Celebrate Baby Safety Month at Babies R Us {Giveaway!}

September is Baby Safety Month and Motorola and Babies R Us have teamed up for a great promotion.
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Get a FREE Motorola color video monitor, MBP421 (a value of $99.99!) with your purchase of $200 or more between 8/29 and 9/13

We have a video monitor and loved using it when Miss F was a tiny babe.

 

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It was really fun to be able to peek at her and see if she was sleeping or awake, if she had thrown her blanket out of the crib or pulled her socks off and it was super fun when she discovered the monitor.
Someone really enjoys staring directly into the video monitor during naptime. #notcreepyatall #7monthsold #motorola
Fun or creepy, you be the judge.

Motorola’s MBP421 has a 1.8″ Diagonal Color TFT Display, 2.4 GHz FHSS Wireless Technology and Secure Data Encryption. There is Live Video Color Screen with a range up to 590-foot and an Out-of-Range Alert. Other features include a Support Stand on Parent Unit, Volume Control, Visual Sound Level Indicator, Low Battery Alert, Rechargeable Battery for Parent Unit, High Sensitivity Microphone, Infrared Night Vision, and Camera.

The monitor is $99.99 but if you make a $200 purchase at Babies R Us before September 13, it’s yours free so if you are in need of one, now might be the time to buy that next car seat, the high chair or even stock up on diapers.

I’m really excited that Motorola would like to give one of MY readers the Motorola MBP421 Monitor! You can enter the giveaway right here-

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Celebrate Baby Safety Month with Babies R Us

September is Baby Safety Month and Motorola and Babies R Us have teamed up for a great promotion.
motorola
Get a FREE Motorola color video monitor, MBP421 (a value of $99.99!) with your purchase of $200 or more between 8/29 and 9/13.

You can buy ANYTHING at Babies R Us, ANYTHING! and if the total is $200 or more you receive one of these FREE! So now’s the time to buy the next carseat or a new high chair or even stock up on diapers.

Or you can enter my giveaway to win your very own Motorola MBP421 right over here.

Summer’s Last Weekend.

If you’re looking for something fun to do with your family this LAST weekend of summer, look no more and take advantage of this deal for Como Town.

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For $26.95, you can get two UNLIMITED wristbands for a whole day of fun! You guys, these wrist bands NEVER expire! So even if you can’t get there before the end of September when they close up shop for the year, you can save them for next summer. They also make a GREAT gift for birthdays? Christmas? you name it!

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We may have stocked up because it’s a great deal for a family fun day.

I took the kids last Wednesday and we had the best time.

Como Town has rides and attractions for kids ages 2-12. With a really fun playground and splash pad and even a train mom or dad can ride along, even little ones younger than 2 can have fun.

It’s connected to Como Zoo so you can truly make a day out of the visit. See some animals, grab an ice cream treat and then spend the afternoon riding and playing. Your kids will sleep the whole way home.

The $26.95 deal includes TWO wristbands and the wristbands are good for one day of UNLIMITED rides and attractions and each one includes one ride on the SOARING EAGLE zipline and your choice between either face painting OR water wars.

Como Town is open 10-7 this entire weekend and Saturdays through September and 10-6 Sundays through September.

Also, even though my in-laws own a bakery, sometimes we cheat on them and visit Wuollet’s. Because chocolate croissants. Need I say more?

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You can buy a certificate worth $30 for just $15 and it’s good through November. Aren’t crisp fall mornings so much better with pastries? I thought so.

What do you have planned for summer’s last weekend?

Disclosure: Affiliate links were used in this post, this means that if you make a purchase I will be compensated. There is no additional cost to you by using my links.

 

On Showing Up.

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Two weeks ago today my dear friend lost her dad.

I was in the drive thru of Dairy Queen, feeding her kids and mine Blizzards for lunch when I got the text. With blurry eyes, I looked in the rear view mirror at her three, precious littles sad for the news they would hear later that day.

My heart hurt.

The rest of the day was a blur but when her eight year old daughter asked me if she’d be coming over the next day, I instantly regretted my answer.

“No, I don’t think so,” I said.

She stared at me and asked again, “well why? Where would we go? We might come here?”

And I knew that she was trying to figure me out, so I lied and said, “well maybe you’re coming here, that could be, you never know.”

