Sunday, October 9, 2016

My Favorite Maternity Look and a Giveaway!

When I was pregnant with Callum, I remember how difficult it was to make the move from my usual jeans to my maternity ones. It was as if I was in denial about my softer midsection. This time around, I whipped out those bad boys right away. After all, it is all about comfort when you're pregnant. You already have to deal with sore everything, so why would you purposely make yourself even more uncomfortable with tighter pants?

Now comes the tricky part: finding comfortable maternity clothes that don't make you look like a sack of potatoes. It is more difficult than ever to feel good about yourself when you're pregnant. You are working with an ever-growing stomach, while dealing with a host of not-so-hot pregnancy symptoms. So, clothes that make you feel good about yourself are so important. After all, when you look good, you feel good.

When a friend pointed me in the direction of PinkBlush maternity, I couldn't have been happier. Their maternity clothes are not only comfortable, but also fit well, are super cute, and would work well for those postpartum months and nursing. I was so thrilled when they reached out about collaborating on a post. The second I received this maternity dress in the mail, I tried it on and couldn't have felt better. It was so, so comfortable. It can easily be dressed up or down. The material is also super breathable, which is so necessary since I'm hot 100% percent of the time these days. Plus, it's just flattering. I would seriously wear it every day if I could. It's going to be great for nursing once our little onec is here, too.

Now the best part: PinkBlush has given me a $75 gift card to give to one of you, whether or expecting or not. Find yourself a cute maternity dress for those holiday family photos, a cozy sweater to wear to work, or a comfy skirt to wear with a loose top. Not expecting? You can still enter this giveaway! PinkBlush also has a ton of non maternity clothing, too. I've shared some of my favorites below. Scroll down to enter the giveaway. Good luck!

Special shout out to my husband and Callum who took these photos! Yes, Callum took the first photo below. I could hardly believe he actually got a good shot. :)   

Here are some of my favorite non-maternity looks. There's so much to choose from! I had such a hard time just picking a few to share below.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Use the Rafflecopter below to enter this giveaway! As a quick note, if you've already won a PinkBlush giveaway within the last three months, you will not be eligible to win. Winners must wait three months before they are eligible to enter to win again.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Happy Third Birthday, Callum!

Happy, happy birthday to my sweet boy! I know it's been said a hundred times, but try to find someone out there who disagrees: The days are long, but the years are so, so short. These last three years have flown by. They've been challenging. They've been exhausting. But, they have far been the best years of my life.

Here's a not-so-short recap of what Callum's been up to the last 365 days.

Callum: There's just no way to explain how much I love you. Simply put, you are the best. Here are a few things I never want to forget about three-year-old Callum.

You are not shy. In fact, you are the most outgoing person I think I've ever met. You say hi to everyone and are never scared in new situations. Most of the time, I'm so grateful for this. I can drop you off at new places, and easily leave without tears from you. You always seem to meet a friend or two at the park. Plus, you make strangers smile on a regular basis when you enthusuastically answer their 'Hi!'s. Your brave personality does not go without its challenges, though. It can be especially difficult in public places where you will just explore, and not look back to make sure I'm behind you.

According to you, your favorite color is green, your favorite food is strawberry milk, and your best friends are Bronte, Ollie, and Henry. But, you can't pick a favorite between Jax and George.

You comment constantly while anyone is driving. "Slow down. Which way are we going? Which way are we turning? Go faster!" Instead of saying "press the breaks," you say "Squeeze on the breaks!"

You are so, so sweet! You have the kindest, most caring personality.

Unless we're talking about the dogs. You have definitely gotten rougher with them over the past year. But, you still give them plenty of food, so they stick pretty close.

You've grown so much this year! You literally went from chunky toddler to little boy. And, you seem to be catching up a bit to your peers.

Newborn Callum. Be still my heart. Photo by Simple City.

You amaze me with your mess-making abilities.

