, pub-8087192757053655, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 Director Jewels: September 2013

Monday, September 30, 2013

Being Two

- You look more grown up every day. Seriously? What happened to my baby?

- There are a lot of emotions. When you're happy, you're over the moon. When you're frustrated, you let us know. Usually in a big way.

- You repeat everything. Pieces of sentences, strings of words. They're the cutest things. "Close-ze door?" "Big box?" "Up over there?" "In here?" "Diggin'!"

- You adore your baby sister, but more than a few times in the last week alone, you have been sent to time out because you have been found pushing her down, sitting on her, or nearly strangling her. Usually it's a loving gesture. Usually.

- You remember what "quiet voice" means maybe 70% of the time. The other 30% - you wake up your sister and mommy is grumpy.

- You're generally not a super picky eater, but heaven help us if you decide you don't want to eat something that you normally love (and beg for), such as macaroni and cheese ("noni").

- You've been saying "thanks" for months, but just in the last week have seemed to grasp that saying "please" is also a good idea.

- You like coloring in your Doc McStuffins coloring book at the kitchen table.

- Some of my favorite things you say right now are "compsin" (compass), "a-ence" (ambulance), and "up eyes" (when you don't want to close your eyes - usually you say this when you're grumpy about going to sleep at night).

- You no longer take naps. It's not because you don't need one - I really think you do. But if you sleep at all during the day, it takes anywhere from 2-3 hours to get you to sleep at night. Your 8pm bedtime becomes 10:30pm. And that's just crazy. So, no naps it is. And no car rides after about 3pm because that's prime sleeping time.

- We've briefly touched on potty training. I don't think you're ready yet, so we're not turning it into a big deal.

- You know so many colors. Blue, green, orange ("renge"), red, yellow ("eh-yo"), black, brown, white, pink, purple. One of our favorite games is finding out what color everyone's eyes are. You know without looking that Baby and Daddy have blue eyes, and Lincoln and Mommy have brown eyes.

- Letters and numbers are another story, but I think we're making some progress. You consistently recognize O, B, and sometimes M.

- You like watching my drama students come and go for class each week. You say "hi girls" and "bye girls" to them.

- If you're hungry, you ask for "dinnuh" or "wunch" or "beks-fast." If I say no to one of them, you ask for the others.

- You don't snuggle as much as you used to when you crawl in bed with me in the morning. My favorite time of day is nighttime, when you relax in my arms and fall asleep. I love seeing your peaceful face after the whirlwind of the day.

- We frustrate each other, you and I. I'm trying to have more patience than I imagined I would ever need. And I try to tell you I'm sorry when I lose it. I hope that you know that I love you more than words and I feel so blessed to be the one that you call Mommy.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Buy All the T-Shirts. No, Really - Do It!

Disclosure: this is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Teespring. All opinions are my own. 

I've been involved in theatre for almost ten years now. More than once, I've found myself in charge of ordering the show t-shirts. It's a big task. Collecting order forms, checks, and payments made entirely in pennies is not for the faint of heart. And heaven help you if, when the order arrives, somebody's shirt is missing!

When I learned about Teespring, I said...Wow - now that is a great idea. Here's why.

Teespring is a platform that allows anyone to create their own t-shirt design and sell it to their friends, family, employees, fellow volunteers - or anyone - via Facebook, Twitter, or just with a web link. There is no cost to set up a shirt sale. You create a shirt design and set a sale goal. Your friends can sign up to purchase your design and no one is charged unless the goal is met. Once the sale has ended, the seller keeps any profits earned.

The t-shirt designer is really fun and easy to use. I spent a really long time looking at all the different font options and shirt colors before finally just setting up this basic - but cute - design. There is an option to upload your own design for a shirt, too! The designer will estimate the cost of the shirts and tell you how much profit you can expect. If you're organizing a shirt purchase for a local group, you can have your buyers choose to pick their shirts up directly from you to avoid shipping costs.