We had fun, they played hard, they laughed. We all laughed. And when my dear friend and her husband came to pick up the kids we hugged tight, she thanked me through tears and took her babies home.

There was no time for me to process, no time for me to even react. Her dad had been ill for quite some time and we knew it was coming but I was so sad. For her, for her brother, for her mom, for her kids.

Last week was the funeral and she spoke brilliantly. Better than I could ever do. I told her days later she was braver than I could ever be. Seven years ago, I sat at my mom’s funeral with a lip so tight my face hurt for days, I could never have spoken a word for if I had an avalanche of emotion would have come tumbling out. Some call that verbal diarrhea.

Days after the dust had barely settled I picked her up because she needed normal and I needed her. And we laughed and we talked and we just showed up.

We talked about the thank you’s and the people who show up when you need them and the ones who don’t. We talked about worrying about the other parent and processing our kids feelings. And we talked about the hard stuff. Looking back, looking forward, living now.

It’s been almost 7 years now since I lost my mom and I wish I could tell her it’s all better and that the wound has healed but it’s not and it hasn’t. It’s roughed me up a bit and left me tender. A scab that can be yanked off in a moment or tears that just bubble below the surface.

And I wish either of us didn’t have any experience with losing a parent, or death or loss at all. But we do, so I say something and I show up in the best way I know how. And it’s not how you would think.

I’ll likely never be that person who sends flowers or brings food but I will take your kids, I will hug you and love you and hold you in my prayers, I will listen and process and I’ll even go out and buy funeral clothes.

Because if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s the fine art of showing up and that’s all I know how to do.

“When you’re mourning, when something terrible has happened, it’s on your mind and right at the top of your heart all the time. It’s genuinely shocking to you that the sun is still shining and that people are still chattering away on Good Morning America. Your world has changed, utterly , and it feels incomprehensible that the bus still comes and the people in the cars next to you on the highway just drive along as if nothing’s happened. When you’re in that place, it’s a gift to be asked how you’re doing, and most of the time the answer comes tumbling out, like water over a broken dam, because someone finally asked, finally offered to carry what feels like an unbearable load with you.” – Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet.

Hormel Pizza Ready Makes for an Easy Pizza Night!

One of Hormel’s newest products, Hormel® Pizza Ready ™ provides all of the delicious ingredients needed for homemade pizza without the fuss. Each package includes pepperoni, real crumbled bacon, or white chicken cut, and different sauce varieties such as marina and alfredo. It will be exclusively introduced to the Twin Cities/St. Paul market for a limited time over the next few months and I was lucky enough to try them out first.
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What I really love about the product is that really you need nothing EXCEPT the cheese. That’s it. I love  dinner ideas that are truly simple and this one is.

We tried it out a night that we had a lot of happenings, football practice and orientation and all that end of the summer stuff and it was nice to be able to allow everyone to be in charge of their own dinner.

They were a hit.

 First things first, you bake the flatbread for a 1-2 minutes at 425 degrees.

 

Next choose your topping, spread it on and ADD cheese.

 

 Bake for 4-5 minutes and enjoy!

They really were a hit and a simple, quick dinner option in our house. Better yet, they are individual servings and include 2-7 grams of protein.

The Meat and Sauce varieties are: mini pepperoni, three meats, italian sausage and supreme and the flatbread is currently only available as rustic white. Everything ranges in price from $2.99 to $3.99 and they are currently available at Twin Cities Cub Foods locations.

Want to try them for yourself? Enter to win a sampler pack from Hormel right here:
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Disclosure: I’ve partnered with Hormel Foods as part of their Hormel Pizza Ready program. For my participation, I’ve received product and merchandise as well as a gift card for my participation. As always all opinions and photos are fully my own.

FamDoo Makes Chores Easy!

With school starting next week the idea of establishing good routines and some sense of order is high on my priority list. While I think I’ll have some extra time and even motivation during the days with the kids all in school aside from F, I know that our afternoons and evenings will be quite full with football and tennis and all the other activities that seem to come up once school starts. Getting dinner on the table and kids in bed at a decent time can be a challenge.

All that said, I know that we still need to set daily expectations for the kids from chores to homework to other miscellaneous tasks. I admit that one of the hardest parts of this for me is deciding WHAT it is I want the kids to do and sometimes it’s just easier for me to do it myself.