You say "Holy Man!" when you are exasperated.

You want an audience for everything, even when you're going to the bathroom (which has to be one of my least favorite mom jobs).

Speaking of the bathroom, you've been potty trained for about two months now. It took some time to click, but once you got it, there was so turning back.

You are still way too attached to your nay nay (pacifier). I just keep telling myself you won't go to college with it.

You love to play hide-and-go-seek and tag. Whenever you hide, you just sit and laugh the whole time, so we know exactly where you are. Also, tag pretty much means you just want to be chased.

You could watch TV forever. (Don't worry. We definitely cut you off, which always results in a fit.) Your favorite shows are Dinotrux, Dinosaur Train, Thomas, and Paw Patrol.

You also love the movie "Land Before Time." You love it so much, that you like to run around and scream "Sharktooth!!"

I'm not quite through with the dinosaur theme. You "Roar!" at everything. Not only while you're playing, but also when you are upset with me or Dad. It's like you replace "No!" with "Rooooooooooar!"

You are so brave! Any time I think you're too little to do something, you prove me so wrong. You already told Dad you want to ride the roller coaster the next time we're at Bay Beach.

You do not sit well at restaurants. Taking you out to eat is a nightmare.

You can count to ten and sing the alphabet.

You love Bronte. You guys play together just about every single day. One of you will call for the other through the window or over the fence, and then the fun begins.

We've gotten in to the bad habit of laying with you until you fall asleep every night. And, most nights you wake up and crawl in to our bed. This definitely needs to be changed before your little brother arrives.

Speaking of siblings, you are going to be the best big brother around. I think you will be disappointed when you discover a newborn can't play trains with you, but you've already offered up your diaper-changing services. ;) The other day, you said that when the baby arrives, you're going to "tickle him, and share your toys with him, and play hide and seek with him."

You also think it's possible for a baby to grow in your stomach just by drinking an extra glass of milk. That discussion is definitely a few years off.

You've learned how to play "I Spy," but you just say, "I spy a red car!" So, you don't quite get it.

You would be naked all the time if we let you.

You always say, "How was your day at work?" when I get home from the office. It's the sweetest.

You always want to figure out how things work. When we were on the ferris wheel for your first time, all you could do was stare at the gears and try to discover what made it go.

Happy, happy birthday, Callum! Thanks for making every day brighter. I'm so lucky to be your mom. I can't wait to see what your third year has in store.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

25 weeks and it's a ....!

Remember that time about a month ago I said I was going to start blogging weekly about this pregnancy? Hahahaha. I should’ve known better.

Well, here we are. Week 25. I figured it was probably time for another state of the uterus address. 15 weeks to go, and I have a feeling it’s going to fly by.

First and foremost, we do know the gender of Baby Olson. We are having another BOY and we couldn’t be more thrilled. I’m so excited for Callum to have a brother. I can already envision all the shenanigans in the years to come, but I totally love it. I’m so looking forward to watching how their relationship grows and develops. I also feel like I can predict a bit more of what I’ll be in for. I already know how to be a boy mom, and it’s pretty darn great. I do know I’ll have to brace myself for lots of wrestling, broken everything, a refrigerator that will be impossible to keep full, and so much, let’s just say boy grime, but I can’t say that I’m bothered by any of it. At least for right now.

We did do a gender reveal with some of our best friends and family. Our friend, Jill, baked cupcakes for the party, so she was the first to find out. It was so much fun and definitely exciting. With Callum, we never found out the gender, and I’m still on the fence about which I like better. There was something so exciting about not knowing the gender until the baby was born. But, this time around, it’s been so fun to paint the nursery and buy a few things for a baby boy. Both experiences were exciting, and I’m just not sure I can say which I prefer. I’m sure I’ll have a stronger feeling one way or the other as I finish this pregnancy and have the baby. I’ll keep you posted.

Finding out it's a BOY, with a beyond amazing banana cream cupcake!

