Thursday, April 24, 2014

Musical Fun: Green Tones Eco-Friendly Wooden Instruments Review & Giveaway!

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

Both Mike and I played instruments (violin for me, french horn for Mike) growing up and my mom is a wonderful pianist. I want our kids to play some sort of instrument in the future, but for now we enjoy going to toddler music classes and listening to music at home. We have several baby/toddler instruments but they are plastic and they never held the kids' attention for long.

A new company called Green Tones recently sent us several of their Eco-Friendly Wooden Musical Instruments.

Green tones® is a new award-winning line of eco-friendly wooden instruments & toys designed by HOHNER Musical Instruments (est. 1857). Combining sustainable materials and HOHNER’s heritage of creating quality musical experiences, we provide a safe and engaging music playtime that stimulates cognitive ability. We believe every child is born with innate musicality and through proper nurturing it grows with your child.

We received the Mama Bear Drum, the Baby Bear Shaker, and the Race Car Whistle to review.

Grace was so excited when we pulled them out of the box and couldn't wait to open them. She said "mama, picture please!"

She first gravitated towards the Race Car Whistle. She rolled it along until I showed her how to use it as a whistle. I honestly found it a little hard to make much noise with, but after two tries, she was able to produce a perfect whistle. She now uses it constantly! I love that even though Connor isn't able to use it as an instrument, he is able to play with it simply as a toy car.

I showed them how the drum and the shaker worked and I have to say that the drum is the definite winner out of all of the instruments. Both kids love it and Connor has some amazing rhythm already, we might have a drummer on our hands!

Normally they give me the shaker to shake while they play the drum. We use them multiple times a day to sing songs and to play along when we are listening to music.

Like I said, we have had plastic musical instruments in the past with little to no lasting interest in them. But we've had these for several weeks now and both kids still want to play with them daily. Grace is actually using the whistle right now. I cannot even explain how well made these toys are. The wood is solid and smooth and I love that all Green Tones toys are made from sustainable rubber wood. Unlike flimsy plastic instruments made for toddlers, these are built to last and have survived Connor's rough play. I am really hoping to add the Papa Bear Glock to our collection soon!


One lucky Moments That Take My Breath Away readers will win a Mama Bear Drum and Baby Bear Shaker. 

Green Tones Eco-Friendly Wooden Instruments Giveaway

How to Enter:
This is a Rafflecopter giveaway.  Follow the instructions on the widget to enter. All current likes/follows count! Please contact me if you run into any technical difficulties with Rafflecopter.  The giveaway runs through Friday, May 2nd at 11:59 PM CST. Open to US residents only. 
The winners will have 48 hours to respond to the notification email or a new winner will be chosen.

The first entry is mandatory- Visit Green Tones and leave a comment on this blog post telling me which instrument you would choose for your child. Once you complete this entry, the widget will give you the option of completing the rest. Complete more steps for more chances to win!

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Growing Up Too Fast!

This was supposed to be a Wordless Wednesday post but I can't resist writing some about these pictures.

Connor has been so loving lately. He may be trying to give me another heart attack with some of his antics (the most recent include figuring out how to open the gate at the top of our stairs today and throwing himself out of the pack n play onto hard tile Saturday morning) but he's such a sweet little guy. He loves giving hugs and kisses and has recently started wrapping his arms around me for big hugs. When I went to put him down for a nap the other day he wouldn't let go of my neck. After a couple of minutes of cuddles, he fell asleep in my arms. He normally prefers to fall asleep in his crib so I cherished the time holding him. I know I won't get to do it too many more times.

Grace is turning into a little lady before my eyes. She wears the fanciest dresses she owns every single day complete with accessories and shoes. She dresses herself and I have absolutely no input on most of her clothing choices. She asks to "take cheese mama!" multiple times a day which is her way of asking to take pictures. These pictures were all her and are my absolute favorite pics of her lately.