I recently spoke with the owners and founders of FamDoo and think they might be onto something here. You create a profile for your family and can import chores with point values for the kids. No more nagging or reminding. Your child wants to earn points towards an iTunes card? Not happening unless their chores are done. You can even set it up to be something non-monetary, for instance perhaps the points will be good for a sleepover or plans with a friend.

{P.S. If you have US Bank FlexPerk Points, you will love this even more because you can cash in those points for FREE points on the app for your kids to earn gift cards !}

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The founders of FamDoo live right here in Minnesota and created the app because they too, are parents and were tired of the nagging and getting on their kids to do chores.

Would you consider trying FamDoo out for a family chore management tool? The app is free and right now you can get 250 points FREE.

Families interested in registering for FamDoo can get 250 free cash-value FamDoo promotional points (a $2.50 value) by using the SUMMER2014  code in the Referral Code field upon registration.  This referral code is valid one time per family upon the initial registration process only through Sept. 30, 2014. The promotional points will be deposited to the parent account of the newly registered family up to 7 business days after the date of registration. This offer is subject to change at any time without notice. This offer is subject to the general Terms of Use of the Service (see FamDoo.com for these details).

{I wrote about this over on Star Tribune this week too.}

On Why I Took My Littles To Virginia Beach

The idea of time fleeting hit me at the beginning of the summer. Already I had seen the shift.
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The shift that used to be, “Mom, what are we going to do today?” to “Mom, can I play with … today?”

You know what I mean? That inevitable time where kids lives and schedules go from being content to hanging out and living summer with mama to wanting to be with friends. All of the time.

The dependence on me which is no longer. The idea that these little people wake up with their own plans, ideas, thoughts each day versus me planning it all out. It’s what we want though, right?

And then the idea that this is it. You only get this summer once and total, there are just 18 before we send them off to flight. So one day while perusing Facebook, I saw my uncle post something from the oceanfront of Virginia and knew my littles and I needed to go. {Like literally within 24 hours of his post we had a trip planned.}

So go we did, thanks to an aunt who drove with us there and back {no small feat, my friends, no small feat at all} and my aunt and uncle in Virginia Beach who hosted us. {And can I just say being with extended family, my moms sisters, for this trip made it all that much sweeter?}

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Minnesota to Wisconsin to Illinois to Indiana to Ohio to Pennsylvania to Maryland to DC and Virginia. My littles are pretty much super star travelers and Miss F is the best one of them all. And I will be doing a traveling with littles post due to popular request!

We had a great time. I loved showing F the ocean for the first time, seriously enjoyed watching H and E fall in love with the beach and the waves and the coast and just soaked up the time I had.

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This right here? Worth every minute.

It wasn’t perfect by any means. My 8 year old drove me crazy with his more, more, more mentality and my 5 year old’s potty talk was enough to make me lose my cool, more than once. That said, my littles were 1100 miles away from home with just me and my two “motherly” aunts, I think a little grace is due.

Also? I’m pretty sure I too was once a potty talking five year old and a more, more, more 8 year old.

The nearly 10 days we were gone were good for my soul. While we missed J and the bigs and had big happenings happening at home, we made the most of our time, our summer and the fleeting moment that is their childhood and I will be forever grateful.
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My Second Stitch Fix

My second Stitch Fix arrived Friday and after my last experience earlier this summer I was really excited.
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I, once again, made myself try on everything they sent even if it didn’t look like something for me and I was surprised by how “on” the stylists were.

Here’s what I got.

1. Market and Spruce Corinna Striped Dolman Top $48

I was surprised how much I liked this one on because I don’t typically choose green. That said, I love me some stripes. I really like this one, the length is perfect to go with jeans or leggings and I can see wearing it for anything.

Decision: UNDECIDED

2. Kensie Jeans Sophia Tall Length Skinny Jean $88

Ok, so these are the same jeans they sent me in June except the long version which is GOOD because it means they read the notes you include with your return and my note said I LOVED these jeans but wanted them for fall. That said, I wore them around the house and as I tried everything on and while I LOVE the way my legs look, I do not love the way the waist fits. They fit but are a little higher maybe than I want. {Why does denim have to be so hard?}

Decision: RETURN

3. 41 Hawthorn Filbert Houndstooth Henley Blouse $58
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This is one of those that I would NEVER pull off the rack to try on but I actually really liked it. Especially for professional purposes. I typically try my best to dress up a cardigan for meetings and events I have but it’s nice to have some professional options or even a fun shirt for a date night.