Overall, I’ve been feeling really great! Still pretty tired almost always, but I think my body is just getting used to that. The last three weeks or so have probably been the best I’ve felt this whole pregnancy. It’s been much less humid out, which I think helps a lot. I’ve also been eating a lot better, and I know that definitely helps how I feel.

I’ve still been working out 4-5 times a week, which also helps me feel less sluggish. I try to run 2-3 times a week. I do about three miles at a time and am clocking about 11:00 minute miles. They still feel pretty good, and most days I can make it without feeling like I’m going to pee my pants. So, I’m going to keep on trucking. I ran with Callum until the end, but was definitely doing more of a run/walk the last several weeks of the pregnancy. I’m hoping I can do the same this time around. I’ve also been taking barre classes the other 2-3 times a week. A new studio, Barre District, opened a month or so ago just a couple minutes away from us, and I love it so much! I can not say enough good things about the place. I can tell the workouts are making me feel so much stronger. Plus, the people are just amazing! It really is like working out with your friends. Not to mention, they have free childcare for some of the classes, which Callum loves going to. If you’re in the Tosa area, I definitely recommend checking them out. I’m going to keep up with barre for as long as I can, too, which I’m hoping is until baby's arrival. It’s low-impact and pretty easy to tone down as I need to.

My hormones have definitely been pretty out of control, but that’s to be expected. Speaking of barre, we were late to class the other day, and ended up missing it. I called Matt in tears because I missed barre class. Bahaha. So ridiculous. I was also watching this video the other day of a pregnant woman doing zumba. Also made me cry. I was just so proud of her, I guess it brought me to tears. But, just check out how she rocks that bump! Super impressive. I can’t help but laugh thinking of it now. We also just adopted out a foster dog, Clefairy, we had for about a week. I’ve never had a harder time getting rid of a foster. She was a pretty great dog though, and we bonded almost immediately. She was my shadow and such a big snuggler. I loved her. She will go down as my favorite foster ever. Combine her absolute perfect dogness with my hormones, and saying good bye was so ruff. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that one.) But, honestly, it’s a good thing she got adopted pretty quickly. Lord knows the last thing we need is another dog.

At my 20 week anatomy scan, they found “dilated collecting tubes” by the kidneys. Basically, the ureters would a little larger which could be the sign of a blockage. So, I was sent to the parenatal specialist for another ultrasound. At that ultrasound, the doctor did another complete scan and gave us the all clear. Everything looked great and had cleared up on its own. Whew! The doctor said that sometimes those tubes just aren’t quite developed at the anatomy scan. I had the specialist scan at about 24 weeks, and was told the baby was measuring about 1.5 pounds, right on schedule. I’ve also gone in a few times to GE as a ultrasound volunteer, which is always such a cool experience. Their machines are amazing and it’s always so nice to have another peak at baby.

Baby Boy at 24 weeks.

I’m still seeing Dr. Hoelzle, and really love her. At my last appointment, though, I found out she’s expecting her second baby and her due date is exactly the same as mine! I’m obviously super excited for her, but a little bummed that she’ll most likely miss my delivery. This is just how it played out with Callum’s delivery, which sort of makes me smile. I saw Dr. Hoelzle my whole pregnancy, and then Dr. Mickleson was there for the delivery. At least we’re consistent. :)

Well, 1,000 words later, I think that’s about it for now. Sorry for the beast of a post. The desire to write hasn’t been striking often, so I’ll take advantage of it when I can. I’ll do my best to get ya another update in the next few weeks. Until then, it’d be great if you could bottle up any extra energy you have and send it my way. I promise it will go to good use.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

20 weeks with No. 2

Photo by Freckledfox Photography for an upcoming post on MKE Moms Blog.

You guys. It only took me 20 weeks to write a post about this pregnancy. That's right, I'm pregnant with another Baby Olson, expected to arrive December 16.

