, pub-8087192757053655, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 Director Jewels: August 2014

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

6 Things I Hate About Breastfeeding

What, you thought I would just tell you 5 Things I Love About Breastfeeding and go on with life without a mention of the not-so-delightful things about nursing? I tell it like it is, friends. I love breastfeeding. Like...I LOVE it. But I'd definitely be lying if I said I had never been annoyed with one thing or another about the breastfeeding journey. So here are the not-so-glorious things!

6 Things I Hate (or at least strongly dislike) About Breastfeeding

1. Nursing Hickeys. These tend to happen in the middle of the night when it feels like your eyelids are literally peeling off your face and you just don't care that the baby is hungry again. You get her latched (you think), and collapse back into your dreams of a place where bedtime is 4 o'clock in the afternoon, then wake up in the morning to find a bruise far more alarming than any actual hickey you ever got from kissing. Bright side: at least you don't have to hide this one with a turtleneck!

2. Nursing Covers. I started out loving these things. I had about four. I collected them because they were so cute. Fabric is ridiculously adorable these days, so you can find (or make) a nursing cover to match your nursery or your car seat or your clothing or anything that strikes your fancy. And that's great. But what's not great is trying to get your kid to actually eat under one of these things. This photo is me in the hospital, attempting to latch Lincoln (who didn't know how to latch) in a pile of Boppy and hospital gown and super cute green floral nursing cover. He was less than 24 hours old. Do you know what I wish I had instead? A photo of his sweet little face while he was attempting to nurse in his first day of life.

I'm a really really modest person. Honest. I nurse in public constantly, but I do not flaunt anything and I would be surprised if anyone has ever actually caught a full glimpse of skin as my kid latches. I'm not comfortable with people seeing my breasts, so I've learned that there are better ways to nurse without using a tent over your baby's head. When you're nursing a small infant, you really need two hands to do it right. That means you need three hands if you also have to hold the nursing cover out of the way to see what you are doing. Show me a mom with three hands and I'll gift her all these covers I have cluttering up my house.

If you want to nurse without a cover, just do it, mama. Let's start a revolution and actually let the newest generation of children think breastfeeding is normal because they see it happen. I don't want my kids to be shamed if they try to peek under a nursing cover to find out what the baby is doing. If they can see the baby, they'll just accept it and go on with life.

(I'm going to write another post on this subject as it seems I've been holding onto some pent-up anxiety about this....!)

3. Gymnurstics. I actually laugh at the antics of a nursing toddler most of the time. But sometimes, you really just want to be able to sit down on the couch and have a soothing moment with your child without her toe up your nose. Be considerate, little person. You certainly throw a big commotion if I try to pry anything out of your snot-crusted face. Mommy knows how to blow her own nose (point Mommy!).

Photo from my post about
Addie's Early Childhood Caries (tooth decay).
4. Tiny Teeth. When you decide to nurse past six months, you're going to encounter some of these bad boys. I've been pretty lucky - Addie has never been a biter, and Lincoln only thought it was funny for a few weeks. Some babies apparently belly laugh because their mama sounds funny when she screams after their tiny teeth have tried to take a not-so-tiny bite out of her.

A baby with sharp little teeth clamping down on your breast is seriously more painful than stepping on 1,000 LEGOs the wrong way.

Lincoln is almost weaned. At the end of nursing him, his latch became very lazy and each session was an experiment in how much can I take and tiny indentations in my skin. Not fun.

5. "Are You Stilllllllll Nursing Him/Her?" What, this kid attached to my chest right now? Yup. Still nursing that one. I thankfully don't get this one as often as I expect it. But it annoys me because - really - it doesn't matter if my child is six months or one year or two years or five years old, the decision to nurse him was mine and it was hard and I feel guilty enough about everything else I'm doing as a mom already. I don't need you to give me snarky words about how I'll ruin him for life, because it's proven I won't (at least not by breastfeeding him). This is something I am doing right and when I get nagged about it, it may just provoke me to nurse this kid until college. Take that.

6. Pumping. There is something inherently wrong with strapping a contraption to your body, then being happy as it suctions the life milk out of you. When I quit my part-time out of the home job, I was so done with pumping. And I only worked like 10-15 hours/week. Full-time working mamas and exclusive pumpers, you all have serious dedication and you win all the awesome points of the day.

