Director Jewels: July 2014

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Step2 Neat & Tidy Cottage II Playhouse Giveaway


When I was a kid, I loved my playhouse. I spent hours in that thing, even long after I fit in it without having to be smashed up like a pretzel. My kids have one that they love, too - so I could not resist the chance to join this giveaway and give one of you the chance to have a playhouse, too!

Welcome to the Step2 Neat & Tidy Cottage II Giveaway,
hosted by Viva Veltoro and Thrifty Nifty Mommy and sponsored by Step2!
Viva Veltoro is a Step2 Ambassador and just had the opportunity to review the Neat & Tidy Cottage II, one of Step2's newest products. This realistic playhouse will look great in any backyard because of its charming exterior that resembles stone and wood. Your little one can pretend to cook, clean and welcome guests into their very own house. Check out the Viva Veltoro's full review of the Step2 Neat & Tidy Cottage II to see all of the awesome features of this playhouse.

Details of the Step2 Neat & Tidy Cottage (obtained from the Step2 website):
  • Open design keeps kids visible during playtime
  • Working Dutch door and shutters
  • Interior includes kitchen seat, fireplace, wall clock, play phone, built-in shelves, kitchen table and faucet
  • Exterior features pass-through mailbox and realistic doorbell
  • Molded-in flower box is perfect for real or fake flowers (flowers not included)
  • Built-in floor with drain holes
  • Adult assembly required, Requires two "AAA" batteries (not included) for doorbell.


I think my favorite feature is that you can actually plant real flowers in the flower box! How fun would that be for a little gardener? Right now, my kids would definitely just dump the dirt on the ground...but eventually, I think they would enjoy it.

Giveaway

One lucky reader will WIN the Step2 Neat & Tidy Cottage II, ARV $189.99!
Open to the Continental US only. Ends 8/14/14 at 11:59 PM EST.
Enter using the Giveaway Tools form below. Good Luck!


Disclosure: This giveaway is sponsored by the Step2 Company. Viva Veltoro, Thrifty Nifty Mommy, and the participating blogs are not responsible for prize fulfillment. This giveaway is not affiliated with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google, or Instagram. Please contact vivaveltoro{at}gmail.com with any questions about this giveaway.

Disclosure: Director Jewels received no compensation or incentive to participate in this giveaway.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

OBaby App - for the Cutest Ever Pregnancy & Baby Photo Edits

Disclosure: I received the app highlighted below free of charge for review purposes. No other compensation was received and all opinions expressed are my own. If you purchase the app through my affiliate link at the end of the post, I'll receive a small commission. Thanks for supporting my blog and my family!

You guys? I hated being pregnant.

Really, I did. I know that I am blessed to be able to carry babies and am truly, truly thankful - and would not trade my pregnancies for anything. HOWEVER. Being sick to the point of collapsing almost around the clock for over thirty weeks of one's life is just not pleasant, regardless of how awesome the miracle inside my belly was. This is not a complaint - it's real life.

The point is - when you're sick all the time and taking care of a toddler, you need something fun to occupy the moments when you're laid up on the couch. I wish I had had OBaby back when I was pregnant with Addie!

One of the things I do enjoy about pregnancy is taking weekly photos of the bump's progress, so that later I can go back and watch how quickly those babies grew! OBaby is the perfect app for a pregnant mama. It's a photo editing app that allows you to drop pre-made graphics onto your photos and customize them with colors as you please.

And it's so fun!


I still haven't printed any photos from my pregnancy with Addie (shown here - these are NOT current photos, I am not pregnant!), so I'm having a blast going through my weekly bumpdate photos to tweak them a little bit and add some quirky little doodles and sayings.


Don't be deceived into thinking OBaby is only good for pregnant mamas, though - there's a huge wealth of designs to be used on photos from labor, birth, baby's first and second years, milestones, and much more.


It's seriously FUN to peek through all the designs to pick out something for each new photo. Also, someone please hold my ovaries right now because these newborn photos are killing me.


If you haven't given OBaby a try and you want some fun unique looks for your photos - by all means, do it! It's so much fun!

Find out more on OBaby's site or download the iOS App here.

Disclosure: I received the app highlighted in this story free of charge for review purposes. No other compensation was received and all opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, July 28, 2014

30/52



"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014."
 
This week's adventurous photos brought to you by Wonderscope, Kansas City's children's museum.
 
Linking up at Practising Simplicity.