I think that just about sums up the difference between this pregnancy and my pregnancy with Callum. When I was pregnant with Callum, I diligently wrote updates every single week. (I have them all linked under my pregnancy tab.) But, this time around, it has literally taken me months to write my first post about this pregnancy.

So, I guess that begs the question, how have I been feeling? Overall, pretty great. I've been so lucky with both of my pregnancies and have not had any issues with nausea. Primarily, I have just been soooooooooo tired. I don't remember being this tired when I was pregnant with Callum, but then I wasn't chasing around a toddler all day. The days when I'm home with Callum, I need to nap with him in the afternoon, or I literally can't do anything after 4:00 PM. When I get my nap in, I can make it through dinner and bed time with Callum in a much better mood. Since I've been so tired all the time, it's been so much more difficult to just enjoy being pregnant. If I'm being totally honest, I loved being pregnant the first time around so much more. I've heard other mamas say the very same thing. So, if there are any moms out there expecting their first little one, enjoy it! You will never have an opportunity to enjoy a pregnancy like your first one.

My main food aversion has been hot dogs and brats, which are EVERYWHERE in the summer time! The smell of them on the grill makes my stomach turn. So, I've been staying far away from those. Veggies weren't sounding good for a while, but they are starting to sound good again. I signed up for our first CSA, and I think having the veggies around has forced me to eat them. And, now, I'm actually craving them. (Also, I need to write a post about our CSA another time. I love it sooooo much!) My main cravings have been turkey sandwiches with lots of mayo (pretty much anything with mayo sounds amazing), cottage cheese (which is so weird because I've never been a huge fan of it), and ALL THE CARBS!

I've also still been running and working out, which helps so much with my energy level. At 14 weeks, I ran a half marathon in Seattle, and finished in about 2:10. I was so happy with that and it felt surprisingly good. I'm still running 2-3 times a week, and then I'll either do a barre class or some time on the elliptical at the gym. I hope to keep this up through my entire pregnancy, as I definitely believe that staying fit throughout your pregnancy makes for a easier birth. After all, giving birth is one of the most physically demanding things your body will ever do.

We're all over the moon about Baby No. 2, but it has been especially exciting watching Callum take it all in. When we first started talking to him about his baby brother or sister being in my tummy, he just matter of factly asked me to take the baby out. Oh, how I wish it was that simple. We've been telling him that my tummy will get really big and then the baby will be ready to come him. Now, anytime he notices a difference in the size of my tummy, he'll ask if the baby is ready. He says he's going to play with the baby and share his trains with him, but I'm not sure that I'll believe that until I see it. ;) Overall, I think he is going to make an absolutely wonderful older brother. He's so kind and gentle to babies he interacts with now, and I'm so excited for him to have a daily playmate.

I've really started to feel the baby kick the last few weeks, and it is amazing every single time. I can't wait until Matt and Callum will be able to feel those movements.

Like I did with Callum, I've been in to GE a couple times to volunteer as an ultrasound model. In a nut shell, they need pregnant mommas to help fine tune their ultrasound technology. I've been in at 14 weeks and at 19 weeks for ultrasounds. I also have had the first trimester ultrasound at the doctor's, and everything looked great. And yes, we do know the gender, but I'm saving that for another post. I have the same OBGYN as a I did with Callum, Dr. Hoelzle, and I couldn't be happier with her. I trust her 100%, and just feel so comfortable around her.

I think that about sums it up for now. I really am going to try to start up weekly posts. Every single week, I've been looking back at the ones I wrote with Callum and I love it. Hold me to it, guys!!!

Also, I promise you a gender reveal post this week. Cross my heart.

And, Baby Olson, if you're reading this years from now, you have no idea how loved you already are. I don't how we're all, especially Callum, going to wait 20 more weeks to meet you. Until then, I'm going to soak up every single tiny kick I feel.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

An Ode to My Mom Friends

Moms sometimes get a bad wrap.