Is it a bad thing that I wrote far more about the things I don't like than I did about the things that I do like? Whoops! What about you? If your kids were breastfed, what was your least favorite thing about it? No judgement!


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014."
  I'm late posting (again). Oh well.
Lincoln - He filled up the pool with the hose and splashed his little heart out. I love this smile.. 
Addie - She never sat down in the water. "Too cold!" 
Linking up at Practising Simplicity.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Octonauts at SEA LIFE Kansas City Aquarium

Disclosure: I received press tickets for my family to tour the attraction highlighted below. No other compensation has been received and all opinions are my own.

It's a grand day for an adventure here in Kansas City, and I know just the place to have a pretty unique experience: SEA LIFE Kansas City, the beautiful aquarium at Crown Center. SEA LIFE is pretty amazing on a normal day, but now through August 31 you will find some extra special sea-faring guests waiting to greet you: The Octonauts!

We're big fans of these loveable animals who have a knack for rescuing creatures under the sea. Lincoln and Addie would literally watch this show all day long if I let them. We have two DVDs featuring their stories and I have both sets of episodes almost memorized. For the upcoming birthday season, I am happily welcoming additional Octonauts collections so my brain can have a little break from the cookie cutter shark, the narwhal, and the others.

So, you get it that we love the Octonauts. Let's move on to our own adventure! We were able to stop by SEA LIFE last week to get a peek at this super fun exhibit. The kids were really excited to go see the Octonauts and fish (or "Noctonauts and fishies" if you ask Addie). We have been to SEA LIFE a couple times this year - once at Lincoln's birthday and then again earlier this summer, but this time was definitely our best experience as far as the kids' attention span.

We brought my mom along (the kids call her Bun), because I'm not brave enough to tackle a character meet and greet with two toddlers alone. I'm crazy - but not that crazy. Lincoln and Addie were quite excited to show all of the fish and sea creatures to their grandma.

The highlight of the experience, of course, was seeing the Octonauts, so we headed there first. We stopped by when Captain Barnacles was out to say hello! Lincoln nearly passed out from excitement. It was really adorable - he covered his mouth with his hands, opened his eyes as wide as saucers, and bounced his way over toward Barnacles.

And...then he stopped, a couple feet in front of him, fell on the floor, and generally freaked out about having had a super cool experience. He wouldn't give a high five or hug, but he did whisper hi.

Addie, although feigning indifference here, was pretty excited about this whole experience too and spent much of the time waving and saying "hi Captain," gaining smiles from people all around us. She's a charmer.

Trying to give Lincoln another opportunity to have a fun meet and greet experience, we came back for the next meet and greet segment, this time with Kwazii. It went pretty much exactly the same, but we did manage to get him (sort of) in a photo, at least.

Both kids were very content to just sit on the floor and color the Octonauts coloring sheets with provided crayons, and play with the Octopod play set. I was informed after the adventure that "Mommy, we need a Octonaut toy too!"

The meet and greet is designed well to keep any potential line moving quickly, and with the kid-friendly atmosphere, it's no wonder the event is a success. This is the second time the Octonauts have visited SEA LIFE this year, and they'll hopefully be back for more fun later, too!

You can catch Captain Barnacles and Kwazii (alternating hours) daily now through September 7. They meet and greet every hour (on the hour) between 11:00am - 6:00pm (no appearance at 3:00pm). Since this is a popular event - especially with the preschool crowd - it is recommended that you purchase your tickets online before you visit. Check out SEA LIFE's website for more info and to purchase your tickets!

The Octonauts were just part of the fun for us on this trip! Both of my kids were really interested in all of the fish and other creatures (way more attentive than they have been in the past). I partially credit their love for Octonauts and their fascination with the show for this - they love learning about new creatures now! The touch pool was an especially big hit for Lincoln.

We easily spent close to two hours touring the aquarium and no one was grumpy or bored when we left. This makes me so happy! I think they would go back every day just to visit the fish - whether the Octonauts are there or not.

My mom had never seen the aquarium, and she said over and over that it was such a neat experience for the kids! I can't wait to use SEA LIFE to supplement our homeschool studies on ocean life in a few years.

We had a blast, SEA LIFE Kansas City! Thanks for being so awesome - and we hope to come back soon!

