Director Jewels: May 2014

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Disney's MALEFICENT is Now in Theaters!

Disclosure: I received passes to attend an advance screening of MALEFICENT. All opinions expressed are my own.


I'm a sucker for a good origin story and am fairly obsessed with Disney, so I've been looking forward to the release of this summer's MALEFICENT. I love the original Sleeping Beauty story and always find it fascinating to delve into a character's past.

Warning: mild spoilers contained below. Quit reading now if you don't want any surprises revealed!


The story begins with a young Maleficent, a fairy who lives in the moors among creatures who have no need for a king and no evil in their hearts. Maleficent bears magnificent wings that carry her across the land on adventures and (as she grows) to guard their kingdom. As a girl, she is introduced to Stefan, a peasant who dreams of finer things.

The story takes a darker turn as Stefan decides what he finds most important in life is not love, but power. Through a dastardly trick, Stefan becomes king of the land of the humans who are waging war on Maleficent and her fairy people. Maleficent is then compelled to place a terrible curse on King Stefan's newborn baby daughter, Aurora.


After her curse is delivered, the story becomes a little more unfamiliar, as not all elements of the original Sleeping Beauty film have remained. Maleficent is not unaware of Aurora's whereabouts throughout her childhood, in spite of the king and queen's best effort to hide her away in the forest with three fairy "aunties" in charge of her care. These three fairies seem to know very little about caring for a child, and Maleficent herself develops an unmistakeable bond with Aurora.


 The film takes a lot of unexpected twists and turns and the outcome is similar, yet not quite like the original Sleeping Beauty story. I'm not sure how I feel about certain elements being changed, but overall the story was very favorable for Angelina Jolie's Maleficent character. The role of Maleficent seemed perfect for Jolie, as she brought the perhaps-not-so-villainous fairy to life before our eyes. 

I think, perhaps, my favorite scenes were those that most closely resembled parts of Sleeping Beauty: the curse of baby Aurora, and the segment where Aurora first meets Prince Phillip in the woods. Seeing parts of a classic Disney princess tale come to life with live acting held a good bit of Disney magic.

The art design is beautiful and similar to the styles found in Oz: The Great & Powerful and Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. There was never a lack of beauty, even in scenes where the mood was dark. The movie's director, Robert Stromberg, has a long history of working in film design, and he left no detail untouched in this tale.


MALEFICENT may be based on Sleeping Beauty, but it will stand on its own since so many elements are new and intriguing. If you're interested in medieval times, fairies, princesses, or the classic movie lore, chances are you'll enjoy this fresh, new look at the story behind one of Disney's most widely-known villains.

The movie is rated PG, but I would suggest parents read more on the content before taking very young children. My oldest child is three years old - I don't think he will be able to understand this film for a few more years. Somewhere in the age range of 8-10 seems appropriate for viewing this film, in my opinion.

Like MALEFICENT on Facebook: facebook.com/DisneyMaleficent
Follow MALEFICENT on Twitter: @Maleficent

I received passes to attend an advance screening of MALEFICENT. All opinions expressed are my own. For more info, you can read my Disclosure Policy.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: That '70's Couch


New drama studio seating...because it won't fit anywhere else. But at $25, how do you resist this sort of vintage find? Currently brainstorming a show to write around this piece for my teen students to perform later this year.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Day I Almost Lost Lincoln + 3 Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving




"Two hands, Mommy!"

I look in the rear view mirror at my three-year-old's face as he insists over and over again that I need two hands. "Two hands for what, buddy?" I ask.

"DRIVE with two hands! Two hands, Mommy! Drive the car with two hands!"

I don't know why this is so important to him, but I comply. My other hand was just resting on my lap. I wasn't adjusting the radio, applying makeup, or checking my phone. But...in my heart I know that I could have been.

These guys are my most important treasures.

I think everyone has probably done something to distract themselves while driving, at some point. We're all human. We all have deadlines and we're all (usually) in a rush to get somewhere on time. I have put on mascara at a stoplight. I've sent text messages before leaving a parking lot. Am I proud of this? No, but I admit that I have been distracted in the past.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), of the nearly 33,000 roadway fatalities in 2012, there were 3,328 fatalities and approximately 421,000 injuries in distracted driving-related crashes. Hold up a minute. 3,328 fatalities?

That's way, way too many. In fact, one is too many.

Here's another Lincoln story - but this one isn't quite as adorable as the "drive with two hands" tale. Last week, I took the kids to the grocery store. My mom went with me, so we had a 1-to-1 adult-to-kid ratio. I figured we were pretty safe with one person in charge of each kid, so after buying food, we went to check out a nearby outdoor fountain display. The kids were fascinated by the water and were really happy to run around and stretch their legs before we drove home.

It happened so fast. One minute, Lincoln was running in circles by the water with Addie. And then the next minute, I caught his eye as he inched away from the fountain...and bolted.