We’ve all seen the viral videos: one mom gang with a certain set of beliefs ready to judge and disagree with another mom gang.

Fortunately, all of the moms I know are the complete opposite of that, and I learned really quickly that good mom friends were a top necessity on this crazy parenting journey. Honestly, there have been a few times when I have no idea what I would’ve done without them.

So, today, as we celebrate all the moms in our life, I’d like to give a special shout out to all my amazing mom friends. You guys know who you are:

Thank you for listening to all of my crazy mom concerns and pretending they were actually valid.

Thank you for sharing yours with me.

Thank you for loving my son as your own.

Thank you for celebrating even the smallest victories.

Thank you for watching Callum at the drop of a hat.

Thank you for understanding that sometimes toddlers just like to hit each other.

Thank you for respecting the decisions I make for my family, even when they aren’t the same as yours.

Thank you for helping me on my quest for the perfect Instagram picture.

Thank you for not judging me.

Thank you for all the Starbucks.

Thank you for embracing my imperfections.

Thank you for letting me complain about being tired when I’m sure you slept way less than I did.

Thank you for lifting me up with your crazy maternal strength.

Thank you for the hours spent talking about our kids over a class of wine or several.

Thank you for showing me there’s more than one right way.

Thank you for not rolling your eyes at the dog hair and dirty dishes.

Thank you for keeping it real.

Thank you for getting my need to always be doing something. I’ll be happy just sitting someday.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of the love and support for me and my family. Mom friends, you inspire me each and every day. I am a better mom, friend, and person because of you.


Monday, March 7, 2016

A Day Trip to Shedd Aquarium

Last Friday, two friends and I loaded up the minivan with three two-year-olds, their car seats, plenty of snacks, and way too many toy trains, and drove down to Chicago for a visit to the Shedd Aquarium. Growing up, we always took an annual trip to Shedd that I looked forward to every single year. As a kid, I remember the visits being almost magical and I was so excited to continue this tradition with Callum. 

If you're just here for a quick recap, be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this post and watch a video of the day.

This was Callum's second time at Shedd. The last time we were there, he was just over a year old and was still just a little too tiny to get much out of it. This time, I knew he would have a blast.

We left Milwaukee around 9:00 AM on Friday morning, and hit just a little bit of traffic. I always get a little nervous about the drive, but it really is a cinch. The boys got a little antsy towards the end, but it was nothing a sing-along couldn't solve. Parking was easy, too. There's a large lot just down the street from Shedd, and is reasonably priced (for Chicago) at $20 for the day. Since there's a large staircase leading up to the front door of the Shedd, there is a separate entrance designated for strollers and handicap accessibility. I will take advantage of this entrance for as long as possible. The lines are much shorter than the main entrance, making getting in a breeze.

The second we walked in to the aquarium, the boys went crazy. They were able to run right up to the tanks and get a first-hand look right inside. I spend lots of times at museums and zoos picking Callum up to look inside, so I very much appreciate it when he's able to see everything without me breaking my back.

The main floor of the Shedd features a number of smaller corridors, with the large Caribbean Reef tank in the center. The smaller sections definitely made it easier to let Callum roam around while still keeping a close eye on him. It's also the perfect set-up when you're with a group: Everyone can move around at their own pace, but you're never too far away from each other.

We spent a lot of time watching all the creatures in the large Caribbean Reef in the center of the main floor. The huge tank is home to stingrays, small sharks, eels, and a large sea turtle, Nickel. At certain times throughout the day, you can watch a diver feed the animals and listen to a presentation on the exhibit. We parked the strollers right in front for the dive, and we were able to watch while the boys enjoyed a snack.

The boys all-time favorite part of the visit was the Polar Play Zone on the bottom level. In the Play Zone, the boys were able to touch star fish and other sea creatures, pretend to be penguins in a giant play center (Check the video below to see Callum as a dancing penguin.), explore a submarine, and really just run like crazy. Toddler heaven.