Friday, July 25, 2014

$150 Back to School Walmart Gift Card Giveaway


It just occurred to me that August is next week, which means school is starting ridiculously soon. I think I'm going to start Lincoln on some sort of homeschool preschool program this fall, but I have yet to get anything organized! I had better get to it. Since he is not going to a traditional school, we don't have a supply list to purchase, but I know that I would love to spruce up our collection of art supplies and writing utensils. School expenses can really add up and cause a lot of financial stress. So, I decided to team up with some amazing bloggers and host an awesome giveaway! What better way to kick off the new school year than to have a back to school $150 Walmart gift card giveaway?! I don't know about you, but $150 would do a lot for our preschool supply wish list!

It's really easy to enter - just leave a comment below telling us what was your favorite subject in school, fill out the entry form, and leave the rest to fate! ;)


This giveaway is sponsored by:

Moms of Faith
Guessing All the Way
Mom Off Track
Living Smart Girl
Blog by Donna
Director Jewels
This Roller Coaster Called Life
The Neighborhood Moms
My Sweet Beauty
Life With Levi
My Boys and Their Toys
Wisconsin Mommy
Pint-sized Treasures
Inspired Moms Club

 Please stop by and show all of these fabulous ladies some blog love!

Giveaway

One reader will win a $150 Gift Card to Walmart! This giveaway will end on August 18. This giveaway is open to Continental US, Hawaii, Alaska, and Canada. If winner chosen is in Hawaii, Alaska, or Canada, they will receive an e-gift card instead of one via snail mail.

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! Winner will be chosen and listed in the Rafflecopter form below. The winner will have 48 hours to contact respond before a new winner is chosen. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: Walmart is not affiliated with this giveaway or its sponsors. Prize is being provided by sponsors mentioned above.

Monday, July 21, 2014

My Kids, Inky & Ad


Nicknames - they're funny.

When you name your child, you may have a nickname in mind for him or her. I have an example. We thought for sure when we chose "Lincoln" for our little man that he would primarily be called Link. That turned out to be pretty much one hundred percent false. I don't know why we never adapted to calling him Link. We did call him "Blinkin" a lot. Don't ask me why.

When he finally started talking, he dubbed himself "Inky." Now, if you try to tell him his name is Link or Lincoln, he says "No! I'm Inky!"

Adelaide, on the other hand, does primarily go by her nickname - Addie. I love her full name because it has an old-time romantic flair, but Adelaide is a pretty big mouthful for a toddler to learn to pronounce. When she says her full name, it sounds like "Addie-lay" and it is precious. But we usually just call her Addie, or sometimes Addie Rose.

Lincoln, apparently determined to be the one who chooses the names in this family, a few months ago started referring to his sister as "Ad." I thought it was random and hilarious. I didn't encourage or discourage it - and guess what happened? Somehow it became a habit and we all call her that now.

So I'm the mom who is at the park shouting, "Inky! Ad! Let's go on the swings and then down the slide!" and people probably think I'm a psychopath when it comes to naming children.

Oh well. I used to hate being called Jewels, and look where that ended up - it's splashed up there in the title of my blog. Sometimes, things are just meant to be.

Do your kids have weird nicknames or do you maintain more normalcy than my family?

$25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway from Heroes of the City

Disclosure: Director Jewels received no incentive to participate in this giveaway and is not responsible for prize fulfillment. 

Sponsored by Heroes of the City


My son is obsessed with trucks and vehicles in general - and we had a firetruck themed birthday party when he turned three earlier this year. I just found out about the app called Heroes of the City and I'm amazed that somehow we've not heard of it until now! It looks like something that would be a favorite of Lincoln's for sure.

This popular app, Heroes of the City, now has a new YouTube channel where you can check out all of their latest videos! I'm  ind of afraid to even show Lincoln the channel because he would insist on watching it all the time!

Here is an example:

   
Hint: Watch the video above to be able to answer the Bonus question in the giveaway for 10 Bonus entries!

In order to help to promote their latest YouTube channel, Heroes of the City is offering a $25 Amazon.com Gift Card Giveaway! This giveaway is open to US residents ages 18+. It will run from 7/21/14 1am EST -8/4/14 11:59pm EST. Winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Enter below and Good Luck!
 

*Disclosure: Coupon Crazy Mommy and participating bloggers are not responsible for sponsor prize shipment.This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

29/52



"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014."
 
Penguin portraits! We love the zoo.
 
