M & J Monday

...If you're still my small babe
or you're all the way grown,
my promise to you is you're never alone.
You are my angels, my darlings, 
my stars...
and my love will find you, 
wherever you are.

Happy Monday!


The Favorite Things {Black Friday} Edition

Thanksgiving - phew! We ran a Turkey Trot 3 mile run run, we ate, we lounged, we started decorating for Christmas. YAY! Yesterday was awesome. We need more days like that. Yes?

And today, people are going crazy trying to put dents in their Christmas lists and score some of the best deals of the season. Meanwhile, I'm over here coming out of a carb coma. Rather than get up before the sun, fight crowds of tired and cranky people, and then deal with lines at the register, I'm just going to cozy up with my coffee - in my pajamas - and start plucking away at my list, shopping for some of my favorite products, from some of my favorite ladies and independent sales women.

Here are a handful of my favorite small businesses.

1. USBorne Books.
You guys. I honestly had not heard of this book company until not too long ago. How is this possible?! I took part in an online party a few weeks back and snagged some of the coolest books for Marcus and Julia.
Seriously, check out this :09 clip of Marcus and Julia's books. I mean, come on! So! COOL!
Here are just a few other books we scored. And, I'm telling you, I want to  buy them all!
Create your own story! The possibilities are endless with this book!
Moving pieces, bright fun colors. I'll take everyone of these books, please and thank you.
Books with interactive toys? Books where you can create endless stories? Just go ahead and give them all to me. To see all of USBorne's terrific books, head over to Dani's link. If you have any questions I know she'd be happy to answer them.

2. Mary Kay.
I've been using Mary Kay for as long as I can remember. I love the product so much I was even a consultant for a short while (I quickly learned I would much rather be a customer than a consultant, though. Live and learn). The company has an amazing selection of skin care goods, and their make up is my all time favorite. I've got the Skinvigorate Cleansing brush on my Christmas list (Scott, hint hint). Ashley is running a special for Monologue readers only - 20% off when you use the code MACKE20. Click here to start shopping!
3. Stella & Dot.
Just go ahead and give me ALL the sparklies!! Have you seen what's new from S&D this season? I mean, drool. Independent stylist, Alison, has you covered for this season's bling. For orders over $50 Alison will add a FREE Wishing Bracelet to your order.
Is that not the cutest little bracelet you ever did see?!
Go check out the goods, you know you want to. For all the pretties, click here.

4. Rodan + Fields.

I'm pretty new to this company and products, but let me tell you, from what I've tired... AMAZING. R + F is a skin care line created by the same dermatologists that made Proactiv. This time the goal is addressing anti aging and common skin care concerns (think: lines, wrinkles, sun spots, etc.). To figure out your skin care issues head to Jill's page and go to the Solution Tool, it will make a recommendation to address issues indicated by you. Preferred Customers will receive a 10% discount and free shipping! There's a 60-day money back guarantee and undeniable clinical results. The first three people to sign up as Preferred Customers will receive FREE membership enrollment! Pop on over to Jill's page and treat your skin today.

5. Wine.
Because, duh. Next to sparklies, making me look 22 rather than 32, and books, the way to win my heart is with a bottle (or 6) of wine. Wine Shop at home will send bottles directly to you, you can sign up for tastings, and so much more. There are some amazing Black Friday deals going on through the weekend, so be sure to get a bottle - or case! Denise has you covered, be sure to check out her site by clicking here

6. Giveaway!
Last, don't forget to get entered to win the Priddy Books Wipe Clean ABCs and 123s Flash Card Set from Priddy Books!
Follow the Rafflecopter below to enter!

Now tell me, who are some of your favorite small businesses and independent sales people? I'm all for shopping small this holiday season and would love to discover some new products!

Have a great weekend, and happy shopping!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
See previous post for product info and giveaway details.


House Divided

College football is a pretty big deal in our home. So when I was trying to come up with ideas what to get Scott for his birthday - way back in September - attending a game was a no-brainier.

With a little planning I surprised Scott with a trip back home to the Midwest. It had been eight years since he'd seen his alma matter, Kansas State, play on home turf. So I figured what better way to celebrate a birthday than with some football.

I may have also checked the schedule to see when my Iowa State Cyclones would be playing K-State. That match up was November 21, so naturally that's the game we needed to see. I mean, what's more fun than a little in house rivalry? 