Disclosure: I received press tickets for my family to tour SEA LIFE. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

I'm Kissing Kitchen Clutter Goodbye - For Good!

Disclosure: Thanks to Viva® Vantage and Walmart for sponsoring today's discussion. All opinions expressed are my own.

Today, I want to talk about something that affects all of us as moms.

At least, I hope it does. If I'm the only one...then heaven help us all.

What, you ask, is this irritating topic?


Piles of dishes. Piles of towels. Scant pickings of produce that got buried under the piles of dishes and towels and may have gone slightly rotten. Oh, that's just me? Awesome.

I'm what a lot of people would consider a granola or "crunchy" mom. I cloth diaper. I try to reuse as much as possible. I haven't been purchasing paper towels lately because I figure...I have all of these perfectly good washcloths. Why can't I just be responsible and use those and wash them daily and never have a smelly pile of towels fermenting on my counter?

Hello! I'm the mom of a toddler and a preschooler. That's just not going to happen. So when I was given the chance to try out Viva® Vantage Paper Towels and thought...okay. We'll give it a shot and see if some time can be saved.

Sometimes, it's okay to just admit that as a mom, I cannot do it all. I can't keep up with a house, a blog, a couple of side businesses, the needs of my family, and do excessive laundry because I won't ever get to sleep. And sleep, my friends, is quite important.

Cleaning messes with Viva® Vantage has become my new normal. Do you know how much easier it is to wipe up a disgusting mess and then just throw it away? Yes, please. I'll take that as my new normal.

Viva® Vantage Towels are not your average paper towel. They are stretchy and allow for maximum cleaning in all the little crevices where grimy things like to hide. They are designed uniquely with V-Flex Weave - which is what gives them that extra stretchy scrubbing power.

I am sold on Viva® Vantage and have on desire to encounter a pile of smelly washcloths on my counter ever again! Have you tried these paper towels? What messes would you clean with them?

Thanks to Viva® Vantage and Walmart for sponsoring today's discussion. All opinions expressed are my own. For more information, you can read my Disclosure Policy.

Baby Jogger Summit X3 2014 Stroller Giveaway

I didn't have a "fancy" stroller until I had two kids and my baby was over a year old. It wasn't in our budget to buy an expensive model and it seemed unnecessary. However - once I took my City Mini Double for a spin around the block, I was hooked. I highly recommend the entire Baby Jogger brand, and if I ever actually went running, I'd be saving up my pennies for one of these pretty models!

Welcome to the Baby Jogger Summit X3 Giveaway!
hosted by Viva Veltoro & Thrifty Nifty Mommy, and generously sponsored by PishPoshBaby!
If you're a parent or caregiver, then PishPoshBaby is the online baby shop for you. The brands they offer are some of the best, and you'll find their customer service top notch! PishPoshBaby's goal is to make your important, significant purchases for your new one clear and comfortable. One of those important purchases is bound to be a stroller, and it's a big investment. To help guide you through the many options, PishPoshBaby has a team of "Mom Reps" ready to offer help and give you feedback about the strollers you're interested in to help you find the best one to match your needs.

Ruth from Viva Veltoro recently had the opportunity to review the Baby Jogger Summit X3 2014 from PishPoshBaby and she couldn't be more pleased with this fabulous jogging stroller. Make sure you check out the full review to see all of the great features of this high-quality stroller!

Here is a little bit of info about the Baby Jogger Summit X3 2014 from the PishPoshBaby website:

Go anywhere with this highly maneuverable hybrid jogger/stroller. With its all-wheel suspension, the Summit X3 provides exceptional performance on any terrain. A remote wheel lock on the handlebar allows you to easily shift between jogging and strolling.

  • Patented Quick-Fold Technology--allows you to fold your stroller in one step
  • Universal Accessory Mounting Bracket: accessorize your stroller with ease
  • Remote action swivel lock to lock the front wheel for jogging exercise
  • All-wheel independent suspension
  • Hand-operated rear drum brakes for increased control on hilly terrain
  • 16" rear and 12" front quick-release pneumatic wheels with sealed ball bearings
  • Padded seat with additional support reclines to a near flat position
  • Vented seat recline with retractable weather cover
  • Ergonomic handlebar with wipe-clean grip
  • Multi-position sun canopy with peek-a-boo windows and side ventilation panels
  • Seat back storage compartment and large under seat storage basket
  • Adjustable 5-point safety harness with shoulder pads
  • Rear parking brake
  • Removable auto-lock to keep stroller folded for transportation or storage
PishPoshbaby is going to give one lucky reader a
Baby Jogger Summit X3 2014 in their choice of color (valued at $429)!
Open to residents of the United States, ages 18 and up. Ends on 9/7/14 at 11:59 PM EDT.
Enter using the Giveaway Tools entry form below. Good luck!