As an organizer, this tool is amazing because it gives the responsibility for ordering to each of the members in your group. No longer are you required to keep track of all of the sizes needed - it's all done by the individual. No need to collect money - because everyone pays through Teespring, but no one is charged unless the campaign meets its goal by the predetermined end date.

Are the wheels in your head turning yet? I kind of want to design shirts all day long! You could set up a fundraiser to support a cause that is important to you, ask family to help raise money to adopt (example here), or support something on a national level - like this Boston fundraiser.

Not convinced? You can watch this video for an overview of how it works!

The only thing I don't love above Teespring? There isn't a way to search open campaigns. You'll only find a shirt to buy if someone sends you the link. I would love to be able to browse the shirt campaigns to see if there are any I would like to support!

I can't wait to use this service for future projects. For now, I'm sticking with my simple purple shirt (can you have too many purple shirts in your wardrobe? I say no)! If you want to snag one, you'll find it here!

Disclosure: this is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Teespring. All opinions are my own. I seriously love this concept!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Adelaide: 10 Months Old

I had three drama classes start last week and while I did manage to get Addie's month photos taken on the proper day, a blog post just did not happen. Better late than never, right?

Milestones: All that you want to do lately is move! You get faster at crawling every day. You pull up on everything. You also can stand on your own, for quite substantial amounts of time - a couple of days ago I counted and you stood for 37 seconds! I really thought you were going to take your time walking, but now I feel like it could be very soon!

There still isn't a lot of progress on the sleep front, but there have been small improvements. You still prefer to sleep on me (usually while nursing), but almost every day this week I have been able to put you down for at least one nap and sometimes two. You even slept for an hour and a half one day recently. For us? That's a miracle. I love all the snuggling, though, and am trying to appreciate it while it lasts. Even on nights when I can't set you down at all.

You love to eat. We are still doing mostly baby-led weaning, but we haven't done well with meal planning this month so our meals have been interesting and not necessarily baby friendly (ie, we ordered pizza at least twice last week. Don't judge). Your tummy also doesn't love when you eat huge amounts of solid foods. I try to keep up with making food for you - like homemade pear puree - but again, haven't done great with that. So it's a split between baby-led weaning, homemade baby food, and organic fruit and veggie pouches. You still nurse all the time - at least 8 times a day and probably two to three times in the night.

I think you are really trying to talk to us! I'm pretty sure "mama" and "dada" are real words now. You also repeat "ba-ba-ba" when I say "baby," "pup-pup-pup" when I say "puppy," and the other day I think you said "na-na" when I said "nurse." Lincoln's first word (ball) was not until he was 16 months old, so this is crazy fun (and weird) for us!

You started clapping your hands when we went to the circus and now it is one of your favorite things to do. You clap anytime someone says "yay" or when we say "Addie, clap your hands!" So cute that you understand what we are saying.

Loves: Your favorite person is Lincoln. You chase him around all day. He has also become quite demanding when it comes to what you are doing. As soon as you wake up in the morning, he shouts "MOMMY! Baby 'wake! Baby, crawl! DOWN! Baby, crawl!" and he crawls with you up the hallway to the living room to start the day of play. 

You've been snuggling with Daddy a lot this month and have spent a lot of time watching TV and sleeping on his shoulder lately. You get so excited when he comes home from work every day!

Hates: You still don't like sleeping. You don't like to sit in the car unless it is moving. You don't like having your diaper changed - too many other fun things to do.

You want to be involved in everything that is going on. You are constantly watching to see where Lincoln is or what I am doing, and if you aren't allowed to join in, you are less than pleased!

Weight/Height: Your rolls are disappearing and I didn't realize how much I loved all that chubbiness. You have pretty much outgrown 6-9 month clothes and are wearing 9-12 month now. I've been purchasing 12-18 month outfits for fall and I think you'll fit into them soon. Your hair is coming in slowly, but it's fluffy and I love it. I keep pinching it to see how soon I can clip something in - still a ways to go, I think.