This kid has always been a runner, but we've made strides. He's getting better about listening to me when I tell him he has to stop his feet because it's dangerous to run away from mommy. He may not completely understand, but he doesn't complain (much) about being required to hold hands in parking lots and not being allowed to play in our front yard. So I didn't expect this from him.

I dropped my phone and keys and ran after him as he hightailed it toward the very busy parking lot, but I could tell immediately I wouldn't get to him in time. I called him - at first stern, then pleading, and then hysterical - to tell him to STOP. His entire short three years flashed before my eyes. My heart felt like it would seize and my flip-flops felt like they were made of lead.

He finally stopped...barely a foot from the street, and cars continued to whiz past us. He was laughing. He didn't understand what he had just narrowly avoided.

I'm never going to forget that day. Because what if he hadn't stopped? What if he had run out into that busy parking lot? And what if someone had been sending a text - looking down at their smartphone screen - at that very moment, because in a parking lot the danger isn't as "real" while behind the wheel? 

My baby was very nearly a statistic of distracted driving. I'm not cool with that. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Auto Alliance are striving to increase awareness about the risks of distracted driving. Will you join me and "decide to drive" every single time you get behind a wheel?

Here are my top 3 ideas to stop distracted driving!

1. Make a car-wide no gadget policy - whether you're the driver or passenger. My kids don't watch movies in the car unless we are on a long road trip. If they're not used to seeing screens in a car all the time, maybe when they learn to drive, the idea will be crazy to them.

2. Keep your phone in your purse, diaper bag, or backseat - just somewhere that is out of reach. That email or Facebook notification sound is tempting, but so not worth the risk.

3.  Put a family photo on your dashboard to remind you that those you love are counting on youto keep them safe. Nothing is more important than the safety of those you love - especially not something as trivial as wearing eyeshadow, tweeting a response to a celebrity, or snagging a snack from that bag on the floor.

Your car may have all kinds of fancy gadgets designed for safety, but the truth is that the most advanced safety feature you have is yourself. Keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel (two hands - as Lincoln says) - always.

Do you have the best slogan or catch phrase to make the Decide to Drive campaign pop? Enter the Decide to Drive Catch Phrase Contest between May 28 - June 13. Your words could be chosen as the official Decide to Drive campaign catch phrase, and you could win one of two $500 runner-up prizes or the $1,000 grand prize! Can’t wait to see what you come up with! Enter here: http://clvr.li/1nwa6CV

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

21/52



"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014."
Lincoln - taking an "official" 3-year-old photo with our 1-Up family mascot.
Addie - Look at those baby eyes. She loved playing in the water, but kept showing me anytime she got wet or muddy - it concerned her greatly.
 
Linking up at Practising Simplicity.

Friday, May 23, 2014

What's On Your... {May 2014}

I always intend to write a post in this series every few months, but I just realized the last one was in December! Ahh! There are just so many wonderful things to write about...how can I find the time?


Dresser | Well, I still haven't sorted my jewelry. I did throw out some really old lip balm recently. I think currently, there are only about five mismatched socks and a couple of shirts and maybe an Undercover Mama tossed on top right now.

Perennial To Do List | Video editing. I've finished three videos this month and have another in progress! I have hope. I still haven't managed to sew a dress for Addie, so that's going on this list.

Refrigerator Shelves | Leftover stuffed shells. Really, really leftover enchilada casserole. Organic corn on the cob that has probably gone bad. Supplies for broccoli cheddar soup. Probiotics for everyone. Flax oil because potty training is awful. Cherries. Strawberries. Grapes. Stonyfield Organic Yogurt.

Itinerary | Several trips this summer - Omaha, Branson, and Indianapolis. I'm so excited! And possibly crazy, to travel so much with toddlers.

Fantasy Itinerary | I've been seeing a lot of really gorgeous photos of Italy lately. I want to see Europe!

Playlist | Mindy Gledhill: A Pocketful of Poetry. Lots of kid stuff like Disney Jr. DJ Shuffle, Wee Sing Bible Songs, Laurie Berkner, and Anna & the Cupcakes.

Nightstand | A huge pile of board books, a couple of which are covered in applesauce from an unfortunate incident from when I tried to take a shower last week (shocking, right?). A bottle or two of water. There was a lip balm yesterday, but I think it fell off.

Workout Plan | I've been having weird stomach pain, so exercise of really any sort is out right now. If Addie ever sleeps longer than an hour on a consistent basis, I might try to start running again, though!

Phone | Voicemails from a mystery shop company who seems to desperately want my assistance. Cartwheel. Timehop. Etsy shop stats that I check far too often. Blurry photos of my kids.

Top 5 List | Big hugs around the neck from my girl. Hearing "Mommy, I not want to grow up" from my boy. My thriving little backyard garden. The potential for my Etsy shop. Summer possibilities.