They are getting so big and I honestly can't believe it. I wish time would slow down a bit!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Must Read Monday: Preschooler Look and Find books

I think Grace would let me read to her all day if she had the choice. She has a lot of favorite books but lately she's been spending a lot of time in her room reading her Look and Find books. I found these three Disney books at a consignment sale and she got the I Spy one from her doctor (how cool is it that they give each child a book at each well visit!)

I honestly wasn't sure she would have any interest in these types of books at all. I obviously underestimated her! She is amazing at finding everything and often finds objects before I do! Of course she has memorized most the item's locations now  but she still spends a ton of time each day looking through them and showing me different things.

What are your child's favorite books right now?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Omaha Adventure Giveaway!

I'm trying to talk Mike into taking our family to Omaha this summer. It's a short drive from Kansas City and I've heard the attractions are amazing! If you are looking for a great summer getaway, make sure to the enter this giveaway!

Omaha Adventure 2014

This summer when you take your family vacation to Omaha, let me help with the expense! Visit Omaha is giving 4 lucky readers an amazing Omaha Adventure Card. On the Omaha Adventure Card is:

Attraction Discounts (for up to 6 individuals):
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo – $2 off Admission
Omaha Children’s Museum – $2 off Admission
The Durham Museum – $2 off Admission
Lauritzen Gardens – $2 off Admission/Tram Combo
Joslyn Art Museum – $2 off $10 @ the gift shop

Shopping & Restaurant coupons include:
Amazing Pizza Machine – $5 off RiVT90 buffet & pack
• Over $300 of coupons to Village Pointe Shopping Center

4 Winners will receive a Omaha Adventure card!  

One Grand Prize winner will receive:

  • One Omaha Adventure Card
  • One $40 Gift Card to Village Pointe Shopping Center
  • Visit Omaha t-shirt & water bottle
Giveaway will run from April 18 - May 9 at 11:59pm.
This giveaway is open to US residents age 18+. Bloggers participating in giveaway are not responsible for prize fulfillment. Good Luck!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

10 Years Ago: Our Not So Romantic First Date

10 years ago today I went on a first date with a guy I barely knew named Mike. We'd been flirting through AIM (I'm showing my age there!) but I hadn't really spent much time with him otherwise. He was only 17 ( I was 20) and was the neighbor of my ex-boyfriend. That sounds a lot more scandalous than it was. I stayed close to my ex's family and Mike was at their house a LOT. When he asked me to go shoe shopping with him, I didn't think much of it. I was headed to study in England for a year that fall so I wasn't really looking for a relationship.

Little did I know that shopping for sandals for him that day would be the start of something so amazing. I remember him putting his arm around me while we walked through the mall and thinking "well, he's cute and sweet, so why not?" That's our first date story, shopping at Payless. Not exactly the most romantic story to tell our kids, but it's the truth! We didn't plan on getting serious, we were just having a fun summer romance.
Our first picture together in the fall of 2004. We look like babies!
But when it was time for me to leave in September, we both decided that we should try a long distance relationship and the rest is history. After 4 years of dating, 6 years of marriage, and 2 kids I am so happy to call him my husband.

10 years sounds like such a long time! As he likes to remind me, we have been together for more than a 3rd of his life. I'm excited to see what the next 10 years brings!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter Egg Wreath

Easter is only 4 days away so I decided to get one last Easter crafting session in with Grace this morning. I found this adorable wreath at Mama, Mommy, Mom and decided to use it as our inspiration. I didn't have as many plastic eggs as she used but I figured we could just make a smaller version. I'm really pleased with how it turned out and I was happily surprised by how much Grace enjoyed making it. As an added bonus, it gave me a chance to work with her on colors and patterns.

Easter Egg Wreath: Crafts for Kids


Plastic Easter Eggs- We used 24. You can use more or less depending on how big you want your wreath to be. Make sure to get eggs that have small holes in the top and bottom (I got mine at Dollar Tree and Walmart for a $1 a package!)