Linking up at Practising Simplicity.

Friday, July 18, 2014

6 Things I Don't Mind Worrying About... And 1 That I Do

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Poise. All opinions expressed are my own. If you're my husband or the husband of any other mama who may have private issues she doesn't really want to share with you...just stop reading now. You'll thank me, I promise.

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There are hundreds of articles and dozens of books out there, aimed at first-time moms and telling them "what to expect" about anything you might worry about before becoming a mother.

Then there are the things that happen after you're a mom. Things nobody warned you about - but things you certainly never thought to ask, because you had no idea they existed. When I was about 30 weeks pregnant with Lincoln, I attended a friend's wedding and someone at my table sincerely apologized for making me laugh. When I just gave her a quizzical look in response, she said "oh...you'll understand soon!"

I figured out that she was referencing something that is really not talked about much: Light Bladder Leakage (LBL). You know, when doing something like coughing or sneezing or laughing makes you pee. Yeah, there's an actual name for it! Thankfully, I have pretty much avoided this issue but after Addie was born, my pelvic floor was at its worst and I was in fear that LBL could become an issue. No one wants to think about dealing with an issue like this, least of all me! In fact, here are 6 Things I Would Rather Worry About Than LBL:

1. What's Eating Up My Garden? I planted a large(ish) collection of crops in planters on my deck and in the yard. So far, most of it has been completely annihilated. I can never seem to catch a creature in the act - I may have to disguise myself and hide out there one of these days to find the culprit.

2. Whether or Not My Earring Holes Have Closed. One of my piercings felt infected several months ago. I took out my earring studs to let it heal. AND FORGOT MY EARS WERE PIERCED. Now it's been so long since I've worn earrings, I bet the holes are gone.

3. If Lincoln is Ready for Preschool This Fall. He's three. He knows how to count to thirteen. He knows the sound of S and T and a few other letters, sometimes. He's probably ready. Which means I need to get my homeschooling hat on and get my act together.

4. If Addie is Super Weird Because She Likes Eating Vitamins. What kind of kid doesn't balk when given things that even her mom admits taste nasty?

5. Why Crop Top Fashion is Back. I wandered the clothing section when I was shopping last week and was horrified astounded by some of the things that were up for sale. I thought it was a joke. I looked around for a Candid Camera crew (does that show still exist?) and shook my head at the confusing place the fashion world has become post-having-children.

6. If My Kids Can Possibly Get Any Cuter. Well, this one doesn't really require much worry. I think they're cuter every single day!

These worries are fairly superficial, but I am happy to be able to focus entirely on them and not something as annoying as accidentally peeing when I laugh at the thought of how ridiculous I would look in a crop top. And the Poise brand offers a variety of options to make it easy to find protection for every woman’s needs.

http://ooh.li/a18563f

Poise Microliners are super super thin and surprisingly absorbent because they feature SAM (Super Absorbent Material) to provide discreet LBL protection. They are designed to absorb wetness, neutralize odor and stay three times drier than period liners - so if LBL is an issue, Poise is the light bladder leakage solution! You can even snag a free sample.

Thanks to Poise for these LBL Tips and for sponsoring this conversation! All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Adorable Purple & Teal Owl Birthday Party Invitations

Adorable #Owl Birthday Party Invitations at directorjewels.com #Owls #FirstBirthday #Party #BirthdayParty #Invitations

I've had a mild obsession with owls as a first birthday party theme ever since I was struck with the idea to use these cute creatures as inspiration for Addie's first birthday party. I have a lot of owl-inspired merchandise in my Etsy shop, and even though the owl trend may have seen the height of its glory, I still love them.

I realized the other day that I never shared the invitations I created for Addie's first birthday party last November. Setting aside the fact that her birthday is four months from tomorrow and that I need to start thinking about second birthday party invitations (gulp), I think this project is just too cute not to share.

Adorable #Owl Birthday Party Invitations at directorjewels.com #Owls #FirstBirthday #Party #BirthdayParty #Invitations

I couldn't find an invitation design to print or purchase that was just perfect for my teal and purple party vision, so I created my own. These were a lot more complicated than my easy DIY Mickey Mouse Clubhouse invitations, because they required a lot of custom drawing (thanks, hubby) and seven different paper types, brads, two ribbons, and three kinds of adhesive.