Bucket List | Between my 30 by 30 and our Summer Bucket List - a ton of things!

Mind | Oh, heavens. This could go on for weeks. Some health issues. Addie's teeth. What to pack for vacation coming up soon. The play I haven't written yet for the drama class that starts in a few weeks. Things I learned recently about chiropractic care and genetic makeup and predisposition to certain conditions. My mind is weighed down right now. Trying to let go and trust that all will be well, but that's hard.

Blogroll | Sad face. I haven't read any blogs in weeks. I've been slammed and Bloglovin' has been the thing to go for the moment. Looking forward to reconnecting soon!

Walls of Your Favorite Room in Your House | It's the Super Nintendo Nursery. Always has been, likely always will be.

Last Credit Card Statement | Some groceries. Some takeout. Bill for the removal of Andrew's wisdom teeth.

Screensaver | Hasn't changed. A really sweet photo of Addie walking at Silver Dollar City, wearing her sock monkey hat and grinning. It's my favorite.

TV Every Night | New Girl. Currently season 2. The Nick and Jess kiss. Ahhhh!

Where Is Baby? by Kathryn O. Galbraith {Children's Book Review}

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

Before I had kids, I worked at a library. My specialty was children's programming. I loved doing storytime and kid's book clubs. Sometimes I would just request new children's books for the sheer joy of looking at the illustrations. Every time I found a book with illustrations by John Butler, I was thrilled. So when I had the chance to review this title, it seemed like a perfect fit.

This picture book starts off telling a story of a little baby and the classic game of childhood peek-a-boo or hide-and-seek. The question is asked: Where is baby? and then readers are whisked off on a journey to encounter a collection of lovely little baby animals in all the places that they hide.

We're treated to the sight of baby leopards up in a tree, baby polar bears in the snow, baby prairie dogs in the desert, and more. The assortment of animals that are introduced includes some of the typical creatures you find in children's books - but also, more obscure animals like bats, ostriches, and more. The captivating beauty of these animal illustrations makes me want to read the book over and over again - and my kids love it, too!

It features simple text, so it is perfect to read to toddlers who may be interested in something larger than a board book - but who don't have the attention span to sit through a long story.

Overall, this book has become a family favorite and I know we will treasure it for a long time! 

Thanks to Peach Tree Publishing for my review sample of this book. I received no compensation for posting a review and all views expressed are my own.For more information, you can read my Giveaway Policy and my Disclosure Policy.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Summer Bucket List {2014}


Last year, we had so much fun working on our Summer Bucket List that I knew it would become an annual tradition for our family. I've spent the last few weeks thinking up ideas for summer fun and finally have our list all put together.

We're aiming to do quite a few things that we did last summer because the kids will still enjoy them, and we're adding on some fun new adventures, too! Most of our activities are for young kids, because we are planning to come up with lots of fun things to do with a toddler and preschooler in Kansas City!

I'll be updating the list with links about our adventures as we complete them!

-Watch (maybe catch) lightning bugs. We saw some lightning bugs at the water park at Grand Country Resort and also spotted lots of them on a family walk!

-Travel to Omaha. Done! We stayed at the Hilton Omaha, went to the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, and played at the Omaha Children's Museum.

-Ride Thomas the Tank Engine: The Thrill of the Ride Tour. Done!

-Have a picnic at the park.


-Visit the City Market.
 

-See a show at Starlight Theatre (parents only!). Done! We saw The Wizard of Oz, We Will Rock You, and Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
 
-Pick Peaches.

-Go to the Downtown Days festival. Done!

-Visit Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead.

-Complete the Summer Reading Program at the library.

-Visit Wonderscope Children's Museum.

-Travel to Branson. Done - and it was awesome. You can read my top attractions for families with toddlers in Branson.

-Travel to Indianapolis. We cancelled this idea. Too much travel in the summer. Maybe we'll tackle it in the fall.

-Go swimming. Done! We swam at the Hilton Omaha and had tons of water play at White Water!

-Draw with sidewalk chalk.

-Walk to Poppy's (a local shop) for ice cream. So, we haven't accomplished this yet, but we did eat at Poppy's during Downtown Days so I'm thinking that counts at this point.

-Sew name pillows for the kids (like the ones in my shop).

-Cross something off my 30 by 30 list

-Make popsicles.

-Make garden stepping stones (like these).

-Visit all of the parks in our hometown. 

Update: this wasn't on our original list, but we squeezed in a fun visit to LEGOLAND Discovery Center and SEA LIFE Aquarium, too!


What do you think? Anything I missed? It seems likely that we'll be super busy all summer long! Stick around all summer long as we work on our bucket list and have all sorts of family adventures.