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation for hosting this giveaway. Viva Veltoro, Thrifty Nifty Mommy, and the participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment. Please contact vivaveltoro(at) with questions about this giveaway.

Sofia the First: The Enchanted Feast DVD Review + Giveaway

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

 We are fans of just about every Disney Junior show - and we don't even have cable! We recently took a (very long) road trip to Texas to visit my brother and his family, and we stayed in a hotel along the way. The kids were thrilled to watch episodes of Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins, and more on the Disney Channel before we headed on our way! Since we don't subscribe to a TV service at home, we make do with DVDs - and really, that's nicer, I think! No commercials interrupting the show, and I can limit screen time to "just one DVD."

One of the new favorites in our house is Sofia the First: The Enchanted Feast. Addie is especially concerned about anything that involves princesses, and she can identify most Disney princesses by name. She was quite excited to find "White" (Snow White) featured in the first story, The Enchanted Feast, on this DVD!

Here's the official synopsis of this story:

The wicked fairy, Miss Nettle, disguises herself as a powerful sorceress and attempts to steal Sofia’s magical amulet. With the help of Snow White—Sofia must learn to trust her instincts and speak up when she suspects someone is not who or what they say they are.

Lincoln and Addie have both enjoyed watching the antics of Sofia and her friends and family. The evil Miss Nettle returns to the castle disguised as Sascha the Sorceress, bent on stealing Sofia's amulet. Sofia is suspicious of her from the moment she arrives, but everyone else falls for her ploy hook, line, and sinker. Sofia learns a lot about working together (even with someone unlikely, like the castle sorcerer, Cedric) and ultimately manages to save the day! It's definitely a conversation starter for talking to kids about who to trust.

The additional episodes included in this release are:

-The Buttercups
-Tea for Too Many
-Great Aunt-Venture
-Two Princesses and a Baby

I think Two Princesses and a Baby is a crazy cute episode. Prince James gets accidentally turned into a baby on the day of his and Princess Amber's big birthday celebration. Maybe it's just because I'm surrounded by baby and toddler antics constantly, but this one makes me smile.

Do your kids like Sofia as much as mine do? Who is their favorite character?


One Director Jewels reader will win Sofia the First: The Enchanted Feast on DVD! This giveaway will end on September 5 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.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

5 Things I Love About Breastfeeding

I had great intentions of posting a breastfeeding related article every day of World Breastfeeding Week 2014. If you don't know - that was August 1-7. That week was really crazy for me between two big performances with my drama students and a trip to Texas to visit my brother.

Maybe next year I'll post on time, right?

Happily for me, August is also Breastfeeding Awareness Month - so I decided to go ahead and share a few of my breastfeeding-related stories before the month is up. You can hop over to Mama Pure to read my Tips for Tandem Nursing, too!

Today, I thought it would be fun to tell you some of my favorite things about breastfeeding! Here they are - in no particular order. 

5 Things I Love About Breastfeeding!

1. It's pure magic when it comes to getting babies to sleep. Sure, I was advised many times to not let my baby fall asleep at the breast because she'll become dependent on it. Well, speaking now as a mom whose kid is dependent on nursing to's not such a bad thing. Trying to get her down for a nap or nighttime without nursing means hours of screaming and hysteria. Pop her on to nurse and she's calm in two minutes. I'll take the latter option, thanks.

2. It's so much easier than any other method of feeding baby. When I was pumping for Lincoln (I worked part time when he was a baby), I hated dealing with the zillion pieces of my pump and the bottles. I can barely keep track of what day it is. Making sure enough milk was readily available was sometimes a nightmare. I've never used formula, but I am certain I would have left my house more than once without all the necessary tools to feed baby. This week, I've forgotten to put shoes on my kids three times when we've left the house. Mom brain is serious.

