is Greek Yogurt.

I used to be a yogurt junkie. I ate two or three cartons of Yoplait every day (Blackberry Harvest? um, yum). But then Addie came along and I had to quit eating dairy for several months since she was exclusively nursing and had a sensitivity. And, along with many other things, my yogurt addiction just kind of fell by the wayside.

So when I was invited to participate in the Yoplait Greek Taste-Off, I thought it was a good opportunity to re-introduce yogurt to my life - and go straight to the healthier Greek version. Yoplait has asked consumers across the nation to test their own Greek Blueberry Yogurt against Chobani's Blueberry Fruit on the Bottom to see which one is better.

Yoplait is on the left, Chobani on the right.

I saved these two yogurts for dessert one evening this week, and sat down to the important task of deciding which one is more awesome.

I am meticulous about my yogurt consistency - it has to be very smooth with few or, even better, no chunks at all. The first point went to Yoplait because even from opening the packages, it was apparent that their blended variety fit my specification more closely. I stirred both of them up for good measure, and set to tasting. Yoplait vs. Chobani - which would it be?

The Chobani was the first yogurt I tasted, and I immediately noticed the Greek taste. It was not as overwhelming as I expected, which was good - but I could definitely tell it was different than the "normal" yogurt I am accustomed to eating.

Around this time, Lincoln popped his head up next to the table and said "What's in there, Mommy?" He slid his chair next to mine and proceeded to help me taste-test.

We each took a few bites of the Chobani before switching to Yoplait. And when we did make the switch - wow! I was amazed at the difference in flavor.

Yoplait's Greek Blueberry yogurt is far sweeter than Chobani's Fruit on the Bottom. I thought for sure there would be a corresponding sugar content on the label to explain this difference, but that was not the case. Yoplait features no artificial sweeteners or flavors, real fruit, and comes in a 5.3 ounce cup of goodness.

From that point on, it was a fight to get another bite in for myself.

Pardon the serious spaghetti face!

I have to honestly say that after this taste test, it's a lot more probable that some Yoplait Greek Yogurt may end up in our next grocery purchase. I do wish that there were an organic, certified non-GMO version available, but at least I can feel confident that this is healthier than some other options! My kids thought this was the best treat ever, so wait until they find out it comes in flavors like pineapple, tangerine, coconut, and cherry! They'll be thrilled (and possibly refuse to eat anything else ever again)!

My final decision was this - I would definitely reach for Yoplait on a grocery store shelf first. The sweeter taste sold me! I love that it is a Greek yogurt that doesn't completely taste unlike other "normal" yogurt varieties. Take the taste challenge for yourself - and let me know which one you like better!

Disclosure: This Greek yogurt taste test was sponsored by Yoplait, but I was asked to honestly express my opinions and all views expressed are my own. For more info, you can read my Disclosure Policy.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Addie's Purple & Turquoise Owl 1st Birthday Party

Baby Girl Purple and Teal Turquoise First Birthday Owl Party - Owls, Banner, Plush, Smash Cake, Photo Display, Party Hat, Handmade, Cake, High Chair Tutu

Addie's first birthday was back in November - so like any good mom blogger, I am finally writing about it two months later! We planned her party a few days after her birthday, so we were able to enjoy the day with her without being too stressed out about party details!

Picking out a birthday party theme for her was tough, but I was inspired by all of the cute owls I kept seeing on Pinterest! I went with a rather unconventional color scheme, which meant custom making most of the details, but I'm so pleased with how it turned out. I definitely took on some projects that were much bigger than my Mickey Mouse party decorations, but I think it was worth it.

Fair warning: this is a photo-heavy post!

Baby Girl Purple and Teal Turquoise First Birthday Owl Party - High Chair Tutu, Balloons

When I party plan, I love to wrap everything up in the theme. I made a party hat for Lincoln's first birthday, so I knew Addie would have to have a special hat as well.

Baby Girl Purple and Teal Turquoise First Birthday Owl Party - High Chair Tutu

The tutu skirt was one of my favorite pieces of the party decor. I managed to salvage it before she smashed too much cake into it - I'm planning to re-make it for her when she's old enough for a dress-up collection.

But perhaps my favorite thing about her party was her beautiful, amazing, wonderful owl cake!

Baby Girl Purple and Teal Turquoise First Birthday Owl Party - Cake, Owls, Smash Cake

My friend Stephanie is far more talented than I when it comes to baking and decorating, and she volunteered her services for a day so that we could create this masterpiece. I'm still just thrilled with how it turned out.

Baby Girl Purple and Teal Turquoise First Birthday Owl Party - Party Table, Owls, Cupcakes, Cake, Cheese, Crackers, Photo Display, Cupcake Picks

The morning of the party, Addie was not feeling well at all - which meant that a lot of my last-minute food ideas and table decorations did not get finished as planned. While I should take this as a lesson in why it is unwise to procrastinate, I will likely continue to do so and will just be grateful that I had lots of photos to display on her party table. I had intended on making more streamers and paper owls to include with the frames. This would have likely been easier if I had gone with a more traditional party color scheme.