Floral Wire- I used shorter pieces and simply twisted them together for longer strings

Thread your eggs onto the floral wire in whatever pattern you want. Grace helped me with this step and I was impressed by how well she was able to do it.

Make sure to bend the end of your wire so the eggs stay on while you're threading the rest.

We did two strings of 12 eggs each. I created two different patterns so that Grace could help identify which color should come next in the pattern. Today was the first time she identified purple and green correctly so it was a pretty good day!

Lay the strings side by side and twist the floral wire on one end so that it is secure. Start gently twisting your egg strings together until you get your desired look. Don't twist too tightly or the eggs will start to break apart! Bring the ends together and twist the floral wire to complete the circle.

Trim the ends of the wire and tie a pretty bow at the top to help cover your wire connection point. Use a nail or add more ribbon to hang your festive wreath!

Check out our other fun Easter crafts here!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Eco Easter Egg Dyeing: DIY Dyes

I'm spending this week doing a lot of deep spring cleaning around our house but I'm going to take a break tonight to dye Easter eggs with Grace and Mike. We haven't been brave enough to try it in previous years, but I think she's old enough this year.

I remember using the egg dyeing kits growing up but I've been reading lately about using natural ingredients to dye our Easter eggs. I was very excited today to see that our local produce delivery service Door to Door Organics put together this great guide for Eco Easter Egg Dyeing. We will be trying some of these colors tonight! If you use these instructions, I would love to hear how it goes!

DIY no chemical Easter egg dyes

Friday, April 11, 2014

Is it time?

I woke up this morning convinced it was Saturday. Much to my disappointment, it's actually Friday! After several weeks of very little sleep, my energy level is pretty low. Connor has 4 teeth coming in and is wanting to comfort nurse all the time, including most of the night. My patience level is directly related to how much I've slept so our days have been a little rough lately.

Several months ago, Connor was down to nursing only first thing in the morning, before nap time, and at bedtime. He never nursed for long, just a couple of minutes and I was totally content with that. We were still enjoying the time and it made it easy to get him to sleep. Then we had the whole not really a concussion virus and the only thing he could keep down was breast milk. For days the only thing he wanted to do was nurse. I was of course more than happy to let him do that as he was so sick. But once he recovered he wanted to maintain that frequent nursing schedule. It was like nursing a newborn with me getting absolutely nothing done. I have been trying to cut it down but he is fighting me tooth and nail. Most of his nursing sessions are actually spent looking around and playing, not actually nursing. He bites me when I try to finish nursing sessions and headbutts me if I tell him no. When he bites, I tell him no and set him on the floor but he just laughs. At night he simply screams and ends up waking Grace up which of course causes all sorts of problems. The past several weeks he has been up at least 2-3 times a night wanting to nurse. I am all for extended breastfeeding but this boy is pressing his luck. After a particularly bad bite two days ago (let's just say I bled a lot) I'm thinking it might be time to wean him.

I don't really know what I want to do yet and I guess I'm looking for your advice. I would love to hear from some ladies that have dealt with extended breastfeeding or weaning a toddler. Again, I have no problem continuing to nurse, but I absolutely cannot deal with the biting and headbutting.

As I read over this post, I realize I sound crazy. I should just stop right? I'm not a crunchy mom, I have never had the desire to nurse forever. But I was forced to stop nursing Grace at 9.5 months due to my heart failure so I'm having a really hard time mentally preparing myself for being totally done breastfeeding. So is it time to wean? I haven't decided yet. I do know that Mike and I are going away for 2 days in June and my pump is dead so either I need to wean him or have him down to only 1 or 2 nursing sessions a day.

It's so hard to say no to this face!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Grace's 3 Year Portraits

I'm only 3 months late in sharing these pictures! We had Grace's 3 year pictures taken at the end of January and I've been meaning to post them ever since. We actually did 2 photo sessions for her. I had a Groupon for JCP portraits that was about to expire so I took her in with pretty low expectations. She was being grumpy that day and I had to take Connor with me so my attention was divided. I put him in the Ergo on my back and prayed that they would both cooperate.