The owl's body is hand-drawn and the blue piece under the eyes was cut to fit. The eye circles were cut using punches. The wings were hand-drawn and consist of two layers of paper plus brads that allow them to flap out of the way to show the party information on the white paper below.

Adorable #Owl Birthday Party Invitations at directorjewels.com #Owls #FirstBirthday #Party #BirthdayParty #Invitations

I think my favorite part is the double ribbon bow on top. Or maybe the chevron wings. Or the glittery nose. I honestly can't make up my mind. But these were my favorite invitation yet! I'm not sure I'll ever out-do them creatively!

Adorable #Owl Birthday Party Invitations at directorjewels.com #Owls #FirstBirthday #Party #BirthdayParty #Invitations

I don't have a tutorial ready for these because they were so much more complicated. They may turn up for sale as a custom listing in my shop one of these days, though!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Zoo Book Collection Review + Giveaway {Keeping Cool in the Sun Hop}

Disclosure: I received copies of these books for review, but no other compensation was received and all opinions expressed are my own.


 
I don't know about you, but I'm having a hard time believing that summer is already half over. But here it is - July 16 - and before we know it, kids will be headed back to school and we'll be marching on toward Christmas (ahhhhh). So let's soak up all the sun we can - and to help you out, I'm participating in the 2nd Annual Keeping Cool in the Sun Giveaway Hop hosted by the Blogging Mamas Network. It may be hot outside, but these great Summer-themed giveaways will help keep you cool! Check out all the bloggers and their fabulously cool giveaways in the linky below and don't forget to enter to win a pair of Long Sleeve Performance Crews from Montauk Tackle Company in the Grand Prize!


One of our favorite outdoor activities is visiting the zoo! Here in Kansas City, we have a huge zoo that is honestly too big to tackle in one visit with toddlers in tow. We have an annual zoo pass and we try to visit often. Lincoln and Addie are both thrilled every time we go to visit the animals!


Did you know that National Zoo Keeper week is July 20-26? I was really excited when I was given the opportunity to celebrate zoos and zoo keepers with a fun giveaway for you!



There's just something amazing about being able to watch the look on your child's face when he sees an elephant, monkey, or zebra in real life for the first time. There are some amazing creatures in our world and I love that we have the chance to experience all the wonders of creation right here in our hometown.


Have you been to the zoo with your kids? If not, this week would be a great time to start a family tradition! Say hi to a zoo keeper if you find one and thank them for their help in the conservation and education of our animal world.


My kids were so excited when our review copies of these books showed up in the mail last week!


The Zoo is Closed Today! is written by Evelyn Beilenson and illustrated by Anne Kennedy. It is a sweet picture book that features the story of a brother and sister who are turned away from the zoo because the animals are ill! From a bunny rabbit with an earache to a fox with a sunburn to a flamingo with a sore throat, all manner of animals are in need of care from their zoo keeper friend. We read this book immediately when it arrived and both of my kids shouted "again! again!" when it was done. It's a definite hit in our house.

Scratch and Sketch: At the Zoo is a delightful spiral-bound art book that allows kids to scratch the printed white outlines with an included wooden stylus to reveal animal print, rainbow swirl or glittery foil underneath. It is aimed at ages 5 and up, so Lincoln does not quite grasp how it works yet - but both kids still enjoy looking at the animal pictures. This would make a great gift for an elementary aged child who loves animal and art!

And it just might be your lucky day - you can enter to win a set of these lovely zoo-themed books below! Make sure you stop by Peter Pauper Press on Facebook or Twitter for all the latest news and updates.

Giveaway

One Director Jewels reader will win a copy of The Zoo is Closed Today and Scratch and Sketch At the Zoo! This giveaway will end on July 30 at 11:59pm EST. 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








Disclosure: So Easy Being Green, Viva Veltoro, the Blogging Mamas Network, and the Keeping Cool in the Sun participating bloggers are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prize obligations. I received copies of these books for review, but no other compensation was received and all opinions expressed are my own. For more information, you can read my Giveaway Policy and my Disclosure Policy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang the Musical at Kansas City's Coterie Theatre {Review}

Clockwise starting at bottom left: Jake Walker (as Caractacus Potts), Allison Banks
(as Jemima Potts), Lucas Dorrell (as Jeremy Potts), and Stefanie Wienecke (as Truly Scrumptious)
in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Photo by J. Robert Schraeder and courtesy of The Coterie Theatre.