3. It gives me time to cuddle with my very busy toddlers. Tiny little babies are usually pretty snuggly. Toddlers usually are not. At least, they're not in my case. Addie enjoys a good snuggle more than Lincoln, but a nursing break guarantees a few minutes of close contact where we can regroup and just be with each other during a busy day.

4. It's an effective birth control method. Really. Obviously, you can't trust it forever (and don't blame me if you read this and find yourself pregnant because you thought I told you it was okay). But I didn't get my fertility back until Addie was 14 months old. That's over a year of period-free life. If that doesn't convince you to give breastfeeding a try, I don't know what will do the trick.

5. It helps mom lose baby weight (and more). This one is not true for everyone, but for me it's been ahhhh-ma-zing. I currently weigh twenty pounds less than I did when I found out Lincoln was on the way. I halfheartedly attended a weekly workout class for a few weeks when he was a baby. Sometimes we go for family walks in the evening. Aside from that, I have literally not done any structured exercise AT ALL in four years. Part of this may be due to my better eating habits and the fact that I'm constantly chasing toddlers around - but how cool is it to be able to say "oh, I'm burning calories right now" while I'm writing this blog post? Making breast milk=automatic extra calories gone.

I think I could write at least another fifty reasons why I love breastfeeding, but those are some of my favorites! Did you (or do you currently) breastfeed your kids? What's your favorite benefit from your nursing relationship?

Note: Mamas who have chosen or have had the choice made for you to use formula or otherwise feed your child, please know that I love you too. I'm blessed to have been able to breastfeed both kids in spite of a difficult start, and I know that I had it easier than a lot of you! I'm not judging. Honest.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

High-Flying Memories

 When I was a kid, my parents took me to Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri all the time. I may have never gone to Disney World, but I knew this 1880's-mining-town theme park like the back of my hand. It was - and remains to this day - one of my favorite places on earth. We took visited Silver Dollar City at Christmas with our kids last year, and took a family trip there this summer.

I have a lot of memories of "firsts" at Silver Dollar City. My dad coaxed me onto my first roller coaster there (Thunderation - I was terrified). I ate a stir-fry meal with my best friends when I was a teenager (picky eater here - definitely hadn't tried that before). I went on an underground cave tour and was astounded at the hidden secrets below the park.

And I've eaten some of the best cinnamon rolls of my life more than once in that park!

When I heard that Silver Dollar City was planning a big revision in 2015 that involved the removal of the Geyser Gulch children's play area, a chord in my heart felt a little pained. I remember the first year that Geyser Gulch was open and have silly photos playing with my dad and brother there when I was maybe twelve. I was afraid that the memories of this fantastic park area would fall by the wayside, like a few other things from the park's history.

My cute parents riding Skychase Balloons in 1997.

My cute parents riding Skychase Balloons in 1997.
Photography by yours truly...I've learned a bit since then,
like that maybe the balloon tops should be in this photo too!.

When I was very young - maybe the first time we went to the park - my dad asked if I wanted to ride the spinning balloon ride near the center of the park. We asked the ride attendant if it went very high or very fast, and were told that it was a moderate ride and shouldn't be very frightening. I climbed aboard. And was terrified when those high-flying balloons and their passenger baskets lifted off the ground. Over the years, I overcame the fear and enjoyed thoroughly the "balloon ride," as we called it. The last time I rode it was in 2007, when I was at Silver Dollar City for an adventure with my new boyfriend, this guy I met at a community theatre, named Andrew (hint: I married him).

Aw, look at us being all cute on a date. 2007.

After that trip, the little hollow that Skychase Balloons and Hugo & Mary's Carousel rested in was redone and the rides disappeared. The carousel reappeared in Half Dollar Holler and my kids love it now. I lamented over the balloons each time we walked past where they used to be. So when I read this news announcement that Geyser Gulch would be no more...I feared the worst. That it, too, would only live on in my memory.

Andrew and me in the yellow balloon basket, 2007.

But last week, the 5-Alarm Announcement arrived in my inbox, stating that Fireman's Landing would be arriving in the summer of 2015. My son has adoration on his face anytime he sees anything firetruck or fireman themed and we even had a firetruck birthday party this year, so I thought....okay. This might be good. The new family adventure area will feature ten new rides and play zones, including a foam ball area (so Geyser Gulch will live on - yay), a soft play area for toddlers, a low-flying swing ride for young kids, and more. It sounds like they are really planning to envelop the whole family, even very young kids, in this section of the park and that makes me so thrilled!