I decided to bring Grace's porcelain tea set and her babies thinking a little tea party might make the perfect setup for some fun photos. The beginning of the session was rocky to say the least. It didn't help that as we were walking into the building, Grace fell and tore a huge hole in the knee of her tights. Of course I didn't have an extra pair and she REFUSED to take them off. I figured it wasn't worth the fight and I could always photoshop it if I needed to. The photographer was fabulous and waited very patiently while I attempted to calm her down. It has always taken Grace a while to warm up to new places and people and it took about 10 minutes (plus a bribe of candy) to get her to cooperate. We set up her tea party and after a few minutes of me playing with her babies, she finally decided that she wanted to play. The photographer got some adorable pictures and you can't even tell that I was sitting right behind her the entire time. If I moved, she started to freak out.

Despite the rocky start, she seemed to be having fun so I got brave and decided to change her into her ballet outfit from her birthday party. She started to lose it again and after another candy bribe, she went into the studio and acted like a true 3 year old. She refused to eat the Smarties, she just held them in her hands, you can see one in the picture on the top left. When the photographer asked her to stand on the light on the ground, she would put one foot on the light and the other foot as far away as possible. Those cute "poses" on the bottom right? That's her doing that. Thankfully they turned into cute photos. We tried to get her to spin but she absolutely refused and I decided that was enough. Thankfully Connor was calm until about the last 10 minutes when he discovered that the back carry allowed him full access to pull my hair. I'm sure we were quite the sight: Grace trying as hard as possible not to follow instructions, me trying to reason with her while trying my hardest to keep my hair out of Connor's hands while he gleefully pulled as hard as he could! 

The second session I won from a local photographer (Photography by Beth) and I was so excited that the weather warmed up enough for us to do the session outside. Like I said, it takes Grace a long time to get comfortable with new people and places but she loves being outside. I didn't expect it to be so windy but we decided to do them outside anyway!

No surprise that at the beginning Grace was wary of Beth. She didn't want to smile at first, but after several minutes of letting her run around like a crazy child, she started to perk up. Beth got some amazing shots and I am so pleased with them. There were so many great ones that I had a hard time narrowing them down so be warned, there are a lot!

We started with family pictures. It was so windy that our hair was crazy, but I still love this one!

She looks so grown up here ::tear::

Pretty girl

I have no idea what she is doing here but I love her face!

Daddy and daughter picture!

Beth was so patient with Grace. To help her get comfortable, she let Grace chase her all over the place. Occasionally she would turn around and say "stop!" and she would snap a picture. This is one of those. They were both out of breath!

I always try to get sibling pictures whenever I can. When I asked Grace to give Connor a hug, this is what happened. They really do love each other :)

Connor was a bit jealous of all of the attention Grace was getting and posed nicely for this picture. Seriously how adorable is he?!? He is such a clone of his daddy.

This is by far my favorite series of photos from the session. Grace was having the best time exploring and did all of this posing on her own. Beth just stood back and snapped pics while Grace explored.

I cannot believe how big she looks!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

10 Must Have Apps for Toddlers

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you place an order through any of these links, I will earn a small amount. However, all opinions are honest and 100% my own.

Both of my kids LOVE the iPad. They would play on it all day if we let them. I try to save it for special occasions, but it gets used a bit more often than it really should. So I try to fill it with apps that will be good for their development. I thought I'd share a few of our favorite apps!

10 Must Have iPad Apps for Toddlers

1. Endless Alphabet- This is far and away my favorite app. It was free when we downloaded it but it looks like it might have a small cost now. It is totally worth every penny! It is an interactive spelling game that allows children to drag and drop the letters of a word into their proper places. The letters "talk" as you move them into place by saying the letter sounds in a monstery voice. After the puzzle is done, the word is defined with a short cute monster animation.