Hamilton Beach Stand Mixer + Hand Mixer Giveaway

Back when I was planning what I wanted my first home to look like, I had one plan for my kitchen: decorate it in red! That was a clever theme and very trendy - but while I still like it, I wish I had had the forethought to ask for a few extras of some basic kitchen utensils on my wedding registry. Now that I've been married a few years, some of them are just plain falling apart!

What's your most-used kitchen item?


My husband gave me a stand mixer for Christmas last year, and it is easy to say that my life has changed! I don't cook (or bake) as often as I intend, but the job is so much easier with a mixer! I think I am probably spoiled for life and will never want to mix cookies by hand again. Anyone else feel the same way?

Whoever invented the stand mixer should be given many awards. That's my honest opinion. Head over and read about the Hamilton Beach mixers at FabGrandma!

Giveaway

One person will win a Hamilton Beach Stand Mixer and two people will each win a Hamilton Beach Softscrape Hand Mixer! This giveaway will end on June 14 at 11:59pm EST. The giveaway is open to the 50 United States + D.C.  The first name selected from all entries will receive the stand mixer, the second and third names selected will receive a hand held mixer.

To enter the giveaway, follow the instructions in the 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! Good luck!


Disclosure: Director Jewels was not compensated in any way to participate in this giveaway. For more information, you can read my Giveaway Policy and my Disclosure Policy.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

MoDOT Big Truck Night 2014


In case I've never mentioned this before, my son has an obsession with vehicles. Trucks have been his most consistent love in his three years of life, so I think we're in it for the long haul. I've reached a point where I can identify every different type of truck we come across and my mommy radar can pick up a cement truck half a mile away (while driving) so that I can point it out to him with over-the-top enthusiasm.

It's the little things.

We were pretty excited to learn about an event here in our hometown where our kids could go see a huge array of trucks and other big vehicles for free one evening last week. Lincoln was excited about the regular pickup trucks we encountered in the parking lot on the way to this event, so you can just imagine his reaction when he saw all these big trucks up close and personal.

You can probably also imagine his reaction when he was forcibly removed from a police car, bomb squad truck, police motorcycle, dump truck, and tractor. When you're three, it's hard to take turns with the other ten kids in line!



Little miss Adelaide was not about to be left behind and insisted on checking out every single thing that Lincoln touched. Her latest is pointing after him and shouting "TURN!" - ie, "it's my turn!" It was pretty cute that she was just as into it as her big brother, until they were both having massive meltdowns and we were the parents who decided to scoot before things got (more) ugly.

It's blurry (ugh!), but look at that joy.

We actually tried to take Lincoln to a big truck event last summer, and he surprised us by completely freaking out, with an utter refusal to enter any of the vehicles or touch them or stand near them. I'm glad he's outgrown whatever weird phobia that was, because he had the time of his life at this event!



I think it's safe to say that Big Truck events will be something on our family's adventure list for many years to come. Huge thanks to the Missouri Department of Transportation's Kansas City District Office for putting on this amazing event. It's such a blessing to little families like my own to be able to experience things like this right here at home!

Wordless Wednesday: Animal Crackers at the Zoo



Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Around the Clubhouse World DVD {Review + Giveaway}

Disclosure: I received a sample DVD to facilitate my review. All opinions expressed are my own.

It's no secret whatsoever that we are huge fans of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. The most popular posts here on my blog are from Lincoln's Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Birthday Party! We try to keep screen time to a minimum in our home, but my first pick is almost always a trusty Mickey Mouse Clubhouse DVD when I need something that will both entertain and educate my kids.

Mickey has universal appeal, and is loved equally by my three-year-old and eighteen-month-old.

The newest DVD release from everyone's favorite mouse hits shelves today and it's sure to be a big hit. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Around the Clubhouse World is an adventure of global proportions! Come on, let's go around the Clubhouse world!

This has been Lincoln's favorite movie for the last couple of weeks. He is fascinated by all of the different places that Mickey and his friends visit on their trip around the world. The simplicity is beautiful - Mickey just takes the toon car around the world (near Mickey Park, naturally) and comes across some new locations that offer a suggestion of the place they are visiting. For example: the Eiffel Tower rests in a roundabout - there are no other symbols of Paris, but we know that's the place we are visiting. We're working on understanding that there is a whole big world out there, but it's a lot for a preschooler to grasp, so this DVD will help us make some connections as Lincoln and Addie continue to learn.

Here's the official synopsis of this adventurous release!

Pack your bags and grab your passport. Join Mickey, Minnie and pals on a whirlwind trip Around The Clubhouse World! Climb the Eiffel Tower in France and say “bonjour” to Mademoiselle Daisy and Monsieur Donald Duck. Then, rescue Gondolier Goofy when he goes adrift in Italy’s Grand Canal; solve the mysterious riddle of Pharaoh Pete’s pyramid in Egypt, and meet a dancing dragon at the Great Wall of China. With your help – and the right Mouseketools – your Clubhouse friends can get their special passport stamped at each wonderful location. Featuring over two hours of song-filled fun, including four additional episodes, this global adventure proves it’s a small world after all!