Image Courtesy of Silver Dollar City.

Then, when I was looking over the concept art, I spotted it. In the right corner, a ride that will be called Fire Spotter that features balloons which will fly up in the air to enable all the junior firefighters to have the best visibility for any looming disasters. My heart skipped a little beat. Because Fire Spotter looks an awful lot like a ride I knew a few years ago.

I contacted Silver Dollar City via twitter on a hunch. They're great at replying on social media and got back to me right away with a confirmation of my question. Fire Spotter is the same balloon ride that holds many, many lovely memories from my childhood and my falling-in-love days.

You'd better believe I will be there next summer to ride this old/new adventure with my kids. And if they're terrified when those balloons take off into the sky...well, we'll just be making some new memories together.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Just Between Friends Kansas City: Lees Summit & Overland Park Sales #JBFKC

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Just Between Friends of Lee’s Summit and Overland Park. This program is in partnership with Real Mom Media.  All opinions are my own.

It's no secret that I'm a consignment sale junkie. I love to sell my kids' outgrown and gently used things in them, and I especially love to shop them. Because who wants to pay retail prices for clothing and toys that are going to be outgrown before they have a chance to really wear them? Example: Addie's pink sparkly princess shoes that are already too small even though she's worn them maybe two dozen times.

Shopping a consignment sale is kind of like embarking on a massive treasure hunt - because you just never know what you might find in the thousands of items available. Some of our favorite obscure toys have been consignment sale finds! Plus, a Christmas shopping budget can go a lot further at a secondhand sale than if you just run down to Target on Christmas Eve.

I'm really excited that the fall consignment sale season is upon us, and I'm going through the closet in the kids' room to figure out what we need to get us through the fall and winter. So far, I know Lincoln needs new pants and both kids need pajamas. They certainly don't need any toys, but I'm guessing a few things may make their way into our house. I can't resist a good bargain.

If you're in Kansas City, you need to come along with me and check out the Just Between Friends consignment sales that are coming up in the next few weeks in Lees Summit and Overland Park. These two sales are huge and will have something for everyone! Here are the details.

The Pavilion at John Knox Village
Open to the public August 22-24
Overland Park International Trade Center
Open to the public September 11-14

Make sure you stop by the websites above to see if you qualify for any of the presale events because (pssst, secret tip!) a lot of people find their best deals during the earliest shopping hours! There are presales for First-Time Parents, First-Time Grandparents, Teachers, Foster Parents, Mothers of Multiples, and Military spouses!

For more consignment shopping tips, mark your calendar for two upcoming Twitter Parties with #JBFKC and me! There will be lots of prizes given away at these online events, including front-of-the-line passes and JBF Bucks!

Lees Summit Twitter Party: Wednesday, August 20 from 12 pm-1 pm CT
Overland Park Twitter Party:Tuesday, September 9 from 8 pm-9 pm CT
Have you shopped a kid's consignment sale before? What was the best deal you found?
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Just Between Friends of Lee’s Summit and Overland Park. This program is in partnership with Real Mom Media.  All opinions are my own.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Jonah and the Great Big Fish by Rhonda Gowler Greene {Children's Book Review}

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

 My kids are both crazy about sea creatures right now. They love them. We are always talking about sharks and whales and other massive fish - so the story of Jonah is a natural tale to teach them right now! They may have been a little young to fully appreciate Jonah at Sight and Sound Theatre in Branson earlier this summer - but a picture book is definitely the right approach.

With children ages three and almost two, when it comes to books, we have a few requirements. They have to be cute. They have to be short enough to keep their attention. And if they rhyme and/or don't annoy me when I have to read them for the fifteenth time in an afternoon, they get super special bonus points.

This book brings to life the story of Jonah and his decision to flee from God's call to go to the people of Nineveh. Rhonda Gowler Greene's text has a lovely rhyme scheme. This book is a great length for reading during playtime, bedtime, or anytime in between!

This new edition features brand new illustrations by Margaret Spengler, and for my young kids, I much prefer them to the original version (we checked the original book out from our library a few months ago). These pictures are bright and colorful. Almost every page has a little animal peeking out from somewhere - my daughter loves pointing them out.