When I first downloaded this app, I wasn't sure if Grace would have any interest in it. She had never shown any interest in letters before. In the beginning, I helped her drag the letters but I was surprised to find that she knew where the letters belonged without my help. Within a few days, she was playing the game all by herself. I didn't know if it was making much difference in her knowledge of letters until we heard her in the kitchen playing with her alphabet fridge magnets making the sounds of each letter as she was moving them "e-e-e" "m-m-m" in the same voices as the monsters in the app. Now that she's a bit older, it's been great for teaching her vocabulary. We LOVE this app and it is my automatic choice when I hand her the iPad. They have recently added Endless Reading and Endless Numbers in the app store so we're going to be trying those soon!

2. PBS Kids- Yes we would all love to say that we don't let our kids watch TV, but I know that in times of desperation, Grace gets to watch her "SHOWS!" as she calls them. I love PBS kids because I know that their programming is age appropriate and educational. This app is totally free and allows kids to pick their favorite show to watch. They can easily navigate between shows and there are always a few full episodes of each show available. Grace's favorites are Daniel Tiger, Dinosaur Train, Cat in the Hat, and Super Why. Connor loves Curious George!

3. Watch Disney Jr.- Similar to the PBS Kids app, Disney Jr lets your child choose the show they want to watch. The app is free with a small assortment of shows available for everyone to watch. More shows are available to users that log on with their cable account information. Grace loves watching Octonauts, Sofia the First, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on this app.

4. Thomas & Friends: Engine Activity Fun- This Thomas app features coloring sheets and basic puzzles that both of my kids love.

5. Wheels on the Bus- This app has a ton of great activities including a fun sing along, a race car game, and coloring pages. Connor loves the song on this app! I did end up purchasing the full app because both kids love it so much but the free features are great too.

6. Another Monster at the End of This Book- This app was free when we got it but I would definitely purchase it. Grace loves the different challenges she has to do to be able to turn the pages.

7. Trucks, Cars, and Vehicles- Puzzles for Toddlers- Grace is obsessed with puzzles right now and these were great beginning puzzles for her. I like that you can increase the difficultly level as your child gets older.

8. My Zoo Animals: Toddler Seek & Find- This is by far Connor's favorite app and I highly recommend it as a starting app for any toddler. Each animal and item has a different animation and sound effect and it keeps Connor amused for quite a while.

9. Peekaboo Barn- This is a fun app to help teach animals and animal sounds. Connor thinks the shaking barn is hilarious and Grace loves making the animal sounds.

10. Mr. Potato Head- This app allows kids to create their own Mr. Potato Head with tons of accessories and backgrounds. I must admit that I enjoy playing this app too!

What are your favorite apps for your kids? We are always looking for new ones!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Ballerina Tutu Cupcake Toppers: DIY Tutorial & Free Printable

I wanted to make Grace's cupcakes for her 3rd birthday ballerina party extra special since I wasn't going to make an elaborate cake like I've done in past years (her Hungry Caterpillar 1st birthday cake took me forever!) I found these adorable ballerina cupcake toppers on That Cute Little Cake and I was inspired to make my own version.

Ballerina Tutu Cupcake Toppers: DIY Tutorial & Free Printable

Card stock or scrapbook paper
Streamers (2- 8 inch strips per topper)
Long Toothpicks
Glue gun
Sewing machine and thread
Pearl stickers (optional)
Ribbon (optional)

1. Print out the bodices on card stock or scrapbook paper. Click on the image to go to the free downloadable printable. Cut them out and tape each one to a toothpick.

2. Take two strips of crepe paper streamer and put them on top of each other. Fold them in half lengthwise to create a crease down the middle. Unfold and use the crease as a sewing guide.

3. Sew down the entire strip on your crease line. Do not back stitch at the beginning or end of the strip.

4. Ruffle your strips by pulling very gently on one piece of your excess thread. Work the ruffles down until the entire strip is ruffled.