One of our favorite parts is Goofy's Gondola Song, highlighted in the clip below!


The DVD comes with a free passport activity book, so kids can follow along with Mickey's adventure and fill their own book with stickers as the Clubhouse friends collect passport stamps. There are four bonus episodes included as well:

-Donald and the Beanstalk
-Goofy on Mars
-Mickey's Handy Helpers
-Pluto's Dinosaur Romp

Do your kids love Mickey as much as mine? Who's your favorite Clubhouse character?

Giveaway

One Director Jewels reader will win Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Around the Clubhouse World DVD! This giveaway will end on June 6 at 11:59pm CST. This giveaway is open to US and Canadian readers only. Winner will be emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or prize will be forfeited.

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. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a sample DVD for the purpose of this review and I am not responsible for fulfillment of 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.

Day Out With Thomas: The Thrill of the Ride Tour {Ticket Giveaway}

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


All aboard! Thomas the Tank Engine is headed back to the Midland Railway in Baldwin City, Kansas. I live just outside Kansas City and it's about an hour drive for us to go see Thomas. Our kids are both really excited to see him live and in person (way more so than they were last year), so I know it's going to be a big hit.


Even if you aren't in KC, you can probably catch a stop on Thomas' tour somewhere near you! Here's the scoop on this year's tour!

Little engineers won't believe their eyes - or their ears! For the first time ever at Day Out With Thomas, Thomas the Tank Engine will be able to talk to his fans. Boys and girls will be cheerfully greeted by the #1 Engine when he pulls into Midland Railway Historical Association for Day Out with Thomas: The Thrill of the Ride Tour 2014.

This fun-filled event offers little engineers and their families the opportunity to take ride Thomas the Tank Engine, star of the popular Thomas & Friends series. In addition, children will meet Sir Topham Hatt, Controller of the Railway and enjoy a day of Thomas-themed activities including arts and crafts, storytelling, and more. The tour, now in its 19th year, will make stops in 42 U.S. cities and is expected to welcome nearly one million passengers in 2014.


Thomas will be in Baldwin City May 30 - June 1 and June 6-8. Rides are available from 8:30am to 5:00pm. You can purchase tickets here - or enter to win below! Visit Midland Railway for more info and directions.

You can follow along with Thomas and this year's tour on Facebook and Twitter!

Giveaway

One Director Jewels reader will win 4 Tickets to Ride Thomas at Midland Railway in Baldwin City, KS! This giveaway will end on May 26 at 11:59pm CST. This giveaway is open to US readers only. Winner will be emailed and will have 24 hours to respond or prize will be forfeited.

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. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


As stated above, my family received tickets to the event to facilitate my review.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Adelaide: 18 Months Old

Today, my little girl is closer to age two than age one. Yesterday, she was eighteen months old.

That thing they say about time going by too fast is absolutely true. It seems like maybe I'm dreaming - maybe it's a year ago and she's only six months old? It doesn't seem like she was born yesterday, but it definitely doesn't feel like we should be creeping up on a second birthday, either.


We've absolutely seen a massive increase in personality in the last few months, and I want to capture some of it here, before I forget.

Milestones: You have mastered running in recent weeks. You and your brother terrorize each other running circles around the house. You're also gaining confidence in climbing, walking down stairs, and leaping off of Lincoln's toddler bed.

Sleep is still a complete disaster. I've started to be suspicious that maybe we have been dealing with silent reflux for the last year. It would explain a lot of things about your moods, habits, and especially sleep. The next time we are at the pediatrician, I will definitely be mentioning this to get their thoughts about it. I'm not in love with the idea of you being on a daily medication unless it is absolutely necessary, but there aren't a lot of other treatment options for reflux, so we'll see.


You will eat just about anything, though you do have some preferences. You especially love broccoli, apples, pears, peaches, carrot straws, grapes, chicken nuggets, raisins, applesauce, broccoli cheddar soup, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, and cheese of any kind. You don't seem to have the same need for starchy foods that mommy does - you'll take or leave bread, fries, or baked potatoes.

You nurse throughout the day and night and seem to think it is ultimately your right to have access whenever needed. You beat on my chest and demand "Nuh!" and wail piteously if you are told no.

When you turned one, you were just starting to babble some "real" words. Oh my goodness. The list of words you know now is definitely more than I can count - but here are the ones I can remember.

Mama, Dada, Bun (my mom), Pa (my dad), Nana (Andrew's mom), Papa (Andrew's dad), Ad (yourself), Ing-ing (Licoln), chair, ball, Doc, "meemie" (Lambie), Belle, princess, mermaid, car, bath, flower, bird or sometimes "tweet-tweet", shark, fishie, Pooh, choo-choo, "Mah" (Tramp from Lady & the Tramp), colors (crayons), blue, block, turn (as in "my turn"), shoes, bow, cup, "who-who" (owl), "uh-huh" and "uh-uh" for yes and no, awww, and eyes.