On game day we woke before the sun, grabbed coffee and left Kansas City, headed for Manhattan, KS. 

We were fortunate to have several of Scott's college buddies join us for a little tailgate action. And, it was blaringly obvious tailgating isn't what it used to be. We are older, wiser, and understand hangovers are zero fun with kids. However, it was a great time nonetheless, and I loved seeing Scott together with some of his closet and most loyal friends. 
Don't mind me in my Cardinal and Gold... 

Regardless of where college football games are held there is just something about the atmosphere... The buzz of excitement, the smell of concession food, the adoring fans decked out in team garb. Gosh, I miss it, as I know Scott does too. Though we were rooting against each other we were both so excited to be apart of it all. 

The game also provided a quick, sweet meet up with Vanessa. It's always so fun when blogging friends can connect. I'm hoping the next link up we will have longer than 5 minutes, and the temperature is warmer than 45°! 
For the entire game the Cyclones led. Until we blew the entire game in less than a quarter. I didn't love the Wildcat comeback win, but I was glad Scott walked out of that stadium with his team chalking up a victory. I mean, it was his birthday gift and all.
Here's to college football, late birthday gifts, and a house divided! 


Priddy Ways to Stay Entertained

Tell me I'm not the only parent who doesn't know what to do from 2PM-5:01PM.... You know what I'm talking about: you've used up all your ideas and activities for the day (Go to the park, check. Ride bikes, check. Play baseball, check. Play cars 1,484,325 times, check. Make some sort of craft, check.) and it's at least two hours till dinner, and a solid three hours before the thought of bath/bed time routines begin.

I call those hours the witching hours of parenthood. When those hours hit the evenings can stretch on into eternity, especially now that the sun goes down at approximately 2:30PM. And, let's not even discuss how Fridays can feel, considering Marcus doesn't have preschool on Fridays. Oy.

Filling those afternoon hours can prove to be somewhat challenging. While I love playing cars and dump truck as much as the next mom, that fun only lasts for so long. Marcus isn't a huge crafter, and when he does decide to paint/color/etc. those fill up about 20 minutes of our time - if we're lucky.
The answer to our afternoons and Fridays come in the form of Priddy Books. With a ginormous array of wipe clean activity books and flash cards Marcus is entertained, I can get a few things done around the house, and the best part? The little man is learning, but he just thinks he's playing. Bonus points for easy clean up and the ability to reuse the books and flash cards over and over.
We've had the Priddy "100" book collection since Marcus was born. When we were gifted the Numbers Flash Card set I knew we'd be building a Priddy collection to keep us all entertained, happy, and secretly learning.
Marcus thinks being able to write IN books and on flash cards is just the coolest. And I love that we are constantly working on ABCs, 123s, simple math problems, tracing lines, connecting dots, and a using critical thinking. All the while Marcus is having the best time learning.
Even after Marcus has grown out of the flash cards and workbooks I know there's a certain someone who will be eager to begin her own learning journey with Priddy Books.
I've come to love the ABCs and 123 Wipe Clean Flash Cards sets so much that they've become my go-to when it comes to giving gifts to kids around Marcus' age. You can't beat an awesome educational activity that keeps kids AND moms happy. Winning all around.
I've teamed up with Priddy Books - just in time for the holidays! - to give away an ABCs and 123 Wipe Clean Flash Cards sets to one lucky reader. Simply follow the Rafflecopter prompts below. This set would make the perfect stocking stuffer for any little who is working on numbers, letters, colors, tracing, and so much more!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest open to US residents only.
Must be 18 years or older to win.
Void where prohibited.
Contest runs 12:00AM 11/24 to 12:00AM 12/1.
Winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter.
Winner has 24 hours to claim prize. If winner does not claim prize, a random second drawing will take place.

Disclaimer: I received My Big Activity Work book in exchange for review. All opinions are my own.


M & J Monday

There's no place like home, and there's nothing better than family.
Julia, Grandma Macke, Marcus, Grandpa Macke
Marcus and Julia sure did enjoy all the love and attention from both Scott's and my families the past few days!


The Early Thanksgiving Edition

With another trip to the Midwest this week there is so much thanks to give. Being home always washes away the stressors of 'real life,' and leaves me missing home more and more every time we have to say our, "See you laters."

With that, picking this week's highlights was pretty easy. 