Decision: KEEP

4. Market and Spruce Heline Dolman Sleeve Drawstring Dress $64

I love dresses and was excited for another dress option in my wardrobe but hated this. I felt like it was a cover up and that it was shapeless.

Decision: RETURN

5. Market and Spruce Chaplin Hooded Anorak Cargo Jacket $88

I never knew I needed this until now. I LOVE it. It fits perfectly, is comfy, has lots of pockets and will be perfect for all the various sports I’ll be attending this fall for the kids.

Decision: KEEP

Have you tried Stitch Fix out yet? What have you liked or not liked? If you haven’t signed up yet what are you waiting for?

For a $20 styling fee, you fill out a questionnaire and all of your likes/dislikes when it comes to clothing, style, price points etc and a stylist puts together five pieces they think you might like. Hate it all? The only cost is the style fee. Love it?  Your $20 style fee goes towards your purchase and if you buy all five items you receive a 25% discount.

If you sign up and use my link I receive referral credit {it costs you nothing more or less by using my link, I’m just disclosing that I will receive credit}.

 

Minnesota State Fair Starts TOMORROW!

As hard as it is to believe, it’s already State Fair time around here. When I grew up we went to the Minnesota State Fair every year on Labor Day. We ate cheese curds, drank milk shakes, did the giant slide and walked. A ton.

As an adult, my fair attendance has been inconsistent. We took T and M one year when they were little {and we were crazy!} and ate and did rides and ate and pretty much walked until we dropped. A few years back just J and I went and is it horrible to admit that we kind of prefer it that way?

Yes, I’m certain our kids would love it but I feel like we take them to do and see and experience a lot of things, it’s kind of nice to make this an “adults” sort of thing.
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Last week I was invited to a sneak peak at the State Fair. Myself and a few other local Minnesota bloggers were invited to try some of the newest foods and also see some of the newest parts of the State Fair.

I loved sampling some of the new foods.
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My favorites: the Jello Salad ice cream from Izzy’s {of course}, the PB & J French Toast from Robbinsdale OES and the pizza tots from Green Mill. Seriously, so good. Other new additions- fried lobster on a stick from Lulu’s, lobster rolls from Cafe Caribe, pierogys from The Blue Barn and a Rustic stuffed scone from French Meadow Bakery.

We also were able to have a sneak peak of the new West End Market at the State Fair grounds. I’m pretty sure you’re going to want to check it out.

The Blue Barn and Lulu’s are the two anchor restaurants and both will promise good food, good drinks and a good time.
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You also don’t want to miss the new Minnesota State Fair History Center.
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So fun to get a peak at the history of the fair with lots of visuals, facts and a plethora of info. {Also, don’t tell anyone but the restrooms over there are pretty nice!}

All in all it was a pretty fun day and behind the scenes look at the State Fair and made me really excited to go this year.

Pictured below is the group of bloggers I attended with and their links.

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Do you attend the Minnesota State Fair each year? With or without kids? What’s your favorite or must-do-see activities?

A special thanks to the Minnesota State Fair and Dining with Alice for inviting me and putting on such a nice event.

Tracks Headphones by SOL Republic GIVEAWAY

I don’t need to remind you that back to school time is upon us because the signs are EVERYWHERE. From stores to commercials to mailers to the emails and placement letters that continue to arrive every. single. day.

Do you have a middle school or high schooler who needs a little FUN added to their school supply shopping this fall? How about some Tracks headphones from SOL Republic?

Tracks are the signature headphones from SOL Republic providing superior sound and are on-ear headphones. These are perfect for a kid on the go.
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From SOL Republic: Tracks on-ear headphones are the first customizable headphones to deliver incredible sound, style and technology. The 3-button mic + music control is compatible with most Apple and many other devices.

Interested in winning your own pair? Enter the giveaway here.

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To learn more about SOL Republic, more opportunities to win your own headphones or to buy some you can follow them on social media on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook or visit their website.
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Please note that if you have previously won a SOL Republic giveaway within the last 6 months you are ineligible from entering/winning this giveaway. This giveaway is only good for US and Canada addresses.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored giveaway. All opinions expressed are mine.