Kansas City friends, I don't hide the fact that I love The Coterie Theatre. I have the fondest memories of visiting as a child for my very first live theatre experiences. I know that early exposure to theatre helped shape my future - and since I now teach about ten-fifteen drama classes each year and participate (when I can) at my community theatre, that's huge!

I was so excited when I saw that Chitty Chitty Bang Bang the Musical was on the list for the Coterie's summer show this year. I loved the movie when I was a kid, and had not seen a stage performance of the fairly recent musical adaptation yet. And since the show is about a flying car (and shortened to an approximate 75-minute run time), I thought it would be the perfect show for Lincoln (my vehicle-obsessed kid) to have his first Coterie experience.

I actually set up a field trip for my drama students to attend and took a group of about 25 people to the Coterie for this production during opening week. I was surprised that many of my students - Kansas City natives - had never been to the Coterie! Field trips are definitely something I plan to continue, because live theatre is so amazing and every kid should have the opportunity to watch a magical story come to life before their eyes. So, my group of students, their moms, my dad, Lincoln and I took advantage of the Coterie's group rate and saw the show during a preview performance for just $5 per ticket! That's cheaper than a movie, you guys. So worth it.

Top to bottom: Allison Banks (as Jemima Potts) and Lucas Dorrell (as Jeremy Potts)
in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Photo by J. Robert Schraeder and courtesy of The Coterie Theatre.

Based on the hit MGM motion picture and featuring The Sherman Brothers' original music from the film, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang receives its Theatre for Young Audiences World Premiere as part of The Coterie's Lab for New Family Musicals, directed by Jeff Church, from June 17 - August 3, 2014. Fans of the movie will not be disappointed by the Coterie's production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, because all of the classic moments are represented in this stage version!

It's always exciting for me to see how the Coterie has been made over for each new production. The walls were all covered in the mathematical equations of a tinkering mind like that of Caractacus Potts and pulled the piece together nicely. I was a little surprised that the set was comprised entirely of painted corrugated cardboard pieces - Chitty (the car) included! The original stage version of the show featured a hydraulic car, so this was a stark difference. But the beautiful thing was, it worked! Even Lincoln, at age 3, appreciated that while Chitty may not have actual wheels, it was a beautiful car representation. I also loved the cardboard bicycle!

Martin Buchanan (as Grandpa Potts) in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Photo by J. Robert Schraeder and courtesy of The Coterie Theatre.

Having a simplistic set requires the actors to be top-notch quality, and as always at the Coterie, the cast was stellar. They easily handled accents and used imaginative movements to convey pieces of the story that are more difficult to tell onstage.

Whether you're a longtime fan or totally unfamiliar with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, I must advise you to immediately embark on a phantasmagorical adventure and head to Crown Center in downtown Kansas City while there is still time to experience this show! And if you aren't in KC, at the very least find a copy of the movie to watch!

Left to right: Jake Walker (as Caractacus Potts), Allison Banks (as Jemima Potts), and
Lucas Dorrell (as Jeremy Potts), Dakota Hoar (Ensemble),Stefanie Wienecke (as Truly
Scrumptious), Julie Shaw (as Miss Phillips), and Callie Rodina (Ensemble) in
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Photo by J. Robert Schraeder and courtesy of The Coterie Theatre.

The cast is mostly made up of local actors: Jake Walker (as Caractacus Potts), Stefanie Wienecke (as Truly Scrumptious), Martin Buchanan (as Grandpa Potts), Jerry Jay Cranford (Baron Bomburst and Lord Scrumptious), Damian Blake (as Boris the Spy), Bob Linebarger (as Mr. Coggins), Hughston Walkinshaw (as The Childcatcher), Julie Shaw (as Baroness Bomburst), Teddy Trice (as Goran the Spy),Stefanie Stevens (Ensemble), and Andrew Thompson (Ensemble). Additionally, the cast feature
s several young professional actors including Allison Banks (as Jemima Potts) and Lucas Dorrell (
as Jeremy Potts), as well as Dakota Hoar, Marshall Hopkins, Malena Marcase, Reagan Danel Ogle
, and Callie Rodina in the ensemble.

Left to right: Jake Walker (as Caractacus Potts), Stefanie Wienecke (as Truly Scrumptious),
Allison Banks (as Jemima Potts), and Lucas Dorrell (as Jeremy Potts) in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Photo by J. Robert Schraeder and courtesy of The Coterie Theatre.