Now that you are ten months old, we are less than two months from your first birthday. And that, my little princess, is just all kinds of crazy. I've started pinning party ideas and I can't wait to craft some clever projects for you. I'm trying to enjoy these last weeks when you are still my tiny baby - before you turn into a rambunctious little toddler!

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus presents DRAGONS {Review}

Disclosure: I received free tickets to the show for my family in exchange for writing an honest review. No other compensation was received and all views expressed are my own.

Is it hard to believe that neither my husband or I had been to the circus before now? When we had the opportunity to take our kids to see Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey presents DRAGONS at the Kansas City Sprint Center last week, I think it's safe to say that we were more excited than they were.

Lincoln's first visit to the Sprint Center was for Disney on Ice earlier this year, but Adelaide had never been. I love the building's design - how cool that we get to take our kids to such a fun place!

Since none of us had been to a circus before, I was really unsure what to expect. I mean, I knew there would be animals - okay, I knew there would be elephants. I figured there would be acrobats. And naturally there would be some clowns. And that is about where my circus knowledge ended. So, to say we were in for a surprise would be putting it mildly.

It turns out, there's a reason this event is called The Greatest Show on Earth!  The opening number blew me away. The ring and surrounding area was filled to overflowing with animals and performers and it was completely impossible to see everything! Led by ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson, the circus troupe smiled, danced, and sang - and I knew we were going to have a great time.

To appreciate the experience, you truly have to be there - but I will try to touch on the highlights!

The motorcycle high-wire act - performed by Alex Petrov and the Medeiros Troupe was Lincoln's favorite part. We were seated on one side of the arena, and I think we were all shocked when this act zipped out in front of us. I didn't even know it was possible for a motorcycle to ride a wire - and in this act, they not only rode it, they flipped it 360 degrees. You have to see it to believe it.

The Big Cats segment was amazing! We were astonished at how many cats were in Alexander Lacey's act. I'd never seen cats perform before, and it was phenomenal to watch them.

I don't have photos of all of the acts, as most of them were so fast and amazing that my camera didn't cooperate. The performers of Clown Alley were especially hard to capture, since they were almost always moving! We loved their antics and the Rapunzel-esque rescue scene (featuring Paulo dos Santos). The only thing I didn't love about the circus was in this segment as well, though - the use of "I'm Sexy and I Know It" seemed out of place in a family-friendly performance. The children in the seats all around me were dancing and jumping to the music and I found that song an odd and inappropriate choice.   

I think I was most astounded by the Medeiros Troupe. During both their high-wire motorcycle act and the double-hair hang act, my mouth hung open in complete amazement. I'm a theatre person, so I know a lot about stage tricks. I lost count of how many times I was shocked and amazed during the circus, but these acts had me especially flabbergasted.

The beautiful elephants did not diappoint! The kids were intrigued and excited. Seriously? Amazing stuff.

Addie actually paid attention even more than Lincoln! Every time the audience clapped and cheered, she was delighted and clapped her hands along with them. Lincoln's attention span was a little bit shorter, however. He watched the animal acts and adored the motorcycles - but was determined to get up and dance or shout or jump right down in the ring with the performers the rest of the show. I can't say I'm super surprised - he never wants to sit still! I think he did pretty well considering the length of the show and his age (two and a half).

The Torres Family brought their amazing, death-defying motorcycle act out near the end of the show, and it definitely captured Lincoln's attention again. These brave souls perform with eight motorcycles inside a 16-feet steel sphere and their speeds can reach up to 65mph. I sat with my mouth gaping open and my heart in my throat as I watched this performance!

Andrew said that his favorite part of the show was probably the Cossacks - a spectacular horse and rider act that featured a five-man pyramid and an underbelly climb - where the rider climbs under and back over the horse while his horse is galloping full speed. It was unlike anything I have ever seen!