My only wish is that the book featured the full story of Jonah. It ends when Jonah is deposited back on land and heads off toward Nineveh. A few more pages would enable the full telling of the story, including the repentance of the people of Nineveh. But, that's a minor complaint in an otherwise very adorable book.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for my review sample of this book. I received no compensation for posting a review and all views expressed are my own.

Saturday, August 16, 2014


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014."
Bath time is unpredictable. Sometimes they love it. Sometimes they hate it.
Always, they want to have milk and snacks while in the tub. 
And always, the shadows in my bathroom are terrible.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead in Overland Park, Kansas {Summer Bucket List 2014}

This summer has passed us by in the blink of an eye. Seriously. I thought I was going to do better than last year at keeping up with our Kansas City Summer Bucket List posts, but that has NOT been the case. So, I'm documenting a little later than intended - but it's technically still summer. It counts, right?

Back in June, we had a day that was not atrociously warm and my parents were both free, so we had a mommy-kids-and-grandparents adventure to Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead in Overland Park, Kansas. Our first trip to this 12-acre property that is designed to give families a glance at real old-fashioned farm life was last summer. I thought the kids would be even more excited about it this year, so I wanted some reinforcements to make sure I didn't lose anyone. Don't laugh. Addie may or may not have tried to throw herself in the pond.

Deanna Rose is a beautiful farmstead that features multiple play areas, historic encounters like a Native American teepee to explore, a old-time mercantile, an ice cream parlor, the opportunity to feed baby animals and MUCH more. I would have died of happiness here as a kid, when I was in an extremely long I-am-actually-Laura-Ingalls phase of imagination. I know that we will be visiting at least once a year with the kids, and probably more often during our homeschooling adventures in a few years. I'm sure it's amazing in the spring and fall when the weather is a little more mild!

We started our day at the farm by counting some chickens (Lincoln counted to thirteen ALL BY HIMSELF! I was so proud), and arguing about whether or not we actually had to wear sunscreen. Then Lincoln and Addie spotted a playground and hightailed it there to swing and slide for awhile.

I love going on adventures with my parents because they help keep track of everyone!

After we convinced them to leave the play area, we checked out a barn where they got to climb on some sawhorses and pretend to milk a cow. There were also baby goats to see, and cows just outside the door!

After venturing through the baby goat feeding pen (someone shared a bottle of milk with us, but the goats were more interested in eating my skirt and Addie's headband), Lincoln found the mini tractors and the oval track to ride them on - and then we had to plant ourselves for some time and wait for him to get his fill of the wheeled conveyences. He has yet to master pedaling a bike, so this adventure actually consisted of myself or my dad pushing him around the track.

We were all growing very warm and took a pit stop inside the nicely air conditioned general store. I kind of wanted to just live there. Doesn't it look like something straight out of Little House on the Prairie or Anne of Green Gables?

I thought Lincoln wouldn't enjoy anything more than the tractors, but I was definitely wrong. When he spotted the big red barn slide, he had eyes for nothing else.

Somehow I missed seeing these slides completely when we came last year, but there's no way we'll ever miss them again. It took Lincoln a few minutes to work up the courage to try it out, but once he did - he was hooked. He ran circles from the slide to the stairs, over and over again.

Yes - that much enthusiasm. The whole time.

Addie wanted to do the slides as well, but I was a little hesitant to send an 18-month-old up the stairs alone amidst all the big kids, so we distracted her instead by letting her feed the goats nearby. If you visit Deanna Rose, make sure to bring quarters for the feed dispensers located throughout the farm near the animals that are allowed to be hand fed.

She loved it! We couldn't get Lincoln to really develop a serious interest in feeding the animals with the slide nearby, but Addie thought it was fantastic.

We were finally able to coax Lincoln away from the slides and made a stop in the children's garden and the really big playground near the entrance. Lincoln scaled to the top and stripped his shoes and socks off just to throw them down a slide. After that, we were pretty sure it was time to call it a day!

They seriously loved the farmstead and asked to go back for days and days after our visit. I know it's going to remain one of favorite places in Kansas City!
We're happy to have crossed this item off our Summer Bucket List!
Come see what else we're doing to celebrate summer this year!
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