You also will recite the sounds of lots of animals - woof-woof (dog), moooow (cat), mmmm (cow), quack-quack (duck), tweet-tweet (bird), ssssss (snake), ooh-ooh, aah-aah (monkey), roar (lion, tiger, dinosaur), "who-who" (owl), and more that I can't remember.

You also tell me when you are pooping. The look on your face is priceless. I'm hoping this means potty training you will be easier than it is for Lincoln.


You recognize items in books or in our house and point to them when prompted. You can stand on your tiptoes to peek out the window at a firetruck with Lincoln. You like to scribble with crayons. You understand simple instructions, even if you don't like to listen. You love going down slides (and shouting "help! help!" when you get to the top but can't quite get your feet positioned correctly. You love to dance, especially with Mommy and Lincoln.


Loves: Your favorite toys are your two plush Doc McStuffins, plush Lambie, and plush lamb that you think is another Lambie. It's actually getting to the point where your refuse to do anything without all four of these toys and that's getting ridiculous.

You love playing with Lincoln and roughhousing with him as much as possible. You're not quite big enough to keep up with him, but you try your best - and if you don't get a turn at something, heaven help us all.

You really miss Daddy when he is gone at work and ask for him throughout the day. You like to snuggle with him when he comes home and while Mommy puts Lincoln to bed at night.

You like going to the park and going for walks in the stroller (usually). You love all the animals at the zoo! You also really like your headbands and ask for a bow if we leave the house and you don't have one on your head. I'm a proud mama.


Hates: You still only have a few people in your circle of trust - grandparents, Daddy, and sometimes other kids. Other than that, you don't love interacting with anyone else and you greet anyone who tries to approach you with a scowl. You especially hate the church nursery.

You hate having your teeth or mouth touched. I have another post in the works to talk about our ordeal with early childhood caries - or dental decay - at your extremely young age. Sigh! You've been poked and prodded in the mouth a lot in the last couple of months, and you clam your lips shut if anyone even comes near your mouth now.

You don't like to be told no, and we've had some pretty epic toddler meltdowns over this recently. You're kind of grumpy for mommy a lot of the time, but as long as you get to nurse frequently, you are not too whiny.


Weight/Height: At your pediatrician's visit last week, you weighed 27 pounds, 10 ounces (95th percentile). You're 32 1/2 inches tall (75th percentile). You're wearing almost entirely 18-24month and 2T clothing! You're in size two AppleCheeks cloth diapers.

You now have 12 teeth (4 front on top and bottom plus 1-year molars), but you're working on all four eye teeth. They are worse than molars! Of your 12 teeth, 4 of them are decayed....unfortunately probably past the point of us being able to fix them without a dental procedure. I want to elaborate on this, but it will turn into another novel - so I'll save it for a new post later this week or next.

Your hair is coming in finally, in little tufts that stick up all over your head. I'm holding out hope that we can do real pigtails soon! Every time I've tried so far, you have not been pleased about it.


I'm in shock that it's almost time for me to start planning a second birthday party, but that seems to just be how life goes! I'm so blessed to have this beautiful girl as my own, and every day I cherish her more. I'm holding her tight - trying to keep her little for just a little while longer.

Why I Am Happy I'm Drowning


Remember that time I wrote a letter to my kitchen sink? This post started out that way. It was going to be one of those "whine, whine, whine...look at all these clothes I have to put away after I've gone to all the trouble of washing them" rants. Honestly, part of me still wants to write that post.

But really? Even though I know there are a lot of you mamas out there who can probably raise your hands and say it's crazy-laundry-city at your house, too, that's probably not the best use of my writing time or your reading time.

The truth is this: yeah, I do a ton of laundry. A TON. It's actually a fact that I have never, ever, not even once been "caught up" on the laundry since my daughter was born eighteen months ago. I have piles of dirty clothes in my hallway, beside my bed, on my bed, in my kids' room, on the staircase, on the floor outside the laundry room, in both upstairs bathrooms, and on the floor in the laundry room. I have piles of clean laundry on top of the dryer, on top of the freezer, on my bed, on the arm of the couch, and on the kitchen table. I'd be lying if I said that I didn't sometimes lose track of what is clean and what is dirty.

Before I had two kids, I didn't particularly mind doing laundry. It's kind of relaxing, right? Not a whole lot of work to just throw some clothing in a machine. But now that I've been in a constant state of being unable to keep up for over a year, I definitely don't love this chore.