Some of our other favorites were The Flying Caceres, Kung Fu Kings (can we talk about how one of these guys wore a blindfold and jumped through a spinning ring of swords and fire? Oh my goodness!), and the Kiev Aerial Troupe. Each act was more incredible than the last and if it hadn't been past the kids' bedtime, I could have watched for hours and hours more.

The dragon featured at the end of the show was appropriately beautiful and ferocious. We did wish there had been a little more on the dragon theme throughout the show. The music throughout focused on the spirit of the dragon - I just would have liked to see more actual dragons, given the title of the show. Not a big complaint, however - since I loved every minute of the show!

Our first family trip to the circus was a success - and we are all super excited to go back again next time the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus rolls into town!

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

Friday, September 20, 2013

Bumper Wipe Clean Activities {Bible Activity Book Review}

 Disclosure: I was sent a sample copy of this book to review. All views expressed are my own.

I'm so excited - Lincoln has decided, within the last week or so, that he likes crayons. As in, he likes to color with them and not eat/throw/break them. I've been waiting for this day for a long time. I've been collecting coloring books and coloring sheets and activity books for months (years?) - and now I get to use them all!

One of my newest favorites is Bumper Wipe Clean Activities by Juliet David. This handy little book is a collection of mazes, hidden objects, letter and number writing practice, dot to dot, matching pairs and much much more.

The illustrations by Marie Allen are friendly, colorful and full of whimsy! Each bright page attracts a young reader's attention, yet the book is presented with simple enough instructions that an older toddler or preschooler can easily enjoy the activities. And the best part is - it's a dry-erase book, so the drawings can be erased and the book used over and over again!

One dry-erase pen is included with the book, but don't feel limited to just one color. Most good quality felt-tip pens and crayons can be used with no problem! The Bible stories presented start with the Old Testament and cover everything from Creation to Moses to Naaman to Jonah. New Testament stories included are the birth of Jesus, Jesus' parables and miracles, and Zacchaeus.

The 67 pages of activities contained in this little volume make it a great book to turn to when you need something to keep a little one entertained for awhile. I could see it as a great resource to use while traveling or maybe during church while a little one is learning how to sit through a service. Lincoln, at age two and a half, is a little young to understand most of the activities in this book, but the beauty of the pages being reusable is that he can grow into them!

We're definitely fans of Bumper Wipe Clean Activities at our house! What's your favorite resource for a child who has just learned the joy of crayons and markers? I think we're in for tons of arts and crafts fun in the coming weeks!

Thank you to Kregel Publications for my review sample of this book. I received no compensation and all views expressed are entirely my own.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How to Make Homemade Pear Sauce Purée for Babies

We decided to take a baby-led weaning approach when Addie started to eat solid foods. If you're not familiar with baby-led weaning (or BLW), it's basically skipping cereals and purées and letting baby try his or her first foods in their true form. We've tried a huge variety. We started with avocado and bananas and have moved on to pears, peaches, broccoli, chicken....honestly, too many for me to even remember. Lincoln eats a wide variety of toddler-approved foods, too, so it's easy to find something for her to munch on at each meal. With that approach, I wasn't sure I would need to remember how to make homemade pear purée for babies, but - never say never!

Unfortunately, we had a bout a few weeks ago where the little miss had some tummy trouble that seemed to be caused by the enthusiasm she showed when she consumed an entire peach (including the stem - whoops) in one sitting. She was having a lot of trouble processing all that, so I laid off the solids and tried only nursing her for a couple of days. That didn't work, and she was getting pretty uncomfortable - so I thought, I'll purée some prunes for her to eat! Great plan - except we couldn't find any prunes. So, I settled for the next best thing: pears. 

Lincoln ate lots of purées as a baby and his favorites were pears and peaches. I made most of his food at home since I just feel better knowing where my baby's nutrition is coming from. It was fun to revisit baby-food-making, even if it's not something I'll be doing indefinitely.

Homemade Pear Sauce Purée for Babies

This project doesn't require a lot of supplies, so I won't make a list! Just pick up some pears at your local Farmer's Market or grocery store, and set right to work!