1. Family, of course. 
One of the main reasons we wished we lived back in the Midwest. 

2. Fall! 
Though it's so much colder than a month ago when we visited, it is so nice to experience seasons. Even though the colorful leaves have long since fallen there is still beauty everywhere. 
There's legit reason to bust out rain boots. 

3. Travel. 
While jetting halfway across the country tends to send my anxiety through the roof, these two have proven to be champs. On both of our flights back to Iowa we were complimented on how well the kiddos traveled. And I'm sure I just jinxed our next flight... 

3. No Friday highlight would be complete without a couple of randoms. 

The One Spot at Target has been *on point* the past few trips I've made. Each time I browse the selection I discover another holiday must-have. Our crafting skills will be exceptional by season's end. 

5. What are your words? 

I'm sure by now you've all seen or done this little diddy floating around Facebook. Obviously my little ones make me pretty happy. 

Have the best weekend!! 


The Cutting Room Floor

A few weekends ago we had our family photos taken with high hopes that we could get that unicorn photo that makes its appearance on the yearly Christmas card. 

Wrangling a 3-year old was a challenge in and of itself, but throw in a 3 month old... Whole. New. Ball game.

Might I also add, trying to love my body in its current postpartum state has been more difficult than I thought. With a little reinforcement from some fabulous blogging friends I was able to see the pictures (read: me in the photos) in a little different light (also read: not hate what I saw)

So, picking *the* photo for the card wasn't the easiest of tasks. 

While I'm waiting to share the good ones I thought it only right to show a few of the, "There's no way in hell I'm putting that on a card," photos. Because, honestly, these are the ones that sum up our lives right now. 

I don't even know what's going on here. What are well all doing?!
During this particular moment in our shoot I looked like a crazed woman...
Wait for it...
Wait for it...
 Tell me that doesn't scare you.

I really like this shot of Marcus and Scott. I just wish the sun wouldn't have caused such a squinty look.

This series I liked, but didn't love. 
And this particular shot I wish would have been pulled back just a little bit. The top of Scott's head is cut off, and that really bothers me.
For being three months old Julia was good with the photos, until she wasn't.
Poor babe. By the last half of the shoot Julia really just wanted to eat and nap.
I feel you, lady. That's my idea of a great morning, too.
Julia needs a nap. Marcus needs.... To pee?
Yep, she's done.
I'm still waxing and waning over the photo(s) that will actually make the cut for the Christmas card. But, for now we'll just look at these and laugh at this particular stage of our little family's life.


M & J Monday

I'm not sure which makes me more proud... 
His gentleness or her determination to sit up like a big kid.

Happy Monday!


The Everything But the Kitchen Sink Edition

With Veteran's Day thrown in the middle of the week the days felt all sorts of out of whack. It was nice having Scott home on Wednesday, but for whatever reason, every.single.day felt like Tuesday. Bizarre.


Moving into the weeks highlights.

1. While I was working on Julia's 3 month post I had to take a trip down memory lane and reminisce on Marcus at three months.
So many things about these two photos:
1) My photographing skills have gotten better. No?
2) My kids look nothing alike. Anyone else second that?
3) At 3 months Marcus weighed 18 pounds, and was 27 inches long! Julia? 14 pounds and 24 inches. Marcus was/is kind of a tank, eh?
4) I can't help but get weepy. It all goes much too quickly, right?

2. Just around the corner we have another trip to the midwest! This time we will be staying for more than 36 hours, and I cannot wait!
image source

We'll get to spend time with family, celebrate Thanksgiving early, see a few friends, and then head to Manhattan, KS for the Kansas State (Scott's team)/Iowa State (my team) football game. Neither team is worth a lick this season so it should make for a pretty good game. HA!

3. About a week ago my dad asked me about Christmas lists. Honestly, there's not much we want, or need, but I did mention a new computer.
Wouldn't you know it - this baby should be arriving any time today.
Thanks, Dad!! I can't even begin to express how grateful I am to receive this. Also... I'm beyond pumped to have a computer that will now run up to speed with the rest of the world.

4. I'm in the works for an awesome collaboration with one of my favorite book/educational companies. Stay tuned for a great giveaway I have coming up in the next couple weeks.
Until then, we'll keep on practicing all the preschool things with our Priddy Books

5. We have exactly zero plans for this weekend and the weather is supposed to be next to perfect. Pretty sure you can't beat that!

Have a great weekend!