The Coterie has employed some artistic liberties with this production. While Chitty is a car that can both float and fly, it's understandably difficult to fly four people around the stage in a car. Director Jeff Church has simplified the idea, and the result is a show that remains completely magical, with the use of just a little imagination. Lincoln talked for days about the "flying car show" - he was enthralled, especially when Chitty "flew" right by our seat.

Left to right: Hughston Walkinshaw (as The Childcatcher), Bob Linebarger (as The Toymaker),
Jake Walker (as Caractacus Potts), Stefanie Wienecke (as Truly Scrumptious), Allison Banks
(as Jemima Potts), and Lucas Dorrell (as Jeremy Potts) in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Photo by J. Robert Schraeder and courtesy of The Coterie Theatre.

The Child Catcher, one of the most frightening kids' movie villains in history (my opinion) lived up to his reputation well - but I thought it was excellent that he never once tried to nab any of the children in the audience, even while threatening Jeremy and Jemimah.

Left to right: Jake Walker (as Caractacus Potts) and Stefanie Wienecke (as Truly Scrumptious)
in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Photo by J. Robert Schraeder and courtesy of The Coterie Theatre.

Overall, this is just a charming and beautiful family-friendly production and I highly recommend it as a perfect summer activity! Combine it with the Super Kids Save the World free exhibit at Crown Center and maybe a trip to LEGOLAND or Fritz's and you're guaranteed a magical, adventurous day. You can find tickets at the Coterie online.

Disclosure: I received nothing for this post and paid for my own tickets to the show. Loved it. Wanted to share. That's it!

Monday, July 14, 2014

28/52



"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014."
Lincoln - It's tough being tired. He was not especially cooperative for portraits this week.
Addie - Enthralled by Paw Patrol. Even though I say we're going to watch less TV, it seems to sneak in there.
 
Linking up at Practising Simplicity.

Addie's Teeth: Early Childhood Caries & Fighting Severe Tooth Decay in Breastfed Toddlers


Did you know that kids can get cavities in their baby teeth before they’re even two years old? I sure didn’t – until it was my kid. In the time-span of a few short months, I learned more than I ever cared to know about Early Childhood Caries, or the severe decay of baby teeth (even in a breastfed toddler). And I especially found that it's a tough situation for a mom who is seeking a natural alternative to a root canal or crown in a toddler.

It turns out that it’s a more common problem than you would imagine. The two pediatric dentists that I have spoken with shared with me that they see this problem in approximately one out of five children – albeit not always as early as fourteen months of age, which is where our story begins.

Chipped front tooth - December 2013.

It all started with a chip. I noticed one day – around Christmas last year, when she was eleven months old – that Addie had a little chunk missing out of one of her top front teeth. I hadn’t observed her running into anything or falling down, but my house is wild. There’s always running and shrieking and general chaos with two toddlers in the house. I figured it was well within the realm of possibility that she could have chipped her tooth, and thought no more of it.

If you have ever had a toddler, you may be able to appreciate the fact that it’s not exactly easy to look at your baby’s teeth. Toddlers are not usually excessively compliant when asked to open their mouths to let their parents view their pearly whites. I considered it success if I could just get a toothbrush in her mouth, whether I could actually see the teeth or not.

Broken lateral incisor - February 2014.

But two months later, when I caught a glimpse of what looked like a broken lateral incisor beside the chipped front tooth, I pried her mouth open amidst great protest to get a better look. And I was horrified. Not only was almost half of that tooth gone, but the chip in the center was larger and there was yellow decay up around her gum line on all four of her top front teeth. Nothing else seemed to be affected, but this was an extremely huge problem. I was shocked and appalled, and in complete disbelief. We may not have brushed her teeth every night since she popped her first tooth, but I think anyone with two kids under age three who manages to get every single thing done every single night at bedtime is a magician – or liar.

Forgive the filthy mirror. Appreciate the cute, chubby baby.

I immediately started researching tooth decay in babies. I emailed another (formerly local) blogger, Anjanette from Raising the Barrs, whose daughter had gone through a similar ordeal. I made an appointment with a highly recommended pediatric dentist. I found that Early Childhood Caries is a growing problem. Apparently more and more toddlers are beginning to have teeth just rot out of their mouths. I went to the dental appointment with great trepidation, fearing the worst.

And, as far as I was concerned, my fears were confirmed. I was told that Addie was “just unlucky” – but that the primary cause for this was my allowing her to breastfeed at night. Their recommendation was to immediately schedule a surgery to file down the four affected teeth to remove the decay, then place caps (crowns) over them for the remainder of her baby-tooth years.