5. Fold your ruffle in half length wise and then make a circle out of it. You can either knot the threads on each side together to complete the circle or simply use your hot glue to glue the ends together. I started with knotting each circle, but I found gluing them was quicker (I had to make several dozen!) Gluing them also allowed me to create a tight circle to fit around the toothpick.

6. Fluff the streamers to create a tutu and slide the toothpick through the hole in the middle of the tutu. Place a small dot of hot glue in the middle to attach it to the bodice.

7. Decorate with pearl stickers and ribbon (optional.) I have to give full credit for this step to my friend Julie at Director Jewels. Thankfully she had the supplies to add the wow factor to the cupcake picks.

They were so pretty and Grace loved them. She wanted to keep each "tutu" pick at her party and all of her friends loved them too.

Be sure to check out the rest of the fun details at Grace's Ballerina Birthday Party!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Disney on Ice: Let's Celebrate Review

Disclosure: I was provided press tickets for this event to facilitate a review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are 100% my own. 

After showing Grace the preview for Disney on Ice: Let's Celebrate a couple of weeks ago, she begged every single day to go see "MICKEY MOUSE!!!!" She was so excited when the day finally arrived. I told her she could pick out one of her princess dresses to wear and after much careful deliberation, she chose her Rapunzel dress.

Unfortunately for us, due to unforeseen circumstances, we arrived to the Sprint Center late and ended up standing in the will call line for almost 15 minutes to get our tickets. We didn't get to our seats until almost 20 minutes into the show. We were not thrilled, but Grace happily settled into her seat during the middle of an elaborate Fantasia number. I wish we could have seen the beginning of the show, because I know it was probably amazing. The Fantasia number was impressive with brooms lit up above the ice.

I'm glad we got to see some of the Fantasia number because the next part of the celebration featured a Halloween number led by Jack Skellington from the Nightmare Before Christmas. Let me say first that I'm a baby when it comes to scary stuff. I don't do horror movies or even haunted houses because I scare easily. So I didn't blame Grace at all when she told me that the number scared her. There were ghouls and Disney villains featured in the song and it wasn't really our cup of tea. The only redeeming moments for Grace were when Cruella and Captain Hook made their appearances. This number just seemed to be aimed more at the older kids and parents.

Thankfully it got better from there with a Grace approved princess number. I loved it too. Seeing all of the Disney couples skating to "That's How You Know" from Enchanted with the help of the Fairy Godmother was pretty amazing. Grace clapped the entire time and yelled "YAY" at the end.

During intermission, I got the chance to meet some other amazing Kansas City mommy bloggers! We got a picture with most of us and while they all look lovely, I am obviously distracted by my daughter who was behind me trying to push me away from the group.

Kansas City bloggers: ChrissyAnnaMollyAshleyStefanie, me, Julie, and Mandy
Used with permission from Director Jewels
I wish I could have talked with them more, but Grace was dying to get back to watch more of the show.

This is the only picture she would take with me
The beginning of the second act featured several Disney movies that we aren't very familiar with. Grace has seen Lilo & Stitch only once, but we still enjoyed the Hawaiian Luau number. I was shocked when they lit the ice on fire!! Grace thought it was hilarious when they were "surfing" on the ice.

The music in the Mardi Gras number from Princess and the Frog was fun and upbeat but Grace has never seen the movie before so she got a little bored.

It didn't take long for her to perk back up when the Christmas number started. We are huge fans of the Toy Story movies and the highlight of the night was seeing the Toy Story characters. Grace loved seeing Woody (or Buddy as she calls him,) Buzz and Jessie along with Rex, Hamm, and several other characters. I was seriously amazed by Hamm, the costume was massive but he was so much fun to watch.

Overall, the show was wonderful. Grace was thrilled that Mickey and Minnie played a much bigger part in this show than they did in the one we saw last year. They came in and out of each number and she got excited every time she saw them. She didn't want to leave and the next morning she asked "See Mickey again?" I can't wait to go again next year and take Connor with us!

Disclosure: I was provided press tickets for this event to facilitate a review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are 100% my own. 


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