I'm trying to find the silver lining. What right do I have to complain, when I still have a closet full of clean clothes to wear even when the piles of laundry are three feet deep? My kids have clothes that are covered in food and dirt, but that's just evidence that they are healthy and acting like normal kids. Sometimes we run out of sheets because the kids sleep in our bed and spit up or vomit or pee through all the layers of bedding....three nights in a row....but at least we still have a bed to sleep on, even if we're using an assortment of random blankets.

This parenting thing is hard, and so far doesn't seem to be getting any easier. I'm guessing that means I'm not going to catch up on the laundry for a long, long time. I know there are going to be a lot of days when that makes me crazy. Hopefully I can find the bright side more often than not.

What's your best trick for staying positive even when you feel like giving up?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

20/52



"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014."
Lincoln - mesmerized by the new water table.
Addie - toddler life is hard. Really hard, guys.
 
Linking up at Practising Simplicity.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Strider Bike Classic {Giveaway}

Welcome to the Strider Bike Classic Giveaway!

Sponsored by:  Strider

Hosted by:  Mostly Together Mommy


We don't have a Strider Bike in our house, but I think they look really cool. Lincoln received a tricycle for his third birthday, and he loves it, but he hasn't mastered pedaling yet. I'm sure he'll catch on one of these days, but this seems like a great step between for kids who are learning how to ride a bike!

A Strider Bike is unlike other bikes for kids. It's different in a good way. Strider bikes teach balance and coordination and allow children to build up their confidence until the point when they are ready for a "big kid" bike.

Strider bikes don't have pedals, allowing children to keep their feet on the ground and build both their confidence and their coordination. These bikes have the lowest seat height of any child's bike and also are tested thoroughly for safety. Even better? Strider bikes are all terrain - the tires will never go flat!

Have you tried one of these bikes with your kids?

Giveaway

One lucky winner is going to take home a Strider Bike Classic. Simply enter using the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to all those in the U.S. 18+ and will end on June 6. Good luck, everyone!


Director Jewels has not been compensated to promote this giveaway. This giveaway is not affiliated with Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Director Jewels is not responsible for prize fulfillment.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

I Hate Nurseries

Seriously. I hate them.

My kids don't spend much time in nursery situations. I'm blessed to be able to stay home with them, and I have family nearby when I need help. They have never been to daycare or a supervised playgroup or anything like that. So, their nursery experience is mostly limited to church.


I know that not everyone will agree with my opinion here, and that's fine. I freely confess to having an attachment parenting lifestyle, so just ignore my ramblings on the subject if you are not on the same page.

First, let's talk about this whole separation anxiety thing. Lincoln's anxiety has come and gone in the past three years. When going to the nursery or a church classroom, sometimes he is upset - but sometimes he is perfectly cheerful. Addie has never been okay with being left in a room with unfamiliar people. Never. She is a total basket case if I even step toward the door.

So, my strategy is this: just don't leave her. And it's not a very popular plan.

When she was tiny, it was easy. She just slept through the service or nursed in a rocking chair in the nursery and I said, eh, she'll grow out of it. She didn't. Now that she is almost eighteen months old, she certainly won't sit through a service. She's too busy to sit on my lap and she wants to chatter if we look at books and she sings at all the wrong times. So we last about fifteen minutes in church with everyone else, and then we hit the hallway. And the dread begins.

We walk down the hall and approach the nursery door. She backs away as soon as she sees it. I go in with her, to let her ease into the situation. She clings to me and cries if I even try to set her down. Then, it begins.

The kind and well-meaning nursery workers start to offer suggestions. Would she like a cup? Would she like a cracker? Does she want to go look out the window with them? And then, wouldn't I just like to leave her? She'll be just fine.

I've tried it many times in the past year. It doesn't work. She doesn't calm down when I leave. She cries hysterically. And I'm not cool with that - not one little bit.

I'm always assured that I will be retrieved if the crying becomes "too much." But the thing that bothers me about nurseries is this: why is it that someone else (most of the time a stranger) gets to determine when my child is crying hard enough to need me?

I'm sure that I'm viewed as the psycho helicopter parent who doesn't trust her kid with anyone, and I've decided I'm okay with that perception. One day, she's going to be Little Miss Independent and waltz off to a Sunday School class without a glance over her shoulder. Until that day, I'll be the mom playing with my kid on the nursery floor. It's not like I could concentrate on a sermon anyway, if I know my kid is screaming hysterically three rooms away.

Is there anyone else out there who hasn't made it through a complete church service since becoming a mom?! I can't be the only one.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Time Together Books + Adelaide's Attic Gift Card Giveaway (#HelloSummer Blog Hop)

Disclosure: I received review samples of these books for review. All opinions expressed are my own.


Summertime is on the way, whether we are ready or not! Welcome to the Hello Summer Giveaway Hop hosted by the Blogging Mamas Network. We're gearing up for all the fun ahead and saying Hello to Summer in fun giveaway style! Beat the heat and hop around to all the different giveaways at the bottom of this post. And don't miss out on the fabulous Summer Vacation Savings Account Grand Prize sponsored by Outski!