I’m a huge breastfeeding advocate. Addie has co-slept almost since birth to allow both of us more adequate rest. There are multiple reasons to breastfeed during the night and I was not willing to accept that by meeting my child's need for comfort and nourishment, I was destroying her teeth. And the thought of putting her under general anesthesia for a surgical procedure at fourteen months old made me sick to my stomach. I started doing more research. I asked friends for help.

March 2014.

I've learned so much about the causes of tooth decay that it necessitates a post all its own, but here's the gist. Tooth decay is not so much caused by having breastmilk on a child's teeth at night as it is by the overall health of a body. And a lot of bodies are severely deficient in crucial vitamins like A, D, and K. When these run out and the body has an oversupply of phytic acid (found in grains and legumes), one of the first signs is a loss of enamel - which leads to the teeth being susceptible to decay. There is also some evidence that her lip tie could have contributed to the problem. I have known since birth that she had a lip tie, but never had it corrected because unlike Lincoln - who had a very difficult start to breastfeeding - she nursed just fine.

I found several stories online about people who effectively halted the tooth decay in their children (and themselves) by following the Weston A. Price diet, drinking raw milk, and adding supplements such as fermented cod liver oil and high vitamin butter oil to the diet. The most widely referenced resource on the subject of tooth decay is the book Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel. I started reading this book and tried to implement all that I could.

Dentist appointment with Doc and Lambie.

My plan for Addie's teeth was to heal them and to avoid the surgery. Immediately, I ordered fermented cod liver oil and started giving her BioDent, a supplement from Standard Process. I wiped down her teeth any time food or breastmilk touched them. I brushed them fervently, two or three times a day. She never really ate many processed foods to begin with, but I cut out all crackers and sugar from her diet. When the cod liver oil arrived, she took it willingly - but the liquid form I gave her left her mouth and lips bright red immediately upon touching her. Worried about a possible shellfish allergy, I ceased giving it to her directly and instead took many doses myself, hoping some of the vitamin content would reach her via breastmilk.

This process went on for about two months. I took photos of her teeth as I was able, to document whether or not we were making any progress. For several weeks, I thought that her teeth looked better. The amount of decay around her gum line was reduced and the chips were not increasing. I had great hope. Until one day, when she fell and must have knocked a tooth against something - because the lateral incisor that had been partly missing was now broken off completely at the gum, with a jagged edge protruding into her mouth.

Lateral incisor broken at the gum line - May 2014.

I was devastated. Since her adult teeth will not be growing in for at least five to seven more years, as soon as the tooth at the gum was broken, I knew in my heart that we would need to schedule the surgery. Kids need their baby teeth to form good eating habits, to hold the space in their mouth as adult teeth grow in, and to foster language development. As we were now looking at needing to have the broken tooth extracted (something that would need to be done under general anesthesia due to her age), it was not reasonable to skip having the other teeth fixed. The expense and ordeal of the surgery was not something I wanted to repeat if her other three teeth did not heal.

One of the options for capping her teeth. This was a decision I could not even
wrap my brain around. You're not supposed to have to think about things like this!

So, a few weeks later, we waited anxiously as our baby underwent surgery to extract the broken tooth and cap the other three. The dentist also found some small cavities in her molars that were filled while she was out. She bounced back quickly - after a few hours and a nap, she thankfully had no lasting effects from the anesthesia and never even needed any pain medication once we were home.

Surgery prep. May 2014.

It was not the solution that I wanted, but I have been a lot less stressed since having the procedure done. I do feel that this whole ordeal has been life-changing for our family. I never expected to deal with having dental issues in baby teeth. But since this post is already 1200 words long, I will save my thoughts on how this has changed our life for another time.

Post-surgery nap. May 2014.

The point of this very, very long post is this. Sometimes, even if you're not doing anything wrong, terrible things can happen to your kid. Throughout this ordeal, I have cried so many tears - feeling insufficient, blaming myself, wishing I had noticed sooner so that I could have had a better chance at healing her teeth naturally before having to resort to a surgical procedure. And while I still wish we had had a different turnout, I'm grateful for the knowledge I have gained about our teeth and the way our bodies work. It has changed my approach to nutrition and I think we will be better off as a family because of it. I have to find a bright side somewhere, right?

Extracted lateral incisor (left) and three capped teeth.