1. Wash pears.
2. Peel, core, and dice pears.

3. Add diced pears to pot of water, boil until very soft (there is no "perfect" consistency - you just want it to be soft enough to blend).

4. Strain water from the cooked pears, let cool.

5. Add cooked pears to blender or food processor and purée.

6. Store in the fridge in an airtight container - or freeze in ice cube trays for individually sized baby portions!

Adelaide adores eating pears. And, bonus - they cleared up her digestive system problems right away. Even Lincoln asks for "sauce" when he sees baby eating this yummy stuff!

What's your baby's favorite food?

Disclosure: All opinions and experiences contained in this post are my own. Please consult your pediatrician before making substantial dietary changes for your child.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Baby Ears: To Pierce or Not To Pierce

The conversation kind of caught me off guard. It was a few weeks ago, and my drama students were chattering about whether or not their ears were pierced - and when they had had them done.

I've heard a wide response from my students over the years:

"I got my ears pierced when I was ten!"
"I was six."
"I had to wait until my twelfth birthday."
"Ughhhhh I can't get mine pierced until I turn sixteen."

And then, during this conversation: "I got mine pierced when I was a little baby."

It just made me think....would I pierce my daughter's ears?

I, personally, had to wait until the age of sixteen until I was allowed to pay for the lady at the Walmart jewelry counter to poke holes in my ears. My best friends had theirs done at age twelve, so I felt that I had waited literally forever. I was pretty excited about it and purchased just about every pair of 10 for $5 Claire's clearance earrings I could find.

In hindsight, I think my parents had a great strategy in making me wait "forever" to get my ears pierced. I'm still glad that I had them done. I enjoyed several years of amazing dangly earrings, in between the early phase of "what!-there-are-cherries-or-flip-flops-or-gnomes-on-these-amazing-earrings!!!!" and the stage I am in now - where I'm afraid to wear any sort of earring for fear that my earlobe will be ripped clean off by my loving offspring. I think Miss Adelaide will be waiting quite a few years before she is allowed to make the decision for herself.

Ultimately, though, it will be her decision. I have nothing against those who pierce their baby's ears - to each their own. I admit that I can't even imagine how to deal with caring for an infant's ear piercing (especially if it became infected!), but aside from that - I just don't think it's my decision to make.

And I'll enjoy looking at those beautiful, perfect un-pierced earlobes for...oh, about the next fifteen years.

Did you - or will you - pierce your child's ears? Why or why not?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Mega Bloks: Finn the Fire Truck {Toy Review}

Disclosure: Mega Bloks sent us this toy to review. No compensation was received and all views expressed are my own.

When Mega Bloks offered to send us a toy from their new fall collection to review, I was excited! Lincoln received the Mega Bloks Play 'n Go Table at his second birthday party, and ever since then, we have spent hours every week playing with these fun brightly-colored blocks! I didn't know what toy we would be receiving, but when I opened the box, I almost squealed in delight - because I knew Lincoln was going to love this toy!

It's no secret that he is obsessed with trucks, and especially "wiretrucks" (one of my favorite words). I could not wait to show him this truck!  

And, as expected - he was so excited! He took one look at the box and demanded "Out! Out! Out!" He wasn't happy until it was completely out of the packaging and could be driven around the room.

His reaction was priceless and photos don't do it justice, so instead I'm sharing it via this video.

One of Lincoln's favorite things to do right now is climb aboard the firetruck and propel himself around the room. It is not designed as a riding toy, but that doesn't stop him! We've had so many adventures with Finn - and I know there will be many more to come.

Convenient storage for the 14 included Mega Bloks.

We couldn't be happier with our friendly little fire truck! You can find out more about Firetruck Finn when you visit Mega Blocks!

Thanks to Mega Bloks for sending us this toy to review. No compensation was received and all views expressed are my own (and Lincoln's).