Baby Girl Purple and Teal Turquoise First Birthday Owl Party - Owls, Cupcakes, Cupcake Picks, Photo Display

She ended up perking up right as the party started - thank goodness. I guess she must have been teething, but I actually came very close to calling everyone and cancelling the whole affair.

Here are a few photos from the party - followed by more detailed pictures of our owl decorations!

Baby Girl Purple and Teal Turquoise First Birthday Owl Party

Baby Girl Purple and Teal Turquoise First Birthday Owl Party

Baby Girl Purple and Teal Turquoise First Birthday Owl Party - Cupcakes, Cupcake Picks, Owls, Michael's

I snagged these fun owl cupcake picks at Michael's sometime last spring. I think they were in the value section.

Baby Girl Purple and Teal Turquoise First Birthday Owl Party

After some cracker-and-cheese snacking, Addie was a little more excited about her party.

Baby Girl Purple and Teal Turquoise First Birthday Owl Party

Baby Girl Purple and Teal Turquoise First Birthday Owl Party

Gift opening was intriguing to her, and she had lots of help from her big brother, cousin, and friend.

Baby Girl Purple and Teal Turquoise First Birthday Owl Party

Baby Girl Purple and Teal Turquoise First Birthday Owl Party

I love this photo series. Look at her little faces! And the clapping hands! Precious.

After gifts, we headed into the kitchen for her smash cake. While Stephanie was slaving away over the shaped owl cake, I was hand piping this masterpiece.

Baby Girl Purple and Teal Turquoise First Birthday Owl Party - Smash Cake, Owls, Photo Display

Um, it took forever. But isn't it seriously adorable? I had originally planned to only do one shade of purple, teal, and white - but ended up using lavender as well and it turned out so cute. I used a #21 tip to pipe all the stars except the bottom row.

Baby Girl Purple and Teal Turquoise First Birthday Owl Party - Owls, Cake,

The big kids were pretty excited for us to cut the big cake.

Baby Girl Purple and Teal Turquoise First Birthday Owl Party

Unfortunately, in the chaos of her being sick right before the party, we completely forgot to take her smash cake out of the fridge so her first cake experience was kind of like trying to break open an ice cube. She was persistent.

Baby Girl Purple and Teal Turquoise First Birthday Owl Party - Smash Cake, Plush Owl, Etsy

I think it was safe to say she enjoyed it. I'm still dying over that high chair tutu. I kind of want to leave it on there forever.

Baby Girl Purple and Teal Turquoise First Birthday Owl Party, High Chair Tutu
Family shot.

Baby Girl Purple and Teal Turquoise First Birthday Owl Party - High Chair Tutu

I'll share more about the decorations in later posts, but here are some overall photos.

Baby Girl Purple and Teal Turquoise First Birthday Owl Party - Banner, Plush Owls, Lanterns, Photo Display, Huggable Hoots, TZ Burps!, Etsy, Adelaide's Attic

I collected owls for months to use as part of the decor, and even sewed the big plush ones myself. Her banner was one of my favorite elements of the party. It's made of felt and ribbon.

Baby Girl Purple and Teal Turquoise First Birthday Owl Party - Adelaide's Attic, Etsy, Ruffled Streamers, Birthday Display

I really loved how the ruffled crepe paper streamers turned out, too. I found a tutorial at Dana Made It and they were soooo easy to make!

Baby Girl Purple and Teal Turquoise First Birthday Owl Party - Food Ideas, Luscious Slush Punch, Smash Cake, Owls, Cake

The punch recipe we tend to go with is called Luscious Slush Punch - but this year, we thought it was really overly sweet. We may be seeking a less sugary drink for future parties!

Baby Girl Purple and Teal Turquoise First Birthday Owl Party - Etsy, Plush Owls, Owl Wreath, Candy Party Favors, Adelaide's Attic

More handmade party details - there were quite a few plush owls that I sewed scattered around the rooms. The big ones are currently listed in my Etsy shop, and the little ones were handed out (along with the color-coordinating candy owl bags) as party favors. The front door wreath did not turn out quite as I had hoped, but I still think it was pretty cute.

Baby Girl Purple and Teal Turquoise First Birthday Owl Party - Handmade Party Hat, Balloons, Photo Display, Ruffled Streamers, Owls

We added some balloons and lots of photos of Addie's first year and it was a pretty adorable party overall. At least, I thought so. And the birthday girl enjoyed herself, which was the important thing. Although she was a little grumpy later that evening when her big brother stole her balloon!

Baby Girl Purple and Teal Turquoise First Birthday Owl Party

Hope you enjoyed the photos from our Owl party!
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