If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know that I am all about the everyday moments and adventures of life. We love having dance parties, backyard adventures, and little snuggles in the middle of a busy day. My kids are little - and little ones are tough sometimes - but it's a beautiful life, and I am striving to enjoy it all. 

Since my kids are really close in age (21 months between their birthdays), they both need attention almost all the time. I really savor the times that I get to spend one-on-one time with each of them, and I know they love those moments, too. One of our favorite ways to spend time together is reading books - and they love our latest finds - Time Together: Me and Mom and Time Together: Me and Dad.

Each of these is a picture book that celebrates the best moments between a child and their parents. The little moments of life are represented: painting, hide-and-seek, tea parties, dance parties, grocery shopping, and much more. The illustrations (by Pascal Campton) are beautiful and very diverse, showing families of all races. The text is minimal and makes for perfect reading with toddlers who have short attention spans. Author Maria Catherine has beautifully captured the important things in life when you have little ones in your family.

These books are precious and will be treasured in our home library for years to come. Want to purchase? You can find them here: Time Together: Me & Mom and Time Together: Me & Dad. Make sure you follow along with Capstone Young Readers on Facebook and Pinterest for more fun!

Giveaway

Two Director Jewels readers will each win a set of these "Time Together" books plus a $10 Gift Card to my Etsy shop, Adelaide's Attic! This giveaway will end on May 27 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


Once you have finished entering my giveaway, hop on over and enter to win the Grand Prize! Then hop around to enter all of the other fantastic giveaways, too!

http://blogging-mamas.com/2014/05/say-hello-summer-vacations-outski-grand-prize-hellosummer/








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

19/52



"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014."
Baby cousin Max was a huge hit this weekend!
 
Linking up at Practising Simplicity.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Well, That Was Unexpected

I thought I was all prepared. Last week was my spring semester drama students' performance. Performance week is nuts around here. Looking back, I find a lot of posts like this one where I'm hysterically busy and crazed and filled with anxiety in the days leading up to my performances.

So, this time? I decided to keep my Type-A personality happy. I worked really hard the week before last. I scheduled all of my posts for crazy drama week. And it worked! A full week's worth of posts were prepared; I kept pageviews up and felt like I didn't have to worry about keeping up with the blog. 

So, you're probably wondering - why am I complaining?

I woke up on Monday with great intentions to start off a beautiful, new, productive week. And then I stood up and felt like I had been hit with a sack of bricks.

I'm still fighting off some weird virus or bug. I don't know what it is. My stomach feels weird and my throat is scratchy.

Today was the first day I felt like I could actually sort of function again - so I spent the whole day working on summer drama class info and having potty training wars and feeling kind of like this again.

I've rambled on quite awhile now, with the single purpose of saying: I have some great posts in the works, but for now I'm celebrating the fact that both of my kids are momentarily in bed by eating this Trader Joe's whoopie pie. It's really, really good. Even with a slightly nauseated stomach.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who has days (weeks) like this one. Here's hoping everyone sleeps all night - and I wake up feeling not weird anymore.

I have my doubts, but I'd love it if it turned out that way.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

18/52



"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014."
Mac & Cheese faces all around.
 
Linking up at Practising Simplicity.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Our Family's Easter Recap 2014

Easter was almost two weeks ago, but I haven't done a post with lots of great kid photos in a long time, so you can probably forgive me - right? Our Easter turned out much better than last year, when we stayed home with strep throat - so it was a great day.


We started our Easter morning at church. Getting toddlers out of the house early in the morning on a weekly basis is hard enough, but adding in the mommy's desire to look slightly nicer and it means the daddy may be the one actually dressing the little ones for Easter. I think in our case, he did a pretty great job.

I wanted to get some photos before the day got too far, as I fully expected someone to ruin their outfit along the way. Thankfully, I was wrong about that, but it was nice to have kid pictures out of the way first thing.




After church, we drove around for a long while and the kids both took naps in the car. Lincoln gave up naps months ago, but we knew it was going to be a long day so I didn't mind him getting some midday rest.


The afternoon was spent having lots of cousin fun and yummy food at Andrew's parents' house. The kids enjoyed a backyard Easter egg hunt. Lincoln caught on to the egg hunting after a little while, but Addie was more interested in just holding onto the first egg she found.




They were all pretty worn out by the time we were done!

Addie and Lincoln and their cousins Kinley and Max.

After that, we headed to my parents' house for more fun, egg hunting, and food. The kids still had loads of energy, but the parents were pretty wiped out. We crashed on the couch for awhile before we finally took the kids home and coaxed them to sleep.


It was a really fun day! In spite of having no Easter baskets, I think the kids enjoyed their day. I'm now on the hunt for clearance Easter fashion for them to wear next year!
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