Have you ever heard of healing tooth decay? What do you think about this natural alternative to dental fillings and replacements?

If you are looking for more resources about healing teeth, be sure to follow my Curing Tooth Decay Pinterest board - I'll add more to it as I find new research.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Kansas City's Starlight Theatre July 8-13 {Review}

Disclosure: I received press passes to attend this production at Starlight Theatre. I received no other compensation and all views expressed are my own.

Photo Courtesy of Starlight Theatre.

There's something to be said for a classic Broadway musical. Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed the first two shows of the season at Starlight Theatre - The Wizard of Oz and We Will Rock You - this summer, but the one I was most looking forward to this year was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. This show holds a special place in my heart as I was in a community theatre production of Joseph the summer of my wedding - and my hubby was Joseph. So, it's fair to say I'm a little biased. And I was (happily) not disappointed!


Starlight is a magical place, where shows come to life under the cool night sky. The theatre seats almost 8,000 guests and we almost always run into someone we know from the theatre world, which is just a fun bonus. The live orchestrations magnificently carry through the air and create a beautiful atmosphere for a date night, family event, or even a group gathering (I would love to take my drama students to a Starlight show).


Starlight has an on-site dining room - Applause Club - that offers meals before each Broadway performance. We've never been, but the food (catered this season by Plaza Catering) smells amazing! On one of our Starlight visits, we'll have to make it a full date night and eat dinner before the show, too.


The production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat that is playing this week is currently on tour in the US and stars former American Idol contestants Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young (who are newlyweds - awwww). I did not watch either season of Idol when these two talented performers were competing, so this was really my first time to hear either of them sing.

The familiar music and lyrics of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice were performed very well by this cast - even though I have most of the show memorized, I could tell that words were enunciated well enough to be understood by the crowd. That's tough with a fast-paced show with tons of lyrics!

Photo Courtesy of Starlight Theatre.

The show starts off set in the present and then takes us for a journey back "many centuries ago, not long after the Bible began" through the songs of the Narrator (DeGarmo). The story generally stays close to the Biblical record, while presenting each scene in a new era of music and costume style. This is part of the charm of Joseph - it's a solid show even though some of the pieces seem odd if they are left to their own.

From the start of Jacob and Sons, this production is non-stop, fast-paced and fantastic. Director Andy BlankenBuehler was the choreographer in addition to the mind behind the production, and the seamless finished product is evidence of this. His vision of the show is very consistent throughout and expertly brought to life by the cast.

My favorite moments in Act I included:

-Joseph's Coat and the use of literally every color mentioned in the song via projection onto the multi-use backdrop scrim. If you're familiar with the show, you know there are a lot of colors and some of them are pretty obscure. All 29 colors are also represented in Joseph's coat from designer Jennifer Caprio.

-The (somewhat sparkly) sheep and goat. Just having them present made the story about this family of shepherds more believable.

-The 1920's feel of the Potiphar scene is fun. This scene is usually the least family-friendly due to the cavorting of Potiphar's wife, but I felt that without diverting from the song and story, it was not too over the top (especially compared to other productions I have seen).


Photo Courtesy of Starlight Theatre.

I was honestly shocked when Act I ended because I was enjoying the show so much, I didn't realize that an hour had already passed! Act II was just as fun. A few highlights include:

-Pharaoh, played by Ryan Williams, brought the house down with his hilarious Elvis impression during Song of the King.

-Those Canaan Days, which showcased the talents of the brothers and was another crowd favorite.

-Any Dream Will Do - one of my favorite numbers of the show. The reveal of Joseph's coat at the end was beautiful!

Photo Courtesy of Starlight Theatre.

As if the show were not enough fun on its own, we were also treated to a Joseph Megamix from the cast before the curtain fell. I've loved the Megamix song cut for years and may have rocked out to it in my car while traveling to and from theatre rehearsals more times than I care to admit. It was a perfect ending.

I enjoyed the entire cast very much, and thought that Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young were both cast well - they seemed to be having a great time, which is essential to a show like Joseph.

Even the Starlight fountains were technicolor for the occasion!

Hands down, this was my favorite of the season so far. If you're in Kansas City, head down to Starlight and see this show before it leaves town! You have four more chances and can purchase tickets online here.

Thanks to Starlight Theatre for providing my tickets to the show. I received no other compensation and all views expressed are my own. For more information, you can read my Disclosure Policy.
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