My all-time favorite was the underwater viewing of the dolphins and the beluga whales. It was so peaceful watching the dolphins glide back and forth under the water. I could've stayed there all day, but unfortunately the boys had other plans.

The aquatic show is also a must-see at the Shedd. It can get quite crowded in the amphitheater, but I don't think there's a bad seat in the space. The show gives a ton of insight in to how the dolphins, and other animals at Shedd, are cared for and trained. The dolphins also have the chance to show off their jumping skills. The next time we go, I'll think we'll try to watch the last show of the day and avoid some of the school groups that are there earlier.

Our last stop of the day was a quiet stroll through the amphibian exhibit. It was totally empty except for us. This exhibit was also perfectly eye-level for the boys in the stroller. 

I'm not sure how, but we all managed to make it for more than four hours at the aquarium. Considering naps were skipped and there was lots of walking, the boys did a great job going with the flow and enjoying everything along the way. It just goes to show what a perfect place the Shedd is for the whole family. If you're a Milwaukee mom looking for a fun adventure to take with your kids, definitely make it a trip to Shedd. It will be a day both you and your kids will remember for a long time.

Thanks for an unbelievable day, Shedd! We'll definitely be back soon. Be sure to watch the video below to see the boys in their element at the Shedd. And, don't leave until you watch Callum dancing in a penguin suit around the 3:30 mark. Seriously. My crazy kid dancing in a penguin suit.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Friday Favorites {23}

Happy, happy, happy Friday! One short week until day light savings time. I am so excited to start getting so more daylight in the evening. Spring will be here before we know it. Thank goodness!

Any fun plans for the weekend? We've got a pretty low-key one over here and I'm definitely looking forward to it. My one goal is to catch up on a few Oscar movies that I have yet to see. What should we rent? I'm leaning towards 'Room.' I read the book and loved it.

Without any further ado, here are some things I'm loving this week. Check em out. We've got some good ones!

1. Today, I'm heading to Shedd Aquarium with two of my favorite moms and all of our boys. I have loved Shedd since I was a little kid, and I absolutely love taking Callum now. We were last there about a year and a half ago, and I think Callum is going to enjoy it so much more this time around. Stay tuned for a post on our trip!

Photos from our last trip to Shedd. Callum was so little!! #thosecheeks

2. My mom's birthday is tomorrow and Callum and I worked on something really special just for her: stepping stones for her garden. The project was surprisingly easy and I love the way they turned out. We used this tutorial. I got plates and Scrabble tiles from Goodwill. Callum loved smashing the plates with a hammer (between a towel so pieces didn't go everywhere, of course). Now, who knows how I can dispose of the extra concrete?

Callum calls my mom "Oma," hence Oma's Garden.

3. I got a couple new pairs of sunglasses from Sunglass Spot and I love them! If you're looking for a new pair, check them out. The glasses are super inexpensive, so I love getting my trendier sunglasses from there because you never know how long you'll like them. Plus, I lose or sit on so many pairs, that I hate spending too much money on them. Tell me: Are you on board with the cat eye's or not? I love them, but I feel sort of ridiculous wearing them. I need to just own them.

4. I had not one, but two posts go up on MKE Moms Blog this week: Apps for Toddlers that Save the Day and Why Running Makes Me a Better Mom. Head on over and check them out!

5. Costco does it again! I was walking through the store this week, minding my own business, when one of Costco's amazing employees asked me if I wanted to sample some dark chocolate covered coconut chips. Is there a question?! you guys, they were more amazing than I could've imagined. They were like those really like coconut chips from Trader Joe's, but covered in chocolate. In the cart they went. If you're a coconut fiend like I am, find yourself some immediately!

Have a good weekend, everybody! If you're in the Milwaukee area and looking for something to do, check out one of these fun things going on in our wonderful city.