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Waverize It: Creating a Reversible Tote with Waverly Fabric and Jo-Ann

Disclosure: I received fabric from Jo-Ann and Waverly to facilitate this post. No other compensation was received and all views expressed are my own.

Waverize It Contest Jo-Ann Fabric & Crafts Waverly Fabric Sewing Challenge Reversible DIY Tote Bag Sew Craft Create

It's National Sewing Month and Waverly's 90th Anniversary - and I am so excited to be sharing a project that I made in celebration of the Waverize It! Contest from Waverly and Jo-Ann! What, you may ask, does it mean to "Waverize" something? It's easy and fun! Waverly has created a line of wonderful home decor fabric that is available at Jo-Ann. Stop by your local store, pick up some fabric that suits your style, and start creating. The sky is the limit!

Waverize It Contest Jo-Ann Fabric & Crafts Waverly Fabric Sewing Challenge Reversible DIY Tote Bag Sew Craft Create

For my Waverize It! project, I was torn. I wanted to do something special and unique - but I also have limited sewing time since Addie doesn't sleep. We've been visiting the Farmer's Market a lot lately, and I've been trying to remember to use my reusable grocery bags when buying household necessities. I don't always remember to bring the bags, though - and I think that's partially because they are not very pretty or exciting. I decided I would feel much more motivated if I had a one-of-a-kind bag to use for my purchases!

Waverize It Contest Jo-Ann Fabric & Crafts Waverly Fabric Sewing Challenge Reversible DIY Tote Bag Sew Craft Create

Jo-Ann sent me some amazing Waverly fabric and as soon as it arrived, I was just itching to get started! I found a reversible tote bag tutorial (from where else - Pinterest!) and set to work. Addie was determined to help me, as shown in the photo above - but she ended up playing in her bouncer while there were pins and scissors scattered about the floor!

Waverize It Contest Jo-Ann Fabric & Crafts Waverly Fabric Sewing Challenge Reversible DIY Tote Bag Sew Craft Create

The tutorial says that this bag should take around an hour or so to complete. I can attest that when you are sewing while taking care of a toddler and a baby, that time is multiplied quite a few times. Still, it was a fairly quick project (for me) and I love how it turned out!

Waverize It Contest Jo-Ann Fabric & Crafts Waverly Fabric Sewing Challenge Reversible DIY Tote Bag Sew Craft Create

The pattern is for a reversible tote - I wanted it to be all the same, so I just used this gorgeous Waverly fabric for both the inside and outside layers. I've already received compliments on it. I have grand intentions of high-tailing it to my Jo-Ann store to find more Waverly fabric - there are so many more things around here I could Waverize! I think I want to make another clothespin bag - I need two of those, right?

Waverize It Contest Jo-Ann Fabric & Crafts Waverly Fabric Sewing Challenge Reversible DIY Tote Bag Sew Craft Create

After the bag was finished, I couldn't resist using a strip of extra fabric to whip up this ruffly flower. It doubles as an accent on the bag and a baby hair accessory! One day, you will probably find some flowers like this in my Etsy shop (whenever it finally exists).

Waverize It Contest Jo-Ann Fabric & Crafts Waverly Fabric Sewing Challenge Reversible DIY Tote Bag Sew Craft Create

Are you inspired yet? If you are dreaming up some projects that will Waverize your own life, make sure you check out the Waverize It! Contest. Now through September 22, you can enter your project for a chance to win $1,000 in Waverly fabric plus a $250 Jo-Ann gift card!

Waverize It Contest Jo-Ann Fabric & Crafts Waverly Fabric Sewing Challenge Reversible DIY Tote Bag Sew Craft Create

I want to know - what will you create for the contest? What's the most unique item you have ever created with fabric?

Waverize It Contest Jo-Ann Fabric & Crafts Waverly Fabric Sewing Challenge Reversible DIY Tote Bag Sew Craft Create

Disclosure: I received fabric from Jo-Ann and Waverly to facilitate this post. No other compensation was received and all views expressed are my own.
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